Tagetes spp. (Marigolds)

Tagetes species were used by ancient civilizations like the Aztecs for various purposes (). The pigments of the flowers were used as a dye and in chicken feed, oil was extracted from the leaves and used as an ingredient of perfumes, and the roots were also assumed to have interesting properties. Field tests in the USA in the 1930s showed that larvae of a root-knot nematode entered the roots of marigolds, but usually failed to develop and neither reached the adult stage nor produced eggs (). In 1953, a Dutch bulb breeder () reported the biological activity of common garden marigolds (Tagetes patula) against root rot in Narcissus caused by free-living nematodes. The latter finding was an incentive for a scientific analysis of the effect of Tagetes plants by the crop protection industry and the academic world. A few years after the initial report by Van de Berg-Smit (), Uhlenbroek and Bijloo () isolated and described some active principles from Tagetes plants. These chemicals belonged to a group of heterocyclic sulphur-containing compounds, the thiophenes. The thiophene oe-terthienyl, which occurs in Tagetes and related species, was first synthesized in 1941 () and isolated from plants in 1947 (). In the past three Read more […]

Citrus in Traditional Medicine

Citrus in traditional Asiatic medicine In a comparative study of the use of herbal drugs in the traditional medicines of India and Europe, Pun () found a marked similarity between the drugs used in the two continents. He attributed this not only to the similarity of the vegetation in the two areas, but also to the influence that traditional Indian medicine, in particular the Atherveda, one of the most ancient repositories of human knowledge, had on Egypt, Greece and Rome. He listed the principal uses of a small number of these drugs, including bitter orange peel, which in India is used as an aromatic, stomachic, tonic, astringent and carminative agent, and lemon, which is used as a flavouring and for its carminative and stomachic effects. In the Valmiki-Ramayana, written after the Vedas and one of the most sacred of all religious books which enumerates the virtues of the medicinal plants that Lord Rama (Vishnu) met during his fourteen-year journey around different parts of India, Karnick and Hocking () identified and listed fifty of these drugs with their use as described in the Ayurvedica (or native Indian) system of medicine. The immature fruit of Citrus aurantifolia (Christm) Swingle was used as an fortifier, Read more […]


Importance and Distribution of the Genus The genus Stephania (Menispermaceae) comprises approximately 50 species distributed from Africa through Asia to Australia. The importance of the genus in traditional medicine in Asia and Africa is well documented. The underground tubers of the vines are generally characterized by powerful pharmacological effects. Stephania abyssinica is a creeper indigenous to southern and eastern Africa. The leaves of this plant are used as a purgative and emetic, whereas the roots are employed in the treatment of roundworm, menorrhagia and boils. Stephania bancroftii is used by the aboriginal communities of Australia both as a treatment for diarrhea and as a fish poison. Stephania cepharantha (), a perennial plant native to mainland China known by the vernacular name “bei-yan-zi”, is commonly used as a folk medicinal herb. Decoctions from the tuber of Stephania cepharantha are traditionally used in China to treat a number of diseases including parotiditis, gastric ulcer, leukopenia, alopecia areata and alopecia androgenetica. The major components of this crude drug, known as Cepharanthin preparations, are the bisbenzylisoquinoline (BBI) alkaloids cepharanthine, isotetrandrine and cycleanine. Stephania Read more […]

The Therapeutic Potential For Cannabis

┬źCannabis Use and Abuse by Man: An Historical Perspective┬╗ of this site provides a fascinating, historical account of the use of cannabis across many cultures and centuries. Suffice it to say here that any natural substance with over 5000 years of medical history will have attached to it a heritage of hearsay and legend through which one must sift to identify areas of true therapeutic potential for us in the late twentieth century and beyond. A summary of conditions for which cannabis has been used, ranging through various shades of rationality, appears in Table Medicinal and quasi-medicinal uses for cannabis and its derivatives: Indications for which only anecdote or reports of traditional use exist: aphrodisiac muscular spasm in rabies / tetanus Huntingdon’s chorea jaundice toothache earache tumour growth cough hysteria insanity menstrual cramps rheumatism movement disorders gut spasm pyrexia inflammed tonsils migraine headache increasing uterine  contractions in childbirth urinary retention/ bladder spasm parasite infection fatigue allergy fever herpetic pain hypertension joint inflammation diarrhoea malaria forgetfulness Indications Read more […]

Hyoscyamus spp.

