Artemisia Species in Traditional Chinese Medicine and the Discovery of Artemisinin

Qing hao-an antimalarial herb A herb, named Qing Hao (usually pronounced ching how) in Chinese, sweet Annie or sweet wormwood in English, and properly known as Artemisia annua L. has become well known in western countries during the last 20 years. Herbal companies, which deal with traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), receive several inquiries concerning this herb every day. A. question commonly asked by those about to travel to Africa or S.E. Asia is “Can I take the herb called Qing Hao to prevent malaria during my trip?” Unfortunately, the answer has disappointed many people because although this herb is used for the treatment of malaria in TCM, usually combined with other herbs, it is not recommended for the prevention of the disease or as a deterrent to mosquitoes. However, the leaves of Qing Hao were burned as a fumigant insecticide to kill mosquitoes in ancient China but this practice no longer continues today since the development and marketing of more efficient mosquito-repellant devices. The discovery of artemisinin Qing Hao is a herb commonly used in China with a long history of use as an antipyretic to treat the alternate chill and fever symptoms of malaria and other “heat syndromes” in the traditional Chinese 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 […]

Cephaloceveus senilis (Old-Man-Cactus)

The abundance of cacti in arid lands is, at least in part, due to several biochemical and anatomical adaptations that cacti have for minimizing water loss. To what degree members of the Cactaceae have evolved defenses against microbial attack or insect feeding is not as well studied. In this chapter we will examine how one biosynthetic pathway, the route leading to flavonoid synthesis, responds to conditions which simulate bacterial infection. The chemical and biochemical studies have focused on a popular ornamental species, Cephaloceveus senilis (old-man-cactus) Most members of the Cactaceae are xerophytes living in desert or semiarid habitats in which rainfall is low and the amount of water present in the soil is very limited for much of the year. These perennial dicots, with specialized water-saving properties, are well suited for such water-stressed conditions. They are capable of storing water by way of their succulent stems and a specialized cuticle cover, which is rich in waxes, thereby reducing evaporation. In addition, cacti possess a metabolic adaptation, crassulacean acid metabolism (CAM), designed to lessen water loss during photosynthesis. This latter adaptation minimizes water loss from diurnal transpiration Read more […]

Baptisia tinctoria (L.) R. Brown

Botany, Distribution, and Importance Baptisia tinctoria (L.) R. Brown (synonyms: Sophora tinctoria L., Polydaria tinctoria Michaux Willd., commonly known as rattle bush, horsefly weed, indigo weed, yellow indigo, or yellow clover broom) and other members of the genus Baptisia were traditional medicinal plants for the American natives (Millspaugh 1887). Leaves of B. tinctoria were also used as a plant-derived dye (Gr. bapto, Lat. tingere: dye). It is a member of the family of Fabaceae (Leguminosae) and forms bushy shrubs up to 1 m high with woody perennial rhizomes and roots and annual aboveground parts. The round stems are usually erect, often widely branched, glabrous, occasionally slightly pubescent and yellowish green. The subsessile leaves are terminately compound, with subsessile cuneate, obovate leaflets of 1 to 1.5 cm length, and are bluish green in color. The yellow flowers form loose terminal axillary racemes. The floral bracts are lanceolate-setaceous to ovate acuminate, the pedicels are 4 to 5 mm long, the calyx tube length is 3 to 4 mm. The corolla is papilionaceous, the upper part (standard) is about 1 cm long, the wings and the keel about 1.2 to 1.3 cm. The keel is curving upwards. The ten equally Read more […]

The Use of Echinacea in Pregnancy and Lactation

Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is an umbrella term that covers a number of healthcare modalities that generally fall outside the realm of the conventional medical model. Herbal medicine is considered to be a primary complementary and alternative therapy. In recent years, the use of herbal products has increased dramatically, particularly in developed countries, by people who wish to maintain good health and reduce the need for conventional drug therapy. Echinacea products are among the most popular phytomedicines. While these remedies have a long history of use in pregnancy, during delivery, and for lactation, clinically relevant sources of information on the safety and risk of such products are lacking. Given the great variation in product composition and constituent concentration, the actual safety of Echinacea has not been easy to study in pregnancy and lactation. To date, there is only one published study that has examined the safety of Echinacea use during pregnancy for upper respiratory tract ailments. Pregnancy Facts There is an underlying baseline risk for malformations associated with every pregnancy, regardless of the mother’s exposure to a substance of concern. As a result, the primary Read more […]

