This traditional Indian plant relieves pain without the side effects

Pain relievers are among the most common and in-demand chemical medications. They are, however, known to have serious side effects. In a study published in BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, researchers discuss a plant traditionally used in Bangladesh which they confirmed to have anti-nociceptive properties with no adverse effects.

Pain is a common condition, one that humans have found many ways to treat or relieve over the years. Today, most people turn to chemical pain relievers, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), for conditions ranging from sore joints and muscles to severe pains caused by injury or surgery. In fact, NSAIDs are among the most commonly prescribed chemical medications on the planet.

But like other synthetic drugs, chemical pain relievers are not without side effects. NSAIDs, for example, are notorious for causing a variety of adverse effects ranging from stomach ulcers and heartburn to high blood pressure. They can also trigger allergies, and frequent use can cause liver and kidney problems.

Numerous published studies indicate an abundance of pain relievers occurring in nature, usually without any of the side effects common in their synthetic counterparts. Dalbergia sissoo, also known as Indian rosewood, is especially notable for its many uses, especially in treating pain caused by different health conditions.

In Bangladesh, where it is known as sisu, shishu, sheesham, or tahli, among others, D. sissoo is used as a blood purifier, as well as a treatment for headaches, leprosy, infections, hernia, and inflammation. It is also used as a stimulant and astringent and has been reported to have benefits against colorectal cancer.

The authors of the study wanted to know if D. sissoo’s methanol extract (MEDS) has antinociceptive properties. Antinociception refers to the ability of a substance to postpone nociception – the sensory nervous system’s response to painful stimuli. In simpler terms, an antinociceptive substance “relieves” pain by preventing the body’s ability to interpret a certain sensation as being painful.

Mice were put under several chemical and heat-induced pain models, including hot plate, tail immersion, acetic acid-induced writhing, formalin, glutamate, and cinnamaldehyde test models to determine the ability of various doses of MEDS to attenuate nociceptive response.

To confirm the possible involvement of opioid receptors, they used naloxone, a drug used to counteract the action of opioid medications, to antagonize the effect of MEDS. The researchers also examined MEDS for its phytochemical content and possible toxicity.

The experiment showed that the extract had dose-dependent antinociceptive activity in all of the chemical and heat-induced mice models, and showed indications of the involvement of both peripheral and central antinociceptive mechanisms. By using naloxone, they were also able to confirm the association of opioid receptors in the central antinociceptive effect.

Phytochemical screening of D.sissoo crude extract revealed the presence of flavonoids, tannins, cardiac glycosides, carbohydrates, proteins, and terpenoids. The researchers did not observe any symptom indicating abnormality or toxicity at the doses 50 to 3,000 milligram per kilogram (mg/kg). Their seven-day observation did not reveal any side effect, leading them to conclude that MEDS had a very low toxicity profile.

The researchers concluded that D. sissoo extract possesses considerable antinociceptive properties as shown in their chemical and heat-induced pain models in mice. They believe that the effects of MEDS cover both central and peripheral mechanisms, which explains the plant’s very potent effect. This would also explain the plant’s effectiveness as a traditional treatment for pain-inducing conditions.

The researchers recommend further investigation into MEDS’ mechanisms of action to identify the active constituents that make these benefits possible.

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