Chinese medicine pharmacy

Scientists at UC Irvine, working in conjunction with Chinese colleagues have uncovered a compound traditionally used in Chinese medicine, which demonstrates significant anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties, including those capable of combating neuropathic pain.

Neuropathic pain is significant because it involves damage to the nervous system leading to conditions of chronic, sometimes unrelenting pain for which there are no effective treatments currently.

About 50 million Americans suffer some form of neuropathic pain.

The substance called dehydrocorybulbine (DHCB) is derived from the roots of the Corydalis yanhusuo plant. It is non-addictive.

The results were published in the Jan. 20 issue of Current Biology.

Speaking of the findings, lead researcher Olivier Civelli said:

"Today the pharmaceutical industry struggles to find new drugs. Yet for centuries people have used herbal remedies to address myriad 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. We're excited that this one shows promise as an effective pharmaceutical. It also shows a different way to understand the pain mechanism."

Corydalis is an herbal plant which is found in Northern China and Japan. Its root extract has traditionally used to treat menstrual cramps, abdominal pain and chest pain. While DHCB is not available, the herb form of Corydalis root can be found in health food stores and may be purchased on line.