Stay awake till dawn? How to solve the problem of insomnia with an ancient prescription

Jul. 12,2022
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With the accelerating pace of modern life, people are under increasing work and mental stress, and insomnia has become a common disease in clinical practice. Epidemiological studies have shown that 50% of people have experienced insomnia of varying degrees. Insomnia can lead to metabolic disorders, such as cardiovascular diseases, diabetes mellitus, and obesity.

Suanzaoren Decoction, a classic prescription first recorded in Zhang Zhongjing’s Synopsis from the Golden Cabinet (Jin Gui Yao Lue), is composed of Ziziphi Spinosae Semen (Suanzaoren), Poria (Fuling), Anemarrhenae Rhizoma (Zhimu), Chuanxiong Rhizoma (Chuanxiong), and Glycyrrhizae Radix et Rhizoma (Gancao), and has the effects of nourishing blood, tranquilizing mind, clearing heat, and relieving restlessness. It is indicated for insomnia caused by liver blood deficiency and yin deficiency with internal heat. In clinical practice, Suanzaoren Decoction is widely used in such disorders as insomnia, anxiety, neurasthenia, and depression.

In the Metabonomic Study of Biochemical Changes in Serum of PCPA-induced Insomnia Rats after Treatment with Suanzaoren Decoction, a research report published in the China Journal of Chinese Materia Medica by Liu Jiaxing, Du Chenhui, Yan Yan, et.al from Shanxi University, the effects of Suanzaoren Decoction on endogenous metabolites in serum of para-chlorophenylalanine (PCPA)-induced insomnia rats was investigated by metabonomic analysis of ultra-performance liquid chromatography-quadrupole-time of flight-mass spectrometry (UPLC-Q-TOF-MS) to explore the metabolic pathways and mechanism of Suanzaoren Decoction on insomnia. The results showed that Suanzaoren Decoction could improve the pathological changes of brain and liver tissues of PCPA-induced insomnia rats, increase the levels of 5-HT, DA, and GABA neurotransmitters and the PGD2 level in the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA axis), and decrease the levels of IL-1β and TNF-α in the serum. According to the metabonomic analysis, 12 differential metabolites between the normal group, model group, and Suanzaoren Decoction group were obtained, mainly involving such metabolic pathways as D-glutamine and D-glutamate metabolism, alanine, aspartic acid, and glutamate metabolism, arginine and proline metabolism, arginine biosynthesis, and glutathione metabolism. Suanzaoren Decoction could restore the abnormal metabolism in PCPA-induced insomnia rats, which was closely related to amino acid metabolism. The results were published in the China Journal of Chinese Materia Medica (Vol. 47, No. 6, 2022) in Chinese and English.

This study was supported by the Youth Program of National Natural Science Foundation of China and the Zhendong Project of Key Science and Technology Program of Shanxi Province.

Corresponding Author: LIU Jiaxing
Email: 779865708@qq.com
CNKI Press Officer: LI Jingjing YANG Na
Email: ljj6806@cnki.net yn6791@cnki.net

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