Special Issue "Herbal Medicines and Functional Foods"

A special issue of Medicines (ISSN 2305-6320).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 May 2017).

Special Issue Editor

Prof. Dr. João Rocha

Guest Editor
Pharmacology and Translational Research Group (iMed.UL–FFUL), Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Lisbon, Lisboa 1649-003, Portugal
Interests: Pharmacology of Local and Systemic Inflammation; Immunopharmacology; Lung Injury; Herbal Medicines and Functional Foods
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Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Herbal medicines have played an important role in the discovery of new drugs and innovative mechanisms of action, and the tenet “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food,” espoused by Hippocrates nearly 2,500 years ago, is receiving renewed interest.

Among the various mechanisms exhibited by substances originating from these sources, antioxidant effects have been one of the most studied and pursued. Given the importance of oxidative stress and the deleterious effects of reactive oxygen species in several diseases, it is of great importance to study molecules that are able to prevent or reduce the magnitude of these oxidative mediators. One of the main consequences and/or precursors of an oxidative process, is inflammation. An inflammatory process can either initiate or be a consequence of cellular oxidative stress. Given the association of inflammation with several diseases—such as diabetes, neurodegenerative diseases, stroke, respiratory diseases and even cancer—the oxidative process is a potentially useful pharmacological target for many pathological conditions. The pleiotropic effects of these compounds and the ability to modulate several cellular and biochemical pharmacological targets related to several diseases, are making this line of research one of the most promising in recent years.

This Issue invites researchers to contribute original research articles as well as review articles related to the isolation, identification, and pharmacological (pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics) characterization of herbal medicines and functional foods (either whole, extracted or isolated compounds) that contribute to the knowledge in this area.

We look forward to receiving your contributions.

Prof. Joao Rocha, PharmD MSc PhD
Guest Editor

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Keywords

  • antioxidant
  • inflammation
  • antiinflammatory
  • pharmacology
  • herbal medicines
  • functional foods

Published Papers (17 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle
Sub-Chronic Toxicity of the Hydroethanolic Leaf Extract of Telfairia occidentalis Hook. f. (Cucurbitaceae) in Male Rats
Medicines 2018, 5(1), 4; https://doi.org/10.3390/medicines5010004 - 06 Jan 2018
Cited by 2
Abstract
Background: Due to its nutritional and medicinal values, the leaf of Telfairia occidentalis Hook f. (Cucurbitaceae) is consumed in different parts of Nigeria. Acute and sub-chronic toxicity of the hydroethanolic leaf extract of Telfairia occidentalis were investigated in this study. Methods: [...] Read more.
Background: Due to its nutritional and medicinal values, the leaf of Telfairia occidentalis Hook f. (Cucurbitaceae) is consumed in different parts of Nigeria. Acute and sub-chronic toxicity of the hydroethanolic leaf extract of Telfairia occidentalis were investigated in this study. Methods: Sixty-four male rats were randomized into four different groups of 16 animals each and were separately administered 80, 400 and 2000 mg/kg T. occidentalis orally (p.o.) for 60 days. Animals were sacrificed and blood samples were collected for hematological and biochemical analyses. Vital organs were harvested and evaluated for in vivo antioxidants and histopathological changes. Results: A significant (p < 0.05) reduction in weight of the testes, compared to the control group, was observed in the group treated with 2000 mg/kg extract. No significant change was observed in the weight of other vital organs relative to the control group. There were significant (p < 0.01) increases in sperm motility and count in the group administered 80 mg/kg extract and significant (p < 0.001) reductions in both parameters at 2000 mg/kg. There were significant increases in the levels of hemoglobin and packed cell volume at 80 and 2000 mg/kg of the extract. In respect of liver function parameters, significant reductions in aspartate aminotransferase and alanine aminotransferase levels at doses of 400 and 2000 mg/kg relative to control were observed. Compared to control, the extract significantly reduced (p < 0.05) the level of total cholesterol (400 mg/kg) and caused a significant increase in the level of high-density lipoprotein (80, 400 and 2000 mg/kg). Significant (p < 0.05) increase in the level of malondialdehyde, decrease in superoxide dismutase level and histopathological abnormalities were observed in the testes at 2000 mg/kg. Upon cessation of treatment with T. occidentalis for 30 days, the observed effects were reversed. Conclusions: The findings showed that the hydroethanolic leaf extract of Telfairia occidentalis is relatively non-toxic on acute and sub-chronic exposures at low to moderate doses, with the potential to elicit anti-anemic effects, reduce the risk of atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease, and enhance antioxidant status in the brain and liver. Although possibly beneficial at low to moderate doses, the extract could be harmful to the testes with prolonged oral exposure at high dose. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Herbal Medicines and Functional Foods)
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Open AccessArticle
Ancient Food Habits Dictate that Food Can Be Medicine but Medicine Cannot Be “Food”!!
