Benefits of Iridoids

Iridoids are associated with a wide range of health benefits. They provide support against a broad range of physical, chemical, or biological stressors. They have a normalising effect on the human body that targets imbalances without affecting properly functioning systems. And they do all this without producing toxic side effects. Now let’s have a look at specific benefits:

Several iridoids have been found to protect the nervous system against a number of environmental and chemical stressors such as pesticides, or heavy metals found – for example – in amalgam tooth fillings (1-6). Studies have also found iridoids to have memory enhancing effects (7, 8).

Anticancer and anti-tumour
Asperulosidic acid, extracted from dried morinda or noni fruit, has been reported to inhibit the formation of melanoma (skin cancer) cells (9-11) . Aucubin, a newly discovered iridoid, displays significant anti-tumour effects on cell cultures of leukemia, breast colon, lung, skin, nose and throat cancers (12, 13).

Until very recently, noni seeds were deemed worthless and were discarded during the production process of noni fruit juice and noni oil. A recent Japanese study suggests that the iridoid americanin in noni seed may have a role as a useful ingredient in cosmetics for skin-whitening and/or wrinkle-prevention because its ability to enhance the production of elastin, one of the most important skin proteins, responsible for dewy, youthful skin (14).

Several iridoids have been found to have strong anti-inflammatory properties both when applied topically and when taken orally (15).

One of the most powerful properties of iridoids is their antioxidant power, which is believed to be much greater than those of more “traditional” plant antioxidants such as flavonoids or polyphenols from plant sources such as citrus fruits and green tea. The gentian plant family has been shown to have some of the highest concentration of iridoids (16). Noni fruit has been identified as one of the best sources of simple and complex iridoids.

Other iridoids from the same plant family, possess such strong natural antibacterial activity that makes them comparable to antibiotic drugs. (17).

Liver Protection
Iridoids have been used to help patients recover from drug and alcohol liver damage, with an efficacy comparable to milk thistle. (18 -19).

A large number of studies have reported the antiviral activity of iridoids, including pronounced antiviral activity against encephalitis causing viruses (20-21) as well as against herpes simplex type 1 viruses (22-24)

Cardiovascular Protection
Oleacein and oleuropein, two iridoids present in olive oil, have been found to have powerful cardioprotective properties. Those consuming olive oil tend to have less abdominal and hepatic fat deposition, as well as less fat deposition in heart and liver tissue, less and less cardiac stiffness. They also show better resilience against stress, and tend to suffer less from cholesterol problems and hypertension (25). Iridoids in olive oil have been shown to protect the heart and the arteries from the detrimental effects of toxicity generated by stress (26).

Blood Sugar Control
Iridoids also seem to protect the pancreas, which is useful for diabetic patients(27). Iridoid isolates from different plants have been found to have blood sugar control properties comparable to diabetic drugs (28).

Protection of the Arteries

A study published in the European Journal of Pharmacology showed iridoids to prevent the furrying up of the arteries and to have effective cholesterol lowering properties comparable to those of statins (atorvastatin) (29).

Science is only starting to realise of the huge bioactive potential of iridoid compounds. The anti-allergic properties of iridoids seem to stem from their to inhibit histamine release, making them “natural anti-histamine” treatments. They are also able to dampen down the inflammation that tends to accompany allergic reactions (30-31), making them an ideal natural remedy for those suffering from all kinds of allergies.


Neuroprotective Effects

1. Liang JH, Du J, Xu LD, Jiang T, Hao S, Bi J, Jiang B. (2009) Catalpol protects primary cultured cortical neurons induced by Abeta(1-42) through a mitochondrial-dependent caspase pathway. Neurochem Int. 55(8):741-6

2. Wang Z, Liu Q, Zhang R, Liu S, Xia Z, Hu Y. (2009) Catalpol ameliorates beta amyloid-induced degeneration of cholinergic neurons by elevating brain-derived neurotrophic factors. Neuroscience. 163(4):1363-72.

3. A New Iridoid Glycoside from the Roots of Dipsacus asper.
Ji D, Zhang C, Li J, Yang H, Shen J, Yang Z.
Molecules. 2012 Feb 3;17(2):1419-24.

4. Iridoids from the roots of Valeriana jatamansi.
Xu J, Guo P, Fang LZ, Li YS, Guo YQ.
J Asian Nat Prod Res. 2012;14(1):1-6.

