Astilbe rivularis Buch. Ham., a rhizomatous perennial herb of the Saxifragaceae family, has been listed in rare species. In traditional medicine the plant has been used for the treatment of ulcer, bleeding during child birth, inflammation, body ache, diarrhea, and dysentery. This article reviews and analyses the traditional use, pharmacological activities of the corresponding bioactive compounds, and toxicological data on A. rivularis species. A. rivularis has been used across Indian subcontinent to treat various human ailments. Its extract consists of alkaloids, flavonoids, coumarins and glycosides. These extracts as well as isolated bioactive compounds demonstrated various biological activities including antimicrobial, anti-peptic ulcer, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant activity. Toxicological studies of the extract on brine shrimp larvae demonstrated mild toxicity; however no acute toxicity in mice. Although the pharmacological effect of A. rivularis has been poorly explored, the available data validated its use in ethnomedicine. To reveal the cryptic therapeutic potential of the species, research should focus on identification and mechanistic studies of the bioactive compounds.
Keywords: Astilbe rivularis; bioactive compounds; ethnomedical; pharmacological; toxicological.