Medicines 2017, 4(4), 82; https://doi.org/10.3390/medicines4040082 - 13 Nov 2017
Cited by 3
Abstract
Background: Extensive surveys of several population settlements in different parts of India—covering plains, mountains, valleys, river banks and deeper areas of forests at different altitudes—between 1968 and 2016 demonstrated that the basic vital need of hunger is being fulfilled since antiquity by plants [...] Read more.
Background: Extensive surveys of several population settlements in different parts of India—covering plains, mountains, valleys, river banks and deeper areas of forests at different altitudes—between 1968 and 2016 demonstrated that the basic vital need of hunger is being fulfilled since antiquity by plants in the wild. Methods: Based on collections, consultations with local population personnel and literature searches, this paper presents many plants that are commonly used as food and focuses on their products, which are rich in alkaloids, polysaccharides, steroids, terpenoids, flavonoids, aminoacids, fatty acids and antibiotics etc. These complex organic compounds are suitable for the production of drugs for many ailments/diseases, including the prevention of cancers. Results: There are more than 100 families including several hundred plant taxa from various plant groups like angiosperms, bryophytes, pteridophytes, gymnosperms and even fleshy fungi, which have offered essential food items to ever-growing human populations since antiquity. Phytochemicals functioning as antioxidants are exceedingly beneficial to the human body but excess consumption of these compounds, adding higher levels of antioxidants, may even be responsible for chronic diseases including aging, cancer, cardiovascular diseases, rheumatoid arthritis, atherosclerosis, etc. These medicines can obviously be taken in small and prescribed quantities but can never be consumed as “food items.” Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Herbal Medicines and Functional Foods)
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Open AccessArticle
Inhibition of Cyclic Adenosine Monophosphate-Specific Phosphodiesterase by Various Food Plant-Derived Phytotherapeutic Agents
Medicines 2017, 4(4), 80; https://doi.org/10.3390/medicines4040080 - 04 Nov 2017
Cited by 6
Abstract
Background: Phosphodiesterases (PDEs) play a major role in the regulation of cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP)- and cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP)-mediated pathways. Their inhibitors exhibit anti-inflammatory, vasodilatory and antithrombotic effects. Therefore, consumption of foods with PDE-inhibiting potential may possess beneficial influence on the risk [...] Read more.
Background: Phosphodiesterases (PDEs) play a major role in the regulation of cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP)- and cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP)-mediated pathways. Their inhibitors exhibit anti-inflammatory, vasodilatory and antithrombotic effects. Therefore, consumption of foods with PDE-inhibiting potential may possess beneficial influence on the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Methods: Four plant extracts (Arbutus unedo, Camellia sinensis, Cynara scolymus, Zingiber officinale) with promising ingredient profiles and physiological effects were tested for their ability to inhibit cAMP-specific PDE in vitro in a radioactive assay. Results: Strawberry tree fruit (Arbutus unedo) and tea (Camellia sinensis) extracts did not inhibit PDE markedly. Alternatively, artichoke (Cynara scolymus) extract had a significant inhibitory influence on PDE activity (IC50 = 0.9 ± 0.1 mg/mL) as well as its flavone luteolin (IC50 = 41 ± 10 μM) and 3,4-dicaffeoylquinic acid (IC50 > 1.0 mM). Additionally, the ginger (Zingiber officinale) extract and one of its constituents, [6]-gingerol, significantly inhibited PDE (IC50 = 1.7 ± 0.2 mg/mL and IC50 > 1.7 mM, respectively). Crude fractionation of ginger extract showed that substances responsible for PDE inhibition were in the lipoid fraction (IC50 = 455 ± 19 μg/mL). Conclusions: A PDE-inhibitory effect was shown for artichoke and ginger extract. Whether PDE inhibition in vivo can be achieved through ingestion of artichoke or ginger extracts leading to physiological effects concerning cardiovascular health should be addressed in future research. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Herbal Medicines and Functional Foods)
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Open AccessArticle
Comparative Evaluation of Oxidative Stress Modulating and DNA Protective Activities of Aqueous and Methanolic Extracts of Acacia catechu
Medicines 2017, 4(3), 65; https://doi.org/10.3390/medicines4030065 - 05 Sep 2017
Cited by 1
Abstract
Background: Plant-derived bioactive compounds are becoming immensely important as potential drugs. Different solvents are being used for extraction of these phytochemicals. Evaluation of biological activities of aqueous plant extracts is important as water soluble compounds would be more beneficial with respect to certification, [...] Read more.
