Natural products in treatment of rheumatoid arthritis

Mukta Gupta


Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic, progressive, sustained inflammatory autoimmune disease associated with articular, extraarticular, and systemic effects. It is characterized by synovial inflammation, hyperplasia, leading to destruction of articular cartilage, bone erosion, and ultimately permanent deformities. Conventional treatments for RA include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, disease modifying antirheumatoid drugs, corticosteroids, and biological agents. All these therapeutic agents are associated with one or more side-effects, and none of the available treatments are able to achieve the ultimate therapeutic goal, i.e., drug-free remission. Herbal remedies are alternative source to relieve symptoms in patients having RA as well as to overcome the drawbacks associated with present treatment methods. A study conducted by the World Health Organization had reported that about 80% of world’s population relies on traditional medicine. More than 450 plants belonging to 100 families are used traditionally in management of arthritis. Some of the important natural compounds reported toexhibit anti-arthritic potential includes anthroquinone (Aloe barbadensis), with anolides (Withania somnifera), terpenes (Zingiber officinale, Boswellia serrata), polyphenols (Camellia sinensis), stilbene (Vitis vinifera, Tripterygium wilfordi). Although a number of herbal medicines are recommended for RA, further research is required to investigate their safety, efficacy, and potential drug interactions.

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