Hypericum canariense L.

Hypericum L. Shrubs or herbs of Hypericum L. species are distributed throughout the world. They are found in the Mediterranean region, Portugal, Spain, Canary Islands [Spain], Africa, Turkey, Australia, Tasmania, New Zealand, New Caledonia, Papua New Guinea, parts of South-East Asia, Sri Lanka, and from North to South America. Etymologically, the name Hypericum L. was first used by Linnaeus. It comes from hyper (over) and eikon (image), on account of the image that appears on the petals. According to other botanists, the name comes from hypo and ereikn or erikn meaning “plant that grows under heathers”; it could also come from hyper and eikon meaning “plant resembling a ghost’s image or plant with an air of mystery”. Chemistry Many authors reported on the chemical composition and the variability of the main components in different species of Hypericum L.. However, the chemical study of this genus began with Hypericum perforatum L. in 1830 with the pioneering isolation of hypericin by Bruchner, who named the compound “hypericum red”. About one century later, in 1911, the compound was identified and renamed hypericin by Cerny, who also isolated other similar constituents without a proven structure determination, because 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 […]

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 […]

Oenothera Species (Evening Primrose)

The Plant Species of the genus Oenothera L. (Onagra Miller) from the family Onagraceae are characteristic of America, the homeland of species acclimated in Europe. The American flora has the most numerous representatives; plants of these species can be found in natural localities, or they are grown as decorative plants with white, pink to reddish purple, or mostly bright yellow flowers. A few species are also found in Russia. At present, the genus Oenothera is believed to be distributed throughout the world with the exception of Antarctica. The genus Oenothera is divided into 14 sections. As a result of the creation of hybrid forms, pure single-species populations of this genus are becoming more and more rare. There are two groups of taxonomists, differing in their opinions on its systematics. The total number of Oenothera species is estimated at 123 by American taxonomists, and at 212 by European authors. By 1992, 26 species and permanent hybrids had been found in Poland, grouped in three series: Devriesia (3 species), Oenothera (16 species), and Rugglesia (7 species). The species of the genus in question are herbaceous plants, annual, biennial or perennial, with single leaves, sometimes bipinnated, without Read more […]

Black Nightshade, Terong Meranti, Poison Berry

Solanum nigrum L. (Solanaceae) Solanum nigrum L. is a small herb, up to 1.5 m tall. Leaves are ovate, ovate-oblong, glabrous, hairy, 1-16 cm by 0.25-12 cm. Inflorescence of 2-10 in an extra-axillary cluster, with white or purple corolla and yellow central protrusion. Fruit is globose, black in colour but is green when immature, 0.5 cm in diameter, with many seeds. Origin Native to Southwest Asia, Europe, India and Japan. Phytoconstituents Solanidine, α-, β-, γ-chaconine, desgalactotigonin, α-, β-solamargine, diosgenin, solanadiol, α-, β-, γ-solanines, soladulcidine, solanocapsine, α-, β-solansodamine, solasodine, α-solasonine, tigogenin, tomatidenol, uttronins A and B, uttrosides A and B, solanigroside A-H and others. Traditional Medicinal Uses The stem, leaves and roots are used as a decoction for wounds, tumours and cancerous growths, sores and as an astringent. They are also used as a condiment, stimulant, tonic, for treatment of piles, dysentery, abdominal pain, inflammation of bladder, relief of asthma, bronchitis, coughs, eye ailments, itch, psoriasis, skin diseases, eczema, ulcer, relief of cramps, rheumatism, neuralgia and expulsion of excess fluids. The roots are used as an expectorant. The Read more […]

