An overview of phytosomes as a novel herbal drug delivery system

  • Emilija Apostolova SOU,,Jane Sandanski,,
  • Brankica Spaseska
  • Maja Simonoska Crcarevska
  • Maja Glavash Dodov
  • Renata Slaveska Raichki



Many polyphenolic constituents of plants possess valuable therapeutic potential with a good safety profile. On the one hand, their phenolic nature renders them polar molecules but on the other hand, many water soluble glycosylated polyphenolics are  nevertheless, poorly absorbed with resulting erratic or poor bioavailability which has been experienced in conventional herbal formulations. As a consequence, these features considerably add to the complexity of herbal formulation development and the therapeutic outcomes are still dependent by the improvement of the pharmacokinetic profile of these compounds after oral or topical administration.

The new development strategy in the field of drug delivery systems for plant derived active constituents and extracts is focused on vesicular formulations like polymeric nanoparticles, microsphere, liposomes, phytosomes, transferosomes, ethosomes etc. The aim of this overview was to illustrate the phytosomes and to summarize their characteristics as novel herbal drug delivery system for polyphenolics and extracts and in addition, to highlight some key findings and recent development.

In general, phytosomes constitute complexes between a herbal active constituent and natural phospholipid.  As acknowledge, plant polyphenolics exhibit a marked affinity for phospholipids via hydrogen bondings and dipolar interactions with the charged phosphates groups of phospholipids which make them ideal candidate for phytosome formulation. These advanced and novel systems are described to have noticeable advantages over conventional herbal formulation which include improved solubility, bioavailability, biological activity, and stability of plant polyphenolics. It has also been revealed that phytosomes have successfully improved the oral bioavailability of different flavonoids. Several herbal extracts or single constituents from the diverse classes of polyphenols and terpenoids are marketed in the form of phytosome.

Many studies have emphasized the additional advantages of successfully developed phytosomes with potential to overcome the delivery challenges of polyphenolics from plant origin. Phytosomes have the capacity to deliver the standardized plant extracts as well as polyphenolics through several routes of drug administration. In addition, phytosome technology substantially improves the clinical applicability of polyphenols.

With wide range of applications of phytosomes numerous studies are undergoing and lots more is expected in the forthcoming years. The techniques used for phytosome formulations are patentable and highly profitable.