Background: The genus Achillea L. is rich in bioactive sesquiterpenes and flavonoids; most of the studied species exhibit several biological activities and are used as emmenagogue, wound healing and analgesic agents. Some species are also used in local folklore medicine.

Objective: Following a literature survey, we discuss the anti-cancer properties of Achillea species, taking into consideration ethnopharmacological data on their use in traditional medicine for the treatment of cancer. In addition, we screened extracts and isolated secondary metabolites from A. coarctata for cytotoxicity, upon information based on local traditional medicine. The plant was collected in Kozani (Northern Greece), where it is locally used for treating gastrointestinal disorders, including stomach cancer.

Methods: A selection of the relevant data was performed through a search in PubMed, Scopus, Google Scholar and Science Direct databases. In addition, extracts and isolated compounds from A. coarctata were tested for their in vitro activity against the human cancer cell lines MCF-7 and HeLa.

Conclusion: The genus Achillea L. is a valuable source of bioactive secondary metabolites. The most significant outcome of the investigation of medicinal plants is the documentation and the assessment of the traditional information and its use and perspectives in the light of modern pharmacology.


Papakosta K, Grafakou ME, Barda C, Kostopoulos IV, Tsitsilonis O, Skaltsa H. Cytotoxicity and Anti-cancer Activity of the Genus Achillea L. Curr Med Chem. 2020;27(41):6910-6925. doi: 10.2174/0929867327666200505092514. PMID: 32368970.