Background: The application of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) in the
treatment of fatigue has long been practiced in clinical and showed significant effects.
Objective: This article summarizes the work done on the natural products from TCM that
are reported to have effects of treating fatigue, in the past two decades.
Method: Research status, sources, models, efficacy and mechanisms of active ingredients
and their monomer in the treatment of fatigue are discussed.
Results: Pharmacological research shows that active ingredients of polysaccharide can significantly
improve body’s resistance through promoting glycogen synthesis, reducing sports
metabolites and increasing hypoxia tolerance; Alkaloids have been proven to be effective in
promoting the reserving of various glucogen substances, improving exercise endurance and
speeding up the metabolism of body’s urea nitrogen in mice; With the increase of glycosides
amount, up goes the sport endurance, liver glycogen content and the ability of clear lactate
index in mice, indicating that saponin has clear, dose-dependent anti-fatigue effect; Polyphenols
have also functions of resisting fatigue, where they reduce free radicals accumulated
and thus slow down the rapid declination of exercise capacity when doing sports; There are
other active ingredients of TCM that have biological activities, like some proteins, anthraquinones,
terpenes, unsaturated fatty acid monomer compounds; And research has found
that tonic medicine can promote the elimination of fatigue and improve athletic ability.
Conclusion: It is hoped that the data summarized in this review will be beneficial to the
screening of new nature-derived drugs with the ability of relieving and improving fatigue.