Healing Powers of Aloes: Pharmacology and Therapeutic Applications

Constipation Aloe latex possesses laxative properties and has been used traditionally to treat constipation. The old practice of using aloe as a laxative drug is based on its content of anthraquinones like barbaloin, which is metabolised to the laxative aloe-emodin, isobarbaloin and chrysophanic acid. The term ‘aloe’ (or ‘aloin’) refers to a crystalline, concentrated form of the dried aloe latex. In addition, aloe latex contains large amounts of a resinous material. Following oral administration the stomach is quickly reached and the time required for passage into the intestine is determined by stomach content and gastric emptying rate. Glycosides are probably chemically stable in the stomach (pH 1–3) and the sugar moiety prevents their absorption into the upper part of the gastrointestinal tract and subsequent detoxification in the liver, which protects them from breakdown in the intestine before they reach their site of action in the colon and rectum. Once they have reached the large intestine the glycosides behave like pro-drugs, liberating the aglycones (aloe-emodin, rhein-emodin, chyrosophanol, etc.) that act as the laxatives. The metabolism takes place in the colon, where bacterial glycosidases are Read more […]

Herpes Simplex Virus

Herpes simplex virus (HSV) is a member of the human herpes virus group that includes, for example, herpes simplex virus-1, herpes simplex virus-2, and Epstein-Barr virus (EBV). Herpes simplex virus is a recurrent viral infection that remains dormant in the nervous system with periods of reactivation characterized by individual or multiple clusters of fluid-filled vesicles at specifically affected sites. Herpes simplex virus-1 and -2 are the main types of herpes virus seen in general clinical practice. Herpes simplex virus-1 typically manifests above the waist and is referred to as Herpes labialis because of it primarily appearing on the lips in the form of “cold sores.” Herpes simplex virus-2, Herpes genitalis, typically appears on the genitals, although it also produces skin lesions. The vesicles rupture, leaving small, sometimes painful ulcers, which generally heal without scarring, although recurrent lesions at the same site may cause scarring. Coinfection with herpes simplex virus-1 and -2 increases the frequency of herpes simplex virus-2 outbreaks. Orogenital sex can lead to cross-contamination of these sites, with oral herpes being more likely transmitted to the genitals than the other way around. The incubation Read more […]

Herpes: The Botanical Practitioner’s Perspective

Herpes simplex virus infection is a major global health problem, and its association with HIV infection makes it imperative to develop effective prevention and treatment strategies. The efficacy of many topical pharmaceutical agents in treating herpes has been somewhat disappointing and inconsistent, and additionally, are costly. Patients are often looking for safe and effective alternative measures to reduce the frequency of outbreaks and shorten their duration. It is also important to look for agents that will be effective at preventing the virus from inculcating into nerve cell bodies, proliferating, and taking up host residence. Botanicals represent a promising area for research. Unfortunately, at present there are few well-designed human clinical trials looking at the effects of herbs on herpes simplex virus. However a number of botanicals have demonstrated antiherpetic activity in vitro, offering some validation of the traditional use of herbs for infection. Several herbs have been shown to be topically healing for wounds, and as discussed in site, have demonstrated efficacy in improving immune response and reducing stress. These latter categories are listed in Table 8-7 with brief descriptions of their applications Read more […]

Botanical Treatment Strategies for Herpes: Antiviral Botanicals

The following herbs represent a selection of botanicals used for internal and / or topical antiviral therapy. All have shown some measure of antimicrobial activity in various studies and are a promising area of research for herpes treatment. Specific studies of the effects of herbs on herpes simplex virus are presented in the following. These herbs may be used singly, but more commonly are used by herbal practitioners in combination with other antivirals, or in comprehensive, multiherb, multieffect formulae. Aloe Aloe has long been used by herbalists as a topical healing agent for wounds, burns, irritated skin, and sores. Two studies were conducted by Syed et al. examining the efficacy of topical aloe vera treatments on men experiencing primary outbreaks of genital herpes. In the first study, 120 men were randomized into three parallel groups receiving either 0.5% in hydrophilic cream, aloe vera gel, or placebo three times daily for 2 weeks. The shortest mean duration of healing occurred with aloe vera cream, followed by gel and then placebo with healing times of 4.8 days, 7.0 days, and 14.0 days, respectively. Percentages of cured patients were 70%, 45%, and 7.5%, respectively. In the second study, 60 men were randomized Read more […]

