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 […]

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 […]

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 […]


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 […]

Figwort: Use In Arthritis?

Recent research has led to recommendations for increased use in inflammatory disease, especially in arthritis. This recommendation relies on the iridoid glycoside content. Iridoids are found in many Scrophularia species and an iridoid of special interest in Scrophularia species is harpagoside. This is amongst the active constituents of devil’s claw Harpagophytum procumbens, widely used in arthritis to reduce pain and inflammation. The use of Harpagophytum procumbens is of conservation concern because it is collected in the wild in the Namibian desert. Sesterhenn et al (2007) propose that Scrophularia nodosa could be a useful substitute as they found that the concentration of harpagoside in the leaves is similar to that in tubers of Harpagophytum procumbens. Faivre (2007) argues that the high concentration of harpagoside in a standardized fluid extract prepared from fresh plant material alongside the aucubin found in Scrophularia species but not in Harpagophytum procumbens, and the associated phenolic acids such as ver-bascoside, make Scrophularia nodosa a significant herb in the treatment of functional and arthritic joint disease. Faivre (2007) claims that it is very well tolerated and particularly useful in exacerbations Read more […]

Olive: Clinical Use. Dosage

Olive oil has been studied as a stand-alone entity in some studies; however, it is generally studied as part of the Mediterranean diet where it is the principal source of fat and considered a key contributor to the diet’s many healthy benefits. As a reflection of this, research into the Mediterranean diet is included in this monograph; however, the contribution of olive oil to these results remains unclear. In contrast, olive leaf extract has not been significantly tested under clinically controlled conditions, so evidence is mainly derived from traditional, in vitro and animal studies. Clinical note — What is the Mediterranean diet? The Mediterranean diet studied in most trials is based on the traditional diet of Greece. It is low in saturated fat and high in monounsaturated fat (oleic acid:omega-9 = 18:1), mainly from olive oil; high in complex carbohydrates, from legumes; and high in fibre, mostly from vegetables and fruits. Total fat may be high (>40% of total energy intake), but the monounsaturated to saturated fat ratio is around 2. The high content of vegetables, fresh fruits, cereals, and olive oil guarantees a high intake of beta-carotene, vitamins B6, B12, C, and E, polyphenols, and various minerals. CARDIOVASCULAR Read more […]