The aim of this post is to review the published work on Hyoscyamus sp. plants and their in vitro-derived cultures in the context of their uses for drug and tropane alkaloid production. Hyoscyamus plants have been known to man from ancient times as a remedy for various diseases, and serve today also as a source of their pharmaceutically active constituents, the tropane alkaloids. The medicinal importance of scopolamine, hyoscyamine and atropine is illustrated by their presence in the list of the ten substances of plant origin most used as drugs in the USA in 1973. Due to their strong action on neuroreceptors, tropane alkaloids and chemically derived compounds thereof are presently employed as curative and prophylactic agents in various treatments. Recent advances in plant in vitro techniques open up new ways for plant improvement and for production of secondary metabolites. The progress in this field is given here for Hyoscyamus spp. and problems encountered with Hyoscyamus sp. cell cultures in tropane alkaloid production are discussed. This post will mainly deal with H. muticus and H. niger, the two Hyoscyamus species predominantly used in folk medicine, phytotherapy, and as a source of tropane alkaloids, and the most Read more […]

Haplophyllum patavinum (L.) G. Don fil. (Paduan rue)

Classification, Distribution, and Importance of the Plant The genus Haplophyllum belongs to the family Rutaceae. More than 70 species, growing from the Mediterranean region to eastern Siberia (most of them in western and central Asia), are assigned to this genus. Only eight species can be found in Europe (); H. patavinum (L.) G. Don fil. is the only species occurring in Italy. H. patavinum was first collected on the Euganean Hills (NE Italy), probably in 1722, by the Italian botanist Micheli, who described it as Pseudo-Ruta patavina (Micheli 1729) and stressed the differences from the genus Ruta (“plantae genus a Ruta diversum”). This species, described by Zanichelli (1730) as Pseudoruta Micheli, was then included by Linnaeus (1753) in the genus Ruta (Ruta patavina L.). De Jussieu (1825) split the genus Ruta into two genera, Ruta and Aplophyllum; the plant species from the Euganean Hills was assigned to the latter genus by Don (1831). Spach (1849) changed Aplophyllum into Haplophyllum. At present, there is general agreement regarding Haplophyllum as a genus distinct from Ruta, on the basis of morphological characters and chemical evidence. H. patavinum () belongs to the section Oligoon of the genus Haplophyllum 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 […]

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 […]

Onobrychis viciifolia Scop. (Sainfoin)

Distribution and Importance of Sainfoin Sainfoin (Onobrychis viciifolia Scop, (family Leguminoseae) is a perennial forage legume that has been grown in Europe and Asia for centuries. The most widely used common name, sainfoin, is derived from the French “saint foin” meaning holy or wholesome hay. Other common names include: holy or holy hay, French grass, everlasting grass, medick vetchling, cockshead, esparcet, or snail grass. Its botanical genus name, Onobrychis, comes from the Greek words “onos” meaning ass, and it is felt that brychis is derived from “bruchis”, a plant. This provides some insight into the value that was placed on this species because it had been noted that asses were particularly partial to sainfoin as a feed. Sainfoin grew in Russia as a forage crop over 1000 years ago and was noted in France in the 14th century, Germany in the 17th century, and Italy in the 18th century. The first introductions of sainfoin came to North America from Europe in the early 1900s, but its success as a forage crop did not occur until the 1960s when strains from Turkey and the USSR displayed the necessary adaptibility and yield to enable the development of cultivars for the Northern Great Plains and Canadian Prairies. Read more […]

Panax ginseng C. A. Meyer

The Oriental people traditionally use ginseng (Panax ginseng C. A. Meyer) roots and extracts for geriatric, tonic, stomachic, and aphrodisiac treatment. Brekhman and Dardymov reported the plant to possess anabolic, adaptogenic, anti-stress, hypothermic, central nervous system stimulation, radio-protective, antibiotic, minor hyperglycemic, and anticancer activity. The Korean workers Oh et al. and Hong et al. have reported that in mice the saponin fractions potentiate nembutal hypnosis, retard the onset of cocaine-induced convulsions, reduce body temperature, and enhance sexual behavior. Distribution and Importance of Ginseng Ginseng is a perennial herb with fleshy roots, an annual stem bearing a whorl of palmate compound leaves and a terminal simple umbel. In the over-populated regions of the natural range of ginseng in Eastern Asia, forests were destroyed, and ginseng was exterminated with the trees. However, in the less populated areas of higher altitudes and also of higher latitudes, different species of ginseng still grow, from the Eastern Himalayan region to Korea, Chinese Northeast, and Russian Far East. The commercially important species at present is Panax ginseng C.A. Meyer, which is grown in areas of 30-48 Read more […]