Objective: This review aims to present updated and generalized data on ethnobotany, phytochemistry, and biological activity of some species of the genus Asarum L. (Aristolochiaceae Juss.). These species have been used as medicinal plants of traditional medicine in Asia (China, Japan, and India), Europe, and North America for a long time. This study included the 6 most widely known representatives of the genus Asarum L.: A. europaeum L. (European species); A. heterotropoides F. Schmidt, A. himalaicum J.D. Hooker & Thomson ex Klotzsch and A. sieboldii Miq. (Asian species); A. canadense L. and A. caudatum Lindl. (American species).
Materials and methods: Analysis of various literary sources of different years. Electronic scientific search systems (Pubmed, Springer, Wiley Online Library, Science Direct, Biodiversity library), electronic databases (Pubchem, Human Metabolome Database) and other Internet resources were used to search for the relevant literature and the necessary information.
Results: The phytochemical analysis of these species shows the presence of essential oils, terpenoids, steroids, phenylpropanoids, phenolcarboxylic acids, phenanthrene derivatives, lignans/neolignans, flavonoids, alkaloids, and other compounds. Studies of extracts and individual isolated compounds demonstrate a wide range of biological activity. They also provide evidence of nephrotoxicity and carcinogenic effects of phenanthrene derivatives (aristolochic acid – AAI and AAII).
Conclusions: Further study of genus Asarum L. species is required to determine the prospects for their use as sources of modern medicines, because of the bioavailability of raw materials, the wide range of biological activity and the therapeutic potential.
Asarum, A. europaeum, A. heterotropoides, A. himalaicum, A. sieboldii, A. canadense, A. caudatum, biologically active substanthes, ethnopharmacology