Indian Almond, Katapang

Terminalia catappa L. (Combretaceae) Terminalia catappa L. is a tall tree, up to 25 m tall. Branches are horizontally whorled, giving it a pagoda shape. Leaves are shiny, obovate, 10-25 cm long, tapering to a short thick petiole. Leaves are yellow that turn red before shedding. Flowers are small and white. Fruits have smooth outer coat, 3-6 cm long, flattened edges, with a pointed end. Pericarp is fibrous and fleshy. Origin Native to tropical and temperate Asia, Australasia, the Pacific and Madagascar. Phytoconstituents Catappanin A, chebulagic acid, 1-desgalloylleugeniin, geraniin, granatin B, punicalagin, punicalin, tercatain, terflavins A & B, tergallagin, euginic acid and others. Traditional Medicinal Uses Terminalia catappa has been used to treat dysentery in a number of Southeast Asian countries. In Indonesia, the leaves are used as a dressing for swollen rheumatic joints while in the Philippines, they are used to expel worms. In Karkar Island, New Guinea, juice from the squeezed leaves is applied to sores and the sap from the white stem pith is squeezed and drunk to relieve cough. In Nasingalatu, Papua New Guinea, the flower is crushed, mixed with water and drunk to induce sterility. In New Britain, Read more […]

Scoparia dulcis L. (Sweet Broomweed)

Sweet broomweed (Scoparia dulcis L., Scrophulariaceae) is a perennial herb widely distributed in the torrid zone. The original habitat of this plant is tropical America. Stems are erect, branching, and sometimes woody at the base, 25-80 cm tall. Roots are pale yellow and straight, 10-15 cm long, with many lateral roots. Leaves are lanceolate, elliptical, or obovate, 5-20 mm long, with serrations at the edge, and are opposite or verticillate. The plant has small, white flowers with four calices. The corrola is actinomorphic and split in four. Flowers are 4-5 mm in diameter and bear four stamens and a pistil. Flowering time is summer and autumn. After flowering, ovate or globular capsules mature (2-3 mm in diameter), which contain many powder-like seeds. In tropical and subtropical regions of Asia, Africa, and South and Central America, the fresh or dried plant of S. dulcis has traditionally been used as a medicament for stomach disorders, bronchitis, diabetes, hypertension, hemorroids and hepatosis, and as an analgesic and antipyretic. The antidiabetic activity of the Indian S. dulcis is attributed to the glycoside ammelin obtained from the fresh plant. The methanolic and water extracts from roots of Formosan S. Read more […]

Phyllanthus Species

Distribution and Importance of Phyllanthus Species Phyllanthus is a large and complex genus in the Euphorbiaceae, currently thought to contain between 550 and 750 species in 11 subgenera. While most commonly found in the tropics, species occur from tropical to mildly temperate zones on all continents except Europe and Antarctica. Some weedy species have become dispersed throughout most of the tropics, but many others are fairly restricted in known range. Two fruit-bearing trees, P. acidus L. and P. emblica L., have been minor items of commerce for centuries. Some species have widely dispersed records of medicinal use, but generally the plants so used have not been cultivated. Webster, who is working on a global revision of the genus, believes the subgenera fall into the evolutionary affinity groupings of: (a) Isocladus; (b) Kirganelia-Cicca-Emblica; (c) Phyllanthus; (d) Conami-Gomphidium-Phyllanthodendron; (e) Xylophylla-Botryanthus; and (f) Eriococcus. Species of the subgenera Eriococcus and Phyllanthodendron are known only from Asia. Species of the affinity grouping Xylophylla-Botryanthus are known only from the Americas, including the West Indies. The remaining affinity groups all include species indigenous to 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 […]

Eremophila Species (Poverty Bush; Emu Bush)

Distribution and Importance of Eremophila Species The genus Eremophila (Myoporaceae) consists of woody shrubs and trees which typically grow in low rainfall areas and are characterized by the viscid to resinous vegetative parts, ebracteate flowers and indehiscent woody fruit. In terms of biogeographical distribution, Eremophila is one of the most significant Australian desert genera. Of the 210 Eremophila species recognized by Chinnock, 175 occur throughout Western Australia. Seventy-five percent of the species are entomophilous, the remainder being ornithophilous. The genus is an important component of the semi-arid vegetation of pastoral zones and many species are browsed by animals when the plants are at the seedling stage. Some Eremophila species, e.g. E. gilesii F. Muell. and E. mitchellii Benth., are regarded as woody weeds. Many species occur on impoverished soil and, as a consequence, they are collectively referred to as poverty bush. Since emus favour the fruits of some Eremophila species, the term emu bush is also commonly used. Eremophila species have been highly valued for medicinal and cultural purposes by the Aboriginal people in central Australia. The use of different species in the cure or alleviation Read more […]