Integrating comprehensive and alternative medicine into stroke: Combination of Chinese herbs attenuated damage and accelerated self-repair following focal cerebral ischemia

Baowan Lin, Weizhao Zhao, Guillermo Fernandez, Xuming Ji, Lin Li, Raul Busto

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Background: Bedside herbal therapy has been using in stroke patients in China for generations. The present study used a specific combination of 9 herbs including Huang Qin (Secutellaria baicalensis) in animal experiment to investigate if and how it works. The therapeutic strategies are encouraging blood circulation and self-healing, inhibiting inflammation and scavenging free oxygen radicals. Methods: Cerebral infarction was produced in overnight-fasted Male Sprague-Dawley rats (280-315g) by 2-h intraluminal occlusion in middle cerebral artery (MCA) with a suture. Head temperature was maintained at 36-36.5oC and body temperature at 37-37.5°C. All rats received behavioral test. Rats with full neurological deficit scores ranging10 -12 at 2h after MCAo participated in the study. Rats survived for 3 or 28 days before histopathological analysis. Treated rats had the herb cocktail-style (HC) soup, which was initiated at 2 hrs after reperfusion and daily administrated by gavage. Nontreated rats received drink water (DW). Results: 1. Infarct sizes were 194 ± 70 (DW, n=10) vs. 91 ± 69 mm3 (HC, n=9) on day 3; 101 ± 51 (DW, n=9) vs. 38 ± 22 mm3 (HC, n=11) on day 28. Infarct volumes decreased by 53 ? 62 % in HC groups (mean ± S.D.; ANOVA, p?0.01). Protection was in penumbra in cortex. On day 28, 8 of 9 DW rats showed cavitation; 3 of 11 HC rats had cavities. Prominent and huge cavities were in the infarcts in DW rats while small ones in HC rats. 2. Inflammation in infarcts was attenuated in HC group. Numbers of neutrophils were 548 ± 252 (HC) vs.1343 ± 431 (DW) (p=0.008); macrophages were 4485 ± 1487 (HC) vs. 7374±1824 (DW) (p<0.05) in bregma level ∼ -0.3 mm on day 3. 3. Normal endothelia (NE) in infarcted hemisphere decreased in DW group on day 3. However, amounts of NE in parietal and cingulate cortex were normal in HC rats. The occupied field-areas by NE profiles were 2.1 ± 1 % (HC) vs. 1 ± 1 % (DW) (p=.01) in parietal II region and 1.6 ± .03 % (HC) vs. 1.1 ± .05 % in cingulate cortex (DW) (p=.01). On day 28, NE were 0.8 ± 0.4 % (HC) vs. 0.3 ± 0.2 % (DW) in the infarct in striata (p=0.001). NE increased in striata in HC group, but not DW rats. Normal blood vessels were existed in the infarct core in HC rats while absent in DW rats. 4. Neurogenesis: on day 28, the numbers of newborn neurons detected by anti-βIII tubulin in peri-infarct zone and inside infarct were 143 ± 98 (HC) vs. 56 ± 48 (DW) (p=0.02) [sum of the neurons in 3 standard levels (bregma levels ∼ 2.7, -0.3 and -3.8 mm)]. 5. Neuronal deficit recovered earlier and faster in HC rats; significant recovery began at day 1 and no paralysis on day 28 while DW rats recovered later and with some deficits on day 28 (p<0.05). Conclusion: The 3-28 days of 9-herbal therapy protected brain from focal ischemia and encouraged post-ischemic neuronal function recovery and brain self-repair.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)BO09-04
JournalJournal of Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism
Issue numberSUPPL. 1
StatePublished - Nov 13 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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