Artemisia vulgaris L.

Artemisia vulgaris L., most commonly known as Mugwort, is a species of wide distribution throughout Europe, Asia and north America. Several other common names are listed by Grieve and Bisset including Felon Herb, Wild Wormwood and St. John’s Plant, noting that the latter name should not be confused with St. John’s Wort, Hypericum perforatum. The historical derivation of these names is suggested by Grieve, the herb having been used over many centuries. Most likely, the name “Mugwort” is linked with the plant’s use for flavouring beer prior to the modern use of hops (Humulus lupulus). Alternatively, Mugwort, may not relate to either drinking mugs or wort, but from “moughthe”, a moth or maggot since the plant has been thought to be useful in repelling moths. In the United Kingdom Artemisia vulgaris has received many local names. Grigson lists 24 names including Apple-Pie and Mugweed in Cheshire, Green Ginger and Smotherwood in Lincolnshire, Mugwood in Shropshire and Mugger in Scotland. Botany Habitat Mugwort is a hardy perennial common throughout temperate regions of the northern hemisphere. It grows readily in hedgerows, roadsides, river banks and waste places such as rubbish tips. Clapham et al. () state that geographically Read more […]

Ruta graveolens

Ruta graveolens (Rutaceae) and its tissue cultures are investigated from a wide variety of aspects, such as botanical studies, medicinal activities, chemical constituents and biosynthesis of some compounds. The in vitro culture of Ruta, quick-growing and with strong biogenetic potentialities, is an optimal implement for biochemical and physiological studies, and many research teams are using it in various fields which are reported in this chapter. Distribution and Importance of the Plant The genus Ruta belongs to the family Rutaceae, subfamily Rutoideae and tribe Ruteae. The subtribe Rutinae contains the following genera: Ruta L., Haplophyllum A. Juss., Thamnosma Torr. and Fr. and Boenninghausenia Reichb. Engler (1931) included Ruta and Haplophyllum in one genus. However, Waterman (1975) found that from a chemical standpoint Haplophyllum and Thamnosma are similar, but quite different from Ruta. According to the Flora Europaea, five species are assigned to the genus Ruta (). Ruta graveolens L. (common names: Engl.: common rue, herb of grace; French: rue fetide; German: Gartenraute; Spanish: ruda, arruda) is a well-known evergreen, half shrubby plant of 0.5 to 1 m in height, with leaves two- to three-pinnate and Read more […]

Angelica sinensis (Oliv.) Diels.

Distribution Angelica sinensis (Oliv.) Diels. (Chinese name Dang Gui) is a member of the family Umbelliferae. There are 80 species of Angelica, mainly distributed in the northern temperate zone and New Zealand. In China, there are approximately 40 species, mainly distributed in the south-west, north-east and north-west zones, e.g. in the provinces of Yung Nan, Si Chuan, Shan Si, Hu Bei, Gan Su etc. The altitude of these areas is about 1500-3000 m, the annual average temperature is 5.5-11.4°C, the annual rainfall is 500-600 mm. A few species of Angelica may be used for food, forage and medicine. The common species are A. acutiloba (Sieb. et Zucc), A. polymorpha, Maxin, A. porphyrocoulis Naxai et Kitag, A. tsinlingensis, A. sinensis etc., of which A. sinensis is the most important. A. sinensis: perennial herb (80-150 cm), leaves tridigitato-pinnate divided, petioles expand tubular sheath, flowers white compound umbel, fruit longelliptic lateral angular with wide wings. As a cultivated plant, Dang Gui (A. sinensis) is mainly produced in the southeast of the Gan Su province, China, e.g. Min Xian and Dang Chang Xian. Since 1970, Dang Gui has also been produced in Shan Xi, Si Chuan and Yung Nan provinces, the seeds, Read more […]

Emmenagogue? Hormones?

Cullen notes a claimed, but to him unproven, emmenagogic action to the bitters. Wormwood is recorded with this property. The British Herbal Pharmacopoeia does not record this action for wormwood, despite such a property in both the sister herbs, Artemisia abrotanum and Artemisia vulgaris. Indeed there is no strong modern tradition for its use in this regard, even when designated emmenagogue, other than cautions against its use in pregnancy, carried by all our modern authors. Mills & Bone expand the caution to association with foetal malformation, and contraindication in breast feeding. Only Bartram recommends its use for abnormal absence of periods and Menzies-Trull for atonic vaginal discharge and leucorrhoea. Mills (1991), together with strong cautions, mentions its use for spasmodic dysmenorrhoea and relief of pain in childbirth. Wood lists it for amenorrhoea, infertility, menstrual cramps and painful parturition but does not discourse further, and Barker (2001) records an anecdotal transient worsening of premenstrual tension symptoms in susceptible individuals, preferring different plants to bring on delayed periods. Beyond this there is little discussion. Past tradition is only a little more fulsome with its 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 […]

