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Botany, traditional uses, phytochemistry and pharmacology of Apocynum venetum L. (Luobuma): A review

Xie, Wenyan, Zhang, Xiaoying, Wang, Tian, Hu, Jianjun
Journal of ethnopharmacology 2012 v.141 no.1 pp. 1-8
Apocynum, adverse effects, antidepressants, antioxidants, anxiety, cholesterol, clinical trials, food marketing, health foods, heat, hypertension, liver, mechanism of action, nerve tissue, nicotine, plant biochemistry, safety assessment, sedatives, tea, tobacco, traditional medicine
ETHNOPHARMACOLOGICAL RELEVANCE: Apocynum venetum L. (Apocynaceae, Luobuma ) has a long history as a Chinese traditional medicine with uses to calm the liver, soothe the nerves, dissipate heat, and promote diuresis. Recently, Luobuma tea has been commercialized as a sedative and anti-aging supplement that has become increasingly popular in North American and East Asian health food markets. AIMS OF THE REVIEW: The aim of this review is to provide an up-to-date and comprehensive overview of the botany, chemical constituents, traditional uses, pharmacological activities and safety aspects of Apocynum venetum in order to assess its ethnopharmacological use and to explore its therapeutic potentials and future opportunities for research. BACKGROUND AND METHODS: The accessible literature on Apocynum venetum written in English, Chinese and Japanese were collected and analyzed. The literatures included ancient Chinese herbal classics, pharmacopoeias and articles that included in Pubmed, Web of Science, Google Scholar and Wanfang. KEY FINDINGS: Modern pharmacological studies demonstrated that Apocynum venetum possess wide pharmacological activities that include antihypertensive, cardiotonic, hepatoprotective, antioxidant, lipid-lowering, antidepressant and anxiolytic effects, which can be explained by the presence of various flavonoid compounds in this plant. The traditional (Lop Nor region) use of Apocynum venetum with tobacco as an agent to detoxify nicotine may receive interest as a possible therapeutic option to detoxify the body from smoking. Based on animal studies and clinical trials, Apocynum venetum causes no severe side effects, even in a stable daily dosage (50mg/person/day) for more than three years. CONCLUSIONS: Apocynum venetum potentially has therapeutic potential in the prevention and treatment for the cardiovascular and neurological diseases, especially for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, neurasthenia, depression and anxiety. Further investigations are needed to explore individual bioactive compounds responsible for these in vitro and in vivo pharmacological effects and the mode of actions. Further safety assessments and clinical trials should be performed before it can be integrated into medicinal practices.