A new study from the University of California, Irvine, has shown that dehydrocorybulbine (DHCB), a compound derived from the Chinese herb Corydalis yanhusuo
, can help relieve chronic pain.
"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," researcher Olivier Civelli said.
Traditional pain-relieving opiate drugs generally lose efficiency over time, but researchers say that DHCB does not. Although the flowering herb is a member of the poppy family, the source of opiates such as morphine, DHCB acts through the dopamine D2 receptor to regulate pain, rather than the morphine receptor.
The plant has long been used in traditional Chinese medicine to alleviate pain associated with conditions like menstrual cramps, abdominal pain, headaches and back and chest pain. This is the first study to extract, identify and test DHCB.
This discovery is significant, because there are no other current treatments for neuropathic pain. There presently exists treatments for acute and inflammatory pain, but not for chronic pain. "DHCB may not be able to relieve strong chronic pain, but may be used for low-level chronic pain," Civelli told the UK's Daily Mail
"Today the pharmaceutical industry struggles to find new drugs," Civelli said. He then stated that he was excited that this natural herbal compound "shows promise as an effective pharmaceutical." Even though their study will likely be used to invent new drugs to bolster Big Pharma's profits, it is important in that it proves the efficacy of a long-used medicinal herb which can be utilized to naturally mitigate pain.