Gastrodia elata is a plant used in traditional Chinese medicine for the treatments of convulsions and epilepsy. The active constituents of the root of the plant may be p-hydroxybenzyl alcohol and vanillin (4-hydroxy-3-methoxybenzaldehyde). It is known that Gastrodia elata root extracts are effective at modulating the central nervous system of animals. One mechanisms that has been proposed for this is a antioxidant effect. For example, one group of researchers investigated the antioxidant effect of Gastrodia elata root extracts on rats. The results of the study showed that the Gastrodia elata root extracts were significantly able to increase the antioxidant protection seen in parts of the brains of the rats, including the ipsilateral cortex. The reduction in lipid peroxidation in this area was associated with increases in the antioxidant enzyme superoxide dismutase. Therefore the antiepileptic mechanism of action of Gastrodia elata may relate to the antioxidant effects of extracts of the root that occurs in brain tissue.
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