Pharmacology of Poppy Alkaloids: Minor Opium Alkaloids

The pharmacology and biology of minor opium alkaloids have been surveyed previously in two comprehensive reviews (). Thebaine The pharmacology of thebaine was summarized by Reynolds and Randall in 1957 and studied comprehensively by a WHO Advisory Group in 1980. The pharmacological actions of thebaine in various isolated organs have been studied. Thebaine can induce a temporary decrease in blood pressure in anaesthetized dogs and this depressor effect showed a marked tachyphylaxis. In isolated guinea pig atrium, thebaine decreased the heart rate and contractions depending on the concentration. In isolated rabbit ileum it decreased the peristaltic movement and contractions (). The predominant effect of thebaine is stimulation of the central nervous system. In the mouse, rabbit, cat and dog increases in motor activity and reflex excitability were observed at doses around 2-10mg/kg s.c. or i.m. The Straub-tail response was noted only occasionally. The effects of thebaine on body temperature and respiration have also been studied. Convulsions were observed in almost all species of animals including the frog, pigeon, mouse, guinea pig, cat and dog. Transient tremors, restlessness and convulsions were observed in the Read more […]

Silene alba (White Campion)

Botany and Phytochemistry of Silene alba Silene alba (Miller) E.H.L. Krause, also known as Lychnis dioica L. or Melandrium album (Miller) Garcke, of the family Caryophyllaceae () has many common names: compagnon blanc, robinet, floquet, saponaire blanche, oeil de Dieu, bourbonnaise (in French); white campion, white bachelor’s buttons, white bottle, white cuckoo flower (in English); weipe Lichtnelke, Sommetrose, Wiederstock, Junggesellenknopfe, Je-langer-je-freundlicher (in German); fischi da fischiare, lichnide, gittone bianco, erba nocca, violina di macchia (in Italian) (Bonnier 1911-1935). It is a dioecious herb of varied habit, usually growing as a weed on plowed or cultivated ground throughout the whole of Europe. A short-lived perennial (sometimes annual) growing up to 80 cm in height, Silene alba usually has rather thick and soft hairs, usually glandular on the upper epidermis. The leaves are ovate or ovate-lanceolate, the cauline is sessile. The inflorescence consists of loosely bound dichasium of large flowers, which open in the evening and are slightly scented. The flowers are pentamerous. The limb of the petal is distinct from the claw, with ten stamens. The calyx of the male flowers is 15-22 mm in length, Read more […]

Paeonia spp.

Classification and Distribution of Paeonia Paeonia is said to be named after the Greek God Paeon. Hutchinson (1973) reported that the Paeoniaceae was considered histologically as an independent family of the dicotyledons by Worsdell in 1908, and the position of classification is intermediate between Magnoliaceae and Helleboraceae, Paeonia being rather closer to the Helleboraceae. The Paeonia genus is distributed in Spain, North Africa to Siberia, South to Central Europe and North and South America. In Japan (Pharmacopoeia Japonica, undecima, ed. by Niphonkoteishokyokai 1986), the root of Paeonia is used as a herbal medicine or “Shakuyaku”, as also the roots of the herb Paeonia lactiflora Pallas (P. albiflora Pallas van trichocarpa Bunge = P. albiflora Pallas form, hortensis Makino) and related plants. The cortex of the woody Paeonia moutan Smis. (= P. suffruticosa Andrews) is called “Botan” (Moutan Bark, Moutan Cortex). The origin of these plants is in China. Some plants are cultivated in Nara and Hokkaido in Japan, but most crude drugs are imported from China and Korea. Plants of P. japonica (Makino) Miyabe et Takeda, and P. obovata Maxim, are found as natives, but are never used as commercial resources. The Paeonia Read more […]

Gloeophyllum odovatum (Brown Rot Fungus)

