This study describes the gut, airways and cardiovascular modulatory activities of Zanthoxylum armatum DC. (Rutaceae) to rationalize some of its medicinal uses. The crude extract of Zanthoxylum armatum (Za.Cr) caused concentration-dependent relaxation of spontaneous and high K(+) (80 mM)-induced contractions in isolated rabbit jejunum, being more effective against K(+) and suggestive of Ca(++) antagonist effect, which was confirmed when pretreatment of the tissues with Za.Cr shifted Ca(++) concentration-response curves to the right, like that caused by verapamil. Za.Cr inhibited the castor-oil-induced diarrhea in mice at 300-1000 mg/kg. In rabbit tracheal preparations, Za.Cr relaxed the carbachol (1 microM) and high K(+)-induced contractions, in a pattern similar to that of verapamil. In isolated rabbit aortic rings, Za.Cr exhibited vasodilator effect against phenylephrine (1 microM) and K(+)-induced contractions. When tested in guinea pig atria, Za.Cr caused inhibition of both atrial force and rate of spontaneous contractions, like that caused by verapamil. These results indicate that Zanthoxylum armatum exhibits spasmolytic effects, mediated possibly through Ca(++) antagonist mechanism, which provides pharmacological base for its medicinal use in the gastrointestinal, respiratory and cardiovascular disorders.
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