Herba Epimedii (HEP) known as YinYangHuo in Chinese is the dried leaf of the Epimediium, and has
been historically used in combination with other herbs to treat skeletal diseases in traditional Chinese medicine
(TCM). Here, we review the historical TCM interpretation of the action of HEP, its use in clinical trials, its main
phytochemical constituents and its pharmacological findings. 85 clinical trials were identified which used HEP in
TCM prescriptions with other herbs to treat primary and secondary osteoporosis from 2005 to now. More than 60
individual compounds were isolated and characterized from HEP and studied in various animal and cell models.
HEP and its constituents exhibited a variety of anti-resorptive and bone formation-stimulating effects, which target
different pathways in the bone remodeling cycle. These compounds may provide new perspectives in alternative
treatment regimes and reveal novel chemical scaffolds for the development of anti-osteoporotic drugs. These approaches are also useful
for guiding our research to employ an integrative therapeutic approach to treat complex diseases such as osteoporosis diseases which
could be superior to the conventional single target – single drug approach.
Keywords: Herba epimedii, Chinese medicine, clinical trials, phytochemistry, pharmacology, osteoporosis.
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