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Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata) Effects: Alkaloids or Flavonoids?

weight lossPassionflower extracts have been evidenced to have mood elevating effects in humans and animals. One explanation for this is the presence of a number of alkaloids in the tissues of the plants. These alkaloids include harmaline, harmol and harmane and their derivatives, which belong to the β-carboline group of phytochemicals. Evidence suggests that these alkaloids can directly influence neurochemistry, but at very high doses these chemicals can be toxic to animals and humans. For example, experimental evidence using animals models suggest that harmine and harmaline can cause excitation, tremors and ataxia. In contrast harmol, tetrahydro-harmane and 3-methyl-harmane causes depression of the central nervous system activity that can extend to complete paralysis. Harmane and nor-harmane at high doses also cause tremors and convulsions. The toxic symptoms of the alkaloids can in rats be attenuated by administration of the dopaminergic drug L-dopa, suggesting they modify the dopamine system in the brain.

passionflower anxiety

Passionflower has also been shown to be effective at preventing the anxiety induced by alcohol cessation. In this regard the benzoflavone moiety of the passionflower extract was at least partly responsible for this anxiolytic effect.

However, the levels of these alkaloids in passionflower is very low, and this has lead to suggestions that at the concentrations present in the plant tissue, central nervous system activity might be minimal. Other authors have therefore suggested that it might be the flavonoid component of the plant tissues that contribute to the mood elevating effects of the plants. For example, in one study researchers administered various types of passionflower extracts to mice to observe the effects. In this regard, it was observed that a benzoflavone nucleus might have been responsible for the anxiolytic effects the researchers observed in mice. Benzoflavone nuclei are possessed by flavonoids of the flavone subclass, and therefore the presence of flavones in passionflower extract may be responsible for the mood elevating effects of the herb. Therefore, both the flavonoid and alkaloid content of passionflower may be responsible for the mood elevating effects, and it is likely that other components also contribute in this regard.

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Dhawan, K., Kumar, S. and Sharma, A. 2001. Anti-anxiety studies on extracts of Passiflora incarnata Linneaus. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 78(2-3): 165-170
Fuentes, J. A. and Longo, V. G. 1971. An investigation on the central effects of harmine, harmaline and related β-carbolines. Neuropharmacology. 10(1): 15-23
Dhawan, K., Kumar, S. and Sharma, A. 2002. Suppression of alcohol-cessation-oriented hyper-anxiety by the benzoflavone moiety of Passiflora incarnata Linneaus in mice. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 81(2): 239-244
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Passionflower: Herbal Mood Enhancer

weight lossPassionflower (Passiflora incarnata) in a traditional herb used for its central nervous system effects. Studies suggests that it may have a number of mood elevating effects. For example, in one study, researchers investigated the antidepressant effects of passionflower on mice exposed to experimental stress. Mice were administered either the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor antidepressant drug fluoxetine, the tricyclic antidepressant drug imipramine, or an extract of passionflower. The results of the study showed that the passionflower extracts caused significant antidepressant effects in the mice, compared to the control. In some experimental conditions, the passionflower compared favourably to both the fluoxetine and the imipramine, although there was considerable variation between the effectiveness of the various treatments depending on the particular test performed. However, taken as a whole, these results suggest that passionflower may be an effective treatment for anxiety.

passionflower anxiety depression

In mice, passiflora actinia extracts has been evidenced to cause anxiolytic effects, which are blocked by drugs which inhibit the GABAA receptor. This is evidence that phytochemicals within passionflower may exert their effects by acting on the GABAA receptor, which would explain the sedative and anxiolytic effect. Some evidence suggests that at lower doses, passionflower extracts may have anxiolytic effects whereas at higher doses it may have sedative effects. Therefore both Passiflora incarnata and Passiflora actinia may both possess mood elevating effects through interaction with the central nervous system.

