Scoparia dulcis L. (Sweet Broomweed)

Sweet broomweed (Scoparia dulcis L., Scrophulariaceae) is a perennial herb widely distributed in the torrid zone. The original habitat of this plant is tropical America. Stems are erect, branching, and sometimes woody at the base, 25-80 cm tall. () Roots are pale yellow and straight, 10-15 cm long, with many lateral roots. Leaves are lanceolate, elliptical, or obovate, 5-20 mm long, with serrations at the edge, and are opposite or verticillate. The plant has small, white flowers with four calices. The corrola is actinomorphic and split in four. Flowers are 4-5 mm in diameter and bear four stamens and a pistil. Flowering time is summer and autumn. After flowering, ovate or globular capsules mature (2-3 mm in diameter), which contain many powder-like seeds. In tropical and subtropical regions of Asia, Africa, and South and Central America, the fresh or dried plant of S. dulcis has traditionally been used as a medicament for stomach disorders, bronchitis, diabetes, hypertension, hemorroids and hepatosis, and as an analgesic and antipyretic (). The antidiabetic activity of the Indian S. dulcis is attributed to the glycoside ammelin obtained from the fresh plant (). The methanolic and water extracts from roots of Formosan Read more [...]

Phyllanthus Species

Distribution and Importance of Phyllanthus Species Phyllanthus is a large and complex genus in the Euphorbiaceae, currently thought to contain between 550 and 750 species in 11 subgenera (). While most commonly found in the tropics, species occur from tropical to mildly temperate zones on all continents except Europe and Antarctica. Some weedy species have become dispersed throughout most of the tropics, but many others are fairly restricted in known range (). Two fruit-bearing trees, P. acidus L. and P. emblica L., have been minor items of commerce for centuries. Some species have widely dispersed records of medicinal use, but generally the plants so used have not been cultivated (). Webster, who is working on a global revision of the genus, believes the subgenera fall into the evolutionary affinity groupings of: (a) Isocladus; (b) Kirganelia-Cicca-Emblica; (c) Phyllanthus; (d) Conami-Gomphidium-Phyllanthodendron; (e) Xylophylla-Botryanthus; and (f) Eriococcus. Species of the subgenera Eriococcus and Phyllanthodendron are known only from Asia. Species of the affinity grouping Xylophylla-Botryanthus are known only from the Americas, including the West Indies. The remaining affinity groups all include species indigenous Read more [...]

Pinellia tevnata Breit (Chinese name Banhsia)

Distribution and Importance of the Plant Pinellia ternata Breit (Chinese name Banhsia) (), a perennial grass belonging to the Araceae, is an important Chinese medicinal herb that has been used in clinical practice for over 2000 years. Tuber globulose about 1 cm in diameter with hairy roots, few leaves with small bulbils of 3-5 mm in diameter borne at the middle and on the uppermost part; petioles 15-20 cm long, leaflets 3, ovate -elliptic to oblong – elliptic, 3-10 cm long, 1-3 cm broad, accuminate to acute at apex, acute to obtuse at base. Peduncles 25-35 cm long, spathe 6-7 cm long, green or green white rounded at apex, the limb lanceolate, puberulent inside; Spadix – erect, 6-10 cm long, with a filiform exerted appendage. It is widely distributed in China, especially in the south province, except for Nei Mongolia, Xin Jiang, Qing Hai, and Tibet. The altitude of these areas is below 2500 m. Pinellia ternata is one of the weeds in nonirrigated farm land (dry land), commonly seen in grassland, uncultivated land, corn fields, and/or under sparse woods. The species is also distributed in Japan and the Korean Peninsular (). The plant grows well in warmer and more humid places and withstands damp or less sunshine. It is Read more [...]

