Artemisia Species in Traditional Chinese Medicine and the Discovery of Artemisinin

Qing hao-an antimalarial herb A herb, named Qing Hao (usually pronounced ching how) in Chinese, sweet Annie or sweet wormwood in English, and properly known as Artemisia annua L. has become well known in western countries during the last 20 years. Herbal companies, which deal with traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), receive several inquiries concerning this herb every day. A. question commonly asked by those about to travel to Africa or S.E. Asia is “Can I take the herb called Qing Hao to prevent malaria during my trip?” Unfortunately, the answer has disappointed many people because although this herb is used for the treatment of malaria in TCM, usually combined with other herbs, it is not recommended for the prevention of the disease or as a deterrent to mosquitoes. However, the leaves of Qing Hao were burned as a fumigant insecticide to kill mosquitoes in ancient China but this practice no longer continues today since the development and marketing of more efficient mosquito-repellant devices. The discovery of artemisinin Qing Hao is a herb commonly used in China with a long history of use as an antipyretic to treat the alternate chill and fever symptoms of malaria and other “heat syndromes” in the traditional Chinese Read more […]

Akebia quinata

The lardizabalaceous family occurs in central (the Himalayas) to eastern Asia (Japan), and in Chile, and there are eight genera [Decaisnea (India, China), Sinofranchetia (China), Holboellia (E. Asia), Akebia (E. Asia), Parvatia (E. Himal.), Boquila (Chile), Stauntonia (E. Asia), and Lardizabala (Chile)]. About 38 species are recorded. The plants are woody vines or sometimes shrubs. Leaves are palmate or rarely pinnate alternate. Flowers are usually unisexual. Ovules are usually many, and fruit berrylike, dehiscing lengthwise. Some genera are cultivated in the United States, where Akebia is more common (Decaisnea, Lardizabala, Stauntonia, and rarely Sargentadoxa along the southern border of the United States). Futhermore, some few species are found in East Asia and three species in Japan, i.e., Akebia quinata Decne (Akebi in Japanese), A. triforiata Koidz (Mitubaakebi in Japanese), and Stauntonia hexaphylla Decne (Mube in Japanese). A. quinata is widely distributed in thickets in hills and mountains in Japan, Korea, and China. It is a glabrous climber with woody vines or sometimes shrubs, with plants reaching to more than 3 m high, whose flowers, usually unisexual, bloom pale purple in April-May. The ovules are usually Read more […]

Uterine Tonics: Venotonics

Treatment of pelvic congestion syndrome incorporates a combination of therapeutic actions, including anti-inflammatory, uterine tonics, and herbs used as vascular tonics. Uterine tonics, which historically have included herbs such as blue cohosh, goldenseal, lady’s mantle, motherwort, partridge berry, red raspberry leaf, and cramp bark and black haw, are thought to exert their efforts by improving the overall tone of the uterine smooth musculature and vasculature. Goldenseal, for example, typically regarded for its antimicrobial effects, was used extensively by the Eclectics for the treatment of uterine bleeding resulting from a variety of conditions, including endometriosis, fibroids, and changes associated with menopause. Although no clinical studies have been conducted using whole herb, in vitro trials using berberine, one of the primary alkaloids in goldenseal, have demonstrated both uterine smooth muscles stimulant and inhibitory activity. Aqueous extracts of red raspberry leaf also have demonstrated both stimulatory and inhibitory effects on uterine smooth muscle. In fact, this paradoxic effect is seen with several of the herbs commonly used as both uterine tonics and spasmolytics, for example, cramp bark and Read more […]

Vervain Of The Americas

Where later writers have included any of the older indications, they are likely to have come from Culpeper. This includes Dioscorides’ indication for jaundice in the British Herbal Pharmacopoeia, and references to lung conditions (Robinson 1868), but these are negligible compared to the importance of the descriptions by Coffin and Cook of the American Verbena hastata. Take vervain’s use in gynecology: Cook discusses vervain as a relaxant tonic with mild laxative effects indicated in recent obstructions of the menses, from which is derived an emmenogogue action and an indication of amenorrhoea (Priest & Priest, Bartram, Hoffmann), which has nothing to do with Culpeper’s original assertion, that vervain is a sympathetic remedy for the womb correcting all cold diseases of that organ. The relaxant effect becomes an anti-spasmodic action, useful in gall-bladder inflammation [British Herbal Pharmacopoeia, Hoffmann), acute spasms of bronchitis and pertussis as well as dysmenorrhoea (Priest & Priest), seizures (Hoffmann) muscle spasm, neuritis and ear neuralgia (Menzies-Trull) and labour pains (Coffin). None of these writers mentions abdominal colic cited by the old Byzantine writers, or repeats Parkinson’s ‘all inward Read more […]

