COX-2 inhibitors now constitute an important and central component in the treatment of a number of chronic
diseases ranging from arthritis and autoimmunity to cancer. Their use is not without side effects, however, and they are
unsuitable for patients with a variety of conditions including heart or kidney disease and those who are pregnant. In
contrast, herbal medicines have been used successfully for thousands of years to modulate immune system function.
Several have demonstrated COX-2 inhibitory activity and may therefore have potential for development into classical
pharmaceutical agents. This paper will explain the importance of COX-2 activity and the related entity NF-κB in inducing
inflammation, review the scientific evidence for herbs with COX-2 activity, and identify the active phytochemicals
involved. Finally potential paths to develop agents from these herbs will be discussed.
Keywords: Herbal medicine, COX-2 inhibitor, phytochemical, structure-activity relationship.
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