Morinda Species

The genus Morinda belongs to the family Rubiaceae. Among the many species comprising this genus, six are of some pharmaceutical and technical importance (). One of these is Morinda citrifolia which occurs in India and Southeast Asia. Its leaves and roots are used in the treatment of hypertension or as a diuretic and laxative. A more recent study () shows that extracts of the roots exhibit an analgesic and probably sedative effect on mice. Morinda lucida, another plant dealt with in this Chapter, grows in central Africa. Natives of central Africa use the plant as a diuretic, purgative and in the treatment of leprosy, fever, malaria, yellow fever, diarrhea and dysentery (). The technical use of Morinda plants as a dye is based on the occurrence of anthraquinone pigments in the roots. The pigments isolated from both M. citrifolia and M. lucida plants are listed in Thomson (1987). A publication by Demagos et al. (1981) and reviews by Wijnsma and Verpoorte (1986) as well as by van den Berg and Labadie (1989) contain later additions to the array of known anthraquinones. While roots are the main source of anthraquinones, pigments are also present in the heartwood, leaves and even flowers (). The anthraquinones present in Read more [...]

Eucommia ulmoides Oliv. (Eucommiaceae)

Distribution and Significance Eucommia {Eucommia ulmoides) is a deciduous tree belonging to the family Eucommiaceae. As a mature tree, it is 20 m in height and 40 cm in diameter at breast height and has a chromosome number of 2n = 34. It is a gynodioecious plant, which shows characteristically a white filamentous natural polymer, gutta-percha, when a piece of the bark or folded leaf is pulled apart (). Wild species are vertically distributed in the warm and humid zone in the southeastern part of the Chinese continent at sea level (300-1300 m). As a medicinal raw material, it has been cultivated in the southeastern region of China at 500-1100 m sea level, and recently it has also been cultivated in Japan, Taiwan, and Korea (). Further, it is known to have originated from the Tertiary period, and many species of Eucommiaceae have been found among Pliocene fossil plants, from which it is known to be distributed all over the world (Chinese Agricultural Encyclopaedia 1989). Eucommia, mainly its bark, is used as a medicinal herb material for tonics and hypotensive drugs, which is specified in the Japanese Pharmacopoeia. Further, its leaves are used as a basis for beverages. Gutta-percha, which is contained in the plant Read more [...]

Achillea millefolium L. ssp. millefolium (Yarrow)

Distribution and Importance Yarrow, commonly called soldier’s woundwort or herb of the good Lord, owes some of its common names to its known pharmacological, antihemorrhagic, and sedative properties (). Dioscorides went even further in the applications of this plant; it can be used not only as a vulnerary, but also has tonic, antispasmodic, antipyretic, and antimycotic properties. Also, the scientific name of the plant is related to its antihemorrhagic action. According to the Greek legend, during the Trojan War (ca. 1250 B.C.), Achilles healed the wounds of King Telephos with yarrow; thus, the name Achillea, millefolium indicates that the leaves are finely divided. A. millefolium (Compositae) is a herbaceous, perennial plant that can reach 30-60 cm in height (). Commonly scented, it usually presents white flowers. The leaves are greenish-gray due to the numerous trichomes. The plant is common throughout Europe, western Asia, Siberia, and North America, growing wild in fields, woods, and pastures (). The flowering period extends from May to October (). It is harvested from early to late summer, and is used either fresh or dried (). The essential oil from the leaves, particularly that from the flower heads, is the Read more [...]

Melissa officinalis L. (Lemon Balm)

