News / Health

Study: Chinese Plant Ingredient Eases Chronic Pain

Corydalis blossoms (Creative Commons-Wikimedia)
Corydalis blossoms (Creative Commons-Wikimedia)
Jessica Berman
Researchers have discovered a natural ingredient in an ancient Chinese plant that relieves chronic pain, including backache.  The compound comes from the roots of the flowering Corydalis herb, which the Chinese have used for centuries to treat pain. 

The Corydalis plant is grown primarily in central eastern China. For thousands of years, people in the Asian country have harvested the plant’s roots or tubers, ground them up and boiled them in vinegar.  The concoction, often processed into a tea, was given to treat pain.  Although it is effective in easing all types of pain, including temporary and inflammatory joint pain, it may have its greatest benefit in treating long-term nagging pain, for which experts say there is no good medicine.
 
A researcher with the University of California Davis, Olivier Civelli, says the active compound in Corydalis identified by researchers is dehydrocorybulbine or DHCB. In animal experiments, DHCB appears to work well in easing low-level chronic pain. The plant is a member of the poppy family.
 
Civelli explains so-called opiod drugs like morphine are often given to treat chronic pain when they should only be prescribed for a short period of time because of their addictive properties. 
 
But DHCB, says Civelli, appears to be both effective and non-addictive in the treatment of persistent pain.
 
“So what we find is our compound does not do that.  It does not lose its effect over time.  Because we have injected to animals for seven days and the analgesic effect [pain relieving] we are seeing stays stable,” says Civelli.
 
Addictive drugs act through a morphine pathway in the brain. But Civelli says it appears DHCB works through another brain transport chemical called a dopamine D2 receptor, which studies suggest plays a role in pain sensation.
 
Civelli and colleagues discovered DHCB as part of the “herbalome” project to identify and catalog the active ingredients in traditional Chinese medicine. 
 
Noting new drug development can cost a $1 billion or more, Civelli says the project seeks to discover cost effective, natural compounds.
 
“Trying to understand ... why [Chinese] people are taking it for 3,000 years or something like that?  And it was efficient.  How many compounds are out there that do something for pain relief? And that is what we are interested in doing now,” says Civelli.
 
Corydalis preparations can be purchased on the Internet but without further testing to make sure they are safe, Civelli does not recommend people take them.
 
An article on discovery of the pain relieving ingredient in the ancient Chinese plant Corydalis is published in the journal Current Biology.

You May Like

Turkey's Controversial Reform Bill Giving Investors Jitters

Homeland security reform bill will give police new powers in search, seizure, detention and arrests, while restricting the rights of suspects, their attorneys More

Audio Slideshow In Kenyan Prison, Good Grades Are Path to Freedom

Some inmates who get high marks could see their sentences commuted to non-custodial status More

'Rumble in the Jungle' Turns 40

'The Champ' knocked Foreman out to regain crown he had lost 7 years earlier when US government accused him of draft-dodging and boxing officials revoked his license More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisiai
X
Henry Ridgwell
October 30, 2014 11:39 PM
Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisia

Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Africa Tells its Story Through Fashion

In Africa, Fashion Week is a riot of colors, shapes, patterns and fabrics - against the backdrop of its ongoing struggle between nature and its fast-growing urban edge. How do these ideas translate into needle and thread? VOA’s Anita Powell visited this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa in Johannesburg to find out.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.

All About America

AppleAndroid