What is Noscapine?
Noscapine is a naturally occurring, non-addictive alkaloid that is extracted from the opium plant species. Noscapine is also found in minute quantities in tomatoes and cabbage leaves.
Noscapine has been referred to by scientists as a “medicinal hero” due to its unique pharmacology and beneficial impact on the body with virtually no side effects.
Noscapine was first isolated in 1803 by the French scientist Jean-Franҫois Derosne. In 1930, it’s cough suppressing effects were discovered. Since then, Noscapine has been used as a cough suppressant medication at doses of 15 mg to 45 mg three times daily and is the main ingredient in cold and flu medications in several countries.
Noscapine’s Anti-Cancer Effects
In 1958, the US National Cancer Institute discovered that Noscapine contained cancer-fighting properties, but due to no commercial interest (since Noscapine was no longer patentable), no further studies were carried out at the time.
Forty years later, Dr. Keqiang Ye of Emory University in Atlanta, USA was on an intensive search for an anti-microtubule compound that could be used to stop the division of cancer cells when he came across Noscapine and rediscovered its cancer-fighting potential. The first lab experiments by scientists at Emory University showed that Noscapine shrunk tumors by an incredible 80% in just 3 weeks without any adverse effects!
This astonishing discovery led to more intensive research by scientists at Emory University and other institutions around the world, which all confirmed that Noscapine is highly effective against brain tumors, thymoma, prostate cancer, lymphoma, ovarian cancer, non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), gastric cancer, colorectal cancer, as well as certain neuroendocrine tumors.
Explaining Noscapine’s Anti-Cancer Effects
Noscapine works to treat cancer via several mechanisms of action discovered so far:
- It prevents microtubules from breaking down, which causes cancerous cells to become so overloaded with microtubules that they can no longer grow and induces apoptosis.
- The anti-antiangiogenic properties of Noscapine also block HIF-1 and VEGF, which are growth factors in many forms of cancer.
- Noscapine slows down cancer cell growth by suppressing bradykinin (a protein that stimulates inflammation and is usually released into the blood in response to an injury). Bradykinin inhibitors such as Noscapine are showing promise as more effective than powerful chemotherapy drugs.
Noscapine for Stroke
In 2003, a team of scientists who were aware of Noscapine’s ability to inhibit bradykinin decided to research the use of Noscapine in stroke victims. Bradykinin is responsible for much of the brain damage suffered by people after a stroke. Complications as a result of a stroke are the third leading cause of death in many countries. Their ground-breaking clinical trial compared a group of stroke patients who received Noscapine to those who didn't. While only 1 of every 5 stroke patients who didn’t receive Noscapine survived, the survival rate of the Noscapine recipients was 400% higher, with 4 of every 5 stroke patients surviving. No toxicity or side effects were observed in the Noscapine-treated patients.
Noscapine for PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome)
Noscapine has also been researched as a novel treatment for various ovary disorders such as PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) due to its anti-angiogenic properties and good ovarian uptake. A study conducted in 2009 showed that animals with PCOS resumed their estrous cycles within four days of being administered Noscapine. Folliculogenesis was followed by ovulation with reduced cysts. Serum LH, PRL, estradiol, and testosterone levels decreased while FSH and progesterone levels significantly rose in the noscapine-treated group when compared to treatment with flutamide (a conventional drug used in PCOS treatment).
Noscapine for Alzheimer’s Disease
A groundbreaking study by eminent Swiss researchers published in 2019 demonstrated Noscapine’s potential for treating Alzheimer’s disease. Using a functional MRI (fMRI), the Swiss scientists exposed mice with the well-known Alzheimer’s animal model of cerebral amyloidosis to Noscapine. Noscapine treatment resulted in a recovery of cerebral vascular function and reduced brain hypoperfusion, both of which indicate Noscapine’s anti-Alzheimer's promise.
Noscapine for Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia (HSP)
In 2014 the HSP Research Foundation of Australia published the first promising research into Noscapine for treating HSP. Their scientists showed that Noscapine could regenerate and repair certain HSP gene defects by restoring the function of stem cells and preventing cell death.
While the HSP Research Foundation has been struggling to raise funding for large clinical trials to treat this rare and neglected medical condition, HPS patients are not waiting. At the 18th annual conference of the Spastic Paraplegia Foundation in San Antonia, Texas, Dr. Corey Braastad, Vice President of Genomics at Covance Drug Discovery disclosed that Noscapine is already being used informally by several dozen HSP patients in the USA.
Obtaining & Using Noscapine
Noscapine’s Effective Dose
For cough-suppressing effects, 15 - 45 mg is used 3 times daily. Cancer patients typically use 1,000 - 3,000 mg daily, in three divided doses. HSP patients have been using 800 - 2,000 mg daily in divided doses.
Noscapine’s Interaction with other Medicines
Noscapine is not known to interact with any medications, besides the anticoagulant warfarin, where Noscapine increases its anticoagulant effects. Warfarin users should take Noscapine only under the close supervision of their physicians and regular monitoring of INR levels.
Due to global production shortages, Noscapine has been becoming difficult to obtain in certain countries. In Belgium, Holland, and Sweden, it is widely available in pharmacies, or through online sites such as eBay. The higher dose Noscapine capsules used by cancer or HSP patients can be ordered through compounding pharmacies, or from online suppliers such as Suki Distribution in Singapore who ship to many countries worldwide.
Noscapine is an ideal and safe candidate for treat a variety of medical conditions, including many different types of cancer (brain tumors, thymoma, prostate cancer, lymphoma, ovarian cancer, non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), gastric cancer, colorectal cancer, as well as certain neuroendocrine tumors), stroke victims, polycystic ovarian syndrome, and neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease and Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia. Since Noscapine benefits from almost 100 years of clinical use, it’s safety is well established. Noscapine is available in easy-to-take oral forms such as capsules, pills, and syrups.
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- Ye, K., Keshava, N., Shanks, J., Kapp, J.A., Tekmal, R.R., Petros, J., Joshi, H.C., Opium Alkaloid Noscapine is an Antitumor Agent that Arrests Metaphase and Induces Apoptosis in Dividing Cells, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci., USA, 95(4):1601-1606 (Feb. 17, 1998)
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- Anjali Priyadarshani, Relevance of an opioid, noscapine in reducing cystogenesis in rat experimental model of polycystic ovary syndrome, J Endocrinol Invest. 2009 Nov;32(10):837-43. DOI: 10.3275/6435. Epub 2009 Jul 17
- Radiolabeling, biodistribution and gamma scintigraphy of noscapine hydrochloride in normal and polycystic ovary induced rats.J Ovarian Res. 2010 Apr 27;3:10. DOI: 10.1186/1757-2215-3-10
- Ni, R., Kindler, D. R., Waag, R., Rouault, M., Ravikumar, P., Nitsch, R., et al. (2019). fMRI reveals mitigation of cerebrovascular dysfunction by bradykinin receptors 1 and 2 inhibitor noscapine in a mouse model of cerebral amyloidosis. Front. Aging Neurosci. 11:27. doi: 10.3389/fnagi.2019.00027
- Yongjun Fan, Gautam Wali, Ratneswary Sutharsan, Bernadette Bellette, Denis I. Crane, Carolyn M. Sue, Alan Mackay-Sim, Low dose tubulin-binding drugs rescue peroxisome trafficking deficit in patient-derived stem cells in Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia. Biology Open 2014 3: 494-502; DOI: 10.1242/bio.20147641