The fumitory, the subtle simple evanescent

The belief of the Ancients was based on the idea of ​​a plant that did not arise from a seed. A plant with ashy leaves whose flavor evokes soot and the smell of smoke, with a vaporous and evanescent appearance is not without evoking a fuzzy silhouette just like smoke gushing from the bowels of the Earth … This which explains why in about the 12th century, this plant was designated in medieval Latin under the name of fumus terrae , which subsequently gave rise to the current “fumitory”.

A little history

The great names of Greco-Roman Antiquity noticed the tonic and purifying virtues of fumitory. Galen recommends it in obstructions of the liver and liver ailments in general.

Fumitory is hardly mentioned in the manuscripts of the Middle Ages, and it is mainly the Arab doctors ( Serapion , Avicenna, Mésué ) who continue to use it. According to them, this herb has many virtues , acting as much on the liver, the gall bladder as the blood. It would have, they say, the property of curing eye diseases and, applied to scabs, would make them disappear. It was even made into a “beauty water”, suitable for “giving the body a flourishing complexion”.

During the Renaissance, Matthiole , inspired by Mésué , notably said of fumitory that it was the mildest of purgatives . It strengthens and tones the viscera, unblocking the liver, being cholagogue and purifying the blood, it thus acts on a certain number of skin diseases attributable to a dysfunction of the hepatic sphere.

In the 17th century, two medical luminaries, Johann Schroder and Lazare Rivière , looked into the humble fumitory. Both confirm in particular its action on the spleen, liver and gall bladder, adding to that the major role it plays as blood cleanser. And, from century to century, the fumitory continues its little medical path.

What are the main pharmacological properties of the flowering aerial parts of Fumitory?

Digestive property:

The presence of all the active ingredients of the flowering aerial parts of the fumitory ( totum ) is essential to obtain an effective digestive action . It has in fact been shown that when the chemical components are taken in isolation, the hepatobiliary properties are not found.

  • Amphocholeretic activity:

Fumitory is cholagogue and regulates bile flow. This action, attributed to protopine , a major alkaloid of the fumariaceae family, results in the stimulation of biliary secretion, and in the reduction of pathological hypersecretion.

A clinical study carried out in vivo against placebo, on people free from hepatobiliary disease, in particular demonstrated this amphocholeretic action . The variations in bile flow were assessed in the different subjects as a function of the baseline choleresis rate. It shows that when the flow is low, the plant increases choleresis (+ 37). When it is high, fumitory decreases choleresis very significantly (- 63%). On the other hand, in the event of an average flow, the variations in the average flow, the variations in the bile flow, are small and can be considered as not significant. Many other studies have confirmed this very characteristic result, showing the amphocholeretic activity of fumitory.

Cholagogue and amphocholeretic , fumitory stimulates biliary secretion and reduces pathological hypersecretion ( protopine ).

Activity on hepatobiliary disorders:

Fumitory is a bitter tonic with eupeptic action . At the hepatic level, fumitory is also a mild inhibitor of CYP3A4 and inducer of CYP2D6, 2E1, 1A1 and 1A2.

This plant allows a clear regression of hepatic disorders as well as a reduction in the bilirubin level and has a hypocholesterolemic action . It is a major asset in the reduction of headaches with functional digestive disorders.

Digestive antiseptic activity:

Parasiticides in vitro In synergy with Artemisia annua, A. absinthium and Asimina triloba, fumitory is also de facto antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal.

Metabolic property:

Work in 2019 studied the effect of aqueous and methanolic extracts of F. officinalis on blood sugar in normoglycemic and diabetic subjects induced by alloxan . A significant hypoglycemic effect was observed at all doses, as well as an improvement in liver and kidney function tests in the diabetic subject , as well as a reduction in glomerular cell damage, interstitial inflammation, necrosis. tubular cells and thrombosis phenomena in the kidneys. This study concludes that fumitory may have anti-diabetic potential , possibly due to its antioxidant and alpha-amylase inhibitory activities .

Spasmolytic property:

The fumitory has a spasmolytic action on the smooth musculature, at the level:

  • Of the sphincter of Oddi
  • From the intestine, lungs and uterus

In the intestine, fumitory also exerts an anti-inflammatory activity . These properties find their application in chronic functional intestinal disorders.

Dermatological property:

With antihistamine properties , mainly due to protopine, this plant is also anti-infectious , these antistaphylococcal bactericidal properties are related to certain isoquinoleic alkaloids of fumitory ( allocryptopine, sanguinarine, berberine ).

Beneficial in dermatology by the fumaric acid that it contains, fumitory is traditionally used in many countries to treat skin disorders (dermatitis, in particular atopic, eczema, psoriasis, etc.). The action of fumaric acid confirms several randomized and controlled studies in patients and an in vitro study on human blood mononuclear cells isolated from patients with psoriasis.

