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A review of the use of pteridophytes for treating human ailments

Baskaran, Xavier-ravi, Geo Vigila, Antony-varuvel, Zhang, Shou-zhou, Feng, Shi-xiu, Liao, Wen-bo
Journal of Zhejiang University 2018 v.19 no.2 pp. 85-119
Polypodiaceae, Pteridaceae, Selaginella, alternative medicine, antioxidants, bioactive compounds, ferns and fern allies, humans, medicinal properties, vascular plants
The aim of this review was to explore the pharmacological activity of early tracheophytes (pteridophytes) as an alternative medicine for treating human ailments. As the first vascular plants, pteridophytes (aka, ferns and fern allies) are an ancient lineage, and human beings have been exploring and using taxa from this lineage for over 2000 years because of their beneficial properties. We have documented the medicinal uses of pteridophytes belonging to thirty different families. The lycophyte Selaginella sp. was shown in earlier studies to have multiple pharmacological activity, such as antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, antidiabetic, antiviral, antimicrobial, and anti-Alzheimer properties. Among all the pteridophytes examined, taxa from the Pteridaceae, Polypodiaceae, and Adiantaceae exhibited significant medicinal activity. Based on our review, many pteridophytes have properties that could be used in alternative medicine for treatment of various human illnesses. Biotechnological tools can be used to preserve and even improve their bioactive molecules for the preparation of medicines against illness. Even though several studies have reported medicinal uses of ferns, the possible bioactive compounds of several pteridophytes have not been identified. Furthermore, their optimal dosage level and treatment strategies still need to be determined. Finally, the future direction of pteridophyte research is discussed.