Comparison of anti-oxidant activities of seventy herbs that have been used in Korean traditional medicine

  • Ko, Seong-Hee (Major in Food and Nutrition, College of Human Ecology, Sookmyung Women's University) ;
  • Choi, Seong-Won (Department of Pharmacology, Seoul National University School of Medicine) ;
  • Ye, Sang-Kyu (Department of Pharmacology, Seoul National University School of Medicine) ;
  • Yoo, Sang-Ho (Department of Family Medicine, Hallym University Sacred Heart Hospital) ;
  • Kim, Hyun-Sook (Major in Food and Nutrition, College of Human Ecology, Sookmyung Women's University) ;
  • Chung, Myung-Hee (Department of Pharmacology, Seoul National University School of Medicine)
  • Published : 2008.09.30


Many herbs have been used as therapeutics in Korean traditional medicine. In view of their clinical indications, anti-oxidant activity may contribute to their pharmacological effects. However, anti-oxidant information on these plants has not been available. In this study, seventy herbs which have been used in Korean traditional medicine were selected and screened for anti-oxidant activity using their water extracts. The anti-oxidant activity was assessed by their ability to inhibit three oxidation reactions; luminol/Fenton reagent, 2, 7-dichlorodihydrofluorescein(DCHF)/Fenton reagent and DCHF/peroxynitrite. In each assay, 70 herbs were divided into two groups; anti-oxidant group which inhibited the respective oxidation reaction and was majority(about 60 herbs), and pro-oxidant group which enhanced the oxidation reaction but was minority(more or less 10 herbs). When the herbs were listed in the order of their anti-oxidant strength, the orders obtained from each assay were found to be quite similar. The upper top rankers(more or less 10 herbs) in each assay showed strong activity compared to the others. The uppermost rankers in each assay were Rubus coreanus Miquel/Rubus schizostylus(覆盆子), Schisandra chinensis Baillon/Schizandra chinensis(五味子) and Terminalia chebula Retziusl Terminalia chebula(訶子). Of the pro-oxidant herbs, about 4-5 herbs were strongly pro-oxidant, which enhanced the control oxidation reactions to 150-300%. But the meaning of this observation is not known since few of them in one assay were also anti-oxidant in other assays. The results obtained in the present study may serve as information for understanding pharmacological effects of these herbs and developing new drugs from them.


Anti-oxidants;herbs;chemiluminescence;peroxynitrite;Fenton reagent


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