Scientists have identified a compound in the Corydalis plant that effectively relieves pain -- and the same plant has long been used in Chinese medicine as a pain reliever.
The compound, called dehydrocorybulbine (DHCB), works by acting on a receptor that binds to dopamine, which University of California, Irvine researchers said adds further evidence that dopamine and pain sensation are linked. Researchers tested the compound on mice to find that it seems to relieve both inflammatory pain and injury-induced neuropathic pain.
The compound could be especially useful in the future for treating chronic pain, as it doesn't seem to become less effective over time.
"We show that repeated DHCB administrations do not lead to development of tolerance and thus that DHCB may present advantages over morphine in chronic pain treatment," researchers wrote in the study.
However, they noted that more testing on toxicity is needed before the compound should actually be used to treat pain in humans.
The new findings are published in the journal Current Biology.