Background: Plant-derived bioactive compounds are becoming immensely important as potential drugs. Different solvents are being used for extraction of these phytochemicals. Evaluation of biological activities of aqueous plant extracts is important as water soluble compounds would be more beneficial with respect to certification, safety and commercial issues. Oxidative stress is involved in development of many diseases; therefore, antioxidants are now being looked upon as convincing therapeutics against such diseases. Natural antioxidants are in high demand because of their lesser side effects. This study aims to compare the antioxidant activity of aqueous and methanolic extracts of Acacia catechu—a traditional medicinal plant. Methods: The activity was examined using different in vitro systems including radical scavenging activity, lipid peroxidation and inhibition of OH radical induced DNA damage using standard protocols. Results: Both aqueous and methanolic extracts of Acacia catechu show significant activities with no differences in the efficacies of water and methanol soluble bioactive compounds. Conclusions: Present study revealed that aqueous extract of A. catechu has equal potential to be used as antioxidants as compared to methanolic extract. This can contribute to increased demand of physiologically compatible bioactive compounds of natural origin. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Herbal Medicines and Functional Foods)
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Open AccessArticle
Anti-Aging and Antioxidant Potential of Paullinia cupana var. sorbilis: Findings in Caenorhabditis elegans Indicate a New Utilization for Roasted Seeds of Guarana
Medicines 2017, 4(3), 61; https://doi.org/10.3390/medicines4030061 - 15 Aug 2017
Cited by 21
Abstract
Background: Roasted seeds of Amazonian guarana (Paullinia cupana var. sorbilis; Sapindaceae) are popular in South America due to their stimulant activity on the central nervous system (CNS). Rich in purine alkaloids, markedly caffeine, the seeds are extensively used in the Brazilian beverage [...] Read more.
Background: Roasted seeds of Amazonian guarana (Paullinia cupana var. sorbilis; Sapindaceae) are popular in South America due to their stimulant activity on the central nervous system (CNS). Rich in purine alkaloids, markedly caffeine, the seeds are extensively used in the Brazilian beverage industry for the preparation of soft drinks and as additives in energy drinks. Methods: To investigate the putative anti-aging and antioxidant activity of guarana, we used the model organism Caenorhabditis elegans. Chemical analyses were performed using high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) and electrospray ionization-mass spectrometry (ESI-MS/MS). Results: When tested in the model system Caenorhabditis elegans, the water extract from roasted guarana seeds enhanced resistance against oxidative stress, extended lifespan and attenuated aging markers such as muscle function decline and polyQ40 aggregation. Conclusions: In the current study, we demonstrate that guarana extracts can work as a powerful antioxidant in vivo; moreover, guarana extracts exhibit anti-aging properties. Our results suggest that the biological activities of guarana go beyond the extensively reported CNS stimulation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Herbal Medicines and Functional Foods)
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Open AccessArticle
The Chemotaxonomy of Common Sage (Salvia officinalis) Based on the Volatile Constituents
Medicines 2017, 4(3), 47; https://doi.org/10.3390/medicines4030047 - 29 Jun 2017
Cited by 15
Abstract
Background: Common sage (Salvia officinalis) is a popular culinary and medicinal herb. A literature survey has revealed that sage oils can vary widely in their chemical compositions. The purpose of this study was to examine sage essential oil from different sources/origins [...] Read more.
