Natural medicines for the treatment of fatigue: Bioactive components, pharmacology, and mechanisms

Pharmacol Res. 2019 Oct;148:104409. doi: 10.1016/j.phrs.2019.104409. Epub 2019 Aug 22.


It is a common phenomenon that people are in a sub-health condition and facing "unexplained fatigue", which seriously affects their health, work efficiency and quality of life. Meanwhile, fatigue is also a common symptom of many serious diseases such as HIV/AIDS, cancer, and schizophrenia. However, there are still no official recommendations for the treatment of various forms of fatigue. Some traditional natural medicines are often used as health care products, such as ginseng, Cordyceps militaris (L.ex Fr.Link) and Rhodiola rosea L., and these have been reported to have specific anti-fatigue effects with small toxic and side effects and rich pharmacological activities. It may be promising treatment strategy for sub-health. In this review, we first outline the generation of fatigue. Furthermore, we put emphasis on the anti-fatigue mechanism, bioactive components, and clinic trials of natural medicines, which will contribute to the development of potential anti-fatigue agents and open up novel treatments for sub-health.

Keywords: (+)-catechin (PubChem CID: 9064); 20(R)-Ginsenoside Rg3 (PubChem CID: 46887680); 20(S)-Ginsenoside Rg3 (PubChem CID: 9918693); Anthocyanins (PubChem CID: 145858); Bioactive components; Buddlenol E (PubChem CID: 50909266); Caffeic acid (PubChem CID: 689043); Chlorogenic acid (PubChem CID: 1794427); Cordycepin (PubChem CID: 6303); Eleutheroside E (PubChem CID: 71312557); Ellagic acid (PubChem CID: 5281855); Epicatechin (PubChem CID: 72276); Epicatechin gallate (PubChem CID: 107905); Epigallocatechin (PubChem CID: 72277); Epigallocatechin gallate (PubChem CID: 65064); Fatigue; Ferulic acid (PubChem CID: 445858); Gallic acid (PubChem CID: 370); Ginsenoside Rb1 (PubChem CID: 9898279); Ginsenoside Ro (PubChem CID: 11815492); Isoquercitrin (PubChem CID: 5280804); Kaempferol (PubChem CID: 5280863); Luteolin (PubChem CID: 5280445); Mechanism; Natural medicines; Quercetin (PubChem CID: 5280343); Resveratrol (PubChem CID: 445154); Rutin (PubChem CID: 5280805); Salidroside (PubChem CID: 159278); Schisandrin (PubChem CID: 23915); Scopoletin (PubChem CID: 5280460); Tanshinone IIA (PubChem CID: 164676); Troxerutin (PubChem CID: 5486699); Ursolic acid (PubChem CID: 64945); Verbascoside (PubChem CID: 5281800).

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Products / pharmacology*
  • Biological Products / therapeutic use*
  • Fatigue / drug therapy*
  • Humans
  • Medicine, Traditional / methods
  • Phytotherapy / methods
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*
  • Plant Extracts / therapeutic use*
  • Quality of Life


  • Biological Products
  • Plant Extracts