Researchers Unlock Keys to Herbal Medicines

 This is an exciting development as this research group has come up with a way to test the effectiveness of whole herbs and herbal formulas instead of just one component of an herb.

Of course, for thousands of years Oriental Medicine Herbalist have been demonstrating efficacy but that cuts no ice with the FDA, so this is a step forward.

A team led by Yuan Luo PhD, MS, associate professor at the School, conducted a first-of-its- kind, “systematic evaluation” of a mixture of 10 herbs called Shi-Quan-Da-Bu-Tang (SQDB), reportedly effective for fatigue and energy; and an 11-herb formula called Huo Luo Xiao Ling Dan (HLXL) used as a the treatment of arthritic joint pain. Both mixtures are reputed to have benefits for healthy living and longevity in humans.

The researchers tested the mixtures, as well as each separate herb in them, on the laboratory worm model C. elegans. This particular worm─which biochemists often use as their ‘lab rat’─ shares genes for aging and other traits with humans and other organisms.

Cinnamon bark (Cinnamomum cassia) from HLXL extended life span of the worms by 14.5 percent and cinnamon bark from SQDB extended the life 10.8 percent.

Ginseng root (Panax ginseng) from SQDB extended life span by 7.7 percent. Ginseng is not an ingredient in HLXL.

Significantly, cinnamon, ginseng, and SQDB also thinned out levels of hydrogen peroxide, which can destroy cells. They each also enhanced expression of small heat shock proteins, an indicator for cellular response to stress that plays an important role in maintenance of cell functions.

Furthermore, the life span-extending herbs appreciatively reduced in the expression in C. elegans of a toxicity factor, amyloid, which is a hallmark in the human brain of pathological development of Alzheimer’s disease….

…..

proof of efficacy of herbal medicines, even their modes of action in the body, are extremely difficult challenges, said, Luo.

Herbal medicines are usually mixtures of herbs. That presents a severe challenge for the Food and Drug Administration to understand which compounds or combinations of compounds in the herbs are effective or not effective.

Said Dosanjh, “Because it’s very difficult to sort out so many herbs with so many constituents together, we needed to find a model. And there is a high level of [common genetic origins] with the nematode and humans.”

Luo added, “To isolate a single compound from an herb and test it for a medical condition, it often doesn’t work; not like the whole herb works.”

In recent years, scientists have learned to use C. elegans worm as a model system in for studying gene-environment interactions. In their experiments, the School of Pharmacy researchers first used “wild” C. elegans to screen the herbal mixtures and single herbs.

more via Researchers Use Tiny Worms to Unlock Keys to Herbal Medicines.

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