Whoever knows about plants knows that ferns belong to an ancient and "primitive" plant species which existed already over 400,000,000 years ago. Ferns are know as living fossils. The Chinese herbalists call them the "ancients", the "sages" and as such they pass on to us the ancient wisdom and ageless connection to the Earth. You can only imagine how useful that is to us!
They remained practically genetically unchanged over all those millions of years. That immediately brings to mind that they are hardy, stable and can root us down. Differently to some trees or other adaptogen roots, with ferns it is not so much the physical grounding. It is more of a Spiritual connection to that which is timeless, of being able to resist that what time changes.
That opens up so many potentials of this plant!
One Swiss cosmetic company studied Common Fern as one of the three major skin anti-aging plants*. But we can absorb better the time-resisting qualities of this plant by consuming it in herbal preparations. There are in fact numerous studies citing a wide range of benefits of Common Fern's herbal preparations. One study named Polypodium vulgare as a "versatile"** herb. The anti-aging qualities of Common Fern include: hydration, antioxidant properties, protection in neurodegenerative disorders, anti-inflammatory, anti-hypertensive, anti-stress.
However, most of Common Fern uses derive from its associations, as classified by the Traditional Chinese Herbal Medicine, with Spleen, Stomach, Lung, Large Intestine and Kidney. Therefore, it is outstanding in treating respiratory and skin conditions (Lung organ), especially for issues that include phlegm, such as coughs, catarrh, bronchitis, and congestion. It is both expectorant and transforming of respiratory phlegm (more of Spleen function). In the same time, it soothes the mucous membrane, including Kidneys' (Marston, 1995)*** - function related to Spleen and Stomach energetics.
The extension of its mucous membrane soothing properties is applied to healing wounds**** such as cuts, bites and scrapes, being effective also due to its anti-bacterial properties. Topicaly it deals with psoriasis and eczema.
Other application of its soothing the mucous membrane is on the digestive tract in relieving colic, stitches, heartburn, stomachache and constipation***. It is traditionally considered as a mild laxative therefore one should not exaggerate on the quantities. However, if you harvest yourself the root of Polypodium, you will find out that it is rather laborious to collect exaggerated amounts anyway. It is further aiding digestion by increasing good, healthy appetite (again Spleen function).
Its energetics are of lowering and eliminating. Therefore, in addition to lowering the food down the digestive tract, it also lowers temperature, lowers the blood pressure, as mentioned before, and "lowers" the overreactive nervous system.
In addition to aiding Colon elimination it also aids liquid elimination but not through strict diuretic properties but drying out the liquid accumulations. Thanks to this property reduces the swellings, especially of inflamed joints.
Interestingly this herb has a very distinctive sweet taste, resembling so unbelievably liquorice that it is often called False Liquorice. In fact, it has the potential to be used as a Western substitute to liquorice in the Traditional Chinese Herbal Medicine.
I have utilised Common Fern in my seasonal February decoction: https://www.dorotao.com/post/february-sprouting-time, together with Nettle, Horsetail, Parsley seeds and Ginger root. "It is a perfect start for the prep ground in February: gently detoxing but still warming and nourishing."
Finally, Polypodium is a very safe herb. I have not found any reference to it having any adverse effects other than laxative in the large amounts or over a long period of time.
I may be completely sided in believing that two weeks of drinking my seasonal February decoction has improved my skin quality and drained more mucus from my sinuses, but I will definitely include Polypodium in my next decoction mix. Stay tuned to my March energy update.