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Bacopa and management of morphine tolerance.

Rauf K, Subhan F, Abbas M, Badshah A, Ullah I, Ullah S. 2011. Effect of bacopasides on acquisition and expression of morphine tolerance. Phytomed 18;836-42.

Chronic malignant and non malignant pain causes an economic impact of around 100 billion dollars annually and poses a major challenge to the medical community. Opioids are generally the drug of choice for management of these conditions and yet they have a large side effect profile, produce tolerance in patients (requiring even greater amounts) and may lead to addiction and abuse.

In lieu of the likelihood of alternative panaceas being developed, the medical community requires ways to deal with the burden of opioid tolerance, addition and non medical use.

Bacopa monierri (bacopa) is a herb found in marshy ecosystems across Europe and Asia. It is traditionally used for its nootropic effects and as a gentle nervine tonic and sedative. Other reported actions include antioxidant, anxiolytic, antidepressant, analgesic, anti-inflammatory, anti-ulcer and hepatoprotective.

This study investigated whether or not tolerance develops to the nociceptive effects of bacopa and investigated the herb's effects on acquisition and expression of morphine intolerance in mice.

Balb-C mice were divided into a number of groups for the experiements. To determine antinociceptive activity, the mice were given morphine sulphate, extract of bacopa or saline via intraperitoneal injection (IP). They were then tested for latency on a hot plate.

Following experiments assessed the production of morphine tolerance, the effects of bacopa on the induction and expression of morphine tolerance and the antinociceptive effects of bacopa alone and with morphine after a single dose.

Results indicated that administration of bacopa exhibited a significant antinociceptive response at all three trialled doses (5, 10 and 15 mg/kg) compared with morphine alone. It significantly attenuated expression of morphine tolerance and mice showed no tolerance to bacopa with regard to its antinociceptive effects (meaning that it was just as effective on day six as on day one). Researchers believe that some of the effects may be related to its calcium channel blocking abilities.

These results indicate that Bacopa monnieri has an antinociceptive effect comparable to morphine in acute pain models, and also enhances morphine induced analgesia. This may have important clinical applications for those medical practices which regularly prescribe opioid drugs to manage chronic pain. As bacopa also reduces tolerance to morphine, there may be potential to use it as a substitute or adjuvant therapy in some cases.

Tessa Finney-Brown MNHAA

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Author:Finney-Brown, Tessa
Publication:Australian Journal of Medical Herbalism
Article Type:Report
Date:Dec 22, 2011
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