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Family Lycopodiaceae
Lycopodium clavatum Linn.
Shen jin cao

Scientific names Common names
Lepidotis ciliata P.Beauv. Buntot ungoy (Bis.)
Lepidotis clavata (L) P. Beauv. Licopodio (Tag.)
Lepidotis inflexa P.Beauv. Lumot (Mind.)
Lycopodium aristatum Humb. & Bonpl. ex Willd. Common clubmoss (Engl.)
Lycopodium ciliatum (P.Beauv.) Sw. Elk moss (Engl.)
Lycopodium clavatum L. Ground pine (Engl.)
Lycopodium contiguum Klotzch Running club moss (Engl.)
Lycopodium eriostachys Fée Running ground pine (Engl.)
Lycopodium inflexum (P.Beauv.) Sw. Princess pine (Engl.)
Lycopodium piliferum Raddi Staghorn clubmoss (Engl.)
Lycopodium preslii Grev. & Hook. Witch meal (Engl.)
Lycopodium serpens C. Presl Wolf's claw (Engl.)
Lycopodium trichiatum Bory Wolf's foot (Engl.)
Lycopodium trichophyllum Desv.  
Lycopodium clavatum L. is a preferred name. (Tropicos resource) EOL

Other vernacular names
CHINESE: Shen jin cao, Dong bei shi song.
FRENCH: Lycopode en Massue.
ITALIAN: Licopodio clavato..
SPANISH: Polvo de licopodio.

Gen info
- Lycopodium is Greek-derived, lukos (wolf) and podo (foot); called "wolf's foot" from its resemblance of the branch tips to a wolf's paw. clavatum, from Latin, means "club shaped."
- Lycopodium is one of nine genera in the subfamily Lycopodioideae, comprising 9 to 15 species. In other classifications, the genus is equivalent to the whole of the subfamily, including all other genera, and with more than 40 accepted species. (25)

Licopodio is a perennial with prostrate, creeping, tough and flexible woody stem, growing to a length up to 5 meters or more, dichotomously branched, with short and ascending branches. Leaves are very numerous, small and persistent, 5 to 8 millimeters long, closely placed and densely imbricated on the stem, points all turned somewhat upwards, sessile, linear-oblong, the apex terminating in a hairlike process as long as the leaf. Spikes are borne singly or in pairs, at the end of the erect and slender stiff branches, 2.5 to 6 centimeters long, cylindric, linear, blunt and composed of short-stalked imbricated bracts, terminating to a long filiform point. Spores are pale yellow, very minute, tetrahedral, and finely reticulated.

- In the Philippines, limited to the high mountainous areas of Luzon.
- Extensively distributed globally, found in the temperate and colder regions of both hemispheres and in the Old and New Worlds.

- Principal constituent is a fixed oil, 47 %, described as a bland and maintaining liquidity even at low temperatures of 5º Fahrenheit.
- Study yielded three serratene triterpenoids.
- Study yielded alkaloids lycopodine (major alkaloid), clavatine and clavatoxine; polyphenolic acids including dihydrocaffeic; flavonoids including apigenin, and triterpenes.
- Study has yielded active principles viz., clavatin, annotin, lycopodine, nicotine triterpene, flavonoids, and minerals. GC-MS analysis of ethanolic extract yielded lycopodine (58.26%) as one of the most abundant alkaloids. (see study below) (21)

Considered analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antirheumatic, antioxidant, antipruritic, antispasmodic, carminative, decongestant, demulcent, diuretic, emmenagogue, tonic.

Parts utilized
Entire plant.

- Polvo de licopodio is used as a dusting powder for excoriated skin problems, as in the intertrigo of infants, and in eczema and erysipelas.
- Used for gout and rheumatism.
- Used to stimulate the appetite.
- Used to relieve spasmodic retention of urine in children.
- Used for urinary and kidney stones.
- Used for constipation, piles, flatulence, enteritis, bronchitis and pneumonia.
- In the Visayas, the material is crushed or finely chopped, heated with salt, for application to insect and centipede bites.
- In China, decoction of the plant used for beriberi and nervous conditions.
- In India, used for the treatment of inflammation-related diseases.
- In the Pyrenees region, plant is used as a diuretic.
- Used for healing of bed sores – finely powdered club moss is spread over the open sores.
- infusion used for liver cirrhosis and malignant liver conditions.
- Spores inhaled to stop bleeding noses; applied to wounds and various skin diseases.
- The Obo community of South Cotobato use plant preparations for body pains and as anti-aging facial wipes. (18)

