For centuries, Chinese and Japanese healers have used traditional medicines to combat the overwhelming diarrhea that comes with cholera. Researchers in Japan have identified a natural compound responsible for the effectiveness of one rhubarb-based remedy, a finding that could lead to even better pharmaceutical therapies.
The scientists tested a formulation called Daio-Kanzo-to. One chemical in the mixture, rhubarb galloyl-tannin, inhibits cholera toxin's effects on hamster cells in a test tube, the researchers found. The rhubarb compound binds to the toxin and apparently disables it, the researchers report in the March 5 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The team also tested rhubarb galloyl-tannin and other chemical constituents of the traditional remedy by injecting them one by one into the intestines of mice and rabbits exposed to cholera toxin. Rhubarb galloyl-tannin reduced fluid accumulation in the intestines–a sign of sev