Perilla and the Treatment of Allergy

Perilla (Perilla frutescens Britt.), a traditional Chinese herb, has recently received special attention because of its beneficial effects in the treatment of some kinds of allergic reactions without the side effects associated with some other used antiallergy medicines. In this chapter, the authors present a review of the problem of allergy and the current favorable evidence for the use of Perilla products towards its resolution. The Allergy Problem Allergy is an abnormal immune reaction of the body to allergens such as pollen, dust, certain foods, drugs, animal fur, animal pets, animal excretions, feathers, microorganisms, cosmetics, textiles, dyes, smoke, chemical pollutants and insect stings. Certain conditions such as cold, heat, or light may also cause allergic symptoms in some susceptible people. Some allergens are just specific to some individuals but not to others. Allergens may act via inhalation, ingestion, injection or by contact with the skin. The resulting allergy may cause the victim to have a medical problem such as hay fever (allergicrhinitis), or atopic dermatitis (eczema), or allergic asthma, with symptoms ranging from sneezing, rhinorrhea, nasal itch, obstruction to nasal air-flow, loss of sense Read more […]

Ammi majus L. (Bishop’s Weed)

Distribution and Importance Ammi majus L. (Bishop’s weed) is a subtropical species belonging to the family Apiaceae. It is a widely distributed species in the Mediterranean region, from the Canary Islands to Iran. Its range covers North Africa (Morocco, Egypt, Ethiopia) and all of southern Europe. The species also occurs on other continents linder similar climatic conditions: in Argentina, southern United States, and less commonly in Australia and New Zealand. Ammi majus L. is regarded as the richest, natural source of linear furanocoumarins called psoralens. These compounds are found mostly in the fruits of this species. The psoralens are successfully applied in photochemotherapy of numerous dermatological diseases, e.g., in treating vitiligo, psoriasis, mycosis fungoides, atopic eczema, pityriasis lichenoides, urticaria pigmentosa, alopecia areata, and others. The therapy mostly makes use of photosensitizing and antiproliferating properties of psoralens. These properties are particularly enhanced in the presence of long-wavelength UV, called UV-A (λ = 320-400 nm), hence the treatment is often referred to as PUVA therapy (psoralens + UV-A). The use of fruits of Ammi majus in treating vitiligo has a long 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 […]

Coronilla Species

Distribution, Classification, and Importance of the Genus Coronilla The genus Coronilla s.l. (Fabaceae) consists of about 50 species of perennial shrubs and perennial or annual herbs occurring in North and Central Europe, the Canary Islands, the Mediterranean region, North Asia, China, and Somaliland. The genus was divided by Uhrova (1935) into four sections, namely the two monospecific sections Emerus and Ballia, the sections Eucoronilla (divided into five series), and Scorpioides. In the more recent revisions by Zoz and Jahn, the latter taking into consideration also chemotaxonomic aspects, Uhrova’s scheme was followed, with only minor differences in the treatment of the third section, called by them Coronilla. A complete systematic revision on the basis of morphoanatomical, cytological, geographical, and chemical characters led Schmidt to propose a new classification of the genus. In Schmidt’s scheme, the genus is divided into the two monospecific sections Emerus and Ballia, the section Coronilla with a reduced number of species, and the section Scorpioides, formerly including only C scorpioides (L.) Koch and C. repanda (Poir.) Guss., and now including eight additional species, namely: C. coronata L., C. ramosissima Read more […]

Evening Primrose (Oenothera Biennis)

Medical Uses Evening primrose is used for circulation problems caused by diabetes, for symptoms of premenstrual syndrome, and for benign breast pain. It may be beneficial in rheumatic conditions and atopic eczema. Historical Uses In the past, evening primrose has been used to treat female complaints, skin problems, and respiratory difficulties. Growth Evening primrose is a biennial North American plant with a beautiful, fragrant yellow flower that opens in the evening. It prefers sun and dry soil. The seeds are pressed into oil. Evening Primrose: Part Used • Seed, pressed into oil Major Chemical Compound • Gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) Evening Primrose: Clinical Uses Evening primrose is used for diabetic neuropathy, symptoms of premenstrual syndrome, and benign breast pain. It may be beneficial in rheumatic conditions and atopic eczema. In a survey of certified nursing midwives who used herbal preparations, 60 percent stated that they used evening primrose oil to stimulate labor. Mechanism of Action GLA is an essential fatty acid. These acids are essential for keeping cells healthy and for preventing cardiovascular disease, depression, infections, sterility, cancer, and dry hair and skin. Anti-inflammatory Read more […]

