Active ingredient in common Chinese herb shown to reduce hypertension

Armen Hareyan's picture
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Blood pressure treatment with Chinese herbs

Some 50 million Americans have hypertension, that is, blood pressure measuring above the normal range (less than 120/80 mmHg). If untreated, it can lead to heart attacks, strokes, or kidney disease. Lifestyle changes are the first-stage treatment for the disease, but if they fail, medications are prescribed.

Many patients with high blood pressure have sought relief from complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). In so doing, many have consumed danshen, a Chinese herb used in Oriental medicine that promotes blood flow and treats cardiovascular disease.

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Tanshinone IIA is an active ingredient of danshen. Since tanshinone IIA is widely available, a team of researchers has used it to investigate if this active ingredient can reduce blood pressure. In a soon-to-be-released study, using an animal model, the scientists have found that tanshinone IIA does reduce blood pressure.

To assess the effect of tanshinone IIA, the protocol consisted of several parts. The researchers applied the 2-kidney-1-clip protocol to induce renal hypertension in male golden Syrian hamsters. The animals were anesthetized and a retroperitoneal approach was used to place a silver clip to constrict the right renal artery. Sham-operated hamsters and mice underwent the same procedure, except for the placement of a clip.

Both sets of hamsters received 50

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