Research: Sun Ten Zizyphus Combination (Suan Zao Ren Tang) Increases Spontaneous Sleep Activity


Gamma-aminobutyric Acid (GABA) Receptor Mediates Suanzaorentang, a Traditional Chinese Herb Remedy, -Induced Sleep Alteration


Pei-Lu Yi, Chon-Haw Tsai, Ya-Chu Chen & Fang-Chia Chang



The sedative-hypnotic medications, including benzodiazepines and non-benzodiazepines, are the most common treatments for insomnia. However, concerns regarding patterns of inappropriate use, dependence and adverse effects have led to caution in prescribing those sedative-hypnotic medications. On the other hand, a traditional Chinese herb remedy, suanzaorentang, has been efficiently and widely used in clinic for insomnia relief without severe side effects in Asia. Although suanzaorentang has been reported to improve sleep disruption in insomniac patients, its mechanism is still unclear. The present study was designed to elucidate the effects of oral administration of suanzaorentang on physiological sleep-wake architectures and its underlying mechanism in rats. We found that oral administration of suanzaorentang at the beginning of the dark onset dose-dependently increased non-rapid eye movement sleep (NREMS) during the dark period, but had no significant effect on rapid eye movement sleep (REMS). Our results also indicated that intracerebroventricular (ICV) administration of γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptor type A antagonist, bicuculline, significantly blocked suanzaorentang-induced enhancement in NREMS during the dark period, but GABAB receptor antagonist, 2-hydroxysaclofen had no effect. These results implicated that this traditional Chinese herb remedy, suanzaorentang increases spontaneous sleep activity and its effects may be mediated through the GABAA receptors, but not GABAB receptors.


Keywords: GABA, non-rapid eye movement sleep (NREMS), rapid eye movement sleep (REMS), suanzaorentang.

  1. Introduction
  2. Methods
    1. Pharmacological agent: The Chinese herb mixture suanzaorentang and the placebo starch were manufactured and provided by the Sun-Ten Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd (Taipei, Taiwan).
    2. Animals
    3. Apparatus and recording
    4. Experimental protocol
    5. Statistical analyses
  3. Results
    1. Effects of oral administration of starch and suanzaorentang on sleep-wake activity
    2. Effects of GABAA receptor antagonist, bicuculline on suanzaorentang-induced sleep alteration
    3. Effects of GABAB receptor antagonist, 2-hydroxysaclofen on suanzaorentang-induced sleep alteration
  4. Discussion
  5. References


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