Si-Wu-Tang (SWT), a traditional Chinese formula, has been clinically used in the treatment of cutaneous pruritus, chronic inflammation, and other diseases. The present study was carried out to observe the antipruritic and antiinflammatory effects of SWT aqueous extract using compound 48/80 and picryl chloride (PC) models in mice. SWT (500, 1000 mg/kg p.o.) clearly reduced the scratching responses elicited by compound 48/80 in normal mice. At doses of 250 and 500 mg/kg, it inhibited the scratching responses induced by PC in mice actively sensitized with 2,4-dinitrophenol (DNP)-ovalbumin (OVA) plus alum. Furthermore, SWT (250, 500, 1000 mg/kg) significantly inhibited the footpad swelling caused by compound 48/80 in mice. In the biphasic ear skin reactions induced by PC in actively sensitized mice, SWT (250, 500 mg/kg) reduced the immediate—phase reaction, but did not affect the late—phase reaction. In vitro, SWT (50—500 μg/ml) showed a concentration-dependent inhibition of the histamine release induced by compound 48/80 from rat peritoneal mast cells. The crude drugs contained in SWT, Paeoniae Radix (25, 100 μg/ml), Rehmanniae Radix, and Chuanxiong Rhizoma (100 μg/ml), also showed a clear inhibition, but Angelica Radix did not at the concentrations examined. These findings indicate that SWT aqueous extract has antipruritic and antiinflammatory effects in mice. SWT inhibits histamine release from rat mast cells, and Paeoniae Radix probably plays a crucial role in the formula.
2002 The Pharmaceutical Society of Japan