Background: Common sage (Salvia officinalis) is a popular culinary and medicinal herb. A literature survey has revealed that sage oils can vary widely in their chemical compositions. The purpose of this study was to examine sage essential oil from different sources/origins and to define the possible chemotypes of sage oil. Methods: Three different samples of sage leaf essential oil have been obtained and analyzed by GC-MS and GC-FID. A hierarchical cluster analysis was carried out on 185 sage oil compositions reported in the literature as well as the three samples in this study. Results: The major components of the three sage oils were the oxygenated monoterpenoids α-thujone (17.2–27.4%), 1,8-cineole (11.9–26.9%), and camphor (12.8–21.4%). The cluster analysis revealed five major chemotypes of sage oil, with the most common being a α-thujone > camphor > 1,8-cineole chemotype, of which the three samples in this study belong. The other chemotypes are an α-humulene-rich chemotype, a β-thujone-rich chemotype, a 1,8-cineole/camphor chemotype, and a sclareol/α-thujone chemotype. Conclusions: Most sage oils belonged to the “typical”, α-thujone > camphor > 1,8-cineole, chemotype, but the essential oil compositions do vary widely and may have a profound effect on flavor and fragrance profiles as well as biological activities. There are currently no studies correlating sage oil composition with fragrance descriptions or with biological activities. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Herbal Medicines and Functional Foods)
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Open AccessArticle
Physicochemical Properties, Antioxidant and Cytotoxic Activities of Crude Extracts and Fractions from Phyllanthus amarus
Medicines 2017, 4(2), 42; https://doi.org/10.3390/medicines4020042 - 18 Jun 2017
Cited by 8
Abstract
Background: Phyllanthus amarus (P. amarus) has been used as a medicinal plant for the prevention and treatment of chronic ailments such as diabetes, hepatitis, and cancer. Methods: The physicochemical properties, antioxidant and cytotoxic activities of crude extracts and fractions from P. [...] Read more.
Background: Phyllanthus amarus (P. amarus) has been used as a medicinal plant for the prevention and treatment of chronic ailments such as diabetes, hepatitis, and cancer. Methods: The physicochemical properties, antioxidant and cytotoxic activities of crude extracts and fractions from P. amarus were determined using spectrophotometric method. Results: The P. amarus methanol (PAM) extract had lower levels of residual moisture (7.40%) and water activity (0.24) and higher contents of saponins, phenolics, flavonoids, and proanthocyanidins (1657.86 mg escin equivalents, 250.45 mg gallic acid equivalents, 274.73 mg rutin equivalents and 61.22 mg catechin equivalents per g dried extract, respectively) than those of the P. amarus water (PAW) extract. The antioxidant activity of PAM extract was significantly higher (p < 0.05) than that of the PAW extract, PAM fractions, and phyllanthin (known as a major compound in the P. amarus). Higher cytotoxic activity of PAM extract based on MTT assay on different cell lines including MiaPaCa-2 (pancreas), HT29 (colon), A2780 (ovarian), H460 (lung), A431 (skin), Du145 (prostate), BE2-C (neuroblastoma), MCF-7 (breast), MCF-10A (normal breast), and U87, SJ-G2, SMA (glioblastoma) was observed in comparison to the PAW extract and PAM fractions. The cytotoxic potential of the PAW extract (200 μg/mL), based on the CCK-8 assay on a pancreatic cancer cell line (MiaCaPa2) was significantly lower (p < 0.05) than those of gemcitabine (50 nM) and a saponin-enriched extract from quillajia bark at 200 μg/mL (a commercial product), but was significantly higher than that of phyllanthin at 2 μg/mL. Conclusions: The results achieved from this study reveal that the PA extracts are a potential source for the development of natural antioxidant products and/or novel anticancer drugs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Herbal Medicines and Functional Foods)
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Open AccessArticle
Angelica sinensis (Oliv.) Diels: Influence of Value Chain on Quality Criteria and Marker Compounds Ferulic Acid and Z-Ligustilide
Medicines 2017, 4(1), 14; https://doi.org/10.3390/medicines4010014 - 14 Mar 2017
Cited by 4
Abstract
Background: Dang gui (Apiaceae; Angelica sinensis radix) is among the most often used Chinese medicinal plants. However, hardly anything is known about its value chain and its influence on the main marker compounds of the drug. The aim of this study is to [...] Read more.
Background: Dang gui (Apiaceae; Angelica sinensis radix) is among the most often used Chinese medicinal plants. However, hardly anything is known about its value chain and its influence on the main marker compounds of the drug. The aim of this study is to investigate the value chain of dang gui in Gansu and Yunnan, and the analysis of the marker compounds ferulic acid and Z-ligustilide concentration in relation to quality criteria such as the production area and size of the roots. Methods: During six months of field research in China, semi-structured interviews with various stakeholders of the value chain were undertaken and plant material was collected. High-performance thin layer chromatography (HPTLC) was used for semi-quantitative analysis of ferulic acid and Z-ligustilide. Results: Small-scale household cultivation prevails and in Gansu—in contrast to Yunnan—the cultivation of dang gui is often the main income source of farmers. Farmers and dealers use size and odor of the root as main quality criteria. For Chinese medicine doctors, Gansu as the production area is the main criterion. Higher amounts of ferulic acid in plant material from Yunnan compared to Gansu were found. Additionally, a negative relation of root length with both ferulic acid and Z-ligustilide as well as head diameter with ferulic acid were found. Conclusions: HPTLC is a valid method for semi-quantitative analysis of the marker compounds of dang gui. However, the two main marker compounds cannot explain why size and smell of the root or production area are seen as quality criteria. This hints at the inherent difficulty to correlate quality notions of medicinal plants with specific chemical compounds. With respect to this, more attention should be paid to quality in terms of cultivation and processing techniques. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Herbal Medicines and Functional Foods)
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Open AccessArticle
Vochysia rufa Stem Bark Extract Protects Endothelial Cells against High Glucose Damage
Medicines 2017, 4(1), 9; https://doi.org/10.3390/medicines4010009 - 21 Feb 2017
Cited by 2
Abstract
Background: Increased oxidative stress by persistent hyperglycemia is a widely accepted factor in vascular damage responsible for type 2 diabetes complications. The plant Vochysia rufa (Vr) has been used in folk medicine in Brazil for the treatment of diabetes. Thus; the protective effect [...] Read more.
Background: Increased oxidative stress by persistent hyperglycemia is a widely accepted factor in vascular damage responsible for type 2 diabetes complications. The plant Vochysia rufa (Vr) has been used in folk medicine in Brazil for the treatment of diabetes. Thus; the protective effect of a Vr stem bark extract against a challenge by a high glucose concentration on EA.hy926 (EA) endothelial cells is evaluated. Methods: Vegetal material is extracted with distilled water by maceration and evaporated until dryness under vacuum. Then; it is isolated by capillary electrophoresis–tandem mass spectrometry. Cell viability is evaluated on EA cells treated with 0.5–100 µg/mL of the Vr extract for 24 h. The extract is diluted at concentrations of 5, 10 and 25 µg/mL and maintained for 24 h along with 30 mM of glucose to evaluate its protective effect on reduced glutathione (GSH); glutathione peroxidase (GPx) and reductase (GR) and protein carbonyl groups. Results: V. rufa stem bark is composed mainly of sugars; such as inositol; galactose; glucose; mannose; sacarose; arabinose and ribose. Treatment with Vr up to 100 µg/mL for 24 h did not affect cell viability. Treatment of EA cells with 30 mM of glucose for 24 h significantly increased the cell damage. EA cells treated with 30 mM of glucose showed a decrease of GSH concentration and increased Radical Oxygen Species (ROS) and activity of antioxidant enzymes and protein carbonyl levels; compared to control. Co-treatment of EA with 30 mM glucose plus 1–10 μg/mL Vr significantly reduced cell damage while 5–25 μg/mL Vr evoked a significant protection against the glucose insult; recovering ROS; GSH; antioxidant enzymes and carbonyls to baseline levels. Conclusion: V. rufa extract protects endothelial cells against oxidative damage by modulating ROS; GSH concentration; antioxidant enzyme activity and protein carbonyl levels. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Herbal Medicines and Functional Foods)
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Open AccessArticle
Study Protocol for a Randomized Double Blind, Treatment Control Trial Comparing the Efficacy of a Micronutrient Formula to a Single Vitamin Supplement in the Treatment of Premenstrual Syndrome
Medicines 2016, 3(4), 32; https://doi.org/10.3390/medicines3040032 - 07 Dec 2016
Cited by 1
Abstract
Background: The recent addition of Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD) to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (5th ed.) has highlighted the seriousness of this disorder. Many alternatives to psychoactive medication in the form of vitamins, minerals, and plant extracts have been trialled by women [...] Read more.
