Burning bush

Last Updated: September 28, 2022

Euonymus Alatus (Gui Jeon Wu) is a traditional medicine touted to improve blood circulation and flow. It is not well studied in that regard and has no human evidence, but may reduce glucose absorption from the intestines after a meal.


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Sources and Composition

Euonymus alatus (Gui Jeon Wu) is a plant of which its stems have been used traditionally for cancer treatment.[1] And has also been used for blood circulation and eliminating blood clots, reducing pain, and treating dysmenorrhea in Asian medicine.[2]



The bioactives that are fairly unique to Euonymus Alatus include:

  • Three glycosides of Cardenolide where the 3-carbon is attached by Rhamnose (To give Acovenosigenin A 3-O-α-L-rhamnopyranoside), Rhamnose attached to a Glucose (the diglycoside known as Euonymoside A), and then a triglycoside of Rhamnose with two glucose sugars in a chain (Euonymusoside A)[3]
  • 2-{1-(Hydroxy methyl)-4-hydroxy-3,5-dimethoxy-phenyl}-propan-1,3-diol (1.8% ethanol extract), 5R,6S-6,9,10-trihydroxy-megastigma-7-en-3-one (2.25% ethanolic extract) and 2-{4-(3-Hydroxy-propenyl)-3,5-dimethoxy-phenyl}-propane-1,3-diol;[4]

With more common bioactives (found in many herbs) being:

  • 5-caffeoylquinic acid (Chlorogenic Acid) from the stems[5][5] at 4.5% of an 80% ethanolic extract;[4] also the metabolite 3,4-dihydroxycinnamic acid (caffeic acid)[6]
  • Lignan compounds including (+)-syringaresinol and De-4′-methylyangabin[7]
  • Sesquilignans Hedyotol C and threo-buddlenol B[7]
  • Dilignans Hedyotisol C and Hedyotisol B[7]
  • Neolignans such as (−)- and (+)- simulanol, (-)- and (+)-dihydrodehyrodiconiferyl alcohol, and guaiacylglycerol-8-O-4′-(coniferyl alcohol) ether (both 7R,8S and 7S,8R configurations)[7]
  • Grasshopper ketone (2.55% methanolic extract)[4]
  • Syringin (2.65% methanolic extract)[4]
  • (+)-usnic acid and benzoic acids[8]
  • Quercetin at 0.011-0.016mg/g (50% ethanolic extract),[9] Quercetin-3-O-D-galactopyronoside at 5.5% ethanolic extract,[4] and Rutin at 0.265-0.275mg/g of the 50% ethanolic extract (seems to be best to concentrate Quercetin structures from E.Alatus).[9] The related Quercetin structures Hyperoside and Quercitrin have also been isolated from this plant, as well as Quercetin 3,7-dirhamnoside[10]
  • Kaempferol[11] and its 3,7-dirhamnoside Kaempferitrin[10]
  • Apigenin-3-O-L-rhamnopyranoside[4]
  • Catechin, dehydrodicatechin A, and catechin lactone A[10]
  • Daucosterol[8]
  • Symplocoside[10]
  • Taxifolin[4]
  • Naringenin[4]
  • Aromadendrin,[4] which may fluctuate wildly[12]

The total flavonoid content of Euonymus Alatus is 235.7mg/kg fresh weight.[13]





Enzymatic Interactions

Euonymus Alatus extract appears to be effective in inhibiting the aromatase enzyme in myometrial and leiomyomal cells (uterus related).[14] Whether it affects other aromatase enzymes is not known, but if it does it may increase circulating testosterone levels.


Interactions with Fat Mass



Some flavonoid compounds from Euonymus Alatus appear to prevent triglyceride accumulation into differentiating 3T3-L1 adipocytes, with most potency at 25uM concentration coming from quercetin 3,7-dirhamnoside (79.1% of control; set at 100%), hyperoside (71.3%), kaempferitrin (62.3%), catechin lactone A (79.9%) and dehydrodicatechin A (70.2%);[10] hyperoside has been reported with this inhibitory potency previously[15] but may not be the consensus due to differing data elsewhere.[16][17] The potency of these compounds is comparable to 25uM of resveratrol, with kaempferitrin trending to be more potent.[10]

Both Kaempferol and Quercetin in Euonymus Alatus appear to be able to bind to the PPARγ receptor too weakly to induce adipocyte proliferation, and may block the pro-adipogenic effects of PPARγ agonists such as Rosiglitazone due to higher affinity (thus acting as receptor modulators).[11] Despite these mechanisms, both appear to enhance glucose uptake into adipocytes.[11]


Interactions with Glucose Metabolism



Euonymus alatus methanolic extract has inhibitory potential on the α-glucosidase enzyme with an IC50 value of 272µg/mL (in a yeast assay),[18] and of 8 compounds purified from the plant for interactions with the α-glucosidase noted that 6 compounds had more efficacy than the active control Arcabose (IC50 679.7µM) including catechin (119.1µM), quercetin 3,7-dirhamnoside (39.6µM), hyperoside (31.6µM), kaempferitrin (23.0µM), catechin lactone A (71.8µM) and dehydrodicatechin A (102.5µM).[10] Another compound (quercitrin) was found inactive on this assay[10] but has been noted elsewhere to have an IC50 of 38.4 µM.[19]

Components have inhibitory potential on alpha-glucosidase, a carbohydrate digestive enzyme

When 500mg/kg of Euonymus Alatus (methanolic extract) is given to rats alongside a 1g/kg bolus of starch and having blood measured for the next 4 hours, supplementation was able to reduce the subsequent AUC of glucose by 25.5% relative to starch control;[18] fecal analysis was not performed.

