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Why a Chinese remedy is such an effective painkiller

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A remedy used for thousands of years in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) can combat chronic pain by targeting receptors in the brain that have only recently been discovered.

The TCM remedy, taken from the pinwheel flower (Tabernaemontana divaricate), interacts with an opioid receptor in the brain that was only recently discovered, and is the most effective for relieving pain of the 240 receptors that researchers from the Luxembourg Institute of Health examined.

Scientists have developed conolidine, a synthetic compound taken from the flower, to test the effectiveness of the therapy, and they think that other compounds could work even better.

Conolidine interacts with the opioid brain receptor, ACKR3/CXCR7, which regulates opioid peptides that control pain relief and emotions, including euphoria, anxiety, stress and depression.

This biochemical process is at the heart of the TCM remedy, the researchers say, and could lead the way to new painkilling therapies that may also counter depression.  And unlike standard painkillers such as the opioids, conolidine isn’t addictive or causes respiratory problems, another reaction to the drugs.

(Source: Signal Transduction and Targeted Therapy, 2021; 6: doi: 10.1038/s41392-021-00548-w)

 

Article Topics: opioid, Pain
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