Pharma Focus Asia

Role of Nutraceutical in Various Diseases - A Review

Shaikh Habeeba, Department of Pharmacognosy, Matoshri Institute of Pharmacy

Nutraceuticals are the supplements that help to prevent disease and maintain the normal body function. Nutraceuticals are gaining popularity due to their nutritional and medicinal effect. The worldwide nutraceutical market is valued US$117 billion, according to estimates. Herbal nutraceuticals support in maintenance of good health and the increase the health life. Nutraceuticals have shown promising outcomes in the treatment of cancer, neurological diseases, cardiovascular diseases, and other ailments. The purpose of this article is to provide knowledge about nutraceuticals and their applications in various diseases.

DeFelice introduced the term 'nutraceutical' in 1989, combining the words 'nutrition' and 'pharmacy,' and originally defined it as "a food (or part of a food) that provides medical or health benefits, including the prevention and treatment of disease." A nutraceutical may be a nutrient-dense food like spirulina, garlic, or soy, or a specific dietary component like omega-3 oil from salmon. Medical foods, nutritional supplements, and dietary supplements are all terms used to describe them. Isolated nutrients, dietary supplements, genetically engineered ‘designer foods,’ herbal products, and processed foods like cereals and soups are all included in nutraceutical. Because of their presumed safety and possible nutritional and therapeutic properties, they have attracted a lot of attention. The role of dietary active compounds in human nutrition is one of the most important areas of research, with consequences for consumers, healthcare professionals, regulators, and industry. Foods and nutrients are essential for the body's normal functioning. They aid in the maintenance of an individual's health and the prevention of various diseases. Worldwide acceptance of this fact formed a recognition link between ‘nutrition’ and ‘health’, and thus the concept of ‘nutraceuticals’ evolved [1].

Nutraceuticals and Diseases

Cardiovascular diseases

Anti-oxidants, Dietary fibres, Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals can help prevent cardiovascular disease. Polyphenols (found in grapes) help to prevent and manage arterial diseases. Flavonoids (found in onions, vegetables, grapes, red wine, apples, and cherries) inhibit ACE and help to strengthen the tiny capillaries that transport oxygen and nutrients to all cells. Rice bran improves cardiovascular health by lowering serum cholesterol levels, lowering the level of (LDL) and increasing the level of (HDL). The greater the ratio, the greater the risk of coronary heart disease[2]. Rice bran includes the antioxidants Lutein and Zeaxanthin, which improve vision and lower the risk of cataracts. Rice bran contains omega-3, omega-6, omega-9, and folic acid, all are beneficial to eye health. It  is  reported  that  low  intake  of  fruits  and vegetables  is  associated  with  a  high  mortality  in  CVD [3].

Diet related diseases

Diet-related diseases are becoming more common in Western countries, owing to the increased availability of high-calorie foods and a poor diet. Obesity, diabetes, atherosclerosis, and neurodegeneration are all important diet-related diseases with low-grade inflammation as a shared pathogenic denominator. Because of their ability to produce anti-inflammatory responses, functional foods and nutraceuticals may represent a unique therapeutic approach to prevent or reduce diet-related disease. Intestinal T regulatory cells activation and homeostatic modulation of the gut microbiota, in particular, have the potential to lower low-grade inflammation in diet-related diseases[4].

Heart attack and lung cancer

Corn contributes to heart health not only because of its fibre, but also because of the high levels of folate it contains. Corn maintains homocysteine, an intermediate product in the methylation cycle, which is an important metabolic process. Homocysteine is directly linked to blood vessel damage, such as heart attack, stroke, and peripheral vascular disease. It is believed that taking 100 percent of the daily value (DV) of folate will reduce the number of heart attacks by 10 per cent. Cryptoxanthin, a natural carotenoid pigment, is also found in corn [4].Cryptoxanthin has been shown to reduce the risk of lung cancer by 27 per cent when used on a regular basis [5].


In diabetic patients, n-3 fatty acid ethyl esters are very useful. Docosahexaenoic acid is important for neurovisual development as well as insulin resistance. Antioxidant lipoic acid is used to treat diabetic neuropathy. Psyllium dietary fibres have been used to control blood sugar in diabetic individuals and to lower lipid levels in hyperlipidemia patients [4].


