Sanguinaria canadensis L. (Sanguinarius)

Sanguinaria canadensis L. () is a low perennial with mostly white flowers and thick rhizomes containing an acrid red-orange juice from whence the plant was named (sanguinarius, bleeding). This monotypic genus is a member of the Papaver-aceae family, known to contain a diversity of isoquinoline alkaloids, including the protoberberine and benzophenanthridine alkaloids which are found in many species of this family (). The synonymous Latin binomials for Sanguinaria canadensis are claimed to be Chelidonium maximum canadense, Sanguinaria acaulis, and Sanguinaria vernalis. Moreover, a number of vernacular names of Sanguinaria canadensis have been used, some examples include: bloodroot, Indian paint, red root, snakebite, and sweet slumber. Sanguinaria canadensis is distributed across Canada east to Nova Scotia, south from New England to Florida, west to Texas and north to Manitoba (). Historically speaking, the red-orange juice obtained from the roots and stem of the plant was used by native American Indians as a dye for clothing, baskets, and skin. Medicinal uses of this plant by native American Indians included a tea derived from roots which was used as a treatment for rheumatism, asthma, bronchitis, and as an emetic Read more […]

Atractylodes spp.

Botanical Description The genus Atractylodes belongs to the family Asteraceae and comprises eight species of perennial herbs distributed in East Asia ():Atractylodes japonica Koidz. ex Kitam. in Japan, Korea, and China; Atractylodes koreana Kitam. (A. lancea var. simplicifolia Kitam.) () in Korea and China; Atractylodes lancea DC, Atractylodes chinensis Koidz. (A. lancea DC. var. chinensis Kitam.), Atractylodes ovata DC. (A. macrocephala Koidz.) and a few other species in China (Beijing Institute of Botany 1975). They grow wild, and some of them are cultivated in these countries as medicinal plants. Figure 1 shows A. lancea at the flowering stage. Flowers of Atractylodes are mostly (Institute of Materia Medica 1979) or entirely (Beijing Institute of Botany 1975) unisexual, and interspecific hybridization occurs (). The chromosome number is 24 in somatic cells of A. chinensis (), A. lancea (), A. lancea DC. var. simplicifolia Kitam. (), and A. ovata (). Usage of Atractylodes spp. Although young shoots of A. japonica are served as a wild vegetable in Japan, Atractylodes plants are mainly of medicinal value. Their rhizomes are important crude drugs prescribed in various preparations of Chinese medicine as Jutsu in Read more […]

Aspilia mossambicensis

Aspilia mossambicensis (Oliv.) Wild (Asteraceae), is widespread in central and eastern tropical Africa (), ranging from Ethiopia through east Africa, the Congo, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Mozambique, and Transvaal to Natal (). Various folk uses of this and other Aspilia species have been reported, including its use as a remedy for cystitis and gonorrhoea (), treatment of abdominal pains, intestinal worms, and skin infections (). Previous reports for two other species of Aspilia (A. montevidencis and A. parvifolia) showed the presence of the tridecapentaynene derivative, thiophene A (I) (), in roots (). Methanol and aqueous extracts of Aspilia africana have recently been shown to have antibacterial activity against Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria, including Agrobacterium tumefaciens, at concentrations ranging from 0.1 to 0.5 g/ml (). Evidence that wild chimpanzees use Aspilia mossambicensis as a dietary and medicinal supplement () suggested the possibility that the plant could have biocidal activity, and prompted an investigation of the phytochemistry of this species. Thiarubrines A and B (II, IV) and the mono-thiophenic derivatives, thiophenes A and B (I, III), were subsequently isolated from leaves of dried Read more […]

Allium cepa L. (Onion)

The Allium species have been a source of food flavors and medicinal compounds in many areas of the world for several thousand years. The attraction of the alliums as a flavor source is primarily the pungent volatile constituents which are released when the fresh tissue is cut or chewed, and also the presence of milder odors in the cooked vegetables. The major alliums used as food in Western Europe include the onion (Allium cepa L.), garlic (A. sativum L.), chives (A. schoenoprasum L.) and leek (A. porrum L.), but Allium fistulasum L. and Allium tuberosum are grown on a large scale and eaten raw or cooked in China, Japan, and South East Asia. All the alliums referred to may be eaten raw, or as a cooked vegetable, or used as a flavor additive to fresh or cooked foods (). On a commercial scale, the flavor may be added as a powder, an oil, or as dried shredded bulb tissue. The importance of Allium is indicated by the fact that flavor derived from this source (usually garlic or onions) is the major flavor additive to convenience foods. The therapeutic value of fresh and extracted Allium has always been recognized, as can be judged by the list of ailments that are reported to be cured by garlic and onion. These are hemorrhoids, Read more […]

Artemisia Ludoviciana ssp. Mexicana (Estafiate)

