Cannabis and Cannabinoids in Pain Relief

Cannabis is a term that describes products derived from the Indian hemp, Cannabis sativa. It has its origins probably in India but now grows all over the world. The chemical compounds responsible for intoxication and medicinal effects are found mainly in a sticky golden resin exuded from the flowers of the female plants and surrounding leaves. Cannabis sativa contains a wide range of different chemicals including a family of compounds called “cannabinoids”. Of the cannabinoids delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is probably the main compound responsible for the psychotropic activities. Cannabis has been used as a medicine for thousands of years and is mentioned in a Chinese herbal dating back to 2700 BC. There are records of ’its medicinal use in Egyptian papyri of the sixteenth century BC. Much later, the plant is mentioned in Assyrian texts and in Greek and Roman sources as a medicinal agent. Early Experiences in the 19th Century Cannabis Tincture was used in the nineteenth century as an analgesic, as well as numerous other conditions and was considered milder and less dangerous than opium. W.B.O’Shaughnessy was the first of the western physicians to take an interest in cannabis as a medicine on account Read more […]

Eucalyptus oil products: Formulations and legislation

Eucalyptus oils are being used with increasing frequency in a variety of products found in the supermarket or pharmacy. ‘With extract of Eucalyptus’ or ‘With Eucalyptus essential oil’ claims are becoming more common on the labels of modern consumer products such as cosmetics, toiletries and household products due to the ever-increasing interest in natural or botanical ingredients. Eucalyptus oil may be used as an active ingredient to provide scientifically provable benefits – such as nasal decongestion or antibacterial effects – or at much lower dosages to impart more esoteric or folkloric connotations to the product concerned. Eucalyptus oils are also used as components of perfumes to provide a medicinal-type note to the fragrance. Eucalyptus globulus, or Blue Gum, oil was a traditional Australian aboriginal remedy for infections and fevers. It is now used all over the world for relieving coughs and colds, sore throats and other infections. Its main constituent, 1,8-cineole, is mucolytic (i.e. it thins out and relaxes the flow of mucus) and is excreted through the lung surface. Eucalyptus radiata oil is sometimes preferred by aromatherapists for its more pleasant smell while Eucalyptus smithii oil is Read more […]

Pharmacology of Poppy Alkaloids: Minor Opium Alkaloids

The pharmacology and biology of minor opium alkaloids have been surveyed previously in two comprehensive reviews (). Thebaine The pharmacology of thebaine was summarized by Reynolds and Randall in 1957 and studied comprehensively by a WHO Advisory Group in 1980. The pharmacological actions of thebaine in various isolated organs have been studied. Thebaine can induce a temporary decrease in blood pressure in anaesthetized dogs and this depressor effect showed a marked tachyphylaxis. In isolated guinea pig atrium, thebaine decreased the heart rate and contractions depending on the concentration. In isolated rabbit ileum it decreased the peristaltic movement and contractions (). The predominant effect of thebaine is stimulation of the central nervous system. In the mouse, rabbit, cat and dog increases in motor activity and reflex excitability were observed at doses around 2-10mg/kg s.c. or i.m. The Straub-tail response was noted only occasionally. The effects of thebaine on body temperature and respiration have also been studied. Convulsions were observed in almost all species of animals including the frog, pigeon, mouse, guinea pig, cat and dog. Transient tremors, restlessness and convulsions were observed in the Read more […]

Pharmacology of Poppy Alkaloids: Major Opium Alkaloids

 The latex obtained by the incision of unripe seed capsules of Papaver somniferum and which is known as opium is the source of several pharmacologically important alkaloids. Dioskorides, in about AD 77, referred to both the latex (opos) and the total plant extract (mekonion) and to the use of oral and inhaled (pipe smoked) opium to induce a state of euphoria and sedation. Since before the Christian era the therapeutic properties of opium were evident, with the first written reference to poppy juice by Theophrastus in the third century BC. Powdered opium contains more than 40 alkaloids which constitute about 25% by weight of the opium and are responsible for its pharmacological activity. In 1803 the German pharmacist Sertiirner achieved the isolation of morphine as one of the active ingredients of opium. Morphine, codeine, thebaine, papaverine, narcotine and narceine are the most important bases, with many of the remaining (minor) alkaloids occurring only in traces. Morphine Morphine has long occupied an eminent position on the list of useful drugs. As a pure alkaloid, it has been employed for over a century and a half and, as the most important constituent of opium, it has contributed to the comfort of the human Read more […]

Tabernaemontana spp.

The family Apocynaceae is probably one of the richest sources of drugs in the plant kingdom. Both alkaloids, e.g. reserpine, vincristine, vinblastine, ajmalicine and serpentine, and steroids, e.g. strophantidine, are found in species of this family. One of the larger indole alkaloid-bearing tribes within this family is Tabernaemontaneae. The tribe Plumerieae comprises well-known genera such as Catharanthus, Vinca, Amsonia, Rhazya and Alstonia. The Tribe Tabernaemontaneae For the genera belonging to the tribe Tabernaemontaneae, as presented in Table Genera belonging to the tribe Tabernaemontaneae, we followed the classification of Leeuwenberg. For the most recent classification see Leeuwenberg (1987). In this paper is also reporten, that T. orientalis is a synonym for T. pandacaqui Poir. Table Genera belonging to the tribe Tabernaemontaneae Family Apocynaceae Subfamily Plumerioideae Tribe Tabernaemontaneae Genus Tabernaemontana 120 species, tropics Stemmadenia 17 species, America Voacanga 14 species, Africa, Asia Callichilia 7 species, Africa Tabernanthe 1 species, Africa Schizozygia 1 species, Africa Carvalhoa 1 species, Africa Crioceras 1 Read more […]

Macleaya spp.

