Sophora flavescens (Kurara)

Distribution and Medicinal Usage Sophora flavescens, (Kurara) belongs to the family Leguminosae and is distributed in Mongolia, the eastern part of Russia, China, Korea, and Japan. The dry roots of this plant have been used as antipyretic analgesic, bitter stomachic, anthelmintic, as an external preparation for eczema, and an agricultural insecticide in China and Japan (). A number of interesting pharmacological activities were reported for alkaloids and the extracts of this plant, for example, a diuretic activity, an antimicrobial activity, an antiarrhythmic activity (), and an antiulcerogenic activity (). History of Alkaloid Study In 1889, Nagai first reported the isolation of matrine, a main alkaloidal constituent, from the dry roots of Sophora flavescens. The skeletal structure of matrine was proposed by Tsuda (), and subsequently it was proved by synthetic studies (). The absolute structure of (+)-matrine was confirmed by Okuda et al. (). Several new alkaloids related to matrine were isolated and their structures were determined from Sophora flavescens and related plant species in the course of our continued studies of lupin alkaloids (). The biosynthesis of matrine was also investigated in intact plants of Read more […]

Yellow Oleander, Trumpet Flower

Thevetia peruviana (Pers.) K. Schum. (Apocynaceae) Thevetia peruviana (Pers.) K. Schum. is a shrub, up to 6 m tall. All parts contain highly poisonous milky latex. Leaves are simple, few, exstipulate and spirally arranged. Blade is linear, 7-13 cm by 0.5-1 cm and glossy. Flowers are large, yellow, 5 cm across, gathered in few flowered terminal cymes. Fruits are green, shiny, globose, 4-5.5 cm across with 4 or less poisonous seeds. Origin Native to Central and South America. Phytoconstituents Thevetins A and B, thevetosides, acetylperuvoside, epipemviol, perusitin, theveneriin, thevebioside, thevefolin, pervianoside I-III and others. Traditional Medicinal Uses Used as an abortifacient, to treat congestive heart failure, malaria, leprosy, indigestion, ringworm, venereal disease and even as a suicide instrument. Used in India as an astringent to the bowel, useful in urethral discharge, worms, skin diseases, wounds, piles, eye problems and itch. Used in continental Europe and is considered particularly useful in mild myocardial insufficiency and digitalis intolerance. Its bark is used as an emetic, febrifuge, insecticidal, poison and for reviving patients with heart failure. Pharmacological Activities Antiarrhythmic, Read more […]

Nelumbo nucifera

Nelumbo nucifera Gaertn. (Nymphaeaceae) Sacred Lotus, East Indian Lotus, Oriental Lotus Nelumbo nucifera Gaertn. is an aquatic plant that grows in shallow waters. Leaves are green, round, 30-60 cm across and with long petiole. Flowers are pink, white or red, 10-30 cm and solitary. Fruits are non-edible and non-fleshy. Origin Native to tropical and temperate Asia, Australia and Eastern Europe. Phytoconstituents Nuciferin, nornuciferin, nelumboroside A & B, nelumstemine, dotriacontane, ricinoleic, roemerin, liensinine, neferine, lotusine, liriodenine, asimilobin, pronuciferine and others. Traditional Medicinal Uses The leaves are used to treat sunstroke, diarrhoea, dysentery, fever, dizziness and vomiting of blood. The plant is used as an antidote for mushroom poisoning and for smallpox. In Ayurveda, the plant is used to treat cholera, diarrhoea, worm infestation, vomiting, exhaustion and intermittent fever. The fruits are used in decoction for agitation, fever, heart and haematemesis while the stamens are used to “purify the heart, permeate the kidneys, strengthen virility, to blacken the hair, for haemoptysis and spermatorrhoea”. They are also used to treat premature ejaculation, as astringent for bleeding, Read more […]

Diseases of the Cardiovascular System

Herbs For Diseases Of The Cardiovascular System Formulas For Cardiovascular Conditions Strategy Implement appropriate lifestyle changes and appropriate diet. Monitor patients regularly, particularly if herbs are used as the sole treatment for early cases or if the patients are on conventional medication. Doses can be adjusted upwards if changes of less than 20% have been observed per week. The doses of conventional medicines may need to be reviewed 1 to 2 weeks after beginning treatment with herbs. It is assumed that conventional medicines will be used for diagnosed cardiac disease, whenever good evidence exists for efficacy. In most cases these formulas provide adjunctive care. The formulas below can be made as per the recipe or adapted from other recipes according to patient needs. They are formulated to allow substitution. Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy Astragalus: Immune-enhancing, tonic, cardiotonic, nephroprotective, diuretic, hypotensive; 1 part. Bugleweed: Cardioactive, diuretic, reduced heart rate, sedative, thyroxine antagonist; 1 part. Motherwort: Sedative, antispasmodic, cardiac tonic; 1 part. Ginkgo: PAF inhibitor, antioxidant, circulatory stimulant, cognitive enhancer; 1 part. Dandelion Read more […]


CARDIAC GLYCOSIDES are a class of drugs derived from the leaf of Digitalis spp. foxgloves. These drugs have a pronounced effect on the failing heart, increasing the force of contraction, so they have commonly been used to increase the force of contraction in congestive HEART FAILURE TREATMENT (see also CARDIAC STIMULANTS). Also, they correct certain abnormal heart rhythms (especially rapid atrial fibrillation) and are therefore used in antiarrhythmic treatment (see ANTIARRHYTHMICS). The greater effectiveness of ACE inhibitors in prolonging survival in patients with heart failure has led to a decrease in their use in patients with sinus rhythm (though they are effective). Cardiac glycosides are used much less than previously, because doses that are useful therapeutically are close to those that are toxic, and the dose must be carefully adjusted in the individual. An important determinant of concentration in the body is the rate of metabolism and excretion, and some of the shorter-acting glycosides (e.g. ouabain) are now no longer used. Examples of cardiac glycosides include digitoxin and digoxin. Chemically, they are comprised of three components, a steroid ring structure, a lactone and a sugar moiety containing some Read more […]


