This section of the book is from "The Complete Herbalist" by Dr. O. Phelps Brown. Also available from Amazon: The Complete Herbalist: The People Their Own Physicians By The Use Of Nature's Remedies.
MEDICINAL PART. The rhizome.
Description. -- Male Fern has a large, perennial, tufted, scaly rhizome, sending forth yearly several leaves, three or four feet high, erect, oval, lanceolate, acute, pinnate, bright green, and leafy nearly to the bottom; their stalks and midribs having tough, brown, and transparent scales throughout. Leaflets numerous, crowded, oblong, obtuse, and crenate throughout.
History. -- Male Fern grows in all parts of the United States and Europe. The root has a dark brown epiderm, is almost inodorous, and a nauseous sweet taste. It contains a green fat oil, gum, resin, lignin, tannic acid, pectin, albumen, etc. It should be gathered from June to September. After gathering, it should be carefully prepared, as on the preparation its virtues depend. It loses its virtues in two years if not properly preserved.
Properties and Uses. -- It is used for the expulsion of worms, especially tape-worms. It was used as such by Pliny, Dioscorides, Theophrastus, and Galen. It was the celebrated secret remedy of Madame Nouffer, the widow of a Swiss surgeon, who sold her secret to Louis XVI, for 18,000 francs. It is, in fact, a royal anthelmintic, and worthy of all the high commendations it has received from ages past up to the present time. It is one of the ingredients of my "Male Fern Vermifuge," See page 469.