New Pain Medicine?

Opium comes from the poppy flower. Now a new pain drug has been located in the bark of a certain tree, which grows from Africa to Cambodia.

Okolo et al have reported in J Ethnopharmacol. 1995 Feb;45(2):125-9. that Irvingia gabonensis stem bark extract (known also as dika nut) has analgesic properties comparable to heroin. Its effect is blocked by naloxone, so this is likely the location of another opiate in nature. The stem bark has been used for centuries for pain by the Mende tribe of Sierra Leone. The researchers, who do not appear to have access to sophisticated measuring devices, report only that there are differences between the extract by water and the extract by alcohol. This particular stem bark is said to be most active against heat pain. It is an interesting finding. No doubt it would be highly regulated if it ever reaches the U.S., but the ethanol extract may have some non opiate pathway since naloxone, an opiate blocker, behaves differently from the water extract. Dika nut is already used as a binder for some commonly used medicines. It appears NOT to be inert.