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Natural substances from traditional Asian medicine could help – healing practice



Alleviate depressive states: natural substances could help

depressions are, according to experts, among the most common and underestimated diseases in terms of severity. Patients are often prescribed antidepressants. But often, depressive disorders can also be alleviated with medicinal plants. Researchers now report that possibly also natural substances of traditional Asia Medication could help.

Fruit flies can be used to learn a lot about people, for example about depression. For example, researchers at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) are working to understand and therefore treat depressive states. Their results were published in the journal “Current biology“published.

Study using flies

“With the Drosophila fly, we are studying, among other things, natural substances from traditional Asian medicine – for example from the field of Ayurveda”explains Prof. Dr. Roland Strauss of JGU’s Institute of Developmental Biology and Neurobiology in a Message.

“Some might antidepressant prophylactically act or build resilience to chronic stress, so that there is no depressive state in the first place.

One of the goals of the research team is to prove the effect of the substances, to discover the optimal preparation and the pure substances isolate those causing the effect in the plant material.

Then these could be considered long term medication be placed on the market. But there is still a long way to go – after all, this is basic research.

It depends on the preparation of the natural substance

“In the Drosophila fly we can examine exactly where the respective substances come into play, because we can analyze the entire signal chain”explains Strauss. “And: every step of the signal path can also be proven.”

Scientists put the slightly recurring flies stress from – roughly irregular vibrations from the base. Fruit flies then develop a depressive-like state: they run more slowly, do not stop for the sugar they accidentally discover and, unlike their relaxed counterparts, do not climb over holes.

But how does the behavior change when the flies are given the different natural substances? The result: It basically depends on the preparation of the natural substance, for example if it has been extracted with water or with alcohol.

Reward after a stressful day

The researchers also found that if you reward the flies for half an hour in the evening of a stressful day – i.e. by giving them food that is higher in sugar than usual – or if you give it signal path activate for the reward, it prevents the state of depression.

But what happens when flies get sugar? The sugar receptors on the tarsi and the proboscis were already known, as well as the end of the signaling pathway in which serotonin is released in the bodies of the fungus. As explained in the announcement, the mushroom body learning center of the fly, they correspond to the human hippocampus.

But the way is – as the investigations have shown – essential more complex than the researchers initially suspected.

According to experts, three different neurotransmitter systems are involved until the lack of serotonin, which occurs in flies in a depressed state, is compensated by rewards in the bodies of fungi – among other things by rewards dopaminewhich also signals reward in humans.

However, these fly research findings should in no way encourage people to eat particularly sweet foods. Sweetness is seen by the fly Reward believed that people can acquire it in a much healthier way.

In the long term, natural substances could help in the prevention

In addition, scientists are looking resilience factors in the genome. Because just like humans, Drosophila also has an individual genetic makeup – no two flies are the same.

Researchers wonder how the genomes of flies that better tolerate stress from the genomes of those fruit flies that respond to recurrent mild stress with depressive states.

long term it might be possible to study the genetic susceptibility of humans to depressive illnesses – and, for example, to prevent it with the natural substances also studied in the project. (ad)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the requirements of the specialized medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been verified by health professionals.


  • Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz: Understanding depression better (accessed September 18, 2022), Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz
  • T. Hermans et al. : Octopamine provides sugar relief from a depression-like state induced by chronic stress in Drosophila; in: Current Biology, (published: 07/31/2022), Current biology

Important Note:
This article contains general advice only and should not be used for self-diagnosis or treatment. It cannot substitute a visit to the doctor.

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