Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Ayurveda


The divine tree neem (Azadirachta indica) is mainly cultivated in the Indian subcontinent. Neem has been used extensively by humankind to treat various ailments before the availability of written records which recorded the beginning of history. The world health organization estimates that 80% of the population living in the developing countries relies exclusively on traditional medicine for their primary health care. More than half of the world’s population still relies entirely on plants for medicines, and plants supply the active ingredients of most traditional medical products. The review shows the neem has been used by humankind to treat various ailments from prehistory to contemporary.

Concepts: Health care, Pharmacology, Medicine, Health, Ayurveda, Pharmaceutical drug, India, Health science


Natural products have always been exploited to promote health and served as a valuable source for the discovery of new drugs. In this review, the great potential of natural compounds and medicinal plants for the treatment or prevention of cardiovascular and metabolic disorders, global health problems with rising prevalence, is addressed. Special emphasis is laid on natural products for which efficacy and safety have already been proven and which are in clinical trials, as well as on plants used in traditional medicine. Potential benefits from certain dietary habits and dietary constituents, as well as common molecular targets of natural products, are also briefly discussed. A glimpse at the history of statins and biguanides, two prominent representatives of natural products (or their derivatives) in the fight against metabolic disease, is also included. The present review aims to serve as an “opening” of this special issue of Molecules, presenting key historical developments, recent advances, and future perspectives outlining the potential of natural products for prevention or therapy of cardiovascular and metabolic disease.

Concepts: Medicine, Epidemiology, Metabolism, Nutrition, Death, The Canon of Medicine, Ayurveda, Drug discovery


The effects of integrative medicine practices such as meditation and Ayurveda on human physiology are not fully understood. The aim of this study was to identify altered metabolomic profiles following an Ayurveda-based intervention. In the experimental group, 65 healthy male and female subjects participated in a 6-day Panchakarma-based Ayurvedic intervention which included herbs, vegetarian diet, meditation, yoga, and massage. A set of 12 plasma phosphatidylcholines decreased (adjusted p < 0.01) post-intervention in the experimental (n = 65) compared to control group (n = 54) after Bonferroni correction for multiple testing; within these compounds, the phosphatidylcholine with the greatest decrease in abundance was PC ae C36:4 (delta = -0.34). Application of a 10% FDR revealed an additional 57 metabolites that were differentially abundant between groups. Pathway analysis suggests that the intervention results in changes in metabolites across many pathways such as phospholipid biosynthesis, choline metabolism, and lipoprotein metabolism. The observed plasma metabolomic alterations may reflect a Panchakarma-induced modulation of metabotypes. Panchakarma promoted statistically significant changes in plasma levels of phosphatidylcholines, sphingomyelins and others in just 6 days. Forthcoming studies that integrate metabolomics with genomic, microbiome and physiological parameters may facilitate a broader systems-level understanding and mechanistic insights into these integrative practices that are employed to promote health and well-being.

Concepts: Medicine, Metabolism, Ayurveda, Proteomics, Metabolomics, Phosphatidylcholine, Lecithin, Choline


The practice of Ayurveda, the traditional medicine of India, is based on the concept of three major constitutional types (Vata, Pitta and Kapha) defined as “Prakriti”. To the best of our knowledge, no study has convincingly correlated genomic variations with the classification of Prakriti. In the present study, we performed genome-wide SNP (single nucleotide polymorphism) analysis (Affymetrix, 6.0) of 262 well-classified male individuals (after screening 3416 subjects) belonging to three Prakritis. We found 52 SNPs (p ≤ 1 × 10(-5)) were significantly different between Prakritis, without any confounding effect of stratification, after 10(6) permutations. Principal component analysis (PCA) of these SNPs classified 262 individuals into their respective groups (Vata, Pitta and Kapha) irrespective of their ancestry, which represent its power in categorization. We further validated our finding with 297 Indian population samples with known ancestry. Subsequently, we found that PGM1 correlates with phenotype of Pitta as described in the ancient text of Caraka Samhita, suggesting that the phenotypic classification of India’s traditional medicine has a genetic basis; and its Prakriti-based practice in vogue for many centuries resonates with personalized medicine.

Concepts: Genetics, Bioinformatics, Ayurveda, SNP array, Alternative medicine, Traditional medicine, Sanskrit words and phrases, Charaka Samhita


To evaluate the effect of an antenatal integrative medicine education programme in addition to usual care for nulliparous women on intrapartum epidural use.