Background: The recent addition of Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD) to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (5th ed.) has highlighted the seriousness of this disorder. Many alternatives to psychoactive medication in the form of vitamins, minerals, and plant extracts have been trialled by women seeking a natural treatment approach. We plan to explore whether a well validated micronutrient formula, EMPowerplus Advanced, can outperform a recognized single nutrient treatment, vitamin B6, for the treatment of Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS). Methods: This will be a randomized treatment control study. Eighty women will be recruited and assigned to one of two treatment groups; EMPowerplus Advanced or vitamin B6. Baseline daily data will be collected for an initial two cycles, followed by three months of active treatment. A natural follow up will take place three cycles post treatment. Results: The primary outcome measure will be PMS change scores as based on results from the Daily Record of Severity of Problems (DRSP). The number of treatment responders for each of the two groups will yield a comparison score between the two treatments, with participants deemed as a responder if they show a total PMS score improvement of 50% from their baseline scores on the DRSP. Conclusion: If a micronutrient formula proves more effective for treating PMS, not only does it give women suffering from the condition a viable treatment option, but it may also suggest one cause of PMS; that is insufficient minerals and vitamins. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Herbal Medicines and Functional Foods)
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Open AccessArticle
Identification of Phlogacantholide C as a Novel ADAM10 Enhancer from Traditional Chinese Medicinal Plants
Medicines 2016, 3(4), 30; https://doi.org/10.3390/medicines3040030 - 05 Dec 2016
Cited by 4
Abstract
Background: Alzheimer’s disease is one of the most prevalent dementias in the elderly population with increasing numbers of patients. One pivotal hallmark of this disorder is the deposition of protein aggregates stemming from neurotoxic amyloid-beta peptides. Synthesis of those peptides has been efficiently [...] Read more.
Background: Alzheimer’s disease is one of the most prevalent dementias in the elderly population with increasing numbers of patients. One pivotal hallmark of this disorder is the deposition of protein aggregates stemming from neurotoxic amyloid-beta peptides. Synthesis of those peptides has been efficiently prevented in AD model mice by activation of an enzyme called alpha-secretase. Therefore, drugs with the capability to increase the expression of this enzyme, named ADAM10, have been suggested as a valuable therapeutic medication. Methods: We investigated 69 substances from a drug library derived from traditional Chinese medicine by luciferase reporter assay in human neuronal cells for their potential to selectively induce alpha-secretase expression. Western blot analysis was used to confirm results on the protein level. Results: Ten of the 69 investigated compounds led to induction of ADAM10 transcriptional activity while BACE-1 (beta-site APP cleaving enzyme 1) and APP (amyloid precursor protein) expression were not induced. Two of them—Norkurarinol and Phlogacantholide C—showed substantial elevation of ADAM10 protein levels and Phlogacantholide C also increased secretion of the ADAM10-derived cleavage product APPs-alpha. Conclusion: Phlogacantholide C represents a novel ADAM10 gene expression enhancer from traditional Chinese medicinal herbs that may lay the groundwork for evolving potential novel therapeutics in Alzheimer’s disease. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Herbal Medicines and Functional Foods)
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Open AccessArticle
Characterisation of Bone Beneficial Components from Australian Wallaby Bone
Medicines 2016, 3(3), 23; https://doi.org/10.3390/medicines3030023 - 26 Aug 2016
Abstract
Background: Osteoporosis is a condition in which the bones become brittle, increasing the risk of fractures. Complementary medicines have traditionally used animal bones for managing bone disorders, such as osteoporosis. This study aimed to discover new natural products for these types of conditions [...] Read more.
Background: Osteoporosis is a condition in which the bones become brittle, increasing the risk of fractures. Complementary medicines have traditionally used animal bones for managing bone disorders, such as osteoporosis. This study aimed to discover new natural products for these types of conditions by determining mineral and protein content of bone extracts derived from the Australian wallaby. Methods: Inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry and Fourier transform infrared spectroscopic analysis were used for mineral tests, proteome analysis was using LC/MS/MS and the effects of wallaby bone extracts (WBE)s on calcium deposition and alkaline phosphatase activity were evaluated in osteogenic cells derived from adipose tissue-derived stem cells (ADSCs). Results: Concentrations of calcium and phosphorus were 26.21% and 14.72% in WBE respectively. Additionally, minerals found were wide in variety and high in concentration, while heavy metal concentrations of aluminium, iron, zinc and other elements were at safe levels for human consumption. Proteome analysis showed that extracts contained high amounts of bone remodelling proteins, such as osteomodulin, osteopontin and osteoglycin. Furthermore, in vitro evaluation of WBEs showed increased deposition of calcium in osteoblasts with enhanced alkaline phosphatase activity in differentiated adipose-derived stem cells. Conclusion: Our results demonstrate that wallaby bone extracts possess proteins and minerals beneficial for bone metabolism. WBEs may therefore be used for developing natural products for conditions such as osteoporosis and further investigation to understand biomolecular mechanism by which WBEs prevent osteoporosis is warranted. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Herbal Medicines and Functional Foods)
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Review

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Open AccessReview
European Ethnopharmaceuticals for Self-Medication in Japan: Review Experience of Vitis vinifera L., Folium Extract and Vitex agnus-castus L., Fructus Extract as OTC Drugs
Medicines 2018, 5(1), 3; https://doi.org/10.3390/medicines5010003 - 06 Jan 2018
Abstract
Since the publication of “Application Guideline for Western Traditional Herbal Medicines as OTC Drugs” in 2007, only two European ethnopharmaceuticals, Vitis vinifera L., folium extract (Antistax) and Vitex agnus-castus L., fructus extract (Prefemin), have been approved as OTC drugs in Japan. In this [...] Read more.
