A large trial investigating the effectiveness of a celery-seed-derived neuroprotectant drug for use in ischemic stroke cases has shown significant promise.
Patients given the medicine called butylphthalide had a 70% better chance of improved neurological and general living outcomes 90 days post-stroke, a finding generated from a little over 1,000 cases.
Butylphthalide is already approved for use in treating strokes in China. Currently though, the FDA has not approved it for any use.
How butylphthalide works isn’t clear, with animal studies suggesting various possible mechanisms. It may help protect brain tissue from damage when the supply of oxygenated blood is cut off and it works alongside existing clot-busting drugs or procedures to remove blood clots in ischemic stroke conditions.
The trial consisted of 1,216 patients who were admitted for stroke in China where the drug is approved for use, and given it alongside a tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) and/or a mechanical clot removal procedure—two primary means of dealing with ischemic, or clot strokes.
Every year, more than 795,000 people in the United States have a stroke, with 87% of these being ischemic ones. The burden of these events is large, and they are a leading cause of disability in the elderly.
“This is the first trial to show the benefit of using a medication that protects the brain from damage caused by a lack of oxygen to brain tissue. The medication was given to patients with acute ischemic stroke who were also receiving treatment to restore blood flow to the brain,” said Baixue Jia, M.D., co-author of the study.
The patients were then analyzed for stroke symptoms 90 days after the event, and those who had received the celery-seed-derived butylphthalide fared better 70% of the time compared to placebo.
“The next step should be investigating the exact mechanisms of butylphthalide in humans,” Jia said. Other authors noted that the relation between the medication and eating celery seed or celery should not be considered as existent, since it is merely derived from the vegetable.
There are other options for clearing blood clots, so the study is limited to the fact that the patients only received two of the available methods.
The results will soon be presented to the International Stroke Conference this week in Dallas, Texas.