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 […]

Duboisia spp.

Duboisia (Solanaceae), indigenous to Australia and New Caledonia, comprises three species; D. myoporoides R. Br., D. leichhardtii F. Muell and D. hopwoodii F. Muell. D. myoporoides is a tree with broad-lanceolate to obovate glabrous leaves 7.5 to 10 cm long and may grow 13 m tall. The flowers, are small, white, and bell-shaped with occasional mauve streakings in the throat of the corolla. The fruits is a small black globular berry about 0.5 cm in diameter. D. leichhardtii is much like D. myoporoides in general habit, though not so leafy. Its leaves are smaller and narrow, and its flowers a little larger. D. hopwoodii is a small shrub seldom exceeding 2.5 m in height with narrow lanceolate leaves which are smaller than those of D. leichhardtii (). Duboisia contains not only tropane alkaloids but also pyridine alkaloids; and this is the first plant found to contain both types of alkaloids. The main alkaloids in the leaves of D. myoporoides and D. leichhardtii are scopolamine and hyoscyamine, both of which are commercially important anesthetic and antispasmodic drugs. On the other hand, leaves of D. hopwoodii “pituri” used by Australian aborigines contain nornicotine and nicotine as predominant alkaloids. Therefore, Read more […]

Primary Dysmenorrhoea

Primary dysmenorrhoea is caused by uterine contractions which are too strong and occur too frequently. Between the contractions, the uterine muscle does not relax properly, and there is an abnormally high ‘resting tone’. The overall effect is a reduction in the amount of blood flowing through the uterine muscle (ischaemia) which causes the pain known as primary dysmenorrhoea. The most usual cause of primary dysmenorrhoea is an imbalance in the prostaglandins levels. Prostaglandins are complex hormone-like substances found in most body tissues. There are many different types of prostaglandins which control bodily functions by working together as an integrated team. When the different types of prostaglandins are present in normal ratios, menstruation proceeds normally. An imbalance in the ratios in favour of the type of prostaglandins which increase muscle spasm will cause period pain. Their role in menstruation is complex and is discussed in ‘Prostaglandins’. The uterine tonics The uterine tonics, Aletris farinosa, Caulophyllum thalictroides, Angelica sinensis and Rubus idaeus, are used to treat pain because they are believed to regulate the muscular activity of the uterus and help initiate contractions which are Read more […]

Mentha Species (Mints)

The Mentha comprise a genus of the Labiatae (Lamiaceae) that are widely distributed in the north and south temperate zones of Eurasia and Africa, and members of which have been extensively introduced into the Americas. Up to some 25 species have been characterised, but the genus is extremely complex taxonomically and much phenotypic plasticity and genetic variability occurs. Diversity in Europe appears to be at the species level whereas that in central Asia mainly involves variation within one species, i.e. M. sylvestris (). Most of the species can hybridise to yield numerous varieties that are widespread in nature and can be recognised by their intermediate appearance and general sterility – although fertile hybrid swarms are known. Consequently, the ancestry of several “species” and varieties is uncertain – especially so as several have been widely cultivated as culinary herbs and many cultivars have escaped into the environment. This variation may be responsible for differences in secondary metabolism that have often been recorded in nominally the same species. Thus it is essential that fully documented voucher specimens be deposited in herbaria when studies are carried out on the genus. Table Classification Read more […]

Gloeophyllum odovatum (Brown Rot Fungus)

The Fungus and Its Secondary Metabolites The fruiting bodies of the brown rot fungus Gloeophyllum odovatum (Wulf. ex Fr.) Imaz. syn. Trametes, odorata (Wulf. ex Fr.) Osmoporus odoratus (Wulf. ex Fr.) (Aphyllophorales, Basidiomycetes) are found in coniferous forests, chiefly in northern and rocky mountains in central Europe, in Asia, and occasionally in North America. In Fennoscandia, the fungus grows mostly on old stumps of the Norway spruce [Picea abies (L.) Karst.], very rarely on pine (Pinus sylvestris L.). The perennial brown fruit bodies are knotty, wedge- or plate-like medium-sized or large. The young parts are ochraceous to light brown in color, later becoming dark brown to almost black or blackish gray. G. odovatum is not very common. The other known Gloeophyllum species are G. protactum, G. sepiarium, G. abietinum and G. trabeum. Only the fresh fruit bodies of G. odoratum produce a strong scent of aniseed, when it grows on spruce. The sporophore of the fungus is primarily interesting because of its volatiles; however, they also contain steroids. The principal volatiles from the fruiting body grown on spruce have been identified as aromatics, i.e., methyl p-methoxyphenylacetate (33.5%) accompanied by ethyl Read more […]

