Written By Samridhi Gururani*(1), Sangeeta Goley (2), and Krishna Jangapangi (2)

From the medieval period, corals have been considered a repository of various therapeutic or medicinal components as they were thought to possess the cure to a wide variety of treatments. To find the cure of certain un-treatable diseases all potential options should be explored, i.e., all the available ecosystems from the forests to the oceanic bed. It has been cited that corals are potential source of providing cure for inflammations, cancer, bone and nervous disorders.

What Are Corals?

Corals are invertebrates found in the marine environment. They are generally associated in colonies of many identical individual polyps. Corals are generally found in shallow waters of tropical and sub-tropical regions. Zoozanthallae is one such unique microalgae that many coral types possess. This taxon has been an important source of medicinal drugs and other commercially valuable products. Based on their reef building ability and flexibility corals are classified into three types:

  • Hard corals: These are the reef builders
  • Soft corals: These are more flexible in nature
  • Gorgonian corals: these are quite flexible but consist of a hard horny substance

Medicinal Applications of Corals

1) Corals as a cure for inflammation
Inflammation is a physiological response generated by the immune system against the attack of pathogenic agent. Certain types of corals contain Diterpenes which are anti inflammatory in nature. Also, they have been proved to consist of properties for the treatment of arthritis.

2) Corals as a cure to cancer
A specific genus of corals Sinularia has been found to have anticancer properties due to the presence of natural metabolite. Also this genus has anti-inflammatory properties.

3) Corals for curing dental problems and bone deformities
The naturally occurring calcium in hard corals and the calcite in soft corals when administered along with a micro porous mineral (zeolite) have shown to reduce deficit such as bone loss. Coral scaffolds have been seen to have potential effect for treating certain defects in the canines.

4) Corals for treating neurological deficits
Soft corals have been observed for having potential properties for treatment of neurological disorders, a neuroprotective compound has been extracted (11-dehydrosinularolide) which is believed to cure Parkinson’s disease (highly enervating neurodegenerative disorder). Molecules like Austrasulphones have been found in soft corals which consist of neuroprotective qualities and also seen to reduce neuropathic pain.

5) Corals for cardiovascular health
The sand obtained from erosion of corals have been observed in treatment higher blood pressures and maintaining cardiovascular health also helpful in better gene expression.

Scientists and researchers have exploited a large number of invertebrates for finding cure to certain ailments and disorders therefore emphasis should be laid upon other potential sources like corals which have therapeutic properties. Bioprospecting is much needed for biomedical research. Corals are one such resource for efficient treatment modalities.

Author Information: *̛1 Department of Aquatic Environment Management, College of Fisheries G.B.P.U.A &T Pantnagar 263145, *̛2 Department of Aquaculture, College of Fisheries G.B.P.U.A &T Pantnagar, 263145, E mail – samridhi.gururani@gmail.com*̛