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Storr, Martin; Sibaev, A.; Weiser, D.; Kelber, O.; Schirra, J.; Göke, B.; Allescher, H. D. (2004): Herbal extracts modulate the amplitude and frequency of slow waves in circular smooth muscle of mouse small intestine. In: Digestion, No. 4: pp. 257-264


Background: Herbal preparations like STW 5 (Iberogast(R)) are widely used drugs in the treatment of dyspepsia and motility-related disorders of the gastrointestinal tract. STW 5 is a phytotherapeutic agent consisting of a fixed mixture of 9 individual plant extracts. The electrophysiological mechanisms of action of STW 5 remain obscure. Aim: The aim of the present study was to investigate whether herbal extracts influence electrophysiological parameters of the small intestine. For this purpose, the resting membrane potential (RMP) and the slow wave rhythmicity of smooth muscle cells of mouse small intestine were observed. Methods: Intracellular recordings of smooth muscle cells of the circular muscle layer of mouse small intestine were performed using standard microelectrode techniques. After dissection of the mucosa, the small intestine was placed in an organ bath and a microelectrode was applied on a circular smooth muscle cell. The RMP and the amplitude of slow waves were measured in millivolts. Results: The RMP of smooth muscle cells was - 59 +/- 1.3 mV. This RMP was significantly depolarized by STW 5 ( 9.6 +/- 1.6 mV); the depolarizing effects can be mainly attributed to the constituents of matricariae flos, angelicae radix and chelidonii herba. The basal frequency of small intestinal slow waves was 39.5 +/- 1.4 min(-1) and the amplitude was 23.1 +/- 0.9 mV. STW 5 significantly reduced the amplitude and frequency of the slow waves ( 11.7 +/- 0.8 mV; 33.5 +/- 3.4 min(-1)). This effect on slow waves represents the sum of the effects of the 9 phytoextracts. Whereas angelicae radix and matricariae flos completely blocked slow wave activity, Iberis amara increased the frequency and amplitude, chelidonii herba reduced the frequency and amplitude of the slow waves, mentae piperitae folium reduced the frequency and left amplitude unchanged and liquiritae radix, carvi fructus and melissae folium had no effects. Conclusion: Herbal extracts cause changes in smooth muscle RMP and slow wave rhythmicity, up to reversible abolition, by blockade of large conductance Ca2+ channels and other not yet identified mechanisms. In herbal preparations like STW 5 these effects add up to a total effect and this study indicates that herbal preparations which are widely used in dyspepsia and motility-related disorders have characteristic, reproducible, reversible effects on small intestinal electrophysiology. Copyright (C) 2005 S. Karger AG, Basel.