Identification of novel anti-inflammatory agents from Ayurvedic medicine for prevention of chronic diseases: 'reverse pharmacology' and 'bedside to bench' approach.
Inflammation, although first characterized by Cornelius Celsus, a physician in first Century Rome, it was Rudolf Virchow, a German physician in nineteenth century who suggested a link between inflammation and cancer, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, pulmonary diseases, neurological diseases and other chronic diseases. Extensive research within last three decades has confirmed these observations and identified the molecular basis for most chronic diseases and for the associated inflammation. The transcription factor, Nuclear Factor-kappaB (NF-kappaB) that controls over 500 different gene products, has emerged as major mediator of inflammation. Thus agents that can inhibit NF-kappaB and diminish chronic inflammation have potential to prevent or delay the onset of the chronic diseases and further even treat them. In an attempt to identify novel anti-inflammatory agents which are safe and effective, in contrast to high throughput screen, we have turned to 'reverse pharmacology' or 'bed to benchside' approach. We found that Ayurveda, a science of long life, almost 6,000 years old, can serve as a 'goldmine' for novel anti-inflammatory agents used for centuries to treat chronic diseases. The current review is an attempt to provide description of various Ayurvedic plants currently used for treatment, their active chemical components, and the inflammatory pathways that they inhibit.