REVIEW Rotundine or Tetrahydropalmatine is a racemic naturally occurring plant alkaloid found predominatly in the Corydalis genus, but also in other plants such as Stephania rotunda. These plants have traditional uses in Chinese herbal medicine. Rotundine has been demonstrated to possess analgesic effects and may be beneficial in the treatment of heart disease and liver damage. It is a potent muscle relaxant, with a very intriguing pharmacological profile: antagonism of dopamine D1 and D2 receptors and actions at dopamine D3, alpha adrenergic and serotonin receptors It has also shown potential in the treatment of drug addiction to both cocaine and opiates, and preliminary human studies have shown promising results. Dopamine, an important neurotransmitter in the central nervous system, occurs in several important signaling systems that regulate muscular activity and attention, as well as feelings of joy, enthusiasm and creativity. Therefore, Rotundine causes no feelings of euphoria, and has been seen as an alternative to addictive drugs for people suffering from anxiety and pain, and as a possibility for relief for people not helped by existing drugs.
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Chu H, Jin G, Friedman E, Zhen X. Recent development in studies of tetrahydroprotoberberines: mechanism in antinociception and drug addiction. Cell Mol Neurobiol. 2008 Jun;28(4):491-9. Epub 2007 Aug 21.
Shorter D, Kosten TR. Novel pharmacotherapeutic treatments for cocaine addiction. BMC Med. 2011 Nov 3;9:119. doi: 10.1186/1741-7015-9-119.
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