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Asia Pac J Clin Nutr 2006;15 (2): 143-152 143
Natural products and anti-inflammatory activity
Gaofeng Yuan MSc,1,4 Mark L Wahlqvist MD,2 Guoqing He PhD,1 Min Yang MD3
and Duo Li MD1,4
1Department of Food Science and Nutrition, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, China
2Asia Pacific Health & Nutrition Centre, Monash Asia Institute, Monash University, Australia
3Department of Public Health, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, China
4APCNS Centre of Nutrition and Food Safety, Hangzhou, China
The aim of this review paper was to summarise some commonly available natural products and their anti-inflammatory activity. We have collected data from MEDLINE, Current Contents and scientific journals, which included 92 publications. There are numerous natural products detailed in this literature; however we have summarized a few of the most commonly available and potent ones. In this paper, the natural products with anti-inflammatory activity including curcumin, parthenolide, cucurbitacins, 1,8-cineole, pseudopterosins, lyprinol, bromelain, flavonoids, saponins, marine sponge natural products and Boswellia serrata gum resin were reviewed. Natural products play a significant role in human health in relation to the prevention and treatment of inflammatory conditions. Further studies are being conducted to investigate the mechanism of action, metabolism, safety and long term side effect of these natural products, as well as interactions between these natural products with food and drug components.
Key Words: inflammation, anti-inflammatory activity, natural products, anti-inflammatory food, pain, migraine, arthritis, asthma, chronic colitis, inflammatory based diseases
The role of natural products as remedies has been recognized since ancient times. There has been considerable public and scientific interest in the use of natural products to combat human diseases such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, and inflammatory disease (which may in any case, actually in-clude other chronic disease, like CVD, cancer and diabetes). In spite of major scientific and technological progress in combinatorial chemistry, drugs derived from natural pro-ducts still make an enormous contribution to drug discovery today.1
Inflammation，which is a pattern of response to injury, involves the accumulation of cells and exudates in irritated tissues, that allows protection from further damage. Inflammation has been studied for thousands of years in an attempt to combat its effects on the body. In AD 30, Cel-sius described the 4 classic signs of inflammation (rubor, calor, dolor, and tumor, or redness, heat, pain, and swelling), and used extracts of willow leaves to relieve them.2 For many years, salicylate-containing plants were applied therapeutically and lead to the production of a major anti-inflammatory drug - Aspirin. Aspirin, an agent with anti-inflammatory activity, is derived from natural sources, and is used extensively in current clinical practice. Many other aspirin like drugs are now available including the non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
Natural products with anti-inflammatory activity have long been used as a folk remedy for inflammatory con-ditions such as fevers, pain, migraine and arthritis. As the inflammatory basis of disease becomes clear, anti-inflammatory food and food products become of greater interest. The British Nutrition Foundation report on phyo-tochemicals provides a useful classification for those pro-ducts, namely: terpenoids, flavonoids and allied phenolic and polyphenolic compounds and sulphur-containing com-pounds.3
Curcumin (Fig. 1), a low molecular weight polyphenol, is derived from the rhizomes of the plant turmeric (Curcuma longa), which is endemic to peninsular India. Turmeric, in the form of a paste, has been used to relieve pain and inflammation.4 Extensive scientific research including pre-clinical and clinical studies revealed that curcumin has anti-inflammatory action.5-7 Satoskar et al., (1986) eva-luated the anti-inflammatory activity of curcumin in com-parison with phenylbutazone and placebo. Both phenyl-butazone and curcumin produce a better anti-inflammatory response than placebo.5
Correspondence address: Professor Duo Li, Department of Food Science and Nutrition, Zhejiang University, 268 Kaixuan Road, Hangzhou, Zhejiang, China 310029
Tel: + 86-571-8697 1024; Fax: + 86-571-8697 1024
Accepted 8th March 2006
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