Since the publication of “Application Guideline for Western Traditional Herbal Medicines as OTC Drugs” in 2007, only two European ethnopharmaceuticals, Vitis vinifera L., folium extract (Antistax) and Vitex agnus-castus L., fructus extract (Prefemin), have been approved as OTC drugs in Japan. In this review, we describe the current regulation of Western ethnopharmaceuticals in Japan, summarize our regulatory experiences and discuss the scientific and regulatory issues involved. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Herbal Medicines and Functional Foods)
Open AccessReview
Ethnomedicinal, Phytochemical and Ethnopharmacological Aspects of Four Medicinal Plants of Malvaceae Used in Indian Traditional Medicines: A Review
Medicines 2017, 4(4), 75; https://doi.org/10.3390/medicines4040075 - 18 Oct 2017
Cited by 12
Abstract
The ethnomedicinal values of plants form the basis of the herbal drug industry. India has contributed its knowledge of traditional system medicines (Ayurveda and Siddha) to develop herbal medicines with negligible side effects. The World Health Organization has also recognized the benefits of [...] Read more.
The ethnomedicinal values of plants form the basis of the herbal drug industry. India has contributed its knowledge of traditional system medicines (Ayurveda and Siddha) to develop herbal medicines with negligible side effects. The World Health Organization has also recognized the benefits of drugs developed from natural products. Abutilon indicum, Hibiscus sabdariffa, Sida acuta and Sida rhombifolia are ethnomedicinal plants of Malvaceae, commonly used in Indian traditional system of medicines. Traditionally these plants were used in the form of extracts/powder/paste by tribal populations of India for treating common ailments like cough and cold, fever, stomach, kidney and liver disorders, pains, inflammations, wounds, etc. The present review is an overview of phytochemistry and ethnopharmacological studies that support many of the traditional ethnomedicinal uses of these plants. Many phytoconstituents have been isolated from the four ethnomedicinal plants and some of them have shown pharmacological activities that have been demonstrated by in vivo and/or in vitro experiments. Ethnomedicinal uses, supported by scientific evidences is essential for ensuring safe and effective utilization of herbal medicines. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Herbal Medicines and Functional Foods)
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Open AccessReview
Scientific Study of Gentiana kurroo Royle
Medicines 2017, 4(4), 74; https://doi.org/10.3390/medicines4040074 - 12 Oct 2017
Cited by 3
Abstract
The present investigation was carried out to review and highlight the potential phytochemicals and medicinal phenomena of the critically endangered medicinal plant, Gentiana kurroo Royle of the western and north-western Himalayas. The medicinal plant is heavily exploited for root and rhizome. Due to [...] Read more.
