Valeriana Products

There are four species of Valeriana that are important articles of commerce either as the plant material or as extracts used in the production of the commodities mentioned below. These species are European Valerian Valeriana officinalis L., Indian Valerian V. wallichii DC, Mexican Valerian V. edulis Nutt. ex Torr. & Gray and Japanese Valerian V. fauriei Briq.. Commercial supplies of these four species are mainly obtained from cultivation but some plants are still collected from the wild. The first three of these are cultivated in Europe whilst Japanese Valerian is grown and used mainly in the Far East and Indian Valerian is the species grown and used on the Indian subcontinent. Valeriana officinalis is also grown commercially in North America. Most of the data available refers to Valeriana officinalis since this is the species which has received most attention as a commercial crop and is consequendy utilised in Western society. It should be remembered, however, that a large trade in these and more local Valeriana species, as with other plants used in traditional medicine, occurs within developing countries at a local level and information concerning this usage is practically impossible to obtain. In these conditions Read more […]

Pharmacology of Poppy Alkaloids: Minor Opium Alkaloids

The pharmacology and biology of minor opium alkaloids have been surveyed previously in two comprehensive reviews (). Thebaine The pharmacology of thebaine was summarized by Reynolds and Randall in 1957 and studied comprehensively by a WHO Advisory Group in 1980. The pharmacological actions of thebaine in various isolated organs have been studied. Thebaine can induce a temporary decrease in blood pressure in anaesthetized dogs and this depressor effect showed a marked tachyphylaxis. In isolated guinea pig atrium, thebaine decreased the heart rate and contractions depending on the concentration. In isolated rabbit ileum it decreased the peristaltic movement and contractions (). The predominant effect of thebaine is stimulation of the central nervous system. In the mouse, rabbit, cat and dog increases in motor activity and reflex excitability were observed at doses around 2-10mg/kg s.c. or i.m. The Straub-tail response was noted only occasionally. The effects of thebaine on body temperature and respiration have also been studied. Convulsions were observed in almost all species of animals including the frog, pigeon, mouse, guinea pig, cat and dog. Transient tremors, restlessness and convulsions were observed in the Read more […]

Historical review of the use of lavender

The classical physicians Lavender has been used as a healing plant and was first mentioned by Dioscorides (c. 40—90 AD) who found what was probably Lavandula stoechas growing on the islands of Stoechades (now known as Hyeres); this was used in Roman communal baths. Dioscorides attributed to the plant some laxative and invigorating properties and advised its use in a tea-like preparation for chest complaints. The author also recounts that Galen (129—99 ad) added lavender to his list of ancient antidotes for poison and bites and thus Nero’s physician used it in anti-poison pills and for uterine disorders. Lavender in wine was taken for snake bites stings, stomach aches, liver, renal and gall disorders, jaundice and dropsy. Pliny differentiated between Lavandula stoechas and Lavandula vera, the latter was apparently used only for diluting expensive perfumes. Pliny the Elder advocated lavender for bereavement as well as promoting menstruation. Abbess Hildegard The Abbess Hildegard (1098—1179) of Bingen near the Rhine in what is now Germany, was the first person in the Middle Ages to clearly distinguish between Lavandula vera and Lavandula spica (): On Palsy one who is tormented should take galangale, with Read more […]

Angelica sinensis (Oliv.) Diels.

Distribution Angelica sinensis (Oliv.) Diels. (Chinese name Dang Gui) is a member of the family Umbelliferae. There are 80 species of Angelica, mainly distributed in the northern temperate zone and New Zealand. In China, there are approximately 40 species, mainly distributed in the south-west, north-east and north-west zones, e.g. in the provinces of Yung Nan, Si Chuan, Shan Si, Hu Bei, Gan Su etc. The altitude of these areas is about 1500-3000 m, the annual average temperature is 5.5-11.4°C, the annual rainfall is 500-600 mm. A few species of Angelica may be used for food, forage and medicine. The common species are A. acutiloba (Sieb. et Zucc), A. polymorpha, Maxin, A. porphyrocoulis Naxai et Kitag, A. tsinlingensis, A. sinensis etc., of which A. sinensis is the most important. A. sinensis: perennial herb (80-150 cm), leaves tridigitato-pinnate divided, petioles expand tubular sheath, flowers white compound umbel, fruit longelliptic lateral angular with wide wings. As a cultivated plant, Dang Gui (A. sinensis) is mainly produced in the southeast of the Gan Su province, China, e.g. Min Xian and Dang Chang Xian. Since 1970, Dang Gui has also been produced in Shan Xi, Si Chuan and Yung Nan provinces, the seeds, Read more […]

Paeonia spp.

