Salvia miltiorrhiza extract inhibits alcohol absorption, preference, and discrimination in sP rats

Alcohol. 1999 May;18(1):65-70. doi: 10.1016/s0741-8329(98)00069-x.


Experiment 1 of the present study investigated the ability of a standardized extract of Salvia miltiorrhiza in reducing voluntary ethanol intake in ethanol-preferring rats of the sP line. Ethanol intake occurred under the two-bottle free-choice regimen between 10% (v/v) ethanol and water in daily 4-h scheduled access periods; water was present 24 h/day. Intragastric administration of 200 mg/kg Salvia miltiorrhiza extract resulted in approximately 40% reduction in ethanol intake and preference throughout the 4-day treatment. This effect of Salvia miltiorrhiza extract was likely due to its ability of altering ethanol absorption from the gastrointestinal tract. Indeed, Experiments 2 and 3 of this study demonstrated that 200 mg/kg Salvia miltiorrhiza extract reduced blood ethanol levels (BELs) up to 60% in comparison to control rats, when ethanol was given IG, whereas it failed to modify BELs when ethanol was injected IP. The reducing effect of Salvia miltiorrhiza extract on ethanol absorption may have therefore resulted in an attenuated perception of the psychoactive effects of ethanol sought by ethanol-drinking rats. Consistently, the results of Experiment 4 of the present study demonstrated that a combination of 200 mg/kg Salvia miltiorrhiza extract IG and 1 or 2 g/kg ethanol IG resulted in a partial blockade of the discriminative stimulus effects of ethanol in sP rats trained to discriminate these doses of ethanol from water in a drug discrimination procedure. Collectively, the results are discussed as being suggestive that drugs curbing ethanol absorption from the gastrointestinal tract may constitute a novel strategy for controlling excessive alcohol consumption in human alcoholics.

MeSH terms

  • Alcohol Drinking / drug therapy*
  • Animals
  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal / therapeutic use*
  • Ethanol / blood
  • Lamiaceae / therapeutic use*
  • Male
  • Phytotherapy*
  • Rats


  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal
  • Ethanol