The antidepressant effects of passionflower are likely due to the phytochemicals it contains. Analysis of passionflower have shown that it contains a number of important phytochemical groups. These include a total alkaloid content of 100 to 900 parts per million, and a total flavonoid content of 1.2 to 3.9 %. Of the flavonoids and alkaloids in passionflower, 26 chemicals identified from the herb fall into these two categories (20 flavonoids and 6 alkaloids). The sedative effects of passionflower may be due to the presence of alkaloids in the tissues, and in particular, harmane, harmaline and harmol, have been evidenced to cause sedations in animals. The flavonoids including apigenin, chrysin, luteolin and scopoletin may also be able to cause sedation and so could contribute to this effect. One possibility is that these chemicals interact with the GABAA receptor in the brain and this causes a generally inhibitory effect on brain activity. However, there may also be other mechanisms of action.

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Jafarpoor, N., Abbasi-Maleki, S., Asadi-Samani, M. and Khayatnouri, M. H. 2014. Evaluation of antidepressant-like effect of hydroalcoholic extract of Passiflora incarnata in animal models of depression in male mice. Journal of HerbMed Pharmacology. 3(1): 41-45
Cronin, J. R. 2003. Passionflower: Reigniting male libido and other potential uses. Alternative and Complementary Therapies. 9(2): 89-92
Lolli, L. F., Sato, C. M., Romanini, C. V., Villas-Boas, L. D. B., Santos, C. A. M. and de Oliveira, R. M. 2007. Possible involvement of GABAA-benzodiazepine receptor in the anxiolytic-like effect induced by Passiflora actinia extracts in mice. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 111(2): 308-314
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Spikenard (Nardostachys jatamansi): Anti-anxiety Herb

weight lossSpikenard (Nardostachys jatamansi) is a perennial flowering plant belonging to the same family as valerian (the Valerianaceae family). Other names for spikenard include nardin, muskroot and nard. Spikenard is found in parts of Asia where it grows to about 1 meter in height. The plant produced pink bell-shaped flowers and a rhizome that contains an essential oil that may have medicinal properties including antioxidant, and hepatoprotective effects. The medicinal properties of spikenard root also includes a number of effects on the central nervous system, including a sedative, anticonvulsant and anxiolytic effect. For example, the central nervous system effects of spikenard were investigated in rats. In this regard, administration of spikenard root extract to rats significantly increased the threshold upon which seizures could be experimentally caused in the rats. At the same time no neurotoxicity was observed in the rats administered spikenard root extract.

In another study, the central nervous system effects of spikenard were assessed in mice. Three doses of spikenard root extracts were administered to mice and the effects on learning and memory assessed. The highest dose of spikenard significantly improved the memory of the mice and revered amnesia that was artificially induced by administration of the benzodiazepine drug diazepam and the alkaloid scopolamine. In addition, the spikenard extract also reversed the decline in memory attributed to the natural ageing of the mice. The authors concluded that the central nervous system effects on memory might be attributable to the antioxidant effects of the herb. The antioxidant effects of spikenard were also suggested to be responsible for the anti-stress effects observed in another study involving rats. When rats were administered spikenard, there were effects consistent with an antioxidant effect, and a number of markers of stress concomitantly were reduced.

Nardostachys jatamansi anxiety depression

The roots of spikenard contain a number of chemicals that may explain the medicinal properties seen in the herb. These include an essential oil that comprises of about 0.5 % of the root. Within the root are also a number of chemicals including a number of sesquiterpenes and coumarins. Jatamansone is the principle sesquiterpene, with other sesquiterpenes including nardostachone, dihydrojatamansin, jatamansinol, jatamansic acid. jatamansinone, jatamansinol, oroseolol, oroselone, seselin, valeranal, nardostachyin. nardosinone, spirojatamol, jatamol A and B, calarenol, seychellene and seychelane. Courmarins present in the roots of spikenard include jatamansin or xanthogalin. Other components within the roots include resins, sugars, starch, gums, lignins, bitter extractive matter and β-sitosterol. Image from: By Joseph Dalton Hooker (1817-1911) – Curtis’s botanical magazine vol. 107 ser. 3 nr. 37 tabl. 6564 from www.botanicus.org, Public Domain, https:// commons.wikimedia.org/w/ index.php? curid=2120319.