Obesity is defined as the accumulation of an unhealthy quantity of body fat and is a global public health problem. Angina pectoris, congestive heart failure (CHF), hypertension, hyperlipidemia, respiratory diseases, renal vein thrombosis, osteoarthritis, cancer, and impaired fertility are all well-known major risk factor [6].


Estrogen-induced cancers are prevented by flavonoids, which suppress estrogen-producing enzymes. A wide spectrum of phyto-pharmaceuticals with purported hormonal activity, known as ‘phytoestrogens,’ is recommended to prevent prostate/breast cancer. Isoflavones found in soyfoods, curcumin from curry, and soya isoflavones all have cancer-preventive properties. Lycopene is found in high concentrations in the skin, testes, adrenals, and prostate, where it helps to prevent cancer [4].

Anti-inflammatory activities

Curcumin (diferuloylmethane), a polyphenol found in turmeric, has anti-carcinogenic, anti-oxidant, and anti-inflammatory activities. Anti-tumor activity has been reported in beet roots, cucumber fruits, spinach leaves, and turmeric rhizomes. Gamma linolenic acid (found in green leafy vegetables, almonds, vegetable oils such as evening primrose oil, blackcurrant seed oil, and hemp seed oil, as well as in spirulina and cyanobacteria) is used to treat inflammatory and auto-immune diseases. Osteoarthritis is treated with glucosamine and chondroitin sulphate, which modulate gene expression and PGE2 synthesis. Cat's claw is a powerful anti-inflammatory agent. Uncaria guianensis, traditionally used for wound treatment, and Uncaria tomentosa, which has several medical benefits and is most usually found in supplements, are the two known species of cat's claw. 17 alkaloids, glycosides, tannins, flavonoids, sterol fractions, and other phytochemicals are rich in cat's claw [7].

Alzheimer’s disease

β--carotene, curcumin, lutein, lycopene, and turmerin may have a protective effect against certain diseases by reducing the harmful effects of oxidative stress, mitochondrial malfunction, and various forms of neuronal degeneration [4].

Parkinson’s disease

Food containing vitamin E may protect against Parkinson's disease. According to Canadian researchers, vitamin E in food may protect against Parkinson's disease. Creatine appears to alter the symptoms of Parkinson's disease, as evidenced by a decrease in clinical indicators. Although exploratory studies have shown some promising benefits with nutritional supplements, it is important to remember that there is currently insufficient scientific evidence to prescribe them for Parkinson's disease [4]. Patients should be informed that over-the-counter medications have negative effects, can interact with other medications, and are also costly.


The most common form of arthritis in the United States is osteoarthritis (OA), a painful joint disorder that affects an estimated 21 million people. The direct and indirect health-care costs associated with all types of arthritis totaled about 86 billion dollars in 2004. Individuals with OA and other joint disorders may experience less physical activity as a result of joint discomfort, leading in energy imbalance and weight gain. Weight gain can exacerbate existing problems by putting additional strain on joints. To treat OA symptoms, glucosamine (GLN) and chondroitin sulphate (CS) are commonly used [8]. These nutraceuticals have both dietary and medicinal properties, and they seem to control gene expression and NO and PGE2 generation, which might explain their anti-inflammatory benefits.

Adrenal Dysfunction

Adaptogens are natural herbs with generic, balancing effects on physiology; they influence normal body functions only enough to enhance non-specific stress resistance. Eleutherococcus senticosus, Ginkgo biloba, Ocimum sanctum, Panax ginseng, Withania somnifera, and the fungus Cordyceps sinensis are all adaptogens. A brief description of each follows. Ginkgo biloba used by the Chinese from ancient time to treat a variety of ailments, including vertigo, short-term memory loss, and an inability to concentrate or vigilance [9]. Ginkgo extracts show the antioxidant and neuroprotective properties, including the ability to slow the progression of dementia [10].

