Theeshan Bahorun, Vidushi S Neergheen, Okezie I Aruoma
Since the advent of modern drug treatments, traditional medicine has greatly receded in occidental societies. Moreover, only a limited number of medicinal plants have received detailed scientific scrutiny thereby prompting the World Health Organisation to recommend that this area be comprehensively investigated. Cassia fistula Linn is used extensively in various parts of the world against a wide range of ailments, the synergistic action of its metabolite production being most probably responsible for the plant’s beneficial effects. This paper reviews the primary and secondary metabolite composition of vegetative and reproductive plant parts and cell cultures thereby derived, with emphasis on potent phenolic antioxidants such as anthraquinones, flavonoids and flavan-3- ol derivatives. This paper also appraises the antioxidant and free radical propensities of plant parts and cell culture extracts. The data so far generated clearly sets the basis for a clearer understanding of the phytochemistry of the plant and derived cultures and opens the possibility of the potential utilization of the phenolic rich extracts from medicinal plants in food system or as prophylactics in nutritional/food supplement programs. Thus traditional medicinal plant- derived antioxidants may protect against a number of diseases and reduce oxidation processes in food systems. In order to establish this, it is imperative to measure the markers of baseline oxidative stress particularly in human health and disease and examine how they are affected by supplementation with pure compounds or complex plant extracts from the traditional medicinal plants.
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