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Blue Corydalis Plant Flower

California Researchers Hope a Plant Holds Key to Curbing Opioid Crisis

A new study performed by the University of California has shown that a plant extract commonly used in traditional Chinese medicine therapies may help reduce the addictive nature of morphine and other opioids.

The plant extract in question is Corydalis yanhusuo, which comes from a plant known as yan hu suo in Chinese. In English, the plant is more commonly known as Asian corydalis. The plant’s tuber has been regarded as having important therapeutic qualities in Chinese medicine for centuries.

Could This be a Breakthrough in Helping People with Opioid Dependence Issues?

The study at the University of California was conducted by a team that included Olivier Civelli, a pharmaceutical sciences professor at the UCI School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences who holds a doctorate in biochemistry. During the study it was found that the addictive properties of morphine in mice was reduced when they were exposed to the extract.

Civelli hopes that this potential breakthrough could serve as a “proof of concept” that may encourage others to examine the extract’s effect on humans with morphine dependency and dependency on other opioids. If the effect on morphine-addicted mice is shown to be reflected in humans, then it seems likely that the success of Corydalis yanhusuo could be repeated for those struggling with their dependency on other, stronger opioids.

Civelli himself is not qualified enough to prescribe or conduct treatments on humans, which is why he hopes someone else will be inspired enough by the study’s findings in order to take the research further. Corydalis yanhusuo itself is freely available as a medicinal plant extract all over the world and is used as a sedative for pain relief. The alkaloid it contains – DL-tetrahydropalmatine – has been shown to block pain receptors in the brain.

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