Nutraceuticals and Other Diseases

Apart from the major lifestyle diseases, nutraceuticals play a beneficial role in the prevention and treatment of various other diseases as mentioned below


Our ageing population is prone to this multifactorial, chronic disease, and joint replacement surgery is the only effective therapy. For the treatment of arthritis, nutraceuticals such glucosamine, chondroitin, fish oil, and gamma linolenic acid are examples. An endogenous monosaccharide called glucosamine aids in maintaining the integrity of cartilage. It is frequently prescribed as a supplement for individuals suffering from osteoarthritis. It is often prescribed along with chondroitin [11]. In several clinical studies and in vitro animal models, the use of fish oils (such as cod liver oil) in the diet and their active component n-6 fatty acid have shown their efficacy in reducing inflammation in the cartilages [12].


Flavonoids like quercetin, morin, catechin, and flavones obtained from fruits, green leafy vegetables help in the prevention of cataract due to their ability to scavenge free radical. Some vitamin supplements, dietary carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin are also useful to prevent cataract. They have potential to filter harmful short wave length blue light and decrease H2 O2 mediated damage of lens protein [13].


A fiber rich diet can relieve constipation. Herbal medicines and certain phytochemicals are very useful to treat constipation. Botanical laxatives such as senna, frangula, aloe, rhubarb and cascara are used in the treatment of constipation. Some natural fibers present in skin of vegetables and fruits, leafy vegetables, buckwheat seed proteins have beneficial role in constipation [14].


The discomfort caused by diarrhoea as a result of rapid fluid loss and subsequent dehydration. To get comfort, affected indiviual are recommended to drink herbal beverages such catnip tea, rosemary, lemon, and orange [15]. Due to the tannin present, which plays a crucial role in contracting human tissue and causing fluid retention in the body, they can be helpful in halting diarrhea [16].

Menstrual pain

The main cause of dysmenorrhea is an increase in prostaglandin levels. Foods with high calcium content, such as spinach, beans, almonds, and blueberries, as well as vegetables like bell pepper and almonds and fruits with high antioxidant and mineral content, might also be helpful [17]. According to studies, a gluten-free diet, omega-3 fatty acids, and calcium supplements helped to lessen severe endometriosis symptoms by lowering inflammation.


A few flavonoids have anti-ulcer properties and can help prevent gastric mucosal lesions. According to reports, the bioactive component in aloe vera aids in the prevention of stress-induced gastric ulceration in rats. Similar to this, curcumin has shown promise in enhancing peptic ulcer endoscopic healing [18].

Future prospects of nutraceuticals:

The world is becoming more complex and fascinating. To address the growing need for healthy nourishment, foods are becoming more palatable, appealing, and fortified. With the creation and recent advances in Living Modified Organisms (LMOs) and Genetically Modified Foods (GMFs), food for all agendas will be accomplished in the future, or malnutrition will be a thing of the past, but new obstacles may arise. The possibilities of nutraceuticals are endless, with pills bursting into the body as nutrients to feed the body with a complete Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA), including fiber to ensure intestinal or bowel emptying. The potential of nutraceuticals can help food and nutrition societies achieve their goal of a world free of destitution in the future. The rising attentiveness of consumers to how nutraceuticals might contribute to excellent health is at the heart of the value-added market performance. With the expanding consumer demand for nutraceuticals, consumers will not only utilize supplement products to enhance overall dietary consumption in coming days, but they will also view supplementation as an effective strategy to improve health [19].


As an alternative to conventional medicines, nutraceuticals have gained popularity and are proven to have beneficial health benefits. The majority of dietary supplements are derived from plants and some from animal. Nutraceuticals provides disease prevention ability with strong nutritional value and dietary ingredients with added health benefits. They are widely used by all age groups due to its higher quality, purity, safety and efficacy, improving health and also help to prevent diseases. The most recent trend is moved towards nutragenomics and nutraceuticals has led to new era of medicine and health.


Author is grateful to the colleague and friends.


The author received no financial support for the research authorship and publication of this article

Conflict of interest

The author declares no conflict of interest

Author contribution

No author’s contribution


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Shaikh Habeeba

Shaikh Habeeba working as an assistant professor at matoshri institute of pharmacy dhanore yeola nashik Maharashtra India. She has completed post-graduation in pharmacognosy. Her area of research interest in herbal formulation development. She has published more than 20 research& review paper in various national international journal. One case study accepted as book chapter in international publication & attended 17 conference & presented 5 paper in international national conference also guided more than 5 students for the research project.

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