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KCNQ Potassium Channels as Targets of Botanical Folk Medicines

Kaitlyn E. Redford, Geoffrey W. Abbott
Published: 13 September 2021

Abstract: Since prehistory, human species have depended on plants for both food and medicine. Even in countries with ready access to modern medicines, alternative treatments are still highly regarded and commonly used. Unlike modern pharmaceuticals, many botanical medicines are in widespread use despite a lack of safety and efficacy data derived from controlled clinical trials and often unclear mechanisms of action. Contributing to this are the complex and undefined composition and likely multifactorial mechanisms of action and multiple targets of many botanical medicines. Here, we review the newfound importance of the ubiquitous KCNQ subfamily of voltage-gated potassium channels as targets for botanical medicines, including basil, capers, cilantro, lavender, fennel, chamomile, ginger, and Camellia, Sophora, and Mallotus species. We discuss the implications for the traditional use of these plants for disorders such as seizures, hypertension, and diabetes and the molecular mechanisms of plant secondary metabolite effects on KCNQ channels. Expected final online publication date for the Annual Review of Pharmacology and Toxicology, Volume 62 is January 2022. Please see for revised estimates.
Keywords: medicines / botanical / channels / species / diabetes / KCNQ / efficacy / safety / treatments / modern

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