Introduction

The folk medicinal herb Brandisia hancei Hook. f. (Scrophulariaceae) is mainly distributed throughout southwestern China. The whole plant has been frequently prescribed for centuries in Bai, Hani, and Yu minority areas of China to treat chronic and acute osteomyelitis, rheumatoid arthritis, chronic hepatitis, hyperlipemia, and hypercholesterolemia, while the roots and leaves are used to cure hepatitis, hematuria, enterorrhagia, and metritis (1,2). Reports dealing with B. hancei have shown that this plant in general appears to have a reproducible profile regarding its phytochemistry and pharmacology, which is quite consistent with its use in folk medicine. The species is commonly prepared as a main component drug in several decoctions. As this herb is so clinically important, the plant has received much chemical and biological attention to obtain a better understanding of its phytochemistry and pharmacology. This chapter is dedicated to the chemical composition, pharmacological aspects, and health effects of B. hancei reported so far in the literature.

II. CHEMISTRY PROFILE

The phytochemicals of B. hancei have been investigated by chromatographic (CC, TLC, HPLC, LC-UV, LC-MS) and spectroscopic methods (IR, !H, and 13C NMR) as well as by various 2D NMR techniques such as COSY, HMBC, HMQC, and NOESY). A wide variety of caffeoylated phenylpropanoid glycosides have been characterized from the species (Fig. 1). A specific procedure for the extraction and isolation of phenylpropanoid glycosides is as follows: The whole herb (2620 g) is extracted with methanol three times, and the extract is concentrated in vacuo until 282 g methanol extract is achieved. The extract is subjected to percolation over D-101 macroresin successively with H2O, 60% EtOH, and 90% EtOH. The 60% EtOH-eluted fraction is repeatedly chromatographed on silica gel columns using CHCl3-MeOH-H2O or CHCl3-MeOH gradients to yield phenylpropanoid glycosides acteoside ( = verbascoside,), 2-O-acetylacteoside, and poliumoside (3). The structure of brandioside, an additional new antioxidative phenylpropanoid glycoside, has been determined on the basis of extensive spectrometric analyses (4). Furthermore, phenylethanoids arenarioside and isoaceteoside

Figure 1

hancei.

Structures of phenylethanoids isolated from the extract of Brandisia

Figure 1

hancei.

Structures of phenylethanoids isolated from the extract of Brandisia were characterized in the n-butanol fraction of water extract of the twigs and leaves of B. hancei (5).

Flavonoids and iridoid glycosides are also quite common in the Scrophulariaceae family, but only flavone luteolin and iridoid glycoside mussaenoside have been detected to date from the n-butanol fraction of B. hancei. Luteolin is one of the main active principles in medicinal herbs and diets, with many pharmacological activities. Other phytochemicals reported from the species are dulcitol and mannitol as well as two h-sitosterol glycosides, daucosterol and h-sitosterol gentiobioside (3-5).

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