An oxygen free radical (OFR) is the form of oxygen that has one unpaired electron and is very reactive. There are other forms of highly reactive oxygen, which do not have unpaired electrons known as reactive oxygen species (ROS.) ROS include singlet oxygen, hydrogen peroxide and hydroxyl radicals, which are constantly being produced by ionizing radiation and cellular metabolism. ROS are toxic and play a role in diabetes, inflammation and cancer.
ROS easily combine with carbohydrates, proteins and lipids, which inactivate the carbohydrates, proteins and lipids involved and inactivate the cells and tissues involved. ROS inactivate phospholipids of cell walls, inactivate enzymes and cause lipid peroxidation. ROS can alter DNA and chromosomes. There is a well established connection between chronic inflammation and cancer formation due to the stimulation of angiogenesis, alteration of DNA and chronically stimulated cell proliferation activity.
Antioxidants benefit health by counteracting the effects of free radicals. Antioxidants, which protect plants from oxidation damage, include compounds such as phenolics, terpenoids, flavanoids, pigments, Vitamin A, Vitamin C and Vitamin E. These protect us from heart disease, cancer, diabetes, hypertension and other conditions.
Inflammation is the defense of the body against free radicals, with pain, heat, redness, swelling and loss of function in the area of the inflammation. Medicinal herbs have been used for many centuries to treat inflammation.
Sixty flavanoids in citrus are anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, inhibit blood clots and have strong antioxidant activity.
Tinospora cordifolia has anti-allergic, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activity.
This article reviews both in vivo and in vitro studies of the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of an Ayurvedic herb called Andrographis paniculata, sometimes called Kalmegh. It has been used centuries as an anti-inflammatory without side effects. and is used for bowel gripping, irregular stools and loss of appetite. Andrographolide is the main active ingredient. The properties of Andrographis paniculata are analgesic (pain relieving), antipyretic (fever relieving), anti-ulcerogenic (reduce ulcers) and choleretic (bile producing).
The present study tests the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of Andrographis paniculata. Testing for antioxidant activity was done by testing the superoxide scavenging activity of Andrographis in test tube studies and in mice, among other radical scavenging activities. A methanol extract of Andrographis was found to inhibit the following free radicals:
Hydroxyl radicals (80%.)
Lipid peroxidation (80%.)
Nitric oxide (42.8%.)
Adrographis paniculata extract was found to inhibit inflammation caused by carageenen (an inflammatory agent) in mice.
CONCLUSION: This article confirms that Andrographis paniculata does have anti-oxidant and antiinflammatory activity. It could possibly have anti-tumor effects by reducing several factors, which contribute to the growth of tumors. Reactive oxygen species that are created by cell metabolism and irradiation can cause damage to tissues and cells. This activity can be corrected by treatment with Andrographis paniculata.