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Sohrab A.E Hakim1, D Phil2
1 From the National Institute for Medical Research, Mill Hill, London, United Kingdom
2 The Sofa Hakim Medical Research Centre, 249 Dr. D. Naoroji Road, Bombay, India

Hakim SA, Phil D. Sanguinarine & hypothalamic glaucoma. Indian J Ophthalmol 1962;10:83-102

Sanguinarine is a benzphenanthridine alkaloid belonging to the iso-quinoline group. Over 114 iso-quinoline alkaloids are known and some of them like morphine, codeine and papaverine are amongst the most active and useful of drugs.  

Iso-quinoline alkaloids are usually found in plants belonging to two large botanical families, the poppies and fumarias, but they also occur sporadically in twelve other plant families (Manske, 1954). 

Sanguinarine was hitherto regarded as a rare and obscure alkaloid first isolated 133 years ago from Sanguinaria canadensis L., the 'blood-root' used by the North American Indians to paint themselves scarlet. During the last one and a half centuries, the "epoch of alkaloid detection", chemists found sanguinarine in only eight other poppy-fumaria plants. Working at the National Institute for Medical Research, London, under the guid­ance of Sir Robert Robinson and Dr. James Walker, we found that sanguinarine was present and abundant in most morphological parts of nearly fifty species of poppy-fumaria weeds we examined.

Sanguinarine was more or less invariably present in the leaves and stems, often in the roots, capsules and seeds, and was the commonest fluorescent alkaloid seen in these species. It seems to have been missed for so many years because of its unusual solubility and absence of adequate tests. The details of our methods of extraction, detection, identification and results have been published elsewhere. (Hakim et al., 1961a).

An example of how sanguinarine had hitherto escaped chemical detection is found in the 'opium' poppy Papaver somniferum L. No plant has been more thoroughly investigated in the annals of chemistry, and yet sanguinarine was missed in this plant. We found it in its roots, stems and leaves. The young plants are used as edible herbs in the middle East and like the 'fumitory' herb, deliberately fed to cattle.

Those of you who have seen the cornfields of Europe and North India will recollect the myriads of scarlet poppies (Papaver rhoeas L., P. hybridum L., and P. dubium L.) growing amongst the grain. Everyone of these poppies contain sanguinarine in either its roots, stems, leaves or seeds. 

The National Formulary (1960), the Dispensatory of the United States of America (1960) and the British Pharmaceutical Codex (1949) sponsor the use of Sanguinaria canadensis L., the 'blood-root' over­flowing with the scarlet alkaloid sanguinarine !

It became evident that sanguinarine was not a rare and obscure alkaloid, but a glaucoma­genetic toxin definitely found and abundant in most parts of at least sixty-two poppy-fumaria species. Since the alkaloid was present in so many species distributed in 14 representative genera, it seems very likely that it will be found in most or all of the nearly seven hundred species of this vast plant family. If you visualise rice fields in spring, teeming with thousands of yellow argemone, or vegetable gardens scattered with the purple fumaria in early winter, or fields of wheat amongst which thousands of scarlet poppies fill an autumn landscape, you will realise how densely just three out of these hundreds of species can grow and, therefore, what an abundant source of sanguinarine is available in the plant kingdom.



Adapted from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Systematic (IUPAC) name
CAS number 2447-54-3
PubChem CID 5154
ChemSpider 4970
Chemical data
Formula C20H14NO4 
Mol. mass 332.09

Sanguinarine is a quaternary ammonium salt from the group of benzylisoquinoline alkaloids. 

It is extracted from some plants, including bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis), Mexican prickly poppy (Argemone mexicana), Chelodine (Chelidonium majus), and Plume poppy (Macleaya cordata). It is also found in the root, stem and leaves of the opium poppy but not in the capsule.

Sanguinarine is a toxin that kills animal cells through its action on the Na+-K+-ATPase transmembrane protein. Epidemic dropsy is a disease that results from ingesting (too much) sanguinarine.

If applied to the skin, sanguinarine kills cells and can destroy (diseased) tissue. In turn, the bleeding wound may produce a scab, called an Eschar. For this reason, sanguinarine is termed an escharotic.

In plants, sanguinarine is synthesized from dihydrosanguinarine through the action of Dihydrobenzophenanthridine oxidase (EC[4]

* Berberine; a plant based compound with similar chemical classification as sanguinarine


[edit] Notes

1. ^ Alfredo C. Santos, Pacifica Adkilen (July 1932). "The Alkaloids of Argemon Mexicana". Journal of the American Chemical Society 54, No. 7: 2923–2924. 
2. ^ Inhibition of Na+-K+-ATPase activity and ouabain binding by sanguinarine Barry J. R. Pitts, Laurence R. Meyerson, Ph. D, Drug Development Research, Volume 1, Issue 1.
3. ^ Das M, Khanna SK (May 1997). "Clinicoepidemiological, toxicological, and safety evaluation studies on argemone oil". Critical reviews in toxicology 27 (3): 273–97. doi:10.3109/10408449709089896. PMID 9189656. 
4. ^ Chelirubine, Macarpine, and Sanguinarine Biosynthesis International Union of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Recommendations on Biochemical & Organic Nomenclature, Symbols & Terminology etc., web interface

