Cowhage


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Cow´hage

    (kou´hãj)
n.1.(Bot.) A leguminous climbing plant of the genus Mucuna, having crooked pods covered with sharp hairs, which stick to the fingers, causing intolerable itching. The spiculæ are sometimes used in medicine as a mechanical vermifuge.
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The researchers induced itch in the subjects using a tropical plant called cowhage typically used when studying non-histamine-induced itch, This type of itch is more related to chronic itch, where antihistamines do not have any anti-itch effect.
Yosipovitch and colleagues induced itch on the ankles, forearms and backs of 18 study participants with cowhage spicules, which come from a type of legume found in tropical areas that are known to cause intense itching.
The pain work led to an interest in itch, and Bautista has accumulated a variety of agents that stimulate the itch reflex, including the plant called cowhage (Mucuna pruriens) and the drug chloroquine, an antimalarial that often causes a hellish, all-over itch.
Both chloroquine and cowhage, however, cause a histamine-independent itch, as do opium compounds; inflammation, from asthma and allergies to skin rash; and eczema.
To study the itches in the lab, scientists turned to cowhage, a major ingredient in pranksters' itching powder.
Researchers at the Wake Forest School of Medicine in north Carolina made healthy volunteers aged between 22 and 59 itch by rubbing their ankles, backs and forearms with cowhage, a plant with tiny hairs that irritate the skin.