6-bromo-3′-nitroflavone is a synthetic flavonoid derivative which acts as a high-affinity ligand for the benzodiazepene receptors, with potency in animal studies shown to be comparable to that of diazepam. (Wolfman et al.)
It is most closely related to the flavones baicalein and apigenin, found in skullcap (Scutellaria baicalensis) and damiana (Turnera diffusa). These plants have a long history of usage in traditional medicine as relaxants and sedatives, and researchers have pinpointed their flavonoid content as being responsible for these medicinal, mildly psychoactive effects. Since then, researchers tried screening a series of synthetic flavone analogs for their ability to mimic the pharmacology of benzodiazepenes.
6-bromo-3′-nitroflavone was found in the mid-1990s as the most potent benzodiazepene-receptor ligand in a series of flavone derivatives that were studied. Its effects were shown in rat studies to be comparable to that of diazepam, but with less physical side effects and withdrawals. Additionally, the effects could also be reversed by flumazenil (a benzodiazepene antagonist/blocker which is used to reverse the effects to benzodiazepene overdose). As a result the available research indicates that flavonoids could in the future become a superior class of next-gen pharmaceuticals that offer a better, harm-reducing alternative to benzodiazepenes. (Medina et al.)
Medina, J.H., et al. “Neuroactive Flavonoids: New Ligands for the Benzodiazepine Receptors.” Phytomedicine, Urban & Fischer, 1 Nov. 2011, www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0944711398800342.
Wolfman C., et al. “Pharmacological Characterization of 6-Bromo-3′-Nitroflavone, a Synthetic Flavonoid with High Affinity for the Benzodiazepine Receptors.” Pharmacology, Biochemistry, and Behavior, U.S. National Library of Medicine, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9768558/.