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Using Complementary and Alternative Medicines to Target the Host Response during Severe Influenza.

vaccinationThis article gives important information on H5N1 and the value of herbal medicine in the treatment of this condition.

It is now accepted that an overwhelming inflammatory response is the cause of human deaths from avian H5N1 influenza infection. With this in mind we sought to examine the literature for examples of complementary and alternative medicines that reduce inflammation, and to place the results of this search in the context of our own work in a mouse model of influenza disease, using a pharmaceutical agent with anti-inflammatory properties. Two Chinese herbs, Angelica sinensis (Dang Gui) and Salvia miltiorrhiza (Danshen), have been recently shown to protect mice during lethal experimental sepsis via inhibition of the novel inflammatory cytokine High Mobility Group Box 1 protein (HMGB1). Biochanin A, a ligand of the peroxisome proliferator activated receptors (PPAR) alpha and gamma and the active isoflavone in Trifolium pratense (red clover), has anti-inflammatory properties, and thus could be used as an influenza treatment. This is of great interest since we have recently shown that gemfibrozil, a drug used to treat hyperlipidemia in humans and a synthetic ligand of PPAR alpha, significantly reduces the mortality associated with influenza infections in mice. The inflammation-modulating abilities of these natural agents should be considered in light of what is now known about the mechanisms of fatal influenza, and tested as potential candidates for influenza treatments in their own right, or as adjunct treatments to antivirals.

PMID: 19779008 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]

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