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Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2013;53(5):507-16. doi: 10.1080/10408398.2012.691916.

Plant food supplements with anti-inflammatory properties: a systematic review (II).

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Department of Pharmacological and Biomolecular Sciences, Universit`a degli Studi di Milano, Via Balzaretti 9, Milano, Italy.


The aim of this systematic review is to summarize the evidence for or against the efficacy of plant food supplements (PFS) for coping inflammatory conditions by considering epidemiological and human intervention studies. The review considers six botanical species commonly used as food supplements/medicinals: Urtica dioica L., Symphytum officinalis L., Calendula officinalis L., Curcuma longa L., Boswellia serrata Roxb., and Harpagophytum procumbens L. The search retrieved 579 publications. By removing the duplicates and applying the inclusion/exclusion criteria, the final number of papers was 47. No epidemiological data were found. The bibliographic search found no paper regarding the anti-inflammatory effects of Calendula officinalis L. and Symphytum officinalis L. by oral use. In spite of the long-term traditional use for inflammatory disorders, Curcuma longa L. and Harpagophytum procumbens L. warrant further investigation, whereas the efficacy of Urtica dioica L, even if the available data on hard endpoints are promising, requires other trials. Boswellia serrata Roxb. was found to be the most promising, since it shows the best efficacy for the treatment of pain/inflammatory conditions. In conclusion, it is advisable to conduct further studies with more homogeneous population and larger number of subjects by avoiding the heterogeneity of the herbal preparations considered.

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