Farfugium japonicum 大吳風草

Asteraceae 菊科



Whole plant.1–3


  • Toxic Constituents
    Pyrrolizidine alkaloids such as senkirkine and petasitenine.1–5
  • Toxic Dose
    Long-term consumption of 1 mg pyrrolizidine alkaloids per day can be toxic.2
  • Mechanism
    Pyrrolizidine alkaloids are converted into highly reactive metabolites after transformation in the liver by the cytochrome P450 system. These metabolites bind to proteins, DNA and RNA, and induce acute and chronic toxicities. Liver is the major organ affected, and veno-occlusive disease (Budd-Chiari syndrome) could occur. As liver metabolism is involved, toxicity is not strictly dose-dependent but shows individual variability.6,7
  • Poisoning Features
    Pyrrolizidine alkaloid poisoning has acute and chronic effects. Acute: abdominal pain, hepatomegaly, ascites, liver necrosis and even death. Chronic: hepatomegaly, recurrent ascites, hepatic vein occlusion (Budd-Chiari syndrome), cirrhosis, hepatocellular carcinoma, pulmonary hypertension and even death.2,6
  • Poisoning Events
    There were 2 main sources of pyrrolizidine alkaloid poisoning. The consumption of cereal grains contaminated by the toxic weeds had caused numerous poisoning in many countries. In Afghanistan alone, an estimated 8000 people were affected with more than 1600 deaths. The other source is the use of pyrrolizidine alkaloid-containing herbs for medicinal and dietary purposes, leading to poisoning in all parts of the world.2,6


Supportive treatment. Early diagnosis and avoidance of further exposure to the toxins is important.7


Perennial herbs, 25–70 cm tall. Leaves mainly radical and in rosette; petiole 6–28 cm long; basal leaf blades 3–10 × 4–20 cm, cordate‑reniform, rolling inward when young; cauline leaves appear as bracts. Capitula heterogamous, 2–7 in corymbs. Central florets many, corolla tubular, 11–12 mm long. Marginal florets 8–12, corolla ligulate, yellow, 1.5–1.8 × 0.3–0.4 cm. Cypselae 3–6 mm long, hairy, brown.8


Whole plant used in TCM: clear heat and remove toxin, activate blood, disperse swelling and dissipate binds. Recommended dose: 9–15 g.1,9


Senkirkine and petasitenine can be detected by GC-MS, LC-TOF-MS and LC-MS/MS.10–13