An antidepressant effect for root extracts of spikenard has also been demonstrated. Mice administered spikenard extracts displayed significant changes to their behaviour which was indicative of an antidepressant effect. At the same time, the researcher observed that inhibition to the enzymes monoamine oxidase A and monoamine oxidase B had occured. Further it was shown that component of the spikenard root extract may interact with the GABAB receptor in the brains of the mice. In another study using rats, researchers observed significant reductions in experimentally induced oxidative stress with administration of spikenard extracts. In addition, the spikenard extracts also significantly attenuated changes to levels of monoamines in the brains of the rats following stress exposure. Therefore spikenard may possess significant antistress and antioxidant effects that prevent changes to the neurochemistry of the brain, and this may protect from the development of mood disorders such as anxiety and depression.

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Rao, V. S., Rao, A. and Karanth, K. S. 2005. Anticonvulsant and neurotoxicity profile of Nardostachys jatamansi in rats. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 102(3) 351-356
Chatterjee, A., Basak, B., Saha, M., Dutta, U., Mukhopadhyay, C., Banerji, J., Konda, Y. and Harigaya, Y. 2000. Structure and Stereochemistry of Nardostachysin, a New Terpenoid Ester Constituent of the Rhizomes of Nardostachys jatamansi. Journal of Natural Products. 63(11): 1531-1533
Lyle, N., Bhattacharyya, D., Sur, T. K., Munshi, S., Paul, S., Chatterjee, S. and Gomes, A. 2009. Stress modulating antioxidant effect of Nardostachys jatamansi. Indian Journal of Biochemistry and Biophysics. 46: 93-98
Joshi, H. and Parle, M. 2006. Nardostachys jatamansi improves learning and memory in mice. Journal of Medicinal Food. 9(1): 113-118
Jadhav, V. M., Thorat, R. M., Kadam, V. J. and Kamble, S. S. 2009. Herbal anxiolyte: Nardostachys jatamansi. Journal of  Pharmaceutical Research. 2(8): 1208-1211
Rahman, H., Shaik, H. A., Madhavi, P., & Eswaraiah, M. C. 2011. A review: pharmacognostics and pharmacological profiles of Nardastachys jatamansi DC. Elixir Pharmacy. 39: 5017-5020
Dhingra, D., & Goyal, P. K. 2008. Inhibition of MAO and GABA: probable mechanisms for antidepressant-like activity of Nardostachys jatamansi DC in mice. Indian Journal of Experimental Biology. 46: 212-218
Lyle, N., Chakrabarti, S., Sur, T., Gomes, A. and Bhattacharyya, D. 2012. Nardostachys jatamansi protects against cold restraint stress induced central monoaminergic and oxidative changes in rats. Neurochemical Research. 37(12): 2748-2757
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Does GABA Cross The Blood Brain Barrier And Does It Matter?

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Tumbavaquero (Ipomoea stans): Anti-Anxiety Herb

weight lossIpomoea is a group of flowering plants that belongs to the Convolvulaceae family of plants. This group of plants is dominated by climbing woody pants with heart-shaped leaves and funnel-shaped flowers. Common names for plants belonging to this group include morning glory, bindweed, sweet potato and moonflower. Ipomoea stans (known as Tumbavaquero in Mexico) is one species of Ipomoea plants that may have particular central nervous system effects. In Mexico, Ipomoea stans root extracts are used as part of the traditional medicine to treat a number of conditions including headaches and high blood pressure. Ipomoea stans extracts have also been shown to be an effective treatment for epileptic seizures. Other central nervous system effects for extracts of the Ipomoea stans include use as a sedative and as an anticonvulsant. The central nervous system effects seen with extracts of Ipomoea stans are consistent with modulation of the GABAA receptor in the brain and central nervous system.  

ipomoea stans anxiey depression

Extracts of Ipomoea stans have also been shown to possess significant antioxidant activity. The colours of the flowers of the Ipomoea stans suggests that they might contain polyphenols, particularly flavonoids. However, as the root is generally used medicinally, it is unclear if flavonoids contribute to the medicinal effects of the plant. However, the coumarin scopoletin has been isolated from roots of Ipomoea stans, and coumarins do possess significant biological effects as antioxidants in animals.

