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Year : 2010  |  Volume : 2  |  Issue : 5  |  Page : 293-295 Table of Contents     

A comparison of traditional anti-inflammation and anti-infection medicinal plants with current evidence from biomedical research: Results from a regional study

Applied Sciences, Nutrition Research Laboratory, Kin-9600, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC, V5A 1S6, Canada

Date of Submission28-Apr-2010
Date of Decision03-May-2010
Date of Web Publication08-Nov-2010

Correspondence Address:
A Vieira
Nutrition Research Laboratory, Applied Sciences K9600, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, B.C., V5A 1S6
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0974-8490.72326

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Background: In relation to pharmacognosy, an objective of many ethnobotanical studies is to identify plant species to be further investigated, for example, tested in disease models related to the ethnomedicinal application. To further warrant such testing, research evidence for medicinal applications of these plants (or of their major phytochemical constituents and metabolic derivatives) is typically analyzed in biomedical databases. Methods: As a model of this process, the current report presents novel information regarding traditional anti-inflammation and anti-infection medicinal plant use. This information was obtained from an interview-based ethnobotanical study; and was compared with current biomedical evidence using the Medline® database. Results: Of the 8 anti-infection plant species identified in the ethnobotanical study, 7 have related activities reported in the database; and of the 6 anti-inflammation plants, 4 have related activities in the database. Conclusion: Based on novel and complimentary results from the ethnobotanical and biomedical database analyses, it is suggested that some of these plants warrant additional investigation of potential anti-inflammatory or anti-infection activities in related disease models, and also additional studies in other population groups.

Keywords: Ethnobotany, infection, inflammation, medicinal plants, phytochemicals

How to cite this article:
Vieira A. A comparison of traditional anti-inflammation and anti-infection medicinal plants with current evidence from biomedical research: Results from a regional study. Phcog Res 2010;2:293-5

How to cite this URL:
Vieira A. A comparison of traditional anti-inflammation and anti-infection medicinal plants with current evidence from biomedical research: Results from a regional study. Phcog Res [serial online] 2010 [cited 2021 Apr 18];2:293-5. Available from: http://www.phcogres.com/text.asp?2010/2/5/293/72326

   Introduction Top

Ethnobotanical studies of medicinal plants often provide a first step in the process of selecting plants (or specific phytochemicals) to be tested in experimental models of various diseases. To further warrant such testing, another typical step is to search biomedical databases for existing research evidence that links these plants (or major phytochemical constituents) to the same therapeutic applications. As a model of this process, the current report presents novel information regarding traditional anti-inflammation and anti-infection medicinal plant use in a region of the Iberian Peninsula; and this information is compared with current biomedical evidence.

Over the past 2 decades, there have been several ethnobotanical studies of medicinal plants in the Iberian Peninsula. [1],[2],[3] There are no reported, detailed ethnobotanical studies of medicinal plants and their traditional use in the current region of study, the Serras de Aire e Candeeiros (SAC) region of west-central Portugal. Most of this region comprises a national 39,000 ha environmental conservation area, Parque Natural (PNSAC; http://portal.icnb.pt/ICNPortal/). In terms of flora, 2 main publications [4],[5] that cover the PNSAC area are known to the author, but these are not primarily concerned with specific, traditional medicinal applications of the plants by the local inhabitants.

The current study provides some novel information regarding traditional medicinal plant use in this region (a more comprehensive ethnobotanical study of medicinal, dietary, and other plant use in the region is underway). Information from plant-application associations in this region is compared for the specific medicinal plants with that in the Medline® biomedical database. Common applications of a given medicinal plant or its main phytochemical constituent(s) are reported and suggested as warranting further analyses in biomedical models or, for comparative purposes, in other regions and populations.

