Revealed: secrets of ancient Chinese medicinal herb
PARIS (AFP) - Scientists in the United States on Sunday offered a molecular-level explanation for how a Chinese herbal medicine used for more than 2,000 years tackles fever and eases malaria.
The herb is an extract of the root of a flowering plant called blue evergreen hydrangea, known in Chinese as chang shan and in Latin as Dichroa febrifuga Lour.
Chang shan's use dates back to the Han dynasty of 206 BC to 220 AD, according to ancient documents recording Chinese oral traditions.
In 2009, researchers made insights into its active ingredient, febrifuginone, which can be pharmaceutically made as a molecule called halofuginone. They found that halofuginone prevented production of rogue Th17 immune cells which attack healthy cells, causing inflammation that leads to fever.