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Planta Med. 2013 Dec;79(18):1685-97. doi: 10.1055/s-0033-1350934. Epub 2013 Oct 23.

Pharmacological properties of shikonin - a review of literature since 2002.

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Departament de Farmacologia, Facultat de Farmàcia, Universitat de València, Valencia, Spain.


The naphthoquinone shikonin is the main active principle of Zicao, a traditional Chinese herbal medicine made from the dried root of Lithospermum erythrorhizon. Studies carried out over the past 30 years have provided a scientific basis for the use of Zicao which has been long employed in folk medicine to treat a variety of inflammatory and infectious diseases. In particular, shikonin has been shown to possess many diverse properties, including antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antithrombotic, antimicrobial, and wound healing effects. The fact that shikonin shows so many beneficial properties has increased the interest in this molecule dramatically, especially in the past few years. The aim of this review is to provide an update of the new data published on shikonin, whose wide spectrum of pharmacological effects as well as pharmacokinetic properties and toxicity make it a highly interesting target molecule.

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