The Fungus and Its Secondary Metabolites The fruiting bodies of the brown rot fungus Gloeophyllum odovatum (Wulf. ex Fr.) Imaz. syn. Trametes, odorata (Wulf. ex Fr.) Osmoporus odoratus (Wulf. ex Fr.) (Aphyllophorales, Basidiomycetes) are found in coniferous forests, chiefly in northern and rocky mountains in central Europe, in Asia, and occasionally in North America. In Fennoscandia, the fungus grows mostly on old stumps of the Norway spruce [Picea abies (L.) Karst.], very rarely on pine (Pinus sylvestris L.). The perennial brown fruit bodies are knotty, wedge- or plate-like medium-sized or large. The young parts are ochraceous to light brown in color, later becoming dark brown to almost black or blackish gray. G. odovatum is not very common. The other known Gloeophyllum species are G. protactum, G. sepiarium, G. abietinum and G. trabeum. Only the fresh fruit bodies of G. odoratum produce a strong scent of aniseed, when it grows on spruce. The sporophore of the fungus is primarily interesting because of its volatiles; however, they also contain steroids. The principal volatiles from the fruiting body grown on spruce have been identified as aromatics, i.e., methyl p-methoxyphenylacetate (33.5%) accompanied by ethyl Read more […]

Dianthus Species (Carnation)

Distribution and Importance of the Plant The genus Dianthus comprises a relatively large group of some 300 species, which have attracted attention because of spectacular flower color combinations ranging from white to yellow, red, and deep purple. Particular morphological traits and pigmentation distinguish Dianthus from other genera within the family Caryophyllaceae, although the evolutionary phyllogenetic background and the subdivision of the genus have remained controversial. The genus was thought to have originated in the Mediterranean hillsites, but is now believed to have inherited traits from various nontropical locations of Europe and Asia. Some species spread along the southeast African continent into South Africa and even into the Far East, which is recognized in their taxonomic designation, D. chinensis being one example. Dianthus generally prefers moderately dry and warm conditions, high light intensities, and mineral-rich soils, but a few species such as D. alpinus and D. glacialis have managed to colonize rock soils in the Austrian and Italian Alps at 2000 to 2800 m altitude. Crosses between species may occur spontaneously, and numerous hybrids are known to exist in their natural habitat as well as under Read more […]


Aconitum spp., aconite or monkshood, is a perennial herb of the family Ranun-culaceae. It is erect and grows to a height of about 1 m. The leaves are deep green and lustrous, and purple flowers bloom in the autumn. The aconite consists of both parent and daughter roots. Both are obconical in shape, dark brown in color, from 4 to 10 cm in length and from 1 to 3 cm in diameter at the crown. In northern countries, natives used the root extract of the plants as an arrow poison. In Japan this poison was also used by the Ainu for making poisoned arrows for bear hunting. It is well known that the roots contain diterpenoid alkaloids which are mainly classified into a strongly toxic group (aconitine-type) and a weakly toxic group (atisine type). The former include aconitine, mesaconitine, hypaconitine, jesaconitine, and neopelline. The latter covers anisine, kobushine, pseudokobusine, telatisine, songorine, atidine, napelline, heteratisine, ignarine, and hysognavine. The roots also contain a cardiac-activating alkaloid, higenamine, and coryneine. The root, mainly A. carmichaeli Debx., has been used as one of the most important Chinese drugs (Fu-tzu in Chinese, Bushi in Japanese) prescribed, together with other herbs, as an Read more […]

Tea Tree Oil (Melaleuca alternifolia)

Tea Tree Oil: Medical Uses Tea tree oil has antibacterial and antifungal properties. It is also used for acne. Historical Uses In folklore, tea tree oil has been used for its antiseptic effects and to treat fungal infections and coughs. During World War II, 1 percent tea tree oil was used to prevent skin injuries in munitions factory workers in Australia. Growth A tea tree is a small tree or shrub with heads of stalkless yellow or purplish flowers. Part Used • Leaves, extracted by steam or water distillation. Major Chemical Compounds • Linalool • Terpinolene • Alpha-terpineol, made up of primarily monoterpenes and alcohols. Tea Tree Oil: Clinical Uses Tea tree oil has antibacterial properties and antifungal properties. It also is used for acne and herpes simplex. Mechanism of Action Major chemical compounds in tea tree oil are active against Candida albicans (), trichophytons, Staphylococcus aureus, and Trichomonas vaginalis (). Tea Tree Oil: Dosage Acne: Use a swab to apply directly to acne cysts twice daily. Avoid the eye area. Onychomycosis: Use a swab to apply to fingernails or toenails twice daily. Avoid getting oil on the skin. Contraindications • Tea tree oil should not be Read more […]

