Withaferin A Shows Early Promise to Treat Pancreatitis

A recent study has demonstrated promising results for Withaferin A (“WA”), a plant-based compound traditionally used in Indian herbal medicine, in treating pancreatitis.

Researchers from Virginia Commonwealth University, the University of Virginia and the Baylor Institute induced pancreatitis in mice and then studied the effect of WA on progression of the disease.  They found that WA reduced the severity of pancreatitis, both when administered preventatively and as a treatment.  WA acted to suppress the proinflammatory genes activated by pancreatitis and decrease pancreatic cell death.  The results were apparently confirmed in tests with human tissue.

WA is a steroidal lactone derived from Indian Winter Cherry or ashwagandha, a plant traditionally used in Aruyvedic medicine.  It has been studied for possible treatment of prostate prostate cancer, lymphoma and diabetes, among other conditions, but does not appear to be utilized currently as an FDA-approved treatment.

While preliminary, the study seems to merit additional research.  An abstract of the article, published in July’s Journal of Gastroenterology, can be accessed here.