Herbs, including cilantro, have a long history of use as folk medicine anticonvulsants. Until now, many of the underlying mechanisms of how the herbs worked remained unknown. In a new study, researchers have uncovered the molecular action that enables cilantro to effectively delay certain seizures common in epilepsy and other diseases. The study, published online on July 16, 2019 in The FASEB Journal, explains the molecular action of cilantro (Coriandrum sativum) as a highly potent KCNQ channel activator This new understanding may lead to improvements in therapeutics and the development of more efficacious drugs. The article is titled “Cilantro Leaf Harbors A Potent Potassium Channel–Activating Anticonvulsant.” "We discovered that cilantro, which has been used as a traditional anticonvulsant medicine, activates a class of potassium channels in the brain to reduce seizure activity," said Geoff Abbott, PhD, Professor of Physiology and Biophysics at the UC-Irvine School of Medicine and principal investigator on the study. "Specifically, we found one component of cilantro, called dodecenal, binds to a specific part of the potassium channels to open them, reducing cellular excitability. This specific discovery is important as it may lead to more effective use of cilantro as an anticonvulsant, or to modifications of dodecenal to develop safer and more effective anticonvulsant drugs." Researchers screened cilantro leaf metabolites, revealing that one - the long-chain fatty aldehyde (E)-2-dodecenal - activates multiple potassium channels including the predominant neuronal isoform and the predominant cardiac isoform, which are responsible for regulating electrical activity in the brain and heart.
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