Herbal medicinal products in herpes virus diseases

In-vitro and in-vivo activity of crude herbal extracts The search for natural antivirals was actually initiated by the Boots drug company (UK) in 1952. Since then many broad-based screening programmes have been undertaken throughout the world to evaluate the in-vitro and in-vivo antiviral activity of plant extracts and many of them revealed strong antiherpes virus activity, while some can be used as a lead for the development of antiherpes virus agents. These reviews report the in-vitro and sometimes in-vivo antiherpes virus activities of many plant extracts, mainly against HSV-1 and HSV-2. Garlic (Allium sativum) extracts showed strong inhibitory activity against HCMV. Interestingly the intraperitoneal administration of black seed (Nigella sativa) oil to BALB/c mice strikingly inhibited HCMV in-vitro murine cytomegalovirus (CMV) titres in spleen and liver (Salem and Hossain, 2000) while the extract of Terminalia chebula not only significantly inhibited herpes simplex virus in vivo, but also the replication of HCMV in vitro and murine CMV in immunosuppressed mice. Canadian researchers first reported the antiviral activities of grape, apple and strawberry juices against herpes simplex virus and other viruses; Read more […]

Herpes Virus

Over the centuries herbal medicinal products formed the basis of medicaments in Africa, China, India and in many other civilisations. Traditional healers have long used herbal products to prevent or to cure infectious conditions but scientific interest in natural antivirals is more recent, spurred on by the rapid spread of emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases. Additionally the rapid rate of species extinction leads to irretrievable loss of structurally diverse and potentially useful phytochemicals, compounds which are often species/strain-specific with diverse structures and bioactivities, synthesised mainly for defence against predators. The herpes virus The herpes virus belongs to Herpesviridae, a family of DNA viruses that cause diseases in humans and animals. There are eight distinct viruses in this family, known to cause disease in humans. Viruses of the herpes group are morphologically indistinguishable, share many common features of intracellular development, but differ widely in biological properties. All human herpes viruses (HHV) contain a large double-stranded, linear DNA with 100-200 genes encased within an icosahedral protein capsid wrapped in a lipid bilayer envelope, called a virion. Following Read more […]


There are relatively few drugs that are active against viruses and their effectiveness is often restricted to preventive or disease-limitation treatment. However, some antivirals can be life-savers, especially in immunocompromised patients. Infections due to the herpes viruses (e.g. cold sores, genital herpes, shingles and chickenpox) may be prevented or contained by early treatment with acyclovir. Serious cytomegaloviral infections may also be contained by treatment with ganciclovir. There are now some HIV treatments that are moderately effective against the virus itself that are used in treating AIDS, these include zidovudine. Problems special to HIV-1 are dealt with under another heading, ANTI-HIV AGENTS. Which antiviral drugs work or how the disease is dealt with in terms of public health measures, depends, in part, on the type of virus. The DNA viruses are relatively stable in form since mutations are internally corrected, and here it is often more effective to use vaccination than chemotherapy. By these means smallpox has been eradicated. For some RNA viruses, vaccination is also effective, including poliomyelitis, rubella, measles and mumps, and some rabies strains. Other viruses mutate so rapidly that vaccination Read more […]

Peppermint: Background. Actions

Common Name Peppermint Botanical Name / Family Mentha x piperita (family [Labiatae] Lamiaceae) Plant Parts Used Leaf or stem — essential oil is distilled from the aerial parts. Chemical Components Peppermint leaves contain about 2.5% essential oil, 19% total polyphenolic compounds, 12% total flavonoid compounds (eriocitrin, luteolin-7-O-rutinoside, hesperidoside) and 7% total hydroxycinnamic compounds (including rosmarinic acid). The biochemistry, organisation, and regulation of essential oil metabolism in the epidermal oil glands of peppermint have been defined and research is underway to create ‘super’ transgenic peppermint plants with improved oil composition and yield. Essential oil Over 100 constituents have been identified in peppermint oil. The principal constituents are menthol (35-55%), menthones (10-35%), isomenthone, menthyl acetate, menthofuran and cineole. To comply with the European Pharmacopoeia, the oil must not contain more than 4% pulegone and not more than 1% carvone. Historical Note The written record of mint dates back to an ancient Greek myth in which the Greek god Pluto was said to have affections for a beautiful nymph named Minthe. His jealous wife Persephone cast a spell on the Read more […]