Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a chronic, multi-system, complex
neurodegenerative disorder pathologically characterized by motor dysfunctions caused
mainly due to the loss of dopamine (DA) neurotransmitters producing dopaminergic
(DAergic) neurons. In Ayurveda, which is an indigenous medicine system of India,
various medicinal herbs have been used for the treatment of PD since ancient times. A
growing number of studies have proven that these Ayurvedic herbs can protect
DAergic neurons from neuronal degeneration and hence can increase the level of DA.
Phytochemicals or active ingredients present in these Ayurvedic herbs can target
oxidative stress, mitochondrial dysfunction, neuroinflammation, apoptosis, and
autophagy and can reduce α-synuclein (α-syn) protein aggregation, which are the basic
pathological causes of neurodegeneration and can improve the motor ability and
sometimes longevity in animal models of PD. The mainstay of treatment of PD is
levodopa (L-Dopa), a precursor of DA, used for achieving the optimal level of DA. But
its long-term use has debilitating side effects. Ayurvedic herbs have provided relief in
PD with no or minimal side-effect even after long-term administration. Some plants,
such as M. pruriens, are a natural source of L-Dopa. Here, we have discussed the major
classes of phytochemicals found in Ayurvedic medicines and the pathogenic
mechanisms of PD targeted by them. After that, we have discussed the recent advances
in experimental and clinical data that support the neuroprotective properties of these
phytochemicals used in Ayurveda and their potential to be developed as a therapeutic
intervention for the prevention of PD.
Keywords: Ayurveda, B. monnieri, C. Asiatica, C. Longa, C. sinensis, M. pruriens, Neuroprotection, Parkinson’s disease, Phytochemicals, V. vinifera, W. somnifera.