Eczema and dermatitis

Superficial inflammation of the skin, characterized by vesicles (when acute), redness, edema, oozing, crusting, scaling, and usually itching. (The Merck Manual) The terms eczema and dermatitis are the cause of much confusion. In keeping with the broad guidelines given in The Merck Manual, we shall use these terms synonymously to indicate superficial inflammation of the skin. The dermatologist subdivides dermatitis and eczema into a range of different disease entities distinguished by location and appearance. For the phytotherapist, however, the most important distinction is between cases with an internal or endogenous cause and those with a contact or exogenous cause. In cases of dermatitis or eczema of exogenous cause, it is often possible to solve the problem simply by removing or avoiding the surface irritant, if it can be identified! Such problems, often called contact dermatitis, are commonly caused by: • Industrial solvents • Dyes • Nickel and other metals • Leather-tanning chemicals • Some soaps In such cases, eczema is the final result of a complex series of internal reactions to allergens and irritants. It is often associated with other allergic diseases, such as hay fever and asthma, Read more […]

Herb-Drug Interactions: Evening primrose oil

Oenothera biennis L. (Onagraceae) Synonym(s) and related species Common evening primrose, King’s cureall, Sun drop, Tree primrose. Oenothera lamarkiana, Onagra biennis (L.) Scop. Pharmacopoeias Evening primrose oil (British Ph 2009, European Ph, 6th ed., 2008 and Supplements 6.1, 6.2, 6.3 and 6.4). Constituents The oil from evening primrose seeds contains the essential fatty acids of the omega-6 series, linoleic acid (about 65 to 85%) and gamolenic acid (gamma-linolenic acid, about 7 to 14%). Other fatty acids include oleic acid, alpha-linolenic acid, palmitic acid and stearic acid. Use and indications Evening primrose oil is used as a food supplement to provide essential fatty acids. It is also used for atopic eczema and mastalgia; however, in the UK licences for two prescription products containing gamolenic acid derived from evening primrose oil were withdrawn in 2002, due to lack of evidence in support of efficacy. Other conditions for which it is used include rheumatoid arthritis, premenstrual syndrome, menopausal symptoms, chronic fatigue syndrome and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Evening primrose oil has also been used topically as a cream, for the relief of dry or inflamed skin. Read more […]

Probiotics: Other Uses. Dosage

FOOD ALLERGIES High-level antigen exposure during the first few months of life is suspected of predisposing individuals to allergic sensitisation and, therefore, various atopic conditions such as skin reactions and even systemic or respiratory manifestations. Intestinal inflammation seems to be a predisposing factor in increased sensitisation of a subject, which in turn promotes further inflammation when antigen exposure occurs. Considering that the gut microflora is an important factor in regulating both the intestinal and systemic immune system, probiotics are used to promote endogenous barrier mechanisms, reduce gut permeability and alleviate intestinal inflammation in patients with atopic dermatitis and food. A 1 -month study of 10 breastfed infants who had atopic eczema and cow’s milk allergy found that L. GG reduced certain faecal inflammatory markers. Clinical note — The hygiene hypothesis The intestinal tract is the largest immune organ of the body. It produces more antibodies than any other part of the body and contains 80% of all antibody-producing cells. The intestinal mucosa functions as a barrier against infections, but it also provides communication between the different mucosal surfaces of the Read more […]

Probiotics: Clinical Use

It is generally agreed that a probiotic must be capable of colonising the intestinal tract to influence human health. Currently, one of the most extensively studied probiotics is Lactobacillus GG. Probiotic supplements are usually standardised in terms of the amount of living organisms per unit of volume and dosages range from 1 billion colonies to as high as 450 billion daily. DIARRHOEA Infectious diarrhea A Cochrane review analysed results from 23 RCTs that compared a specified probiotic agent with placebo or no probiotic in people with acute diarrhea proven or presumed to be caused by an infectious agent. Overall, 1917 volunteers were involved, of whom 1449 were infants or children (age <18 years). The review concluded that probiotics reduced the risk of diarrhea at 3 days and the mean duration of diarrhea by 30.5 hours and supplementation was a useful adjunct to rehydration therapy in treating acute, infectious diarrhea in adults and children. Several different probiotics were tested: all were lactic acid bacilli, except in two studies that tested the yeast Saccharomyces boulardii. With the exception of a trial of live Streptococcus thermophilus and Lactobacillus bulgaricus, a beneficial effect in the probiotic Read more […]