Reactive oxygen species (ROS) are generated by normal metabolic processes in all organisms utilizing oxygen. However, excessive ROS production can overcome cellular antioxidant defenses and can lead to a condition termed oxidative stress. Of particular importance, oxidative stress has been implicated in the installation and progression of several degenerative diseases, via either DNA mutation, protein oxidation and/or lipid peroxidation.
Literature data have given a special attention to the role of ROS and oxidative stress in chronic neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases. In this context, several studies have focused in the potential use of natural and synthetic antioxidant compounds in a variety of in vitro and in vivo models of human pathologies, including neurotoxicity models Medicinal plants have been traditionally used in the treatment of several human diseases and their pharmacological and therapeutic properties have been attributed to different chemical constituents isolated from their crude extracts. Of particular importance, chemical constituents with antioxidant activity can be found at high concentrations in plants and can be responsible for their preventive effects in various degenerative diseases, including cancer, neurological and cardiovascular diseases.