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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2016, Article ID 1720123, 14 pages
Review Article

From Traditional Usage to Pharmacological Evidence: Systematic Review of Gunnera perpensa L.

Department of Botany, University of Fort Hare, Private Bag X1314, Alice 5700, South Africa

Received 1 October 2016; Revised 15 November 2016; Accepted 17 November 2016

Academic Editor: Wenyi Kang

Copyright © 2016 Alfred Maroyi. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Gunnera perpensa is the only species of the genus Gunnera that has been recorded in Africa. Its leaves, rhizomes, roots, and stems are reported to possess diverse medicinal properties and used to treat or manage various human and animal diseases and ailments. Gunnera perpensa is an ingredient in many herbal concoctions and prescriptions which have been used to induce or augment labour, postnatal medication, to treat parasitic diseases, urinary complaints, kidney problems, general body pains, sexually transmitted infections, and many other diseases. Several classes of phytochemicals including alkaloids, benzoquinones, ellagic acids, flavonoids, phenols, proanthocyanidins, tannins, and minerals have been isolated from G. perpensa. Scientific studies on G. perpensa indicate that it has a wide range of pharmacological activities including acetylcholinesterase, anthelmintic, antibacterial, antifungal, antinociceptive, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antitumour, lactogenic, and uterotonic. Gunnera perpensa has a lot of potential as a possible source of pharmaceutical products for the treatment of a wide range of both human and animal diseases and ailments. Some of the chemical compounds isolated from G. perpensa have demonstrated various biological activities when investigated in in vitro assays. Future research should focus on the mechanisms of action of the isolated compounds, their efficacy, toxicity, and clinical relevance.