J Ethnopharmacol. 2013 Sep 16;149(2):583-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2013.07.029. Epub 2013 Jul 27.
Pharmacological classification of herbal extracts by means of comparison to spectral EEG signatures induced by synthetic drugs in the freely moving rat.
Dimpfel W.

Herbal extracts targeting at the brain remain a continuous challenge to pharmacology. Usually, a number of different animal tests have to be performed in order to find a potential clinical use. Due to manifold possibly active ingredients biochemical approaches are difficult. A more holistic approach using a neurophysiological technique has been developed earlier in order to characterise synthetic drugs. Stereotactic implantation of four semi-microelectrodes into frontal cortex, hippocampus, striatum and reticular formation of rats allowed continuous wireless monitoring of field potentials (EEG) before and after drug intake. After frequency analysis (Fast Fourier Transformation) electric power was calculated for 6 ranges (delta, theta, alpha1, alpha2, beta1 and beta2). Data from 14 synthetic drugs - tested earlier and representative for different clinical indications - were taken for construction of discriminant functions showing the projection of the frequency patterns in a six-dimensional graph. Quantitative analysis of the EEG frequency pattern from the depth of the brain succeeded in discrimination of drug effects according to their known clinical indication (Dimpfel and Schober, 2003). Extracts from Valerian root, Ginkgo leaves, Paullinia seed, Hop strobile, Rhodiola rosea root and Sideritis scardica herb were tested now under identical conditions. Classification of these extracts based on the matrix from synthetic drugs revealed that Valerian root and hop induced a pattern reminiscent of physiological sleep. Ginkgo and Paullinia appeared in close neighbourhood of stimulatory drugs like caffeine or to an analgesic profile (tramadol). Rhodiola and Sideritis developed similar frequency patterns comparable to a psychostimulant drug (methylphenidate) as well to an antidepressive drug (paroxetine).

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