Inflammation: the foundation of diseases and disorders. A review of phytomedicines of South African origin used to treat pain and inflammatory conditions.
AbstractGreat interest in herbal medicine as a potential source of phytopharmaceuticals has created the need to review common factors responsible for major diseases and body disorders. This review shows one such common factor in inflammation and the role herbal medicine can play. Traditional medicinal herbal remedies in the southern African region have long been used to treat various pain- or inflammation-related symptoms. Although the precise mechanisms of action of many herbal drugs have yet to be determined, some of them have been shown to exert anti-inflammatory and/or antioxidant effects in a variety of cells in the human and animal bodies. There is increasing evidence to
indicate that both peripheral and central nervous system cells play a prominent role in the chronic inflammatory responses in the body system and anti-inflammatory herbal medicine and its constituents are being proved to be a potent protector against various pro-inflammatory mediators in diseases and disorders. These mediators have therefore been suspected of being the functional basis of diseases and disorders. The structural diversity of these medicinal herbs makes them a valuable source of novel lead compounds against the therapeutic molecular targets, cytokines and mediators, that have been newly discovered by the platforms of genomics, proteomics, metabolomics and highthroughput technologies. This article reviews the basic mechanisms of inflammation and the potential of 123 southern African plant species to be effective as chronic inflammatory disease preventive agents. With one third of these species there are no indications of the chemical composition, indicating possible subjects for further research.