Cnidium monnieri (L.) Cuss., an annual plant of the Umbelliferae species is one of the most widely used traditional herbal medicines and its fruits have been used to treat a variety of diseases in China, Vietnam, and Japan. The aim of this review is to provide an up-to-date and comprehensive analysis of the botany, traditional uses, phytochemistry, pharmacology, toxicity and contraindication of Cnidium monnieri (L.) Cuss. and to provide future directions of research on this plant. To date, 350 compounds have been isolated and identified from Cnidium monnieri (L.) Cuss., including the main active constituent, coumarins. In vitro and in vivo studies suggest that osthole and other coumarin compounds possess wide range of pharmacological properties for the treatment of female genitals, male impotence, frigidity, skin-related diseases, and exhibit strong antipruritic, anti-allergic, antidermatophytic, antibacterial, antifungal, anti-osteoporotic effects. Although coumarins have been identified as the main active constituents responsible for the observed pharmacological effects, the molecular mechanisms of their actions are still unknown. Therefore, further studies are still required to reveal the structure-activity relationship of these active constituents. In addition, toxicological and clinical studies are also required to provide further data for pharmaceutical use.
Keywords: Cnidium monnieri (L.) Cuss; Pharmacological Actions; Phytochemistry; Traditional Uses.