Paeony (Paeonia Officinalis)

Family: Paeoniaceae Part used: root Paeonia are long-lived, hardy, robust herbaceous perennials. The two main European species are Paeonia officinalis L. subsp. officinalis, ‘female paeony’, which is found from France across to the Balkans and Paeonia mascula (L.) Mill., ‘male paeony’, which is found around the Mediterranean and in Greece, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Iraq and Iran. A remnant population of introduced Paeonia mascula persists on Steep Holm, an island in the Bristol Channel. Both species contain several subspecies, which are described and illustrated by Halda (2004) and Page (2005). The two species hybridize if grown together. Both species are considered to be close relatives to Paeonia lactiflora. The Flora of Turkey gives six Paeonia species, including Paeonia mascula but not including Paeonia officinalis. Paeonia mascula has stiff stems (to 75 cm) which bear large compound leaves and the plant forms large clumps. Solitary, large, single, red terminal flowers with up to 10 petals and numerous yellow stamens occur in April. Three to five smooth, curved seed pods split to reveal bright pink unfertilized ovules and shiny, blue-black fertilized seeds. Paeonia officinalis is similar with deeply cut divided Read more […]

Herb-Drug Interactions: Centaury

Centaurium erythraea Rafn. (Gentianaceae) Synonym(s) and related species Century, Common centaury, Feverwort. Centaurium minus Auct. subsp. minus, Centaurium minus Moench, Centaurium umbellatum Gilib., Erythraea centaurium (L.) Pers. Pharmacopoeias Centaury (British Ph 2009, European Ph, 6th ed., 2008 and Supplements 6.1, 6.2, 6.3 and 6.4). Constituents The iridoids (bitters) are considered to be the main active constituents of centaury, and include gentiopicroside (about 2%), with centapicrin, gentioflavoside, sweroside and swertiamarin and m-hydroxybenzoylesters of sweroside, and catapicrin. Highly methylated xanthones, including eustomin and 8-demethyleustomin, have been found recently. Alkaloids of the pyridine type, including gentianine, gentianidine, gentioflavine, are also found in trace amounts. The triterpenoids alpha- and beta-amyrin, erythrodiol, crataegolic acid, oleanolic acid and sitosterol are also present Use and indications Centaury is used for disorders of the upper digestive tract, mainly dyspepsia. It is also used in anorexia and has reported anti-inflammatory activity. It should not be taken by patients with peptic ulceration. Pharmacokinetics No relevant pharmacokinetic data found. Interactions Read more […]


ANTICHOLINESTERASES are agents that inhibit cholinesterases, enzymes that fall into two main families — acetylcholinesterases (AChE) and butyrylcholinesterases (BChE). These enzymes are of related molecular structures but have different distributions, genes and substrate preferences. The enzymes have globular catalytic subunits that are the soluble form of the esterases (as in plasma or CSF), or they can be attached via long collagen tails to the cell membrane. Acetylcholinesterase (AChE) (also termed ‘true cholinesterase’) is found in the synaptic cleft of cholinergic synapses, and is of undoubted importance in regulation of neurotransmission by rapid hydrolysis of released endogenous acetylcholine (ACh). AChE is also found in erythrocytes and in the CSF, and can be present in soluble form in cholinergic nerve terminals, but its function at these sites is not clear. AChE is specific for substrates that include acetylcholine and the agents methacholine and acetylthiocholine. but it has little activity with other esters. It has a maximum turnover rate at very low concentrations of AChE (and is inhibited by high concentrations). Butyrykholinesterase (BChE) (also termed pseudocholinesterase) has a wide distribution, Read more […]