Essential oil is the low polar and volatile components distilled or extracted from Ligusticum chuanxiong, the dry root of perennial herb L. chuanxiong, which has proven to be one of the main biological active ingredients of L. chuanxiong. Studies suggested that essential oil of L. chuanxiong mainly contains phthalide, terpene alcohols and fatty acids compounds. Different regions or varied extraction technology had influences on the type and contents of compound in essential oil of L. chuanxiong and the total yield efficiency of essential oil, while the differences among the distribution of compounds leads to the variant pharmacological function of essential oil of L. chuanxiong. Researches confirmed that essential oil of L. chuanxiong has kinds of pharmacological activities such as sedation, analgesia, improve function of blood vessels, protected nerve cells and fever-reducing, all these benefits were verified by experiment studies in vivo and some of which were used as therapies in treating migraine, the underlining mechanisms include anti-inflammation, apoptosis pathway and studies found that essential oil of L. chuanxiong possessed very low acute and chronic toxicity at the same time, revealed its great value of development and utilization in clinical applications. Recent studies light some problems such as lack of quality standards and the research of relationship between efficacy and material. The key to apply the usage of essential oil of L. chuanxiong locate in its substantial basis research, the establishment of the quality standards and the joint research institute, more study should work on these fields.
Keywords: chemical constituents; essential oil of Ligusticum chuanxiong; pharmacological activities.
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