Animal studies suggest that Ipomoea stans may have particular mood elevating effects. For example, researchers have investigated the effects of root extracts of Ipomoea stans on mice. Administration of root extracts of Ipomoea stans to the mice had significant sedative and anticonvulsant effects. Researchers also observed significant reductions in the anxious behaviour displayed by the mice when they were exposed to experimental stress and this was shown to occur following increased release of GABA in the brains of the animals. The roots of Ipomoea possess a number of chemicals including tetrasaccharide resin glycosides that may be responsible for their central nervous system activity. One resin glycoside that has been isolated and evaluated for its neuroprotective ability is stansin. Administration of stansin to rats was able to significantly attenuate experimentally induced convulsions, decreased neuronal damage to part of the brain such as the hippocampus and reduced inflammation in the brains of the animals.

ipomoea stans anxiety mood

Ipomoea plants are characterised by their heart-shaped leaves and funnel shaped colorful flowers.

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Herrera-Ruiz, M., Gutiérrez, C., Jiménez-Ferrer, J. E., Tortoriello, J., Mirón, G. and León, I. 2007. Central nervous system depressant activity of an ethyl acetate extract from Ipomoea stans roots. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 112(2): 243-247
Meira, M., Silva, E. P. D., David, J. M. and David, J. P. 2012. Review of the genus Ipomoea: traditional uses, chemistry and biological activities. Revista Brasileira de Farmacognosia. 22(3): 682-713
Reynolds, W. F., Yu, M., Enriquez, R. G., Gonzalez, H., Leon, I., Magos, G. and Villareal, M. L. 1995. Isolation and Characterization of Cytotoxic and Antibacterial Tetrasaccharide Glyclosides from Ipomoea stans. Journal of Natural Products. 58(11): 1730-1734
León-Rivera, I., Villeda-Hernández, J., Campos-Peña, V., Aguirre-Moreno, A., Estrada-Soto, S., Navarrete-Vázquez, G., Rios, M. Y., Aguilar-Guadarrama, B., Castillo-Espana, P. and  Rivera-Leyva, J. C. 2014. Evaluation of the neuroprotective activity of stansin 6, a resin glycoside from Ipomoea stans. Bioorganic and Medicinal Chemistry Letters. 24(15): 3541-3545
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Gastrodia elata: Another Anti-Anxiety Herb?

weight lossGastrodia elata is a perennial herb of the Orchidaceae (Orchid) family of plants. Gastrodia elata grows in parts of Asia including Nepal, Bhutan, Korea, Taiwan, Siberia, India and Japan. The plant grows in mountainous regions in forest clearings and it can reach approximately 2 meters in height, with a narrow stem and orange flowers. Gastrodia elata has a large rhizome (root) that has a historical use in traditional Chinese medicine, where it is used for its antioxidant, antiepileptic and anti-inflammatory properties. Gastrodia rhizome may also have certain effects on the central nervous system. For example, it has been shown that Gastrodia extracts may be useful in the treatment of convulsions. Convulsions are associated with a decrease in GABA levels and concomitant increase in glutamate levels in the brain. Gastrodia elata may attenuate these changes and prevent the development of convulsions.  Gastrodia elata may also be useful in the treatment of anxiety, depression and stress.

The anxiolytic effects of Gastrodia elata have been studied in animals. For example, in one study, researchers investigated the mood elevating effects of Gastrodia elata in mice. Mice were administered an extract of Gastrodia elata or phenolic components extracted from the herb. When the mice were exposed to experimental stress, the gastrodia extracts significantly reduced the anxious behaviour of the mice. Of the phenolic constituents administered to the mice, both 4-hydroxybenzyl alcohol (HA) and 4-hyroxybenzaldehyde (HD) significantly reduced the anxious behaviour of the mice. The authors suggests that extracts of Gastrodia elata act on both the serotonergic and GABAergic systems in the mice. The effects on the serotonin system were likely elicited by 4-hydroxybenzyl alcohol, whereas the effects on the GABA system were likely elicited by the 4-hyroxybenzaldehyde. Therefore Gastrodia elata may have multiple mechanisms of action in the central nervous system and these may be due to the presence of phenolic acids.

