Leontopodium alpinum Cass. (Edelweiss)

Distribution of the plant The genus Leontopodium (Compositae; Inulae; Gnaphaliinae sensu amplo) consists of between 30 and 40 species () found growing in mountainous areas of Japan (), Asia () and Europe (). A single species, Leontopodium alpinum Cassini, is considered to represent the genus in Europe () and the once separate Leontopodium nivale (Ten) Huet ex Hand.-Mazz. is now regarded as a subspecies, i.e. Leontopodium alpinum subsp. nivale (Ten) Tutin, stat. nov. (). The plant is protected by national legislation in Austria, Germany, Italy and Liechtenstein. Leontopodium alpinum, commonly known as edelweiss, is a perennial plant with a branching rootstock and fibrous roots (). Aerial structures exhibit wide morphological diversity (). Foliage leaves are linear to lanceolate in shape, 3-8 mm wide and pubescent. Inflorescence stalks develop from June to August and grow 2-45 cm high. The characteristically star-shaped “flower” varies in diameter from 1.5-10.5 cm and consists of an inflorescence made up of up to 12 densely aggregated capitula, which are subtended by an involucre of hairly leaves (). Leontopodium alpinum is traditionally found growing on limestone formations at altitudes up to 3140 m but can be easily Read more […]

Artemisia Species in Traditional Chinese Medicine and the Discovery of Artemisinin

Qing hao-an antimalarial herb A herb, named Qing Hao (usually pronounced ching how) in Chinese, sweet Annie or sweet wormwood in English, and properly known as Artemisia annua L. has become well known in western countries during the last 20 years. Herbal companies, which deal with traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), receive several inquiries concerning this herb every day. A. question commonly asked by those about to travel to Africa or S.E. Asia is “Can I take the herb called Qing Hao to prevent malaria during my trip?” Unfortunately, the answer has disappointed many people because although this herb is used for the treatment of malaria in TCM, usually combined with other herbs, it is not recommended for the prevention of the disease or as a deterrent to mosquitoes. However, the leaves of Qing Hao were burned as a fumigant insecticide to kill mosquitoes in ancient China but this practice no longer continues today since the development and marketing of more efficient mosquito-repellant devices. The discovery of artemisinin Qing Hao is a herb commonly used in China with a long history of use as an antipyretic to treat the alternate chill and fever symptoms of malaria and other “heat syndromes” in the traditional Chinese Read more […]

Traditional Uses of Neem

The therapeutic efficacy of neem must have been known to man since antiquity as a result of constant experimentation with nature. Ancient man observed the unique features of this tree: a bitter taste, non-poisonous to man, but deleterious to lower forms of life. This might have resulted in its use as a medicine in various cultures, particularly in the Indian subcontinent and later on in other parts of the world. Ayurveda The word neem is derived from Sanskrit Nimba, which means “to bestow health”; the various Sanskrit synonyms of neem signify the pharmacological and therapeutic effects of the tree. It has been nicknamed Neta — a leader of medicinal plants, Pichumarda — antileprotic, Ravisambba — sun ray-like effects in providing health, Arishta — resistant to insects, Sbeetal — cooling (cools the human system by giving relief in diseases caused by hotness, such as skin diseases and fevers), and Krimighana — anthelmintic. It was considered light in digestion, hot in effect, cold in property. In earlier times, patients with incurable diseases were advised to make neem their way of life. They were to spend most of the day under the shade of this tree. They were to drink infusions of various parts of Read more […]

A Clinical Investigation of Perilla Extract Cream for Atopic Dermatitis

Atopic dermatitis is one kind of allergic disease. Allergies are very closely associated with an immune response. When the human body is invaded by a foreign substance (antigen), antibodies or sensitised lymphocytes will be produced as a result of the response of the immune system. Later when the same antigen invades the body again, it will soon be eliminated or become harmless to the body. This is an immune response which is an indispensable function to prevent infection and tumours. However, sometimes the immune reaction between antigen and antibodies or sensitised lymphocytes can cause harm to the body itself. This kind of immune reaction in which antigen comes from outside the body causes allergic disease, whereas antigen which comes from the body itself causes auto-immune disease. According to the statistical investigation in 1992 by the Ministry of Welfare of Japan, 34% of the Japanese population suffer from some kind of allergy, and most of them are children between the age of 0 to 4. There is the tendency for allergic symptoms to appeal- as atopic dermatitis in childhood and to become asthma or rhinitis as they mature. The word atopy is derived from Greek () and means odd and thus atopic dermatitis is Read more […]

