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Section Leaders: Makoto Araie, Robert Ritch, Clement Tham
Contributors: Makoto Aihara, Aiko Iwase, Sandra Fernando, Michael S Kook, Simon Law, Robert Nussenblatt, Vincenzo Parisi, Nathan Radcliffe, Douglas Rhee, Kwok-Fai So, Raymond Chuen-Chung CHANG, He Wei, Lori Ventura
- Plant extracts have been used medicinally throughout history. Every society has plants used medicinally
- Even dogs eat grass when sick, while chimpanzees consume a variety of non-food plants medicinally. This is learned behavior
- Our modern pharmacopoiea of drugs were originally synthesized from plants used medicinally. These include vitamin C, digitalis, penicillin, and pilocarpine.
- Chinese traditional medicine in its written form dates back 5000 years.
- Technically speaking, vitamins fall into this category. We depend on essential vitamins from food for survival. There is a fine line between nutrition and medicinal uses of plants.
- It was only in the 20th century, with the advent of single molecule products synthesized and patented by pharmaceutical companies and U.S. medical school philosophiesthat other non-pharmaceutical traditional medications came under attack, leading often to their being ridiculed and held in contempt.Thus, in order to get away from this view, we prefer the term “non-pharmaceutical therapy” to “alternative” or “complementary”
- Many available natural compounds used as “non-pharmaceutical therapy” have been reported to show beneficial effects on circulation, the immune system, and neuroprotective activities in vitro and in vivo.
- The mechanism of action of neuroprotection most common to natural compounds is antioxidant/free radical scavenging activity. However, many other actions are present and some extracts, such as Gingko biloa and curcumin have widespread activity on a number of enzyme systems.
- Comment: Some of these compounds reportedly modify expression of enzymes relating to excitotoxicity, apoptosis, inflammation, lipid peroxidation, or immune stimulation. Some of these compounds have undergone clinical trials to evidence their effects on systemic diseases, including neurodegenerative disorders.