Uncaria herb benefit by Ray Sahelian, M.D.
April 10 2016

Uncaria rhynchophylla is a medicinal herb which has sedative and anticonvulsive effects and has been applied in the treatment of epilepsy in Oriental medicine. Recently it has been shown that uncaria rhynchophylla can prevent beta amyloid formation. See a list of medicinal herbs.

Chin J Nat Med. 2013. Ameliorating effect of new constituents from the hooks of Uncaria rhynchophylla on scopolamine-induced memory impairment. To study the chemical constituents and their anti-amnesic effect from the hooks of Uncaria rhynchophylla. The isolation of compounds was performed by chromatographic techniques and their structures were identified on the basis of spectral analysis. Their ameliorating effects on scopolamine-induced memory impairment in vivo using a Morris water-maze task and passive avoidance task system were evaluated. Activity-guided fractionation of the total extracts resulted in the isolation of four constituents, trans-anethole (1), p-anisaldehyde (2), estragole (3), and 3-oxo-olean-12-en-28-oic acid (4), which were found for the first time from this plant. Compound 1 exhibited a better memory enhancing effect than tacrine, a positive agent, at the same dose in the passive avoidance test and a similar property in the water-maze test, and its action may be mediated, in part, by the acetylcholine enhancing cholinergic nervous system.

Uncaria study
Uncaria rhynchophylla, a Chinese medicinal herb, has potent antiaggregation effects on Alzheimer's beta-amyloid proteins.
J Neurosci Res. 2006; Department of Geriatric and Complementary Medicine, Center for Asian Traditional Medicine Research, Tohoku University School of Medicine, Aoba-ku, Sendai, Japan.
Because the deposition of beta-amyloid protein (Abeta) is a consistent pathological hallmark of Alzheimer's disease (AD) brains, inhibition of Abeta generation, prevention of Abeta fibril formation, or destabilization of preformed Abeta fibrils would be attractive therapeutic strategies for the treatment of AD. We examined the effects of several medicinal herbs used in traditional Chinese medical formulae on the formation and destabilization of Abeta fibrils. Our study demonstrates that several of these herbs have potent inhibitory effects on fibril formation of both Abeta(1-40) and Abeta(1-42) in concentration-dependent manners; in particular, Uncaria rhynchophylla inhibited Abeta aggregation most intensively. Significant destabilization of preformed Abeta(1-40) and Abeta(1-42) fibrils was also induced by Uncaria rhynchophylla as well as some other herb extracts. Three-dimensional HPLC analysis indicated that the water extract of this herb contains several different chemical compounds, including oxindole and indol alkaloids, which have been regarded as neuroprotective. Our results suggest that Uncaria rhynchophylla has remarkably inhibitory effects on the regulation of Abeta fibrils, and we conclude that this medicinal herb could have the potency to be a novel therapeutic agent to prevent and/or cure AD.

Uncaria rhynchophylla induces angiogenesis in vitro and in vivo.
Biol Pharm Bull. 2005. Department of Acupuncture & Moxibustion, College of Oriental Medicine, Dongdaemungu, Seoul, Korea.
Angiogenesis consists of the proliferation, migration, and differentiation of endothelial cells, and angiogenic factors and matrix protein interactions modulate this process. The aim of this study was to determine the angiogenic properties of Uncaria rhynchophylla. Uncaria rhynchophylla significantly enhanced human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) proliferation in a dose-dependent manner. Perhaps Uncaria rhynchophylla could potentially used to accelerate vascular wound healing or to promote the growth of collateral blood vessel in ischemic tissues.

Alkaloid fraction of Uncaria rhynchophylla protects against N-methyl-D-aspartate-induced apoptosis in rat hippocampal slices.
Neurosci Lett. 2003. Department of Herbal Pharmacology, Graduate School of East-West Medical Science, Kyung Hee University, Seoul, South Korea.
 In this study, the effect of alkaloid fraction of U. rhynchophylla against N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA)-induced neuronal cell death was investigated. Pretreatment with an alkaloid fraction of this herb for 1 h decreased the degree of neuronal damage induced by NMDA exposure in cultured hippocampal slices and also inhibited NMDA-induced enhanced expressions of apoptosis-related genes such as c-jun, p53, and bax. In the present study, the alkaloid fraction of U. rhynchophylla was shown to have a protective property against NMDA-induced cytotoxicity by suppressing the NMDA-induced apoptosis in rat hippocampal slices.

Biosci Trends. 2015. Protective effects on vascular endothelial cell in N'-nitro-L-arginine (L-NNA)-induced hypertensive rats from the combination of effective components of Uncaria rhynchophylla and Semen Raphani. Endothelial dysfunction is closely associated with hypertension. Protection of vascular endothelial cell is the key to prevention and treatment of hypertension. Uncaria rhynchophylla total alkaloids and Semen Raphani soluble alkaloid, isolated from traditional Chinese medicine Uncaria rbyncbopbylla and Semen Raphani respectively, exhibit properties of anti-hypertension and protection of blood vessels.