Pharmacological properties of fireweed (Epilobium angustifolium L.) and bioavailability of ellagitannins. A review

MARIOLA DREGER, ARTUR ADAMCZAK, KATARZYNA SEIDLER-ŁOŻYKOWSKA, KAROLINA WIELGUS

Abstract

Fireweed (Epilobium angustifolium L.) is a well-known medicinal plant traditionally used in the treatment of urogenital diseases, stomach and liver disorders, skin problems, etc. E. angustifolium extracts show antiandrogenic, antiproliferative, cytotoxic, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, immunomodulatory, and antimicrobial activities. The unique combination of biological properties demonstrated by the results of some studies indicates that fireweed has a positive effect in benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) and potentially in the prostate cancer chemoprevention. However, the efficacy of E. angustifolium phytotherapy is still poorly tested in clinical trials, while numerous beneficial effects of extracts have been documented in the in vitro and in vivo tests. Fireweed is rich in polyphenolic compounds, particularly ellagitannins. Currently, polyphenols are considered to be modulators of beneficial gut microbiota. The literature data support the use of ellagitannins in the prostate cancer chemoprevention, but caution is advised due to the highly variable production of urolithins by the individual microbiota. A better understanding of the microbiota’s role and the mechanisms of its action are crucial for an optimal therapeutic effect. This paper aims to summarize and discuss experimental data concerning pharmacological properties of E. angustifolium and bioavailability of ellagitannins – important bioactive compounds of this plant.
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