Chinese sage may provide alcoholism cure
The active ingredient in Chinese medicinal sage could help alcoholics beat their addiction, Italian researchers said.
The National Research Council’s institute in Cagliari says the herb, Salvia Miltiorrhiza, has been used for centuries in China to treat blood diseases, heart disorders and insomnia, ANSA said Thursday.
Researcher Giancarlo Colombo said Chinese sage reduced alcohol consumption in mice and eliminated a “customary spike in drinking seen when mice go back on the bottle after being on the wagon for a while,” ANSA said.
Scientists said the herb may help turn alcoholics into moderate drinkers.
“It’s been working brilliantly in mice and we’re about to start on our human guinea pigs, once we’re sure it’s entirely safe,” Colombo said.
Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2006 May;30(5):754-62.
Identification of miltirone as active ingredient of Salvia miltiorrhiza responsible for the reducing effect of root extracts on alcohol intake in rats.
Colombo G, Serra S, Vacca G, Orrù A, Maccioni P, Morazzoni P, Bombardelli E, Riva A, Gessa GL, Carai MA.
C.N.R. Institute of Neuroscience, Cagliari, Italy. firstname.lastname@example.org
BACKGROUND: Previous work found that extracts from the roots of Salvia miltiorrhiza, a Chinese medicinal herb, reduced alcohol intake in selectively bred Sardinian alcohol-preferring (sP) rats. The present study was designed to evaluate whether miltirone, one of the possible active constituents of S. miltiorrhiza, might be responsible for the reducing effect of the extracts on alcohol intake. METHODS: An initial experiment assessed the effect of 100 mg/kg (intragastric, i.g.) of 4 extracts of S. miltiorrhiza, differing in miltirone content (0, 2, 3, and 7%, respectively), on alcohol intake in alcohol-experienced sP rats exposed to the 2-bottle “alcohol (10%, volume in volume) versus water” choice regimen. Subsequently, the effect of pure miltirone (2.5-10 mg/kg, i.g., i.e., a dose range comparable to its content in the effective doses of the active extracts) on acquisition and maintenance of alcohol-drinking behavior was evaluated in alcohol-naive and alcohol-experienced sP rats exposed to the 2-bottle choice regimen. The effect of miltirone (10 mg/kg, i.g.) on blood alcohol levels was assessed after the i.g. and intraperitoneal (i.p.) administration of alcohol. Finally, the effect of miltirone (30-100 mg/kg, i.g.) on the severity of alcohol withdrawal syndrome was evaluated in Wistar rats made physically dependent on alcohol by the repeated administration of intoxicating doses of alcohol. RESULTS: The reducing effect of 4 different extracts of S. miltiorrhiza on alcohol intake was positively and significantly correlated with their miltirone content. Pure miltirone reduced alcohol intake in alcohol-experienced rats and delayed acquisition of alcohol-drinking behavior in alcohol-naive rats. Similar to S. miltiorrhiza extracts, miltirone markedly reduced blood alcohol levels when alcohol was administered i.g. but not i.p., suggesting that miltirone hampered alcohol absorption from the gastrointestinal system. Finally, miltirone failed to affect the severity of alcohol withdrawal syndrome in alcohol-dependent rats. CONCLUSIONS: The results of the present study suggest that miltirone is the likely active constituent of S. miltiorrhiza responsible for the reducing effect of its extracts on alcohol intake in different experimental models of excessive alcohol consumption.
PMID: 16634843 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]