gastrodia elata anxiety depression

Gastrodia elata extracts may be neuroprotective. For example, in cell culture models, Gastrodia elata extracts have been shown to possess neuroprotective effects. In particular, Gastrodia elata extracts have been shown to cause neurodegeneration by inhibiting stress related proteins and switching on neuroprotective genes. Administration of Gastrodia elata extract as a water solution is able to attenuate behavioural changes in rats when they are exposed to experimental stress. For example, one study showed increases in serotonin and dopamine turnover in cerebral tissue of rats after 4 weeks of exposure. Water extracts of Gastrodia elata are also able to significantly decrease corticosterone levels in rats. Both water extracts of Gastrodia elata and isolated gastrodin are also able to inhibit monoamine oxidase and have been shown to have antidepressant effects in rats. A number of chemicals have been isolated from Gastrodia elata extracts. These include a number of phenolic acids such as 4-hydroxybenzyl alcohol, 4-hydroxybenzaldehyde, vanillin, vanillyl alcohol gastrol and gastrodin. Of these gastrodin, 4-hydroxybenzyl alcohol and 4-hydroxybenzaldehyde have been shown to contribute significantly to the central nervous system effects of Gastrodia elata extracts. One study showed that whole extracts of Gastrodia elata as well as isolated gastrodin and 4-hydroxybenzyl alcohol all have antidepressant effects in rats. The antidepressant effects seen in these extracts are related to changes in monoamine levels in certain parts of the brain. Image from: By Qwert1234 – Qwert1234’s file, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=9061124.

Animal studies have also shown that extracts of Gastrodia elata may possess antidepressant effects. For example, in one study researchers administered Gastrodia elata extracts to rats that were exposed to experimental stress. The results of the study showed that the Gastrodia elata extracts conferred significant antidepressant effects on the rats. Analysis of the rats neurochemistry showed that the Gastrodia elata extracts had significantly increase dopamine turnover in the stratum of the brains of the rats. Also of note was the observation that the antidepressant effects of Gastrodia elata was superior to that of the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) drug fluoxetine. In this case fluoxetine showed no benefits when compared to the placebo. Extracts of Gastrodia elata may therefore be a viable alternative to the use of prescription drugs for the treatment of depression. This antidepressant effect may be modulated in part through changes to the dopamine levels in certain parts of the brain.

In another animal experiment, researchers administered Gastrodia elata extract to rats and exposed them to experimental stress. A 21 day dosing of the Gastrodia elata extract to the rats had significant antidepressant effects on the rats, and these effects were similar to the selective reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) drug fluoxetine. There was also a significant increase in the concentrations of serotonin in the frontal cortex and dopamine in the stratum of the brains of the rats, suggesting that the Gastrodia elata extract had significantly modified monoamine levels. One of the phenolic components within Gastrodia elata, gastrodin, has also been investigated for its anxiolytic effects. Rats were administered gastrodin and then exposed to prolonged stress that was designed to model post-traumatic stress. The gastrodin was significantly able to attenuate the anxious behaviour of the rats following prolonged stress exposure. In addition, the gastrodin also decreased levels of a number of markers of inflammation.

