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J Ethnopharmacol. 2013 Aug 26;149(1):1-23. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2013.05.048. Epub 2013 Jun 7.

Senecio scandens Buch.-Ham.: a review on its ethnopharmacology, phytochemistry, pharmacology, and toxicity.

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Institute of Medicinal Plant Development, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences and Peking Union Medical College, Beijing 100193, China.



The aerial parts of Senecio scandens Buch.-Ham. (family Asteraceae) have a long history in traditional Chinese medicine as a treatment for various ailments, such as bacterial diarrhea, enteritis, conjunctivitis, and respiratory tract infections.


A bibliographic investigation of Senecio scandens was accomplished by analyzing secondary sources, including the Chinese Medicinal plantal Classics, the Internet (Google Scholar and Baidu Scholar), and scientific databases accepted worldwide (Pubmed, Scopus, Web of Science, SciFinder, and CNKI). These sources were scrutinized for available information about the uses of Senecio scandens in traditional Chinese medicine, phytochemistry, pharmacology, and toxicology.


Senecio scandens is a medicinal plant with a climbing woody stem. Phytochemical studies have shown the presence of numerous valuable compounds, such as flavonoids, alkaloids, phenolic acids, terpenes, volatile oils, carotenoids, and trace elements. Among them, PAs are the characteristic constituents, adonifoline is one of the index ingredients of Senecio scandens. Studies in modern pharmacology have demonstrated that extracts and compounds isolated from Senecio scandens show a wide spectrum of pharmacological activities, including anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, anti-leptospirosis, hepatoprotective, anti-infusorial, antioxidant, antiviral, antitumoral, analgesic, mutagenic, and toxicological activities.


Phytochemical and pharmacological studies have demonstrated that the extracts of the plant possess various pharmacological activities that can be attributed to the presence of various flavonoids, phenolic acids, and alkaloids. Newer technologies for qualitative and quantitative methods of PAs need to be developed to obtain better accuracy and sensitivity. Due to the toxicity of PAs present in this medicinal plant, the regulations on PAs of Senecio scandens were varied among different countries and regions. In China, the PAs toxicity of Senecio scandens ranking criteria is not well defined in the Chinese Pharmacopoeia 2010, and there is no strict uniform requirement on the PAs in western countries. We propose that the use of Senecio scandens should be reevaluated based on a set of criteria, which includes risk-benefit analysis and severity of the toxic effects, clinical and preclinical data to ensure safe use while continuing to satisfy the need for access to the medicinal plant.


Alkaloids; CP 2010; CPPR; Chinese Pharmacopoiea 2010; Flavonoids; GC–MS; HPAs; HPLC; HPLC–MS; LC–MS; LD(50); MIC; NMR; OPLS-DA; OTC; PANO; PAs; PCA; PGE2; PIS; Pharmacology; Phytochemistry; RSV; SCE; SD; Senecio scandens; Senecio scandens Buch.-Ham.; Senecio scandens extract; Sprague-Dawley rats; TCM; TLC; The Committee of Pharmacopeia of the People's Republic of China; Toxicology; WHO; World Health Organization; gas chromatography–mass spectrometry; hepatotoxic pyrrolizidine alkaloids; high-performance liquid chromatography; high-performance liquid chromatography–mass spectrometry; liquid chromatography–mass spectrometry; minimal inhibitory concentration; nuclear magnetic resonance; orthogonal projections to latent structures-discriminant analysis; over-the-counter; precursor ion scan; principle component analysis; prostaglandin E2; pyrrolizidine alkaloids; pyrrolizidine alkaloids N-oxide; respiratory syncytial virus; the median lethal dose for 50% of the tested subjects; thin-layer chromatography; traditional Chinese medicine

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