Gentiana Species

Distribution and Importance Gentiana species belong to the family Gentianaceae, order Gentianales, superorder Gentiananae, subclass Asteridae, class Magnoliopsida (). The species are divided into several sections according to the morphology of the above-ground organs (). The subgenera Eugentiana Kusnezow and Gentianella Kusnezow () are entered in Flora Europaea as separate genera: Gentiana L. and Gentianella Moench (). The genus Gentiana comprises about 400 species distributed chiefly in mountain regions, especially in the Alps, the Carpathians, the Central Asia mountains, and the Andes in South America. Due to their impressive and colorful flowers, gentians decorate mountain meadows. Some species are also found in the monsoon zone of India, in New Zealand, and in southern Australia. More rarely, gentians are found in the temperate zone lowlands of the northern hemisphere (). The yellow gentian root was already mentioned as a remedium stomachicum by Galen and Dioscorides (). Apart from Gentiana Iutea L., there are other medicinal species included in many pharmacopoeias and plant registers of the world (). According to most European pharmacopoeias, the official drug may also contain material from Gentiana pannonica Read more […]

Bioactivity of Basil: Other Activities

Plants belonging to the genus Ocimum exhibit a great deal of different pharmacological activities of which the most important, as concluded by the number of research reports, will be discussed below. The activities to be discussed in more detail are anti-inflammatory, immunomodulating and adaptogenic, anticarcinogenic, hypoglycemic and blood lipid lowering, radioprotective, effect on the CNS, antiulcerogenic, hepatoprotective and the effect on smooth muscle. In addition to these activities a number of other activities are also reported in the literature, such as antioxidant, angioprotective effect, effect on the reproductive behaviour and antiwormal activity. Anti-inflammatory Activity Ocimum sanctum L., popularly known as “Tulsi” in Hindi and “Holy Basil” in English, is a widely known sacred plant of Hindus. Different parts of the plant have been claimed to be valuable in a wide spectrum of diseases. For instance, it is used for the treatment of arthritis, rheumatism, pain and fever in the Ayurvedic system of medicine. Ocimum sanctum is now intensively studied in order to prove these activities by pharmacological evidence. A methanol extract and an aqueous suspension of Ocimum sanctum leaves inhibited Read more […]

Ginkgo (Ginkgo Biloba)

Medical Uses Ginkgo is used for circulation problems, Alzheimer’s disease, difficulties with memory, ringing in the ears, headaches, and dizziness. Ginkgo biloba is licensed in Germany for treating: cerebral dysfunction with difficulties in memory, dizziness, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), headaches, emotional instability with anxiety, and intermittent claudication. Historical Uses Legend has it that Chinese monks saved the ginkgo tree from extinction by growing it in monastery gardens. Growth The ginkgo is the oldest known living tree in the world. It is not difficult to grow, and ginkgo trees can be found in many city areas in the United States, including Central Park in New York City. The trees are able to withstand pollution and disease. Their leaves turn yellow in the fall. Ginkgo: Part Used • Dried leaves Major Chemical Compounds • Diterpenes known as ginkgolides, sesquiterpene bilobalide, quercetin Ginkgo: Clinical Uses Ginkgo is used for peripheral vascular disease, such as intermittent claudication and cerebral insufficiency. It is approved by the German Commission E and the World Health Organization. Ginkgo biloba is licensed in Germany for treating cerebral dysfunction with difficulties Read more […]

Treat Anxiety Disorders: Indian Traditional Herbs

Centella asiatica (Mandookaparni or Gotu Kola) Centella asiatica is reputed for its beneficial effects in various neurological disorders. Gotu Kola has been used for centuries in Ayurvedic and traditional Chinese medicine to alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety. Recent studies in the rat have shown that long-term pretreatment with Gotu Kola decreases locomotor activity, enhance elevated-plus maze performance and attenuate acoustic startle response. In a double-blind, placebo-controlled study, the anxiolytic activity of Centella asiatica in healthy subjects was undertaken and compared to placebo, Gotu Kola significantly reduced peak acoustic startle response amplitude 30 and 60 minutes after treatment. In another clinical study, 70% hydroethanolic extract of Centella asiatica was given to 33 participants for two months and Hamilton’s Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale (BPRS) was used to screen the subjects. The results show that, Mandookaparni significantly attenuated anxiety related disorders. These preliminary findings suggest that Centella asiatica has anxiolytic activity in humans and it remains to be seen whether this herb has therapeutic efficacy in the treatment of anxiety syndromes in large population. Bacopa Read more […]