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Jung, J. W., Yoon, B. H., Oh, H. R., Ahn, J. H., Kim, S. Y., Park, S. Y. and Ryu, J. H. 2006. Anxiolytic-like effects of Gastrodia elata and its phenolic constituents in mice. Biological and Pharmaceutical Bulletin. 29(2): 261-265
Hsieh, C. L., Tang, N. Y., Chiang, S. Y., Hsieh, C. T. and Lin, J. G. 1999. Anticonvulsive and free radical scavenging actions of two herbs, Uncaria rhynchophylla (MIQ) Jack and Gastrodia elata Bl., in kainic acid-treated rats. Life Sciences. 65(20): 2071-2082
Hayashi, J., Sekine, T., Deguchi, S., Lin, Q., Horie, S., Tsuchiya, S., Yano, S., Watanabe, K. and Ikegami, F. 2002. Phenolic compounds from Gastrodia rhizome and relaxant effects of related compounds on isolated smooth muscle preparation. Phytochemistry. 59(5): 513-519
Chen, P. J., Hsieh, C. L., Su, K. P., Hou, Y. C., Chiang, H. M., Lin, I. H. and Sheen, L. Y. 2008. The antidepressant effect of Gastrodia elata Bl. on the forced-swimming test in rats. The American Journal of Chinese Medicine. 36(01): 95-106
Chen, P. J., Hsieh, C. L., Su, K. P., Hou, Y. C., Chiang, H. M. and Sheen, L. Y. 2009. Rhizomes of Gastrodia elata BL possess antidepressant-like effect via monoamine modulation in subchronic animal model. The American Journal of Chinese Medicine. 37(06): 1113-1124
Peng, Z., Wang, H., Zhang, R., Chen, Y., Xue, F., Nie, H., Chen, Y., Wu, D., Wang, Y., Wang, H. Tan, Q. 2013. Gastrodin Ameliorates Anxiety-Like Behaviors and Inhibits IL-1 [Beta] Level and p38 MAPK Phosphorylation of Hippocampus in the Rat Model of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. Physiological Research. 62(5): 537-545
Manavalan, A., Ramachandran, U., Sundaramurthi, H., Mishra, M., Sze, S. K., Hu, J. M., Feng, Z. W. and Heese, K. 2012. Gastrodia elata Blume (tianma) mobilizes neuro-protective capacities. International Journal of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. 3(2): 219-241
Chen, W. C., Lai, Y. S., Lin, S. H., Lu, K. H., Lin, Y. E., Panyod, S., Ho, C. and Sheen, L. Y. 2016. Anti-depressant effects of Gastrodia elata Blume and its compounds gastrodin and 4-hydroxybenzyl alcohol, via the monoaminergic system and neuronal cytoskeletal remodeling. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 182: 190-199
Lin, Y. E., Lin, S. H., Chen, W. C., Ho, C. T., Lai, Y. S., Panyod, S. and Sheen, L. Y. 2016. Antidepressant-like effects of water extract of Gastrodia elata Blume in rats exposed to unpredictable chronic mild stress via modulation of monoamine regulatory pathways. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 187: 57-65
Zhan, H. D., Zhou, H. Y., Sui, Y. P., Du, X. L., Wang, W. H., Dai, L., Sui, F., Huo, H. and Jiang, T. L. 2016. The rhizome of Gastrodia elata Blume–An ethnopharmacological review. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 189: 361-385
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Edible Plants in the United Kingdom

Posted in Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale), Hawthorn, Nettle (Urtica dioica), Primrose vulgaris (English Primrose) | Comments Off on Edible Plants in the United Kingdom

Nardostachys jatamansi (Nard)

hard spikenard anxiety depression

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Galphimia Plants: Mood Elevating Goodness?

weight lossGalphimia is a Genus of plants that belongs to the Malpighiaceae family of flowering plants. There 26 species of plants in this group and they comprise plants that can be classified as shrubs or small trees. Evidence suggests that some of the species of plant belonging to galphimia group may have mood elevating properties. For example, Galphimia glauca is one species of galphimia plant that is used in Mexico as a traditional medicine to treat nervous excitement, and studies show that aerial parts of the plant may have sedative effects. These sedative effects may relate to the presence of a number of triterpenes called galphimines. Some evidence suggests that the sedative effects of Graphamia glauca was produced as a result of galphimine B being able to inhibit the activity of dopaminergic neurones in the ventral tegmental area. Toxicological and cytotoxic studies have been performed on extracts of Galphimia glauca, and in this regard the herbs has been shown to possess no apparent toxicological or genotoxic effects

