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Traditional Uses, Pharmacological, and Phytochemical Studies of Euphorbia: A Review

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Ethnopharmacological Relevance: Plants of the genus Euphorbia have long been used as traditional medicine in China, Europe, America, Turkey, India, Africa, Iran, and Pakistan for their great medicinal value and health benefits. Their stems, leaves, roots, and latex are widely used to treat respiratory infections, body and skin irritations, digestive disorders, inflammatory infections, body pain, snake or scorpion bites, pregnancy, sensory disturbances, microbial and anticancer diseases.

Objectives: This review aims to provide updated information on the genus Euphorbia, including traditional medicinal uses, valuation and exploitation of medicinal plants, phytochemistry, botanical characterization, pharmacological and toxicological research focused on the medicinal properties of several Euphorbias in particular their antibacterial, anti-tumor, and cell manifestations, in addition to the effect of each isolated bioactive molecule from these species and their pharmacological use including preclinical evaluation of new drugs.

Materials and Methods: This work was conducted using scientific databases such as: PubMed, Google Scholar, Scopus, Science Direct, etc. In addition, ChemDraw software has been used for the drawing of chemical molecules. The correct names of the plants were confirmed from The results of this review research were interpreted, analyzed and documented based on the bibliographical information obtained.

Results: Among all the species of the Euphorbiaceae family, 15 species have been demonstrated to exhibit anticancer activity, 21 species have antibacterial activity, and 10 species have cytotoxic activity. The majority of the chemical constituents of this plant include triterpenoid glycosides, diterpenoids, flavonoids, and the 4α-methyl steroids. Among them, the main bioactive constituents are present in the diterpenoid fraction. The study of more than 33 steroid plants identified more than 104 compounds. Pharmacological research proved that the crude extracts and some pure compounds obtained from Euphorbia had activities for the treatment of different diseases. The objective of the present study was focused on cytotoxic, antibacterial and antitumor diseases. The study of the phytochemistry of the Euphorbia families led to the conclusion that all the plants studied had active compounds, of which 27 plants were characterized by their cytotoxic effects, 7 had antibacterial effects and 10 plants had anti-tumor activities. Therefore, the safety of Euphorbia herbal medicine should be considered a top priority in the early stages of development and clinical trials.

Conclusion: Many previous studies have validated many traditional uses of Euphorbia species. The latex of some Euphorbia species seems to be toxic however, studies dealing with the safety and quality of these species are still incomplete. Extensive studies are needed on the Euphorbia plants before they can be fully used in clinics as a potent drug candidate, as researchers are focusing mainly on diterpenoids and triterpenoids, while there are many other types of compounds that may possess new biological activities.

Keywords: Anti-tumor; Antibacterial; Cytotoxicity; Euphorbiaceae; Medicinal properties; Pharmacology; Phytochemistry; Traditional use

Document Type: Miscellaneous

Publication date: July 1, 2022

This article was made available online on August 3, 2022 as a Fast Track article with title: "Traditional Uses, Pharmacological, and Phytochemical Studies of Euphorbia: A Review".

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