Sufferers from depression who seek therapy through natural means, rejoice!

Scientists have discovered a compound in the South African crinum and the South African cyranthus, cousins to the daffodil and snowdrop, which may be used in the future to seek diseases originating in the brain – including depression.

Sufferers from depression have long been forced to contend with current medications’ lethargic effects, and can be worried about drugs’ harsh side effects, which can range from weight gain to anxiety. These side effects are due, in part, to the blood-brain barrier, the separation between the brain and circulating blood, which most medications for brain ailments are unable to surpass. This impenetrability comes, in part, from the highly responsive transporter proteins in the area, which reject compounds nearly as quickly as they enter.

With more than 90 percent of synthetic drug compounds unable to move past the barrier, and the remaining compounds being kicked out as they make it inside, this barrier has proved to be a formidable obstacle for researchers seeking to provide relief to diseases originating in the brain. The compounds in these South African flowers, however, can move past the blood-brain barrier, making its natural prowess uniquely suited to targeting and combating these ailments.

Scientists at the University of Copenhagen had previously found that the salubrious flowers had an effect on the mechanisms of the brain related to depression, but this more recent study finds that the compounds in the flower are even more powerful and benign than previously thought.

Those searching for a new, better way to fight diseases from the brain, such as depression, will not be able to celebrate just yet. The flower is a distance away from being harnessed for medical purposes; the test, conducted on a laboratory model of the blood-brain barrier, is only in the first phase in a lengthy process.

Nonetheless, researchers are excited. Organic scientists are currently working collaboratively with Denmark’s Department of Drug Design and Pharmacology and the Natural History Museum of Denmark.

The results of the study have been published in The Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology.