Medicinal plant extract may doubtlessly assist comprise the opioid epidemic

The extract of the plant Corydalis yanhusuo prevents morphine tolerance and addiction while reversing opiate addiction, according to a recent study by the University of California, Irvine. The results were published in the October issue of Pharmaceuticals journal.

Over the past two decades, the United States and other countries have seen a dramatic increase in mortality from opioid overdoses. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the opioid epidemic only got worse. The documented effect of YHS, the extract of the Corydalis yanhusuo plant, could have an immediate positive impact on containing the opioid epidemic.

“It is critical that we reduce opiate use and abuse,” said Olivier Civelli, Ph.D., Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences at the UCI School of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences and Corresponding Author. “To achieve this goal, we propose the use of this medicinal plant. When used in animals, the corydalis extract prevents pain and the negative effects of opiate consumption. The next step would be to test it on humans.”

The opioid epidemic was triggered by an overprescription of opioid analgesics. The treatment of chronic pain requires repeated doses of opioids. This ultimately leads to tolerance, physical dependence, and addiction.

One possible solution is co-medication that maintains the analgesic benefits of opioids while preventing their side effects. Research shows that YHS, when given with morphine, inhibits morphine tolerance, dependence, and addiction. If YHS is used at the beginning of or during pain therapy with morphine, there is a lower need for morphine and therefore a lower risk of addiction.

“Opiate tolerance is paramount to opiate users,” said Civelli. “You have to keep increasing your opiate needs to get the same analgesic effect. This leads to an opiate overdose. YHS prevents opiate tolerance so there is less need to increase opiate use.”

YHS has been used as an analgesic in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries. It is considered safe and can be easily bought either online or as a “botanical” one in certain grocery stores.


University of California, Irvine

Journal reference:

Alhassen, L., et al. (2021) The extract of Corydalis yanhusuo prevents morphine tolerance and addiction. Drug.

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