Birch bark extract as therapy for chronic hepatitis C--a pilot study.

Saint Petersburg State Medical Academy named after I.I. Mechnikov, 47, Piskarevsky pr., 195067 Saint Petersburg, Russia.
Phytomedicine: international journal of phytotherapy and phytopharmacology (Impact Factor: 2.88). 03/2011; 18(10):807-10. DOI: 10.1016/j.phymed.2011.01.021
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The hepatoprotective effect of birch bark extract (BBE) in patients with chronic hepatitis C (CHC) was studied. Forty-two patients with serologically confirmed chronic hepatitis C were treated for 12 weeks with 160 mg standardized BBE per day. The primary outcome parameter measured was the rate of alanine aminotransferase (ALT) normalization after 12 weeks. Secondary parameters included the course of ALT, aspartate aminotransferase (AST) levels, quantitative HCV RNA levels, subjective symptoms associated with CHC (fatigue, abdominal discomfort, depression, and dyspepsia), safety and compliance. The qualitative-quantitative analysis of BBE was made using high performance liquid chromatography to confirm the presence of 75% betulin and 3.5% betulinic acid. Significant differences in the mean ALT and HCV RNA levels were observed after 12 weeks of treatment. The level of ALT was decreased in 54.0% and normalized (p=0.046). HCV RNA was reduced in 43.2% (p=0.016). After 12 weeks of treatment, reports of fatigue and abdominal discomfort were reduced by 6-fold (p=0.028) and 3-fold (p=0.05), respectively. Dyspepsia was no longer reported (p=0.042) and the effect was significantly different from baseline. Because this study lacks a control group clinical relevance of the data can only be estimated in future by following controlled clinical trials.

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    ABSTRACT: In order to evaluate the content of betulin and betulinic acids in Birch barks originating from Western Carpathians, Transylvania (Romania) forests, in relation with the location of birch trees, it was recorded the geographic and vegetation conditions at the specific locations of each type of sample. Two groups of birch tree bark (totally 10 samples) were collected, from two regions, pasture surfaces where birch trees appeared spontaneously (samples 1 to 5) and another group from forests of combined trees, including mainly pine trees (samples 6 to 10). The identification and quantitation of betulin and betulinic acid were made by High Performance Liquid Chromatography with UV detection. In the first region it has been found mean concentrations of 126.85 ± 12.56 mg/g betulin bark while acid betulinic had average values of 12.78 ± 1.26 mg/g bark. In the second region we found mean concentrations of 89.84 ± 8.43 mg/g betulin of bark while acid betulinic had average values of 10.60 ± 0.97 mg/g bark. Statistically, significant differences were noticed between the two regions, the first region being richer in these molecules. Generally, the percentage of betulinic acid was around 11.23% against betulin, higher in the second region, even the absolute concentrations were lower for both molecules. These data are useful indicators of the potential offered by birch bark sources found in Transylvania region, to obtain extracts enriched in betulin and betulinic acid.
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    ABSTRACT: Trees and shrubs of the genus Betula (Betulaceae) inhabit various ecosystems in temperate and boreal climate zones of the northern hemisphere. The healing properties of Betula bark and bark extracts have been known for a long time in traditional medicine in different parts of the world. Several species of Betula have traditionally been used for the treatment of various inflammatory diseases including arthritis. The purpose of this review is to provide updated, comprehensive and categorized information on the botany, traditional uses, phytochemistry and pharmacological and toxicological research of Betula species in order to explore their therapeutic potential and evaluate future research opportunities. All the available information on various species belonging to the genus Betula was collected via electronic search (using Pubmed, SciFinder, Scirus, Google Scholar, JCCC@INSTIRC and Web of Science) and a library search for articles published in peer-reviewed journals. Although over a hundred Betula species are found distributed globally, about 7 different species of Betula have been documented for their traditional uses. Phytochemical research on Betula species has led to the isolation of triterpenoids, diarylheptanoids, phenylbutanoids, lignans, phenolics and flavonoids. Crude extracts, fractions and phytochemical constituents isolated from Betula showed a wide spectrum of in vitro and in vivo pharmacological activities like immunomodulatory, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antiviral, antioxidant, antidiabetic, dermatological, gastroprotective and hepatoprotective. Antiarthritic and anticancer are the two major areas of research conducted on these species. The anti-carcinogenic effects of Betula bark, betulin as well as betulinic acid have been extensively studied. Several species belonging to the genus Betula are widely used in traditional medicine. Betula platyphylla and Betula pendula have specifically been found to be potentially useful in the treatment of degenerative joint disease. There is convincing evidence in experimental animal models in support of their anti-carcinogenic effects. However, it would be worthwhile to investigate the biochemical and physiological mechanisms as well as detailed preclinical toxicity, bioavailability, pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of the different biologically active extracts as well as molecules in sufficient detail. An integrated and holistic approach is required for tapping the full potentials of this important genus. Copyright © 2014. Published by Elsevier Ireland Ltd.
    Journal of Ethnopharmacology 11/2014; 159C:62-83. DOI:10.1016/j.jep.2014.11.010 · 2.94 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Antiviral agents frequently applied for treatment of herpesvirus infections include acyclovir and its derivatives. The antiviral effect of a triterpene extract of birch bark and its major pentacyclic triterpenes, i.e. betulin, lupeol and betulinic acid against acyclovir-sensitive and acyclovir-resistant HSV type 1 strains was examined. The cytotoxic effect of a phytochemically defined birch bark triterpene extract (TE) as well as different pentacyclic triterpenes was analyzed in cell culture, and revealed a moderate cytotoxicity on RC-37 cells. TE, betulin, lupeol and betulinic acid exhibited high levels of antiviral activity against HSV-1 in viral suspension tests with IC50 values ranging between 0.2 and 0.5 μg/ml. Infectivity of acyclovir-sensitive and clinical isolates of acyclovir-resistant HSV-1 strains was significantly reduced by all tested compounds and a direct concentration- and time-dependent antiherpetic activity could be demonstrated. In order to determine the mode of antiviral action, TE and the compounds were added at different times during the viral infection cycle. Addition of these drugs to uninfected cells prior to infection or to herpesvirus-infected cells during intracellular replication had low effect on virus multiplication. Minor virucidal activity of triterpenes was observed, however both TE and tested compounds exhibited high anti-herpetic activity when viruses were pretreated with these drugs prior to infection. Pentacyclic triterpenes inhibit acyclovir-sensitive and acyclovir-resistant clinical isolates of HSV-1 in the early phase of infection.
    Phytomedicine 09/2014; 21(11):1273–1280. DOI:10.1016/j.phymed.2014.06.007 · 2.88 Impact Factor


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Oct 16, 2014