Some heavy metals are nutritionally essential elements playing key roles in different physiological and biological processes, like: iron, cobalt, zinc, copper, chromium, molybdenum, selenium and manganese, while some others are considered as the potentially toxic elements in high amounts or certain chemical forms. Nowadays, various usage of heavy metals in industry, agriculture, medicine and technology has led to a widespread distribution in nature raising concerns about their effects on human health and environment. Metallic ions may interact with cellular components such as DNA and nuclear proteins leading to apoptosis and carcinogenesis arising from DNA damage and structural changes. As a result, exposure to heavy metals through ingestion, inhalation and dermal contact causes several health problems such as, cardiovascular diseases, neurological and neurobehavioral abnormalities, diabetes, blood abnormalities and various types of cancer. Due to extensive damage caused by heavy metal poisoning on various organs of the body, the investigation and identification of therapeutic methods for poisoning with heavy metals is very important. The most common method for the removal of heavy metals from the body is administration of chemical chelators. Recently, medicinal herbs have attracted the attention of researchers as the potential treatments for the heavy metals poisoning because of their fewer side effects. In the present study, we review the potential of medicinal herbs such as: Allium sativum (garlic), Silybum marianum (milk thistle), Coriandrum sativum (cilantro), Ginkgo biloba (gingko), Curcuma longa (turmeric), phytochelatins, triphala, herbal fibers and Chlorophyta (green algae) to treat heavy metal poisoning.
Keywords: Herbal Plants, Heavy Metals, Chelation, Detoxification