Journal of Zhejiang University-SCIENCE B

, Volume 19, Issue 2, pp 85–119 | Cite as

A review of the use of pteridophytes for treating human ailments

  • Xavier-ravi Baskaran
  • Antony-varuvel Geo Vigila
  • Shou-zhou Zhang
  • Shi-xiu Feng
  • Wen-bo LiaoEmail author


The aim of this review was to explore the pharmacological activity of early tracheophytes (pteridophytes) as an alternative medicine for treating human ailments. As the first vascular plants, pteridophytes (aka, ferns and fern allies) are an ancient lineage, and human beings have been exploring and using taxa from this lineage for over 2000 years because of their beneficial properties. We have documented the medicinal uses of pteridophytes belonging to thirty different families. The lycophyte Selaginella sp. was shown in earlier studies to have multiple pharmacological activity, such as antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, antidiabetic, antiviral, antimicrobial, and anti-Alzheimer properties. Among all the pteridophytes examined, taxa from the Pteridaceae, Polypodiaceae, and Adiantaceae exhibited significant medicinal activity. Based on our review, many pteridophytes have properties that could be used in alternative medicine for treatment of various human illnesses. Biotechnological tools can be used to preserve and even improve their bioactive molecules for the preparation of medicines against illness. Even though several studies have reported medicinal uses of ferns, the possible bioactive compounds of several pteridophytes have not been identified. Furthermore, their optimal dosage level and treatment strategies still need to be determined. Finally, the future direction of pteridophyte research is discussed.


Pteridophyte Fern Alternative medicine Selaginella Human illness Bioactive molecule 



蕨类植物全世界约48 科250 属12000 种,目前只 有少数蕨类植物的生物学活性得到了研究,这些 研究已经证明蕨类植物的药用价值及其在植物 科学领域的重要性。本文旨在总结关于蕨类植物 的主要化学成分及药理活性,特别是其抗氧化活 性、抗肿瘤活性、抗糖尿病活性、抗病毒活性、 抗炎活性、抗菌活性、抗老年痴呆症和脑疾病活 性等,可用于替代医学的各种人类疾病治疗。然 而,它们的最佳剂量和治疗策略仍需要进一步研 究。


蕨类植物 替代医学 卷柏属 人类疾病 生物活性分子 


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Copyright information

© Zhejiang University and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Biocontrol and Guangdong Key Laboratory of Plant Resources, School of Life SciencesSun Yat-sen UniversityGuangzhouChina
  2. 2.Shenzhen Key Laboratory of Southern Subtropical Plant DiversityFairy Lake Botanical Garden / Chinese Academy of SciencesShenzhenChina
  3. 3.Department of ZoologySt. Xavier’s CollegePalayamkottai, Tamil NaduIndia

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