   Material and Methods Top

Information was obtained from interviews with, and acquired ad hoc from, elder residents (n = 9, 4 female and 5 male, aged 55-90 years) of villages near the northwest PNSAC border. Plants were identified by several methods: visual inspection, name searches in dictionaries and official botanical websites, and primarily from Flora Digital de Portugal (http://www.jb.utad.pt/pt/herbario/cons_reg.asp), a service provided by the botanical garden of Universidade de Trαs-os-Montes e Alto Douro (UTAD) in Portugal.

Analysis of the Medline database (NCBI and National Institutes of Health, USA, Nov. 08; http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sites/entrez?db=pubmed) was performed to assess both the extent of overall biomedical research on each of the medicinal plants and biomedical research evidence for the ethnobotanical, plant disease, and association that was identified for each of the plants.

   Results and Discussion Top

The compilation of medicinal plants with traditional anti-infection or anti-inflammation uses is shown in [Table 1]. A total of 10 species are presented, each from a different plant family. To obtain an estimate of the overall level of biomedical research associated with each plant species (or genus, in cases of multiple species), the number of "hits" (publications) for each species based on database searches was obtained and also recorded in [Table 1]. The most researched plant species include Allium cepa and Sambucus nigra. Based on the database search, the least researched of the plants identified in this study include Malva sylvestris, Mentha pulegium, and Capsella bursa-pastoris.
Table 1 :Traditional medicinal use of plants for inflammation (InFLA) and infections (InFEC) in the study region

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References for biomedical research evidence related to the ethnobotanical applications are also indicated in [Table 1]. The following (a-e) are some of the medicinal plants whose traditional ethnomedicinal applications in this region are corroborated by recently published biomedical research on extracts or phytochemicals of the same plants:

  1. A steroidal phytochemical of Ruscus aculeatus, ruscogenin, has recently been shown to inhibit proinflammatory factors, including tumor necrosis factor-α effects and nuclear factor-κB activation;[6] this plant, butcher's broom, is used locally for inflammation and arthritis.
  2. The essential oil of M. pulegium (over 70% piperitone/piperitenone) was demonstrated to have antimicrobial activity, especially against gram-positive bacteria, minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) of approximately 2 μL/mL [7] ; this plant, pennyroyal mint, is used locally to treat infections.
  3. There are many publications of antimicrobial activities of Allium species, including A. cepa, onion, used locally to treat infections. A quercetin derivative isolated from A. cepa, 3-(quercetin-8-yl)-2,3-epoxyflavanone, exhibited antimicrobial activity against Helicobacter pylori and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. [8]
  4. Both Rosa canina and M. sylvestris were demonstrated to have growth inhibitory activity, IC50 less than 32 mg/mL for biofilm inhibition, against methicillin-resistant S. aureus[9] ; both plants, rose and mallow, are used locally for infections.
  5. Inhibitory activity against methicillin-resistant S. aureus has also been documented for 8-hydroxydihydro-sanguinarine (MIC of 0.5 mg/mL; and also for other benzo[c]phenanthridine-type alkaloids) extracted from Chelidonium majus; [10] this plant, celandine, is used locally to treat topical infections.

In conclusion, the current study provides novel information on medicinal plants with traditional anti-infection and anti-inflammation usage in the PNSAC region. Complementary activities of these plants, or of their phytochemical constituents, are presented. It is suggested that some of these plants, especially Ruscus and Chelidonium, warrant further investigation of their respective anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial activities in other population groups and in additional experimental models of disease.[18]

