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Traditional Samoan plant rivals anti-inflammatory effects of ibuprofen

Date: 3.11.2021 

Researchers have identified the anti-inflammatory mechanism behind a plant used for centuries in traditional Samoan medicine. The new study found the plant, known as matalafi, is as effective at reducing inflammation as ibuprofen.

Kredit: NPS / National Tropical Botanical Gardens.Psychotria insularum is a small rainforest shrub native to South Pacific regions. Indigenous Samoan communities have used the leaves of the plant as medicine for generations.

Weaving together nearly a decade of research, the new study uncovers exactly how matalafi could be generating its anti-inflammatory effects. The findings indicate matalafi is an iron chelator. This means matalafi contains compounds that bind to iron essentially helping the body remove excess iron.

Testing matalafi on mammalian cells the research found this iron chelator activity, “decreased proinflammatory and enhanced anti-inflammatory cytokine responses in immune cells.” The anti-inflammatory activity detected in the study was found to rival that seen with ibuprofen, a common over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drug.

The iron chelator activity of matalafi also points to a number of other potential medical uses beyond its general anti-inflammatory attributes. Abnormal iron concentrations in the brain, for example, have recently been hypothesized as playing a role in neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s.




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