Anthemis nobilis L. (Roman Chamomile)

Anthemis nobilis L. (syn. Anthemis odorata Lamk.; Chamaemelum nobile L., All.; Chamaemelum odoratum Dod.; Chamomilla nobilis God.; Leucanthemum odoratum Eid. Ap.; Ormenis nobilis Gay), so-called Roman chamomile, is a perennial herb of the Asteraceae family. It is native to the southwest of Europe (France, Spain, and Portugal), and has spread all over the Europe. It is also present in southwest Asia. The plant reaches a height of 15 to 30 cm and generally flowers from June to September. A. nobilis plants are cultivated in the south of England, Belgium, France, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Egypt, and Argentina. In France (Anjou) more than 160 ha are devoted to this cultivation; the production yield is about 1 ton of dry flowers per ha. As a result of breeding, some of the tubular florets present in the wild plant have become ligulated, and it is these “double” or “semi-double” flower heads which form the commercial drug. The double variety (cultivar) is the main source of the commercial drug today, and has been certainly known since the 18th century; it is sterile, and is propagated vegetatively by suckering. The flowers are collected in dry weather and dried; storage is achieved in the absence 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 […]

Euphorbia characias L.

Since antiquity, Euphorbia species have been used for multiple purposes. The leaves and branchlets of Euphorbia lancifolia Schlecht were used by Mayam Indians to produce a tea named Ixbut which is reported to act as a galactogogue, increasing the flow or volume of milk in postpartem women. Some species have been used for treatment of cancer, tumors, and warts for more than 2000 years. This is the case for E.fischeriana Steud., that was used in traditional Chinese medicine as an antitumor drug. Medicinal uses of Euphorbia species include treatment of skin diseases, warts, intestinal parasites, and gonorrhea. Table Some species of Euphorbia used in folk medicine summarizes the uses in folk medicine. The latex of some plants of Euphorbia is toxic, causing poisoning in human beings and livestock, skin dermatitis, and inflammations of mucous membranes, conjunctivitis, tumor promotion, and cancer. Table Some species of Euphorbia used in folk medicine Species Used as treatment of E. antiquorum L. Dyspepsia E. caudicifolia Haines Purgative, expectorant E. fischeriana Steud. Antitumor E. genistoides Berg. Diaphoretic E. helioscopia L. Bronchitis E. hirta L. Antihistaminic E. Read more […]

Drosera spp. (Sundew)

“Ancient botanical treatises and pharmacopoeias attribute various properties to the sundew, or Drosera, whose red droplets of mucilage do not dry out in the sun. Certain extracts of these plants serve as treatment for corns, verrucas, and burns. Infusions and other extracts are used against coughs, respiratory disorders, tuberculosis, arteriosclerosis, inflammations, intestinal illnesses, and syphilis. These preparations are diuretic, soothing and even aphrodisiac”.. Drosera extracts are still being used against infections and ailments of the respiratory tract. Plumbagin and related compounds occur in the Droseraceae and are thought to be responsible for its therapeutic properties. Although plumbagin occurs in many species of Drosera the compound is also extracted from species of Plumbago (). Frequent harvesting of natural populations of Drosera in Europe have resulted in the plants becoming increasingly scarce and alternate sources of plants are therefore being sought. Vegetative propagation of Drosera and the production of plumbagin in vitro may serve as an alternative to the utilization of natural populations. Distribution and General Morphology of Drosera The genus Drosera was the first of the carnivorous Read more […]

Respiratory System: Herbal Treatment of Children

The Function Of The Respiratory System To ensure sufficient intake of oxygen it is vital for children to have a fully functioning respiratory system, to have plenty of fresh air and exercise every day and that they breathe properly. The quality of the air breathed in is also of vital importance. Children’s lungs are delicate organs susceptible to external factors including heat, dust, moulds, pathogenic micro-organisms and chemical irritants. The pollution in the air, cigarette smoke, carbon monoxide, lead from car fumes, etc., becomes pollution in their lungs, which is then carried in the blood all round the body. According to Western medicine the main function of the lungs is the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide and the maintenance of acid-base in the body. We also know that the air we breathe is not only vital to our physiological functioning, but also to our more subtle processes. In India air is called “prana”, the breath of life. Not only are we breathing in gases vital for normal functioning of our cells and tissues, but we are also taking in the energy of the atmosphere around us which radiates from the trees and other green plants and ultimately from the sun. Correct breathing is vital for our nerves Read more […]