Scientists explore Chinese herbs for heart disease
Researchers at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston are exploring how ancient Chinese herbs benefit the heart. Ancient Chinese remedies used specifically for heart disease may have artery widening properties that improve blood flow to the heart muscle.
The Chinese herbs contain three to twenty-five herbs, and are generally considered safe. Scientists in the university's Brown Foundation Institute of Molecular Medicine for the Prevention of Human Diseases (IMM) say the herbs deliver beneficial nitric oxide to the blood vessels that lower blood pressure and improves circulation to the heart. The herbs also reduce plaque and help prevent dangerous blood clots that lead to heart attack.
Nathan S. Bryan, Ph.D., the study's senior author and an IMM assistant professor says the study results show the Chinese herbal formulas for heart disease "have profound nitric oxide bioactivity primarily through the enhancement of nitric oxide in the inner walls of blood vessels, but also through their ability to convert nitrite and nitrate into nitric oxide."
Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) incorporates acupuncture, massage, and herbal remedies to treat disease. "TCMs have provided leads to safe medications in cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes," said C. Thomas Caskey, M.D., IMM director and CEO. "The opportunity for Dr. Bryan's work is outstanding given that cardiac disease is the No. 1 cause of death in the United States."
The scientists performed lab tests on the Chinese herbs DanShen, GuaLou, and other herbs purchased n the Houston area to find their ability to produce nitric oxide.”Each of the TCMs tested in the assays relaxed vessels to various degrees," the authors stated.
Bryan says they are trying to isolate specific components of the Chinese herbs to find more benefits for treating heart disease. Little research has been done to show how the Chinese herbs work, and they are considered alternative treatments in Western medicine. The researchers hope to learn more about Chinese herbs and exactly how they can benefit patients with heart disease.
University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston