All the herbs in China
Current intense interest in natural products as antioxidants has prompted scientists from China and Singapore to revisit the antioxidant properties of Chinese herbal medicines (CHM).
With an estimated 80 per cent of the world's population relying on natural plant products as food supplements or drugs, understanding the science behind herbal medicines is increasingly important. Although the benefits of CHM have been recognised for centuries, how they work remains unclear. Yi Zhun Zhu and co-workers at the National University of Singapore and Fudan University Shanghai Medical College, China, discuss the antioxidant properties of some of the more popular CHM, focusing on their possible biochemical mechanisms - an area of particular interest since evidence for the typical 'pathways' of action of CHM has always been lacking.
They highlight the challenges faced by modern pharmaceutical researchers attempting to identify the key compounds that will harness the promise of herbal medicines.
Y Z Zhu, Nat. Prod. Rep., 2004 (DOI: 10.1039/ b304821g)