   References Top

1.Akerreta S, Cavero RY, Calvo MI. First comprehensive contribution to medical ethnobotany of Western Pyrenees. J Ethnobiol Ethnomed. 2007;3:26.  Back to cited text no. 1
2.Bonet MA, Blanchι C, Xirau JV. Ethnobotanical study in River Tenes valley (Catalonia, Iberian Peninsula). J Ethnopharmacol 1992;37:205-12.  Back to cited text no. 2
3.Novais MH, Santos I, Mendes S, Pinto-Gomes C. Studies on pharmaceutical ethnobotany in Arrabida Natural Park (Portugal). J Ethnopharmacol 2004;93:183-95.  Back to cited text no. 3
4.Flor A. Plantas a proteger no Parque Natural das Serras de Aire e Candeeiros. ENERSIS, Indugrafica. Instituto da Conservaηγo da Natureza 2005.   Back to cited text no. 4
5.Lopes MH. Plantas aromαticas e medicinais do Parque Natural das Serras de Aire e Candeeiros. PNSAC/SNPRCN, Instituto da Conservaηγo da Natureza e da Biodiversidade. 1990.  Back to cited text no. 5
6.Huang YL, Kou JP, Ma L, Song JX, Yu BY. Possible mechanism of the anti-inflammatory activity of ruscogenin: Role of intercellular adhesion molecule-1 and nuclear factor-kappaB. J Pharmacol Sci 2008;108:198-205.  Back to cited text no. 6
7.Mahboubi M, Haghi G. Antimicrobial activity and chemical composition of Mentha pulegium L. essential oil. J Ethnopharmacol 2008;119:325-7.  Back to cited text no. 7
8.Ramos FA, Takaishi Y, Shirotori M, Kawaguchi Y, Tsuchiya K, Shibata H, et al. Antibacterial and antioxidant activities of quercetin oxidation products from yellow onion (Allium cepa). J Agric Food Chem 2006;54:3551-7.  Back to cited text no. 8
9.Quave CL, Plano LR, Pantuso T, Bennett BC. Effects of extracts from Italian medicinal plants on planktonic growth, biofilm formation and adherence of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. J Ethnopharmacol 2008;118:418-28.  Back to cited text no. 9
10.Zuo GY, Meng FY, Hao XY, Zhang YL, Wang GC, Xu GL. Antibacterial alkaloids from Chelidonium majus Linn. (Papaveraceae) against clinical isolates of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. J Pharm Pharm Sci 2008;11:90-4.  Back to cited text no. 10
11.Saulis AS, Mogford JH, Mustoe TA. Effect of Mederma on hypertrophic scarring in the rabbit ear model. Plast Reconstr Surg 2002;110:177-83.  Back to cited text no. 11
12.Wang HX, Ng TB. Isolation of allicepin, a novel antifungal peptide from onion (Allium cepa) bulbs. J Pept Sci 2004;10:173-7.  Back to cited text no. 12
13.Kuroda K, Takagi K. Studies on Capsella bursa-pastoris. II. Diuretic, anti-inflammatory and anti-ulcer action of ethanol extracts of the herb. Arch Int Pharmacodyn Ther 1969;178:392-9.  Back to cited text no. 13
14.Fomin KF, Nikolaeva VG, Alekseeva LP, Panina ZV, Sviatenko BG. Use of Chelidonium majus for the treatment of pruritic dermatoses. Vestn Dermatol Venerol 1975;6:60-2.  Back to cited text no. 14
15.Ciebiada I, Korczak E, Nowicky JW, Denys A. Does the Ukrain preparation protect mice against lethal doses of bacteria? Drugs Exp Clin Res 1996;22:207-11.  Back to cited text no. 15
16.Lansky EP, Paavilainen HM, Pawlus AD, Newman RA. Ficus spp. (fig): Ethnobotany and potential as anticancer and anti-inflammatory agents. J Ethnopharmacol 2008;119:195-213.  Back to cited text no. 16
17.Chevillard L, Ranson M, Senault B. Anti-inflammatory activity of holly extracts (Ruscus aculeatus L.). Med Pharmacol Exp Int J Exp Med 1965;12:109-14.  Back to cited text no. 17
18.Uncini Manganelli RE, Zaccaro L, Tomei PE. Antiviral activity in vitro of Urtica dioica L., Parietaria diffusa M. et K. and Sambucus nigra L. J Ethnopharmacol 2005;98:323-7.  Back to cited text no. 18


  [Table 1]

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