Anxiety Disorders: Rule-Outs And Comorbid Disorders

Anxiety disorders commonly co-occur with other disorders, and some disorders not classified as anxiety disorders may include features of anxiety, complicating the diagnosis. It is imperative for mental health professionals to carefully examine all symptoms in order to perform a comprehensive differential diagnosis. In order to select an appropriate therapeutic compound, the diagnosis must be parsimonious, but at the same time it must account for all symptoms that are evident. To assist clinicians, this section reviews the disorders commonly associated with anxiety that need to be examined when rule-outs and comorbidities are considered. Mood Disorders Depression and anxiety frequently co-occur. In one study, 10-15 percent of children and adolescents with anxiety disorders also had clinical depression, and about 25-50 percent of youths with depression also had an anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders and depression are both considered ‘internalizing’ disorders where stress is experienced through internal discomfort (rather than behavioral disturbances commonly associated with ‘externalizing’ disorder, like ADHD). Hyperarousal is characteristic of anxiety disorders, but may also be a feature of depression, as well as Read more […]

Respiratory System: Herbal Treatment of Children

The Function Of The Respiratory System To ensure sufficient intake of oxygen it is vital for children to have a fully functioning respiratory system, to have plenty of fresh air and exercise every day and that they breathe properly. The quality of the air breathed in is also of vital importance. Children’s lungs are delicate organs susceptible to external factors including heat, dust, moulds, pathogenic micro-organisms and chemical irritants. The pollution in the air, cigarette smoke, carbon monoxide, lead from car fumes, etc., becomes pollution in their lungs, which is then carried in the blood all round the body. According to Western medicine the main function of the lungs is the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide and the maintenance of acid-base in the body. We also know that the air we breathe is not only vital to our physiological functioning, but also to our more subtle processes. In India air is called “prana”, the breath of life. Not only are we breathing in gases vital for normal functioning of our cells and tissues, but we are also taking in the energy of the atmosphere around us which radiates from the trees and other green plants and ultimately from the sun. Correct breathing is vital for our nerves Read more […]

Sore Throats

The defences of the throat can be vulnerable to a number of different pathogenic micro-organisms, viral and bacterial, either in the nose, the sinuses, the mouth or the lungs as well as by general systemic health. Sore throats, like all other symptoms, need to be seen in the wider context of the child’s general health and well-being, not simply the microorganisms involved. An infection will develop only where the environment is hospitable for the microbes to settle and multiply. One common cause of a mild sore throat on waking is central heating, as it causes low humidity. At night during sleep the mucous membranes of the nose dry out and swell, congesting the nose and causing mouth breathing. The low humidity irritates the mucous membranes in the throat causing discomfort. Placing a dehumidifier / vaporizer in the bedroom should easily remedy this. When tonsils, adenoids and other lymph glands around the throat become swollen and painful, they are merely doing their work, along with other lymphatic tissue in the body, to defend the body from infection. Lymphocytes produced by the tonsils and adenoids are the first line of defence against airborne pathogens that are inhaled through the nose and mouth. Once the Read more […]

Tonsillitis

Tonsils and adenoids provide a first defence against atmospheric pollution and infection entering the body through the mouth and nose. They also filter poisons in the bloodstream and those draining from the nose and sinuses. When they become swollen, inflamed and painful during an infection, they are responding to an increased demand for their cleansing work in an attempt to throw it off. The tonsils in so doing are fulfilling their protective role by inhibiting the spread of infection further into the body. For this reason the surgical removal of the tonsils should only be a last resort. Tonsillitis can be both acute and chronic. Acute tonsillitis flares up in response to a viral or a bacterial infection, and tends to occur when there is low vital energy, excess toxins in the body and catarrhal congestion. It frequently heralds or accompanies a cold or flu virus, laryngitis or mumps. When bacterial, the onset is sudden with a severe sore throat and swollen neck glands, often with a fever, but with no or few other upper respiratory symptoms. The streptococcal bacterium involved can, in rare cases, affect the kidneys (causing nephritis) or the heart (in rheumatic fever). This means that the first signs of bacterial Read more […]

Herbs For Seasonal Influenza

Flu usually refers to viral infections of the upper respiratory tract that are common and usually seasonal. Flu can also refer to seasonal, infectious gastrointestinal upset but this chapter focuses on respiratory influenza. Influenza is technically caused by one of three types of influenza viruses (A, B, or C), but many other viruses cause various flu-like syndromes. The viruses spread between people by airborne respiratory droplets, commonly in the late fall and winter. Recently it has been shown that cool temperatures in the autumn and winter stabilize and protect viruses for longer, thus enhancing transmission. Symptoms include runny nose, sore throat, nonproductive cough, fever, headache, muscle ache, and fatigue. In simple cases, the acute symptoms lessen within five days. Cough and fatigue, however, can persist. Viral pneumonia and secondary bacterial infections can be complications of flu; so ongoing fatigue and lung involvement are a red flag calling for medical evaluation, especially in the more vulnerable groups: young children, seniors, diabetics, the immune compromised (HIV, hepatitis, mononucleosis, etc.) and overworked, fatigued adults. Influenza A is clinically the most important strain and its infection Read more […]