IMMUNOSUPPRESSANTS are agents that inhibit the body’s reaction to infection or foreign bodies. In this capacity, drugs with this property may be used to prevent tissue rejection following donor grafting or transplant surgery (though there is then the risk of unopposed infection). Also, immunosuppressants are used to treat autoimmune diseases (where the immune system is triggered into acting against systems in the body), including disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus erythematosus, and also to treat collagen disorders. These agents include cyclosporin, rapamycin and tacrolimus, cytotoxic agents such as azathioprine and cyclophosphamide. and the glucocorticoids. These will be discussed in turn. Cyclosporin is technically an antibiotic, which was discovered serendipitously during a search for antifungal agents and is unique in having a selective action on lymphocytes. It is a cyclic peptide of 11 residues – some previously unknown. It is particularly important as an immunosuppressant in limiting tissue rejection during and following organ transplant surgery. It can also be used to treat severe active rheumatoid arthritis and some skin conditions, such as severe resistant atopic dermatitis and (under supervision) Read more […]


ANTICOLITIS AGENTS are used to treat inflammation of the colon. This inflammation can be due to many things, and is usually characterized by pain in the lower bowel, diarrhoea, sometimes with mucus and blood in the faeces. The treatment depends on diagnosis and severity. Aminosalicylates contain a 5-aminosalicylic acid component and these drugs are used primarily to treat active Crohn’s disease, and to induce and maintain remission of the symptoms of ulcerative colitis. Drugs in this group include mesalazine (which is 5-aminosalicylicacid itself), olsalazine sodium (which links two molecules of 5-aminosalicylic acid), balsalazide (a prodrug of mesalazine) and sulfasalazine (which chemically combines 5-aminosalicylic acid with the antibacterial sulphonamide sulfapyridine). Antiinflammatory CORTICOSTEROIDS, especially prednisolone, are also effective in the treatment of ulcerative colitis, inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn’s disease, rectal or anal inflammation and haemorrhoids. Azathioprine is a powerful cytotoxic agent, an IMMUNO-SUPPRESSANT used to treat ulcerative colitis and other autoimmune diseases. Administration is oral or by injection. Colitis may result from various gut infections, especially amoebic Read more […]


ANTICANCER AGENTS are commonly referred to as antineoplastic agents, however, by strict definition, antineoplastic agents are used to treat a neoplasm’ (meaning a ‘new growth’). Neoplasms that have only the characteristic of localized growth are classified as benign. Neoplasms with the additional characteristic of invasiveness, and/or the capacity to metastasise, are classified as malignant. The term cancer’ is usually applied only to the latter group. Similarly, the word tumour (meaning literally ‘a local swelling’) tends to be used in association with cancer, and antineoplastic agent’ is commonly interchangeable with ‘anticancer’. There are a number of approaches to the chemotherapy of cancer, and most can be regarded as complementary or additional to radiotherapy and surgery. Direct approaches to cancer mostly use cytotoxic agents: these work by interfering with cell replication or production, so preventing the growth of new cancerous tissue. Inevitably, this means that normal cell production is also affected, causing serious side-effects. There are many cytotoxic agents with diverse modes of action, but these can be divided into groups on the basis of their mechanisms of action. Alkylating agents and related Read more […]

Rosemary: Background. Actions

Common Name Rosemary Other Names Compass plant, compass-weed, garden rosemary, old man, polar plant, Rosmarini folium Botanical Name / Family Rosmarinus officinalis (family Labiatae or Lamiaceae) Plant Part Used Fresh or dried leaf Chemical Components Phenolic acids and diterpenoid bitter substances, including carnosic acid and carnosol, triterpenoid acids, flavonoids, tannins and volatile oils (0.5-2.5%) that consist of cineole, pinene, terpineol, camphor, camphene, borneol and bornyl acetate. Rosemary has also been found to contain high amounts of salicylates. Historical Note Since ancient times rosemary has been used as a tonic and stimulant. The ancient Greeks used it to strengthen memory function and scholars wore garlands of rosemary during examinations in order to improve their memory and concentration. It is widely used as a food spice and as an antioxidant to preserve foods. Rosemary: Main Actions ANTIOXIDANT Rosemary has strong antioxidant activity and is widely used to preserve food and cosmetics. Rosemary leaf extract has been shown to enhance superoxide dismutase activity and to have an effect stronger than vitamin E in scavenging oxygen radicals. It is suggested that carnosol and carnosic Read more […]

Sage: Background. Actions

Common Name Sage Other Names Broad-leafed sage, common sage, dalmatian sage, garden sage, meadow sage, Spanish sage, true sage Botanical Name / Family Salvia officinalis, Salvia lavandulaefolia (family Labiatae or Lamiaceae) Plant Part Used Leaf Chemical Components The leaves contain up to 2.5% essential oil, which contains thujone, cineol and camphor, as well as humulene, pinene, camphene, limonene, carnosol and rosmarinicacid. In addition, the leaves contain catechin-type tannins, diterpene bitter principles, triterpenes, steroids, flavones, and flavonoid glycosides, together with polysaccharides. Sage is a rich source of beta-carotene, vitamins C and B-complex. Pharmacopoeial grade sage leaf must contain not less than 1.5% thujone-rich volatile oil. Historical Note Sage has been used since ancient times as an antiseptic, astringent and to reduce sweating. The name ‘Salvia’ derives from the Latin salvere (to be saved). Sage oil is used as a culinary spice and as a fragrance in soaps and perfumes. The fragrance is said to suppress the odour offish. Sage: Main Actions ANTIMICROBIAL Sage is reported to have antimicrobial activity attributed to the thujone, thymol and eugenol content of the volatile oil, Read more […]