Apocynum venetum herb health benefit, information and research studies by Ray Sahelian, M.D.
April 20 2014

Apocynum venetum is a traditional and popular Chinese herb with a long history of use as a medicine and tea. It that was originally used for treating hypertension. Apocynum has been studied in animals and is being tested in human trials. Most of the studies show apocynum to have blood pressure lowering potential and also, like many herbs, has antioxidant activity. Recently, rodent studies indicate that apocynum has antidepressant potential and can reduce anxiety.

High blood pressure benefit
Apocynum venetum leaf extract, also called Luobuma, obtained from a traditional Chinese medicinal herb has a compound with relaxes blood vessels and may have anti hypertensive effects by increasing nitric oxide. Luobuma leaf extract and its components reduce the formation of advanced glycation endproducts, which are largely involved in the pathogenesis of diabetic vascular complications. Luobuma tea, prepared from the leaves of Apocynum venetum, is a popular beverage in China.

Apocynum for anxiety
Anti-anxiety effects of Apocynum venetum in the elevated plus maze test.
J Ethnopharmacol. 2007.
Male C75BL/6 mice were either treated orally with the Apocynum venetum extract or the positive controls diazepam and buspirone, respectively. Our results indicate that Apocynum venetum extract is an effective anxiety reducing agent, and suggest that the anxiolytic-like activities of this plant are mainly mediated via the GABAergic system.

Blood Pressure
Effects of aqueous extracts of Apocynum venetum leaves on spontaneously hypertensive, renal hypertensive and NaCl-fed-hypertensive rats.
J Ethnopharmacol. 2000.
Institute of Natural Medicine, Toyama Medical and Pharmaceutical University, Sugitani, Toyama  Japan.
Effects of aqueous extracts of Apocynum venetum leaves (Luobuma extracts) on the blood pressure were evaluated in hypertensive animal models, such as spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHR), renal hypertensive rats and NaCl-induced hypertensive rats. In SHR, administration of Luobuma (heat-processed and unprocessed leaves) extracts at a dose of 70 mg/rat per day significantly decreased the systolic blood pressure value, but their decreasing effects were weaker than that of captopril. The urine volume, and the urinary sodium, K(+) and protein excretions were not significantly different between Luobuma-treated and untreated groups. In 3/4 nephrectomized rats, the Luobuma extracts significantly decreased the systolic blood pressure value, accompanied by significant increases of the urine volume and the urinary Na(+) and potassium excretions. Furthermore, they decreased the blood urea nitrogen (BUN) level. In NaCl-induced hypertensive rats, the Luobuma extract decreased the systolic blood pressure value. However, it did not change the urinary excretions of Na(+), K(+) and protein. The BUN level was lower than that of control rats, but the serum total cholesterol level did not changed. From these findings, the Luobuma extracts have an anti-hypertensive effect, possibly due to amelioration of the kidney functions in the three experimental animal models.

Depression
Antidepressant effects of apocynum venetum leaves in a forced swimming test.
Biol Pharm Bull. 2001. Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology, WWU-Muenster, Germany.
An extract of the leaves of Apocynum venetum markedly shortened the immobility time of male rats in a forced swimming test (FST) in a dose range of 30-125 mg/kg, indicating a possible antidepressant activity. This effect was comparable to that of the tricyclic antidepressant imipramine. Neither imipramine nor the Apocynum extract in various doses (30, 60, 125 mg/kg) produced any overt behavioural change or motor dysfunction in the open field test. This result confirms the assumption that the antidepressant effect of an Apocynum extract in the FST is specific. Further, it can be speculated that this effect might be related to hyperoside and isoquercitrin which are major flavonoids in the extract.

Longevity
Observations on the anti-aging, antihypertensive and antihyperlipemic effect of Apocynum venetum leaf extract
Zhong Xi Yi Jie He Za Zhi. 1989.
The effect of Apocynum venetum leaf extract on hypertension, hyperlipemia, SOD content of erythrocyte, platelet aggregation rate, pulse wave transmission time (RP interval) and human diploid cell was studied to evaluate if it has some anti-aging effects. Our results show Apocynum venetum leaf extract might have some anti-aging effects.

Chemical composition
Apocynum leaf and flower has numerous compounds including ionone glucosides, named apocynosides I and II. Several compounds have been isolated including kaempferol, kaempferol-3-O-beta-D-glucoside, vanillic acid, baimaside, daucosterol.

Interactions
Q. Is it okay to take apocynum along with 5-htp and saw palmetto?
   A. I don't have personal experience with this herb to give such advice.

Toxicity
Q. I saw on your website the beneficial effects of apocynum venetum. On another site I read that it is poisonous. What should I do? I have high blood pressure. Should I stop using this remedy?
   A. I have not seen any studies rodents that indicate apocynum venetum to have toxicity. However, I have not come across human trials with this herb to determine whether it is toxic or safe. Luobuma tea is popular in China and Japan. This herb has antioxidant properties. Perhaps your doctor can monitor your blood and liver enzymes on a regular basis to determine if any harm is being done.