A new study published in the journal Nature Chemistry provides new insight into the power of a rare type of tree bark to relieve serious pain. Scientists from the Scripps Research Institute (SRI) in Florida discovered that the bark of the Tabernaemontana divaricata plant, also known as crepe jasmine, contains a compound known as conolidine that appears to be just as effective at treating pain as morphine, but without all the harmful side effects.
Glenn Micalizio, an associate professor at the SRI Department of Chemistry, and his colleagues first had to figure out a way to synthesize conolidine in order to study it. Once they did, they discovered for the first time that conolidine is an effective alternative to traditional opioid analgesics. And because it does not cause nausea, constipation, breathing problems, and even death like morphine can, conolidine has great potential to become a natural replacement for this and other pain medications.
Not an opioid itself, conolidine remains a bit of a mystery. Researchers are not quite sure how the substance works to relieve both acute and inflammatory pain in a similar way as opioids do without acting upon the same cellular receptors. Continue reading