Aspilia mossambicensis

Aspilia mossambicensis (Oliv.) Wild (Asteraceae), is widespread in central and eastern tropical Africa (), ranging from Ethiopia through east Africa, the Congo, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Mozambique, and Transvaal to Natal (). Various folk uses of this and other Aspilia species have been reported, including its use as a remedy for cystitis and gonorrhoea (), treatment of abdominal pains, intestinal worms, and skin infections (). Previous reports for two other species of Aspilia (A. montevidencis and A. parvifolia) showed the presence of the tridecapentaynene derivative, thiophene A (I) (), in roots (). Methanol and aqueous extracts of Aspilia africana have recently been shown to have antibacterial activity against Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria, including Agrobacterium tumefaciens, at concentrations ranging from 0.1 to 0.5 g/ml (). Evidence that wild chimpanzees use Aspilia mossambicensis as a dietary and medicinal supplement () suggested the possibility that the plant could have biocidal activity, and prompted an investigation of the phytochemistry of this species. Thiarubrines A and B (II, IV) and the mono-thiophenic derivatives, thiophenes A and B (I, III), were subsequently isolated from leaves of dried Read more […]

Citrus in Traditional Medicine

Citrus in traditional Asiatic medicine In a comparative study of the use of herbal drugs in the traditional medicines of India and Europe, Pun () found a marked similarity between the drugs used in the two continents. He attributed this not only to the similarity of the vegetation in the two areas, but also to the influence that traditional Indian medicine, in particular the Atherveda, one of the most ancient repositories of human knowledge, had on Egypt, Greece and Rome. He listed the principal uses of a small number of these drugs, including bitter orange peel, which in India is used as an aromatic, stomachic, tonic, astringent and carminative agent, and lemon, which is used as a flavouring and for its carminative and stomachic effects. In the Valmiki-Ramayana, written after the Vedas and one of the most sacred of all religious books which enumerates the virtues of the medicinal plants that Lord Rama (Vishnu) met during his fourteen-year journey around different parts of India, Karnick and Hocking () identified and listed fifty of these drugs with their use as described in the Ayurvedica (or native Indian) system of medicine. The immature fruit of Citrus aurantifolia (Christm) Swingle was used as an fortifier, Read more […]

Bioactivity of Basil

Traditional Medicine Basil has traditionally been used for head colds and as a cure for warts and worms, as an appetite stimulant, carminative, and diuretic. In addition, it has been used as a mouth wash and adstringent to cure inflammations in the mouth and throat. Alcoholic extracts of basil have been used in creams to treat slowly healing wounds. Basil is more widely used as a medicinal herb in the Far East, especially in China and India. It was first described in a major Chinese herbal around A.D. 1060 and has since been used in China for spasms of the stomach and kidney ailments, among others. It is especially recommended for use before and after parturition to promote blood circulation. The whole herb is also used to treat snakebite and insect bites. In Nigeria, a decoction of the leaves of Ocimum gratissimum is used in the treatment of fever, as a diaphoretic and also as a stomachic and laxative. In Franchophone West Africa, the plant is used in treating coughs and fevers and as an anthelmintic. In areas around Ibadan (Western State of Nigeria), Ocimum gratissimum is most often taken as a decoction of the whole herb (Agbo) and is particularly used in treating diarrhoea. It is known to the Yorubas as “Efirin-nla” Read more […]

Betony For Digestion

Otherwise Dalechamps and Bauhin are consistent with each other in citing Musa. Concerning the organs of digestion, 4 drachms (16 g) of the leaves eaten daily for 3 days or taken in 4 cyathi (180 mL) of cooled water soothe pains of the stomach, and of the liver and intestines if taken in hot water, while in wine they heal defects of the spleen and allay inflammation of the colon. If the pain in the intestines is due not to ‘crude juices’ but to constipation, this dose taken in double the quantity of water, this time honeyed, will comfortably move the bowels. A lesser amount of herb, 3 drachms or 12 g, in goat’s milk drunk for 3 days allays the vomiting of blood. Betony taken frequently in wine treats jaundice, and generally prevents drunkenness, removes a loathing for food and corrects dyspepsia. Musa’s recommendations place much weight on the volumes of liquid in which the herb is taken and whether it is hot or cold. Dioscorides insists that the dried, powdered herb, kept in a clay pot, is the correct preparation of the herb, suggesting that the powder is simply stirred into the liquids which Musa proposes. Furthermore, Dalechamps and Bauhin emphasize how different the powers of the leaves and flowers are from those Read more […]

