Malva sp. (Mallow)

Distribution and Importance of the Plant Although about 1000 species are designated with the common name of mallow, approximately 30 species belonging to the genus Malva (of the Malvaceae family) are known for their medicinal value, mostly in a traditional sense. The common (blue or high) mallow (Malva sylvestris L.) is a biennial to short-lived perennial with prostrate to semi-erect stems (10-80 cm long) and long-stalked rounded leaves with a heart-shaped base and five to seven broad shallow-toothed lobes (). The leaves of M. sylvestris var. incanescens Gris are hairy. The flowers (appearing from May to September) are pale lilac to bright mauve-purple and the seeds are flat button-like nutlets. The plant is found naturally in marginal or waste lands, hedgerows and roadsides and is approximately 1 m high, with stalked, roundish, five- to seven-lobed leaves (). Plant parts abound with a mild mucilage. Malva aegyptia (Egyptian mallow) is an annual species, endemic in the Mediterranean countries, 20-50 cm high with purple-blue flowers. Malva cretica (Crecian mallow) is another Mediterranean species, which is an annual, 10-30 cm high with rose-coloured leaves. Malva ambigua Guss (M. sylvestris var. ambigua) Read more [...]

Artemisia Absinthium L.

Artemisia absinthium L. is a member of the family Compositae (Asteraceae) and is known by the common names wormwood (UK), absinthe (France) and wermut (Germany). The name Artemisia is derived from the Goddess Artemis, the Greek name for Diana, who is said to have discovered the plant’s virtues (), while absinthium comes from the Greek word apinthion meaning “undrinkable”, reflecting the very bitter nature of the plant. The plant is also known by a number of synonyms which include: Absinthium, Wermutkraut, Absinthii Herba, Assenzio, Losna, Pelin, Armoise, Ajenjo and Alsem. The herb is native to warm Mediterranean countries, usually found growing in dry waste places such as roadsides, preferring a nitrogen-rich stoney and hence loose soil. It is also native to the British Isles and is fairly widespread (). Wormwood has been naturalised in northeastern North America, North and West Asia and Africa. Brief Botanical Description The stem of this shrubby perennial herb is multibranched and firm, almost woody at the base, and grows up to 130 cm in height (). The root stock produces many shoots which are covered in fine silky hairs, as are the leaves. The leaves themselves are silvery grey, 8 cm long by 3 cm broad, abundantly Read more [...]

The Therapeutic Potential For Cannabis

«Cannabis Use and Abuse by Man: An Historical Perspective» of this site provides a fascinating, historical account of the use of cannabis across many cultures and centuries. Suffice it to say here that any natural substance with over 5000 years of medical history will have attached to it a heritage of hearsay and legend through which one must sift to identify areas of true therapeutic potential for us in the late twentieth century and beyond. A summary of conditions for which cannabis has been used, ranging through various shades of rationality, appears in Table Medicinal and quasi-medicinal uses for cannabis and its derivatives: Indications for which only anecdote or reports of traditional use exist: aphrodisiac muscular spasm in rabies / tetanus Huntingdon’s chorea jaundice toothache earache tumour growth cough hysteria insanity menstrual cramps rheumatism movement disorders gut spasm pyrexia inflammed tonsils migraine headache increasing uterine  contractions in childbirth urinary retention/ bladder spasm parasite infection fatigue allergy fever herpetic pain hypertension joint inflammation diarrhoea malaria forgetfulness Indications Read more [...]

Specific Medicinal Uses of Cannabis

The historical and contemporary, medicinal uses of cannabis have been reviewed on several occasions (). Perhaps the earliest published report to contain at least some objectivity on the subject was that of O’Shaughnessy (1842), an Irish surgeon, working in India, who described the analgesic, anticonvulsant and muscle relaxant properties of the drug. This report triggered the appearance of over 100 publications on the medicinal use of cannabis in American and European medical journals over the next 60 years. One such use was to treat nausea and vomiting; but it was not until the advent of potent cancer chemotherapeutic drugs that the antiemetic properties of cannabis became more widely investigated and then employed. One can argue that the available clinical evidence of efficacy is stronger here than for any other application and that proponents of its use are most likely to be successful in arguing that cannabis should be re-scheduled (to permit its use as a medicine) because it has a “currently accepted medical use”. Specific Medicinal Uses of Cannabis: Use as an Antiemetic Specific Medicinal Uses of Cannabis: Glaucoma Specific Medicinal Uses of Cannabis: Multiple Sclerosis Spastic Conditions A discussion Read more [...]

Specific Medicinal Uses of Cannabis: Multiple Sclerosis

Like so many other applications, there are numerous anecdotal reports from both patients and their carers who say that cannabis has proffered relief from a range of symptoms associated with MS, including tremor, spasticity and muscle pain (). Evidence for the efficacy of cannabis in the relief of spasticity other than that found in MS is discussed in Spastic Conditions. Cannabis Meinck et al. () describe a case where the benefits of smoking cannabis reported by the patient — improvement in muscle tone, reflexes, spasticity, tremor and walking ability — were quantifiable in the laboratory and deteriorated on withdrawal. In a double-blind, placebo controlled trial of cannabis in 10 ambulant patients with MS (), the drug impaired posture and balance although several patients reported an improvement in subjective feelings of well-being; a formal psychological assessment was not carried out. Anecdotal evidence gathered from the testimonials of MS sufferers indicates that a considerable proportion obtain at least partial relief from night-time spasticity, and reduced muscle pain, tremor and depression (). THC Petro and Ellenburger () reported a placebo-controlled trial of oral THC in 9, cannabis-naive patients Read more [...]