Estafiate or iztauyatl (Artemisia ludoviciana ssp. mexicana) is one of the most popular medicinal plants in Mexican phytotherapy and is nowadays used especially for gastrointestinal pain, as a vermifuge and as a bitter stimulant. The historical and modern uses of this species are reviewed. The first report of its medicinal use dates back to the 16th century, but at that time it was used for completely different illnesses. Only very limited pharmacological studies to evaluate these claims are available; anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antihelmintic effects have been reported. The aerial parts contain a large number of sesquiterpene lactones, flavonoids as well as essential oil which has not yet been studied in detail. Estafiate or iztauyatl (Artemisia ludoviciana ssp. mexicana) is one of the most popular remedies in Mexican phytotherapy. It is frequently sold in markets in the cities and also grown in many house gardens (). It is thus a locally important economic product and a phytotherapeutic resource which requires documentation of its regional or national importance as well as evaluation and monitoring for efficacy and safety. Plants generally are an important medicinal resource to many people in Mexico and Read more […]

Eucalyptus oil products: Formulations and legislation

Eucalyptus oils are being used with increasing frequency in a variety of products found in the supermarket or pharmacy. ‘With extract of Eucalyptus’ or ‘With Eucalyptus essential oil’ claims are becoming more common on the labels of modern consumer products such as cosmetics, toiletries and household products due to the ever-increasing interest in natural or botanical ingredients. Eucalyptus oil may be used as an active ingredient to provide scientifically provable benefits – such as nasal decongestion or antibacterial effects – or at much lower dosages to impart more esoteric or folkloric connotations to the product concerned. Eucalyptus oils are also used as components of perfumes to provide a medicinal-type note to the fragrance. Eucalyptus globulus, or Blue Gum, oil was a traditional Australian aboriginal remedy for infections and fevers. It is now used all over the world for relieving coughs and colds, sore throats and other infections. Its main constituent, 1,8-cineole, is mucolytic (i.e. it thins out and relaxes the flow of mucus) and is excreted through the lung surface. Eucalyptus radiata oil is sometimes preferred by aromatherapists for its more pleasant smell while Eucalyptus smithii oil is Read more […]

The use of eucalyptus oils in consumer products

Insect repellents As noted in the introduction, Eucalyptus citriodora oil has been used as a ‘natural’ insect repellent. Depending on the product formulation it is used in, Lemon Eucalyptus (known as Quwenling in China) is up to four or five times more effective and longer-lasting than citronella oil (from Cymbopogon nardus), one of the best known natural insect repellents. p-Menthane-3,8-diol is the main active component of Quwenling and this can be isolated and used as a highly effective insect repellent. Eucalyptus citriodora oil contains up to 80–90 per cent citronellal, along with geraniol, both of which are known to have insect repellent activity but tend to dilute the much higher activity of the p-menthane-3,8-diol. The Mosi-guard Natural insect repellent spray produced by MASTA in the UK contains ‘Extract of Lemon Eucalyptus’ and claims on the label: Approved and recommended by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Field trials have shown effective protection for 6 h after a single application in mosquito infected areas. Also protects against many other biting insects. Mosi-guard Natural is made from a natural and renewable resource. It is kind to your skin and has no adverse effects 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 […]

Elettaria cardamomum Maton (Cardamom)

Cardamom is a polymorphic species of the monotypic genus Elettaria. True cardamom or lesser cardamom is a monocot belonging to the family Zingiberaceae under the natural order Scitaminae. The varietal status of true cardamom has been designated as Elettaria cardamomum var. cardamomum (syn. var. minor Watt; var. minuscula Burkhill, Purseglove 1975). The seeds, contained in the dried fruits (capsules) and possessing a characteristic pleasant aroma, are the cardamom of commerce. Rosengarter () ranked cardamom as the third costliest spice in the world. In India it is the second most important spice next to black pepper (). The plant is a tall perennial shrub (), the aerial part of which consists of 10-20 erect, leafy shoots (pseudo-stem), 2-5.5 m tall and made of leaf sheaths. The shoots and the panicle emerge from a horizontal subterranean woody rhizome. Each panicle bears numerous small, white or pale-green flowers characterized by a conspicuous labellum with violet streaks radiating from the center. The flowers are hermaphrodites. The ripe fruit () is an ovoid trilocular capsule containing 15-20 aromatic seeds. Cardamom cultivation is mainly concentrated in the southern states of India, i.e., Kerala, Karnataka, Read more […]

Antimicrobial activity of eucalyptus oils

The preservative properties of the volatile oils and extracts of aromatic and medicinal plants have been recognised since Biblical times, while attempts to characterise these properties in the laboratory date back to the early 1900s (e.g. Hoffman and Evans 1911). Martindale (1910) included ‘Eucalyptus amygdalina’ (probably the phellandrene variant of Eucalyptus dives) and Eucalyptus globulus oils, as well as eucalyptol (1,8-cineole), in his study of the antiseptic powers of essential oils and although the ‘carbolic coefficients’ of eucalyptus oils were not as great as those for oils containing large amounts of phenolics – such as origanum (carvacrol), cinnamon leaf (eugenol) and thyme (thymol) – they did, nevertheless, give some quantitative measure of the antiseptic properties of eucalyptus leaf oils. Many volatile oils – particularly those of herbs and spices, but including those from Eucalyptus – have been used to extend the shelf-life of foods, beverages and pharmaceutical and cosmetic products; their antimicrobial and antioxidant properties have also pointed to a role in plant protection. Such a wide variety of applications, actual or potential, has meant that the antimicrobial properties of Read more […]