- Pharmacy: Used to envelop pills to prevent in from sticking; also to alter the taste.
- Mordant: Used as mordant in dyeing.
Weaving: Stems made into matting.
- Lighting: Used as flash powder in early photography and magic acts. Used in fireworks and artificial lighting.
- Homeopathy: Lycopodium is one of the most commonly used plant in homeopathy. Used for premature ejaculation and erectile dysfunction. (see below for homeopathic studies)

An infusion is made with 1/4 liter of boiling water poured over a level teaspoon of Club Moss. 1 cup is taken in small sips, half an hour before breakfast. For malignant diseases of the liver and cirrhosis, 2 cups daily.
Club Moss Pillow:
100 to 300 gm depending on the size of the area affected by cramp. Stuff the material into a pillow and apply to the aching area overnight. (Pillow retains can be used for a year.)

Toxicity & Allergy concerns
Contains lycopodine which may be paralyzing to the motor nerves. Contains clavatine which is toxic to many mammals. Spores are not known to be toxic.
Report of occupational asthma in two women employed in the manufacture of condoms. The spores of LC, used as a rubber dusting agent, were identified as the causative agent. (9)

Study of extracts showed anti-inflammatory activity probably from the alkaloid compounds and supports its folkloric use. (1)
Antimicrobial / Antifungal / Antiviral:
All extracts showed activity against test strains of S aureus. LC extracts showed antifungal activity. Only the chloroform extract showed activity against HSV. All extracts showed insignificant antiradical effect on DPPH. Lycopodine was identified as the major alkaloid. (2)
Hepatoprotective / Antitumor:
Study evaluated the protective effect of a plant extract in mice chronically fed hepato-carcinogens. Treatment with spore extract of Lycopodium clavatum had a significant reduction of tumor incidence in the liver of carcinogen intoxicated mice. Results validate the extract use in complementary and alternative use against hepatotoxicity. (4)
Lycopodine / Anti-Cancer Property / Chemotherapeutic Potential:
Crude ethanolic extract of LC is a mixture of about 200 alkaloids. Results showed that lycopodine considerably inhibited growth of HeLa cells indicating its potential use in chemotherapy. (8)
Hepatoprotective / CCl4-Induced Damage:
Study evaluated the hepatoprotective action of L. clavatum against carbon tetrachloride-induced damage in rats. Results showed control of biochemical parameters. The protective action was confirmed by microanatomical studies of hepatic tissues. (10)
Chemical Marker Powder / Forensic Use:
Study showed a powder, based on L. clavatum spores, to have potential for use as a chemical marker for forensic evidence of persons having handled objects. The rate of loss in the decay curve (decrease in spores) was highest in the first two hours. (11)
Analgesic and CNS Depressant Effects / Forensic Use:
Study investigated the possible analgesic and behavioral effects of homeophathic formulations of L. clavatum in animal models using hot plate, ice place, Randall-Selitto tests and behavioral effects using rota rod and open field tests. Results showed homeopathic formulations possess central nervous system depressant activity. (12)
Antiprotozoal Activity:
Study investigated the antiprotozoal activity of extracts of L. clavatum and L. camplanatum L. subsp. chamaecyparissus against Trypanosoma brucei rhodesiense, T. cruzi, Leishmania donovani and Plasmodium falcifarum. Results showed both fern species contain antiprotozoal activity with no cytotoxicity. (13)
Study evaluated the efficacy of club moss (L. clavatum) and blessed thistle (Cnicus benedictus) hydroalcoholic extracts in preventing oxidative stress damage in liver tissue of mice. Results showed treatment of mice with plant phenophenols resulted in marked improvement in most of the studied parameters. (14)
Anti-Cancer / Homeopathically Potentized Dilutions:
Study of homeopathically potentized ultrahigh dilutions of L. clavatum (LC-5C and LC-15C) demonstrated an ability to induce apoptosis in cancer cells.  (15)
• Effect on Memory and Cerebral Blood Flow: Study has shown acetyl cholinesterasee (AchE) inhibitory effect in Lyc alkaloid extract. Study evaluated the effect of Lyc on learning and memory function and cerebral blood flow (CBF) in intracerebrovascularly STZ induced memory impairment in rats. Results showed improvement in learning and memory and increased in CBF in rats at all potencies of Lyc studied. (17)
• Antioxidant: Study evaluated the secondary metabolites and antioxidant property of decoction and ethanolic extracts of L. clavatum. Results showed antioxidant activity on DPPH assay which may be attributed to the presence of flavonoids, steroids, and flavanoids. (18)
• Effect of Potentized Homeophathic Lycopodium clavatum in the Treatment of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS): Study reports of the relative efficacy of two potentized homeopathic remedies—Calcarea carbonica and Lycopodium clavatum—for the removal of ovarian cysts in a study of 40 patients. Results showed both plants showed removal of cysts in 21 patients, with amelioration of relevant symptoms and no reported side effects. (19)
• Effect on Aging-Induced Testicular Function: Study evaluated the effects of ethanolic extract of Lygodium clavatum on aging induced alteration in testicular function. Depleted testosterone level improved in all treated rats with improvement in sperm parameters. Effects seemed to be dose-dependent. (20)
Bacteriostatic / Hepatoprotective:
Study evaluated the hepatoprotective and antimicrobial effects of Lycopodium clavatum and Equisetum arvense against xenobiotic intoxication or microbial infection. Liver injury was induced by acetaminophen in a mice model. Results showed the hydroalcoholic extract had only moderate hepatoprotective and antimicrobial effects. The extracts induced a moderate bacteriostatic effect on growth of most of the tested bacteria, but no against fungi. The principle hepatoprotective compound was lycopodine. (see constituents above) (21)

