Solanum dulcamara L. (Bittersweet)

Biology and Distribution Solanum dulcamara L. (=Dulcamara flexuosa Moench) (), known as dogwood or bittersweet (Solanaceae), is a clambering or prostrate, perennial shrub which may grow to a height of 2 m (Hegi 1927). Its stem is angular and woody with the exception of the herbaceous top and ranges in diameter between 0.25 and 2 cm, rarely up to 5-6 cm. The leaves are alternate, long-stalked, sparsely pubescent on both sides, and quite variable in shape. The oval- to egg-shaped leaf blade is pointed at the tip. Its base, however, may also be cordate, arrow-shaped, or may consist of one or two lobes. Different leaf forms may be found on the same plant. The flowers emerge axillary in panicle-like loose clusters. The calyx bears five narrow teeth; the five joint petals are bright purple and their tips are somewhat reflexed when fully expanded. The five stamens have yellow anthers which form a conspicuous column. The fruit is a round- to egg-shaped berry, green when young and becoming bright red when mature. In Europe, the flowering season is May to September. It is distributed throughout Europe and is also a native to North Africa, West Asia, India, the USSR, China, and Japan. It is not clear whether its occurrence in Read more […]

Antifungal activity of eucalyptus oils

Human pathogens The volatile oil from Eucalyptus camaldulensis (syn. E. rostrata) has been the subject of several studies where the target organisms were dermatophytic fungi. Singh et al. () tested the oil against four human pathogens, Trichophyton mentagrophytes, Epidermophyton floccosum, Microsporum cants and M. gypseum, as well as two storage fungi, Aspergillus nidulans and A. terreus. At concentrations of 10,000 ppm (1 per cent) the oil showed fungicidal activity towards all the test organisms. In a second study (), a combination of oils from E. camaldulensis and Juniperus communis was found to be more effective than either single oil against Epidermophyton floccosum, M. gypseum and Paecilomyces variotii. The minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) and time taken to inhibit mycelial growth were less with the mixture than with the individual oils, suggesting that there were synergistic interactions between the components present in the two oils. In a wide-ranging study Pattnaik et al. () tested ten essential oils, one of them from Eucalyptus citriodora, against twelve test fungi (mostly human pathogens, with a few plant pathogens): Alternaria citrii, Aspergillus fumigatus, A. oryzae, Candida albicans, Cryptococcus Read more […]

The Non-Medicinal Use of Thyme

Thyme as a food preservative Due to their antimicrobial and antioxidant qualities numerous aromatic plants, such as thyme, have been used and are still being used as food preservatives. As was described before, the essential oils of thyme present a marked antimicrobial activity. This activity has been demonstrated to include bacteria responsible for alterations in food. Aureli carried out a study on the antimicrobial activity of diverse essential oils of plants widely used in the food industry against Listeria monocytogenes (bacteria implicated in alterations in food). Only the essential oils of cinnamon, clove, marjoram, pepper and thyme presented antimicrobial activity. Researchers have also demonstrated that a number of aromatic plants, including thyme, have a marked antifungal activity against food spoiling fungi. The high antimycotic activity of clove and thyme was tested for their possible use as preservatives for agricultural commodities by El-Maraghy. Both species completely inhibited aflatoxin production in lentil seeds for an eight week incubation period. Antioxidant activity can also be responsible for a preservative activity, especially in preventing oxidation of lipids in food. This was studied by Read more […]

Chamomile: Traditional Use and Therapeutic Indications

Traditional Use Chamomile has been known for centuries and is well established in therapy. In traditional folk medicine it is found in the form of chamomile tea, which is drunk internally in cases of painful gastric and intestinal complaints connected with convulsions such as diarrhea and flatulence, but also with inflammatory gastric and intestinal diseases such as gastritis and enteritis. Externally chamomile is applied in the form of hot compresses to badly healing wounds, such as for a hip bath with abscesses, furuncles, hemorrhoids, and female diseases; as a rinse of the mouth with inflammations of the oral cavity and the cavity of the pharynx; as chamomile steam inhalation for the treatment of acne vulgaris and for the inhalation with nasal catarrhs and bronchitis; and as an additive to baby baths. In Roman countries it is quite common to use chamomile tea even in restaurants or bars and finally even in the form of a concentrated espresso. This is also a good way of fighting against an upset stomach due to a sumptuous meal, plenty of alcohol, or nicotine. In this case it is not easy to draw a line and find out where the limit to luxury is. Clinic and practice Preliminary remark The suitability of the empirical Read more […]

Solanum chrysotrichum (Schldl.)