[edit] Additional references

* D. Walterova, J. Ulrichova, I. Valka, J. Vicar, C. Vavreckova, E. Taborska, R.J. Harjrader, D.L. Meyer, H. Cerna and V. Simanek(1996) Benzo[c]phenanthridine alkaloids sanguinarine and chelerythrine: biological activities and dental care applications, Acta Univ. Palacky Olomouc Fac. Med. 139 (1995), pp. 7–16.
* Zdarilova et al., A. Zdarilova, J. Malikova, Z. Dvorak, J. Ulrichova and V. Simanek,2006, Quaternary isoquinoline alkaloids sanguinarine and chelerythrine. In vitro and in vivo effects, Chemicke Listy 100 (2006), pp. 30–41.
* Das M. and Khanna S.K.(1997) Clinicoepidemiological, toxicological, and safety evaluation studies on argemone oil, Crit. Rev. Toxicol. 27 pp. 273–297.
* Mukul Das, Kishore Babu, Naveen P. Reddy and Lalit M. Srivastava.(2005) Oxidative damage of plasma proteins and lipids in epidemic dropsy patients: Alterations in antioxidant status. Biochimica et Biophysica Acta- General Subjects, Vol 1722, Issue 2, Pg 209-217
* A. Zdařilová, R. Vrzal, M. Rypka, J. Ulrichová and Z. Dvořák(2006)Investigation of sanguinarine and chelerythrine effects on CYP1A1 expression and activity in human hepatoma cells Food and Chemical Toxicology, Vol 44(2) , Pg 242-249
* Manu Lopus and Dulal Panda (2006) The benzophenanthridine alkaloid sanguinarine perturbs microtubule assembly dynamics through tubulin binding. A possible mechanism for its antiproliferative activity. FEBS J. Vol 273, Issue 10, Pg 2139-2150.
* Differential Antiproliferative and Apoptotic Response of Sanguinarine for Cancer Cells versus Normal Cells Nihal Ahmad, Sanjay Gupta, Mirza M. Husain, Kaisa M. Heiskanen and Hasan Mukhtar, Clinical Cancer Research Vol. 6 (April 2000), pp. 1524-1528.

References Top

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53. Glaucoma, Symposium on. Ed. Clark, W. (1959) Mosby, St. Louis. Back to cited text no. 53 
54. Report. National Society for the Prevention of Blindness U.S.A. (1950). Back to cited text no. 54

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BSI Medicines and Therapies:

Having arrived this web site, you've by now probably made a decision to take responsibility for your own health.

The use of BSI medicines, and related therapies, are intuitive and evolutionary in concept and practice. No two cases are treated the same. And conventional medical practice can never embrace, what is to them, a radical departure from accepted science and licensed convention. It is up-to-you, the reader/therapist/self-healer, to take initiative and responsibility in relation to what is done with this rare information and timeless medicine.

This is to say we suggest one not follow blindly, as though taking un-questioned instruction from the local MD. Do your homework, design an appropriate course of treatment before proceeding. Although this web site cannot serve as a substitute for nominal health advice, our desire is that it will stimulate the reader / healer into at least viewing alternatives to the dogmatic purvey of the mainstream medical practice.

BSI medicines can be effectively used for a wide variety of problems, even and especially including preventative medicine. Our medicines and therapies are highly anti-virus. anti-fungus, and anti-baceria, plus anti-aging and preventative.

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A few of the 60+ natural medicines we manufacture at BSI....

Traditional Bloodroot Salve
Compound A
Blood Root Jahe Yellow Powder
Compound B
Blood Root Jahe Magnesium
Yellow Salve

Compound BVC
Goldenseal Comfrey Aloe
Healing Salve

Compound C
Blood Root Jahe Salve
Compound D
Bromelain Papain Powder
Compound G
Jintan Hitam Beet Powder
Compound J
Cancer Killer
Compound K
Manggis Sirsap Powder
Compound L
Colloidal Minerals
Compound M
Noni Mint Powder
Compound NP
Poison Control
Compound S
Digestive Toner and Cleanse
Compound VL
Lung and Sinus Steamer Solution
Compound B Tincture
DMSO Vit C Bloodroot Bicarbonate Magnesium Iodine Jahe
Compound 1-5
Bone & Ligament Rebuilder
Compound O
Oral Parasite Medicine
Compound W
Lung & Sinus Tonic
Compound TL
Jamu BSI

Compound Z

Infusion Enhancement

Compound IZ
Nigella Sativa
Infusion Enhancement

Compound IN
Healing Eye Drops
Vitamin C - Silver - Magnesium - Electrolyte Healing for eyes

Compound ED
Tumor Direct Injection
Compound A-20
Vitamin C and Electrolytes Infusion
Compound IAA
Silver Hydrosol
Infusion Enhancement and Tumor Injection

Compound IS
Lemon Bath and Body Oil
Compound SO
Vita Bath
Healing Bath Salts

Compound V
Trace Elements Body Detox and Skin Purifier
Natural Insect Repellant
Bug Juice
Oral Healing Oils
Compound SOS
Trace Elements Face & Scalp Healing Conditioner
Oral Healing Kit
Oral Kit
Body Detox
and Healing Kit

Body Kit

Sorry, the medicines we make are sold only to our patients.