Researchers have published a paper which suggests the ancient Chinese remedy of magnolia bark could help treat drug-resistant epilepsy.

Researchers have published a paper in the journal ACS Chemical Neuroscience that states they have found a potential new treatment for drug-resistant epilepsy by turning to the traditional Chinese medicine of Magnolia officinalis.

Tests of 14 extracts from plants used in ancient remedies led the team to one compound – magnolol – derived from the ancient magnolia tree, that successfully stopped drug-resistant seizures in both fish and mice.

Developing new drug-resistant epilepsy medications

Epilepsy is one of the most common neurological diseases worldwide, and the World Health Organization estimates that about 50 million people have the disorder. Medications are available, but they don’t help everyone. Research suggests that about 70% of patients with epilepsy can control it well with medication, leaving many patients without effective treatment.

However, even when the medicines do work, they can cause a range of side effects from dizziness to mood disruptions. To look for new drug leads that could help even those patients who don’t respond to conventional anti-seizure medications, Peter de Witte and colleagues set their sights on plants used in traditional Chinese medicine.

The team collected 14 plants used in traditional Chinese medicine anti-seizure remedies then tested the plants’ extracts in two types of zebrafish with epileptic-like seizures. One of these could respond to conventional anti-seizure drugs, whereas the other type could not.

The tests showed that only extracts from the bark of Magnolia officinalis, a tree native to China, reduced seizure-like behaviour in both types of fish.

In tests with mice, the researchers found that the magnolia bark’s most potent anti-seizure compound, magnolol, reduced the rodents’ otherwise drug-resistant seizures.

According to the researchers magnolol and similar compounds in magnolia bark could provide a starting point for the development of treatments for resistant epilepsy.

Source: By S. Price in