Traditional Persian topical medications for gastrointestinal diseases

Document Type : Review Article


1 Department of History and Civilization of Islamic Nations, Mashhad Branch, Islamic Azad University, Mashhad, Iran

2 Department of Traditional Pharmacy, School of Pharmacy, Mashhad University of Medical Sciences, Mashhad, Iran


Drug delivery across the skin is used for several millennia to ease gastrointestinal (GI) ailments in Traditional Persian Medicine (TPM). TPM topical remedies are generally being applied on the stomach, lower abdomen, lower back and liver to alleviate GI illnesses such as dyspepsia, gastritis, GI ulcers, inflammatory bowel disease, intestinal worms and infections. The aim of the present study is to survey the topical GI remedies and plant species used as ingredients for these remedies in TPM. In addition, pharmacological activities of the mentioned plants have been discussed. For this, we searched major TPM textbooks to find plants used to cure GI problems in topical use. Additionally, scientific databases were searched to obtain pharmacological data supporting the use of TPM plants in GI diseases. Rosa × damascena, Pistacia lentiscus, Malus domestica, Olea europaea and Artemisia absinthium are among the most frequently mentioned ingredients of TPM remedies. β-asarone, amygdalin, boswellic acids, guggulsterone, crocin, crocetin, isomasticadienolic acid, and cyclotides are the most important phytochemicals present in TPM plants with GI-protective activities. Pharmacological studies demonstrated GI activities for TPM plants supporting their extensive traditional use. These plants play pivotal role in alleviating GI disorders through exhibiting numerous activities including antispasmodic, anti-ulcer, anti-secretory, anti-colitis, anti-diarrheal, antibacterial and anthelmintic properties. Several mechanisms underlie these activities including the alleviation of oxidative stress, exhibiting cytoprotective activity, down-regulation of the inflammatory cytokines, suppression of the cellular signaling pathways of inflammatory responses, improving re-epithelialization and angiogenesis, down-regulation of anti-angiogenic factors, blocking activity of acetylcholine, etc.


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