Phytochemistry Reviews

, Volume 17, Issue 3, pp 627–643 | Cite as

Therapeutic properties of lectins in herbal supplements

  • K. M. Mbae
  • S. Umesha
  • H. M. Manukumar


Medicinal plants host numerous therapeutic low molecular weight phytochemicals and macromolecules such as polysaccharides and proteins. Lectins are glycan binding proteins ubiquitous in the cell and the extracellular surface of all living organisms. Plant parts contain lectins with diverse glycan binding specificities. This review highlights the occurrence of lectins in herbal remedies, their persistence, and bioactivity. Lectins’ roles in plants include signaling, defense, and stress responses. The species, plant part, biotic and abiotic factors influence the type and concentration of lectins. Many lectins withstand herbal portions preparation procedures, resist degradation in the alimentary canal and crossover to the circulatory system. Exogenous plant lectins bind glycans with high specificity eliciting cellular responses that include antimicrobial, antitumor and immunomodulation effects. Some lectins are deleterious to normal physiology.


Lectins Medicinal herbs Antitumor Immunomodulation 



The author Mbae K. M. acknowledges financial support given by the Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India through the Indian Council for Cultural Relations to pursue Ph.D. under the Scholarship Scheme for students from African Countries.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no competing financial interests.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Studies in BiotechnologyUniversity of MysoreManasagangotri, MysoreIndia
  2. 2.Department of Food ScienceMeru University of Science and TechnologyMeruKenya

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