Ligustrum lucidum

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Ligustrum lucidum

Common Names

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

For Patients & Caregivers

How It Works

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, 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. However, studies have not been conducted in humans.

Purported Uses
  • Cancer treatment
    In vitro studies suggest that Ligustrum lucidum has anticancer properties, but clinical evidence is lacking.
  • Immunostimulation
    Data from laboratory studies suggest that Ligustrum lucidum may change immune response.
  • Antiviral
    A few laboratory studies suggest antiviral effects.
  • To improve eyesight
    Ligustrum lucidum is used in Chinese medicine to treat poor eye sight but there is no clinical evidence to support this.
  • To treat 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.
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 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, 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), antioxidative (1), antidiabetic (12), antiosteoporotic (15), antiviral (8) (16), antimutagenic (9) (10), and hepatoprotective (11) properties. Laboratory studies also suggest cytotoxic effects in hepatocellular carcinoma cells (17) (18). In animal studies, Ligustrum compounds exhibited potential antiosteoporotic (19) and vision sparing (20) effects. Other models suggest that Ligustrum in combination with Siberian ginseng may be helpful for chemotherapy-induced myelosuppression (21). However, no studies have been conducted in humans.

Purported Uses
  • Cancer treatment
  • 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).

Contraindications

Hypersensitivity to this herb.

Adverse Reactions

None reported.

Dosage (OneMSK Only)
References
  1. He ZD, et al. Antioxidative glucosides from the fruits of Ligustrum lucidum. Chem Pharm Bull (Tokyo) 2001; 49(6):780-784.

  2. Wong IY, et al. Antioxidative activities of phenylethanoid glycosides from Ligustrum purpurascens. J Agric Food Chem 2001; 49(6):3113-3119.

  3. Rittenhouse JR, Lui PD, Lau BH. Chinese medicinal herbs reverse macrophage suppression induced by urological tumors. J Urol 1991; 146(2):486-490.

  4. Lau BH, et al. Chinese medicinal herbs inhibit growth of murine renal cell carcinoma. Cancer Biother 1994; 9(2):153-161.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

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