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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2011 (2011), Article ID 986797, 13 pages
Review Article

Immunomodulation of Autoimmune Arthritis by Herbal CAM

1Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Maryland School of Medicine, HSF-1, Suite 380, 685 W. Baltimore st., Baltimore, MD 21201, USA
2Center for Integrative Medicine, University of Maryland School of Medicine, East Hall, W. Lombard st., Baltimore, MD 21201, USA

Received 15 April 2010; Accepted 30 September 2010

Copyright © 2011 Shivaprasad H. Venkatesha et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a debilitating autoimmune disease of global prevalence. The disease is characterized by synovial inflammation leading to cartilage and bone damage. Most of the conventional drugs used for the treatment of RA have severe adverse reactions and are quite expensive. Over the years, increasing proportion of patients with RA and other immune disorders are resorting to complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) for their health needs. Natural plant products comprise one of the most popular CAM for inflammatory and immune disorders. These herbal CAM belong to diverse traditional systems of medicine, including traditional Chinese medicine, Kampo, and Ayurvedic medicine. In this paper, we have outlined the major immunological pathways involved in the induction and regulation of autoimmune arthritis and described various herbal CAM that can effectively modulate these immune pathways. Most of the information about the mechanisms of action of herbal products in the experimental models of RA is relevant to arthritis patients as well. The study of immunological pathways coupled with the emerging application of genomics and proteomics in CAM research is likely to provide novel insights into the mechanisms of action of different CAM modalities.