Ligustrum lucidum

Health Care Professional Information

Scientific Name
Ligustrum lucidum Ait
Common Name

Privet, Nu Zhen Zi, Glossy Privet, Dong qing Zin

Clinical Summary

Ligustrum lucidum is a Chinese medicinal plant that is often used in combination with other herbs in botanical formulas. There are several species of Ligustrum that are thought to have different medicinal properties (2) (3). Traditionally, the plant is used to treat diminished eye sight, dizziness, fever, insomnia, and lower back pain. Some herbalists also use it to treat side effects caused by chemotherapy and to increase immunity in cancer patients. In vitro studies have shown that the fruits of Ligustrum lucidum have antitumor (4) (5) (6), immunomodulatory (7) (13), antioxidative (1), antiviral (8), antimutagenic (9) (10), hepatoprotective (11), and antidiabetic (12) properties.
However, human data are lacking.
There are no reports of adverse effects from the use of Ligustrum.

Purported Uses
  • Cancer treatment
  • Dizziness
  • Fever
  • Immunostimulation
  • Insomnia
  • Viral infections
Constituents
  • Triterpenoids: Oleanolic Acid, Osolic Acid Oleuropenin Denamite
  • Secoiridoid Glucosides: Lucidumoside, Oleoside dimethyl ether, Neonuezhenide, Oleuropein, Ligustrosides A and B, Isoneuzhenide, Lucidumosides A, B, C, and D, isoligustrosidic acid, 6'-O-trans-cinnamoyl 8-epikingisidic acid, 6'-O-cis-cinnamoyl 8-epikingisidic acid, oleopolynuzhenide A, nuzhenals A and B
    (1) (14)
Mechanism of Action

Ligustrum lucidum is thought to exert antitumor properties by modulating immune response and by reverting macrophage suppression brought about by tumors (4). Another in vitro study has shown that such effects may also be due to increase in phagocytes and lymphokine-activated killer (LAK) cells (5). The secoiridoid glucosides in Ligustrum fruit showed strong antioxidant effect against free radical-associated hemolysis of erythrocytes (1). One of the secoiridoid glucosides, oleuropein, also demonstrated significant antiviral activity against respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and parainfluenza type 3 virus (Para 3) although the mechanism is not known (8). The hepatoprotective effects of Ligustrum are due to the oleanolic acid and are thought to be mediated by an increase in hepatic glutathione regeneration capacity (11).

Contraindications

Hypersensitivity to the herb.

Adverse Reactions

None reported.

Literature Summary and Critique

Clinical trials have not been conducted to test the anticancer effects of Ligustrum lucidum.

Dosage (Inside MSKCC Only)
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References
  1. He ZD, et al. Antioxidative glucosides from the fruits of Ligustrum lucidum. Chem Pharm Bull (Tokyo) 2001; 49(6):780-784.
  2. Lau KM, et al. Anti-oxidative, anti-inflammatory and hepato-protective effects of Ligustrum robustum. J Ethnopharmacol 2002; 83(1-2):63-71.
  3. Wong IY, et al. Antioxidative activities of phenylethanoid glycosides from Ligustrum purpurascens. J Agric Food Chem 2001; 49(6):3113-3119.
  4. Rittenhouse JR, Lui PD, Lau BH. Chinese medicinal herbs reverse macrophage suppression induced by urological tumors. J Urol 1991; 146(2):486-490.
  5. Lau BH, et al. Chinese medicinal herbs inhibit growth of murine renal cell carcinoma. Cancer Biother 1994; 9(2):153-161.
  6. Hsieh TC, et al. Effects of herbal preparation Equiguard on hormone-responsive and hormone-refractory prostate carcinoma cells: mechanistic studies. Int J Oncol 2002; 20(4):681-689.
  7. Sun Y, et al. Immune restoration and/or augmentation of local graft versus host reaction by traditional Chinese medicinal herbs. Cancer 1983; 52(1):70-73.
  8. Ma SC, et al. In vitro evaluation of secoiridoid glucosides from the fruits of Ligustrum lucidum as antiviral agents. Chem Pharm Bull (Tokyo) 2001; 49(11):1471-1473.
  9. Wong BY, et al. Chinese medicinal herbs modulate mutagenesis, DNA binding and metabolism of aflatoxin B1. Mutat Res 1992; 279(3):209-216.
  10. Niikawa M, et al.Isolation of substances from glossy privet (Ligustrum lucidum Ait.) inhibiting the mutagenicity of benzo[a]pyrene in bacteria. Mutat Res 1993; 319(1):1-9.
  11. Yim TK, et al. Hepatoprotective action of an oleanolic acid-enriched extract of Ligustrum lucidum fruits is mediated through an enhancement on hepatic glutathione regeneration capacity in mice. Phytother Res 2001; 15(7):589-592.
  12. Gao D, Li Q, Li Y, et al. Antidiabetic and antioxidant effects of oleanolic acid from Ligustrum lucidum Ait in alloxan-induced diabetic rats. Phytother Res. 2009 Sep;23(9):1257-62.
  13. Wang J, Shan A, Liu T, Zhang C, Zhang Z. In vitro immunomodulatory effects of an oleanolic acid-enriched extract of Ligustrum lucidum fruit (Ligustrum lucidum supercritical CO2 extract) on piglet immunocytes. Int Immunopharmacol. 2012 Dec;14(4):758-63.
  14. Aoki S, Honda Y, Kikuchi T, Miura T, et al. Six new secoiridoids from the dried fruits of Ligustrum lucidum. Chem Pharm Bull (Tokyo). 2012;60(2):251-6.

Consumer Information

How It Works

Bottom Line: Ligustrum lucidum has not been shown to treat cancer in humans.

Ligustrum lucidum is a Chinese medicinal herb used to treat diminished eye sight, dizziness, fever, insomnia, and to increase immune function in cancer patients. In vitro studies have shown that it has antioxidative, antitumor, and immunomodulating effects. However, human data are lacking.

Purported Uses
  • Cancer treatment
    In vitro studies have shown that Ligustrum lucidum has anticancer properties. But clinical evidence is lacking.
  • Immunostimulation
    Data from laboratory studies indicate that Ligustrum lucidum can change immune response.
  • Eye sight
    Ligustrum lucidum is used in Chinese medicine to treat poor eye sight but there is no clinical evidence to support this.
  • Dizziness
    There are no data to support this use although Ligustrum lucidum is used to treat dizziness in Chinese medicine.
  • Fever
    This use is not backed by scientific evidence.
  • Insomnia
    There are no data to support this use.
  • Antiviral
    One in vitro study has shown that Ligustrum lucidum is effective against certain viruses.
Research Evidence

No clinical trials have been conducted to test the efficacy of Ligustrum lucidum.

Do Not Take If

You have hypersensitivity to Ligustrum lucidum.

E-mail your questions and comments to aboutherbs@mskcc.org.