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Scientists: Extract from a herb can heal brain damage

A herb traditionally used to treat gynecological diseases, particularly menstruation disorder, has been found effective on stroke, according to local medical researchers.

Researchers at Fudan University's School of Pharmacy extracted a kind of leonurine from Yimucao, Chinese motherwort herb, and found it can greatly reduce brain damage caused by stroke and repair injured nerves, the school announced today.

The team named the leonurine as SCM-198, which has been included in the national program for innovative and new drug development for stroke treatment.

Yimucao is recognized for its effects on blood circulation. But the high cost and difficulty of extracting medicinal essence from Yimucao prevented a better use of the Chinese herb, said Zhu Yichun, director of the School of Pharmacy at Fudan.

His team found patients suffer brain tissue damage and then death because the brain lacks blood or oxygen. SCM-198 can reduce oxygen consumption of brain cells and revitalize brain cells to prevent death of brain tissue.

The new discovery is important to China, which has 1.5 million new stroke patients each year, the largest in the world.

About 34 percent of people die from the first attack and most survivors are left with some disabilities.

Apart from new treatment, health authorities have started to focus on stroke prevention and after-stroke rehabilitation.

The Ministry of Health will set up 200 to 300 stroke screening, prevention and treatment centers nationwide within three years to provide intervention to highly vulnerable people before they develop the symptoms, officials told an international brain health forum in Shanghai today.

"About 90 percent of people with stroke-inducing paralysis can stand and walk after proper rehabilitation," said Zhai Hua from Shanghai Sunshine Rehabilitation Center. "But ordinary families and nursing homes for old people do not have professional capability for post-stroke rehabilitation."


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