Nov 18, 2011

University of Texas identifies 200 medicinal plants which exhibit anti-inflammatory activities

Nandita Vijay, Bangalore
Thursday, November 17, 2011, 08:00 Hrs  [IST]
The University of Texas' Cytokine Research Laboratory, Department of Experimental Therapeutic, has identified 200 medicinal plants which exhibit anti-inflammatory activities.

A team of scientists led by Bharat B Aggarwal, Professor of Cancer Research Department of Experimental Therapeutics, The University of Texas, have reported that using the reverse pharmacology to examine the medicinal plants for drug development is a viable approach. To validate this approach further, clinical trials are needed to examine their potential.

“We found that Ayurveda can serve as a goldmine for novel anti-inflammatory agents used for centuries to treat chronic diseases. The current review provides various ayurvedic plants used for treatment, their active chemical components, and the inflammatory pathways that they inhibit,” stated Dr Aggarwal.

Extensive research in over three decades has confirmed these observations and identified the molecular basis for most chronic diseases and for the associated inflammation, said Dr Aggarwal.

The 200 different plants have been used in Ayurveda to treat various chronic diseases. The active component from some of these plants can modify the inflammatory pathways linked to chronic diseases. Some of these active components have been studied by us and others extensively at the preclinical level. We define it as ‘reverse pharmacology’ or ‘bed to bench side’ approach to validate the knowledge has been known for long time, he stated in his report on Identification of Novel Anti-inflammatory Agents from Ayurvedic Medicine for Prevention of Chronic Diseases: “Reverse Pharmacology” and “Bedside to Bench” Approach published in the Current Drug Targets, 2011, Vol. 12, No. 11.

Some of the 200 ayurvedic plants which  exhibit anti-inflammatory activities have been tested and the molecular targets have been proved that these are potential remedies from herbal medicine. These are Abies pindrow, commonly known as the ‘talisapatra’ tree in Sanskrit and ‘morinda’ in Hindi, found in the deciduous forests of Himalayas. Its leaves have been used as an  Ayurvedic remedy for fever, respiratory and inflammatory ailments.

The leaves, roots and seeds of Abrus precatorius  known as Jequirity, Crab's Eye, Rosary Pea, or Indian licorice are used for medicinal purposes. A tea from its leaves is used to  treat fevers, coughs and colds.

Abutilon indicum is used in traditional medicine as an aphrodisiac, laxative, diuretic, pulmonary and sedative. Acacia Arabica gum is the source of useful medicaments and used for treating gingivitis and for reducing plaque.

Further, Acacia catechu, Acacia farnesiana, Asparagus adscendens, Azadirachta indica, Gmelina arborea, Ipomoea nil, Mucuna pruriens, Piper longum, Withania somnifera and Zingiber officinale are also known for their medicinal properties since ancient time. A number of phyto chemicals isolated from their  leaves have shown to possess immunomodulatory, anti-inflammatory, anti hyperglycaemic, anti ulcer,antimalarial, antifungal, antibacterial, antiviral, antioxidant, anti-mutagenic and anti-carcinogenic properties, stated the report.

“The approach will not be as expensive and the compounds/drugs isolated will be safe. The only issue is whether using a single chemical compound is preferred as a drug as compared to extracts from whole plants. We opine that  when whole plant extract or combinations of plant extracts are used, it may exhibit improved bioavailability and lower toxicity, as compared to single chemical entity,” stated Dr Aggawal.


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