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 […]

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 […]

Podophyllum spp.

Lignans, as natural products, are distributed widely in the plant kingdom. More than 200 compounds in this general class have been identified. Lignans have aroused considerable interest because some of them display antitumor activities. This is particularly true of the podophyllotoxin group of lignans, which are constituents of the medical resin extracted from Podophyllum species. Podophyllotoxins are a particularly instructive class of natural products for consideration in the design and synthesis of potential anticancer agents based upon natural product prototypes. History The medical use of Podophyllum species dates back over 1000 years. At that time the roots of wild chervil were used in a salve for treating cancer in England. About 400-600 years ago, the natives of the Himalayas and the American Indians independently discovered that the aqueous extracts of the roots (podophyllin) from Podophyllum species was a canthartic and poison. After the American Indians introduced the use of podophyllin to the American colonists, it became such a popular drug that it was included in the US Pharmacopoeia in 1820 as a canthartic and cholagog and remained until 1942, when it was removed because of its severe toxicity. However, 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 […]

Solanum khasianum

Distribution and Importance of the Plant Solanum khasianum () which originates from India, is a widespread plant in Asia. The stem and leaves of this bushy annual or short-lived perennial plant are packed with spines. The plant is of commercial and medicinal importance because of its high content of steroidal alkaloids such as solasodine and its triglycosides solasonine and solamargine. For the pharmaceutical industry, solasodine has become increasingly interesting as a valuable starting compound for the synthesis of steroid hormones, such as cortisone and oral contraceptives. It can be readily converted to 16-dehydropregnenolone acetate, a key intermediate in the synthesis of steroid drugs, and therefore might serve as an alternative to the hitherto extensively used diosgenin. In addition to the use of solasodine as raw material for the synthesis of steroid hormones, the solasodine glycosides, solamargine and solasonine, show biological activities, which might be of medicinal value. The antitumoral effects of a Solarium sodomaeum glycoalkaloid extract, mainly consisting of the glycoal-kaloids solamargine and solasonine, have been described and this preparation has been recently used for treatment of certain skin 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 […]

Healing Powers of Aloes: Pharmacology and Therapeutic Applications

Constipation Aloe latex possesses laxative properties and has been used traditionally to treat constipation. The old practice of using aloe as a laxative drug is based on its content of anthraquinones like barbaloin, which is metabolised to the laxative aloe-emodin, isobarbaloin and chrysophanic acid. The term ‘aloe’ (or ‘aloin’) refers to a crystalline, concentrated form of the dried aloe latex. In addition, aloe latex contains large amounts of a resinous material. Following oral administration the stomach is quickly reached and the time required for passage into the intestine is determined by stomach content and gastric emptying rate. Glycosides are probably chemically stable in the stomach (pH 1–3) and the sugar moiety prevents their absorption into the upper part of the gastrointestinal tract and subsequent detoxification in the liver, which protects them from breakdown in the intestine before they reach their site of action in the colon and rectum. Once they have reached the large intestine the glycosides behave like pro-drugs, liberating the aglycones (aloe-emodin, rhein-emodin, chyrosophanol, etc.) that act as the laxatives. The metabolism takes place in the colon, where bacterial glycosidases are Read more […]

Macleaya spp.

The genus Macleaya belongs to the family Papaveraceae Juss. (Jussieu 1789), subfamily Papaveroideae, tribe Chelidonieae Reichb. (Reichenbach 1837). As early as 1826, the genus Macleaya was separated from the genus Bocconia L. by Robert Brown. It includes two closely related species Macleaya cordata (Willd.) R. Br. (= Bocconia cordata Willd.) native to Central to Eastern China and Central Japan, and Macleaya microcarpa (Maxim.) Fedde (= Bocconia microcarpa Maxim.) which originated from the regions of Central China, Kansu and North Shensi. M. cordata is an ornamental plant up to 3 m high and carrying splendid foliage. In 1795 it was introduced by G. Staunton into Middle European gardens. Common names for M. cordata are Federmohn (German), plume poppy or tree celandine (English), takenigusa or champagiku (Japanese), for M. microcarpa makleya melkoplodnaya (Russian). In 1971 a report was published on experiments to culture M. cordata experimental garden. Like all other members of the tribe Chelidonieae, Macleaya also possesses laticifers containing coloured latex in which alkaloids have been found. Table Alkaloids detected in plants and cell cultures in the genus Macleaya lists these alkaloids together with Read more […]

Ochrosia spp.

In recent years a worldwide search has been made for anti-cancerous agents of plant origin. As a result of these investigations, a large number of plant products have been identified as antineoplastic agents. However, in general, growth of these plants is slow and concentration of the compounds is extremely low. Furthermore, in some cases, it is difficult to obtain sufficient biomass because of the low propagation rate and the danger of extinguishing the plant species itself. The number of medicines used in anti-cancer chemotherapy is around 20; a large number of these drugs are, however, active but toxic. The compounds which intercalate with DNA are more interesting as antineoplastic therapeutic agents as compared to others. In this review, we will briefly survey the uses of ellipticine (an alkaloid isolated from Ochrosia species) and its derivatives as antitumor agents, and their production by plant tissue culture. The plant is commonly known as “bois jaune” “yellow wood” (for O. borbonica) in New Caledonia and “holei” (for O. sandwicensis) in Hawaii. Ochrosia spp.: Distribution The genus Ochrosia sensu lato consists of approximately 36 species of trees or woody shrubs occurring in Australia, and in islands of Read more […]

Bidens alba (Smooth Beggar-Tick) and Bidens pilosa (Hairy Beggar-Tick)

The genus Bidens (Compositae) is composed of approximately 230 species having a worldwide distribution in tropical and temperate regions. It is primarily a continental group, which has become established on some islands, notably the Hawaiian islands. The centers of diversity are Africa and the New World, with each center having about 100 species. Several species are so abundant that they are considered serious weeds. Two will be of particular concern here: Bidens alba var. radiata (Schultz-Bip.) Ballard and B. pilosa var. minor (Blume) Sherff, another member of the complex. B. alba var. radiata (smooth beggar-tick) occurs in south eastern Mexico into Central America and in Florida, U.S.A.; B. pilosa var. minor (hairy beggar-tick) is primarily restricted to Central America (Ballard 1986). B. pilosa var. minor and B. alba var. radiata are erect annual herbs with opposite pinnate leaves. Flowers are organized into a capitulum with yellow disc flowers and five or six white (occasionally purple) ray flowers which are 5-7 mm long and have a nonfunctional style in the former species and ray flowers 15-18 mm long with no style in the latter. Both plants, in common with most species of Bidens, are found in moist, disturbed Read more […]