The Medicinal Uses of Thyme

The uses of thyme, Thymus vulgaris and other Thymus species are well known, and extensive parts of the world get benefit from this plant group in medicinal and non-medicinal respects. Following the development of the medicinal uses of thyme we can see that thyme has changed from a traditional herb to a serious drug in rational phytotherapy. This is due to many pharmacological in vitro experiments carried out during the last decades, and even a few clinical tests. The studies have revealed well defined pharmacological activities of both, the essential oils and the plant extracts, the antibacterial and spasmolytical properties being the most important ones. The use of thyme in modern phytotherapy is based on this knowledge, whereas the traditional use of thyme describes only empirical results and often debatable observations. Therefore it seems necessary to present here the data available on the pharmacodynamics of thyme and thyme preparations in order to substantiate the use of thyme in modern medicine. The non-medicinal use of thyme is no less important, because thyme (mainly Thymus vulgaris) is used in the food and aroma industries. It serves as a preservative for foods and is a culinary ingredient widely used as Read more […]

Pharmacological Effects of Thyme

Antimicrobial effects of thyme essential oils and thyme preparations Antibacterial effects The first researcher who attributed antibacterial properties to thyme (without specifying the species) was Chamberlain in 1887, after observing the antibacterial effect of its “vapours” on Bacillus anthracis. Since then, numerous studies with essential oils of different species of Thymus have been carried out. They were shown to inhibit a broad spectrum of bacteria, generally Gram-positive bacteria being more sensitive than Gram-negative bacteria. This became obvious in some screening studies administering Thymus oils to a variety of bacteria. Recently the antibacterial activity of thyme (Thymus vulgaris) oil against some important food-borne pathogens, namely Salmonella enteritidis, Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus, Listeria monocytogenes, and Campylobacter jejuni, was tested. The latter was found to be the most resistant of the bacteria investigated. In another study it was shown that the essential oil of thyme and especially its phenols, thymol and carvacrol, have antibacterial acivity against periodontopathic bacteria including Actinobacillus, Capnocytophaga, Fusobacterium, Eikenella, and Bacteroides species, and 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 […]

Toxicology and Clinical Applications of Black Pepper

Toxicology of Black Pepper There are no data available on the acute or chronic toxicologic aspects of pepper and/ or its constituents. Pepper constituents are not used therapeutically in the allopathic system. Pepper has been in use since very early times as a spice and food additive. No health hazard or untoward action may arise in the concentrations used. The total contents of piperine and associated phenolic amides are of the order of 7–9 per cent w/w and that of the volatile oil are 2–4 per cent. At this level the actual doses of the different constituents available from the quantity of pepper powder, oleoresin or extractive used, will be very little to elicit any toxic reactions. Moreover, the pungent taste of piperine and flavour of the volatile oil constituents will themselves serve as a limiting factor for the intake of high doses. No acceptable daily intake (ADI) has been prescribed by the Joint FAO/WHO Experts Committee on Food Additives for piperine and/or the volatile principles. The major untoward action of pepper is the gastric mucosal injury at a dose of 1.5 g/kg food. There are a few reports about the carcinogenic potential of piperine. It enhances the DNA adduct formation, and extract of pepper Read more […]

Pharmacology of Black Pepper

Many spices used in food seasoning have broad spectrum of antimicrobial activity. Their antioxidant activity against lipid peroxidation enhances the keeping quality of food. Apart from the use as a popular spice and flavouring substance, black pepper as drug in the Indian and Chinese systems of medicine is well documented. In the Ayurvedic descriptions, pepper is described as katu (pungent), tikta (bitter), usbnaveerya (potency, leading to storing up of energy, easy digestion, diaphoresis, thirst and fatigue), to subdue vatta (all the biological phenomena controlled by CNS and autonomic nervous system) and kapha (implies the function of heat regulation, and also formation of various preservative fluids like mucus, synovia etc. The main functions of kapha is to provide co-ordination of the body system and regularization of all biological activities). Pepper is described as a drug which increases digestive power, improves appetite, cures cold, cough, dyspnoea, diseases of the throat, intermittent fever, colic, dysentery, worms and piles; also useful in tooth ache, pain in liver and muscle, inflammation, leucoderma and epileptic fits. Black pepper is called maricha or marica in Sanskrit, indicating its property to dispel Read more […]

The storage of Capsicum

Capsicum fruits, whether they are used as green or red ripe fruit, fleshy or dried, as medicine or dye, or for seed purposes, are to be stored for varying periods before being used. Therefore, an attempt has been made in this chapter to review the research work done on storage aspects of green and red ripe fruits in processed or whole fruit form. Moreover, special emphasis has been given to the storage of seeds, as Capsicum is a seed propagated crop and its productivity and quality are very much influenced by the quality of seeds used for production. Capsicum fruits, both red ripe and green, are used for imparting pungency and flavour to food. Sweet peppers are mainly used at the green stage as salad and for cooking. In addition to providing pungency and flavour to the food, Capsicum is also a good source of vitamins A and B, and has several medicinal and insecticidal properties. Recently, the paprika types have been used extensively as a source of natural dye because of their deep red fruits. Capsicum fruits, whether they are used as green or red ripe fruit, fleshy or dried, as medicine or dye or for seed purposes, are to be stored for varying periods of time before they are used. Therefore, it is very important that Read more […]

