Petasites (butterbur, Asteraceae) species have been used since Ancient times in the traditional medicine of Asian and European countries to treat central nervous system (migraine), respiratory (asthma, allergic rhinitis, bronchitis, spastic cough), cardiovascular (hypertension), gastrointestinal (ulcers) and genitourinary (dysmenorrhea) disorders.
Aim of the review
This study summarized and discussed the traditional uses, phytochemical, pharmacological and toxicological aspects of Petasites genus.
Materials and methods
A systematic search of Petasites in online databases (Scopus, PubMed, ScienceDirect, Google Scholar) was performed, with the aim to find the phytochemical, toxicological and bioactivity studies. The Global Biodiversity Information Facility, Plants of the World Online, World Flora Online and The Plant List databases were used to describe the taxonomy and geographical distribution.
The detailed phytochemistry of the potentially active compounds of Petasites genus (e.g. sesquiterpenes, pyrrolizidine alkaloids, polyphenols and essential oils components) was presented. The bioactivity studies (cell-free, cell-based, animal, and clinical) including the traditional uses of Petasites (e.g. anti-spasmolytic, hypotensive, anti-asthmatic activities) were addressed and followed by discussion of the main pharmacokinetical and toxicological issues related to the administration of butterbur-based formulations.
This review provides a complete overview of the Petasites geographical distribution, traditional use, phytochemistry, bioactivity, and toxicity. More than 200 different sesquiterpenes (eremophilanes, furanoeremophilanes, bakkenolides), 50 phenolic compounds (phenolic acids, flavonoids, lignans) and volatile compounds (monoterpenes, sesquiterpenes) have been reported within the genus. Considering the phytochemical complexity and the polypharmacological potential, there is a growing research interest to extend the current therapeutical applications of Petasites preparations (anti-migraine, anti-allergic) to other human ailments, such as central nervous system, cardiovascular, malignant or microbial diseases. This research pathway is extremely important, especially in the recent context of the pandemic situation, when there is an imperious need for novel drug candidates.