Plant-Based Addiction Treatment 96% Less Expensive


Butyrylcholinesterase (BuChE) is a powerful liver enzyme known for its ability to slow the body’s absorption of potentially poisonous substances such as cocaine, heroin, nerve gas, and anesthesia medications. It also can curb addictive behaviors by reducing levels of “ghrelin,” an acylated peptide that drives food/drug seeking behavior in humans and other animals.

BuChE, when applied as a biologic treatment, can protect subjects from the potentially fatal side effects of drug abuse while simultaneously reducing their drug seeking urges. The implications of these studies for society are significant to say the least.


For those who fall victim to the illness that is substance addiction, this enzyme treatment could be a life saver. And for those who struggle to curb their binge behaviors, whether they are food or drug related, BuChE therapy could cut out the neurological root of those urges.

A major issue with this cell-based biologic was, as it so often is, the cost. The per-dose price tag associated with blood derived BuChE could be upwards of $10,000. This five-figure expense puts BuChE treatment completely out of reach for many patients.

Meanwhile, this exact same enzyme extracted from greenhouse cultivated Nicotiana plants costs a mere $354.00 per dose on average. That is, conservatively, a 96% drop in price.

This is just one example of a plant-based medication being more cost-effective than one produced using traditional methods. Case studies like this are why plant-based pharmaceuticals are gaining acceptance daily. It’s only a matter of time before they become a staple in our everyday lives.

The potential benefits of these medications are substantial, and many of them are yet to be discovered. This is why ZEA is so passionate about this new market for plant-based biologics and the wellness it can bring to the world.

Thank you for reading.


  • Brimijoin S, Gao Y, Geng L and Chen VP (2018) Treating Cocaine Addiction, Obesity, and Emotional Disorders by Viral Gene Transfer of Butyrylcholinesterase. Front. Pharmacol. 9:112. doi: 10.3389/fphar.2018.00112
  • Qiang Chen, Luca Santi, Chenming Zhang, “Plant-Made Biologics”, BioMed Research International, vol. 2014
  • Abizaid, A., Mineur, Y. S., Roth, R. H., Elsworth, J. D., Sleeman, M. W., Picciotto, M. R., et al. (2011). Reduced locomotor responses to cocaine in ghrelin-deficient mice.
  • Uprooting Medicine: ZEA Biosciences Plant Made Pharmaceuticals Compendium.