The mood elevating effects of Galphimia glauca have been investigated in animal models. In one study, researchers administered Galphimia glauca to mice who where then exposed to experimental stress. The results of the study showed that various concentrations of extracts of Galphimia glauca were effective at significantly reducing the anxiety experienced by the mice. In animal models of mood disorders, Galphimia glauca has also been shown to increase sleeping time in mice and to reduce the stimulant effects of drugs. Animal experiments confirm that that the anxiolytic effects of extracts of Galphimia glauca may relate to the presence of galphimines in the extracts. Pharmacological studies have investigated the kinetics of galphamines and shown that they are absorbed to the blood and then subsequently cross the blood brain barrier in animals models using rodents. Therefore compounds in Galphimia glauca may act directly on the central nervous system and cause changes that may improve mood.

galphimia glauca anxiety

Galphimia glauca contains a group of triterpenes called galphimine, and of these graphamine B B has been shown to be the most bioactive form. However, Galphimia glauca may contain a number of other chemicals that could explain its mood elevating effects. In particular, studies have shown that aerial extracts of the plant contain the flavonoid quercetin and the phenolic acids gallic acid and gentisic acid. Evidence suggests that galphimine B interacts with the dopaminergic system without activating the GABAA receptor. However, other studies have shown that flavonoids including quercetin my activate the GABAA receptor. There is an intriguing possibility that extracts of Galphimia glauca may therefore have multiple mechanisms of action in the central nervous systems of mammals. In a human study, researchers administered extracts of Galphimia glauca standardised to contain 0.175 mg of galphimine B to patients suffering from the generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) for 15 weeks. The results of this study showed that the Galphimia glauca extracts were able to reduce the anxiety scores of the patients to a greater extent that compared to the benzodiazepine drug lorazepam. Further, the authors noted that the Galphimia glauca extracts showed no problems with tolerability or toxicity. Image from: CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=52007.

Human studies have also been performed to investigate the mood elevating effects of Galphimia glauca. In one such study, researchers administered Galphimia glauca extracts to individuals who were diagnosed with suffering from the generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) for 4 weeks. The results of the study showed that the aqueous extracts of Galphimia glauca displayed significant anxiolytic effects in the subjects, and the authors noted that these effects were similar to the benzodiazepine drug lorazepam. The authors also noted that the Galphimia extracts showed significantly greater tolerability compared to the lorazepam. The extract used in this human trial was a standardised extract of Galphimia glauca, containing 0.348 mg or galphimine B. Therefore extracts of the aerial parts of Galphimia glauca appear to be effective in the treatment of generalised anxiety disorder (GAD), and this may relate to a non-GABAergic mechanisms of action that may involve modification of the dopaminergic system.

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Herrera-Ruiz, M., Jiménez-Ferrer, J. E., De Lima, T. C. M., Avilés-Montes, D., Pérez-García, D., González-Cortazar, M. and Tortoriello, J. 2006. Anxiolytic and antidepressant-like activity of a standardized extract from Galphimia glauca. Phytomedicine. 13(1-2): 23-28
Tortoriello, J. and Ortega, A. 1993. Sedative effect of galphimine B, a nor-seco-triterpenoid from Galphimia glauca. Planta Medica. 59(05): 398-400
Tortoriello, J., Ortega, A., Herrera-Ruíz, M., Trujillo, J. and Reyes-Vázquez, C. 1998. Galphimine-B modifies electrical activity of ventral tegmental area neurons in rats. Planta Medica. 64(04): 309-313
Herrera-Arellano, A., Jiménez-Ferrer, E., Zamilpa, A., Morales-Valdéz, M., García-Valencia, C. E. and Tortoriello, J. 2007. Efficacy and tolerability of a standardized herbal product from Galphimia glauca on generalized anxiety disorder. A randomized, double-blind clinical trial controlled with lorazepam. Planta Medica. 73(08): 713-717
Aguilar-Santamaría, L., Ramírez, G., Herrera-Arellano, A., Zamilpa, A., Jiménez, J. E., Alonso-Cortés, D., Cortés-Gutiésrrez., Ledesman, N. and Tortoriello, J. 2007. Toxicological and cytotoxic evaluation of standardized extracts of Galphimia glauca. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 109(1): 35-40
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