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J Pharmacol Sci. 2007 Feb;103(2):127-31. Epub 2007 Feb 8.

Pharmacological basis of traditional medicines and health supplements as curatives.

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Department of Presymptomatic Medical Pharmacology, Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Sojo University, Kumamoto-860-0082, Japan.


Traditional Oriental medicines and health supplements have been empirically used to treat various ailments but most of them have not been evaluated objectively to prove their efficacies. We have been investigating the medical benefits of traditional Oriental medicines and health supplements as alternatives and their varied actions and mechanisms by pharmacological approaches. The study on airway inflammation has shown that even a Kampo preparation, Bakumondo-to, has anti-inflammatory, anti-allergic, immunomodulatory, secretory-modulating, and metabolic regulatory actions. All of its actions are based on the restoration of normal molecular and cellular functions through DNA transcriptional regulation. In other previous studies, we showed that a health supplement, royal jelly (RJ) has weak estrogenic activity. RJ competes with 17beta-estradiol for binding to the human estrogen receptors alpha and beta, although it is much weaker than diethylstilbestrol in binding affinity. Treatment of MCF-7 cells with RJ enhances proliferation, and concomitant treatment with tamoxifen blocked this effect. A reporter gene assay showed that RJ enhanced transcription of the luciferase gene through the estrogen-responsive element in MCF-7 cells. Furthermore, subcutaneous injection of RJ restored the expression of vascular endothelial growth factor gene in the uteri of ovariectomized rats. We suggest that the diverse pharmacological functions of RJ can be ascribed, in part, to its estrogenic effects. We hypothesize that traditional medicine, which has multiple actions, may be better than Western medicine of a single component to treat various diseases including "Mibyou" (presymptomatic disease). Our findings provide new ideas about the nature of disorders nd disease-state development that involve complicated mechanisms and will contribute to novel principles to prevent diseases and establish new treatments. Adoption of the means of translational research should provide an objective background for efficacy and stimulate broader application and usage of traditional medicines and health supplements.

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