SAFETY

Reprinted with permission from American Herbal Products
Association's, "Botanical Safety Handbook, Second Edition"

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Taxus brevifolia Nutt. Taxaceae
SCN: Pacific yew
Part: needles

Quick Reference Summary

Safety Class: 2b - Not to be used during pregnancy
Interaction Class: A - No clinical relevant interactions are expected.

Contraindications
Not for use in pregnancy except under the supervision of a qualified healthcare practitioner (Krag 1976).

Precautions
None known.

Drug and Supplement Interactions
None known.

Notice
Emmenagogue (Krag 1976); see Appendix 2.

Editors' Notes
Pacific yew should not be confused with botanically similar species, T. baccata (English yew) and T. cuspidata (Japanese yew), that are recognized as toxic due to effects on heart rate and rhythm (Rowinsky et al. 1990; Vance et al. 2001). Effects on the heart are caused by taxine compounds, present at 0.5 to 1% in T. baccata as compared to 0.0007% in Pacific yew (Jenniskens et al. 1996; Tyler 1960).

Pacific yew is a source of the compound taxol, used in chemotherapy of several types of cancers. The concentration of taxol in Pacific yew needles is approximately 0.006%, which is substantially lower than the 0.01% found in the bark (Witherup et al. 1990).

Adverse Events and Side Effects
None known.

Pharmacological Considerations
None known.

Pregnancy and Lactation
Pacific yew has traditionally been used as an emmenagogue (Krag 1976).

I. Herb-Drug and Herb-Supplement Interactions
Clinical trials of drug or supplement interactions

No clinical trials of drug or supplement interactions were identified.
Case reports of suspected drug or supplement interactions
No case reports of suspected drug or supplement interactions were identified.
Animal trials of drug or supplement interactions
No animal trials of drug or supplement interactions were identified.

II. Adverse Events
Case reports of adverse events

No case reports of adverse events were identified.

III. Pharmacology and Pharmacokinetics
Human pharmacological studies

No relevant human pharmacological studies were identified.
Animal pharmacological studies
No relevant animal pharmacological studies were identified.
In vitro pharmacological studies
No relevant in vitro pharmacological studies were identified.

IV. Pregnancy and Lactation
Pacific yew has traditionally been used as an emmenagogue (Krag 1976).

V. Toxicity Studies
Acute toxicity

The LD50 of Pacific yew powder orally administered to rats could not be determined at doses up to 5 g/kg (PSL 1999).

Literature Cited
Jenniskens, L.H.D., E.L.M. van Rozendaal, T.A. van Beek, P.H.G. Wiegerinck, and H.W. Scheeren. 1996. Identification of six taxine alkaloids from Taxus baccata needles. J. Nat. Prod. 59(2):117-123.
Krag, K.J. 1976. Plants used as contraceptives by the North American Indians-An ethnobotanical study. Cambridge, MA: Botanical Museum, Harvard University.
PSL. 1999. Montana yew tip powder acute oral toxicity test in rats. Unpublished report. E90601-5D. Dayton, NJ: Product Safety Labs.
Rowinsky, E.K., L.A. Cazenave, and R.C. Donehower. 1990. Taxol: A novel investigational antimicrotubule agent. J. Natl. Cancer Inst. 82(15):1247-1259.
Tyler, V.E. 1960. Note on the occurrence of taxine in Taxus brevifolia. J. Am. Pharm. Assoc. 49(10):683-684.
Vance, N., M. Borsting, D. Pilz, and J. Freed. 2001. Special forest products: Species information guide for the Pacific Northwest. General Technical Report PNW-GTR-513. Portland, OR: U.S. Forest Service.
Witherup, K.M., S.A. Look, M.W. Stasko, et al. 1990. Taxus spp. needles contain amounts of taxol comparable to the bark of Taxus brevifolia: Analysis and isolation. J. Nat. Prod. 53(5):1249-1255.