CARDIAC DEPRESSANTS are little used in medicine, however, some are used to slow the heartbeat in tachycardias and a number of these are often analogues or derivatives of other drugs with optimized activity for this purpose in the heart (e.g. procainamide, quinidine) — these are dealt with under antiarrhythmic agents. In addition to drugs in these classes, many drugs have the adverse effect of cardiac depression as a side-effect. This is particularly so with LOCAL ANAESTHETICS (e.g. lignocaine, procaine), which is a major reason why they are only used by local application. A number of other drugs, particularly chemotherapeutic agents that have strong reasons for their selection, may be cardiac depressants in some patients at high doses (e.g. doxorubicin, quinine). Many drugs with depressant actions on the CNS are also cardiac depressant in higher doses (e.g. carbamazepine. chlorpromazine, pentobarbitone). Drugs with actions on the autonomic system may have cardiac depressant actions (e.g. bretylium, reserpine) Also, β-adrenoceptor antagonists, whose actions are generally beneficial, can in some conditions and in overdose cause heart block or even cardiac arrest. Cholin-oceptor muscarinic agonists, by definition, Read more […]


CALCIUM-CHANNEL BLOCKERS are agents that literally block or close any of the many types of calcium channels. However, in common usage the term is mainly used to describe a class of drugs finding increasing application in therapeutics (also called calcium antagonists or calcium-entry blockers) typified by the dihydropyridines (DHPs). In a more general usage of the term, there are many different classes of calcium-channel blockers, and many types of calcium channels. See CALCIUM-CHANNEL ACTIVATORS. First, in the cell membrane, the voltage-gated calcium channels are of at least six types — termed L, N, T, P, Q, R — that may be differentiated by electrophysiological, molecular cloning and pharmacological criteria. The L- and N-channels are high-voltage activated, voltage-dependent and undoubtedly of great importance in normal physiology; L mainly in smooth, cardiac and skeletal muscle (and some neurons), but N only in neurons. T-channels are important in repetitive activity in cardiac SA node of the heart, neurons and some endocrine cells. The remainder have been found more recently in neurons. These channels are products of different genes, but they all share great structural similarity — both with respect to Read more […]


ANTISYMPATHETIC AGENTS is a grouping of convenience intended to encompass all agents acting by one of the many mechanisms that lead to a reduction in the actions of the sympathetic nervous system, including those of poorly defined mechanism that are known to have this overall action. Antisympathetics are of particular importance in reducing vasomotor tone, and thence blood pressure. There are many of them and they will be grouped by site and mechanism of action. See also ANTIHYPERTENSIVE AGENTS. Central mechanisms. Some agents may act within the CNS to modify autonomic control of sympathetic tone and blood pressure. Clonidine inhibits release of noradrenaline by an agonist action at the autoinhibitory alpha2-adrenoceptors on sympathetic nerve endings. Methyldopa is thought to work, at least in part, centrally, acting both as an inhibitory false substrate in the biosynthetic pathway, also producing an active metabolite with actions at α2-adrenoceptors. Rauwolfia alkaloids, especially reserpine, which inhibit the monoamine transporters, were at one time used to treat hypertension, but the side-effects are marked. Biosynthetic pathway inhibitors. In both the central and periphery nervous systems, the biosynthetic Read more […]

Herb-Drug Interactions: Natural coumarins

Natural coumarins are widespread in herbal medicines and vegetables. There is a misconception that if a plant contains natural coumarins it will have anticoagulant properties, but very specific structural requirements are necessary for this – namely there must be a non-polar carbon substituent at the 3-position of 4-hydroxycoumarin. Moreover, at present, there are no established interactions between warfarin and herbal medicines that have been attributed to the natural coumarin content of the herb. Even in the classic case of haemorrhagic death of livestock that led to the discovery of dicoumarol, it was the action of the mould on the natural coumarin in the sweet clover (melilot) that led to the production of the anticoagulant, so consumption of a spoiled product would seem to be necessary for this specific interaction to occur. This suggests that the occurrence of natural coumarins in dietary supplements or herbal medicines should not trigger immediate concern as regards interactions with anticoagulants. The information in this family monograph relates to the individual natural coumarins, and the reader is referred back to the herb (and vice versa) where appropriate. Note that, to avoid confusion with the synthetic Read more […]

Goldenseal: Background. Actions

Historical Note Goldenseal is indigenous to North America and was traditionally used by the Cherokees and then by early American pioneers. Preparations of the root and rhizome were used for gastritis, diarrhea, vaginitis, dropsy, menstrual abnormalities, eye and mouth inflammation, and general ulceration. In addition to this, the plant was used for dyeing fabric and weapons. Practitioners of the eclectic school created a high demand for goldenseal around 1847. This ensured the herb’s ongoing popularity in Western herbal medicine, but unfortunately led to it being named a threatened species in 1997. Today, most high-quality goldenseal is from cultivated sources. Common Name Goldenseal Other Names Eye root, jaundice root, orange root, yellow root Botanical Name / Family Hydrastis canadensis (family Ranunculaceae) Plant Parts Used Root and rhizome Chemical Components Isoquinoline alkaloids, including hydrastine (1.5-5%), berberine (0.5-6%) and canadine (tetrahydroberberine, 0.5-1.0%). Other related alkaloids include canadaline, hydrastidine, corypalmineand isohydrastidine. Clinical note — Isoquinoline alkaloids Isoquinoline alkaloids are derived from phenylalanine or tyrosine and are most frequently found Read more […]