Bioactivity, toxicity and detoxification assessment of Dioscorea bulbifera L. a comprehensive review

Xiao-Rui Guan, Lin Zhu, Zhan-Gang Xiao, Yi-Lin Zhang, Hu-Biao Chen*, Tao Yi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)
182 Downloads (Pure)


Dioscorea bulbifera L. (Chinese: Huangdu, common name: air potato) is a traditional herbal medicine in China, and it is also one of the most widely consumed yam species, especially in West Africa. Studies have verified that D. bulbifera is effective in treating a wide range of diseases, such as pharyngitis, goitre, pyogenic skin infections, orchitis and cancer. However, more and more studies have also reported liver and kidney damage caused by D. bulbifera. To promote understanding of the bioactivity, toxicity and methods for detoxification of this medicinal and edible plant, the present article reviews the most valuable recent reports on its phytochemistry and pharmacological effects. The possible reasons for its toxicity include the toxic effects of diosbulbin B and D on hepatocytes, the inhibition of antioxidant enzymes in liver mitochondria, and inhibition of enzymes that ordinarily metabolize the herb’s components. Synergistic compatibility detoxification may help to reduce toxic effects and improve therapeutic effects. More clinical trials are also required to fully achieve its therapeutic potential.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)573-601
Number of pages29
JournalPhytochemistry Reviews
Issue number3
Early online date8 Apr 2017
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2017

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Plant Science

User-Defined Keywords

  • Detoxification
  • Dioscorea bulbifera
  • Pharmacological effects
  • Toxicity


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