Neurotonic property:

Fumitory has sedative activity via protopin which increases the binding of GABA to central receptors at the level of brain synaptic membranes, but also serotonin.

Inhibitor of acetylcholinesterase, in relation to certain isoquinoleic alkaloids of the plant ( fumaranin and fumarostrejdine ), fumitory has potentially useful properties in Alzheimer’s disease .

Are there any precautions for use with Fumitory?


  • Contraindicated in case of obstruction of the bile ducts, stones and / or biliary or hepatic diseases
  • According to the EMA, the use of fumitory is not recommended in women or breastfeeding women due to the presence of alkaloids
  • Contraindicated in case of hypersensitivity to active substances

Precautions for use:

  • Use with caution and under medical supervision in severe hepatic insufficiency or in the event of stones likely to obstruct the bile ducts
  • Reserved for adults
  • Prolonged use of fumitory can be dangerous by accumulation of alkaloids

Drugs interactions :

  • Due to its activity on CYPs, fumitory may interact with certain chemotherapy drugs. Check the type of interaction with a possible association of fumitory with one of these products. The intensity of the interaction can be assessed on the website of the Thériaque (Hedrine) drug database.
  • Do not use in patients taking cyclosporine
  • Probable inhibition of CYP3A4 by berberine

How to take Fumitory and in what dosage?

Dry form:

  • As a food supplement , in the form of capsules (extract) of 200 mg, 1 capsule morning and evening or capsules of 220 mg , 1 capsule 3 times / day, and up to 5 / day

Liquid form:

Fumeterre in masterly preparation of standardized extracts in liquid form (EPS)

Association with turmeric and gentian :

In case of digestive disorders.

Association with lemon balm :

In the treatment of gastralgia due to bile reflux, nausea and intestinal spasms.

Association with artichoke :

For post-cholecystectomy digestive disorders.

Association with burdock and wild pansy :

Against dermatitis and eczema.

Medical bibliographic sources and clinical trials :

  • Salembier, Y. (1967). Study of the action of fumitory nebulisate on choleresis in 33 patients with external biliary drainage
  • Reynier, M., Lagrange, E., & Godard, F. (1977). Action of officinal Fumitory nebulisate on smooth musculature
  • AA Izzo, G. di Carlo, D. Biscardi, R. de Fusco, N. Mascolo, F. Borrelli, F. Capasso, MP Fasulo, G. Autore. Biological screening of Italian medicinal plants for antibacterial activity. Phytotherapy Research, Volume 9, Issue 4, pages 281–286, June 1995
  • Chlebek J, Novák Z, Kassemová D, Šafratová M, Kostelník J, Malý L, Ločárek M, Opletal L, Hošt’álková A, Hrabinová M, Kuneš J, Novotná P, Urbanová M, Nováková L, Macáková D, Huláková K, Solich P, Pérez Martín C, Jun D, ​​Cahlíková L. Isoquinoline Alkaloids from Fumaria officinalis L. and Their Biological Activities Related to Alzheimer’s Disease. Chem Biodivers. 2016
  • Vrancheva RZ, Ivanov IG, Aneva IY, Dincheva IN, Badjakov IK, Pavlov AI. Alkaloid profiles and acetylcholinesterase inhibitory activities of Fumaria species from Bulgaria. Z Naturforsch C. 2016
  • Orhana I, Ozçelik B, Karaoğlu T, Sener B. Antiviral and antimicrobial profiles of selected isoquinoline alkaloids from Fumaria and Corydalis species. Z Naturforsch C. 2007
  • Dornier R., Clinical results of an extract of Fumaria officinalis in certain hepatobiliary syndromes and in migraines, Bull Assoc Nord Lotharingienne Gastroenterol., 1968
  • Sladden MJ et al., Fumaric acid esters for severe psoriasis: the Leicestershire experience, Br J Dermatol., 2006
  • Ustunes L. et al., In vitro study of the anticholinergic and antihistaminic activities, J Nat Prod., 1988
  • Roux M., The fumitory nebulisate in the regulation of chronic intestinal disorders of biliary origin, Gazette Médicale de France, 1977
  • French Society of Oncological Pharmacy (SFPO)
  • Casili G., Cordaro M., Impellizzeri D. et al, Dimethyl Fumarate Reduces Inflammatory Responses in Experimental Colitis, J Crohns Colitis, 2015
  • Fatima S. et al., Antioxidant and alpha amylase inhibitory activities of Fumaria officinalis and its antidiabetic potential against alloxan induced diabetes, Cell Mol Biol., 2019


Clementine. M.
Naturopath – Aromatherapist / Herbalist – Phytotherapist
Consultant in Clinical Phyto-aromatherapy and Ethnomedicine

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