Chemical and pharmacological studies of Oplopanax horridus, a North American botanical

J Nat Med. 2012 Apr;66(2):249-56. doi: 10.1007/s11418-011-0602-2. Epub 2011 Nov 20.


Oplopanax horridus (OH), or Devil's club, is an ethnobotanical used by the indigenous people native to the Pacific Northwest of North America. There are three species in the genus Oplopanax, and OH is the only species that is distributed in North America. Compared with the extensive research on OH's "cousin," American ginseng, there is comparatively little reported about the chemical makeup and pharmacological effects of OH. Nevertheless, there has been some research over the past few years that shows promise for the future usage perspectives of OH. To date, 17 compounds were isolated and elucidated, including polyynes, glycosides, lignans, and polyenes, with most of the attention being paid to the polyynes. Gas chromatography (GC) and high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) were used to determine the contents of volatile compounds and polyynes in the essential oil and extracts of OH. For the pharmacological studies, antibacterial and antidiabetes effects of polyynes were reported. Our recent study has focused more on the anticancer effects of OH and the involved mechanisms of action. In this review, we will summarize the research status in the botany, phytochemistry, and pharmacology of OH.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / chemistry
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • North America
  • Oplopanax / chemistry*
  • Plant Extracts / chemistry
  • Plant Extracts / therapeutic use*
  • Polyynes / chemistry
  • Polyynes / therapeutic use


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Plant Extracts
  • Polyynes