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Alternative Medicine and Spinal Cord Injury

Administration Management and Leadership. Ear, Nose, and Throat. Maternal, Neonatal, and Women's Health. Living and Working with Chronic Illness. Parkinson's Disease and Movement Disorders. Double click on above image to view full picture. Read a Sample Chapter. Related Specialties Spinal Cord Injury. Alternative Medicine and Spinal Cord Injury. We now accept Amazon Pay. You May Also Like Spinal Cord Injury Michael E. Home Accessibility Shelley Peterman Schwarz. Lving with Spinal Cord Injury. Moving Ahead with Your Life. Get new books, discounts, and exclusive sales.

Phytotherapy is the systematic use of customized herbs to treat spinal cord injury pain, and a few small studies suggest that it works for some patients. Even when herbal remedies fail, though, they're safe so long as you stick to relatively low doses approved by your doctor. Acupuncture, which targets specific points on the body thought to be correlated with various ailments, has been around for thousands of years.

Until the last two decades or so, acupuncture remained on the fringes of medicine. Now, doctors are increasingly recognizing its effectiveness to both reduce spinal cord injury pain and improve long-term outcomes. And even when acupuncture doesn't work, it's harmless and painless, making this safe alternative remedy a worthwhile gamble. A spinal cord injury changes your life in ways you might never have anticipated. Psychological treatment helps, even if you don't feel depressed.

Yoga keeps both your mind and body in excellent condition, making it easier to cope with the psychological and physical pain of a spinal cord injury. The gentle stretching can help alleviate the muscle tension that often comes with a more sedentary lifestyle. Even better, steady yoga can play a key role in rehabilitation, helping you or your loved one gain more mobility and greater independence. Remember to discuss any alternative remedies for your spinal cord pain with your doctor. Do you have additional questions about adjusting to life with a spinal cord injury? In recent years, research has focused on the therapeutic effect of EGCG in SCI that is attributed to its potent antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiapoptotic, and neuroprotective activities [ 45 ].

The study of Deng et al. In the study of Ge et al. Ligustrazine tetramethylpyrazine, TMP, Figure 1 d is a natural alkaloid extracted from Chuanxiong Rhizoma, the dried rhizome of Ligusticum chuanxiong Hort. In TCM, Chuanxiong Rhizoma can treat neurovascular, cardiovascular, and brain and kidney diseases, while TMP has a diverse array of pharmacological functions, including dilation of blood vessels, inhibition of platelet aggregation, improvement of microcirculation, inhibition of cell apoptosis, elimination of oxygen free radicals, and exertion of a calcium antagonist action [ 52 , 53 ].

In recent years, it has been revealed that TMP could protect injured spinal cord by suppressing inflammatory cytokines, inhibiting cell apoptosis, and scavenging oxygen free radicals. Several studies suggested that TMP effectively protects the central nervous system by scavenging reactive oxygen species and regulating nitric oxide production, and consequently preventing peroxynitrite formation [ 52 ].

Quercetin Figure 1 e is a typical flavonol-type flavonoid that is ubiquitously present in many fruits and vegetables, such as apples, onions, citrus fruits, berries, red grapes, red wine, and broccoli. As a flavonol essential in many plants, quercetin is rich mainly in its sugar derivatives [ 59 ]. Quercetin exhibits antioxidative, anti-inflammatory, and vasodilating activity and has been proposed as a potential approach in the prevention and therapy of cardiovascular diseases and cancer.

Recently, quercetin has been marketed in the United States primarily as a dietary supplement [ 60 , 61 ]. Recently, quercetin has emerged as a potential therapeutic drug in the treatment of SCI.


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Many studies have indicated that SCI treatment of quercetin is attributed to its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antiapoptosis activities. Immunohistochemistry results also showed that the rate of iNOS-positive cells was significantly higher from days 1 to 7 postoperatively , while being significantly lower in the injured spinal cord after administration of quercetin 0. There was no statistically significant difference between the quercetin and p38MAPK inhibitor SB treatment groups , which indicated that the potential mechanism of action of quercetin is through inhibiting the activation of the p38MAPK signaling pathway [ 62 ].

Moreover, semiquantitative Western blot analysis revealed that increased caspase-3 protein expression in bladder tissues of SCI rats was attenuated following quercetin treatment 0. Puerarin Figure 1 f is the most important phytoestrogen extracted from the dried root of Pueraria lobata Willd. Ohwi in Leguminosae, which is a commonly used traditional Chinese medicine. Researchers have concentrated on the pharmacological activities of puerarin, which displays a series of beneficial activities on hangover, cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, neurological dysfunction, fever, and liver injury in clinical treatment and experimental research [ 64 ].

In recent years, several studies have shown that puerarin was effective in treating SCI.

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The therapeutic effect of puerarin on SCI was mainly attributed to its neuroprotective activity. Puerarin exhibits a neuroprotective action in SCI and is associated with several aspects.