Botany, Distribution, Constituents, and Importance of the Plant The genus Melissa belongs to the family Labiatae (Lamiaceae) and comprises erect branched herbs with crenate opposite leaves and a two-lipped corolla. It includes very few species, which chiefly occur in many parts of Europe and Asia. For the European region two individual species are differentiated by the Flora Europaea (): M. officinalis L. (comprising the two subspecies officinalis and altissima () Arcangeli, and M. bicornis Klokov, which may be identical with the subspecies altissima. In contrast, the Flora of Turkey () specifies only one species (M. officinalis L.), which is subdivided into three subspecies: a)  officinalis b)  altissima (Sm.) Arcangeli and c)  inodora (Bornm.) Bornm. Intermediates between all three subspecies can occur. In the area of Southern Europe and Middle Asia three Melissa species are characterized by Engler and Prantl (1889): M. officinalis L., M. parviflora Benth., and M. flava Benth. The last two species are also included in the Flora of British India (Hooker 1885). In the Flora Malesiana the species Melissa axillaris Barkh. f. 1963 is described which includes M. parviflora Benth. and M. hirsuta Read more [...]

Cinnamomum cassia Blume (Cinnamon)

Distribution and Importance Cinnamon, the dried bark and twig of Cinnamomum spp. (Lauraceae), is one of the most popular and the oldest spices used for foods, confectionery, and mulled wine. It is also an important crude drug very frequently prescribed in Chinese and Japanese traditional medicine (), and it has been used as stomachic, carminative, diaphoretic, astringent, analgesic, and antipyretic in Asian countries. Cinnamon is also a component of herb tea in Europe. The cinnamon in Asian traditional medicines is represented by C. cassia Blume, which is called cassia or Chinese cinnamon, although some other Cinnamomum spp., such as C. zeylanicum Nees, C. burmanni Blume, and C. obtussifolium Nees, etc. are also used under the name of cinnamon. The trees of C. cassia () grow and are cultivated only in tropical and subtropical countries, especially in the southern part of China and the eastern part of India. Wild trees reach naturally over 10 m in height, but they can be cultivated as bushes of a height between 2 and 3 m with regulated branches (). Medicinal Components Although cinnamaldehyde, a phenylpropanoid, is well known as the component characteristic of the aroma of cinnamon, condensed tannins in this Read more [...]

Anxiety Disorders: Supplements With Likely Efficacy

Like depression, anxiety is an area of psychopharmacology where many naturopathic compounds have been studied. While kava has established efficacy with adults and consistently has been shown to be effective in decreasing symptoms of anxiety, no studies thus far have been performed with children and adolescents, and some risk of hepatotoxicity may be present, and consequently the supplement is included in this section. In addition, some other compounds have also revealed at least some efficacy, but research has primarily been done with adult patients, and clinicians must use caution when applying results of these studies to pediatric patients. Anxiolytic medications work by increasing the amount of activity in the serotonergic pathways, as well as altering the glutamate-GABA balance in favor of inhibitory effects. Supplements that accomplish similar changes in the brain have been shown to be effective in managing symptoms of anxiety. Kava Kava (Piper methysticum), alsto referred to as kava kava, is a tall bush indigenous to the South Pacific, especially Hawaii, Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, Tahiti, New Guinea, and New Zealand. Its root is typically ground, and indigenous cultures have also chewed it, prepared it as an infusion, Read more [...]

Tonsillitis

Tonsils and adenoids provide a first defence against atmospheric pollution and infection entering the body through the mouth and nose. They also filter poisons in the bloodstream and those draining from the nose and sinuses. When they become swollen, inflamed and painful during an infection, they are responding to an increased demand for their cleansing work in an attempt to throw it off. The tonsils in so doing are fulfilling their protective role by inhibiting the spread of infection further into the body. For this reason the surgical removal of the tonsils should only be a last resort. Tonsillitis can be both acute and chronic. Acute tonsillitis flares up in response to a viral or a bacterial infection, and tends to occur when there is low vital energy, excess toxins in the body and catarrhal congestion. It frequently heralds or accompanies a cold or flu virus, laryngitis or mumps. When bacterial, the onset is sudden with a severe sore throat and swollen neck glands, often with a fever, but with no or few other upper respiratory symptoms. The streptococcal bacterium involved can, in rare cases, affect the kidneys (causing nephritis) or the heart (in rheumatic fever). This means that the first signs of bacterial Read more [...]