Macleaya spp.

The genus Macleaya belongs to the family Papaveraceae Juss. (Jussieu 1789), subfamily Papaveroideae, tribe Chelidonieae Reichb. (Reichenbach 1837). As early as 1826, the genus Macleaya was separated from the genus Bocconia L. by Robert Brown. It includes two closely related species Macleaya cordata (Willd.) R. Br. (= Bocconia cordata Willd.) native to Central to Eastern China and Central Japan, and Macleaya microcarpa (Maxim.) Fedde (= Bocconia microcarpa Maxim.) which originated from the regions of Central China, Kansu and North Shensi. M. cordata is an ornamental plant up to 3 m high and carrying splendid foliage. In 1795 it was introduced by G. Staunton into Middle European gardens. Common names for M. cordata are Federmohn (German), plume poppy or tree celandine (English), takenigusa or champagiku (Japanese), for M. microcarpa makleya melkoplodnaya (Russian). In 1971 a report was published on experiments to culture M. cordata experimental garden. Like all other members of the tribe Chelidonieae, Macleaya also possesses laticifers containing coloured latex in which alkaloids have been found. Table Alkaloids detected in plants and cell cultures in the genus Macleaya lists these alkaloids together with Read more […]

Arnica montana (Mountain Arnica)

Arnica montana (mountain arnica) is a very old medicinal plant. The flower and flower heads are widely used in phytotherapy in numerous preparations. They have a broad spectrum of effects: bacteriostatic, fungistatic, antiinflammatory, antirheumatic, cardiotonic, and antihyperlipidemic. The industrial demand for Arnica montana of a standardized quality in its active substances is inconsistent with the still practiced wild collection of mountain arnica, its protected status in several European countries, and the difficulties in its cultivation. There are four different approaches to meet the industrial demand for Arnica and guarantee the supply of a standardized plant drug or of its active substances: (1) improvement of the cultivation of Arnica montana; (2) cultivation of other Arnica species with a similar pharmacological effect; (3) micropropagation for the production of a standardized quality; (4) in vitro production of secondary metabolites in cell cultures. In this chapter, literature on the distribution and importance of Arnica species and on the conventional and biotechnical approaches to their improvement and production is reviewed, and prospects for the latter approaches are discussed. Botany, Read more […]

Melissa officinalis L. (Lemon Balm)

Botany, Distribution, Constituents, and Importance of the Plant The genus Melissa belongs to the family Labiatae (Lamiaceae) and comprises erect branched herbs with crenate opposite leaves and a two-lipped corolla. It includes very few species, which chiefly occur in many parts of Europe and Asia. For the European region two individual species are differentiated by the Flora Europaea (): M. officinalis L. (comprising the two subspecies officinalis and altissima () Arcangeli, and M. bicornis Klokov, which may be identical with the subspecies altissima. In contrast, the Flora of Turkey () specifies only one species (M. officinalis L.), which is subdivided into three subspecies: a)  officinalis b)  altissima (Sm.) Arcangeli and c)  inodora (Bornm.) Bornm. Intermediates between all three subspecies can occur. In the area of Southern Europe and Middle Asia three Melissa species are characterized by Engler and Prantl (1889): M. officinalis L., M. parviflora Benth., and M. flava Benth. The last two species are also included in the Flora of British India (Hooker 1885). In the Flora Malesiana the species Melissa axillaris Barkh. f. 1963 is described which includes M. parviflora Benth. and M. hirsuta Read more […]

Earache: Herbal Treatment of Children

Earache can be related to pain in the throat, gums, teeth or parotid glands (in mumps), which radiates to the ear. It can also be due to inflammation of the outer ear canal, and associated with swelling and an irritating discharge. Most commonly, however, especially in children under six, earache is caused by middle ear infection (otitis media). This may be either acute or chronic. Acute infections can occur as a sequel to other infections including colds, tonsillitis, measles or allergies. Infection of the outer ear can be caused by an object stuck in the ear, a boil in the ear canal, scratching or fiddling with the ear (which often happens with a skin irritation such as eczema in or around the ears); or from chlorine in swimming pools, which can irritate the skin of children who swim frequently and who do not dry their ears properly. Any discharge in the outer ear can be washed away gently with a warm infusion of antiseptic herbs, such as chamomile, elderflowers, golden seal (Hydrastis canadensis) or marigold, or a few drops of tincture can be used in warm water. One or two drops of warm olive oil with a few drops of essential oil of either chamomile or lavender (two drops to a teaspoon of oil) can be inserted Read more […]

Ageratina adenophora

The family Asteraceae comprises some 20,000 species and is the second largest family of higher plants. Considering the size of this family it is interesting to note that relatively few species are commercially exploited as food plants, whereas a comparatively large number is known to accumulate poisonous natural products such as sesquiterpene lactones that are cytotoxic or elicit contact allergy or liver toxic pyrrolizidine alkaloids. In evolutionary terms, the Asteraceae is still a young plant family that has nevertheless successfully spread worldwide. There is now increasing evidence suggesting that the accumulation of toxic natural products forms a major ecological contribution to the successful radiation of the Asteraceae as well as of other families, enabling plants to fight off herbivors or pathogenic microorganisms. In search of new sources of potentially useful natural products that may become important as key structures for designing new drugs or agrochemicals, it is appropriate to focus on those species that are the most vigorous and have successfully adapted to different habitats, since they can be expected to contain an effective arsenal of interesting biologically active compounds. A representative of Read more […]

