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COMMON AND MOUNTAIN CLUB MOSS: HEALTH BENEFITS USES AND POSSIBLE FUTURE BENEFITS OF COMMON AND ALPINE CLUB MOSS
common club moss
COMMON CLUB MOSS, LYCOPODIUM CLAVATUM, MOUNTAIN OR ALPINE CLUB MOSS, DIPHASIASTRUM ALPINUM
Common club moss is native to the Arctic and Europe and along with mountain club moss can be found in the British Isles. Both mosses are actually ferns, with common club moss resembling asparagus spears. Both these ferns are in the Lycopodiaceae family of plants. Lycopodium means wolf’s foot in Latin and the common club moss is sometimes called wolf’s claw (clavatum means claw). The two mosses look similar, although Mountain club moss is used in traditional medicine as an anti-inflammatory.
The ancient Physicians of Myddfai employed mountain club moss in the following remedy for a woman who was unable to conceive:-
(The physicians wrote their remedies between the years 800 and 1800 in Wales; this is one of the earlier remedies.)
Traditionally the common club moss was used for stomach problems and as a diuretic, to remove stones from the bodily organs and for other kidney problems. In the 17th century the use of the whole plant stopped and only the spores were used.
The spikes of the plant mature in the months of July and August and the spores have to be shaken out of the plant and this ‘dust’ is used for a number of ailments. For example it was used on the skin for eczema and other skin problems as well as to stop itchiness. It was given to people with rabies to stop their spasms, and also for gout and scurvy. It was also used for rheumatism and applied to wounds as a healing and cleansing agent.
Alpine club moss
The powder has the ability to repel water and to stop things sticking together so it has been used for condoms to prevent the latex sticking together. The plant has also been used as a mordant in dying and the stems were used for matting. The spores have also been used in fireworks and to make artificial lightning. They also have uses in the food industry because of their water and liquid repellant properties. However they can be an allergen and workers in condom factories have developed asthma from using these spores.
Alpine club moss
There has been some clinical research done on these plants but none that is conclusive. They have been touted as being good for Alzheimer’s patients in that they improve memory.
They have also been tested as anticancer material but again there is no conclusive evidence to support their use as yet.
They can be helpful in respiratory problems it seems and traditionally they have been used to control internal bleeding. They may dispel stones from the urinary tract, and seem to help with skin problems. They are also a diuretic.
However more research need to be carried out on these plants, and this is unlikely to be done in the case of the mountain club moss as in some countries it is listed as a threatened species.