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The Investigation of Euphorbiaceous Medicinal Plants in Southern China

Lai, Xu Zeng, Yang, Yu Bo, Shan, Xu Luo
Economic botany 2004 v.58 no.sp1 pp. S307
Euphorbiaceae, Oriental traditional medicine, carcinogens, medicinal plants, nationalities and ethnic groups, snake bites, toxicity, China
The Euphorbiaceae is an extensive family of plants that includes about 300 genera and 5000 species and is mainly distributed in tropical areas. For a long time this family has been recognized and reported for its anti-cancer components, anti-hepatitis B components and carcinogenic factors. In the literature of ancient traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), 33 species of plants from 17 genera of Euphorbiaceae have been mentioned as medicines. We report here the results of our recent investigation. The locations under investigation were in Guangdong Province, Guangxi Zhuang Nationality Autonomous Region and Hainan Province in southeastern China. There were 111 species within 35 genera of medicinal Euphorbiaceous plants reported, along with their folk usages. Among them, 17 species are used to treat snakebites. It was observed that most of the species within the Euphorbiaceae family contained toxic components. In fact, only a few species are employed as widespread medicines throughout China—most species are recognized only as local minority tribe medicines.