Potentilla species

Potentilla species and their extracts have been highly valued in many diff erent ethnic cultures for hundreds of years. They were used, prepared with water, milk, honey, and in the form of alcoholic solutions, for the treatment of toothache, sore throat, mouth ulcers, dysentery, for wound healing, and to stop bleeding. Potentilla erecta, a traditional plant in Russian medicine, was used to alleviate cancer symptoms. In vitro and in vivo studies confi rm anti-diarrhoeal, anti-ulcer, anti-neoplastic, anti-viral, anti-microbial, hypoglycemic, anti-infl ammatory, spasmolytic, hepatoprotective and antioxidant eff ects of Potentilla species (1). Some Potentilla species are used for creating homeopathic remedies by the requirements listed in Homeopathic Pharmacopoeias. All of the tested Potentilla species extracts contain an antibacterial activity which is linked with a high concentration of polyphenolic compounds.

Potentilla erecta (L.) Rauschel (Potentilla tormentilla Stokes), erect cinquefoil, contains up to 20% of catechin tannins (2). They are easy to polymerize, condensate and oxidize giving red coloured compounds, phlobaphenes or tannin redness by which they lose their phytochemical activity. A signifi cant presence of organic acids and phenol carboxylic acids was noted in the above mentioned plant species. Rhizome from an erect cinquefoil contains tannins. It is used in treating diarrhea and in intestinal catarrh. Mentioned rhizome in folk medicine is used as a remedy for diabetes and externally in the treatment of dry and wet eczema, lichens, infl ammations and skin furuncles. Decoct of potentillae erectae rhizoma is used for the treatment of dental gum infl ammation, chronic infl ammation of gums and in the case of pharyngeal catarrh (1). Infusion, tincture (1:5 in 70% ethanol) as well as dry and wet extract of potentillae erectae rhizoma, is used in practice.

Potentilla alba L., white cinquefoil contains a large amount of hydrolysable and condensed tannins (proanthocyanidins), fl avonoids (kaempferol and quercetin), polyprenols, phenolcarboxylic acids, tripertenes, polysaccharides as well as elementary iodine and iodine anion. Underground parts also contain saponins and fl avonoid (meletin) (3).

Potentilla alba L. rhizomes have anti-infl ammatory, antioxidant and adaptogenic eff ects and are used in the treatment of diarrhea and intestinal colic. It is recommended in the treatment of heart disease and as adaptogenic remedy (4).

Potentilla reptans L., creeping cinquefoil Rhizome of Potentilla reptans is used as infusion in diarrhoea treatment. Stronger decoct of the rhizoma is used in toothache treatment. It can be found in the composition of many cosmetic preparations for wrinkle treatment. It also has a strong eff ect in the treatment of haemorrhoids (5).

Pharmacological eff ect Nowadays, tannin drugs are used in the treatment of infl ammations, various types of cancer, bacterial viruses and fungal infections, diarrhoea, diabetes mellitus, as well as for treatment of many other dieseases. Antimicrobial eff ect mechanism of polyphenolic compounds is based on the following: in acidic environment condensed tannins are spontaneuosly oxidated to quinones and react with nucleophilic groups of proteins, create covalent bonds and form irreversible complexes. By this way, tannins react with surface-layer proteins of mucosa membrane and skin, with digestive and other enzymes as well as with bacterial, fungal and viral proteins (6).

In one clinical study which has been performed we can see high effi ciency of dry extract from rhizome of Potentilla erecta herbal in the treatment of diarrhoea in children, caused by rotavirus (3). The study was performed on 16 patients with ulcerative colitis. Patients received extract from rhizome of Potentilla erecta. During the treatment, CAI (colitis activity index) was measured. At the dose of 2400 mg exract/day, statistically signifi - cant reduction of CAI occurred. Lower (1200 mg/ day) dose is not as effi cient as 2400 mg/day dose. Higher (3000 mg/day) dose neither showed signifi cantly higher effi ciency of 2400 mg/day nor signifi cant increase of adverse eff ects. Adverse eff ects included mild gastrointestinal disorders for six patients. However, this was not a reason to stop therapy. An interesting fact is that unchanged or metabolized tannins can not be detected in the serum of patients which indicated that tannins from rhizome of erect cinquefoil are not systemically absorbed (1). Potentilla alba has recently been included in the therapy of thyroid gland disease (thyrotoxicosis, hyperthyreosis, nodular and toxic goiter, hyperplasia of the thyroid gland) and used as a remedy for above dieseases. Therapeutic effi ciency of Potentilla alba has been proved in clinical studies. In the studies covering toxic eff ect, extract from rhizome and stem of Potentilla alba did not show any toxic eff ects (7).

Potentilla extracts show anticariogenic eff ects, disrupt both colonization of the teeth by dental pathogens and the subsequent formation of dental plaque. Test results of polyphenol complex on anticariogenic activity were better in comparison to results of certain polyphenol compounds, pointing to its sinergistic effect (8). Extract from rhizome of Potentilla alba, depending on the dose, influences the strength and length of swimming by rodents. Swimming distance covered by rodents after the application of extract from rhizome of Potentilla alba is signifi cantly longer from statistical point of view in relation to control group. Adaptogenic herbs increase the resistance of organisms on physical, biological, chemical and physiological stress (4).


1. Tomczyk, M., Latte, K.P., Potentilla – A review of its phytochemical and pharmacological profi le. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 2009. 122, 184-204

2. Popović, T.M., Farmacological and phytochemical properties some species of genus Potentilla. Racional therapy. 2009. 2, 1-5

3. Oszmianski, J., Wojdylo, A., Lamer-Zarawska, E., Swiader, K., Antioxidant tannins from Rosaceae plant roots. Food Chemistry. 2007. 100, 579-583

4. Shikov, A., Lazukina, M., Pozharitskaya, O., Makarova, M., Golubeva, O., Makarov Valery and Djachuk, G., Pharmacological evaluation of Potentilla alba L. in mice: Adaptogenic and central nervous system efects. Pharmaceutical Biology. 2011. 1-6

5. http://www.perennialherbal.com/joomla16/ index.php/the-plant-blog/36-cinquefoil/Access 05. novembar 2012.

6. N. Kovačević, Elementary of Pharmacognosy third edition, Serbian School Book, Belgrade, 2004, p.240.

7. http://www.endonorm.com/potentilla_alba. html /Access 10. novembar 2012

8. Tomczyk, M., Wiater, A. and Pleszczynska, In Vitro Anticariogenic Eff ects of Aerial Parts of Potentilla recta and its Phytochemical Profi le. Phytotherapy research. 2011. 25, 343-350