The Citrus in Pharmacology Treatises and in Therapy from the Eighteenth to Twentieth Centuries

In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, all Materia medica and Pharmacology treatises reported drugs obtained from Citrus species, already present in the above-mentioned Pharmacopoeias (Boehraave, 1772; De Rochefort, 1789; Edwards and Vavasseur, 1829; Chevallier and Richard, 1830; Ferrarini, 1825; Semmola, 1836; Cassola, 1838; Targioni-Tozzetti, 1847; Bouchardat, 1855; Orosi, 1856-57; Cantani, 1887). Boerhaave (1772) attributes to Citrus fruits the property of curing various illnesses (morbes), and lists citron oil among remedies for fevers in general, heart disease (Pulvis cardiacus, calidus, narcoticus), or to be used together with other medicinals against burning fevers (In siti febbrili, Decoctum in valida siti et debilitati); as an antiemetic (Haustus anti-emeticus), antiscorbutic (Antiscorbutica frigidiuscula), colluttorium (Colluttoria oris. In Calidis), in treating dropsy (Mistura aromatica, cardiaca, acida, sitim sedans, vires vitales excitans, lymphae fluorem concilians), infirmities in pregnant women (ad gravidarum morbos), as an aromatic cardiac medicated wine (yinum medicatum, aromaticum, cardiacuni) or in an acid aromatic cardiac mixture, and also in hue Venerea as Mistura anodina e diaforetica. An Read more […]

Perilla frutescens (L.) Britton

Distribution and Importance of Perilla Plants Perilla frutescens (L.) Britton var. crispa (Thunb.) Decaisne, belonging to the family Labiatae, is distributed widely in Japan, China, and southeast Asia. It is an annual herb about 1 m in height, and includes several forms such as f. purpurea Makino (Chirimen-aka-shiso or Aka-shiso) and f. viridis Makino (Chirimen-ao-shiso or Ao-shiso) having deep red-purple and green leaves, respectively. Perilla plants contain essential oil at about 0.5% of fresh leaf weight and give out a fragrance, principles of which are Perilla-aldehyde (55%), d-limonene (20-30%), and α-pinene (); linoleic, stearic, and palmitic acids are also contained as the major aliphatic acids. According to the extensive study on pigments of Chirimen-aka-shiso, 16 kinds of flavonoids including five anthocyanins, two flavones, and nine flavone glycosides are present in the mature dark-red leaves and seeds. Among these flavonoids, the 3-p-coumaroylglucoside-5-glucoside of cyanidin (shisonin) and the 7-caffeoylglucosides of apigenin and luteolin are the major component in the leaves. In seeds, apigenin and luteolin are present in a ratio of about 1:1. With other phenolics, a large amount of caffeic acid derivatives Read more […]

Hyoscyamus spp.

The aim of this post is to review the published work on Hyoscyamus sp. plants and their in vitro-derived cultures in the context of their uses for drug and tropane alkaloid production. Hyoscyamus plants have been known to man from ancient times as a remedy for various diseases, and serve today also as a source of their pharmaceutically active constituents, the tropane alkaloids. The medicinal importance of scopolamine, hyoscyamine and atropine is illustrated by their presence in the list of the ten substances of plant origin most used as drugs in the USA in 1973. Due to their strong action on neuroreceptors, tropane alkaloids and chemically derived compounds thereof are presently employed as curative and prophylactic agents in various treatments. Recent advances in plant in vitro techniques open up new ways for plant improvement and for production of secondary metabolites. The progress in this field is given here for Hyoscyamus spp. and problems encountered with Hyoscyamus sp. cell cultures in tropane alkaloid production are discussed. This post will mainly deal with H. muticus and H. niger, the two Hyoscyamus species predominantly used in folk medicine, phytotherapy, and as a source of tropane alkaloids, and the most Read more […]

Primary Dysmenorrhoea

Primary dysmenorrhoea is caused by uterine contractions which are too strong and occur too frequently. Between the contractions, the uterine muscle does not relax properly, and there is an abnormally high ‘resting tone’. The overall effect is a reduction in the amount of blood flowing through the uterine muscle (ischaemia) which causes the pain known as primary dysmenorrhoea. The most usual cause of primary dysmenorrhoea is an imbalance in the prostaglandins levels. Prostaglandins are complex hormone-like substances found in most body tissues. There are many different types of prostaglandins which control bodily functions by working together as an integrated team. When the different types of prostaglandins are present in normal ratios, menstruation proceeds normally. An imbalance in the ratios in favour of the type of prostaglandins which increase muscle spasm will cause period pain. Their role in menstruation is complex and is discussed in ‘Prostaglandins’. The uterine tonics The uterine tonics, Aletris farinosa, Caulophyllum thalictroides, Angelica sinensis and Rubus idaeus, are used to treat pain because they are believed to regulate the muscular activity of the uterus and help initiate contractions which are Read more […]

Betony And The Nervous System

When Musa includes three treatments with betony for the nervous system, one concerns trauma and probably both the other two bear some relation to indications contemplated by modern practitioners. Firstly, the leaves powdered and applied heal severed nerves. Other traumas appearing elsewhere in Musa’s list of conditions are ruptures, and in those who have tumbled down from a high place, for which 3 drachms (12 g) in old wine is used. It is not clear whether internal or external administration is meant here, but the former is presumed, since The Old English Herbarium specifies internal ruptures and Dioscorides mentions ruptures with spasms, uterine problems and suffocations, for which cases he advises 1 drachm of the powdered leaves in water or honey water. We have already noted, too, when discussing mugwort, that uterine suffocations are renamed hysterical affections in the later tradition. To this supposed nervous state we can add Musa’s ‘unnerved’ or enfeebled condition (Bauhin’s ‘resolutos’), unless another traumatic injury such as the wrenching of a joint is meant. The Salernitan herbal, however, advises betony for those in a weakened state, where 1 drachm (4 g) in 3 cyathi (135 mL) of good wine taken daily for 5 Read more […]


