Plant immunostimulants-Scientific paradigm or myth?

Gertsch, Jürg; Viveros Paredes, Juan Manuel; Taylor, Peter (2011). Plant immunostimulants-Scientific paradigm or myth? Journal of ethnopharmacology, 136(3), pp. 385-391. Shannon: Elsevier Science Ireland 10.1016/j.jep.2010.06.044

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In traditional medicine, numerous plant preparations are used to treat inflammation both topically and systemically. Several anti-inflammatory plant extracts and a few natural product-based monosubstances have even found their way into the clinic. Unfortunately, a number of plant secondary metabolites have been shown to trigger detrimental pro-allergic immune reactions and are therefore considered to be toxic. In the phytotherapy research literature, numerous plants are also claimed to exert immunostimulatory effects. However, while the concepts of plant-derived anti-inflammatory agents and allergens are well established, the widespread notion of immunostimulatory plant natural products and their potential therapeutic use is rather obscure, often with the idea that the product is some sort of "tonic" for the immune system without actually specifying the mechanisms. In this commentary it is argued that the paradigm of oral plant immunostimulants lacks clinical evidence and may therefore be a myth, which has originated primarily from in vitro studies with plant extracts. The fact that no conclusive data on orally administered immunostimulants can be found in the scientific literature inevitably prompts us to challenge this paradigm.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


04 Faculty of Medicine > Pre-clinic Human Medicine > Institute of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine

UniBE Contributor:

Gertsch, Jürg and Viveros Paredes, Juan Manuel


500 Science > 570 Life sciences; biology
600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health




Elsevier Science Ireland




Factscience Import

Date Deposited:

04 Oct 2013 14:12

Last Modified:

27 Jun 2014 14:28

Publisher DOI:


PubMed ID:


Web of Science ID:


URI: (FactScience: 204933)

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