Sanguinaria canadensis L. (Sanguinarius)

Sanguinaria canadensis L. () is a low perennial with mostly white flowers and thick rhizomes containing an acrid red-orange juice from whence the plant was named (sanguinarius, bleeding). This monotypic genus is a member of the Papaver-aceae family, known to contain a diversity of isoquinoline alkaloids, including the protoberberine and benzophenanthridine alkaloids which are found in many species of this family (). The synonymous Latin binomials for Sanguinaria canadensis are claimed to be Chelidonium maximum canadense, Sanguinaria acaulis, and Sanguinaria vernalis. Moreover, a number of vernacular names of Sanguinaria canadensis have been used, some examples include: bloodroot, Indian paint, red root, snakebite, and sweet slumber. Sanguinaria canadensis is distributed across Canada east to Nova Scotia, south from New England to Florida, west to Texas and north to Manitoba (). Historically speaking, the red-orange juice obtained from the roots and stem of the plant was used by native American Indians as a dye for clothing, baskets, and skin. Medicinal uses of this plant by native American Indians included a tea derived from roots which was used as a treatment for rheumatism, asthma, bronchitis, and as an emetic Read more […]

Healing Powers of Aloes: Pharmacology and Therapeutic Applications

Constipation Aloe latex possesses laxative properties and has been used traditionally to treat constipation. The old practice of using aloe as a laxative drug is based on its content of anthraquinones like barbaloin, which is metabolised to the laxative aloe-emodin, isobarbaloin and chrysophanic acid. The term ‘aloe’ (or ‘aloin’) refers to a crystalline, concentrated form of the dried aloe latex. In addition, aloe latex contains large amounts of a resinous material. Following oral administration the stomach is quickly reached and the time required for passage into the intestine is determined by stomach content and gastric emptying rate. Glycosides are probably chemically stable in the stomach (pH 1–3) and the sugar moiety prevents their absorption into the upper part of the gastrointestinal tract and subsequent detoxification in the liver, which protects them from breakdown in the intestine before they reach their site of action in the colon and rectum. Once they have reached the large intestine the glycosides behave like pro-drugs, liberating the aglycones (aloe-emodin, rhein-emodin, chyrosophanol, etc.) that act as the laxatives. The metabolism takes place in the colon, where bacterial glycosidases are Read more […]

Alkylating Agents

The alkylating agents exert their antineoplastic actions by generating highly reactive carbonium ion intermediates that form a covalent linkage with various nucleophilic components on both proteins and DNA. The 7 position of the purine base guanine is particularly susceptible to alkylation, resulting in miscoding, depurination, or ring cleavage. Bifunctional alkylating agents are able to cross-link either two nucleic acid molecules or one protein and one nucleic acid molecule. Although these agents are very active from a therapeutic perspective, they are also notorious for their tendency to cause carcinogenesis and mutagenesis. Alkylating agents that have a nonspecific effect on the cell-cycle phase are the most cytotoxic to rapidly proliferating tissues. Nitrogen Mustards The activity of nitrogen mustards depends on the presence of a bis-(2-chloroethyl) grouping: CH2—CH2C1 | N | CH2—CH2C1 This is present in mechlorethamine (Mustargen), which is used in patients with Hodgkin’s disease and other lymphomas, usually in combination with other drugs, such as in MOPP therapy (mechlorethamine, Oncovin [vincristine], procarbazine, andprednisone). It may cause bone marrow depression. Chlorambucil Chlorambucil Read more […]

Taxol and Cancer Chemotherapy: Natural Products

Vinca Alkaloids The vinca alkaloids (vinblastine, vincristine, and vindesine), which bind to tubulin, block mitosis with metaphase arrest. Vinca alkaloids are used for the following types of cancer: • Acute lymphoid leukemia: In the induction phase, vincristine is used with prednisone. • Acute myelomonocytic or monocytic leukemia: Cytarabine, vineristine, and prednisone. • Hodgkin’s disease: Mechlorethamine, Oncovin (vincristine), procarbazine, and prednisone (MOPP). • Nodular lymphoma: Cyclophosphamide, Oncovin (vincristine), and prednisone (CVP). • Diffuse histiocytic lymphoma: Cyclophosphamide, Adriamycin (doxorubicin), vincristine, and prednisone (CHOP); bleomycin, Adriamycin (doxorubicin), cyclophosphamide, Oncovin (vincristine), and prednisone (BACOP); or cyclophosphamide, Oncovin (vincristine), methotrexate, and cytarabine (COMA). • Wilms’ tumor: Dactinomycin and vincristine. • Ewing’s sarcoma: Cyclophosphamide, dactinomycin, or vincristine. • Embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma: Cyclophosphamide, dactinomycin, or vincristine. • Bronchogenic carcinoma: Doxorubicin, cyclophosphamide, and vincristine. The chief toxicity associated with vinblastine use is bone marrow depression. Read more […]