The genus Macleaya belongs to the family Papaveraceae Juss. (Jussieu 1789), subfamily Papaveroideae, tribe Chelidonieae Reichb. (Reichenbach 1837). As early as 1826, the genus Macleaya was separated from the genus Bocconia L. by Robert Brown. It includes two closely related species Macleaya cordata (Willd.) R. Br. (= Bocconia cordata Willd.) native to Central to Eastern China and Central Japan, and Macleaya microcarpa (Maxim.) Fedde (= Bocconia microcarpa Maxim.) which originated from the regions of Central China, Kansu and North Shensi. M. cordata is an ornamental plant up to 3 m high and carrying splendid foliage. In 1795 it was introduced by G. Staunton into Middle European gardens. Common names for M. cordata are Federmohn (German), plume poppy or tree celandine (English), takenigusa or champagiku (Japanese), for M. microcarpa makleya melkoplodnaya (Russian). In 1971 a report was published on experiments to culture M. cordata experimental garden. Like all other members of the tribe Chelidonieae, Macleaya also possesses laticifers containing coloured latex in which alkaloids have been found. Table Alkaloids detected in plants and cell cultures in the genus Macleaya lists these alkaloids together with Read more […]

Mentha Species (Mints)

The Mentha comprise a genus of the Labiatae (Lamiaceae) that are widely distributed in the north and south temperate zones of Eurasia and Africa, and members of which have been extensively introduced into the Americas. Up to some 25 species have been characterised, but the genus is extremely complex taxonomically and much phenotypic plasticity and genetic variability occurs. Diversity in Europe appears to be at the species level whereas that in central Asia mainly involves variation within one species, i.e. M. sylvestris (). Most of the species can hybridise to yield numerous varieties that are widespread in nature and can be recognised by their intermediate appearance and general sterility – although fertile hybrid swarms are known. Consequently, the ancestry of several “species” and varieties is uncertain – especially so as several have been widely cultivated as culinary herbs and many cultivars have escaped into the environment. This variation may be responsible for differences in secondary metabolism that have often been recorded in nominally the same species. Thus it is essential that fully documented voucher specimens be deposited in herbaria when studies are carried out on the genus. Table Classification Read more […]

Earache: Herbal Treatment of Children

Earache can be related to pain in the throat, gums, teeth or parotid glands (in mumps), which radiates to the ear. It can also be due to inflammation of the outer ear canal, and associated with swelling and an irritating discharge. Most commonly, however, especially in children under six, earache is caused by middle ear infection (otitis media). This may be either acute or chronic. Acute infections can occur as a sequel to other infections including colds, tonsillitis, measles or allergies. Infection of the outer ear can be caused by an object stuck in the ear, a boil in the ear canal, scratching or fiddling with the ear (which often happens with a skin irritation such as eczema in or around the ears); or from chlorine in swimming pools, which can irritate the skin of children who swim frequently and who do not dry their ears properly. Any discharge in the outer ear can be washed away gently with a warm infusion of antiseptic herbs, such as chamomile, elderflowers, golden seal (Hydrastis canadensis) or marigold, or a few drops of tincture can be used in warm water. One or two drops of warm olive oil with a few drops of essential oil of either chamomile or lavender (two drops to a teaspoon of oil) can be inserted Read more […]

Australian Bush Flower Essences: Case Histories

The following few brief anecdotes and case histories illustrate the scope and potential of the Australian Bush Flower Essences. One woman was in so much pain from arthritis that she was unable to sit down in the chair. The joints of her fingers were swollen, gnarled and deformed. Her condition had commenced four years earlier when her husband had left her for another woman. I prescribed Sturt Desert Pea for her, an essence for grief. After five days she rang back to say that all she had done was cry in that time but also that she was free of pain and the deformity in her hands had gone! Rheumatologists would declare this either as impossible or a miracle. A young woman in her early twenties wanted a prescription of Bush Essences to help her recover from her impending surgery for cervical cancer. After further discussion she confided that when she was fifteen years old she had been raped. Feeling that this was a likely trigger as to why she developed such a serious illness so early in life, I prescribed Flannel Flower, Fringed Violet and Wisteria to treat the emotional and physical shock and trauma of that event. After a few days she developed a burning sensation in the cervix, but she thought that this was part Read more […]


CNS DEPRESSANTS depress the CNS. In practice, very diverse agents can be grouped under this heading and it does not describe any specific type of drug action. Most of the agents that depress neuronal activity in the brain or spinal cord are dealt with under specific headings. The properties of some of these classes will be summarized here. GENERAL ANAESTHETICS are either inhaled or injected agents and produce insensibility, mostly to alleviate pain during surgical procedures (e.g. halothane, thiopentone sodium). HYPNOTICS induce sleep and a wide range of chemical types may be used. The older agents, such as the barbiturates, were often SEDATIVE agents used at a higher dose, but they readily produced dangerous respiratory depression and are now much less commonly used (e.g. amylobarbitone, chloral hydrate, chlormethiazole, triclofos). Increasingly, the drugs of choice are anxiolytic/minor tranquillizers at a somewhat higher dosage (vide infra). Tranquillizers depress the CNS. The need for the term came with the introduction of drugs having rather more subtle effects on mood and behaviour than the barbiturates. However, it soon became necessary to divide the category into minor tranquillizers and major tranquillizers. Read more […]