Comparative anti-inflammatory effects of anti-arthritic herbal medicines and ibuprofen

Nat Prod Commun. 2014 Sep;9(9):1351-6.


Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), such as ibuprofen, are widely used over-the-counter drugs to treat arthritis, but they are often associated with side effects. Herbal medicines have been used to treat various diseases such as arthritis, but the scientific profiles are not well understood. In this study, we examined, in comparison with ibuprofen, the inhibitory effects on various inflammatory markers of the most commonly used herbal medicines to treat arthritis, boswellia (Boswellia sapindales), licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra), guggul (Commiphora wightii), and neem (Azadirachta indica). To elicit inflammatory response, we exposed mouse myoblast C2C12 cells to lipopolysaccharide (LPS). Tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α) and monocyte chemotactic protein-1 (MCP-1), which are cytokines activated during an inflammatory response, were determined. The optimal non-toxic concentration was determined by exposing different concentrations of drugs (from 0.01 to 10 mg/mL). Cell death measurement revealed that the drug concentrations lower than 0.05 mg/mL were non-toxic concentrations for each drug, and these doses were used for the main experiments. We found that neem and licorice showed robust anti-inflammatory responses compared with ibuprofen. However, boswellia and guggul did not demonstrate significant anti-inflammatory responses. We concluded that neem and licorice are more effective than ibuprofen in suppressing LPS-induced inflammation in C2C12 cells.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / pharmacology*
  • Azadirachta / chemistry*
  • Boswellia / chemistry*
  • Cell Line
  • Chemokine CCL2 / genetics
  • Chemokine CCL2 / immunology
  • Commiphora / chemistry*
  • Cytokines / genetics
  • Cytokines / immunology
  • Glycyrrhiza / chemistry*
  • Humans
  • Ibuprofen / administration & dosage*
  • Mast Cells / drug effects
  • Mast Cells / immunology
  • Mice
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal
  • Ccl2 protein, mouse
  • Chemokine CCL2
  • Cytokines
  • Plant Extracts
  • Ibuprofen