I posted previously about apitherapy, the use of bee hive products, and in particular bee venom , for treating rheumatoid arthritis (RA). There is documentation back to ancient Greece about the use of bee venom to treat joint pain and swelling. In recent years, several studies have shown that certain ingredients in bee venom have anti-inflammatory and pain killing properties.
Traditional Chinese medicine also relies upon many natural products. These include many substances that those of us in the western world would shy away from. Things like bear bile, ground rhino horn and molds. Another of those traditional Chinese medications has recently been studied: Chinese ants.
Chinese ants have been used for centuries in China as an ingredient in food or drinks as a treatment for many health conditions including hepatitis and arthritis.
Chemists from Hong Kong Baptist University have been researching “medicinal” ants known as Polyrhachis lamellidens. They have discovered 2 compounds (polyketides) that have shown promising results in other studies for treating bacterial infections, arthritis and many different diseases. Polyketides are also found in plants, bacteria and fungi.
These are described as bicyclic (due to their structure) polyketide lactones and identified as polyrhacitides A (1) and B (2).
Their complete structures were determined on the basis of spectroscopic analyses and chemical evidence. Similar polyketide structures are found in plants of the Lamiaceae (), Lauraceae (laurel), and Staphyleaceae families.
The findings of this study were published in the April 25, 2008 issue of the American Chemical Society’s Journal of Natural Products.