Antioxidant activity and protecting health effects of common medicinal plants.
ABSTRACT Medicinal plants are traditionally used in folk medicine as natural healing remedies with therapeutic effects such as prevention of cardiovascular diseases, inflammation disorders, or reducing the risk of cancer. In addition, pharmacological industry utilizes medicinal plants due to the presence of active chemical substances as agents for drug synthesis. They are valuable also for food and cosmetic industry as additives, due to their preservative effects because of the presence of antioxidants and antimicrobial constituents. To commonly used medicinal plants with antioxidant activity known worldwide belong plants from several families, especially Lamiaceae (rosemary, sage, oregano, marjoram, basil, thyme, mints, balm), Apiaceae (cumin, fennel, caraway), and Zingiberaceae (turmeric, ginger). The antioxidant properties of medicinal plants depend on the plant, its variety, environmental conditions, climatic and seasonal variations, geographical regions of growth, degree of ripeness, growing practices, and many other factors such as postharvest treatment and processing. In addition, composition and concentration of present antioxidants, such as phenolic compounds, are related to antioxidant effect. For appropriate determination of antioxidant capacity, the extraction technique, its conditions, solvent used, and particular assay methodology are important.