Distribution and Importance of the Plant Solanum chrysotrichum (Schldl.) of the Solanaceae family belongs to a group of plants commonly known as “sosas” throughout the highlands of Chiapas, Mexico. These plants are used for the treatment of dermatological infections and other skin ailments. Among this group, and as a result of extensive ethnobotanical investigations, two species, Solanum chrysotrichum and S. lanceolatumy are particularly noted, as revealed by the highest index of citation. The two species are described by traditional healers as the most effective herbal remedies for the treatment of skin infections. According to popular nosologies considered as “skin infections”, water extracts from the leaves of S. chrysotrichum constitute the specific treatment for tinae (tirlapedis), scabies and other mycosis. S. chrysotrichum is distributed in the states of Chiapas, Hidalgo and Michoacan, in Mexico, where names such as sosa, berenjena and cuxpeal are given to this plant respectively. Among the highland Mayas of Chiapas, it is known as “kitxpeul” in tzotzil, “k ‘uxbal chix” in tzeltal, and “pajutiek” in chol. It is an erect perennial herb which may grow up to 2 m in height, with spiny stems. The leaves are rough Read more […]

Artemisia Dracunculus L.

Artemisia dracunculus L., French Tarragon, is a perennial herb, native to Europe, Russia, Siberia, China and western and central North America where it grows wild, especially along river banks. It was introduced to Britain in the mid-fifteenth century. This aromatic plant has an extensive fibrous root system which spreads by runners and stems which reach a maximum heigh of around 1 metre. The generic name is derived from the Greek Goddess Artemis who was believed to have given this group of plants to Chiron the centaur, while the specific name is derived from the Latin dracunculus meaning small dragon or snake, probably in reference to the long tongue-shaped leaves. Its common name of tarragon is thought to be a corruption of the Arabic tarkhun also meaning a little dragon. French tarragon is used mainly as a culinary plant, although its value and popularity in cooking doubtless stems from it medicinal use as an aid to digestion whereby it can be taken as an infusion, or digestif, for poor digestion, intestinal distension, nausea, flatulence and hiccups, not to mention its claimed abilities to improve rheumatism, gout and arthritis as well as acting as a vermifuge and an agent to soothe toothache. Traditional Uses French Read more […]

Achillea millefolium L. ssp. millefolium (Yarrow)

Distribution and Importance Yarrow, commonly called soldier’s woundwort or herb of the good Lord, owes some of its common names to its known pharmacological, antihemorrhagic, and sedative properties. Dioscorides went even further in the applications of this plant; it can be used not only as a vulnerary, but also has tonic, antispasmodic, antipyretic, and antimycotic properties. Also, the scientific name of the plant is related to its antihemorrhagic action. According to the Greek legend, during the Trojan War (ca. 1250 B.C.), Achilles healed the wounds of King Telephos with yarrow; thus, the name Achillea, millefolium indicates that the leaves are finely divided. A. millefolium (Compositae) is a herbaceous, perennial plant that can reach 30-60 cm in height. Commonly scented, it usually presents white flowers. The leaves are greenish-gray due to the numerous trichomes. The plant is common throughout Europe, western Asia, Siberia, and North America, growing wild in fields, woods, and pastures. The flowering period extends from May to October. It is harvested from early to late summer, and is used either fresh or dried. The essential oil from the leaves, particularly that from the flower heads, is the source of its Read more […]

Melissa officinalis L. (Lemon Balm)

Botany, Distribution, Constituents, and Importance of the Plant The genus Melissa belongs to the family Labiatae (Lamiaceae) and comprises erect branched herbs with crenate opposite leaves and a two-lipped corolla. It includes very few species, which chiefly occur in many parts of Europe and Asia. For the European region two individual species are differentiated by the Flora Europaea (): M. officinalis L. (comprising the two subspecies officinalis and altissima () Arcangeli, and M. bicornis Klokov, which may be identical with the subspecies altissima. In contrast, the Flora of Turkey () specifies only one species (M. officinalis L.), which is subdivided into three subspecies: a)  officinalis b)  altissima (Sm.) Arcangeli and c)  inodora (Bornm.) Bornm. Intermediates between all three subspecies can occur. In the area of Southern Europe and Middle Asia three Melissa species are characterized by Engler and Prantl (1889): M. officinalis L., M. parviflora Benth., and M. flava Benth. The last two species are also included in the Flora of British India (Hooker 1885). In the Flora Malesiana the species Melissa axillaris Barkh. f. 1963 is described which includes M. parviflora Benth. and M. hirsuta Read more […]