Stress: Ashwagandha

The roots of ashwagandha have long been used as “rasayana” drugs in Ayurvedic medicine to prevent or treat disease through the restoration of a healthy balance of life. Ashwagandha is used in Ayurvedic medicine as a general restorative medicine, and to improve general health, longevity, and prevent disease. Ashwagandha is much less stimulating than ginseng, making it preferable for patients with irritability, anxiety, and insomnia, and as a gentle tonic herb for the nervous system. The species name, somnifera, indicates the plant’s traditional use for sleep induction. Ashwagandha is immunomodu-latory and improves energy in patients experiencing stress-induced illness or exhaustion. It is indicated in inflammatory conditions, such as arthritis or other musculoskeletal disorders, and it is combined with other herbs in the treatment of cancer. Ashwagandha is used in Ayurveda and Unani systems of medicine for the treatment of pain, skin diseases, infection, inflammation, gastrointestinal disorders, rheumatism, and epilepsy. It is also used as a general tonic for the improvement of libido, liver health, mental state, cancer, heart disease, and the immune system. In vivo studies support its use for anti-inflammatory, immunomodulatory, Read more […]

Stress: Rhodiola

Rhodiola rosea, also called golden root, Arctic root, and rose root, grows in arctic and mountain regions throughout Europe, Asia, and America. Its use was first recorded by the Greek physician Dioscorides in 77 ce in De Materia Medica. It has been used for centuries as a traditional medicine in Russia, Scandinavia, and other countries for the treatment of fatigue, depression, anemia, impotence, GI ailments, infections, and nervous system disorders, and to promote physical endurance, longevity, and work productivity. Rhodiola appeared in the scientific literature of Sweden, Norway, France, Germany, the Soviet Union, and Iceland as early as 1725. Because most of the identified literature on this herb is from foreign language sources, I have relied largely upon secondary sources for this review. Rhodiola rosea has been an accepted medicine in Russia since 1969 for the treatment of fatigue, somatic and infectious illness, psychiatric and neurologic conditions, and as a psychostimulant to increase memory, attention span, and productivity in healthy individuals. It is also officially registered in Sweden and Denmark and is widely used in Scandinavia as a general tonic and to increase mental work ability under stress. Rhodiola Read more […]

Plants Used in Traditional Ayurvedic Medicine

Ayurvedic medicine is the oldest medical system in the world with written records in Sanskrit dating back at least 5000 years. It originates from the Indian subcontinent and has also influenced the traditional medical system in Thailand. The practice of Ayurvedic medicine is now widely used throughout the world as a complementary medicine. Areca catechu L. Arecoline is the major alkaloid of those present in betel or areca nuts, the fruit of the palm tree Areca catechu L. (Arecaceae), which is extensively chewed to induce salivation and euphoria throughout the Indian subcontinent and other parts of southeast Asia. It is estimated that 500 million people regularly chew betel nut (often referred to as ‘pan’ or ‘paan’ in India) in a form which is usually shredded, mixed with lime and wrapped in a leaf from the Piper betel Blanco (Piperaceae) plant, although chewing of betel nuts has been positively correlated with an incidence of oral cancer. As a direct result of the cholinergic activity induced by this plant, excessive salivation occurs, which is associated with a muscarinic effect, and CNS stimulatory and euphoric effects develop, which is considered to be associated with a nicotinic receptor stimulant effect. Arecoline Read more […]

Korean ginseng: Main Actions

Clinical note — Adaptogens Adaptogens are innocuous agents, non-specifically increasing resistance against physical, chemical or biological factors (stressors), having a normalising effect independent of the nature of the pathological state (original definition of adaptogen by Brekhman & Dardymov 1969). Adaptogens are natural bioregulators, which increase the ability of the organism to adapt to environmental factors and to avoid damage from such factor (revised definition by Panossian et al 1999). (Refer to the Siberian ginseng post for more information about adaptogens and allostasis.) ADAPTOGEN The pharmacological effects of ginseng are many and varied, contributing to its reputation as a potent adaptogen. The adrenal gland and the pituitary gland are both known to have an effect on the body’s ability to respond to stress and alter work capacity, and ginseng is thought to profoundly influence the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis. The active metabolites of protopanaxadiol and protopanaxatriol saponins reduce acetylcholine-induced catecholamine secretion in animal models and this may help to explain the purported antistress effects of ginseng. Ginseng has been shown in numerous animal experiments Read more […]