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 Read more [...]


Aconitum spp., aconite or monkshood, is a perennial herb of the family Ranun-culaceae. It is erect and grows to a height of about 1 m. The leaves are deep green and lustrous, and purple flowers bloom in the autumn. The aconite consists of both parent and daughter roots. Both are obconical in shape, dark brown in color, from 4 to 10 cm in length and from 1 to 3 cm in diameter at the crown. In northern countries, natives used the root extract of the plants as an arrow poison. In Japan this poison was also used by the Ainu for making poisoned arrows for bear hunting. It is well known that the roots contain diterpenoid alkaloids which are mainly classified into a strongly toxic group (aconitine-type) and a weakly toxic group (atisine type). The former include aconitine, mesaconitine, hypaconitine, jesaconitine, and neopelline. The latter covers anisine, kobushine, pseudokobusine, telatisine, songorine, atidine, napelline, heteratisine, ignarine, and hysognavine. The roots also contain a cardiac-activating alkaloid, higenamine (), and coryneine (). The root, mainly A. carmichaeli Debx., has been used as one of the most important Chinese drugs (Fu-tzu in Chinese, Bushi in Japanese) prescribed, together with other herbs, Read more [...]

Kava Kava (Piper methysticum)

Kava Kava: Medical Uses Kava kava is used to improve mental function and for anxiety disorders, hot flashes, and anxiety and mild depression associated with menopause. Historical Uses Kava comes from a Greek word meaning “intoxicating.” The herb has been used in Polynesian countries to make a ceremonial drink. Growth This tropical, perennial shrub is a member of the pepper family and is native to Oceania. Part Used • Root Major Chemical Compound • Kavalactones Kava Kava: Clinical Uses Kava kava is used to improve mental function and for nonpsychotic anxiety disorders, hot flashes, and anxiety and mild depression associated with menopause (). It is approved by the German Commission E for “anxiety, stress, and restlessness”. Mechanism of Action Kava kava has sedative, analgesic, anticonvulsant, and muscle relaxant effects and acts on the limbic system. Its action is different from that of aspirin, morphine, and benzo-diazepines. Little information is currently available on kavalactones (). For anxiety: Standardized extract: 70 mg kavalactones two to three times daily (). Capsules or tablets: 400 to 500 mg up to six times daily. Tincture (1:2): 15 to 30 drops up to three times daily (). Tincture Read more [...]

Turmeric (Curcuma longa)

Turmeric: Medical Uses Turmeric inhibits cancer, has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, and lowers cholesterol levels. It may be used for stomach upset, acne, dermatitis, infections, dandruff, gastritis, gingivitis, herpes, inflammation, sunburn, and psoriasis. Historical Uses Turmeric was used internally to regulate blood sugar in diabetics and to prevent colon cancer. It was applied topically as a paste to reduce canker sores and cold sores. It was also used as a yellow dye for the robes of Buddist monks. Turmeric is also known as Indian saffron or yellow ginger. Crowth A member of the ginger family, turmeric is a perennial plant cultivated in tropical regions of Asia (). Part Used • Root Major Chemical Compounds • Curcumin • Volatile oils • Tumerone • Atlantone and zingiberone sugars • Resins • Proteins • Vitamins and minerals (). Turmeric: Clinical Uses Turmeric inhibits cancer, has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, and lowers cholesterol levels. It is approved by the German Commission E and the World Health Organization for dyspepsia. It is also used for acne, dermatitis, infections, dandruff, gastritis, gingivitis, herpes, inflammation, sunburn, and Read more [...]

Herbal Medicines

Herbal medicines are medicines made from plants. A survey of some 259 of the most widely used plants in western herbal medicine in Australia found that the vast majority are flowering plants (angiosperms). Approximately one-third of the species belong to just five botanical families: the daisy family (Asteraceae), mint family (Lamiaceae), rose family (Rosaceae), carrot family (Apiaceae) and legume family (Fabaceae) (). The study also surveyed the biogeographical origin of medicinal species and the morphological plant parts used for medicinal purposes. These results are shown in Table Biogeographical origin of 259 species used in western herbal medicine and Table Morphological plant part used for medicine respectively. Table Biogeographical origin of 259 species used in western herbal medicine (after Wohlmuth 2002) Europe/Europe and parts of Asia 37.4% Asia 19.3% Africa 3.0% North America 21.6% South America 3.5% Pacific (incl. Australia) 1.2% Native to several continents 14.0% Table Morphological plant part used for medicine (after Wohlmuth 2002) Plant part used Aerial parts 37.8% Underground parts 27.8% Fruit/seed 13.9% Bark 8.5% Flower 4.6% Herbal Read more [...]

