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Cardiovasc Res. 1993 Nov; 27(11): 1891-901.

Recent cardiovascular drugs from Chinese medicinal plants.

Sutter MC, Wang YX.

Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada.

This paper describes the pharmacology of some recent cardiovascular drugs derived from plants used in Chinese traditional medicine. The groups of compounds discussed are benzylisoquinolines (several), tetrahydropyrazine (also called ligustrazine), rhynchophylline and hirsutine, ginkgolides and other PAF inhibitors, coumarins, and ginsenosides, plus a miscellaneous group; approximately 30 substances in all. The plant sources and the pharmacology are indicated for the drugs in each group. By far the most studied compounds are the benzylisoquinolines, especially tetrandrine. The types of pharmacological activity recently described for cardiovascular drugs from plants include calcium antagonism, adrenoceptor antagonism, antagonism of platelet activating factor (PAF), and the ability to act as antioxidants. Hundreds of chemicals have been isolated and identified as constituents of thousands of plants but the basic and clinical pharmacology is known for only a handful of these drugs. Much more research is needed, especially with regard to the pharmacology, both basic and clinical, of the pure chemicals derived from plants.

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