Concepts: Medicine, Childbirth, Evidence-based medicine, Randomized controlled trial, Ayurveda, Obstetrics, Acupuncture, Alternative medicine


Nigella sativa (N. sativa) (Family Ranunculaceae) is a widely used medicinal plant throughout the world. It is very popular in various traditional systems of medicine like Unani and Tibb, Ayurveda and Siddha. Seeds and oil have a long history of folklore usage in various systems of medicines and food. The seeds of N. sativa have been widely used in the treatment of different diseases and ailments. In Islamic literature, it is considered as one of the greatest forms of healing medicine. It has been recommended for using on regular basis in Tibb-e-Nabwi (Prophetic Medicine). It has been widely used as antihypertensive, liver tonics, diuretics, digestive, anti-diarrheal, appetite stimulant, analgesics, anti-bacterial and in skin disorders. Extensive studies on N. sativa have been carried out by various researchers and a wide spectrum of its pharmacological actions have been explored which may include antidiabetic, anticancer, immunomodulator, analgesic, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, spasmolytic, bronchodilator, hepato-protective, renal protective, gastro-protective, antioxidant properties, etc. Due to its miraculous power of healing, N. sativa has got the place among the top ranked evidence based herbal medicines. This is also revealed that most of the therapeutic properties of this plant are due to the presence of thymoquinone which is major bioactive component of the essential oil. The present review is an effort to provide a detailed survey of the literature on scientific researches of pharmacognostical characteristics, chemical composition and pharmacological activities of the seeds of this plant.

Concepts: Pharmacology, Medicine, The Canon of Medicine, Ayurveda, Paracetamol, Ranunculaceae, Nigella sativa, Nigella


Health economists have largely ignored complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) as an area of research, although both clinical experiences and several empirical studies suggest cost-effectiveness of CAM.

Concepts: Scientific method, Medicine, Ayurveda, Acupuncture, Alternative medicine, Traditional Chinese medicine, Traditional medicine, Edzard Ernst


Global HIV-1 treatment would benefit greatly from safe herbal medicines with scientifically validated novel anti-HIV-1 activities. The root extract from the medicinal plant Pelargonium sidoides (PS) is licensed in Germany as the herbal medicine EPs®7630, with numerous clinical trials supporting its safety in humans. Here we provide evidence from multiple cell culture experiments that PS extract displays potent anti-HIV-1 activity. We show that PS extract protects peripheral blood mononuclear cells and macrophages from infection with various X4 and R5 tropic HIV-1 strains, including clinical isolates. Functional studies revealed that the extract from PS has a novel mode-of-action. It interferes directly with viral infectivity and blocks the attachment of HIV-1 particles to target cells, protecting them from virus entry. Analysis of the chemical footprint of anti-HIV activity indicates that HIV-1 inhibition is mediated by multiple polyphenolic compounds with low cytotoxicity and can be separated from other extract components with higher cytotoxicity. Based on our data and its excellent safety profile, we propose that PS extract represents a lead candidate for the development of a scientifically validated herbal medicine for anti-HIV-1 therapy with a mode-of-action different from and complementary to current single-molecule drugs.

Concepts: Immune system, Pharmacology, Medicine, Ayurveda, Alternative medicine, Herbalism, PBMC, Pelargonium sidoides


Background We evaluated whether complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) use influenced outcomes [survival and health-related quality of life (HRQOL)] of cancer patients whose condition had just been judged terminal. Patients and methods From July 2005 to October 2006, we conducted a prospective cohort study of 481 terminally ill cancer patients at 11 university hospitals and the National Cancer Center in Korea. We assessed how the use of CAM affected HRQOL and survival. Results In a follow-up of 481 patients and 163.8 person-years, we identified 466 deceased cases. On multivariate analyses, CAM users did not have better survival compared with nonusers [adjusted hazard ratio (aHR), 0.91; 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.74-1.10]. Among mind-body interventions, prayer showed significantly worse survival (aHR, 1.56; 95% CI, 1.00-2.43). Clinically, CAM users reported significantly worse cognitive functioning (-11.6 versus -1.3; P < 0.05) and fatigue (9.9 versus -1.0; P < 0.05) than nonusers. Compared with nonusers in subgroup analysis, users of alternative medical treatments, prayer, vitamin supplements, mushrooms, or rice and cereal reported clinically significant worse changes in some HRQOL subscales. Conclusion While CAM did not provide any definite survival benefit, CAM users reported clinically significant worse HRQOLs.

Concepts: Medicine, Epidemiology, Ayurveda, Relative risk, Alternative medicine, Health freedom movement, Prayer, Orthomolecular medicine


To identify the frequency and qualitative characteristics of stem cell-related marketing claims made on websites of clinics featuring common types of complementary and alternative medicine practitioners. The involvement of complementary and alternative medicine practitioners in the marketing of stem cell therapies and stem cell-related interventions is understudied. This research explores the extent to which they are involved and collaborate with medical professionals. This knowledge will help with identifying and evaluating potential policy responses to this growing market.

Concepts: Scientific method, Medicine, Ayurveda, Acupuncture, Alternative medicine, Marketing, Health care system, Marketing research