Definition

An alkaloid found in opium but not closely related to the other opium alkaloids in its structure or pharmacological actions. It is a direct-acting smooth muscle relaxant used in the treatment of impotence and as a vasodilator, especially for cerebral vasodilation. The mechanism of its pharmacological actions is not clear, but it apparently can inhibit phosphodiesterases and it may have direct actions on calcium channels. Alkaloid from Papaver somniferum (opium poppy) Papaverine (pronounced /p??pæv?ri?n/) is an opium alkaloid used primarily in the treatment of visceral spasm, vasospasm (especially those involving the heart and the brain), and occasionally in the treatment of erectile dysfunction. While it is found in the opium poppy, papaverine differs in both structure and pharmacological action from the analgesic (morphine-related) opium alkaloids (opiates). In 1979, a Food and Drug Administration Advisory Committee evaluated studies on papaverine and concluded that there was a lack of objective data to support the therapeutic use of papaverine for these conditions. Papaverine remains available despite the committee's recommendation that it be withdrawn from the market.; Papaverine is a nonxanthine phosphodiesterase inhibitor for the relief of cerebral and peripheral ischemia associated with arterial spasm and myocardial ischemia complicated by arrhythmias. The main actions of Papaverine are exerted on cardiac and smooth muscle. Like qathidine, Papaverine acts directly on the heart muscle to depress conduction and prolong the refractory period. Papaverine relaxes various smooth muscles. This relaxation may be prominent if spasm exists. The muscle cell is not paralyzed by Papaverine and still responds to drugs and other stimuli causing contraction. The antispasmodic effect is a direct one, and unrelated to muscle innervation. Papaverine is practically devoid of effects on the central nervous system. Papaverine relaxes the smooth musculature of the larger blood vessels, especially coronary, systemic peripheral, and pulmonary arteries.

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