“Novel” method identifies effective ingredients for traditional Chinese medicine
22 Feb 2022 --- A team of researchers in China have developed a method to pinpoint active ingredients from traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) formulations.
TCM formulas require multiple herbs for their formulations, which act synergistically. The method was used on Xiaoer-Feire-Kechuan (XFX), a specific TCM with an 11-ingredient formula used to treat cough and lung inflammation in children.
The results allowed scientists to understand which constituents cause XFK to exert its anti-inflammatory action. Specifically, four analytes, baicalin and forsythosides H, I and A, were found to have significant anti-inflammatory activity, which inhibited cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) by more than 80%.
“This novel analytical method is a big step forward. Understanding which ingredient is the most effective can help improve quality control standards. This could result in better remedies, ‘actively’ contributing to this ancient school of medicine,” the study highlights.
“Our method can be used to discover effective ingredients and analytes in other complex herbal remedies as well,” says lead researcher Dr. Xue Qiao at Peking University.
Researchers used ultra-performance liquid chromatography and ultra-high performance liquid chromatography/Q-Orbitrap-MS to quantify 35 analytes in different XFK formulations.
“We applied the parallel reaction monitoring scan mode built-in quadrupole (Q)-Orbitrap-MS, which has the combined benefit of mass isolation capability with high resolution, so it lessens the chances of false readings while assessing analytes in a sample,” adds Qiao.
“Then we leveraged our knowledge of COX-2, which we know plays a role in inflammation. These 35 analytes were put through an in vitro COX-2 inhibition assay to see which ones were potent anti-inflammatory agents.”
Decoding traditional therapies like TCM is an uphill task because it is difficult to identify which of their multiple ingredients is the most important one, researchers say.
“It took a while to figure out that caffeine was the active ingredient in coffee, so you can imagine how difficult it is to analyze every herbal remedy,” Qiao adds.
Bringing ancient remedies forward
According to the study, TCMs have attracted increasing attention due to their “curative effects on complex and chronic diseases.”
TCM garnered attention during the COVID-19 pandemic, which led US-based Farlong Pharmaceutical to open up the sales for three TCM formulas to consumers.
The company also revealed an intelligent TCM granule dispensing system and drop-ship service for licensed practitioners. The aim behind the product is to ensure ingredient safety with a built-in error checking and visual-audio verification system.
Edited by Andria Kades
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