University of Irvine Study Reveals the Molecular Mechanisms of Botanical Folk Medicines Used to Treat Hypertension

Folk medicines traditionally used to lower blood pressure based on lavender, fennel, and chamomile among herbs discovered to act upon a shared therapeutic target in blood vessels. In a UC Irvine study, the team explain the molecular mechanisms that make them work.
Background
Documented use of botanical folk medicines stretches back as far as recorded human history. There is DNA evidence, dating back 48,000 years, that suggests the consumption of plants for medicinal use by Homo neanderthalensis. Archaeological evidence, dating back 800,000 years, even suggests non-food usage of plants by Homo erectus or similar species. Today, evidence of the efficacy of botanical folk medicines ranges from anecdotal to clinical trials, however the underlying molecular mechanisms often remain elusive.
The Study
Published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), the study illustrates how many of the known traditional botanical plants used to lower blood pressure activate a specific potassium channel (KCNQ5) in blood vessels.  KCNQ5, combined with other potassium channels including KCNQ1 and KCNQ4, is expressed in vascular smooth muscle. When activated, KCNQ5 relaxes blood ...

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