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


  • "Centella asiatica attenuates hippocampal mitochondrial dysfunction and improves memory and executive function in β-amyloid overexpressing mice." Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience  In: , Vol. 93, 01.12.2018, p. 1-9.
  • "Centella asiatica increases hippocampal synaptic density and improves memory and executive function in aged mice." Brain and Behavior  In: , Vol. 8, No. 7, e01024, 01.07.2018.
  • "Analysis of levodopa content in commercial mucuna pruriens products using high-performance liquid chromatography with fluorescence detection." Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine  In: , Vol. 24, No. 2, 01.02.2018, p. 182-186.
  • "Centella asiatica : phytochemistry and mechanisms of neuroprotection and cognitive enhancement." Phytochemistry Reviews  In: , 20.09.2017, p. 1-34.
  • "Centella asiatica attenuates Aβ-induced neurodegenerative spine loss and dendritic simplification." Neuroscience Letters  In: , Vol. 646, 12.04.2017, p. 24-29.
  • "Centella asiatica Attenuates Mitochondrial Dysfunction and Oxidative Stress in Aβ-Exposed Hippocampal Neurons." Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity  In: , Vol. 2017, 7023091, 2017.
  • "Centella asiatica modulates antioxidant and mitochondrial pathways and improves cognitive function in mice." Journal of Ethnopharmacology  In: , Vol. 180, 02.03.2016, p. 78-86.
  • "Curcumin treatment improves motor behavior in α-synuclein transgenic mice." PLoS One  In: , Vol. 10, No. 6, e0128510, 02.06.2015.
  • "Centella asiatica Attenuates Amyloid-β-Induced Oxidative Stress and Mitochondrial Dysfunction." Journal of Alzheimer's Disease  In: , Vol. 45, No. 3, 2015, p. 933-946.
  • "Caffeoylquinic acids in centella asiatica protect against amyloid-β toxicity." Journal of Alzheimer's Disease  In: , Vol. 40, No. 2, 2014, p. 359-373.
  • "Centella asiatica extract improves behavioral deficits in a mouse model of Alzheimer's disease : Investigation of a possible mechanism of action." International Journal of Alzheimer's Disease  In: , 2012.
  • "Monitoring human melanocytic cell responses to piperine using multispectral imaging."   Progress in Biomedical Optics and Imaging - Proceedings of SPIE. Vol. 7883 2011. 788309.
  • "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  In: , Vol. 17, No. 12, 10.2010, p. 940-949.
  • "In vivo evaluation of piperine and synthetic analogues as potential treatments for vitiligo using a sparsely pigmented mouse model." British Journal of Dermatology  In: , Vol. 158, No. 5, 05.2008, p. 941-950.
  • "The effect of Echinacea purpurea, Astragalus membranaceus and Glycyrrhiza glabra on CD25 expression in humans : A pilot study." Phytotherapy Research  In: , Vol. 21, No. 11, 11.2007, p. 1109-1112.
  • "Amides from Piper nigrum L. with dissimilar effects on melanocyte proliferation in-vitro." Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology  In: , Vol. 59, No. 4, 04.2007, p. 529-536.
  • "UV irradiation affects melanocyte stimulatory activity and protein binding of piperine." Photochemistry and Photobiology  In: , Vol. 82, No. 6, 11.2006, p. 1541-1548.
  • "α-Amylase inhibitory activity of some Malaysian plants used to treat diabetes; with particular reference to Phyllanthus amarus." Journal of Ethnopharmacology  In: , Vol. 107, No. 3, 11.10.2006, p. 449-455.
  • "The effect of Echinacea purpurea, Astragalus membranaceus and Glycyrrhiza glabra on CD69 expression and immune cell activation in humans." Phytotherapy Research  In: , Vol. 20, No. 8, 08.2006, p. 687-695.
  • "Centella asiatica accelerates nerve regeneration upon oral administration and contains multiple active fractions increasing neurite elongation in-vitro." Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology  In: , Vol. 57, No. 9, 09.2005, p. 1221-1229.
  • "In vitro models for assessing antidiabetic activity."   Traditional Medicines for Modern Times: Antidiabetic Plants. CRC Press, 2005. p. 99-116.
  • "Traditional medicines for modern times : Antidiabetic plants."   CRC Press, 2005. 314 p.
  • "Effects of piperine analogues on stimulation of melanocyte proliferation and melanocyte differentiation." Bioorganic and Medicinal Chemistry  In: , Vol. 12, No. 8, 15.04.2004, p. 1905-1920.
  • "In vitro cytotoxic activity of Thai medicinal plants used traditionally to treat cancer." Journal of Ethnopharmacology  In: , Vol. 90, No. 1, 01.2004, p. 33-38.
  • "Hypoglycemic potentials of methanolic extracts of selected plant foods in alloxanized mice." Plant Foods for Human Nutrition  In: , Vol. 58, No. 3, 2003, p. 1-7.
  • "In vitro evaluation of Bacopa monniera on anti-Helicobacter pylori activity and accumulation of prostaglandins." Phytomedicine  In: , Vol. 10, No. 6-7, 2003, p. 523-527.
  • "In vitro keratinocyte antiproliferant effect of Centella asiatica extract and triterpenoid saponins." Phytomedicine  In: , Vol. 8, No. 3, 2001, p. 230-235.
  • "Role of gastric antioxidant and anti-Helicobactor pylori activities in antiulcerogenic activity of plantain banana (Musa sapientum var. paradisiaca)." Indian Journal of Experimental Biology  In: , Vol. 39, No. 7, 2001, p. 719-722.
  • "Regulatory issues relating to herbal products - Part 1 : Legislation in the European Union, North America, and Australia." Journal of Medicinal Food  In: , Vol. 3, No. 1, 2000, p. 23-39.
  • "Regulatory issues relating to herbal products - Part 3 : Quality and its determination." Journal of Medicinal Food  In: , Vol. 3, No. 1, 2000, p. 59-69.

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