July 14 2024

Medicinal uses of Old man's beard(Clematis vitalba)


Clematis(<em>Clematis Vitalba</em>)

The clematis or Old man's beard (Clematis Vitalba) is a shrub belonging to the family of the Ranunculaceae. The plant probably comes from Europe and has been used since ancient medicinal purpose. Pliny and Dioscorides make mention of the clematis, although there is some controversy regarding the true parentage botany of plants cited by these authors. At last, the leaves of the plant mixed with wine would serve to combat various problems diarrhea and conveniently combined matrix relieve pain and tooth or even have beneficial effects on snake bites.


Clematis is a sarmentosa plant, climbing and lively, with a crust that can be booted into strips. The flowers give off a faint aroma, are pale with prominent stamens. The fruits are follicles, with long styles by way of markers. The clematis accompanies large trees to a considerable height.

In the Iberian Peninsula can be found in most of the territory, both in forested areas, such as boundaries and clear and thrive best in moist, calcareous, especially uncultivated land. Blooms mid-warm season (July and August in the northern hemisphere).


Clematis contains triterpenoids, flavonoids, lignans, coumarins, alkaloids, volatile oil, steroids, organic acids and phenols macrocyclic compounds, of which the triterpenoid saponins, flavonoids and lignans are the most important components. Those are derivatives predominantly from hederagenin and oleanolic acid. The Clematis flavonoids include flavones, flavonols, flavanones, isoflavones, xanthones and their glycosides, which are aglycones apigenin, kaempferol, luteolin and quercetin. Lignans from Clematis are mainly eupomatene lignans, cyclolignans, monoepoxylignans, bisepoxylignans and lignanolides[1].

The plant also contains oxylipins, as 2-oxo-10, 15(Z)-phytodienoic acid, 9(S)-hydroxy-10(E), 12(Z), 15(Z)-octadecatrienoic acid, omega5(Z)-etherolenic acid, and 9-[1'(E), 3'(Z),6'(Z)-nonatrienyloxy]-8(Z)-nonenoic acid [8(Z)-colnelenic acid][2].

The main active ingredient of the aerial part of the plant is C-glycosylflavon, 4'-O-coumaroyl-isovitexine (vitalboside). This substance is considered the main ingredient of clematis and was isolated in 2007[3].

Traditional applications     

Extracts of the aerial parts of Clematis species have been used worldwide for the treatment of inflammatory processes such as different types of rheumatism and for combating febrile states[3].

The extract of Clematis is acrid and irritating, has rubefacient and vesicant properties and is considered bacteriostatic. Protoanemonin can be absorbed by epicutaneous application and therefore can lead to poisoning.

Despite recommended by Dioscorides, clematis ingestion can cause severe diarrhea and kidney damage. It is also possible that acute poisoning endangers the patient's life.

Although currently unused by the potential risks of its use, the clematis is still applied in homeopathy as a tincture made ??from the stems, the leaves and fresh fibers in rashes (pustules), inflammation of lymph, gonorrhea, and inflammation of the testicles (orchitis).

Given its power vesicant, was used by beggars to cause ulceration of the skin, thus stimulating the mercy of passers, so the plant was known also as beggars grass.


- Anemone vitalba,
- Clematis bellojocensis,
- Clematis crenata,
- Clematis dumosa,
- Clematis odontophylla,
- Clematis pilosa,
- Clematis scandens,
- Clematis sepium,
- Clematis transiens

Clinical studies     

There are no studies on this plant

Experimental studies     

Extracts of the aerial parts of the plant show a remarkable anti-inflammatory effect in the experimental model of carrageenan-induced edema and vascular permeability induced by acetic acid. A fractionated analysis allowed to isolate vitalboside as the principal agent of this effect including the antinociceptive effect and also in subacute and chronic models. It have been proven also the antipyretic effect of the substance[3].

The methanolic fraction of clematis extract has shown activity against microscopic fungi. Antifungal action has not been detected in other fractions of the extract of clematis [4].


Little need be said of the applicability of the clematis for medicinal purposes, since the lack of documentation and the known toxic effects leave no doubt about it.


1. Sun F, Yang D. Advance in chemical constituents of genus Clematis Zhongguo Zhong Yao Za Zhi. 2009 Oct;34(20):2660-8. Abstract.
2: Hamberg M. Isolation and structures of two divinyl ether fatty acids from Clematis vitalba. Lipids. 2004 Jun;39(6):565-9.
3: Yesilada E, K├╝peli E. Clematis vitalba L. aerial part exhibits potent anti-inflammatory, antinociceptive and antipyretic effects. J Ethnopharmacol. 2007 Apr 4;110(3):504-15.
4. Buzzini P, Pieroni A. Antimicrobial activity of extracts of Clematis vitalba towards pathogenic yeast and yeast-like microorganisms. Fitoterapia. 2003 Jun;74(4):397-400.

Page updated: January 22, 2011.


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