Research Article: A Review of Herbal Therapy in Multiple Sclerosis

Date Published: November 29, 2018

Publisher: Tabriz University of Medical Sciences

Author(s): Sina Mojaverrostami, Maryam Nazm Bojnordi, Maryam Ghasemi-Kasman, Mohammad Ali Ebrahimzadeh, Hatef Ghasemi Hamidabadi.


Multiple sclerosis is a complex autoimmune disorder which characterized by demyelination and axonal loss in the central nervous system (CNS). Several evidences indicate that some new drugs and stem cell therapy have opened a new horizon for multiple sclerosis treatment, but current therapies are partially effective or not safe in the long term. Recently, herbal therapies represent a promising therapeutic approach for multiple sclerosis disease. Here, we consider the potential benefits of some herbal compounds on different aspects of multiple sclerosis disease. The medicinal plants and their derivatives; Ginkgo biloba, Zingiber officinale, Curcuma longa, Hypericum perforatum, Valeriana officinalis, Vaccinium macrocarpon, Nigella sativa,Piper methysticum, Crocus sativus, Panax ginseng, Boswellia papyrifera, Vitis vinifera, Gastrodia elata, Camellia sinensis, Oenothera biennis, MS14 and Cannabis sativa have been informed to have several therapeutic effects in MS patients.

Partial Text

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disease that mostly occurs in young adulthood.1 The etiology of MS disease is still not well understood, but both genetic and environmental factors were found to have important roles in MS disease initiation or progression.2 In MS disease, inflammatory cells demolish myelin sheath in the CNS which weakens action potential conduction.3 Two cardinal properties of MS are acute inflammation that associated with demyelination and another one is axonal loss.4 After injury, oligodendrocyte precursor cells (OPCs) which are residing at parenchyma continuously produce myelinating oligodendrocytes.3-5 In addition, regarding to the ability of neural stem cells for differentiation to OPCs, these stem cells are considered as an important source for remyelination.6-8 These endogenous stem cells proliferate, migrate and differentiate to OPCs after brain injuries. However, endogenous OPCs can produce myelin and improve some aspects of the MS disease, but endogenous repair may fail in long term.7,9 Therefore, several studies have focused on different approaches (including targeting specific signaling pathways, stem cell therapy, suppressing the inflammation process and reprogramming of glial cells to OPCs …) that improve myelination.10 Despite the potential benefits of stem cell therapy in the improvement of myelin repair,11 its clinical application has been hampered because of the possibility of teratoma formation, cell rejection and ethical problems.12,13 Therefore, there is still a need for developing new drugs which have no or less considerable side effects.

Medicinal plants have opened a new horizon in curing neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, AD and MS. literature data review indicated that herbal medicines could be effective in the treatment of MS disease and itsʼ related symptoms, by reducing the demyelination, improving remyelination and suppressing the inflammation in the CNS. On the basis of the above mentioned review, it can be concluded that the anti-inflammatory effect is the main reason of medicinal plants therapeutic effects in MS disease, through which medicinal plants ameliorate the severity of disease and reduce neuropathological changes. Anti-inflammatory effects of medicinal plants usually occur through inhibiting the inflammatory cell infiltration into the CNS, decreasing the production of pro-inflammatory and inflammatory cytokines. Further studies are needed to disclose the exact mechanisms of action, through which medicinal plants exhibit their anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective effects. Given that most studies of herbal therapy effects in MS have been done on animal models, still there is a great need for approving these studies by clinical trials to recommend these mentioned plants for MS patients. In addition to neuroprotective effect, medicinal plants have other beneficial effects for MS patients, such as sedation, improving sleep quality, anti-depressant effects, relief muscle stiffness and reducing bladder disturbance.

Not applicable.

All authors declare no conflicts of interest.




0 0 vote
Article Rating
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments