Inhibitory effects of commonly used herbal extracts on UGT1A1 enzyme activity

Xenobiotica. 2010 Oct;40(10):663-9. doi: 10.3109/00498254.2010.505669.


Commonly used herbal supplements were screened for their potential to inhibit UGT1A1 activity using human liver microsomes. Extracts screened included ginseng, echinacea, black cohosh, milk thistle, garlic, valerian, saw palmetto, and green tea epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). Estradiol-3-O-glucuronide (E-3-G) formation was used as the index of UGT1A1 activity. All herbal extracts except garlic showed inhibition of UGT1A1 activity at one or more of the three concentrations tested. A volume per dose index (VDI) was calculated to estimate the volume in which the daily dose should be diluted to obtain an IC(50)-equivalent concentration. EGCG, echinacea, saw palmetto, and milk thistle had VDI values >2.0 L per dose unit, suggesting a higher potential for interaction. Inhibition curves were constructed for EGCG, echinacea, saw palmetto, and milk thistle. IC(50) values were (mean ± SE) 7.8 ± 0.9, 211.7 ± 43.5, 55.2 ± 9.2, and 30.4 ± 6.9 µg/ml for EGCG, echinacea, saw palmetto, and milk thistle extracts, respectively. Based on our findings, inhibition of UGT1A1 by milk thistle and EGCG and to a lesser extent by echinacea and saw palmetto is plausible, particularly in the intestine where higher extract concentrations are anticipated. Further clinical studies are warranted.

MeSH terms

  • Catechin / analogs & derivatives*
  • Catechin / pharmacology
  • Drug Evaluation, Preclinical
  • Echinacea*
  • Estradiol / analogs & derivatives
  • Estradiol / biosynthesis
  • Glucuronosyltransferase / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Humans
  • Inhibitory Concentration 50
  • Microsomes, Liver
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*
  • Serenoa
  • Silybum marianum*


  • Plant Extracts
  • estradiol-3-glucuronide
  • Estradiol
  • Catechin
  • epigallocatechin gallate
  • UGT1A1 enzyme
  • Glucuronosyltransferase
  • saw palmetto extract