The application of Isodon species in Chinese folk medicine has a long histroy, especially the ones called ‘Xihuangcao’ in Chinese. ‘Xihuangcao’ has been successfully applied to treat acute hepatitis, cholecystitis, enteritis, dysentery and trauma. The original species of ‘Xihuangcao’ is Isodon lophanthoides (Buch.-Ham.ex D.Don). However, there are five sources of Chinese medicinal herb ‘Xihuangcao’ due to their similar morphology and close pharmaceutical activity. Each source belongs to Isodon. However, their chemical composition and bioactivities are significantly different. In order to differentiate these sources of ‘Xihuangcao’ and to know their pharmaceutical effects, this review summarizes the chemical constituents, bioactive properties of ‘Xihuangcao’ and their available application.
Keywords: Antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antitumour, ceramides, Chinese folk medicine, cold tea, diterpenoids, essential oil, food industry, immunosuppressive, pharmacy, phenolics, triterpenoids, Xihuangcao
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