Photo of Amala Soumyanath, B.Pharm., Ph.D.

Amala Soumyanath B.Pharm., Ph.D.

  • (503) 494-6878
    • Associate Professor of Neurology School of Medicine


Dr. Amala Soumyanath has a Pharmacy degree and a PhD, both from the University of London. Her area of expertise is "Pharmacognosy," the scientific study of medicinal plants. From 1987 to 2002, Dr. Soumyanath (then  Amala Raman) held a faculty position in the Department of Pharmacy, King's College London, UK, where she taught undergraduate and graduate courses and directed a research group studying botanicals used in diabetes or skin diseases. Dr. Soumyanath joined the faculty of OHSU Neurology Department in 2003, through ORCCAMIND – the Oregon Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine in Neurological Diseases. She is currently also affiliated with the Layton Aging and Alzheimer's Disease Center at OHSU.

Research Interests

Dr Soumyanath's research encompasses the characterization and quality control of botanicals, phytochemical isolation, preclinical and clinical evaluation of botanical extracts, and bioavailabilty and pharmacokinetic studies of  the active compounds in botanicals. The goals of her research are to:

validate and understand the traditional use of botanicals through scientific study, and investigate botanicals as a source of new treatments for disease.  

Centella asiatica for neurological diseases
Dr. Soumyanath’s current research focus is on the Ayurvedic herb, Centella asiatica. Recent studies, in collaboration with neuroscientists and neurologists at OHSU, have shown that Centella asiatica extracts may stimulate peripheral nerve regeneration and also be useful as a neuroprotective agent in central nervous system. Preclinical and clinical studies are currently being pursued on the use of Centella asiatica extracts in the treatment of diabetic neuropathy,  Alzheimer's Disease and mild cognitive impairment.

Piperine for vitiligo
Dr. Soumyanath is also working closely with the Dermatology department at OHSU to develop a new treatment for vitiligo, a depigmentary skin disease. Dr. Soumyanath's group at King’s College London discovered that piperine, a substance from black pepper, stimulates melanocyte (pigment cell) proliferation and may be able to induce repigmentation in vitiligo. She is now continuing this work at OHSU in collaboration with Dr. Philippe Thuillier (Public Health and Preventive Medicine, OHSU), and Dr. Sancy Leachman, and other members of the Department of Dermatology, OHSU. The goal of this team is to bring piperine to the market as a novel treatment for vitiligo.

Dr. Soumyanath says, "Plants have provided healing to humans from time immemorial. I strongly believe that they have a continuing role in current and future healthcare.  Advances in scientific methods allow us to combine traditional knowledge with strong scientific evidence as a basis for the use of botanical medicine."

In her spare time, Dr. Soumyanath enjoys world travel and world music, while for inner peace she turns to Sri Adi Sankara's Advaita philosophy.



  • B.Pharm., University of London 1981
  • Ph.D., King's College London, University of London 1987

Memberships and associations

  • American Society of Pharmacognosy


  • "Identification of a phytochemical stimulant for the proliferation of mouse melanocytes in culture" Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology September 1998
  • "Antidiabetic and hypocholesterolaemic effects of fenugreek" Phytotherapy Research June 1998
  • "Regulatory issues relating to herbal products - Part 1" Journal of Medicinal Food  2000
  • "Effects of piperine analogues on stimulation of melanocyte proliferation and melanocyte differentiation" Bioorganic and Medicinal Chemistry April 15 2004
  • "Regulatory issues relating to herbal products - Part 3" Journal of Medicinal Food  2000
  • "In vitro cytotoxic activity of Thai medicinal plants used traditionally to treat cancer" Journal of Ethnopharmacology January 2004
  • "Lipoxygenase Inhibitors in the seeds of Aframomum danielli K. Schum (Zingiberaceae)" Phytomedicine October 1999
  • "Hypoglycemic potentials of methanolic extracts of selected plant foods in alloxanized mice" Plant Foods for Human Nutrition  2003
  • "Report on the fourth international symposium on the biological oxidation of nitrogen in organic molecules September 17th to 21st, 1989" European Journal of Drug Metabolism and Pharmacokinetics July 1989
  • "Centella asiatica accelerates nerve regeneration upon oral administration and contains multiple active fractions increasing neurite elongation in-vitro" Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology September 2005
  • "Amides from Piper nigrum L. with dissimilar effects on melanocyte proliferation in-vitro" Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology April 2007
  • "'Herbal' hay fever remedy found to contain conventional drugs" Pharmaceutical Journal January 18 1997
  • "Mangiferin, an antidiabetic compound from Anemarrhena asphodeloides" Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology  1999
  • "UV irradiation affects melanocyte stimulatory activity and protein binding of piperine" Photochemistry and Photobiology November 2006
  • "Regulatory issues relating to herbal products - Part 2" Journal of Medicinal Food  2000
  • "The effect of Echinacea purpurea, Astragalus membranaceus and Glycyrrhiza glabra on CD69 expression and immune cell activation in humans" Phytotherapy Research August 2006
  • "Mines as intermediates in oxidative aralkylamine metabolism" Drug Metabolism Reviews  1989
  • "In vivo evaluation of piperine and synthetic analogues as potential treatments for vitiligo using a sparsely pigmented mouse model" British Journal of Dermatology May 2008
  • "In vitro keratinocyte antiproliferant effect of Centella asiatica extract and triterpenoid saponins" Phytomedicine  2001
  • "Antioxidant action and potential antidiabetic properties of an isoflavonoid-containing soyabean phytochemical extract (SPE)" Phytotherapy Research November 1999
  • "Phytochemicals isolated from the anti-hyperglycaemic hexane extract of the unripe fruit of Momordica charuntiu L." Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology September 1998
  • "Passiflora incarnata L. (Passionflower) extracts elicit GABA currents in hippocampal neurons in vitro, and show anxiogenic and anticonvulsant effects in vivo, varying with extraction method" Phytomedicine October 2010
  • "Caffeoylquinic acids in centella asiatica protect against amyloid-β toxicity" Journal of Alzheimer's Disease  2014
  • "Stimulation of mouse melanocyte proliferation by Piper nigrum fruit extract and its main alkaloid, piperine" Planta Medica  1999
  • "Centella asiatica extract improves behavioral deficits in a mouse model of Alzheimer's disease" International Journal of Alzheimer's Disease  2012
  • "Sulphorhodamine B assay for measuring proliferation of a pigmented melanocyte cell line and its application to the evaluation of crude drugs used in the treatment of vitiligo" Journal of Ethnopharmacology August 1999
  • "Investigation of the effect of Angelica sinensis root extract on the proliferation of melanocytes in culture" Journal of Ethnopharmacology November 1996
  • "In-vitro screening of medicinal plants for potential antidiabetic effects" Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology September 1998
  • "Centella asiatica Attenuates Amyloid-β-Induced Oxidative Stress and Mitochondrial Dysfunction" Journal of Alzheimer's Disease  2015
  • "Herbal products" Pharmaceutical Journal  1995

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