Healing Powers of Aloes

Aloe is a medicinal plant that has maintained its popularity over the course of time. Three distinct preparations of aloe plants are mostly used in a medicinal capacity: aloe latex (=aloe); aloe gel (=aloe vera); and, aloe whole leaf (=aloe extract). Aloe latex is used for its laxative effect; aloe gel is used topically for skin ailments, such as wound healing, psoriasis, genital herpes and internally by oral administration in diabetic and hyperlipidaemic patients and to heal gastric ulcers; and, aloe extract is potentially useful for cancer and AIDS. The use of honey may make the aloe extract therapy palatable and more efficient. Aloe preparations, especially aloe gel, have been reported to be chemically unstable and may deteriorate over a short time period. In addition, hot water extracts may not contain adequate concentrations of active ingredients and purified fractions may be required in animal studies and clinical trials. Therefore it should be kept in mind that, in some cases, the accuracy of the listed actions may be uncertain and should be verified by further studies. There are at least 600 known species of Aloe (Family Liliaceae) (), many of which have been used as botanical medicines in many countries Read more [...]

Bioactivity of Basil: Other Activities

Plants belonging to the genus Ocimum exhibit a great deal of different pharmacological activities of which the most important, as concluded by the number of research reports, will be discussed below. The activities to be discussed in more detail are anti-inflammatory, immunomodulating and adaptogenic, anticarcinogenic, hypoglycemic and blood lipid lowering, radioprotective, effect on the CNS, antiulcerogenic, hepatoprotective and the effect on smooth muscle. In addition to these activities a number of other activities are also reported in the literature, such as antioxidant (), angioprotective effect (), effect on the reproductive behaviour () and antiwormal activity (). Anti-inflammatory Activity Ocimum sanctum L., popularly known as “Tulsi” in Hindi and “Holy Basil” in English, is a widely known sacred plant of Hindus. Different parts of the plant have been claimed to be valuable in a wide spectrum of diseases (). For instance, it is used for the treatment of arthritis, rheumatism, pain and fever in the Ayurvedic system of medicine (). Ocimum sanctum is now intensively studied in order to prove these activities by pharmacological evidence. A methanol extract and an aqueous suspension of Ocimum sanctum Read more [...]

Datura spp.

Datura belongs to the family Solanaceae, and is a rich source of numerous alkaloids. Various species range from herbs, shrubs to trees, and they are thus annuals as well as perennials. D. metel with its five varieties originated in India, its fruit is a wart-covered verrucosely hanging capsule (). Datura innoxia () originated from Mexico. Safford (1921) and later Danert (1954) dealt with the systematics of these plants. Verzar-Perti and Sarkany (1960) studied the characteristic morphological and anatomical differentiating features, i.e. shape and colour of the seed, and type of trichomes. They can be well differentiated by the corolla as well. Datura metel has five peaks on calices, whereas D. innoxia has ten, which are long and curved like claws. The leaves of D. metel have three lobes, which are almost awnless, whereas the leaves of D. innoxia are very asymmetrical, being heart-shaped and pilous. Various varieties (stramonium L, tatula Torr., inermis Jacq., godronii Danert) of D. stramonium have the shortest growing season. Datura stramonium and D. innoxia have been extensively tested, especially for their scopolamine and hyoscyamine contents respectively. More than 30 alkaloids have been observed in Datura (), Read more [...]

Paeonia spp.

Classification and Distribution of Paeonia Paeonia is said to be named after the Greek God Paeon. Hutchinson (1973) reported that the Paeoniaceae was considered histologically as an independent family of the dicotyledons by Worsdell in 1908, and the position of classification is intermediate between Magnoliaceae and Helleboraceae, Paeonia being rather closer to the Helleboraceae. The Paeonia genus is distributed in Spain, North Africa to Siberia, South to Central Europe and North and South America. In Japan (Pharmacopoeia Japonica, undecima, ed. by Niphonkoteishokyokai 1986), the root of Paeonia is used as a herbal medicine or “Shakuyaku”, as also the roots of the herb Paeonia lactiflora Pallas (P. albiflora Pallas van trichocarpa Bunge = P. albiflora Pallas form, hortensis Makino) and related plants. The cortex of the woody Paeonia moutan Smis. (= P. suffruticosa Andrews) is called “Botan” (Moutan Bark, Moutan Cortex). The origin of these plants is in China. Some plants are cultivated in Nara and Hokkaido in Japan, but most crude drugs are imported from China and Korea. Plants of P. japonica (Makino) Miyabe et Takeda, and P. obovata Maxim, are found as natives, but are never used as commercial resources. The Paeonia Read more [...]

Bidens alba (Smooth Beggar-Tick) and Bidens pilosa (Hairy Beggar-Tick)

The genus Bidens (Compositae) is composed of approximately 230 species having a worldwide distribution in tropical and temperate regions. It is primarily a continental group, which has become established on some islands, notably the Hawaiian islands. The centers of diversity are Africa and the New World, with each center having about 100 species (). Several species are so abundant that they are considered serious weeds. Two will be of particular concern here: Bidens alba var. radiata (Schultz-Bip.) Ballard () and B. pilosa var. minor (Blume) Sherff, another member of the complex. B. alba var. radiata (smooth beggar-tick) occurs in south eastern Mexico into Central America and in Florida, U.S.A.; B. pilosa var. minor (hairy beggar-tick) is primarily restricted to Central America (Ballard 1986). B. pilosa var. minor and B. alba var. radiata are erect annual herbs with opposite pinnate leaves. Flowers are organized into a capitulum with yellow disc flowers and five or six white (occasionally purple) ray flowers which are 5-7 mm long and have a nonfunctional style in the former species and ray flowers 15-18 mm long with no style in the latter. Both plants, in common with most species of Bidens, are found in moist, disturbed Read more [...]