Artemisia vulgaris

Mugwort – Artemisia vulgaris Family: Asteraceae Part used: leaves, flowering tops Artemisia vulgaris L. is a vigorous, hardy, woody perennial found throughout Europe, although it is less common in the north. It is a commonplace weed in disturbed ground and waste places, where it forms dense stands. It is an aggressive weed in Canada, where it has spread rapidly as it propagates easily from small fragments of rhizome. The Flora of Turkey (Davis 1975) gives 22 Artemisia species, including Artemisia absinthium, Artemisia vulgaris, Artemisia santonicum and Artemisia abrotanum. Erect, branched, ribbed reddish stems (50-180 cm high) bear alternate, stalked, pinnately lobed leaves, which are smooth and green on the upper side and white and downy beneath. Upper leaves are unstalked, entire and lanceolate. Dense, tapering panicles of inconspicuous, oval, rayless, reddish flowerheads (2-3 mm across) occur in July to September. Both leaves and flowerheads are very variable. Other species used Tarragon Artemisia dracunculus, southernwood Artemisia abrotanum. A study in Italy of 14 wild Artemisia species found similar volatile oils in all but wide variation in concentration. Artemisia abrotanum was the only species 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 […]

Rue

Ruta graveolens The genus includes six species found in Europe. The Flora of Turkey gives two Ruta species, not including Ruta graveolens. Ruta graveolens L. is a native of southeastern Europe but is widely naturalized in southern Europe and cultivated worldwide. It is a shrubby perennial with a distinctive smell. Smooth erect stems (14-45 cm) bear alternate, stalked bluish-grey-green pinnate leaves with deeply lobed obovate leaflets. Shiny yellow flowers with four spoon-shaped petals occur in terminal umbel-like groups in June-August. A smooth green capsule containing many seeds develops in each flower while other flowers around are still coming into flower. Other species used Ruta angustifolia Pers. and Ruta chalepensis L. are found in southern Europe and are similar but with fringed cilia on the petal edge. Quality All Ruta species are associated with phytophotodermatitis (see below) and plants should not be touched with bare hands, especially on sunny days. Rue is included among the plants discussed in this book not because we ourselves use it, but because of its reputation as a great healing medicine in the Western herbal tradition and the suspicion that it is a neglected remedy. Its application extends Read more […]

Rue In Classical Medicine

Dioscorides lists over a dozen external uses of rue. The herb infused into olive oil by cooking and applied to the abdomen helps inflations of the colon downwards and of the uterus, while the herb ground up with honey and applied to the perineum, ‘from the genitalia to the anus’, relieves uterine suffocation. A similar application is made to joints to relieve pain, while mixed with figs it disperses oedema. As a plaster with barley groats, it assuages severe eye pains and in combination with rose ointment and vinegar it is rubbed onto the head in cases of headache. Ground and inserted into the nostrils, it can stop nosebleeds; plastered on with the leaves of sweet bay, it helps inflammation of the testicles or with a cerate (wax) of myrtle it remedies their pustules. Rubbed on with salt and pepper, it treats dull-white leprosy, which is either vitiligo or psoriasis, and both raised and flat warts. Applied with honey and alum it is good for lichen-like eruptions of the skin. The fresh juice, warmed in a pomegranate shell and instilled, combats earache or mixed with the juice of fennel and honey then smeared on is a remedy for dim-sightedness. Another mixture with vinegar, white lead and rose ointment treats erysipelas, Read more […]

Rue: Anthelmintic And Spasmolytic

Another traditional use for rue is as an anthelmintic. Dioscorides wants it boiled in olive oil and drunk to remove intestinal worms. This indication passes down through the Arabic and Renaissance sources, then is rarely mentioned, although Cullen recommends a strong decoction as an enema for ascarides in the rectum. Williamson states that the herb is reportedly anthelmintic and recent ethnobotanic research shows that rue is a popular traditional medicine in rural parts of Italy for worms and externally against head lice and parasites. Despite being a non-indigenous herb, it is also in much demand by the people of the Bredasdorp/Elim area of South Africa not only for worms but also for bladder and kidney problems, convulsions, diabetes, fever, headache, stomach complaints and sinus problems, in doses of 1 teaspoon of the herb to a cup of boiling water. An anthelmintic action is derived from the volatile oils and bitterness of rue and leads us to consider the plant’s actions in the digestive tract. Dioscorides notes that eaten or drunk it stops diarrhoea and, taken with dried dill Anethum graveolens, abdominal colic. Pliny says that the pounded leaves in wine with cheese are given to patients with dysentery. Rue soon Read more […]