Coptis Chinensis herb review by Ray Sahelian, M.D.
May 1 2015

Coptis chinensis rhizome -- Golden Thread -- Huang Lian -- Rhizome Coptidis. For a list of herbs used in Chinese Medicine.

The intense yellow color of coptis chinensis root is most likely due to the high content of berberine, which is bitter in taste. Berberine is also found in goldenseal and barberry plant. Coptis chinensis also has atrorrhizine, palmatine, epiberberine, coptisine, and jatrorrhizine.

Kudzu root, Kudzu flower, Hovenia fruit, Coptis root, Poria Cocos sclerotium, Grifola sclerotium, Atractylodes root, Codonopsis root, Saussurea root, Shen Qu-Massa Fermentata extract, Green Citrus peel, Cardamom fruit and Ginger root.

Traditional uses
Historically coptis chinensis has been used for diarrhea, vomiting, and stomach flu.

Toxicol Lett. 2012. Columbamine suppresses the proliferation and neovascularization of metastatic osteosarcoma U2OS cells with low cytotoxicity. Cyrus Tang Hematology Center, Jiangsu Institute of Hematology, The First Affiliated Hospital of Soochow University, Key Laboratory of Thrombosis and Hemostasis, Ministry of Health, Soochow University, Suzhou, Jiangsu, China. Osteosarcoma is one of the most common malignant bone tumors in children and adolescents. Although extensive efforts have been made in anti-osteosarcoma therapy in recent decades, there are no effective low-toxicity drugs for treating patients with metastatic osteosarcoma. Hence, potent anti-metastatic osteosarcoma drugs are highly desired. In this study, we explored novel small molecular anti-metastatic osteosarcoma agents and found that columbamine (COL), an active component of the herb Coptis chinensis, inhibited the proliferation and neovascularization of metastatic osteosarcoma U2OS cells.

J Ethnopharmacol. 2014. Coptis chinensis Franch. exhibits neuroprotective properties against oxidative stress in human neuroblastoma cells.

Experimental study on anti-pyretic effect of gegen qin lian decoction and its compounds
Zhongguo Zhong Yao Za Zhi. 2004.
To investigate composition principles of Gegen Qin Lian decoction through anti-pyretic experiment. Pharmacological effects of different compounds of Gegen Qin Lian decoction according to six hours temperature response index and average top temperature response height after the decoction was given to feverish animal model by inactived bacteria suspension. As for reducing six hour temperature response index, Scutellaria baicalensis root was the main effective drug. Pueraria lobata root could enforce the effect while Coptis chinensis rhizome and Glycyrrhiza uralensis root counteracted it. As for reducing average top temperature response height, the Effects of four herbal drugs were the same as for TRI6. Of the compounds of Gegen Qin Lian decoction, as to the pharmcological anti-pyretic effects, the best one is the compound of Scutellaria baicalensis and Pueraria lobata roots.

Hepatobiliary excretion of berberine.
Drug Metab Dispos. 2004.
Berberine is a bioactive herbal ingredient isolated from the roots and bark of Berberis aristata or Coptis chinensis. To investigate the detailed pharmacokinetics of berberine and its mechanisms of hepatobiliary excretion, an in vivo microdialysis coupled with high-performance liquid chromatography was performed. In the control group, rats received berberine alone; in the drug-treated group, 10 min before berberine administration, the rats were injected with cyclosporin A, a P-glycoprotein (P-gp) inhibitor; quinidine, both organic cation transport (OCT) and P-gp inhibitors; SKF-525A (proadifen), a cytochrome P450 inhibitor; and probenecid to inhibit the glucuronidation. The results indicate that berberine displays a linear pharmacokinetic phenomenon in the dosage range. Moreover, berberine was processed through hepatobiliary excretion. Berberine was metabolized in the liver with phase I demethylation and phase II glucuronidation, as identified by liquid chromatography/tandem mass spectrometry. Also, the phase I metabolism of berberine was partially reduced by SKF-525A treatment, but the phase II glucuronidation of berberine was not obviously affected by probenecid under the present study design.

Cytotoxic effects of Coptis chinensis and Epimedium sagittatum extracts and their major constituents (berberine, coptisine and icariin) on hepatoma and leukemia cell growth.
Clin Exp Pharmacol Physiol. 2004.
The present study was conducted to evaluate the cytotoxic effects of Coptis chinensis and Epimedium sagittatum extracts and their major constituents on hepatoma and leukemia cells in vitro. Four human liver cancer cell lines, namely HepG2, Hep3B, SK-Hep1 and PLC/PRF/5, and four leukaemia cell lines, namely K562, U937, P3H1 and Raji, were used in the present study. Of the two crude drugs, C. chinensis exhibited the strongest activity against SK-Hep1 and Raji cell lines. The IC50 values for Coptis chinensis on HepG2, Hep3B and PLC/PRF/5 cell lines were 20, 55 and 35 microg/mL, respectively. The IC50 values for Coptis chinensis on K562, U937 and P3H1 cell lines were 29, 29 and 31 microg/mL, respectively. 4. With the exception of HepG2 and Hep3B, the E. sagittatum extract inhibited the proliferation of all cell lines (SK-Hep1, PLC/PRF/5, K562, U937, P3H1 and Raji). 5. Interestingly, the two major compounds of Coptis chinensis, berberine and coptisine, showed a strong inhibition on the proliferation of both hepatoma and leukemia cell lines. However, icariin (the major compound of E. sagittatum) showed no inhibition of either the hepatoma or leukemia cell lines. 6. The results of the present study suggest that the Coptis chinensis extract and its major constituents berberine and coptisine possess active antihepatoma and anti leukemia activities.

Monoamine oxidase inhibitors from rhizoma of Coptis chinensis.
Planta Med. 2001.
Three protoberberine alkaloids jatrorrhizine, berberine and palmatine were isolated from the monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitory fraction of the methanol extract of Coptis chinensis rhizoma. Jatrorrhizine was shown to inhibit non-competitively both MAO-A and -B from rat brain mitochondria. Berberine only competitively inhibited MAO-A with an IC50 values of 126 microM whereas palmatine exhibited, up to 200 microM, no inhibition on any type of the enzyme. The structure-activity relationship was briefly discussed.

The effect of Coptis chinensis on lipid peroxidation and antioxidases activity in rats
Zhongguo Zhong Xi Yi Jie He Za Zhi. 1992.
In order to make a systematic study of the effect of Coptis chinensis on free radicals, the authors used the method that the drug and the brain homogenate of rat were mixed and incubated to investigate the effect on lipid peroxidation. The experiment indicated that there was very strong inhibitory effect of Coptis chinensis to the lipid peroxidation in vitro and in vivo. Coptis chinensis could protect rat from diabetes inducing by alloxan and that probably was due to the fact that Coptis was able to inhibit alloxan inducing free radicals.

Liver health
Alpha-Lipoic acid combined with coptis to help improve liver condition: Any input on using both at the same time? What do you recommend? Or should we use either or supplement?
   There is not enough research to know.