5. Iridoids from the roots of Valeriana jatamansi and their biological activities.
Xu J, Guo P, Guo Y, Fang L, Li Y, Sun Z, Gui L.
Nat Prod Res. 2011 Nov 25. [Epub ahead of print]

6. Neuroprotective iridoid glycosides from Cornus officinalis fruits against glutamate-induced toxicity in HT22 hippocampal cells.
Jeong EJ, Kim TB, Yang H, Kang SY, Kim SY, Sung SH, Kim YC.
Phytomedicine. 2012 Feb 15;19(3-4):317-21. Epub 2011 Oct 5.

7. Effects of optimized-SopungSunkiwon on memory impairment and enhancement.
Choi JG, Yang WM, Kang TH, Oh MS.
Neurosci Lett. 2011 Mar 17;491(2):93-8. Epub 2011 Jan 20.

8. Cornel iridoid glycoside improves memory ability and promotes neuronal survival in fimbria-fornix transected rats.
Zhao LH, Ding YX, Zhang L, Li L.
Eur J Pharmacol. 2010 Nov 25;647(1-3):68-74. Epub 2010 Sep 6.

9. Loganin improves learning and memory impairments induced by scopolamine in mice.
Kwon SH, Kim HC, Lee SY, Jang CG.
Eur J Pharmacol. 2009 Oct 1;619(1-3):44-9. Epub 2009 Aug 7.

Anticancer and Chemoprotective
9. Inhibitory effects of Morinda citrifolia extract and its constituents on melanogenesis in murine B16 melanoma cells.
Masuda M, Itoh K, Murata K, Naruto S, Uwaya A, Isami F, Matsuda H.
Biol Pharm Bull. 2012;35(1):78-83.

10. Melanogenesis inhibitory activities of iridoid-, hemiterpene-, and fatty acid-glycosides from the fruits of Morinda citrifolia (Noni).
Akihisa T, Seino K, Kaneko E, Watanabe K, Tochizawa S, Fukatsu M, Banno N, Metori K, Kimura Y.
J Oleo Sci. 2010;59(1):49-57.

11. Matrix Metalloproteinase-1 Inhibitory Activities of Morinda citrifolia Seed Extract and Its Constituents in UVA-Irradiated Human Dermal Fibroblasts.
Masuda M, Murata K, Naruto S, Uwaya A, Isami F, Matsuda H.
Biol Pharm Bull. 2012; 35(2):210-5.

12 In vitro cytotoxic activity and structure activity relationships of iridoid glucosides derived from Veronica species.
Saracoglu I, Harput US.
Phytother Res. 2012 Jan;26(1):148-52. doi: 10.1002/ptr.3546. Epub 2011 Jun 16.

13. Iridoid content and biological activities of Veronica cuneifolia subsp. cuneifolia and V. cymbalaria.
Saracoglu I, Oztunca FH, Nagatsu A, Harput US.
Pharm Biol. 2011 Nov;49(11):1150-7. Epub 2011 May 20.

14. Inhibitory effects of constituents of Morinda citrifolia seeds on elastase and tyrosinase.
Masuda M, Murata K, Fukuhama A, Naruto S, Fujita T, Uwaya A, Isami F, Matsuda H.
J Nat Med. 2009 Jul; 63(3):267-73. Epub 2009 Mar 24.

15. Antiinflammatory Activities of Hungarian Stachys species and Their Iridoids.
Háznagy-Radnai E, Balogh A, Czigle S, Máthé I, Hohmann J, Blazsó G.
Phytother Res. 2011 Sep 2. doi: 10.1002/ptr.3582. [Epub ahead of print]/

16. Bioactivity of gentiopicroside from the aerial parts of Centaurium erythraea.
Kumarasamy Y, Nahar L, Sarker SD.
Fitoterapia. 2003 Feb;74(1-2):151-4.

17. Bioactivity of secoiridoid glycosides from Centaurium erythraea.
Kumarasamy Y, Nahar L, Cox PJ, Jaspars M, Sarker SD.
Phytomedicine. 2003 May;10(4):344-7.

Liver Protection

18. Loganin, an iridoid present in
Hepato-protective effects of loganin, iridoid glycoside from Corni Fructus, against hyperglycemia-activated signaling pathway in liver of type 2 diabetic db/db mice.
Park CH, Tanaka T, Kim JH, Cho EJ, Park JC, Shibahara N, Yokozawa T.
Toxicology. 2011 Nov 28;290(1):14-21. Epub 2011 Aug 12.

