Plant power: Chinese firm files patent for Cistanche tubulosa against muscle loss

By Kacey Culliney

- Last updated on GMT

The rare plant was tested for its effects on age-related damage. ©iStock
The rare plant was tested for its effects on age-related damage. ©iStock
A Chinese pharmaceutical firm has filed a patent for use of a rare, native desert plant to delay muscle loss and age-associated damage.

Writing in its global patent, Sinphar Tian-Li Pharmaceutical said the parasitic desert plant Cistanche tubulosa,​ only found in the Taklamakan Desert of northwest China, had long been used in Chinese medicine to improve kidney function, as well as for its anti-ageing and anti-fatigue properties.

However, it said the plant had never before been associated with delaying muscle loss.

“At present, there is no effective treatment method for the delay of muscle loss, and there is no literature that ​Cistanche tubulosa has protective effects on muscle atrophy,”​ the company wrote in its patent filing.

Still, it said this patent now provided a method of using Cistanche​ extract to prepare a drug or food product that can be used to protect muscle.

Isoacteoside — the active component

Sinphar Tian-Li Pharmaceutical said it was the active phenolic component isoacteoside that was important in this extract.

The compound, it said, maintained muscle cell mitochondria — responsible for the energy-generating process essential for cell metabolism — and improved control of oxidative stress; thus helping with the prevention of muscle loss and damage.

“The present inventors found the extract of ​Cistanche tubulosa to be effective against cellular damage; it can be used to protect muscles and have a therapeutic impact and/or delay the loss of efficacy of the muscle.

“The use of the extract ​Cistanche tubulosa is effective to modulate, treat and / or delay muscle diseases and / or cachexia-induced loss because of ageing,” ​it wrote.

The company said that when processing the extract for use in functional food and drink, any part of the plant (flower and / or stem) could be used, but the composition of the Cistanche tubulosa​ must be 25.4% echinacoside, 3.8% acteoside and 4.1% isoacteoside.

Form and dosage

The company said the blend — dried after extracting liquid through a polar solvent process — could be used in specialised health foods, including dairy, meat or baked goods, as well as juices, teas, sports drinks, and supplements.

It said recommended intake of Cistanche​ extract would vary according to individual age, weight and health condition.  

However, trials using mouse cells indicated a concentration of 10 to 50 microgrammes per ml of extract solution had a “significant protective effect”​ on the muscle cells, which the company said could then effectively reduce muscle cell damage.

This dosage, it said, could be achieved by intake once or several times a day, depending on the application and formulation. Ideally, if produced in food, drink or supplement form, “the amount is preferably adjusted to be administered daily”.


Source: WIPO

Published: 20 July, 2017

“Use of ​Cistanche tubulosa extract and isoacteoside in protection of muscles”

Inventor: C. Wang, A. Yeh (Sinphar Tian-Li Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd)

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