Plant compounds can have significant anti-inflammatory effects. These effects tend to be conferred by two main mechanisms. The first mechanism is a direct anti-inflammatory effect. For example, some compounds can act to inhibit inflammatory pathways at key locations (usually enzymes) and thus inhibit inflammation directly. Another mechanism is through a general antioxidant effect that prevents some of the negative effects of inflammation that can be caused by the generation of free radicals and oxidative stress. Curcumin is one plant compound that has been shown to possess significant anti-inflammatory effects in humans and animals. Curcumin is a polyphenol found in the Curcuma longa plant (turmeric). Curcumin is an anti-inflammatory because it can inhibit the cyclooxygenase enzyme system that is involved in the inflammatory cascade. In addition, curcumin is a potent antioxidant and this likely contributes to its significant anti-inflammatory effects.
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