In recent years, the use of microwave for extraction of constituents from plant material has shown tremendous research interest and potential. Conventional techniques for the extraction of active constituents are time and solvent consuming, thermally unsafe and the analysis of numerous constituents in plant material is limited by the extraction step. This review highlights the importance of extraction step in setting up respectable standards for herbal medicine worldwide. High and fast extraction performance ability with less solvent consumption and protection offered to thermolabile constituents are some of the attractive features of this new promising microwave assisted extraction (MAE) technique. A brief theoretical background of microwave heating and the basic principles of using microwave energy for extraction have been presented for better understanding. Discussions on the main parameters influencing the extraction efficiency (namely solvent nature and volume, extraction time, microwave power, matrix characteristics and temperature) and different statistical optimization strategies are also highlighted. Finally the potential applications of this new method with comparison of its performance to that of classical techniques are also elucidated.