The Mandragora genus (Solanaceae) is well known for its association with myths and has been used in herbal medicine since ancient times. This extensive literature review synthesizes the information currently available on the ethnobotany, Persian medicine (PM), traditional use, phytochemistry, pharmacology, and toxicity profile of Mandragora spp. The electronic search engines Scopus, Web of Science, PubMed, Google Scholar, and ScienceDirect were searched using keywords such as Mandragora, mandrake, phytochemistry, ethnopharmacology, Persian medicine, ethnobotany, and toxicity. Pertinent information was also extracted from books on PM, ethnomedicine, and dissertations. Mandragora species are found throughout the Mediterranean basin, Europe, Northern Africa, and the Himalayan regions. Traditionally, the species have been used to treat insomnia, dysuria, hemorrhoids, rheumatic pain, toothache, melancholia, and depression, among many others. In vitro studies have confirmed the biological properties of Mandragora spp. crude extracts, such as antioxidant, immunomodulatory, and enzyme-inhibiting effects. Various phytochemicals, such as alkaloids (e.g., atropine and scopolamine), coumarins (e.g., umbelliferone and scopoletin), withanolides (e.g., salpichrolide C), and lipid-like compounds (e.g., beta-sitosterol), have been isolated from Mandragora spp. Some of the pure compounds composing this plant are highlighted for their biologically active effects, including anticholinergic, antidepressant, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory effects. Modern identifications of biological activities of the compounds isolated from Mandragora, especially alkaloids, support its traditional uses (e.g., for their narcotic effects). More in vivo studies are required to further understanding and most effectively utilize this genus, and extensive toxicological studies are required to validate its safety in clinical use.
Keywords: Ethnomedicine, Mandragora, mandrake, persian medicine, tropane alkaloids, phytochemistry.