19. Antioxidant and hepatoprotective effect of swertiamarin from Enicostemma axillare against D-galactosamine induced acute liver damage in rats.
Jaishree V, Badami S.
J Ethnopharmacol. 2010 Jul 6;130(1):103-6. Epub 2010 Apr 24.


20. Identification of novel anti-inflammatory agents from Ayurvedic medicine for prevention of chronic diseases: "reverse pharmacology" and "bedside to bench" approach.
Aggarwal BB, Prasad S, Reuter S, Kannappan R, Yadev VR, Park B, Kim JH, Gupta SC, Phromnoi K, Sundaram C, et al.
Curr Drug Targets. 2011 Oct; 12(11):1595-653.

21. Iridoid glucosides from the flowers of Barleria lupulina.
Suksamrarn S, Wongkrajang K, Kirtikara K, Suksamrarn A.
Planta Med. 2003 Sep;69(9):877-9.

22. Antiviral activity of seven iridoids, three saikosaponins and one phenylpropanoid glycoside extracted from Bupleurum rigidum and Scrophularia scorodonia.
Bermejo P, Abad MJ, Díaz AM, Fernández L, De Santos J, Sanchez S, Villaescusa L, Carrasco L, Irurzun A.
Planta Med. 2002 Feb;68(2):106-10.

24. In vitro evaluation of secoiridoid glucosides from the fruits of Ligustrum lucidum as antiviral agents.
Ma SC, He ZD, Deng XL, But PP, Ooi VE, Xu HX, Lee SH, Lee SF.
Chem Pharm Bull (Tokyo). 2001 Nov;49(11):1471-3.

Cardiovascular Protection
25. Olive leaf extract attenuates cardiac, hepatic, and metabolic changes in high carbohydrate-, high fat-fed rats.
Poudyal H, Campbell F, Brown L.
J Nutr. 2010 May;140(5):946-53. Epub 2010 Mar 24.

26. Metabonomic identification of novel biomarkers in doxorubicin cardiotoxicity and protective effect of the natural antioxidant oleuropein.
Andreadou I, Papaefthimiou M, Zira A, Constantinou M, Sigala F, Skaltsounis AL, Tsantili-Kakoulidou A, Iliodromitis EK, Kremastinos DT, Mikros E.
NMR Biomed. 2009 Jul;22(6):585-92.

Hypoglycaemic and Hypolipidemic Properties

27. Evaluation of the potential hypoglycemic and Beta-cell protective constituents isolated from Corni fructus to tackle insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus.
Lin MH, Liu HK, Huang WJ, Huang CC, Wu TH, Hsu FL.
J Agric Food Chem. 2011 Jul 27;59(14):7743-51. Epub 2011 Jun 28.

28. Antihyperglycemic effect of iridoid glucoside, isolated from the leaves of Vitex negundo in streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats with special reference to glycoprotein components.
Sundaram R, Naresh R, Shanthi P, Sachdanandam P.
Phytomedicine. 2012 Feb 15;19(3-4):211-6. Epub 2011 Nov 23.

29. Swertiamarin: a lead from Enicostemma littorale Blume. for anti-hyperlipidaemic effect.
Vaidya H, Rajani M, Sudarsanam V, Padh H, Goyal R.
Eur J Pharmacol. 2009 Sep 1;617(1-3):108-12. Epub 2009 Jul 3.
PMID: 19577561 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Hypoglycaemic and Hypolipidemic Properties


30. Allergy-preventive effects of chlorogenic acid and iridoid derivatives from flower buds of Lonicera japonica.
Oku H, Ogawa Y, Iwaoka E, Ishiguro K.
Biol Pharm Bull. 2011;34(8):1330-3.

31. Inhibition of the pro-inflammatory mediators' production and anti-inflammatory effect of the iridoid scrovalentinoside.
Bas E, Recio MC, Abdallah M, Máñez S, Giner RM, Cerdá-Nicolás M, Ríos JL.
J Ethnopharmacol. 2007 Apr 4;110(3):419-27. Epub 2006 Oct 13.

32. Suppressive effect of verproside isolated from Pseudolysimachion longifolium on airway inflammation in a mouse model of allergic asthma.
Oh SR, Lee MY, Ahn K, Park BY, Kwon OK, Joung H, Lee J, Kim DY, Lee S, Kim JH, Lee HK.
Int Immunopharmacol. 2006 Jun;6(6):978-86. Epub 2006 Feb 10.

What are Iridoids?

Where are Iridoids found?

Benefits of iridoids