Polyrhachis Ant Extract: Overview for Physicians

As Western medicine looks to ethnopharmacological traditions for the natural materials that increasingly become the basis for proprietary pharmaceuticals, it should be noted that despite our bias toward plant-based medicines, traditional healing approaches are by no means limited to plant material only. Careful observation of traditional cultures can point us in the direction of previously overlooked sources of powerful, beneficial compounds.

History of the Chinese Medicinal Ant

Certain species of ants have been used as medicine for thousands of years in traditional cultures around the world, most notably in China. Polyrhachis Ant Extract is currently used in modern Chinese hospitals, where traditional healing methods based on centuries of use and observation are practiced alongside Western models. Ethnopharmacological usage of Ant Extract is strikingly consistent worldwide for certain ailments such as joint pain, inflammation, and as a general health
and anti-aging tonic.

Polyrhachis Ant Extract is Evidence-Based

Scientific studies of ethanol Extract of Chinese Medicinal Ants, genus Polyrhachis, outlined here and detailed on our Scientific Studies page, have produced data supporting its beneficial pharmacologic effects, while demonstrating its safety and lack of toxicity. Animal studies, in vitro tissue studies, and human trials in a clinical setting all present strong evidence of anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties, remarkable anti-oxidant activity, and direct curative effect on rheumatoid arthritis and chronic hepatitis, with evidence of effectiveness against osteoarthritis. In addition, we feel that due to the compelling evidence of anti-inflammatory activity, Polyrhachis Extract could be an effective treatment for other inflammatory diseases such as fibromyalgia, anylosing spondylitis and lupus.

Chemical Analysis of Polyrhachis Ant Extract

Chemical analysis of ethanol extract of Polyrhachis vicina Roger reveals dense nutritional content including amino acids and minerals in significant amounts, trace amounts of steroids and hormones, and the presence of known, beneficial bioactive compounds including superoxide dismutase (SOD), a powerful anti-oxidant compound, and adenosine triphosphate (ATP), noted for its role in intracellular energy transfer. Demonstrated anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects have been linked to two novel and promising bicyclic polyketide lactones isolated from Polyrhachis Ant Extract, Polyrhacitide A and Polyrhacitide B. In 2009, a German research team achieved laboratory synthesis of these recently discovered Polyrhacitides, which will allow further pharmacological study.

Replaces Glucosamine and Chondroitin for Joint Inflammation and Pain

Recent studies indicate that Polyrhachis Ant Extract is the most convincing natural supplement currently available for joint swelling and pain, in light of accumulating evidence that glucosamine and chondroitin, alone or in combination, are no better than placebo for pain, and exhibit no effect on the progression of degenerative osteoarthritis. Physicians will find that Polyrhachis Ant Extract offers a safe, natural alternative for recalcitrant cases, or where steroidal anti-inflammatories and NSAIDS are contraindicated

Laboratory Evidence of Efficacy

Medicinal Extract of Polyrhachis vicina Roger has been scientifically proven to exert potent analgesic and anti-inflammatory action, in both laboratory and clinical settings, supporting its use in the treatment of many diseases including rheumatoid and osteoarthritis, and chronic hepatitis. Significant anti-oxidant capabilities as well are demonstrated by free-radical-quenching and anti-lipoperoxidative action.

Anti-inflammatory and Analgesic Effects

Medicinal Extract of Polyrhachis was found in several different animal studies to remarkably inhibit inflammation, dose-dependently. Using xylol-, formaldehyde- and acetic acid-induced inflammation models in mice and rats, Extract of Polyrhachis was shown to inhibit vascular permeability, and to measurably reduce inflammation. These models are considered standard laboratory tests of anti-inflammatory activity. The potency of Polyrhachis Extract was shown to match or exceed that of hydrocortisone and indomethacin, and Polyrhachis Extract reduced inflammation by as much as 70% over the untreated control groups.

In addition, impressive dose-dependent analgesic effects are seen in animal testing.4 In human trials, results were seen comparable to significant doses of commonly prescribed NSAIDs such as aspirin, with marked effectiveness at the most acute phases of pain.

