January 16, 2022
Potentilla alba L. (Rosaceae) is a valuable medicinal plant and has a long tradition of therapeutic use in Europe, especially in the eastern part of the continent. Mainly, the rhizome of this plant have been used alone or as a part of a comprehensive therapy to treat thyroid gland disorders.
Potentilla alba, also known as white cinquefoil, is one of approximately 500 species of the genus Potentilla belonging to the Rosaceae family.
White cinquefoil is traditionally used in Eastern Europe to treat diseases of the liver, cardiovascular system, and gastrointestinal tract and as a wound healing agent due to its antibacterial activity. Extracts from the aerial parts stimulate the central nervous system, whereas the underground parts of this plant increase diuresis, enhance bile secretion, and improve intestinal function. In folk medicine, an infusion of P. alba roots is prepared for painful menstruation as an antispastic and analgesic agent. A decoction of the roots with rhizomes is used for gout, rheumatism, jaundice, and dysentery. In folk medicine of Belarus, it is recommended to drink a decoction of the aerial parts of white cinquefoil when suffering from prolapse of the uterus.
Currently, the use of an infusion of the underground parts to treat hypo- and hyperthyroidism has been reported as a standard therapy, especially in Ukraine, Belarus, and the Federation. Moreover, phytotherapists in post-Soviet states, especially Russia, recommend P. alba as an adaptogen for treatment of heart diseases, or as a psychostimulant of the central nervous system . However, the only species from the genus Potentilla included in the latest Russian Pharmacopoeia is the Potentilla erecta rhizome.
Despite the great advances in thyroid disorder therapy, the usage of phytomedicines still offers fewer side effects than synthetic drugs. However, phytomedicines can be considered a complementary part of comprehensive therapy to treat various thyroid gland disorders. Several species have traditionally been used throughout Europe, Asia, and North America to reduce hyperthyroidism symptoms. Particularly, herbal medicines such as gypsywort, bugleweed, water horehound (Lycopus europaeus L., Lycopus virginicus L., Lycopus americanus Muhl. ex W. P. C. Barton, Lamiaceae, respectively), lemon balm (Melissa officinalis L., Lamiaceae), and western gromwell and European gromwell (Lithospermum ruderale Douglas ex. Lehm. and Lithospermum officinale L., Boraginaceae, respectively) exert beneficial effects to reduce hyperthyroid symptoms, as found during in vitro and in vivo studies. The possible mechanism could be complex, including processes such as reducing TSH formation and its binding to thyroid follicles, decreasing peripheral deiodination of T4, and/or inhibiting the binding of Gravesʼ disease antibodies to thyroid tissue. However, the herbal medicines administered to treat hypothyroidism mainly involve the supplementation of iodine. The most widely used herbal medicine is bladderwrack (Fucus vesiculosus L., Fucaceae), which is traditionally used in folk medicine and contains high quantities of iodine, approximately 50 µg/g dried mass. Hence, bladderwrack has been evaluated by the Committee on Herbal Medicinal Products (HMPC) of the European Medicines Agency (EMA), which established that an upper daily limit of iodine intake for bladderwrack should not exceed 400 µg/day. Moreover, several other phytomedicines, such as ashwagandha (Withania somnifera (L.) Dunal, Solanaceae), gotu kola (Centella asiatica (L.) Urb., Apiaceae), and guggul (Commiphora mukul (Hook. ex Stocks) Engl., Burseraceae), have been shown to efficiently treat hypothyroidism; however, biological studies are very limited.