Context: Many herbal remedies have so far been employed for the treatment and management of various ailments since the beginning of human civilization. Medicago is an extensive genus of the family Leguminosae, comprising about 83 different species. Medicago sativa (Linn.) has long been used as traditional herbal medicine in China, Iraq, Turkey, India and America for the treatment of a variety of ailments.
Objectives: The aim of this review was to collect all available scientific literature published and combine it into this review. The present review comprises the ethnopharmacological, phytochemical and therapeutic potential of M. sativa.
Methods: The present review includes 117 references compiled from major databases as Chemical Abstracts, Science Direct, SciFinder, PubMed, Dr. Dukes Phytochemical and Ethnobotany, CIMER, and InteliHealth.
Results: An exhaustive survey of literature revealed that saponins, flavonoids, phytoestrogens, coumarins, alkaloids, amino acids, phytosterols, vitamins, digestive enzymes and terpenes constitute major classes of phytoconstituents of this plant. Pharmacological reports revealed that it is used as neuroprotective, hypocholesterolemic, antioxidant, antiulcer, antimicrobial, hypolipidemic, estrogenic, and in the treatment of atherosclerosis, heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes and menopausal symptoms in women.
Conclusion: M. sativa seems to hold great potential for in-depth investigation for various biological activities, especially their effects on central nervous and cardiovascular system. Through this review, the authors hope to attract the attention of natural product researchers throughout the world to focus on the unexplored potential of M. sativa, and it may be useful in developing new formulations with more therapeutic value.