Phellodendron amurense by Ray Sahelian, M.D. (free herbal newsletter)
January 20 2016

In Chinese medicine, Phellodendron has been used to treat those who suffers from gastroenteritis, abdominal pain or diarrhea. Berberine has been identified as a major component in this plant, and it has several biological activities, such as bactericidal activity, anti-cholera toxin effect, anti-inflammatory effect, and stimulative effect of bile secretion or bilirubin discharge.

The dried bark of Phellodendron amurense or Phellodendron chinense is one of the important traditional Chinese medicines. Protoberberine alkaloids are thought to contribute to the biological activity of this species. Some of these alkaloids are magnoflorine and phellodendrine. The barks contain limonin, obakunone and nomilin.

The Chinese name for phellodendron is Huangbai (cortex Phellodendri)

Arthritis protection
J Ethnopharmacol. 2011. Effect of Phellodendron amurense in protecting human osteoarthritic cartilage and chondrocytes. Phellodendron amurense inhibited osteoarticular cartilage and chondrocyte destruction by inhibiting proteoglycan release and type II collagen degradation, down-regulating aggrecanases, MMP activities and phospho-ERK1/2, JNK and p38 MAP kinase signaling, and up-regulating TIMP-1 activity. Therefore, our results suggest that Phellodendron amurense is a potential therapeutic agent to protect cartilage against OA progression.

Phellodendron amurense research
Antimicrobial activity of berberine alone and in combination with ampicillin or oxacillin against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus.
J Med Food. 2005. Department of Food and Nutrition, Kunsan National University, Kunsan.
Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) bacteria have been responsible for substantial morbidity and mortality in hospitals because they usually have multidrug resistance. Some natural products are candidates as new antibiotic substances. In the present study, we investigated the antimicrobial activity of berberine, the main antibacterial substance of Coptidis rhizoma (Coptis chinensis Franch) and Phellodendri cortex (Phellodendron amurense Ruprecht), against clinical isolates of MRSA, and the effects of berberine on the adhesion to MRSA and intracellular invasion into human gingival fibroblasts (HGFs). Berberine showed antimicrobial activity against all tested strains of MRSA.

Suppressive effects of a Chinese herbal medicine qing-luo-yin extract on the angiogenesis of collagen-induced arthritis in rats.
Am J Chin Med. 2003.
Qing-Luo-Yin (QLY), a traditional Chinese herbal medicine for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, is a combination of the extracts of Sophora flavescens Ait., Phellodendron amurense Rupr., Sinomenium acutum Rehd. et Wils. and Dioscorea hypoglauca Palib. The suppressive effect of QLY on the development of angiogenesis was investigated in a rat model of collagen-induced arthritis. These results indicate that QLY exerts a suppressive effect on the angiogenesis of collagen-induced arthritis rats, and suggest that the therapeutic effect of QLY could be due to restoring the balance of MMP-3 and TIMP-1 in rheumatoid synovium.

Prostate cancer
Phytother Res. 2015. Tolerance of Phellodendron amurense bark extract (Nexrutine) in patients with human prostate cancer. Phellodendron amurense bark extract (Nexrutine®) has shown a favorable effect on prostate cancer in vivo and in vitro. We evaluated its tolerance in patients undergoing surgery or radiation for prostate cancer. Patients received Nexrutine® orally (500 mg tid) either 1 to 2 months preoperatively or 1 to 2 months prior to and with radiation therapy. Common Terminology Criteria for Adverse Events were used to measure tolerance. In total, 21 patients (9 surgery and 12 radiation) underwent treatment. During the Nexrutine® alone component, there were two transient grade 3 toxicities (hypokalemia and urinary incontinence). There was no grade 4 toxicity. For the combined Nexrutine® and radiation component, no additional patients suffered a grade 3 toxicity. All the toxicities were transient. By the end of the neoadjuvant treatment, 81% of the patients had a decline in prostate-specific antigen. This is the first report of patients with prostate cancer being treated with P. amurense bark extract, and it was very well tolerated.

Constituents from the leaves of Phellodendron amurense var. wilsonii and their bioactivity.
J Nat Prod. 2003.
Department of Chemistry, National Cheng Kung University, Tainan 701, Taiwan, Republic of China.
Two new dihydroflavonols, phellodensin-A (1) and phellodensin-C (2); three new coumarins, phellodenol-A (3), phellodenol-B (4), and phellodenol-C (5); one new chlorophyll, phellophyll-a (6); and one new phenyllactate, (2R)-sodium 3-phenyllactate (7), in addition to 35 known compounds have been isolated from the leaves of Phellodendron amurense var. wilsonii.

Phellodendron press release - August 2006
Next Pharmaceuticals, Inc. announces the results of a study funded by the National Institutes of Health on the potential benefits of Nexrutine (a proprietary extract from the bark of the Phellodendron tree) on prostate cancer. Scientists led by principal investigator, Dr. Pratap Kumar, at the Department of Urology at the University of Texas Health Science Center, San Antonio, Texas have found that this herbal extract prevents the growth of prostate cancer cells in laboratory studies. These studies also found that blocking the activation of a transcription factor called CREB and a critical cell survival signaling kinase called Akt disrupted prostate cancer cell growth and induced cell death, a balance that is altered in cancer cells. The study is published in the June edition of Neoplasia, an international journal oriented to basic cancer research and published by the Nature Publishing Group. Nexrutine is a patented compound extracted from Phellodendron amurense trees commonly found in Asia. The laboratory study examined the effect of phellodendron on human prostate cancer cells. Phellodendron extracts have been used traditionally in Chinese medicine for hundreds of years as an anti-diarrheal, astringent and anti-inflammatory agent. The study investigated Nexrutine’s use as a prostate cancer preventive agent. Nexrutine treatment killed prostate cancer cells through induction of a process called apoptosis (cell death) and inhibition of cancer cell growth. Specifically, treatment with phellodendron altered some of the key molecules such as Akt kinase and transcription factor CREB associated with these processes.
     Next Pharmaceuticals has marketed Nexrutine for pain and inflammation. Next Pharmaceuticals, Inc. is a research and development company that markets its patented or patent-pending ingredients such as Relora, Nexrutine, Seditol and Citri-Z ® to food, beverage, and dietary supplement companies.

Q. Is it okay to take a phellodendron extract the same day as saw palmetto or beta sitosterol?
     A. I don't know enough about phellodendron in a practical sense to give such advice.