Mediterranean and the Near East

Alexandra senna Senna alexandrina and Tinnevelly senna S. angustifolia / Fabaceae Both species are of desert origin: Tinnevelly senna, Senna angustifolia, is native to Arabia, West Africa and Asia, as far as Punjab, while Alexandra senna, S. alexandrina, grows naturally in northeastern Africa and it is harvested and cultivated in Sudan, China, and India. About 1,000 years ago the Arabs introduced the use of dried leaves and especially fruits of senna into Western pharmacopoeias as a laxative. Senna was mentioned in detail by Ibn al-Baytar (1197-1248), one of the most important Arabian scholars of the Middle Ages and the author of the famous medical treatise Jami’ al-mufradat. Over the centuries senna has proved its worth as an herbal drug and today represents one of the most widely used herbal drugs in the classical pharmacy. Artichoke Cynara cardunculus / Asteraceae Formerly known as Cynara scolymus, the artichoke is the best example of a food-medicine in the whole of European phytotherapy. Artichokes originated in the Mediterranean region and numerous diverse cultivars were subsequently developed. Many Mediterraneans used artichokes by soaking them in wine, then drinking the liquid as a digestive and a reconstituent Read more [...]

Vaginal Infections and Sexually Transmitted Diseases

Vulvovaginitis And Common Vaginal Infections Genital Warts (Condyloma And Human Papillomavirus) Herpes Simplex Virus HIV Infection And Botanical Therapies A number of vaginal infections and sexually transmitted diseases can be treated with botanical medicine. A variety of strategies are used including antimicrobial herbs, immunomodulating herbs for chronic recurrent infections, topical applications, and even botanicals for supprting the nervous system for stress related infections. Table Condition / Botanical Medicine Summary Table includes a summary of the herbs used to treat these conditions. Condition / Botanical Medicine Summary Table Analgesic Anti-inflammatory Antimicrobial Astringent Demulcent Immunomodulator Nervine Vulnerary Actaea racemosa X Allium sativum X Aloe vera X X X Althea officinalis Andrographis paniculata X X Arctostaphylos uva ursi X Astragalus membranaceus X Avena sativa X X Berberis aquifolium X Calendula officinalis X X X Commiphora mol mol X Coptis Read more [...]

Vulvovaginitis: Antimicrobial Therapy

Antimicrobial herbs are used as primary treatments in cases of vulvovaginitis when due to infectious causes. For acute infections, they are generally used solely as topical applications. For recurrent cases, external application is combined with oral use. Internal treatment should focus on immune supporting and antimicrobial botanicals, including echinacea, garlic, goldenseal, Oregon grape root, Pau d’arco, astragalus, and various medicinal mushroom species such as maitake and reishi medicinal mushrooms. Also see site for a discussion on adaptogens and immune support. Numerous herbs have exhibited both broad spectrum and specific antimicrobial activities. Although treatment approaches vary with each of the different infectious causes of vulvovaginitis, antimicrobial herbs are usually applied generically regardless of the infectious agent. There appears to be little, if any risk of resistance with herbal treatments; however, labs specializing in delivering services to complementary and alternative medicine practitioners sometimes do sensitivity and specificity testing for natural agents with screening for vaginal infections. This is unnecessary except in chronic, recurrent, or intractable cases. Garlic Garlic is Read more [...]

Treatment Of Human Papillomavirus: Discussion Of Botanical Protocol

Treatment of human papillomavirus can be approached topically alone, but it is optimal to boost overall resistance using a combination of topical and internal therapies. For topical treatment, undiluted botanical extracts can be directly applied to warts using a cotton swab several times daily (use a fresh cotton swab for each application) for 6 to 12 weeks, as needed. Suppositories can be inserted vaginally or rectally for warts in those areas. They should be inserted nightly five times per week for 6 to 12 weeks. The patient should be re-evaluated periodically for human papillomavirus. Astragalus Astragalus has been used for centuries in Chinese medicine as a qi tonic, specifically for strengthening what is called the “wei qi” or the protective energy of the body. It has long been used to build energy, increase general immunity, improve digestion and improve longevity. Herbalists and naturopathic doctors commonly use astragalus for its immunostimulatory effects. Oral doses of astragalus have been found to increase IgE, IgA, and IgM antibody levels and lymphocyte levels in humans. Of particular relevance to the treatment of genital warts was a randomized, controlled trial involving 531 patients with chronic cervicitis Read more [...]

Herpes Simplex Virus

Herpes simplex virus (HSV) is a member of the human herpes virus group that includes, for example, herpes simplex virus-1, herpes simplex virus-2, and Epstein-Barr virus (EBV). Herpes simplex virus is a recurrent viral infection that remains dormant in the nervous system with periods of reactivation characterized by individual or multiple clusters of fluid-filled vesicles at specifically affected sites. Herpes simplex virus-1 and -2 are the main types of herpes virus seen in general clinical practice. Herpes simplex virus-1 typically manifests above the waist and is referred to as Herpes labialis because of it primarily appearing on the lips in the form of “cold sores.” Herpes simplex virus-2, Herpes genitalis, typically appears on the genitals, although it also produces skin lesions. The vesicles rupture, leaving small, sometimes painful ulcers, which generally heal without scarring, although recurrent lesions at the same site may cause scarring. Coinfection with herpes simplex virus-1 and -2 increases the frequency of herpes simplex virus-2 outbreaks. Orogenital sex can lead to cross-contamination of these sites, with oral herpes being more likely transmitted to the genitals than the other way around. The incubation Read more [...]