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Issue 4, 2004
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Antioxidants in Chinese herbal medicines: a biochemical perspective

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Covering: 1985 to 2004

Recently, intense interest has focused on the antioxidant properties of natural products. In particular, Chinese herbal medicines (CHM) have become hot topics for life science researchers since many are reported to possess cardioprotective compounds, many of which remain to be identified. Indeed, the exact mechanisms by which CHM work remain unknown. Although many of these herbal remedies are undoubtedly efficacious, few have been scientifically investigated for their active chemical constituents and biological activities. We have previously reported higher activities of antioxidant defence enzymes such as superoxide dismutase, catalase, glutathione peroxidase and glutathione S-transferases in the liver of rats treated with the herb Salvia miltiorrhiza in a model of acute myocardial infarction. Using well established in vitro antioxidant assays employing 2,2′-azino-bis(3-ethylbenzthiazoline-6-sulfonic acid) (ABTS) and diphenyl-1-picrylhydrazyl (DPPH) we have shown that in addition to elevating endogenous antioxidant enzyme activity, Salvia miltiorrhiza and other CHM traditionally used for cardiovascular disorders (such as Rhizoma ligustici, Herba leonuri, Radix achyranthis bidentatae, and Camellia sinensis) contain potent antioxidant moieties in addition to their phenolic constituents. Furthermore, these novel non-phenolic components are effective inhibitors of oxidative reactions mediated by the inflammatory oxidants, peroxynitrite, hypochlorous acid and hydroxyl radical as well as iron-dependent lipid peroxidation. In this review, we discuss the various antioxidant properties of CHM in the context of their biochemical mechanisms.

Graphical abstract: Antioxidants in Chinese herbal medicines: a biochemical perspective

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Publication details

The article was received on 29 Apr 2003 and first published on 13 Jul 2004

Article type: Review Article
DOI: 10.1039/B304821G
Citation: Nat. Prod. Rep., 2004,21, 478-489

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    Antioxidants in Chinese herbal medicines: a biochemical perspective

    Y. Z. Zhu, S. H. Huang, B. K. H. Tan, J. Sun, M. Whiteman and Y.-C. Zhu, Nat. Prod. Rep., 2004, 21, 478
    DOI: 10.1039/B304821G

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