Anti-oxidant Effects

Extract of Polyrhachis also exhibited remarkable dose-dependent anti-oxidant protection in animal tissue studies in vitro. Liver protective effects were observed using both the Fe-NTA-induced nephrotoxicity model and the CCl4-induced subcutaneous injection model and demonstrated by inhibited necrotic reaction and reduced presence of thiobarbiturate reactive substances (TBARS). In addition, anti-lipoperoxidative action was demonstrated in treated animal organ homogenate in vitro by significant TBARS reduction.

In other tests, the free radical scavenging action of Extract of Polyrhachis was examined in vitro using spin spectometry. DPPH radicals were quenched at an astonishing rate of 50% by the extract at 18mg/ml. Superoxide and hydroxyl radicals were quenched at the same rate at 0.5mg/ml and 1.8mg/ml respectively.

Clinical Evidence of Efficacy

The laboratory evidence of the anti-inflammatory, analgesic and anti-oxidant effects of Medicinal Extract of Polyrhachis vicina Roger provide a convincing backdrop for clinical evidence of its effectiveness against rheumatoid arthritis as well as chronic hepatitis, with strong indications for treatment of osteoarthritis.

An important long range, high volume human study was conducted in a Chinese hospital over a period of 19 years. 18,435 cases of rheumatoid and osteoarthritis were treated with ethanol Extract of Polyrhachis Ants, and  the results were 10.2% clinically “cured” as indicated by improved erythrocyte sedimentation rate, low RF factor and return to normal activities and work. 46.2% showed marked improvement defined by loss of morning stiffness, significantly reduced pain and swelling, improved joint function and low RF factor. 42.8% showed improvement defined as shortened morning stiffness, with no change in RF factor. Polyrhachis Ant Extract was ineffective in less than one percent of all cases. Efficacy of Ant Extract matched or exceeded that of prednisone and indomethacin used on a control group in this study.

This same study followed 648 cases of chronic hepatitis treated with Polyrhachis Extract, resulting in a 55% cure rate, with 28% improved and 17% ineffective.†
Relief of symptoms was generally first noted 2 weeks after the start of treatment, with marked improvement occurring in the 6th to 12th week of treatment.‡

Absence of Toxicity and Side Effects

The clinical studies of Polyrhachis Extract cited above noted an absence of toxicity in all cases. In addition, animal testing of acute dosages (200 to 300 times the equivalent recommended human dosage), resulted in zero deaths. Subacute dosage in animals over a span of 14 days and chronic (30 day) low dosages revealed continued normal function as evidenced by liver and kidney function, blood biochemistry, and behavioral indicators. Individual high doses of 60,000mg in human trials resulted in a flushing reaction similar to niacin which typically resolved within 30 minutes.

Description of Medicinal Ant Extract 

Physician Perfected Polyrhachis Ant Extract is an ethanolic concentrated extract of Chinese Medicinal Ants, species Polyrhachis vicina Roger. It is made by extraction and fractionation of air-dried P. vicina Roger under reflux with ethanol, followed by centrifugation, repeated filtration, removal of ethanol, and concentration to 20:1. Physician Perfected Medicinal Ant Extract is encapsulated, with each capsule containing 300 mg of Extract. Recommended adult dosage is 2-4 capsules/day, not to exceed 12 capsules in 24 hours.

More information on the cited studies is available on our Scientific Studies page.

† In the hepatitis study, cure and improvement was measured as reduction or disappearance of H factors, liver function fully or partially restored, SGPT reduced to under 50 IU/ml and decrease in HBsAg drop degree. Cure and improvement in both arthritis and liver studies were defined as no relapse to previous levels within 6 months. Hepatitis study conducted from 1990-1995.
‡The average course of treatment was 6 to 8 weeks, sometimes requiring a maintenance dose given thereafter to consolidate results. Some patients were also treated over the course of these studies with other Chinese herbal medicines as warranted by signs and symptoms.