Antiurolithiatic / Clinical Trial:
A multicentric, randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled trial evaluated the efficacy of Lycopodium clavatum in the management of urolithiasis. Patients were prescribed the homeopathic medicines or conventional medicines. Study showed there was not statistical significance between the groups (p=0.31) in reference to number of cases where stones were expelled during the trial. A statistical difference was found between between groups (p=0.039) for pain and positive trend for homeopathy was noted for dysuria. Further studies with pragmatic study design and individualistic Homeopathy can be undertaken to assess the effectiveness of treatment in urolithiasis. (22) No efficacy was found for L. clavatum for urolithiasis in a double-blind, randomized trial However, there was a positive trend seen for pain relief. (23)

- Wildcrafted.
- Cultivated.
- Pellets, powders, extracts in the cybermarket.

Updated July 2020 / May 2018 / August 2017 / February 2015

                                                  PHOTOS / ILLUSTRATIONS
Photo © Godofredo Stuart / StuartXchange
OTHER IMAGE SOURCE: (2-image Source) (1) Common name: common club moss - Scientific name: Lycopodium clavatum
Hippolyte Coste - Flore descriptive et illustrée de la France, de la Corse et des contrées limitrophes, 1901-1906 - This image is in public domain because its copyright has expired (2) common club moss - Scientific name: Lycopodium clavatum
Photo by Leo Michels. Usage: Public Domain / alterVISTA
OTHER IMAGE SOURCE: File:Illustration Lycopodium clavatum0.jpg / Original book source: Prof. Dr. Otto Wilhelm Thomé Flora von Deutschland, Österreich und der Schweiz 1885, Gera, Germany / Permission granted to use under GFDL by Kurt Stueber / www.biolib.de / Wikispecies