Vulvovaginitis: Antimicrobial Therapy

Antimicrobial herbs are used as primary treatments in cases of vulvovaginitis when due to infectious causes. For acute infections, they are generally used solely as topical applications. For recurrent cases, external application is combined with oral use. Internal treatment should focus on immune supporting and antimicrobial botanicals, including echinacea, garlic, goldenseal, Oregon grape root, Pau d’arco, astragalus, and various medicinal mushroom species such as maitake and reishi medicinal mushrooms. Also see site for a discussion on adaptogens and immune support. Numerous herbs have exhibited both broad spectrum and specific antimicrobial activities. Although treatment approaches vary with each of the different infectious causes of vulvovaginitis, antimicrobial herbs are usually applied generically regardless of the infectious agent. There appears to be little, if any risk of resistance with herbal treatments; however, labs specializing in delivering services to complementary and alternative medicine practitioners sometimes do sensitivity and specificity testing for natural agents with screening for vaginal infections. This is unnecessary except in chronic, recurrent, or intractable cases. Garlic Garlic is Read more […]

Group B Strep Infection In Pregnancy

In the 1970s, Group B Streptococcus (GBS), infection with Streptococcus agalactiae, emerged as a leading cause of pneumonia, sepsis, and meningitis in newborns. Group B Streptococcus is a normal inhabitant of the intestinal tract and colonizes the vaginal tracts of many women; it can be demonstrated by culture of combined rectal and vaginal swabs in 15% to 40% of pregnant women on random sampling. Most bacterial transmission to the neonate occurs during birth via passage of the baby through the birth canal, or via ascendant bacteria during labor with ruptured membranes. Premature babies and babies of mothers with premature or prolonged rupture of membranes (PROM) are at higher risk of infection. Group B Streptococcus can also cross the membranes, so cesarean section is not protective and carries additional surgical risks to the mother. Infection is categorized as either early or late onset. Early-onset disease symptoms manifest within a few hours, and up to a week after birth. Antibiotic prophylaxis administered to the mother during labor, as is discussed in the following, is used to prevent early-onset infection in the neonate. Late-onset disease develops through contact with hospital nursery personnel and usually Read more […]


ANTITUBERCULAR AGENTS (antituberculous agents) are used to treat tuberculosis (TB), which is a disease caused by Mycobacter tuberculosis. In the past, tuberculosis was a major killer, but mortality rates in developing countries showed a steady decline with increasing affluence, and there were dramatic falls in the rates in the 20th Century with the introduction of the BCG vaccination, which was then followed with the development of effective chemotherapy for treat tuberculosis. However, the incidence of treat tuberculosis is now rising and WHO regards treatment as a ‘global emergency’. The problem, identified several decades ago, is that of drug resistance. Traditionally, three drugs were combined, usually including isoniazid and streptomycin. The main drugs currently used include ethambutol, isoniazid, pyrazinamide and rifampicin, with capreomycin, cycloserine and streptomycin held in reserve. Compound therapy normally involved a first phase using isoniazid, rifampicin, pyrazinamide (and ethambutol if the organism is thought to be resistant). This is followed after two months by a second phase where two drugs are used, usually isoniazid and rifampicin. This is normally successful so long as patients continue the therapy Read more […]

Herb-Drug Interactions: Meadowsweet

Filipendula ulmaria (L.) Maxim. (Rosaceae) Synonym(s) and related species Bridewort, Queen of the meadow. Spiraea ulmaria L. Pharmacopoeias Meadowsweet (British Ph 2009, European Ph, 6th ed., 2008 and Supplements 6.1, 6.2, 6.3 and 6.4). Constituents Meadowsweet contains the phenolic glycosides spiraein, monotropin and gaultherin, and the essential oil is composed of up to 75% sahcylaldehyde, with methylsahcylate and other sahcylates. It also contains flavonoids, tannins, traces of natural coumarin and ascorbic acid. It may be standardised to a minimum content of steam volatile substances. Use and indications Meadowsweet is used as an anti-inflammatory and antacid. Surprisingly for a herb containing sahcylates, meadowsweet is used traditionally to treat stomach complaints, and anti-ulcer activity has been demonstrated in some animal studies. Extracts from the flowers have been reported to have bacteriostatic activity in vitro. Pharmacokinetics No relevant pharmacokinetic data found. Interactions overview No interactions with meadowsweet have been found. Note, however, that it contains sahcylates, although it is unknown whether the sahcylates are at sufficient levels to have antiplatelet effects Read more […]


ANTIBACTERIAL AGENTS are a subset of ANTIMICROBIAL AGENTS normally used to treat infections caused by bacteria, on which they have a selective toxic action. A distinction can be made between bacteriostatic’ agents that act primarily by arresting bacterial growth (e.g. sulphonamides, tetracycline antibiotics, chloramphenicol), as compared to the ‘bactericidal’ agents, which act primarily by killing bacteria (e.g. penicillin antibiotics, cephalosporin antibiotics, aminoglycoside antibiotics, isoniazid, rifampicin). See ANTIBIOTICS; ANTISEPTICS; SULPHONAMIDES.