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Phytochemistry and pharmacology of the genus Leonurus: The herb to benefit the mothers and more.


Plants belonging to the genus Leonurus, also named motherwort, are traditionally used for anti-gynecological disorder in East Asia, and for sedative in Europe. Chemical investigation of the genus Leonurus not only enriched the natural products library, but also enlarged the pharmacological application of this traditional herb. In this review, we systematically summarized the structures of 259 compounds isolated from the genus Leonurus, featured with 147 labdane diterpenoids. The reported bioactivity studies up to 2017 are presented in the second part, with the main focus on the isolated compounds and also concerning the extracts. In addition to the traditional uterine contraction and sedative activity, recently the cardiovascular protection effect of leonurine has drawn most attention. Other than that, neuroprotection, anti-inflammation, anti-cancer, anti-platelet aggregation and many other activities have been assigned to various compounds from the genus Leonurus. Among 70 bioactivity references cited in this review, 57% of them were concentrated on two alkaloids (leonurine and stachydrine), whereas only 20% are about the 147 diterpenoids. Anti-inflammation is the major bioactivity discovered so far for the labdane diterpenoids from the genus Leonurus, whose further therapeutic potential still remains for exploration.