Inhibition of nuclear factor kappaB activation and cyclooxygenase-2 expression by aqueous extracts of Hispanic medicinal herbs. Academic Article uri icon


  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are a primary choice of therapy for diseases with a chronic inflammatory component. Unfortunately, long-term NSAID therapy is often accompanied by severe side effects, including cardiovascular and gastrointestinal complications. Because of this, there is critical need for identification of new and safer treatments for chronic inflammation to circumvent these side effects. Inflammatory diseases have been successfully remedied with natural herbs by many cultures. To better understand the potential of natural herbs in treating chronic inflammation and to identify their mechanism of action, we have evaluated the anti-inflammatory activities of 20 medicinal herbs commonly used in the Hispanic culture. We have established a standardized method for preparing aqueous extracts (teas) from the selected medicinal herbs and screened for inhibition of tumor necrosis factor-alpha-induced activation of nuclear factor kappaB (NF-kappaB), which is the central signaling pathway of the inflammatory response. A number of herbal teas were identified that exhibited significant anti-inflammatory activity. In particular, tea from the herb commonly called laurel was found to be an especially potent inhibitor of NF-kappaB-dependent cyclooxygenase-2 gene expression and prostaglandin E(2) production in cultured murine macrophages. These findings indicate that laurel tea extract contains potent anti-inflammatory compounds that function by inhibiting the major signal transduction pathway responsible for inducing an inflammatory event. Based on these results, laurel may represent a new, safe therapeutic agent for managing chronic inflammation.

publication date

  • August 2010