The use of herbal therapy for inflammatory bowel disease is increasing worldwide. The aim of this study was to review the available literature on the efficacy of herbal therapy in experimental colitis. All relevant studies published in Medline and Embase up to June 2015 have been reviewed. The results of bowel histology and serum parameters have been recorded. A satisfactory number of published experimental studies, and a quite large one of both herbal and plant products tested in different studies have been reported. The results showed that in the majority of the studies, herbal therapy reduced the inflammatory activity of experimental colitis and diminished the levels of many inflammatory indices, including serum cytokines and indices of oxidative stress. The most promising plant and herbal products were tormentil extracts, wormwoodherb, Aloe vera, germinated barley foodstuff, curcumin, Boswellia serrata, Panax notoginseng, Ixeris dentata, green tea, Cordia dichotoma, Plantago lanceolata, Iridoidglycosides, and mastic gum. Herbal therapies exert their therapeutic benefit via various mechanisms, including immune regulation, anti-oxidant activity, inhibition of leukotriene B4 and nuclear factor-κB, and antiplatelet activity. Large, double-blind clinical studies assessing these natural substances should be urgently conducted.
Keywords: Alternative medicine; Crohn’s disease; experimental colitis; herbal medicine; inflammatory bowel disease; ulcerative colitis.