Ayurvedic herb shows anti-inflammatory promise, heart health potential


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Ayurvedic herb shows anti-inflammatory promise, heart health potential
Extracts from the Ayurvedic herb Sphaeranthus indicus may reduce levels of inflammatory biomarkers and support cardiovascular health, says a new study.

S. indicus ​extracts and its active ingredient, 7-hydroxy frullanoide (7-HF), were found to decrease levels of MCP-1, TNF-alpha and IL-6, according to findings published in Nutrition & Metabolism.

The extract was also found to reduce vascular damage in lab mice and hyperlipidemic hamsters by 22 % and 45 %, respectively.

The researchers also looked at the effects of the herb on the expression of intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1), and found a 54% inhibition. It is generally accepted that low circulating level of ICAM-1 is good.

“Here, we show that natural product, ​S. indicus extract along with one of its active constituent, 7-HF mediate anti-inflammatory effects by effectively modulating the expression of cell adhesion molecules,” ​wrote researchers from Piramal Life Sciences Ltd (Mumbai, India) and Integrated Pharma Solutions (Philadelphia), and Drexel University School of Medicine (Philadelphia).


The Ayurvedic market has been valued at about $1.6 billion, with the Indian market worth approximately US$ 1.2 billion, and the export market is US$ 400 million, according to industry sources.

Well-known ingredients include curcumin/turmeric, ashwagandha, Salacia reticulate, ​bacopa, and Indian gooseberry.

The new study examined the potential cardiovascular benefits of Sphaeranthus indicus​. According to an extensive review in the International Journal of Ayurveda Research​, the herb is currently widely used in Ayurveda for a variety of conditions, including, “epilepsy, mental illness, hemicrania, jaundice, hepatopathy, diabetes, leprosy, fever, pectoralgia, cough, gastropathy, hernia, hemorrhoids, helminthiasis, dyspepsia and skin diseases”​.

Study details

The researchers performed in vitro​ tests of the methanolic extracts of S. indicus​ and 7-HF in mononuclear cells. Results showed that the S. indicus​ extract significantly inhibited the expression of the ICAM-1, and vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 (VCAM-1) by 64 %.

Additional studies in mice and hamsters indicated that the herb extract reduced aortic lesions by 22% and 45%, respectively. In comparison, the pharmaceutical product Fenofibrate was found to decrease aortic lesions by 26% and 84% in mice and hamsters, respectively, added the researchers.

Levels of inflammatory biomarkers were also significantly reduced, with interleukin-6 (IL-6) reduced by about 50% in mice fed a high-fat diet and supplemented with 100 mg/kg/day of the S. indicus​ extract. At a higher dose (300 mg/kg/day), IL-6 was reduced by 75%, said the researchers.

They also measured levels of MCP-1, a cell adhesion molecule and a proatherogenic marker. The data indicated that mice fed a high fat diet experienced a 4-fold increase in MCP-1 levels, but supplementation with the herb at 100 mg/kg/day decreased MCP-1 by more than 2-fold.

“[W]e showed that the main component of S. indicus preparation, 7-HF, is an anti-inflammatory agent that works through NF-kB-mediated pathway, and inhibits atherosclerosis progression,” ​wrote the researchers. “These findings offer promise for further clinical benefits to patients with inflammatory and cardiovascular diseases.”

Source: Nutrition & Metabolism
2015, 12​:20, doi:10.1186/s12986-015-0018-1
“A novel anti-inflammatory natural product from ​Sphaeranthus indicus inhibits expression of VCAM1 and ICAM1, and slows atherosclerosis progression independent of lipid changes”
Authors: R.A.K. Srivastava, S. Mistry, S. Sharma

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