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Life Sci. 1999;65(20):2071-82.

Anticonvulsive and free radical scavenging actions of two herbs, Uncaria rhynchophylla (MIQ) Jack and Gastrodia elata Bl., in kainic acid-treated rats.

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School of Chinese Medicine and Institute of Chinese Medical Science, China Medical College, Taichung, Taiwan, ROC.


Uncaria rhynchophylla (Miq.) Jack (UR) and Gastrodia elata BI. (GE) are traditional Chinese herbs that are usually used in combination to treat convulsive disorders, such as epilepsy, in China. The aim of this study was to compare the anticonvulsive and free radical scavenging activities of UR alone and UR in combination with GE in rats. For the in vitro studies, brain tissues from 6 male Sprague-Dawley (SD) rats were treated with 120 microg/ml kainic acid (KA), with or without varied concentrations of UR or UR plus GE. For the in vivo studies, male SD rats (6 per group) received intraperitoneal (i.p.) injection of KA 12 mg/kg to induce epileptic seizures and generation of free radicals, with or without oral administration of UR 1 g/kg alone or UR 1 g/kg plus GE 1 g/kg. Epileptic seizures were verified by behavioral observations, and electroencephalography (EEG) and electromyography (EMG) recordings. These results showed that UR alone decreased KA-induced lipid peroxide levels in vitro, whereas UR plus GE did not produce a greater effect than UR alone. UR significantly reduced counts of wet dog shakes (WDS), paw tremor (PT) and facial myoclonia (FM) in KA-treated rats and significantly delayed the onset time of WDS, from 27 min in the control group to 40 min in the UR group. UR plus GE did not inhibit seizures more effectively than UR alone, but did further prolong the onset time of WDS to 63 min (P < 0.05 vs. UR alone). UR alone reduced the levels of free radicals in vivo, as measured by lipid peroxidation in the brain and luminol-chemiluminescence (CL) counts and lucigenin-CL counts in the peripheral whole blood, but the combination of GE and UR did not reduce free radical levels more markedly than UR alone. In conclusion, our results indicate that UR has anticonvulsive and free radical scavenging activities, and UR combined with GE exhibit greater inhibition on the onset time of WDS than UR alone. These findings suggest that the anticonvulsive effects of UR and GE may be synergistic. However, the mechanism of interaction between UR and GE remains unknown.

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