Drugs A - Z

Yew (Taxus baccata, Taxus brevifolia, Taxus cuspidata, Taxus canadensis)

Generic Name: Taxus

Category

Herbs & Supplements

Synonyms

Chinwood, common yew, Coniferae (family), docetaxel, Eibe (Geman), euar (Manx), European yew, hagina (Basque), idegran (Swedish), if (French), Himalayan yew, Irish yew, iubhar (Scottish Gaelic), iúr (Irish), ivenenn (Breton), marjakuusi (Finnish), Japanese yew, NPacific yew, paclitaxel, phloroglucindimethylether (3,5-dimethoxyphenol), porsukagaci (Turkish), snottle berries, snotty grogs, T. bourcieri Carrière, taks (Danish), tasso (Italian), Taxaceae (family), taxine, taxis (Dutch), Taxol®, Taxomyces andreanae, Taxotere®, Taxus baccata L., Taxus brevifolia, Taxus canadensis, Taxus cuspidata, Taxus wallichiana, Taxuspine C., tejo (Spanish), tisa (Romanian), tis (Czech), western yew, ywen (Welsh), ywenn (Cornish).

Background

There are several kinds of yew including the English or European yew (Taxus baccata), Pacific yew (Taxus brevifolia) and Japanese yew (Taxus cuspidata). All species are considered poisonous; however, there is some debate about the medicinal value of the fruits (arils). The name 'taxus' may be related to the Greek 'toxon' (bow) and 'toxicon' (the poison with which the arrowheads were dressed).

Traditionally, the fruit of yew has been used as an antitussive (preventing or relieving cough), menstrual stimulant, abortifacient (induces abortion), diuretic and laxative. It is reported that the Native Americans used yew extracts to treat rheumatism, fever, and arthritis.

Paclitaxel (Taxol®) was isolated from the bark of the Pacific yew tree (Taxus brevifolia) as early as 1971 and is now approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Since 1971, Taxol® has been used as an antitumor drug in clinical trials run by the U.S. National Cancer Institute and has been hailed as one of the most significant advances in cancer chemotherapy in recent history. Since 1990, clinical trials using Taxol® have succeeded in treating advanced ovarian and breast cancers.

Evidence

DISCLAIMER: These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.

Tradition

WARNING: DISCLAIMER: The below uses are based on tradition, scientific theories, or limited research. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. There may be other proposed uses that are not listed below.
Abortifacient (induces abortion), antispasmodic (bark), antitussive (cough suppressing), arthritis, astringent, blood clot treatment, bowel diseases, breast cancer, cancer, cardiovascular health, childbirth (expelling afterbirth), colds, diaphoretic (promotes sweating), diphtheria, diuretic, emmenagogue (menstrual stimulant), epilepsy, eruptions, fevers, gout (foot inflammation), headache, laxative, leukemia, liver conditions, lung cancer, lung conditions, malignant melanoma, nerve damage, neuralgia (nerve pain), ovarian cancer, pain, rabies, rheumatism, scurvy, snakebites, tonsillitis, urinary tract infection, vision enhancement, worms, wound healing.

Dosing

Adults (18 years and older):

There is no proven safe or effective dose for yew, and use in adults is not recommended.

Children (younger than 18 years):

There is no proven safe or effective dose for yew, and use in children is not recommended. One chewed berry may be lethal.

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