Monday, December 22, 2008


The hypothalamus is a region of the brain that controls an immense number of bodily functions. It is located in the middle of the base of the brain, and encapsulates the ventral portion of the third ventricle.

The pituitary gland, also known as the hypophysis, is a roundish organ that lies immediately beneath the hypothalamus, resting in a depression of the base of the skull called the sella turcica ("Turkish saddle"). In an adult human or sheep, the pituitary is roughly the size and shape of a garbonzo bean.

The image to the right shows these anatomical relationships in the Visible Woman (click on the image to see a larger, unlabeled image).

Careful examination of the pituitary gland reveals that it composed of two distinctive parts:

The anterior pituitary or adenohypophysis is a classical gland composed predominantly of cells that secrete protein hormones.
The posterior pituitary or neurohypophysis is not really an organ, but an extension of the hypothalamus. It is composed largely of the axons of hypothalamic neurons which extend downward as a large bundle behind the anterior pituitary. It also forms the so-called pituitary stalk, which appears to suspend the anterior gland from the hypothalamus.

The image to the right shows a frontal view of a sheep pituitary gland and hypothalamus. The posterior gland can be seen peeking out behind the anterior gland; pass your mouse cursor over the image for labels (image courtesy of Dr. Terry Nett).

The anterior and posterior pituitary have separate embryological origins. In many mammals, there is also an intermediate lobe (pars intermedia) between the anterior and posterior pituitary.

A key to understanding the endocrine relationship between hypothalamus and anterior pituitary is to appreciate the vascular connections between these organs. As will be emphasized in later sections, secretion of hormones from the anterior pituitary is under strict control by hypothalamic hormones. These hypothalamic hormones reach the anterior pituitary through the following route:

A branch of the hypophyseal artery ramifies into a capillary bed in the lower hypothalamus, and hypothalmic hormones destined for the anterior pituitary are secreted into that capillary blood.
Blood from those capillaries drains into hypothalamic-hypophyseal portal veins. Portal veins are defined as veins between two capillary beds; the hypothalamic-hypophyseal portal veins branch again into another series of capillaries within the anterior pituitary.

Capillaries within the anterior pituitary, which carry hormones secreted by that gland, coalesce into veins that drain into the systemic venous blood. Those veins also collect capillary blood from the posterior pituitary gland.

This pattern of vascular connections is presented diagramatically below. Note also the hypothalamic-hypophyseal portal vessels in the image of a real pituitary gland seen above.

The utility of this unconventional vascular system is that minute quantities of hypothalamic hormones are carried in a concentrated form directly to their target cells in the anterior pituitary, and are not diluted out in the systemic circulation.

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Go downIs a Chinese herbal product that is one of the top selling herbal products sold in China for heart health. Dan Shen (Salviae Mitiorrhizae), Cardiotonic Pill main herb, first appeared in China’s “Shen Nong Herbal Classic” and has been clinically used for decades as a blood moving herb in promoting circulation.

Combined with other blood moving and Qi tonifying herbs, Cardiotonic Pill or Danshen Plus Capsule is a convenient, alternative therapy for heart health based on Traditional Chinese Medicine principles and modern day research.

Its droplet pill formulation offers many advantages such as low dosage, rapid and complete absorption, fast onset of action, high potency and convenience.

Tasly Cardiotonic Pill

Main Ingredients:
Dan Shen (Salviae Mitiorrhizae)
San Qi (Panax Notoginseng)
Huang Qi (Astragalus membranaceus)
Jiang Xiang (Dalbergiae Odoriferae)

Suggested Use:

Take 1 pill orally three times per day. The effect was achieved faster when taken under the tongue, let dissolve in mouth and swallow. Improvement for healthy heart function has been seen after only 2-4 weeks.

The Dripping Pill, a Prevalent Dosage Form for Higher Bioavailability:

Innovation in herbal medicine can be found throughout the world these days, and there is no better example of manufacturing and dosage vicissitude than the dripping pill, manufactured by Tasly Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd., one of the top five largest pharmaceutical companies in China.

The Dripping Pill is a rapidly developing form of Chinese herbal medicine, prepared by blending an herbal extract and a matrix under thermal conditions and dripping the mixture into a cooling liquid in which the droplets are insoluble. The process of pill formation results in a solid-dispersoid in a pill shape.

Characteristics of the Dosage Form:

Dripping pills are a promising dosage form. The process of formation is similar to that of preparing a solid dispersoid by melting. Melting herbal extract and matrix together make the botanical molecules disperse evenly throughout the matrix, and when congealed to from a eutectic solution, both herbal extract and the matrix molecules turn into very fine, tiny crystals. These crystals are easily absorbed with a higher bioavailability, rapid biological activity and lower adverse effects compared with conventional dosage forms such as, tablets and capsules. This helps promote stability of the herbal extract. Fine crystals of the herbal molecules are tightly embedded in the matrix, with no herbal powder or dust produced during manufacturing. Each single dose is exact and reproducible due to the even distribution of the herbal extract.

Why Dripping Pills Increase Bioavailability?

Formation of tiny, fine crystals: In the preparation of dripping pills, herbal extract and matrix are melted together to make a solution in which the herbal extract is distributed in molecular form within the matrix. When the solution cools down the solubility decreases and the molecules of the herbal extract are separated out.

Due to rapid cooling, the viscosity of the solution increases rapidly, the solution is solidified, and the botanical molecules separated out cannot conglomerate into large crystals. As a result, micro-crystals are formed. These micro-crystals have a rapidly-dissolvable property within body fluids and a better bioavailability. For example, when Griseofulvin (an antifungal drug) Dripping Pill with PEG 6000 in its matrix is examined under a microscope, it can be seen that crystals at a size between 2-3µ account for only 5.39%, while the remaining is composed of crystals under 2µ.

Dissolubility, solubility and surface activity of the matrix: In dripping pills, the poorly soluble microcrystals of the herbal extract are surrounded tightly by a water-soluble matrix. The matrix dissolves quickly in body fluids, and the herbal extract will form a homogeneous suspension of micro-crystals when agitated slightly, allowing the herbal extract to come in contact with the body fluid closely and increase the dissolution process.

Elimination of aggregation and agglomeration of herbal extract powder: When an herbal extract with low water-solubility in powder form is put into water, some small conglomerations floating on the water surface usually occur during the course of dissolution. They are difficult to disperse, even with strong stirring. In the case of dripping pills, the tiny, fine crystals of the herbal extract are embedded in the water-soluble matrix, and thus no aggregation or agglomeration will occur. The herbal extract will become wet and begin dissolving quickly as the surrounding matrix dissolves.

As you can see, it is an intense and rigorous manufacturing process to create such an innovative new form as the dripping pill. But, when the benefits and effectiveness are so high, it seems essential to have access to such a dosage form. Honso is proud to be working with Tasly, who believes in the task of finding the most effective ways to help patients with herbal medicine, and bringing these products to the forefront of our industry worldwide.

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