Menopause Herb News! Publication of Estrogenicity Testing by UIC’s College of Pharmacy on Crila®

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Menopause Herb News! Publication of Estrogenicity Testing by UIC’s College of Pharmacy on Crila®

The December 2014 issue of Menopause carries the first American research published about Crila®. We hope to bring you more later this year so stay tuned!

Modern European research on Crila® began in 1990. Later clinical trials by the Ministry of Health in Vietnam proved benefits for maintaining prostate health and promoting uterine health, but an important question remained: Did Crila® have an estrogenic effect? Based on the clinical outcomes one might logically think the menopause herb Crinum latifolium L var. crilae Tram & Khanh could be a phyto-estrogen (plant-based estrogen). Dr. Tram, Vietnam’s top scientist who developed Crila®, always insisted it was not estrogenic, but the sophisticated tests to validate her conclusion were not available in Vietnam.

When we at Crila Health decided to support the doctor in bringing Crila® to the US market, we looked for leading American doctors and scientists to work with. The American Botanical Council has been an invaluable resource on many fronts, including introductions to Dr. Richard van Breeman at the University of Illinois Chicago, College of Pharmacy…

When the NIH suspended a major clinical trial on women’s health in 2005, UIC scientists recognized the need identify the presence or absence of phyto-estrogens. They went on to develop new methods to test plants for estrogenic effect. The van Breeman Group was thus the perfect team to undertake the estrogenicity research on Crila®.  

UIC scientists were skeptical at first. These were preeminent experts in the world of botanical medicine with a grant from the NIH to research menopause herbs. UIC’s herbarium behind the Field Museum in Chicago holds 2.7 million voucher samples of plants from all over the world, but no samples of Crinum latifolium. How could we have a ‘new’ menopause herb they’d never heard of before?

We shared the backstory about the historical secrecy that surrounded the use of Vietnamese crinum. Known as “The King’s Herb” or “The Royal Women’s Herb” in Vietnamese traditional medicine, it was a closely guarded secret for generations, reserved for the exclusive use of the royal family. It wasn’t until 1954, with the abdication of the last king of Vietnam, that the secret began to leak out. Then there was “The American War” (as it is known in Vietnam), followed by a twenty year U.S. embargo against Vietnam, which precluded many western scientists from working in the country.

Knowledge of Vietnam’s astonishing biodiversity is now spreading amongst ethno-botanists around the globe. The Amazon rainforest claims 12,000 species of plants. Vietnam claims 20,000 with 4,000 of those catalogued as having medicinal effect.[1] Scientists from UIC have now been working in Vietnam for many years. In one national park, they have noted 200 previously unidentified species of plants.[2] Who knows what future medicines will be developed from these plants? 

Crila Health funded the first segment of research with UIC to determine the estrogenicity of our plants. When the results began to come in showing no estrogen receptors in Crila®, UIC chose to expand the scope of the research under NIH funding. Tristesse Burton, a PhD candidate at UIC, wrote the Abstract and presented the results at the North American Menopause Society conference in Washington, DC in October 2014.[3] The results were then published in the December 2014 issue of Menopause – The Journal of the North American Menopause Society confirming the absence of estrogen receptors in Crila®.

We’re celebrating a very Happy New Year.

[1] Symposium on Botanical Research, Vietnam Academy of Science & Technology with the U.S. National Center for Natural Products Research, University of Mississippi, at HaLong City, Vietnam, October 2011. 

[2] Conversation with Dr. Doel Soejarto, PhD. Professor of Pharmacognosy, Dept of Medicinal Chamistry and Pharmacognosy, UIC. 2 Nov 2011. 

[3] Examining the estrogenicity of Crinum latifolium L. var. crilae Tram and Khanh (AmaryIlidaceae) using cell-based and receptor-based assays. Poster Session North American Menopause Society (p 51 – the link can take some time to load)  Washington D.C. 2014.  Menopause 2014;21(12): 1335

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