An ancient Chinese herbal remedy could be used to fight chronic pain, new research has revealed.
The roots of the flowering plant Corydalis – a member of the poppy family - have been used for centuries as a pain reliever. Now scientists have found they contain a key pain-relieving ingredient known as dehydrocorybulbine (DHCB) and that they do not lose effectiveness over time like traditional opiate drugs.
The chemical acts not through the morphine receptor but through other receptors, in particular one that binds dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that helps control the brain's reward and pleasure centres and also helps regulate movement and emotional responses.
Olivier Civelli of the University of California, Irvine, said: ‘Our study reports the discovery of a new natural product that can relieve pain. This analgesic acts in animal assays against the three types of pain that afflict humans, including acute, inflammatory, and neuropathic or chronic pain.’
He made the discovery as part of the ‘herbalome’ project, an effort to catalogue all of the chemical components of traditional Chinese medicine.
The Corydalis plants that were the focus of the new study grow mainly in central eastern China, where underground tubers are harvested, ground, and boiled in hot vinegar. Those concoctions are often prescribed to treat pain, including headaches and back pain.
Source - Daily Mail