Oxymatrine: Update on Clinical Effects and Safety
Oxymatrine is present in sophora roots along with matrine and small amounts of other tetracyclo-quinolizidine alkaloids (from Sophora flavescens: kushen; and Sophora subprostrata: shandougen), as described in a previous article (Matrine and Oxymatrine: Subjects of Research; START, August 2002). Sophora roots and the isolated or partially-isolated alkaloids have been used for several clinical applications, including viral hepatitis, cancer, heart arrhythmia (especially in viral myocarditis and fibrillation), and skin diseases. One of the areas of particular interest has been viral hepatitis, which is still not satisfactorily controlled by modern medicine, because some people don’t tolerate the side effects of treatment and stop early, while others are not cured by the treatment even if pursued fully. Since 1998, ITM has made available tablets of sophora root extract that is rich in oxymatrine and matrine (20% total alkaloids, so that a 1-gram tablet provides 200 mg of total alkaloids). However, little is known of its effectiveness other than by implication from reports about the use of similar materials in China, which will be reviewed here.