The present investigation was carried out to review and highlight the potential phytochemicals and medicinal phenomena of the critically endangered medicinal plant, Gentiana kurroo Royle of the western and north-western Himalayas. The medicinal plant is heavily exploited for root and rhizome. Due to its endemic nature and the high rate of exploitation from its natural habitat, this species had become critically endangered. The phytochemical screening of the plant revealed that the plant contains some vital phyto-constituents (iridoids, xanthones, C-glucoxanthone mangiferin, and C-glucoflavones) that have a medicinal value for various acute and chronic diseases. Several researchers have carried out experimental work to validate the folkloric use of the medicinal plant for different ailments like antibacterial, antioxidant, anti-arthritic, anti-inflammatory, analgesic activities and anti-diabetic activity. However, it is yet to be confirmed the antifungal activity of the same plant. Because of endemic nature and high rate of exploitation there is need for alternative method called bio-prospecting of Endophytes from the plant, to carry out the production and characterization of bioactive metabolites for pharmacological uses and can become a conservative tool for the medicinal plant. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Herbal Medicines and Functional Foods)
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Open AccessReview
Interaction of Plant Extracts with Central Nervous System Receptors
Medicines 2017, 4(1), 12; https://doi.org/10.3390/medicines4010012 - 23 Feb 2017
Cited by 8
Abstract
Background: Plant extracts have been used in traditional medicine for the treatment of various maladies including neurological diseases. Several central nervous system receptors have been demonstrated to interact with plant extracts and components affecting the pharmacology and thereby potentially playing a role in [...] Read more.
Background: Plant extracts have been used in traditional medicine for the treatment of various maladies including neurological diseases. Several central nervous system receptors have been demonstrated to interact with plant extracts and components affecting the pharmacology and thereby potentially playing a role in human disease and treatment. For instance, extracts from Hypericum perforatum (St. John’s wort) targeted several CNS receptors. Similarly, extracts from Piper nigrum, Stephania cambodica, and Styphnolobium japonicum exerted inhibition of agonist-induced activity of the human neurokinin-1 receptor. Methods: Different methods have been established for receptor binding and functional assays based on radioactive and fluorescence-labeled ligands in cell lines and primary cell cultures. Behavioral studies of the effect of plant extracts have been conducted in rodents. Plant extracts have further been subjected to mood and cognition studies in humans. Results: Mechanisms of action at molecular and cellular levels have been elucidated for medicinal plants in support of standardization of herbal products and identification of active extract compounds. In several studies, plant extracts demonstrated affinity to a number of CNS receptors in parallel indicating the complexity of this interaction. In vivo studies showed modifications of CNS receptor affinity and behavioral responses in animal models after treatment with medicinal herbs. Certain plant extracts demonstrated neuroprotection and enhanced cognitive performance, respectively, when evaluated in humans. Noteworthy, the penetration of plant extracts and their protective effect on the blood-brain-barrier are discussed. Conclusion: The affinity of plant extracts and their isolated compounds for CNS receptors indicates an important role for medicinal plants in the treatment of neurological disorders. Moreover, studies in animal and human models have confirmed a scientific basis for the application of medicinal herbs. However, additional investigations related to plant extracts and their isolated compounds, as well as their application in animal models and the conducting of clinical trials, are required. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Herbal Medicines and Functional Foods)
Open AccessReview
Critical Analysis on Characterization, Systemic Effect, and Therapeutic Potential of Beta-Sitosterol: A Plant-Derived Orphan Phytosterol
Medicines 2016, 3(4), 29; https://doi.org/10.3390/medicines3040029 - 15 Nov 2016
Cited by 37
Abstract
Beta-sitosterol (BS) is a phytosterol, widely distributed throughout the plant kingdom and known to be involved in the stabilization of cell membranes. To compile the sources, physical and chemical properties, spectral and chromatographic analytical methods, synthesis, systemic effects, pharmacokinetics, therapeutic potentials, toxicity, drug [...] Read more.
Beta-sitosterol (BS) is a phytosterol, widely distributed throughout the plant kingdom and known to be involved in the stabilization of cell membranes. To compile the sources, physical and chemical properties, spectral and chromatographic analytical methods, synthesis, systemic effects, pharmacokinetics, therapeutic potentials, toxicity, drug delivery and finally, to suggest future research with BS, classical as well as on-line literature were studied. Classical literature includes classical books on ethnomedicine and phytochemistry, and the electronic search included Pubmed, SciFinder, Scopus, the Web of Science, Google Scholar, and others. BS could be obtained from different plants, but the total biosynthetic pathway, as well as its exact physiological and structural function in plants, have not been fully understood. Different pharmacological effects have been studied, but most of the mechanisms of action have not been studied in detail. Clinical trials with BS have shown beneficial effects in different diseases, but long-term study results are not available. These have contributed to its current status as an “orphan phytosterol”. Therefore, extensive research regarding its effect at cellular and molecular level in humans as well as addressing the claims made by commercial manufacturers such as the cholesterol lowering ability, immunological activity etc. are highly recommended. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Herbal Medicines and Functional Foods)
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