Aloe vera in wound healing: Gel components

Saccharides Mono- and polysaccharides form about 25% of the solid fraction of the aloe gel. Mannose and glucose are the most significant monosaccharides found in the gel. These sugars most commonly serve as fuels and building blocks. For example, mannose-6-phosphate is required to initiate glycoprotien and glycolipid synthesis in the endoplasmic reticulum of all nucleated cells. Optimal nutrition is required for the growth, regulation, reproduction, defense, regeneration and repair during wound healing. In addition, saccharides such as mannose are essential in the golgi apparatus of all cells to complete synthesis of all structural and functional molecules. Lastly, the mannose-6-phosphate of Aloe vera has been shown to activate the insulin-like growth factor receptor of the fibroblast, stimulating it to increase collagen and proteoglycan synthesis. This activity has been shown to increase wound tensile strength. The polysaccharide component of aloe gel is primarily glucommannans that are comprised of glucose and mannose (β1→ 4 linked acetylated mannan). These polysaccharides, unlike other sugars, are absorbed complete and appear in the bloodstream undigested. Here, they have many activities. It has been very Read more […]

Vaccinium Species

Distribution and Importance of the Plant The genus Vaccinium, from the heath family (Ericaceae), includes a wide range of popular berry species of economic importance, including the American cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon Ait.), the wild lowbush blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium Ait.), cultivated highbush and rabbiteye blueberries (V. corymbosum L. and V. ashei Reade), bilberry (V. myrtillus L.) and lingonberry (V. vitis-idaea L.). While these crops are well known throughout the world, in many cases, their individual distributions are quite narrow. Wild lowbush blueberry, for example, is localized in the extreme northeastern United States and maritime provinces of Canada (); bilberry is grown only in a few European countries with an isolated pocket of distribution in the Rocky Mountain region of the USA, and cranberry production, which until recently was confined to the eastern and western coasts of the USA, has recently expanded into higher elevations in South America. The harvested berries are marketed fresh, frozen, and in some cases, sweetened and dried (personal communication, D. Nolte, Decas Cranberry Co.). They are also popular components in bakery items, dried cereals, jams, juices, and numerous related Read more […]

General introduction to the genus Lavandula

Lavandula species (Labiatiae, syn. Lamiaceae) are mainly grown for their essential oils, which are used in perfumery, cosmetics, food processing and nowadays also in ‘aromatherapy’ products. The dried flowers have also been used from time immemorial in pillows, sachets etc. for promoting sleep and relaxation. Numerous lavender plants are also sold as ornamental plants for the garden; these include Lavandula latifolia, Lavandula pinnata, Lavandula lanata, Lavandula dentata and Lavandula stoechas and their numerous cultivars. Lavender oil, distilled from Lavandula angustifolia was used extensively in Victorian times as a perfume and applied in numerous cosmetic products, but now it is used mainly in combination with other essential oils and aromachemicals. This species and numerous hybrids/cultivars, for example, Lavandin ‘grosso’ were originally grown in the South of France, but are now grown virtually round the world. True lavender oil, consisting mainly of linalool and linalyl acetate, has a very variable composition due to the genetic instability of the oil-producing plants and variations due to temperature, water quantity, altitude, fertilizers, time of year, geographic distribution etc. The chemical composition Read more […]

Sempervivum spp. (Houseleek)

Distribution and Importance of Sempervivum The genus Sempervivum (Crassulaceae) contains approximately 80 species and several subspecies. The name is indicative of their evergreen, sempervirent nature (semper = always, vivum = living). Houseleeks (Sempervivum spp.) grow mainly on sunny, barren hillsides, mostly at 1000-2000 m. They are favourite plants in rock-gardens, because they grow on walls and roofing tiles. One of the most important species, Sempervivum tectorum L. is native to the Alps, but it can be found sporadically as far as the Pyrenees and the northern regions of the Balkan Peninsula, in central Anatolia. It grows well under extreme conditions, usually in calcareous soil. It is a cosmopolitan species living in dry circumstances (Hegnauer 1964). It can be used on extreme sites (notably in urban environments), if its basic ecological and growth requirements are respected. One of the most important ecophysiological features of Sempervivum – in which it is similar to other members of Crassulaceae family – is nocturnal C02 fixation; this physiological adaptation to a dry environment enables tolerance of water deficiency. This metabolism, known as CAM (crassulacean acid metabolism), is an alternative Read more […]