Thursday, 23 June 2016

The genus Usnea: A potent phytomedicine with multifarious ethnobotany, phytochemistry and pharmacology

Volume 6, Issue 26, 2016, Pages 21672-21696

a  Pharmacognosy and Ethnopharmacology Division, CSIR-National Botanical Research Institute, Lucknow U.P., India
b  Lichenology Laboratory, Plant Biodiversity and Conservation Biology Division, CSIR-National Botanical Research Institute, Lucknow-U.P., India
c  Centre of Excellence in Materials Science (Nanomaterials), Z. H. College of Engineering and Technology, Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh, India 


The genus Usnea Adans. (Parmeliaceae; lichenized Ascomycetes) is a typical group of mostly pale grayish-green fruticoselichens that grow as leafless mini-shrubs. More than 360 species of Usnea are known in the world. Usnea has long been thought to have treat various illnesses in addition to its historical use as dyes, cosmetics, preservatives, and deodorants, particularly in eastern countries such as China, Japan, Taiwan, India and Europe. The current review focuses on the traditional uses and phytochemistry aspects of different Usnea species, and discusses the pharmacological findings and toxicology of their extracts and isolated compounds. The available compilation of data will provide a new base for future perspectives and highlight the need for further studies of this potent herbal source to harvest more beneficial therapeutic drugs. Nineteen species of the genus Usnea are found to be important folk medicines all over the world. It is evident from the comparative analysis of the searched literature that the genus Usnea has been used for various purposes for centuries and its long and traditional medicinal history was well documented in the past. As per ancient records and recent scientific literature, the species of genus Usnea have been used as promising traditional medicines, exerting an array of therapeutic properties to relieve sore throats, bronchitis, cold, flu, infection, and indigestion. Phytochemical analysis confirms the general presence of a wide range of metabolites, polysaccharides, fatty acids, phenolic acids, flavonoids, terpenes, sterols, depsides, depsidones, and benzofurans. As specific constituents, usnic acid, polyphenols, and depsides have been considered as main efficacy component for antibacterial and antifungal activities. In addition, pharmacological analysis also revealed that other pure compounds and crude extracts of Usnea species prove to be significant anti-cancer, anti-proliferative, anti-oxidant, anti-viral, anti-inflammatory, anti-ulcer, hepatoprotective, and anti-genotoxic agents. However, there is a need for more precise investigations to examine the clinical value of both isolated pure compounds and crude extracts and to elucidate their mechanisms of action. Apart from clinical validation and elucidation of their mechanism of action, biosafety studies of the compounds are also important to legitimately use the potential bioactive compounds for the further development of future lead drugs. © The Royal Society of Chemistry 2016.

Indexed keywords

Engineering controlled terms: Diseases; Esters; Medicine
Anti-inflammatories; Antibacterial and antifungal activity; Clinical validations; Comparative analysis; Future perspectives; Mechanism of action; Scientific literature; Therapeutic properties
Engineering main heading: Fatty acids
ISSN: 20462069 CODEN: RSCACSource Type: Journal Original language: English
DOI: 10.1039/c5ra24205cDocument Type: Review
Publisher: Royal Society of Chemistry

  Singh, B.N.; Pharmacognosy and Ethnopharmacology Division, CSIR-National Botanical Research Institute, India;
© Copyright 2016 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.