Inhibition of starch absorption has been noted to occur in rats following concomitant ingestion of Euonymus Alatus and starch



17.2mg/kg of an ethyl acetate fraction with a high flavonoid concentration (bioequivalent to 400mg/kg dry weight) is able to, over 7 days, reduce fasting blood glucose slightly in normal mice and more significantly in alloxan-induced diabetic mice; either of equal potency to or lesser than the active control of 140mg/kg Metformin (relatively low dose of Metformin).[20] Over 4 weeks, this extraction was more effective than 140mg/kg Metformin in reducing fasting blood glucose in Alloxan-induced diabetic mice.[20] One other study compared Euonymus Alatus (700mg/kg ethanolic extract) against Metformin (250mg/kg) and noted that while both were effective in reducing fasting blood glucose that Metformin was more potent.[2]


Inflammation and Immunology



Euonymus Alatus (80% methanolic extract) can inhibit NF-kB activation at 10-30ug/mL with an IC50 of IC50 value of 11.83μg/mL, via inhibiting the IKKβ pathway.[21] Anti-inflammatory effects in this same in vitro model (RAW264.7 macrophage activation via LPS) have been noted to occur with all lignan compounds that were not dilignans[7] (although flavonoids and isoprenoids may also be active[4]) and the methanolic extract also appears to inhibit JNK1 (40.6%), JNK2 (28.7%), and JNK3 (32.9%) activation.[21]

General anti-inflammatory properties in macrophage stimulation tests

At least one study has noted that, without incubation with LPS or another pro-inflammatory insult, that Euonymus Alatus was able to increase NF-kB activity and inflammatory biomarkers vicariously though recombinant IFNγ.[22]


Interactions with Oxidation



In cultured rat hepatocytes (liver cells) Euonymus Alatus appears to both exert direct anti-oxidant abilities and enhance anti-oxidant enzymes.[23]

3.^Kitanaka S, Takido M, Mizoue K, Nakaike SCytotoxic cardenolides from woods of Euonymus alataChem Pharm Bull (Tokyo).(1996 Mar)
4.^Jeong EJ, Yang H, Kim SH, Kang SY, Sung SH, Kim YCInhibitory constituents of Euonymus alatus leaves and twigs on nitric oxide production in BV2 microglia cellsFood Chem Toxicol.(2011 Jun)
8.^Fang ZF, Li ZL, Wang Y, Hua HM{Studies on chemical constituents from Euonymus alatus II}Zhongguo Zhong Yao Za Zhi.(2008 Jun)
12.^Chen Y, Gong M, Zhang C, Song Y, Yu P{Determination of aromadendrin in Euonymus alatus by HPLC}Zhongguo Zhong Yao Za Zhi.(2010 Oct)
13.^Chon SU, Heo BG, Park YS, Kim DK, Gorinstein STotal phenolics level, antioxidant activities and cytotoxicity of young sprouts of some traditional Korean salad plantsPlant Foods Hum Nutr.(2009 Mar)
18.^Lee SK, Hwang JY, Song JH, Jo JR, Kim MJ, Kim ME, Kim JIInhibitory activity of Euonymus alatus against alpha-glucosidase in vitro and in vivoNutr Res Pract.(2007 Fall)
19.^Lai YC, Chen CK, Tsai SF, Lee SSTriterpenes as α-glucosidase inhibitors from Fagus hayataePhytochemistry.(2012 Feb)
20.^Fang XK, Gao Y, Yang HY, Lang SM, Wang QJ, Yu BY, Zhu DNAlleviating effects of active fraction of Euonymus alatus abundant in flavonoids on diabetic miceAm J Chin Med.(2008)
21.^Oh BK, Mun J, Seo HW, Ryu SY, Kim YS, Lee BH, Oh KSEuonymus alatus extract attenuates LPS-induced NF-κB activation via IKKβ inhibition in RAW 264.7 cellsJ Ethnopharmacol.(2011 Mar 24)
22.^Chung HS, Jeong HJ, Kim JS, Jeong SI, Kim KS, Kim KS, Kang BK, Ahn JW, Baek SH, Kim HMActivation of inducible nitric oxide synthase by Euonymus alatus in mouse peritoneal macrophagesClin Chim Acta.(2002 Apr)
23.^Kim KW, Suh SJ, Kim JD, Kim SS, Lee IS, Kim JK, Chang GT, Kim DS, Kim CHEffects on lipid peroxidation and antioxidative enzymes of Euonymus alatus in cultured rat hepatocytesBasic Clin Pharmacol Toxicol.(2009 Jan)