How a Chinese herbal medicine may help you beat pain
Pain is something horrible which nobody wants to live with. The use of drugs for pain has been associated with a myriad of side effects including addiction and even death. Therefore natural remedies for pain are very desirable.
A novel analgesic has been isolated from a Chinese medicinal herb, reports Current Biology on Jan. 2, 2014. Researchers have identified a compound, dehydrocorybulbine (DHCB), which is effective at alleviating thermally induced acute pain, from a plant which has been used for centuries for its analgesic properties.The researchers concluded DHCB is a different type of analgesic compound and offers promise for pain management.
This compound which is derived from a traditional Chinese herbal medicine has been found to be very effective at alleviating pain. This opens up possibilities for a new nonaddictive analgesic which can be used for acute inflammatory and nerve pain, according to UC Irvine researchers in pharmacology. Olivier Civelli and his UC Irvine colleagues, working together with Chinese scientists, isolated the compound which is called dehydrocorybulbine (DHCB) from the roots of the Corydalis yanhusuo plant.
Tests with DHCB on mice showed this compound diminished both inflammatory pain, which is associated with tissue damage and to the infiltration of immune cells, and injury-induced neuropathic pain, which results from damage to the nervous system. This is very significant, because at this time there are no adequate treatments for neuropathic pain. Furthermore, the researchers noted that DHCB was not associated with the tolerance which is seen with continued use of most conventional pain relievers, such as morphine.
Civelli has said, “Today the pharmaceutical industry struggles to find new drugs. Yet for centuries people have used herbal remedies to address a myriad of health conditions, including pain. Our objective was to identify compounds in these herbal remedies that may help us discover new ways to treat health problems.” Civelli went on to discuss the excitement shared with his colleagues that DHCB shows promise as an effective pharmaceutical and opens up a different way to understand the pain mechanism.
These findings have resulted from a collaboration between researchers in the United States and China. At a time when traditional Chinese medicine has been gaining greater acceptance in Western medical practices, Xinmiao Liang at the Dalian Institute of Chemical Physics in China and his associates have been working to create an “herbalome” of all the compounds in plant extracts which demonstrate pharmacological properties. The researchers together screened 10 traditional Chinese medicines which are known as analgesics. All together they tested nearly 500 compounds for their pain-relief abilities. It was found that only DHCB in corydalis induced an effect which was reproducible.
Corydalis is a flowering herbal plant which grows naturally in Siberia, Northern China and Japan. People have been using the root extract from this plant to alleviate menstrual cramps, chest pain and abdominal pain. There have been previous studies of its analgesic properties. However, this is the first time DHCB has actually been identified, extracted and tested for pain relief.
Greater than 50 million Americans are affected by chronic neuropathic pain, yet management of this pain has remained a serious problem due to the poor results and severe side effects which are associated with conventional analgesics. Civellis is hopeful that drawing upon traditional Chinese medical-herbal products such as DHCB could offer a breakthrough treatment for patients suffering from pain. Acupuncture, another form of Traditional Chinese Medicine, may be helpful for treating tonsillectomy pain in kids, as I have written about in another article for EmaxHealth.
Further studies on any toxicity of DHCB need to be evaluated before it can be developed further as a drug. Furthermore, it is possible if this compound is chemically modified, it may be possible to develop a a more potent pharmaceutical for pain. Although DHCB itself is not available at this time, it is part of the Corydalis yanhusuo root or extracts which can be purchased in health stores.
Patients in pain present a very difficult clinical problem. These patients often become hooked on opioids and even over the counter analgesics which can cause serious problems and can even cause premature death. I generally find people suffering from pain are very interested in what Traditional Chinese Medicine may have to offer them for safer pain relief.
I recommend patients in pain should see a practitioner which is knowledgeable about herbal medicine and discuss whether the Corydalis yanhusuo root or extracts may be helpful for them, as research into the pain relief from DHCB continues. Chronic pain often undermines quality of life while alternative treatments are often ignored, as I have reported in a separate article for EmaxHealth.