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J Ethnopharmacol. 2018 Mar 1;213:280-301. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2017.11.010. Epub 2017 Nov 17.

Ethnopharmacology, phytochemistry, and pharmacology of Cornus officinalis Sieb. et Zucc.

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School of Pharmacy, Ningxia Medical University, Yinchuan 750004, China.
School of Basic Medical Sciences, Ningxia Medical University, Yinchuan 750004, China.
School of Public Health, Ningxia Medical University, Yinchuan 750004, China.
School of Pharmacy, Ningxia Medical University, Yinchuan 750004, China; Ningxia Engineering and Technology Research Center for Modernization of Hui Medicine, Yinchuan 750004, China; Key Laboratory of Hui Ethnic Medicine Modernization, Ministry of Education (Ningxia Medical University), Yinchuan 750004, China. Electronic address:
Oklahoma State University, United States. Electronic address:



Cornus officinalis (Cornaceae), known in Chinese as "Shanzhuyu," is a frequently used traditional Chinese medicine. It tastes sour and is astringent and slightly warm in nature. Its fruits have long been used to treat kidney deficiency, high blood pressure, waist and knee pain, dizziness, tinnitus, impotence, spermatorrhea, menorrhagia, and other diseases in China. The main distribution areas are Shanxi and Gansu.


This review focused on the ethnopharmacological uses of the herb. We also focus on the phytochemical, pharmacological, and toxicological studies on C. officinalis. The recent analytical methods developed for the quality control of the herb's constituents are also reviewed. Additionally, future trends and prospects in the study of this herb are proposed.


Information on C. officinalis was gathered by searching the internet (PubMed, ScienceDirect, Wiley, ACS, CNKI, Scifinder, Web of Science, Google Scholar, and Baidu Scholar) and libraries.


This review compiled the ethnopharmacological uses, including the classic prescriptions and historical applications. Approximately 300 chemical compounds have been isolated and identified from C. officinalis. The major active components of the plant are organic acids and iridoids, among which morroniside and loganin have been extensively investigated. The fruit of the plant has been used in treating many diseases in traditional medicine. Scientific studies indicated the herb's wide range of pharmacological activities, such as hepatic and renal protection, antidiabetes activity, cardioprotection, antioxidation, neuroprotection, antitumor activity, anti-inflammation, analgesic effects, antiaging activity, antiamnesia, antiosteoporosis, and immunoregulation. The analytical methods developed for the quantitative and qualitative determination of various compounds in the herb were further reviewed.


In this paper, we reviewed various studies conducted on C. officinalis, especially in areas of its ethnopharmacological use, as well as on its phytochemistry, pharmacology, and modern analytical methods used. Some of the herb's ethnomedical indications have been confirmed by the herb's pharmacological effects, such as its hepatic and renal protection and the antidiabetic effects. In particular, the crude extract and its chemical composition have exerted good therapeutic effect in diabetic treatment. C. officinalis entails additional attention on its pharmacological effects and drug development to expand its effective use clinically. Many advanced technologies are used for quality testing, but the detection component is exceedingly scarce for synthetically evaluating the quality of C. officinalis herbs. Thus, further research is necessary to investigate the quality control and toxicology of the plant, to further elucidate its clinical use, and to control herbal quality.


7-O-Galloyl-D-sedoheptulose (PubChem CID: 42636959); Cornus officinalis; Cornuside (PubChem CID: 11228694); Diabetes; Ellagic Acid (PubChem CID: 5281855); Gallic acid (PubChem CID: 370); Liver and kidney protection; Loganin (PubChem CID: 87691); Malic acid (PubChem CID: 525); Morroniside; Morroniside (PubChem CID: 11304302); Oleanolic acid (PubChem CID: 10494); Quality control; Sweroside (PubChem CID: 161036); Ursolic acid (PubChem CID: 64945); β-Sitosterol (PubChem CID: 222284)

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