Endometriosis: Discussion Of Botanicals

For many women with endometriosis pain is the single most debilitating aspect of this condition (other than chronic fertility problems in women desiring pregnancy). Therefore, pain management should be an important focus in the care of women with this condition. Herbalists reliably employ a number of herbs for the treatment of pelvic and abdominal pain, many of which have a long history of traditional use for painful gynecologic conditions. These herbs can be used singly but are generally used in various combinations with other herbs in these categories, or as part of a larger protocol. Analgesic herbs are used for generalized or local pain of an aching or sharp quality and include black cohosh, black haw and cramp bark, chamomile, corydalis, pulsatilla, dong quai, ginger, and Jamaican dogwood. Corydalis, Jamaican dogwood, and pulsatilla are especially dependable for moderate to serious pain. Pulsatilla is considered specific for ovarian pain. Antispasmodics are typically used for cramping pain, but also may be used for sharp or dull pain, aching, and drawing pains in the lower back and thighs, and include, such as wild yam, the viburnums (cramp bark and black haw), black cohosh, chamomile, and ginger. Dong quai’s traditional Read more […]

Ferula assafoetida

Common Names Pakistan Anjadana Bangladesh Hing England Asafetida India Hing Croatia Asafetida India Hingu Finland Asafetida India Ingu Germany Asafetida India Inguva Guyana Asafetida Afghanistan Kama I anguza Iceland Asafetida Pakistan Kama I anguza Lithuania Asafetida India Kayam Netherlands Asafetida Laos Ma ha hing Poland Asafetida France Merde du diable Russia Asafetida Mozambique Mvuje Spain Asafetida Tanzania Mvuje Sweden Asafetida Zaire Mvuje United States Asafetida Hungary Ordoggyoker France Asafetide India Perungayam Estonia Asafootida India Perunkaya Germany Asafotida Sri Lanka Perunkayan Germany Asant Finland Pirunpaska France Assa Foetida Finland Pirunpihka Italy Assafetida India Raamathan China A-wei Iran Rechina fena Greece Aza Netherlands Sagapeen United States Devil’s dung Turkey Setan bokosu Iceland Djoflatao Turkey Seytan tersi Latvia Driveldrikis Myanmar Sheingho Netherlands Duivelsdrek Tibet Shing-kun Denmark Dyvelsdrak Germany Stinkasant Norway Dyvelsdrekk United States Stinking Read more […]

Hyperthyroidism

Pathophysiology Hyperthyroidism, or thyrotoxicosis, is the result of excessive levels of circulating thyroid hormones. It is characterized by elevated total T4, free T4, free thyroxine index, and/or tri-iodothyronine and tri-iodothyronine resin uptake. Low thyroid-stimulating hormone and normal levels of tri-iodothyronine and thyroxine characterize subclinical hyperthyroidism, and it has the same causes as overt hyperthyroidism. Graves’ disease, an autoimmune disorder in which stimulatory anti-TSH receptor antibodies are formed, comprises the majority of hyperthyroid cases. In fact, the strongest risk factor for both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism is the presence of thyroid peroxidase antibodies. These antibodies are directed toward the receptors in the cell membrane of the thyroid gland, causing the gland to increase growth, size, and function. Graves’ disease is characterized by several common features, including thyrotoxicosis, goiter, exophthalmos, and pretibial myxedema. Graves’ disease is eight times more common in women than men, typically presents between the ages of 20 and 40 years old, and the most common presentation is a diffuse nonpain-ful goiter. It may be more prevalent in some genetic HLA haplotypes. There Read more […]

Gentian

Historical Note The genus Gentiana is derived from Gentius, king of ancient llyra who is attributed with the discovery of its therapeutic effects. In ancient Greece and Rome it was used to relieve common gastrointestinal symptoms, much as it is used today. It was first noted in the Chinese medical literature in 50 BC. Other Names Gentiana, yellow gentian, wild gentian Botanical Name / Family Gentiana lutea (family Gentianaceae) Plant Parts Used Root and rhizome Chemical Components Secoiridoid bitter glycosides, oligosaccharides, phenolic acids, phytosterols, polysaccharides (inulin and pectin), tannin, lupeol, beta-amyrin triterpenes, xanthones and essential oil. Main Actions The active principals in gentian root are the bitter constituents, gentiopicroside and amarogentin. DIGESTIVE STIMULANT The bitter principals induce reflex excitation of taste receptors and increased saliva, gastric juice and bile secretion thereby stimulating appetite and digestion according to in vivo experiments. The small human study confirmed oral administration of gentian root extract increases gastric juice secretion and emptying of the gall bladder (ESCOP 2003). Other Actions A gentian root preparation inhibited Helicobacter Read more […]