Psorospermum febrifugum Spach (Hypericaceae): Ethnomedicine, phytochemistry, and pharmacological activity of an underexplored plant

Abdulwakeel Ayokun-nun Ajao, Annah Ntsamaeeng Moteetee

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Psorospermum febrifugum Spach is widely used in traditional African medicinal care for ailments such as malarial, pneumonia, skin disease, dysmenorrhoea, dysentery, tuberculosis, etc. This review presents ethnomedicinal uses, phytochemical composition, pharmacological activities and toxicology of P. febrifugum for the first time. This is with a view to appraise the extent to which the plant has been explored in ethnomedicinal care and to identify the knowledge gap to spur future research into evaluating its pharmacological activities, mechanism actions and toxicological effects of extracts and isolated compounds. Information on the distribution, morphology, folkloric/traditional uses, ethnomedicine, phytochemistry and pharmacology was gathered from online scientific databases such as Google Scholar, PubMed, Science Direct, and relevant online books and sources from 1953 to 2023. Pharmacological data from in vitro and in vivo studies revealed that P. febrifugum metabolites and extracts possess biological activities such as antioxidant, antimicrobial, anticancer, acaricidal, anxiolytic, antipsoriatic, antimalarial, antitrypanosomal activity, and anti-inflammatory, which confirmed the folkloric usages of the plant. Regarding the phytochemistry of the plant, anthraquinones and xanthones are the most isolated metabolites from P. febrifugum roots and fruits, and they have been confirmed to have anticancer properties. Toxicological studies on the extracts from the plant also revealed the plant is safe for oral administration. Future studies on the therapeutic potentials of P. febrifugum should focus on clinical trials and pharmacological studies of the extract that have only been tested in vitro to harness the medicinal properties of P. febrifugum fully. The plant's leaves must also be screened for critical therapeutic metabolites, as most of the reported studies on the phytochemistry of P. febrifugum have focused on barks, stems and roots.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere01934
JournalScientific African
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2023


  • Anthraquinones
  • Anticancer
  • Ethnopharmacology
  • Indigenous knowledge
  • Medicinal plant
  • Xanthones

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Multidisciplinary


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