Aloes and the immune system

There is a moderate scientific literature on the immunological effects of extracts from plants of the genus Aloe. Unfortunately, it is difficult to assess the significance of many of these studies because of two problems. First, most studies have been undertaken using many different, poorly characterized, complex aloe extracts. Second, studies have been performed using several different Aloe species, making comparisons impossible. Although anecdotal reports describe a wide variety of both immunostimulating and immunosuppressive effects, controlled scientific studies have substantiated very few of these. Most studies that have been performed have focused on the clear mesophyll gel of the Aloe vera leaf and on its major storage carbohydrate, acetylated mannan (acemannan). Recently a unique pectin has been isolated from aloe mesophyll cell walls and appears to have unique and important properties. Some consistent properties have, however, been noted. Thus aloe gel extracts and partially purified acemannan preparations have mild anti-inflammatory activity and multiple possible pathways for this activity have been investigated. Aloe extracts also have some limited macrophage activating properties. These include the release 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 […]

Ochrosia spp.

In recent years a worldwide search has been made for anti-cancerous agents of plant origin. As a result of these investigations, a large number of plant products have been identified as antineoplastic agents. However, in general, growth of these plants is slow and concentration of the compounds is extremely low. Furthermore, in some cases, it is difficult to obtain sufficient biomass because of the low propagation rate and the danger of extinguishing the plant species itself. The number of medicines used in anti-cancer chemotherapy is around 20; a large number of these drugs are, however, active but toxic. The compounds which intercalate with DNA are more interesting as antineoplastic therapeutic agents as compared to others. In this review, we will briefly survey the uses of ellipticine (an alkaloid isolated from Ochrosia species) and its derivatives as antitumor agents, and their production by plant tissue culture. The plant is commonly known as “bois jaune” “yellow wood” (for O. borbonica) in New Caledonia and “holei” (for O. sandwicensis) in Hawaii. Ochrosia spp.: Distribution The genus Ochrosia sensu lato consists of approximately 36 species of trees or woody shrubs occurring in Australia, and in islands of Read more […]

Hypoxis spp.

Species of the genus Hypoxis L. are used for herbal remedies throughout the world. In Asia use is made of H. aurea (), while in the West Indies H. decumbens and H. scuronera are collected for curing tumors of the testicles. Utilization of this genus is, however, most frequent on the African continent, where species such as H. rooperi are extensively employed in folk medicine. The merit of these folk medicines has been recognized by the scientific, medical, and commercial communities. This has resulted in attempts to isolate the medicinally active agents, to determine their range of application, to propagate the plants, and to produce the required chemicals by suspension culture. Distribution and Morphology of Hypoxis L. The genus Hypoxis L., together with the genera Curculigo Gaertn., Empodium Salisb., Molinera Colla., Pauridia Harv., Rhodohypoxis Nel and Spiloxene Salisb. belongs to the family Hypoxidaceae, which is widely distributed throughout the world with the exception of Canada and Europe. The genus Hypoxis shows a similar distribution but is concentrated in the tropics and subtropics. Although present in the Americas (16 species) and Asia-Australasia (7 species), the largest number of species are found in Read more […]

Onobrychis viciifolia Scop. (Sainfoin)

Distribution and Importance of Sainfoin Sainfoin (Onobrychis viciifolia Scop, (family Leguminoseae) is a perennial forage legume that has been grown in Europe and Asia for centuries. The most widely used common name, sainfoin, is derived from the French “saint foin” meaning holy or wholesome hay. Other common names include: holy or holy hay, French grass, everlasting grass, medick vetchling, cockshead, esparcet, or snail grass. Its botanical genus name, Onobrychis, comes from the Greek words “onos” meaning ass, and it is felt that brychis is derived from “bruchis”, a plant. This provides some insight into the value that was placed on this species because it had been noted that asses were particularly partial to sainfoin as a feed. Sainfoin grew in Russia as a forage crop over 1000 years ago and was noted in France in the 14th century, Germany in the 17th century, and Italy in the 18th century. The first introductions of sainfoin came to North America from Europe in the early 1900s, but its success as a forage crop did not occur until the 1960s when strains from Turkey and the USSR displayed the necessary adaptibility and yield to enable the development of cultivars for the Northern Great Plains and Canadian Prairies. Read more […]

Chemical Groups Of Natural Products With Anticancer Properties

Plant-derived natural products with documented anticancer and antitumor properties can be classified into the following chemical groups (): • Aldehydes • Alkaloids • Flavonoids • Glycosides • Lignans • Lipids • Quinones • Phenols and derivatives • Polysaccharides • Proteins • Terpenoids Aldehydes are volatile substances found (along with alcohols, ketones, and esters) in minute amounts and contributing to the formation of odor and flavor of plant parts. Plants containing aldehydes with anticancer properties include the following: • Cinnamomum cassia • Mondia whitei • Rhus vulgaris • Sclerocarya caffra Alkaloids are weak bases, capable of forming salts, which are commonly extracted form tissues with an acidic, aqueous solvent. Alternatively, free bases can be extracted with organic solvents. Plants containing alkaloids with anticancer properties include the following: Aconitum napellus Acronychia baueri, A. haplophylla Annona purpurea Brucea antidysenterica Calycodendron milnei Cassia leptophylla Chamaecyparis sp. Chelidonium autumnale Ervatamia microphylla Eurycoma longifolia Fagara macrophylla Nauclea orientalis Psychotria Read more […]

Bee products

Honey is the most used of the products derived from beekeeping but because it is a normal food it is not discussed in this book. Three by-products of beekeeping – royal jelly, bee pollen and bee propolis – are used as dietary supplements. Detailed information about all products produced from beekeeping can be found in Krell (1996). Royal jelly Royal jelly is a substance secreted by young worker bees and used to feed the young larvae and the queen bee throughout her life. Royal jelly is not normally stored in the hive because it is fed directly to the larvae or queen as it is secreted. However, some accumulates around the larval queen in the ‘queen cell’ in the early stages of development. Krell (1996) explains that in order to produce royal jelly commercially the hive must be stimulated to produce queens at inappropriate times and that one hive has the potential to produce about 500 g of royal jelly during the course of a summer. The observation that the royal jelly diet of the queen bee is associated with great fecundity and a much longer life than other female bees has probably led to suggestions that it may have similar beneficial effects in humans and that it is ‘the queen of foods’ for human beings. Fresh Read more […]