Classification and Distribution of Paeonia Paeonia is said to be named after the Greek God Paeon. Hutchinson (1973) reported that the Paeoniaceae was considered histologically as an independent family of the dicotyledons by Worsdell in 1908, and the position of classification is intermediate between Magnoliaceae and Helleboraceae, Paeonia being rather closer to the Helleboraceae. The Paeonia genus is distributed in Spain, North Africa to Siberia, South to Central Europe and North and South America. In Japan (Pharmacopoeia Japonica, undecima, ed. by Niphonkoteishokyokai 1986), the root of Paeonia is used as a herbal medicine or “Shakuyaku”, as also the roots of the herb Paeonia lactiflora Pallas (P. albiflora Pallas van trichocarpa Bunge = P. albiflora Pallas form, hortensis Makino) and related plants. The cortex of the woody Paeonia moutan Smis. (= P. suffruticosa Andrews) is called “Botan” (Moutan Bark, Moutan Cortex). The origin of these plants is in China. Some plants are cultivated in Nara and Hokkaido in Japan, but most crude drugs are imported from China and Korea. Plants of P. japonica (Makino) Miyabe et Takeda, and P. obovata Maxim, are found as natives, but are never used as commercial resources. The Paeonia Read more […]

Vervain Of The Americas

Where later writers have included any of the older indications, they are likely to have come from Culpeper. This includes Dioscorides’ indication for jaundice in the British Herbal Pharmacopoeia, and references to lung conditions (Robinson 1868), but these are negligible compared to the importance of the descriptions by Coffin and Cook of the American Verbena hastata. Take vervain’s use in gynecology: Cook discusses vervain as a relaxant tonic with mild laxative effects indicated in recent obstructions of the menses, from which is derived an emmenogogue action and an indication of amenorrhoea (Priest & Priest, Bartram, Hoffmann), which has nothing to do with Culpeper’s original assertion, that vervain is a sympathetic remedy for the womb correcting all cold diseases of that organ. The relaxant effect becomes an anti-spasmodic action, useful in gall-bladder inflammation [British Herbal Pharmacopoeia, Hoffmann), acute spasms of bronchitis and pertussis as well as dysmenorrhoea (Priest & Priest), seizures (Hoffmann) muscle spasm, neuritis and ear neuralgia (Menzies-Trull) and labour pains (Coffin). None of these writers mentions abdominal colic cited by the old Byzantine writers, or repeats Parkinson’s ‘all inward Read more […]

Botanical Treatment Of Nausea And Vomiting Of Pregnancy And Hyperemesis Gravidarum

According to Borrelli et al., the potential teratogenic effects of drugs administered during the critical embryogenie period of pregnancy drastically limit their use. Because of this, many pregnant women turn to complementary and alternative therapies including vitamins, herbal products, homeopathic preparation, acupressure, and acupuncture. A recent literature survey reports that the most commonly used botanicals for the treatment of morning sickness are ginger, chamomile, peppermint, and raspberry leaf. Only ginger has been subjected to investigation of its safety and efficacy for nausea and vomiting of pregnancy. Botanical Treatment Strategies for nausea and vomiting of pregnancy and Hyperemesis Gravidarum Therapeutic Goal Therapeutic Activity Botanical Name Common Name Reduce nausea and vomiting Antinauseant  Antiemetic Cannabis spp. Marijuana Mentha piperita Peppermint Zingiber officinalis Ginger Relieve stomach cramps Antispasmodic Dioscorea villosa Wild yam Matricaria recutita Chamomile Support digestion / appetite Digestive bitters Ballota nigra Black horehound Taraxacum officinale Dandelion root   The botanical approach to 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 […]

Peppermint: Background. Actions

Common Name Peppermint Botanical Name / Family Mentha x piperita (family [Labiatae] Lamiaceae) Plant Parts Used Leaf or stem — essential oil is distilled from the aerial parts. Chemical Components Peppermint leaves contain about 2.5% essential oil, 19% total polyphenolic compounds, 12% total flavonoid compounds (eriocitrin, luteolin-7-O-rutinoside, hesperidoside) and 7% total hydroxycinnamic compounds (including rosmarinic acid). The biochemistry, organisation, and regulation of essential oil metabolism in the epidermal oil glands of peppermint have been defined and research is underway to create ‘super’ transgenic peppermint plants with improved oil composition and yield. Essential oil Over 100 constituents have been identified in peppermint oil. The principal constituents are menthol (35-55%), menthones (10-35%), isomenthone, menthyl acetate, menthofuran and cineole. To comply with the European Pharmacopoeia, the oil must not contain more than 4% pulegone and not more than 1% carvone. Historical Note The written record of mint dates back to an ancient Greek myth in which the Greek god Pluto was said to have affections for a beautiful nymph named Minthe. His jealous wife Persephone cast a spell on the Read more […]