Phytochemistry Reviews

, Volume 14, Issue 3, pp 353–366 | Cite as

Saussurea medusa, source of the medicinal herb snow lotus: a review of its botany, phytochemistry, pharmacology and toxicology

  • Jia-Yi Fan
  • Hu-Biao ChenEmail author
  • Lin Zhu
  • Hong-Li Chen
  • Zhong-Zhen Zhao
  • Tao YiEmail author


Saussurea medusa Maxim. is a plant source of the traditional medicine known as “snow lotus” which has been recorded in many ethnopharmacy books, including: Herbal Communications, Flora Tibet, National Herbal Compendium, and Crystal beads Materia Medica, This plant is also a medicinal plant source of Gaode-Subage, a Mongolian folk medicine. The review summarizes the traditional uses and current knowledge concerning the botany, phytochemistry, pharmacological effects, toxicology studies and clinical applications of S. medusa. These could guide the priorities and direction of the future research. Information on S. medusa was gathered from e-literature found on the internet using SCI Finder, Google Scholar, Web of science, PubMed, CNKI, and the Wanfang database, and from printed material (books, theses, etc.) found in libraries. Additionally, information was also obtained from some local herb gatherers, herbal peddler and herbalist. More than 70 chemical compounds have been isolated, including apigenin, quercetin, rutin, arctigenin, saussureoside A, and saussureoside B. Modern pharmacological studies have found that S. medusa has anti-inflammatory, analgesic, anti-fungal, anti-tumor, anti-anoxia, anti-oxidation, and anti-fatigue effects. This plant also benefits the uterus, cardiovascular system, intestines, tracheal smooth muscle, and immune system. S. medusa is an important traditional herbal medicine with a broad spectrum of therapeutic efficacies. It has the reputation of non-toxic. Due to the low source of the original plant, experiment of cell culture of S. medusa can improve the output of the medicine. Further studies can lead to the development of new drugs and therapeutics from this medical plant for various diseases.


Saussurea medusa Botany Phytochemistry Pharmacological effects 



This research was funded by the Faculty Research Grant of Hong Kong Baptist University (FRG2/14-15/061) and the Natural Science Foundation of Guangdong Province (2014A030313766).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Chinese MedicineHong Kong Baptist UniversityHong Kong Special Administrative RegionPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.Department of ChemistryLanzhou UniversityLanzhouChina

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