Ligustrum lucidum

Ligustrum lucidum

Common Names

  • Privet
  • Nu zhen zi
  • Glossy privet
  • Dong qing zin

For Patients & Caregivers

Tell your healthcare providers about any dietary supplements you’re taking, such as herbs, vitamins, minerals, and natural or home remedies. This will help them manage your care and keep you safe.

How It Works

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

Ligustrum lucidum is a Chinese medicinal herb used to treat poor vision, dizziness, fever, and insomnia, and to increase immune function in cancer patients. In vitro studies suggest it has antioxidant, antitumor, and immune function effects. A few animal studies suggest properties that may have benefits on bone and vision.

Data in humans are quite limited. In a small study of non-small cell lung cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy, a formula containing reishi mushroom and Ligustrum was found to help maintain quality of life (22). Additional studies to confirm efficacy and safety are needed.

Purported Uses
  • Cancer treatment
    In vitro studies suggest L. lucidum has anticancer properties, but clinical evidence is lacking.
  • Immunostimulation
    Data from lab studies suggest L. lucidum may change immune response.
  • To improve eyesight
    L. lucidum is used in Chinese medicine to treat poor eyesight, but clinical evidence is lacking.
  • To treat dizziness
    L. lucidum is used in Chinese medicine to treat dizziness, but clinical evidence is lacking.
  • Fever
    This use is not backed by scientific evidence.
  • Insomnia
    There are no data to support this use.
Do Not Take If

You have hypersensitivity to Ligustrum lucidum.

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For Healthcare Professionals

Scientific Name
Ligustrum lucidum
Clinical Summary

Ligustrum lucidum is a medicinal plant that is often used in combination with other herbs in traditional Chinese medicine. There are several species of Ligustrum that are thought to have different medicinal properties (2) (3). Traditionally, the plant is used to treat diminished eyesight, dizziness, fever, and insomnia. Some herbalists also use it to treat side effects caused by chemotherapy and to increase immune function in cancer patients.

In vitro studies suggest that the fruits of Ligustrum lucidum have antitumor (4) (5) (6), immunomodulatory (7) (13), antidiabetic (12), antiosteoporotic (15), antiviral (8) (16), antimutagenic (9) (10), hepatoprotective (11), and cytotoxic effects (17) (18). In animal models, Ligustrum compounds showed antiosteoporotic (19) and vision-sparing (20) effects. Ligustrum combined with Siberian ginseng may have protective effects against chemotherapy-induced myelosuppression (21).

Data in humans are quite limited. In a small study of non-small cell lung cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy, a formula containing reishi mushroom and Ligustrum was found to help maintain quality of life (22).

Purported Uses
  • Cancer
  • Immunostimulation
  • Dizziness
  • Fever
  • Insomnia
  • Poor vision
Mechanism of Action

In vitro studies suggest antitumor effects occur via immunomodulation and by reverting macrophage suppression brought about by tumors (4), or are due to increases in phagocytes and lymphokine-activated killer cells (5). Ligustrum may induce apoptosis in human hepatocellular carcinoma cells via p21 upregulation (17). Hepatoprotective effects are due to oleanolic acid and perhaps mediated by an increase in hepatic glutathione regeneration capacity (11).

Secoiridoid glucosides showed antioxidant effects against free radical-associated hemolysis of erythrocytes (1). The secoiridoid glucoside oleuropein has demonstrated antiviral activity against respiratory syncytial virus and parainfluenza type 3 virus (8) while other secoiridoid compounds showed activity against influenza A virus (16). The compound specnuezhenide may confer vision improvement effects via inhibition of HIF-1alpha/VEGF signaling pathway (20).

Salidroside and nuzhenide have been identified as potential antiosteoporotic compounds (15). In a murine model of diabetes-induced osteoporosis, ligustroflavone from Ligustrum fruit appeared to have protective effects via regulation of parathyroid hormone levels and improved calcium balance by acting on calcium-sensing receptors (19).


Hypersensitivity to this herb.

Adverse Reactions

None reported.

Dosage (OneMSK Only)
  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.
  15. Chen Q, Yang L, Zhang G, et al. Bioactivity-guided Isolation of antiosteoporotic compounds from Ligustrum lucidum. Phytother Res. Jul 2013;27(7):973-979.
  16. Pang X, Zhao JY, Yu HY, et al. Secoiridoid analogues from the fruits of Ligustrum lucidum and their inhibitory activities against influenza A virus. Bioorg Med Chem Lett. May 15 2018;28(9):1516-1519.
  17. Hu B, Du Q, Deng S, et al. Ligustrum lucidum Ait. fruit extract induces apoptosis and cell senescence in human hepatocellular carcinoma cells through upregulation of p21. Oncol Rep. Sep 2014;32(3):1037-1042.
  18. Tian G, Chen J, Luo Y, et al. Ethanol extract of Ligustrum lucidum Ait. leaves suppressed hepatocellular carcinoma in vitro and in vivo. Cancer Cell Int. 2019;19:246.
  19. Feng R, Ding F, Mi XH, et al. Protective Effects of Ligustroflavone, an Active Compound from Ligustrum lucidum, on Diabetes-Induced Osteoporosis in Mice: A Potential Candidate as Calcium-Sensing Receptor Antagonist. Am J Chin Med. 2019;47(2):457-476.
  20. Wu J, Ke X, Fu W, et al. Inhibition of Hypoxia-Induced Retinal Angiogenesis by Specnuezhenide, an Effective Constituent of Ligustrum lucidum Ait., through Suppression of the HIF-1alpha/VEGF Signaling Pathway. Molecules. Dec 21 2016;21(12).
  21. Wang C, Gao H, Cai E, et al. Protective effects of Acanthopanax senticosus - Ligustrum lucidum combination on bone marrow suppression induced by chemotherapy in mice. Biomed Pharmacother. Jan 2019;109:2062-2069.
  22. Liu J, Mao JJ, Li SQ, Lin H. Preliminary Efficacy and Safety of Reishi & Privet Formula on Quality of Life Among Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer Patients Undergoing Chemotherapy: A Randomized Placebo-Controlled Trial. Integr Cancer Ther. 2020 Jan-Dec;19:1534735420944491.
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