Herbs and human health: A review

By Ashok D. Agrawal, Sunil R. Bavaskar, Yogesh M. Bagad, Mayur R. Bhurat

Abstract

Herbs have been used as food and for medicinal purposes for centuries. Research interest has focused on various herbs that possess hypolipidemic, antiplatelet, antitumor, or immune-stimulating properties that may be useful adjuncts in helping reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer. Regular consumption of fruit and vegetables is associated with reduced risks of cancer, cardiovascular disease, stroke, Alzheimer disease, cataracts, and some of the functional declines associated with aging. Prevention is a more effective strategy than is treatment of chronic diseases. In different herbs, a wide variety of active phytochemicals, including the flavonoids, terpenoids, lignans, sulfides, polyphenolics, carotenoids, coumarins, saponins, plant sterols, curcumins, and phthalides have been identified.  Several of these phytochemicals either inhibit nitrosation or the formations of DNA adduct or stimulate the activity of protective enzymes such as the Phase II enzyme glutathione transferase [EC 2.5.1.18]. Many of these herbs contain potent antioxidant compounds that provide significant protection against chronic diseases. These compounds may protect LDL cholesterol from oxidation, inhibit cyclooxygenase and lipoxygenase enzymes, inhibit lipid peroxidation, or have antiviral or antitumor activity.

 

Key Words : Herbs, phytochemicals, flavonoids, terpenoids, antioxidants.

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