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings
Appraisal of anti-inflammatory potential of the clubmoss, Lycopodium clavatum / Orhan Ilkay; Küpeli Esra; Sener Bilge; Yesilada Erdem / Journal of ethnopharmacology 2007;109(1):146-50 / doi:10.1016/j.jep.2006.07.018
Antioxidant and antimicrobial actions of the clubmoss Lycopodium clavatum L / Ilkay Orhan, Berrin Ozcelik et al / Phytochemistry Reviews, April 2007; 6(1): pp 189-196 / DOI 10.1007/s11101-006-9053-x
Serratene triterpenoids fromLycopodium clavatum L. (Lycopodiaceae) / N N Trofimova et al / Russian Chemical Bulletin • Volume 45, Number 4 / April, 1996 / DOI 10.1007/BF01431333
Protective potentials of plant extract (Lycopodium clavatum) on mice chronically fed hepato-carcinogens / Surajit Pathak, Antara Banerjee et al / Indian Journ of Experimental Biology • Vol 37, July 2009, pp 602-607
COMMON CLUB MOSS (Lycopodium clavatum) / Maria Treben
Lycopodium clavatum / Running Ground Pine / Earl J S Rook / www.rook.org
Lycopodium clavatum - L. / Common Club Moss / Plants For A Future
Lycopodine from Lycopodium clavatum extract inhibits proliferation of HeLa cells through induction of apoptosis via caspase-3 activation / Sushil Kumar Mandal, Raktim Biswas et al / European Journal of Pharmacology, Vol 626, Issues 2-3, 25 January 2010, Pages 115-122 / doi:10.1016/j.ejphar.2009.09.033
Asthma following occupational exposure to Lycopodium clavatum in condom manufacturers / P Cullinan, J Cannon et al / Thorax 1993;48:774-775 / doi:10.1136/thx.48.7.774
Hepatroprotective action of potentized lycopodium clavatum L. / R.K. Sur, Kajal Samajdar, Susmita Mitra, M.K. Gole, B.N. Chakrabarty / British Homeopathic Journal, Volume 79, Issue 3 , Pages 152-156, July 1990
Simulating transfer and persistence of a chemical marker powder for Lycopodium clavatum spores / Howarth J, Coulson S, Newton A / Forensic Science International, [2009, 192(1-3):72-77 / DOI: 10.1016/j.forsciint.2009.07.021
Preliminary study to evaluate analgesic and behavioural effects of Lycopodium clavatum in experimental animals / Echur Natarajan Sundaram, Kushal Pal Singh, Pratap Karnati Reddy, Sunil Kumar, Kainikkara Raven Janardanan Nair, Anil Khurana, Hari Singh, Chaturbhuja Nayak / Indian Journal of Research in Homeopathy, 2013; Volume 7, Issue 4: pp 168-175
Antiprotozoal activity and cytotoxicity of Lycopodium clavatum and Lycopodium complanatum subsp. chamaecyparissus extracts / Ilkay Erdoğan Orhan, Bilge Şener, Marcel Kaiser, Reto Brun, Deniz Tasdemir / Turk J Biochem] 2013; 38 (4) ; 403–408 / doi: 10.5505/tjb.2013.07379
Antioxidant potential of Lycopodium clavatum and Cnicus benedictus hydroethanolic extracts on stressed mice. / Durdun, C.; Papuc, C.; Crivineanu, M.; Nicorescu, V. / Veterinary Medicine 2011 Vol. 57 No. 3 pp. 61-68
Potentized Homeopathic Drug Lycopodium clavatum 78 79 (5C and 15C) Shows an Anticancer Effect on HeLa Cells In Vitro / Asmita Samadder, Sreemanti Das, Jayeeta Das, Avijit Paul, Naoual Boujedaini, Anisur Rahman Khuda-Bukhsh * / Journal of Acupuncture and Meridian Studies (2013) / http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/ j.jams.2013.04.004
Lycopodium clavatum / Synonyms / Tropicos resource (EOL)
Effect of homeopathic Lycopodium clavatum on memory functions and cerebral blood flow in memory-impaired rats / Kashif Hanif, Manoi Kumar, Neetu Singh, Rakesh Shukla / Homeopathy, Jan 2015, Vol 104, Issue 1; Pp 24-28 / DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.homp.2014.08.003
Phytochemical analysis and antioxidant capacity of Lycopodium clavatum Linn. from Lake Sebu, South Cotabato, Philippines / Angem L Descallar et al / AIP Conference Proceedings, 2017;  1803, 020021 / doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1063/1.4973148
Efficacy of two commonly used potentized homeopathic drugs: Calcarea carbonica and Lycopodium clavatum, used for treating polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) patients: II. Modulating effects on certain hormonal levels / Debarsi Das, Indira Das, Jayeeta Das, Saroh Kumar Koya, Anisur Rahman Khuda-Bukhsh / Tang (Humanitas Medicine): 2016, Vol 6, Issue 1, eY
Effects of Lycopodium clavatum and equisetum arvense extracts from western Romania
Lycopodium clavatum for the management of urolithiasis: A randomised double blind placebo controlled trial / Rupali Bhalerao, Praveen Oberai, Pritha Mehra, Yogendra Rai, Gurudev Choubey, Amulya Raina Sahoo, AK Majumder, Mahesh Jiqui, Arvind Kumar, Raj K Manchanda / Indian Journal Researh in Homeopathy, 2019; 13(1): pp 139-149 / DOI: 10.4103/ijrh.ijrh_30_19
Response to letter to editor for: 'Lycopodium clavatum for the management of urolithiasis: A randomised double blind placebo controlled trial'.
Successful treatment of ureteric calculi with constitutional homoeopathic medicine Lycopodium clavatum: A Case report / Akshaya Kumar Hati, Dr; Sasmita Rath, Dr; Chintamani Hayak, Dr; Induprava Raj; Amulya Ratna Sahoo, Biswaranjan Paital / Journal of Drug Deliver & Therapeutics, 2018; 8(6) / DOI  https://doi.org/10.22270/jddt.v8i6.2043
Lycopodium / Wikipedia

It is not uncommon for links on studies/sources to change. Copying and pasting the information on the search window or using the DOI (if available) will often redirect to the new link page. (Citing and Using a (DOI) Digital Object Identifier)

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