Endometriosis is one of the most common gynecologic problems in the United States and a leading gynecologic cause of both hospitalization and hysterectomy. Women with symptomatic endometriosis face chronic and sometimes debilitating pain; asymptomatic and symptomatic women alike may experience significant fertility problems due to this condition. The least-biased estimate for the overall prevalence of endometriosis in reproductive-age women is about 10%. Endometriosis is defined as the presence and growth of endometrial tissue in locations outside of the uterus. These cells may appear on the ovaries, fallopian tubes, bowel, bladder, peritoneal tissue, ligaments, or other structures in the abdominal cavity, and rarely may occur at other sites, including the nasal and respiratory passages leading to nosebleeds or pink frothy sputum at the time of the menses. Displaced endometrial tissue responds to cyclic hormonal changes, proliferating and shedding outside of the uterus. The bleeding is accompanied by inflammation caused by irritation of local tissue, such as, the peritoneum. Recurrent inflammation can cause scarring and adhesions that can cause pain and dysfunction of other affected sites. Endometriosis is common in Read more […]

Herbs For Gastrointestinal Disorders

In herbal medicine, there is a recognized fundamental linkage between the gut and systemic health in conditions as widely ranging as asthma, atopy, autoimmune disease, and even arthritis. This is important, considering that the gut plays a significant role in immune function. Herbalists emphasize the health of the digestive system, bowel movements, and any symptoms related to gut function — even mild digestive disturbances such as burping, mild constipation, inconsistent stools, or excessive flatulence are always considered significant, even if not the reason for presentation for consultation. The herbs outlined below are useful in gastrointestinal health and disease management and are supported by traditional use or research. The lists are by no means complete, and there are differences in the potency of the actions of the individual herbs. However, by knowing the particulars of the patient, an herb might be chosen for its breadth of action when more than 1 system is involved or for a particularly strong action that is needed. Sometimes only a gentle stimulation, triggering an appropriate reflex response or dampening a response, may be all that’s needed to reach equilibrium again. The beauty and art of herbal Read more […]

Emotional and Behavioral Conditions

Herbs For Behavioral Conditions Prescriptions For Behavioral Conditions Prescriptions for conditions with anxiety as an underlying feature such as aggression, inappropriate urination, separation anxiety, storm and other phobias, and psychogenic self trauma (lick granulomas and overgrooming) may benefit from the following prescriptions. Strategy Consider early, appropriate conventional medication if necessary. Implement appropriate behavioral modification, stress reduction, consistent routine, quality play time, and client education (avoid punishment). Consider pheromones and dietary manipulation. Use adaptogens to reduce the impact of stress and use nervines to reduce nervous tension. Also use herbs with anxiolytic activity. Finally, consider the influence of other health issues such as pain on anxiety. Chamomile tea (carminative, bitter, spasmolytic, anti-anxiety, anti-inflammatory, spasmolytic) should be given for mild anxiety. One-fourth cup per 10 pounds twice daily in food is an easy first choice as adjunctive therapy for mild conditions. For separation anxiety, give Kava kava (anxiolytic, sedative, antispasmodic). The dried herb should be given at 25 to 75 mg / kg, divided daily (optimally TID). The Read more […]

Figwort: Current Use As An Alterative

Wren, followed by the National Botanic Pharmacopoeia, gives the actions of alterative, diuretic and anodyne. Figwort is considered not ‘of paramount importance as an internal remedy”. Priest & Priest repeat Cook’s description as a gently stimulating and relaxing alterative with lower abdominal and pelvic emphasis, but emphasize the deobstruent action on enlarged and engorged lymph glands, for mammary tumours and nodosities and enlarged glands, and externally for haemorrhoids. Deobstruent is a term used to describe the action of removing obstructions to flow, and they suggest the addition of hepatics and more stimulating diuretics. In more recent years, figwort is used as a more general alterative for all skin conditions. The British Herbal Pharmacopoeia recommends it for chronic skin disease, eczema, psoriasis and pruritus. Although I have used this plant for 20 years, I had not previously grown it and was unaware of the tuberous roots until reading Dodoens. Going outside, digging a plant and finding the root was quite a shock. In addition, although suggested by recent authors, I have not used it externally. For example, Chevallier recommends external usage in healing wounds, burns, haemorrhoids and ulcers, and Read more […]

Medicinal Plants

It is likely that all cultural groups have used plants as therapeutic agents since prehistoric times. China and India have recorded descriptions of medicinal plants as early as 2700 B.C. Egyptian, Greek, Roman, and Arab physicians described medicinal properties of plants. Indigenous people of Central America, South America, North America, and Africa have further contributed to the knowledge of medicinal plants. Research led to the isolation and characterization of the active principles of many botanical medicines now manufactured or isolated by pharmaceutical firms. Among them are morphine (from poppy); reserpine (a tranquilizer from snakeroot); curare (a muscle relaxant from the curare vine); quinine (the first malarial treatment, from the bark of the cinchona tree); digitalis (heart stimulant from foxglove); atropine (pupil-dilating drug from deadly nightshade); and others. Medicinal plants are currently being screened for anticancer and antiviral constituents on which to base new drugs. With the appearance of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, medicinal plants offer the promise of new treatment. A set of terms describing the use of plant remedies and ailments for which they are employed predates pharmacology. The Read more […]