May apple

Authors: Prof. Dr. med. Peter Altmeyer, Prof. Dr. med. Martina Bacharach-Buhles

All authors of this article

Last updated on: 29.10.2020

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Duckfoot; footer; May apple; Podophyllum peltatum; Shield-shaped foot blade

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30-50cm high poisonous plant from the Berberidaceae family (barberry family), native mainly to North America, with upright stems on which are arranged in pairs, light green, lobed leaves with a diameter of up to 30 cm (see picture). The plant produces white flowers.

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Podophyllum peltatum is the parent plant of Rhizoma Podophyllii (off. DAC86) an extract obtained from the rootstock of the plant. Ingredients are the lignans podophyllotoxin and alpha - and beta-peltatins.

Podophylline is obtained from Rhizoma Podophyllii by treating the extract with highly diluted hydrochloric acid. This is a highly toxic mixture of substances which is used in ethanolic solution for the treatment of condylomata acuminata.

Partially synthetic podophyllotoxin derivatives are the topoisomerase II inhibitors

  • Etoposide and
  • Teniposide

which are used as systemic (non-selective cytotoxic) cytostatic drugs.