Betony: Genito-Urinary Uses

Other abdominal pains for which betony may be used relate to the urinary system and reproductive organs. Honey is required in the vehicle for kidney problems. Dalechamps and Bauhin report Musa advising 2 drachms (8 g) of herb mixed with honey for defects of the kidneys and double this dose in 4 cyathi of water (180 mL) to break stones. With the addition of 27 peppercorns and no honey, the herb is good for pains in the sides, which may refer to ureteric pain. Since the recommendation for dropsy follows that for stones, this may indicate oedema of renal origin, although ascites cannot be ruled out. Certainly Dioscorides specifies oedemata after kidney problems and bladder pain, for which 2 drachms (8 g) in honey water is the dose. He claims betony is diuretic, as does Galen, who confirms its use in kidney stones. On the other hand, Macer speaks of dropsy and this is how Dioscorides’ oedemata is interpreted by Fuchs and the other Renaissance writers. The Old English Herbarium also offers recipes for both pains in the side and pains in the loins. In both cases betony is taken with peppercorns, 27 in the former recipe and 17 in the latter, the herbs being powdered and gently boiled in aged wine. Three cupfuls are taken warm Read more […]


Verbena officinalis, vervain Family: Verbenaceae Part used: aerial parts Verbena officinalis L. is a hardy, herbaceous perennial found in Eurasia, North and South America. It is found on rough grassland on dry soils. The Flora of Turkey gives two Verbena species, including Verbena officinalis. It forms an evergreen rosette which overwinters. Erect, hairy, woody, square stems (to 70 cm) bear opposite leaves with the lower leaves deeply lobed with serrated edges. Clusters of small pinkish lilac flowers with a two-lipped, five lobed tubular corolla occur on slender branched spikes in June to September. The calyx is long and tubular and the fruit contains four nutlets. A study carried out on waste ground the UK over 13 years found that population density depended on winter temperature in that plants died below -17°C, and summer temperature as seed germination required a temperature of above 19°C. Other species used Verbena hastata is a taller North American species that is easy to cultivate. It has bright green, larger, toothed leaves, a dark stem and branching flowerheads of blue flowers. It is discussed in American texts. Lemon verbena Aloysia triphylla (syn. Lippia citriodora) is a half-hardy lemon scented Read more […]

A Gynecological Remedy

So what do our classical writers say about the uses of artemisia in gynaecology and do those attributed to mugwort differ? Dioscorides recommends a decoction of the herb in a bath to draw down the menstrual blood and to bring out the foetus and the afterbirth. This is achieved by a warming and thinning effect, which could also procure an abortion. A pessary made from the juice of artemisia mixed with myrrh Commiphora molmol, or three drachms (12 g, increasing to 15 g in Ibn Sina’s entry) of the leaves given in drink will similarly draw out the menstrual blood or contents of the womb. The herb liberally plastered onto the lower abdomen will bring on a period and the decoction added to the bath water will treat uterine closure and inflammation. Pliny mentions only the pessary as cleansing for the uterus, with oil of iris or figs as a substitute for myrrh. Galen records that both artemisias have a heating effect in the second degree or above and are moderately drying in the first or second degree. They are of thin parts and can be used for fomentations of the uterus. Apuleius mentions no gynaecological uses and may be writing of Mattioli’s Artemisia tenuifolia instead. Having cited the classical texts, Bauhin moves Read more […]

Kaempferia galanga

Kaempferia galanga L. (Zingiberaceae) Galangal, Sand Ginger, Aromatic Ginger, Kencur, Cutcherry or Resurrection Lily Kaempferia galanga L. is a small herb with short underground stems. Leaves are usually in pairs, oval, glabrous, pointed, 6-15 cm long, and spread out above ground with prominent veins. Flowers are in short stalked spikes. The corolla is white or pinkish, with violet spotted lip. Origin Native to tropical Asia. Phytoconstituents Ethyl cinnamate, 1,8-cineole, δ-3-carene, alpha-pinene, camphene, borneol, cyene, alpha-terpineol, alpha-gurjunene, germacrenes, cadinenes, caryophyllenes and others. Traditional Medicinal Uses The whole plant is used as a postpartum protective medicine, treatment for stomachache, diarrhoea, dysentery, treatment for rheumatism, swellings, fever, coughs, asthma and as a tonic/lotion. In Malaya, the leaves and rhizomes are chewed to stop cough. In Indonesia, it is used for abdominal pain, for swelling and muscular rheumatism. In the Philippines, the rhizome is used for boils, chills, dyspepsia, headache and malaria. The Indians also use the rhizomes as lotions, poultices for fever, rheumatism, sore eyes, sore throat and swellings. The rhizomes are stimulant, used to treat Read more […]