Chinese goldthread found to effectively treat neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s
06/26/2019 // Michelle Simmons // Views

Researchers have discovered a potential herbal medicine for Parkinson’s disease. A study published in The American Journal of Chinese Medicine revealed that Chinese goldthread, scientifically known as Coptis chinensis, exhibits protective effects against diseases associated with oxidative stress, such as Parkinson’s disease.

Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative disease that impairs movement. People with this condition may experience tremors, mainly in the hands; bradykinesia or slowness of movement; rigidity or tightness in the limbs; and gait and balance problems.

In this study, a team of researchers from Germany and China looked at the neuroprotective effects of the Chinese goldthread in lab and animal models of Parkinson’s disease. The research team pre-treated the cell model of Parkinson’s disease with water extract of the Chinese goldthread.

Results showed that pre-treatment with the water extract of the Chinese goldthread resulted in significant increases in cell viability and intracellular ATP concentration. In addition, it attenuated programmed cell death. When the research team examined the alkaloids in the Chinese goldthread, they found that berberine and coptisine were the main active compounds responsible for the observed neuroprotective effect. However, the full extract of the Chinese goldthread was more effective than the tested single alkaloids. In the animal model of Parkinson’s disease, the Chinese goldthread improved motor functions and increased tyrosine hydroxylase-positive neurons.


With these findings, the research team concluded that Chinese goldthread and its main alkaloids could be used for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease. While Parkinson’s disease itself is not life-threatening, its complications can be serious. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) rated complications from Parkinson’s as the 14th leading cause of death in the U.S.

Other potential benefits of Chinese goldthread

In traditional Chinese medicine, the rhizome of the Chinese goldthread is commonly used alone or in combination with other herbs to treat diseases associated with oxidative stress, such as inflammatory diseases, diabetes, and neurodegenerative diseases. These include diabetes, diarrhea, ear infections, heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, psoriasis, and respiratory infections. (Related: Best of both worlds: Herbal blend of traditional Chinese and African medicines found to treat inflammation.)

Scientists have also found that Chinese goldthread shows promise in treating certain health problems, such as:

  • Cardiovascular disease: A study published in the journal Plant Foods for Human Nutrition in 2006 has reported that the Chinese goldthread may be effective in preventing cardiovascular disease. In an experiment on rats, the researchers found that the herb may help prevent or manage heart disease by reducing cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
  • Cancer: Some evidence has also suggested that the Chinese goldthread may ward off cancer. A study published in the journal Carcinogenesis, in which the researchers examined Chinese goldthread on human cells, has shown that the herb may help fight against breast cancer by inducing programmed cell death to stop the spread of cancer cells. Another study, which was published in the International Journal of Molecular Medicine, has also shown that the pro-apoptotic effects of the herb may strengthen the body’s defense against liver cancer.
  • Diabetes: Many animal studies have shown that Chinese goldthread may be useful in the treatment and prevention of diabetes. For example, a study published in The American Journal of Chinese Medicine has revealed that the herb can improve insulin resistance, which may help protect against diabetes.

If you wish to try Chinese goldthread, consult a health professional first. The extracts of the Chinese goldthread’s roots can be found in many natural food stores. Dietary supplements containing the herb are also available online.

For more studies on Chinese goldthread and its potential health benefits, go to

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