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Vitae Herbae (herbal, natural, integrative medicine  & health)
web-based scientific information on natural medicine
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Neurohormones, rikkunshito and hypothalamic neurons interactively control appetite and anorexia.

Abstract

Ghrelin is the orexigenic peptide produced in the periphery, and its plasma level shows remarkable pre/postprandial changes. Ghrelin is considered a pivotal signal to the brain to stimulate feeding. Hence, characterizing the target neurons for ghrelin in the hypothalamic feeding center and the signaling cascade in the target neurons are essential for understanding the mechanisms regulating appetite. Anorexia and cachexia associated with gastric surgery, stress-related diseases, and use of anti-cancer drugs cause the health problems, markedly deteriorating the quality of life. The anorexia involves several neurotransmitters and neuropeptides in the hypothalamic feeding center, in which corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH), urocortine, serotonin (5HT) and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) play a pivotal role. A Japanese herbal medicine, rikkunshito, has been reported to ameliorate the anorexia by promoting the appetite. This review describes 1) the interaction of ghrelin with the orexigenic neuropeptide Y (NPY) neurons in the hypothalamic arcuate nucleus (ARC) and underlying signaling cascade in NPY neurons, 2) the anorectic pathway driven by BDNF-CRH/urocortine and 5HTCRH/ urocortine pathways, 3) the effect of rikkunshito on the interaction of ghrelin and NPY neurons in ARC, and 4) the effect of rikkunshito on the interaction of 5HT on CRH neurons in paraventricular nucleus (PVN).

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The use of herbal medicine in cancer-related anorexia/ cachexia treatment around the world.

Abstract

Cancer-related cachexia, a condition in which the body is consumed by deranged carbohydrate, lipid and protein metabolism that is induced by inflammatory cytokines. Cachexia is associated with poor treatment outcome, fatigue and poor quality of life. Pharmacological intervention in the treatment and/or prevention of cachexia has been mainly aimed at the use of appetite enhancers to increase oral nutritional intake so far. Herbal remedies are part of traditional and folk healing methods with long histories of use. In this report, we have assessed which herbal approaches have had associated cancer cachexia case reports. Commonly used herbal medicines in western countries include essiac, iscador, pau d'arco tea, cannabinoids and so on. Some Kampo herbs and formulations are commonly used by cancer patients reduce the side effects and complications during the antitumor therapy. The relevant herbal medicines include ginseng, C. rhizome and radix astragali, and the related herbal remedies, such as TJ-48, TJ-41, PHY906 and Rikkunshito. However, there still have some adverse effects caused or amplified by herb and drug interactions that are difficult to separate. However, randomized effectiveness of herbal medicines shall be further identified in controlled clinical trials involving cancer patients with cachexia.

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