Chamomile: Cultivation Experiences in Slovakia

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Chamomile has long been one of the most important medicinal plants cultivated in Slovakia. Its cultivation started in the beginning of the 1950s in the former Czechoslovak Republic. Diploid variety Bohémia with a high content of chamazulene and α-bisaboloxide A and B was sown. In 1957 the tetraploid variety Pohoelicky Velkokvety with similar characteristics, as far as efficacious compounds are concerned, was bred, but this variety was restricted because of the high degree of disintegration. Chamomile is a plant with a wide growing range and can be grown in the Slovak Republic almost everywhere. It grows best in warmer areas protected from wind with plentiful sunshine and mean yearly precipitation ranging from 550 to 800 mm. Soils rich in nutrients and humus, heavy to mild, mold to luvisol character are the most suitable. After almost 40 years of experience, the crops reached the required level of market production; the cultivation of chamomile in beet and potato regions was proved to be the most suitable. With regard to the initial slow growth of chamomile, it is necessary to choose the foregoing agricultural plant that leaves the land weed-free and in a good state. From this point of view root crops, peas, Read more [...]

Chamomile: Traditional Use and Therapeutic Indications

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Traditional Use Chamomile has been known for centuries and is well established in therapy. In traditional folk medicine it is found in the form of chamomile tea, which is drunk internally in cases of painful gastric and intestinal complaints connected with convulsions such as diarrhea and flatulence, but also with inflammatory gastric and intestinal diseases such as gastritis and enteritis. Externally chamomile is applied in the form of hot compresses to badly healing wounds, such as for a hip bath with abscesses, furuncles, hemorrhoids, and female diseases; as a rinse of the mouth with inflammations of the oral cavity and the cavity of the pharynx; as chamomile steam inhalation for the treatment of acne vulgaris and for the inhalation with nasal catarrhs and bronchitis; and as an additive to baby baths. In Roman countries it is quite common to use chamomile tea even in restaurants or bars and finally even in the form of a concentrated espresso. This is also a good way of fighting against an upset stomach due to a sumptuous meal, plenty of alcohol, or nicotine. In this case it is not easy to draw a line and find out where the limit to luxury is. Clinic and practice Preliminary remark The suitability of the empirical Read more [...]

Solanum chrysotrichum (Schldl.)

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Distribution and Importance of the Plant Solanum chrysotrichum (Schldl.) of the Solanaceae family belongs to a group of plants commonly known as "sosas" throughout the highlands of Chiapas, Mexico. These plants are used for the treatment of dermatological infections and other skin ailments. Among this group, and as a result of extensive ethnobotanical investigations, two species, Solanum chrysotrichum and S. lanceolatumy are particularly noted, as revealed by the highest index of citation (). The two species are described by traditional healers as the most effective herbal remedies for the treatment of skin infections. According to popular nosologies considered as "skin infections", water extracts from the leaves of S. chrysotrichum constitute the specific treatment for tinae (tirlapedis), scabies and other mycosis (). S. chrysotrichum is distributed in the states of Chiapas, Hidalgo and Michoacan, in Mexico, where names such as sosa, berenjena and cuxpeal are given to this plant respectively. Among the highland Mayas of Chiapas, it is known as "kitxpeul" in tzotzil, "k 'uxbal chix" in tzeltal, and "pajutiek" in chol. It is an erect perennial herb which may grow up to 2 m in height, with spiny stems. The leaves Read more [...]

Sempervivum spp. (Houseleek)

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Distribution and Importance of Sempervivum The genus Sempervivum (Crassulaceae) contains approximately 80 species and several subspecies (). The name is indicative of their evergreen, sempervirent nature (semper = always, vivum = living) (). Houseleeks (Sempervivum spp.) grow mainly on sunny, barren hillsides, mostly at 1000-2000 m (). They are favourite plants in rock-gardens, because they grow on walls and roofing tiles (). One of the most important species, Sempervivum tectorum L. () is native to the Alps, but it can be found sporadically as far as the Pyrenees and the northern regions of the Balkan Peninsula, in central Anatolia (). It grows well under extreme conditions (), usually in calcareous soil (). It is a cosmopolitan species living in dry circumstances (Hegnauer 1964). It can be used on extreme sites (notably in urban environments), if its basic ecological and growth requirements are respected (). One of the most important ecophysiological features of Sempervivum - in which it is similar to other members of Crassulaceae family - is nocturnal C02 fixation; this physiological adaptation to a dry environment enables tolerance of water deficiency. This metabolism, known as CAM (crassulacean acid metabolism), Read more [...]

Malva sp. (Mallow)

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Distribution and Importance of the Plant Although about 1000 species are designated with the common name of mallow, approximately 30 species belonging to the genus Malva (of the Malvaceae family) are known for their medicinal value, mostly in a traditional sense. The common (blue or high) mallow (Malva sylvestris L.) is a biennial to short-lived perennial with prostrate to semi-erect stems (10-80 cm long) and long-stalked rounded leaves with a heart-shaped base and five to seven broad shallow-toothed lobes (). The leaves of M. sylvestris var. incanescens Gris are hairy. The flowers (appearing from May to September) are pale lilac to bright mauve-purple and the seeds are flat button-like nutlets. The plant is found naturally in marginal or waste lands, hedgerows and roadsides and is approximately 1 m high, with stalked, roundish, five- to seven-lobed leaves (). Plant parts abound with a mild mucilage. Malva aegyptia (Egyptian mallow) is an annual species, endemic in the Mediterranean countries, 20-50 cm high with purple-blue flowers. Malva cretica (Crecian mallow) is another Mediterranean species, which is an annual, 10-30 cm high with rose-coloured leaves. Malva ambigua Guss (M. sylvestris var. ambigua) Read more [...]