Turmeric as Spice and Flavorant

  Spices are the plant products or a mixture thereof free from extraneous matter, cultivated, and processed for their aroma, pungency, flavor and fragrance, natural color, and medicinal qualities or otherwise desirable properties. They consist of rhizomes, bulbs, barks, flower buds, stigmata, fruits, seeds, and leaves of plant origin. Spices are food adjuncts, which have been in use for thousands of years, to impart flavor and aroma or piquancy to foods. They are used to prepare culinary dishes and have little or no nutritive value, but they stimulate the appetite, add zest for food, enhance the taste, and delight the gourmet. As there is a need to reduce the fat, salt, and sugar used in food preparation for health reasons, it becomes critical to pay attention to alternative ways to enhance the natural flavors of foods. Value can also be added to meals by enhancing and improving presentation and by using appropriate garnishes. The primary function of a spice in food is to improve its sensory appeal to the consumer. Food presentation is the arrangement of food on a plate, tray, or steam line in a simple appetizing way. This is generally accomplished by imparting its own characteristic color, flavor, aroma, and Read more […]

Bergenia crassifolia (L.) Fritsch (Bergenia)

Bergenia crassifolia (L.) Fritsch, a species in the Bergenia genus belongs to the family Saxifragaceae, the order Rosales. For more than 100 years the plant has been known in Asia as a valuable raw material, a source of tannins and pigments. Apart from that, Bergenia crassifolia has been used as a medicinal and ornamental plant. Due to its rich and varied chemical composition (arbutin, tannins, bergenin) the species continues to be the object of pharmaceutical and pharmacological studies. In the light of research confirming the usefulness of this plant as a source of chemical compounds, it has become increasingly obvious that plant tissue culture should be employed to provide ‘a method of rapid multiplication of Bergenia crassifolia as an alternative to propagation from seeds. The second part of this chapter deals with arbutin determination in regenerated plants. The observations are based on the results of the experiments carried out by the authors. Systematics and Distribution of Bergenia Plants The genus Bergenia Moench (Meth. pi. 1794) which is also known in the literature under the synonymous Geryonia Schrank, Megarea Haw., Eropheron Tausch., Piarophylla Raf. and Saxifraga L. is said to consist of 11 species Read more […]

Scutellaria baicalensis Georgi

Distribution of Scutellaria The genus Scutellaria belongs to the family Labiatae and subfam. Scutellarideae. Scutellaria is widely distributed all over the world except for South Africa, and there are about 300 species. The calyx of this genus is remarkably specialized to become two-lip-shaped, and characterized by the upper lip having a flat or dish-shaped upper surface on which a small swelling forms; the dish-shaped part peels offat fruit maturation to allow a seed to fall. The 15 species, such as S. maekawa Hara, S. brachyspica Nakai et Hara, S. laeteviolace Koizumi, S. iyoensis Nakai and others are distributed only in Japan. Further S. indica L., S. indica var. parvi flora Makino, S. sterigillosa Hensl, S. dependens Maxim, and others are distributed over wide areas in Japan, the Korean Peninsula, the northeastern section of China and the Indonesian Peninsula. Furthermore, S. baicalensis Georgi is native to the region from the northern section of China to Siberia. It was introduced into Japan from the Korean Peninsula in the middle period of the Edo era and has been cultured in various parts of Japan for the medicinal uses of the root. In Japanese Pharmacopoeia the root of S. baicalensis Georgi, excepting the Read more […]

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 […]

Aloes and the immune system: Specific activities

Anti-inflammatory effects The ability of aloe leaf gels to reduce the severity of acute inflammation has been evaluated in many different animal models. For example, Adler studied inflammation in the hind paw of the experimental rat induced by kaolin, carrageenan, albumin, dextran, gelatin and mustard. Of the various irritants tested, Aloe vera was especially active against gelatin-induced and kaolin-induced edema and had, in contrast, minimal activity when tested against dextran-induced edema. Ear swelling induced by croton oil has also been used as an assay. The swelling induced by croton oil on a mouse ear is significantly reduced by application of an aloe gel. In addition, soluble acemannan-rich extracts administered either orally or by intraperitoneal injection to mice will also reduce this swelling. In another model, the acute pneumonia induced in mouse lungs by inhalation of a bacterial endotoxin solution is significantly reduced by systemic administration of an aloe carbohydrate solution. In both these cases the reduction in inflammation is associated with a significant reduction in tissue infiltration by neutrophils. In general, aloe free of anthraquinones was more effective than aloe with anthraquinone. Some Read more […]

Aloe vera in wound healing

Aloe vera gel is a powerful healer that has been successfully employed for millennia. It acts in the manner of a conductor, orchestrating many biologically active ingredients to achieve the goal of wound healing. Aloe can penetrate and anesthetize tissue, it is bactericidal, virucidal, and fungicidal. It possesses anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory properties and it serves as a stimulant for wound healing, a fuel for proliferating cells and a dressing for open wounds. Although some of the independent fractions of aloe have shown unique and impressive activity by themselves, the number of different substances acting in concert serves to confirm the relative complexity of aloe’s actions. Aloe vera certainly gives scope to the phrase, ‘the whole is more than the sum of its parts.’ Since it has been difficult to postulate, separate and isolate one substance that is responsible for aloe’s capabilities, many more controlled, scientific studies must be completed before all the secrets associated with the wound-healing abilities of aloe are unlocked. Future research may be directed at further investigation of the gel’s ability to stimulate cell growth in tissue culture and its antimicrobial, antifungal, antiviral Read more […]