In patients with epilepsy, normal neurological activity becomes disrupted, causing debilitating seizures. Now, researchers report in ACS Chemical Neuroscience that they have found a potential new treatment for this disorder by turning to traditional Chinese medicine. Tests of extracts from plants used in these ancient remedies led the team to one compound, derived from a magnolia tree, that could quell drug-resistant seizures in both fish and mice.
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. They then tested the plants’ extracts in two types of zebrafish with epileptic-like seizures, one of which could respond to conventional anti-seizure medications, whereas the other type could not. Only extracts from the bark of Magnolia officinalis, a tree native to China, reduced seizure-like behavior in both types of fish.