Hypericum canariense L.

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Hypericum L. Shrubs or herbs of Hypericum L. species are distributed throughout the world. They are found in the Mediterranean region, Portugal, Spain, Canary Islands [Spain], Africa, Turkey, Australia, Tasmania, New Zealand, New Caledonia, Papua New Guinea, parts of South-East Asia, Sri Lanka, and from North to South America (). Etymologically, the name Hypericum L. was first used by Linnaeus. It comes from hyper (over) and eikon (image), on account of the image that appears on the petals (). According to other botanists, the name comes from hypo and ereikn or erikn meaning "plant that grows under heathers"; it could also come from hyper and eikon meaning "plant resembling a ghost's image or plant with an air of mystery" (). Chemistry Many authors reported on the chemical composition and the variability of the main components in different species of Hypericum L. (). However, the chemical study of this genus began with Hypericum perforatum L. in 1830 with the pioneering isolation of hypericin by Bruchner, who named the compound "hypericum red". About one century later, in 1911, the compound was identified and renamed hypericin by Cerny, who also isolated other similar constituents without a proven structure determination, Read more [...]

Hyoscyamus reticulatus L.

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Tropane alkaloids constitute one of the distinctive groups of secondary metabolites of the Solanaceae and many plants containing them have long been utilized for their medicinal, hallucinogenic, and poisonous properties (). Hyoscyamus plants are a natural source for the isolation of hyoscyamine (atropine) and scopolamine, 6-7 epoxide of hyoscyamine. Both alkaloids are of medicinal importance because of their suppressive activity on the parasympathetic nervous system. In addition, scopolamine is also applied to suppress the central nervous system, whereas hyoscyamine excites it. Ratios of hyoscyamine content to scopolamine content vary markedly between plant species. These differences result in a higher commercial demand for scopolamine than for hyoscyamine (and its racemic form atropine). Both appear in the USA in the list of the ten most used compounds of plant origin (). Because many tropane alkaloid-producing species accumulate hyoscyamine as the major alkaloid and scopolamine in minor quantities, it is of commercial importance to increase scopolamine content in these species (). Moreover, these plants also synthesize the calystegines, a pseudotropine-derived group of alkaloids, found in considerable amounts in Atropa Read more [...]

Dionaea muscipula Ellis (Venus Flytrap)

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In 1768, William Young, the royal botanist, imported living plants of the Venus fly-trap to England. They were shown to John Ellis, a member of the Royal Society, who recognised the Venus as a carnivorous plant. He wrote a letter and sent it with a dried plant to the Swedish scientist, Carl von Linne. Among others Ellis wrote: "Nature may have some views towards its nourishment in forming the upper joint of its leaf like a machine to catch food: upon the middle of this lies the bait for the unhappy insect that becomes its prey ... the two lobes rise up, grasp it fast, lock the rows of spines together, and squeeze it to death ... the small erect spines are fixed near the middle of each lobe, over the glands, that effectually put an end to all its struggles". Linne gave this species the name Dionaea muscipula Ellis (). This name comes from the Greek word Dionaia, the goddess of love. The very restricted natural occurrence of this unique species led to the investigation of the methods of its cultivation and propagation. Moreover, extracts of D. muscipula are used against malignant diseases. Distribution and General Morphology The carnivorous plant Dionaea muscipula Ellis (the Venus flytrap) is a monotypic genus belonging Read more [...]

Crataegus (Hawthorn)

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Distribution and Importance of the Plant The genus Crataegus originates from northern temperate regions and comprises about 280 species depending upon botanical sources (). It is widespread in western Asia, North America and in Europe, where 21 species have been indexed (). Hybridization is frequent in this genus (), causing many identification difficulties. Among the best-known species are Crataegus monogyna Jacq. and Crataegus laevigata (Poiret) DC (= C. oxyacantha auct.= C. oxyacanthoides Thuill.) belonging to the Eurasian subgenus Crataegus which are most common and are of growing pharmaceutical use. They have lobed or divided leaves, while the northern American subgenus americanae is characterized by entire or weakly lobed leaves (). These deciduous, ramified, thorny shrubs produce white-pinkish scented flowers in corymbs during midsummer and the resulting red fruits remain on the trees until eaten by birds in winter (). They show some differences in habitat: C. monogyna is found mainly in open fields, thickets and used as quickset hedges, while C. laevigata prefers woods or their borders. Ornamental pink- or red-flowered cultivars of C. laevigata such as uCoccinea plena", "Rosea", "Rubra" () are planted in Read more [...]

Artemisia annua L.

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Malaria, one of the oldest known diseases, was referred to in Egyptian writings of the 16th century B.C. In the 17th century, Italians believed that breathing bad air (mal aria) arising from swamps was responsible for the disease, and the term malaria first entered the English medical literature in the first half of the 19th century. Each year, this disease afflicts over 300 million people worldwide, killing up to 2.7 million, mostly children. Most of these cases occur in Africa, but large areas of Asia, Central, and South America have high incidences of the disease (). Out of 37 countries and territories, which are members of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), World Health Organization (WHO), 21 still have active malaria transmission (PAHO/WHO 1998). Malaria has been treated for over 40 years with quinine-derived drugs. However, Plasmodium falciparum has developed resistance against these drugs in several areas of the world. Artemisinin (qinghaosu) (), a sesquiterpene lactone belonging to the cadinane series, is an antimalarial compound first isolated from Artemisia annua L. () by Chinese scientists in 1972 (). In addition to a lactone group, artemisinin contains an endoperoxide bridge, which is rarely Read more [...]