New Treatment for Spinal Cord Injury

Firstly, following SCI, the expression of p35 was downregulated, while p25 was upregulated in a mechanism dependent on cleaving p The enhanced expression of p25 resulted in a hyperactivation of Cdk5. The pretreatment with puerarin significantly depressed the upregulation of p25 and inhibited the downregulation of p35 , by way of a roscovitine-like function [ 66 ]. Secondly, it is well-known that release of a high amount of glutamate and activation of metabotropic glutamate receptors lead to spinal tissue injury following SCI. The excitotoxicity of glutamate to spinal cells is mediated via glutamate receptors of the spinal cord.

Thirdly, puerarin treatment significantly reversed the decrease in Trx-1 and Trx-2 mRNA expression after SCI and elevated number of apoptotic cells in the spinal cord [ 65 ]. The sources, structures, doses, and mechanisms of all six natural compounds in SCI treatment are summarized in Table 1. Besides the six natural compounds mentioned above, there are also some other compounds that have been reported in the treatment of SCI, including hydroxysafflor yellow A [ 68 ], tetrandrine [ 69 ], and piperine [ 70 ].

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However, there are insufficient studies describing SCI treatment of these compounds, and more related research is required before these compounds are considered as potential therapeutic agents in treating SCI. As one of the best-known Chinese traditional herbs, it has been clinically used for more than years and is mainly produced in Anhui, Shanxi, Hebei, and Jiangsu provinces in China. Until now, more than 70 compounds have been isolated and structurally identified from Danshen with various concentrations. The major components reported from Danshen are hydrophilic depside derivatives e.

Some of the structures are given in Figure 2 [ 71 ]. In TCM, Danshen is characterized as a common hemorheological drug with the following functions: Based on modern investigations, the most important and frequent clinical application of Danshen is in the treatment of coronary heart disease, like angina pectoris, coronary artery spasm, myocardial infarction, and other conditions [ 72 ].

In addition, Danshen is used to treat cerebrovascular disease, hepatitis, hepatocirrhosis, hypertension dysmenorrhea, and osteoporosis [ 73 ]. In recent years, Danshen has attracted increased attention in SCI treatment and is mostly employed as an intervention approach in the form of herbal extract or Chinese medicine injection. Considering the properties of promoting blood circulation and relieving blood stasis, it was reasonable that Danshen could improve microcirculation and increase blood flow of the injured spinal cord tissues, inhibit platelet aggregation, and reduce release of TXA 2.

By contrast, Danshen downregulated the increase of NO level in serum and spinal cord tissues [ 76 ]. Therefore, the mechanisms of Danshen on SCI treatment could be attributed to increasing the activity of ChAT in attempt to restore the motor function of spinal cord gray matter and increase the activity of associated proteins in the synapse to promote the transfer of nerve impulses. This was important in promoting the regeneration of myelin and the recovery of neurological function [ 78 ]. In China, the dried leaf of Ginkgo biloba L. In Western countries, medical interest in Ginkgo has grown dramatically since the s, and extracts from Ginkgo biloba leaves EGb are one of the most commonly used herbal medicinal products in Europe and in the US today [ 79 ].

Alternative Remedies for Spinal Cord Injury Pain

EGb has been well investigated chemically for various classes of constituents. It is reported to contain a number of secondary metabolites including terpenoids, flavonoids, polyphenols, allyl phenols, organic acids, carbohydrates, fatty acids and lipids, inorganic salts, and amino acids. However terpene trilactones e. The therapeutic indications of EGb include chest impediment, heart pain, stroke, hemiplegia, and dysphasia due to blockage of the meridians by stagnated blood and angina pectoris of the stable type in coronary heart disease and cerebral infarction with the above noted symptoms [ 22 ].

HE staining results showed that rats given EGb In addition, several studies suggested antioxidant and antiapoptosis effects in vivo , providing a possible alternative mechanism for improvement of SCI symptoms [ 86 ]. The presence of apoptotic cells, Bcl-2 and Bax expression, caspase-3 and caspase-9 expression, and iNOS were upregulated after SCI in the injured spinal cord. In recent years, investigators have focused attention from EGb to terpene trilactones in the field of SCI treatment, and ginkgolides A and B are two active constituents that have attracted the most attention.

These results indicated that ginkgolide B could efficiently decrease hyperplasia and overgrowth of astrocytes, prevent the formation of glial scar, and decrease the accumulation of macrophages and activation of microglia, as well as preventing demyelination of axons and promoting regeneration of axons to some extent [ 93 ]. Ginseng is the dried root and rhizome of Panax ginseng C. Although it is a traditional herbal medicine in oriental countries, especially China, Korea, and Japan, Ginseng has been widely used all over the world.

For its promising healing and restorative properties, it has occupied a prominent position in the list of best-selling natural products in the world. Since the first isolation of six ginsenosides derived from Ginseng in the s [ 94 ], many ginsenosides have been isolated and identified. Among various ginsenosides, Rb 1 , Rg 1 , Rg 3 , Re, and Rd are the most frequently studied variants, and the structures of some typical constituents are given in Figure 3 b.

Many pharmacological activities of Ginseng extracts have been discovered since the s, and most of them are attributed to ginsenosides, which include antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antidiabetic, anticancer, anti-ischemic, antiarrhythmic, antihypertensive, inhibiting platelet aggregation, adjusting lipid profiles, and improving aging [ 95 ].