Herbs including lavender, fennel seed, and chamomile activate a specific potassium channel—KCNQ5—in blood vessels. KCNQ5, along with other potassium channels, is expressed in vascular smooth muscle. When activated, it relaxes blood vessels.
Related: Herbs & Botanicals: Trends, Safety, and Traceability ABC: True Lavender Adopted by National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy Anti-aging effects of Pycnogenol: An Interview with Professor Peter Rohdewald, Ph.D.The press release notes that this activation is not a feature found in the modern synthetic pharmacopeia.
Geoff Abbott, Ph.D., Professor of Physiology and Biophysics at the UCI School of Medicine, said in the release: “We found KCNQ5 activation to be a unifying molecular mechanism shared by a diverse range of botanical hypotensive folk medicines.Lavandula angustifolia, commonly called lavender, was among those we studied. We discovered it to be among the most efficacious KCNQ5 potassium channel activators, along with fennel seed extract and chamomile. Our discovery of these botanical KCNQ5-selective potassium channel openers may enable development of future targeted therapies for diseases including hypertension and KCNQ5 loss-of-function encephalopathy.”