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Scientists Shed Light On How Ancient Wound Treatment Works At The Molecular Level

January 24, 2014: 12:00 AM EST
German researchers have discovered the molecular basis of the age-old healing action of birch bark. In phase one of healing, an extract of the bark, and its main ingredient betulin, temporarily increases inflammatory substances released by damaged skin cells by activating proteins that extend the half-life of the messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA). Healing proceeds to a second phase, in which the birch extract (with betulin and lupeol) speeds up proteins involved in the restructuring of the actin cytoskeleton, which gives skin cells their shape. The cells then migrate to the wound and close it, completing the healing process. 
Sandra Ebeling et al., "From a Traditional Medicinal Plant to a Rational Drug: Understanding the Clinically Proven Wound Healing Efficacy of Birch Bark Extract", PLoS ONE, January 24, 2014, © Ebeling et al.
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