Several inflammatory diseases are thought to be related to oxidative injury and free oxygen radicals have been proposed as important causative agents of heart disease and aging. To investigate the effects of daily intake of medicinal plants on antioxidant enzymes, lipid peroxidation and lipid profiles in rat, 28 rats were randomly divided into four groups and administered with three plant extracts (0.2g/kg body weight): Piper cubeba (fruit), Physalis angulata (flower), Rosa hybrida (flower) and with saline as a control. After 3 weeks, superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase, thiobarbituric acid reactive substance (TBARS), triglyceride (TG) and cholesterol levels in plasma were measured. The SOD activity of the Piper cubeba group and the catalase activity of the Piper cubeba and Rosa hybrida groups were significantly increased compared with the control group, while the SOD and catalase activities of the Physalis angulata group were not significantly changed (p < 0.05). TBARS, a marker of lipid peroxidation, was significantly lower in all experimental groups compeered with the control group. No significant changes occurred in the TG, total- and LDL-cholesterol of all groups, but the HDL-cholesterol of the Physalis angulata group was significantly increased. This study showed that the intake of medicinal plants in rats results in an increase in antioxidant enzyme activity and HDL-cholesterol, and a decrease in malondialdehyde, which may reduce the risk of inflammatory and heart disease.
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