Paolo Bellavite, Clara Bonafini, Marta Marzotto

Experimental neuropharmacology of Gelsemium sempervirens: Recent advances and debated issues

J Ayurveda Integrative Med, 2018, 9 (1), 69-74

Gelsemium sempervirens L. (Gelsemium) is traditionally used for its anxiolytic-like properties and its action mechanism in laboratory models are under scrutiny. Evidence from rodent models was reported suggesting the existence of a high sensitivity of central nervous system to anxiolytic power of Gelsemium extracts and Homeopathic dilutions. In vitro investigation of extremely low doses of this plant extract showed a modulation of gene expression of human neurocytes. These studies were criticized in a few commentaries, generated a debate in literature and were followed by further experimental studies from various laboratories. Toxic doses of Gelsemium cause neurological signs characterized by marked weakness and convulsions, while ultra-low doses or high Homeopathic dilutions counteract seizures induced by lithium and pilocarpine, decrease anxiety after stress and increases the anti-stress allopregnanolone hormone, through glycine receptors. Low (non-Homeopathic) doses of this plant or its alkaloids decrease neuropathic pain and c-Fos expression in mice brain and oxidative stress. Due to the complexity of the matter, several aspects deserve interpretation and the main controversial topics, with a focus on the issues of high dilution pharmacology, are discussed and clarified.

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