Black Cohosh (Cimicifuga Racemosa)

Medical Uses Black cohosh is helpful in relieving menopausal symptoms, including mood swings, hot flashes, profuse sweating, and sleep disturbances. It has been the largest-selling herbal dietary supplement for menopause in the United States. Historical Uses In China, black cohosh root has been used for centuries for menopausal symptoms and women’s health in general. Native Americans and Eclectic physicians used black cohosh for rheumatism, menstrual difficulties, and sore throats. Native American women have used it for menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes, anxiety, and depression. Do not confuse it with blue cohosh. Growth Black cohosh is a member of the buttercup family. It is native to the northeastern U. S. and grows in sunny areas in temperate zones. An at-risk endangered herb, black cohosh can be grown in herb gardens. The roots maybe harvested after 2 years. Black Cohosh: Part Used • Root Major Chemical Compounds • Triterpene • Glycosides Black Cohosh: Clinical Uses Studies show that black cohosh is safe and helpful in relieving menopausal symptoms, particularly mood swings, hot flashes, profuse sweating, and sleep disturbances. It is “a safe, effective alternative to estrogen replacement Read more […]

Soy (Glycine max)

Soy: Medical Uses Soy is used for high cholesterol, diabetes mellitus, and menopausal symptoms and is also used for its anticancer effects and prevention of osteoporosis. Historical Uses In China, soy is valued highly and has been called one of the five sacred grains. Growth Soy is a subtropical plant that is now cultivated in temperate regions. The plant grows from 1 to 5 feet tall. Part Used • Seed (soybean) Major Chemical Compounds • Genistein, a major isoflavone in soy and a weak estrogen • Daidzein, another isoflavone Soy: Clinical Uses Soy is used to treat high cholesterol (, diabetes mellitus, and menopausal symptoms and is also used for its anticancer effects and prevention of osteoporosis. Labels approved by the Food and Drug Administration state that soy may help lower cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease. Soy is approved by the German Commission E for mild hypercholesterolemia. Soy products containing isoflavones may provide a viable alternative to hormones for maintaining bone density and protecting against cardiovascular diseases, especially for postmenopausal women who choose to not take hormone replacement therapy. Japanese people consume an average of 7 to Read more […]

America North of the Rio Grande

American mayapple and Podophyllotoxin Podophyllum peltatum / Berberidaceae American mandrake or American mayapple is a poisonous weed which was commonly used in many regions of North America for many centuries. Its main use (e.g., by the Cherokee, Delaware, Iroquois) was as a laxative and the resin had been included in the American pharmacopoeia of 1820 for this purpose. Another use for the resin is the treatment of warts. It is one of the main sources of podophyllotoxin, a lignan which has resulted in semisynthetic derivatives essential in the chemotherapy, for example, of leukemia, especially teniposide, which was introduced into clinical use in 1967. It is well known that this substance revolutionized the chemotherapy of leukemia and has saved untold numbers of young lives. Californian yew, Pacific yew Taxus brevifolia / Taxaceae Taxus brevifolia or Californian yew has been used by a variety of West-American Indian groups in the United States and Canada as a medicine, and also for producing a variety of other useful products (canoes, brooms, combs). Very diverse pharmaceutical uses of the root and the bark are recorded and include several reports of the treatment of stomachache and, in the case of the Tsimshian Read more […]

Cervical Dysplasia: Discussion Of Botanicals

Blood Root The blood-red color of the sap from the roots of blood root led to its traditional use as a blood purifier. It was used as an emmenagogue, in the treatment of respiratory conditions, as a strong emetic, and for the treatment of fungal infections and ulcers. By the eighteenth century, blood root was used topically to treat indolent chancres and tumors as an ingredient in the popular “black salve,” an escharotic treatment that was used topically for the treatment of tumors. Extracts of sanguinarine, an alkaloid from the herb, have been shown to possess anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antioxidant, antiviral, antiproliferative, and apoptotic activities, and are under active research for the treatment of cancer. Sanguinarine, an alkaloid compound fund in blood root, is a potent inhibitor of NF-kappa B activation.’ Sanguinarine is an ingredient in dental hygiene products, for example, toothpaste, used for its antiplaque activity and in the treatment of gingivitis. There is controversy over the safety of its use in dental products, with contradictory research over whether it may cause malignant cell change and lead to the development of leukoplakia. Most studies have concluded that the extract is safe for dental Read more […]

Tea Extracts

Tea is a drink made from the dried leaves of Camellia sinensis; it is said to be the second most popular drink in the world after water. All tea starts as green but if the rolled and cut leaves are allowed to stand and ferment for 1-3 days before drying it becomes black. In green tea the enzyme that causes the blackening is inactivated by heat treatment which prevents blackening. Oolong tea is fermented for a shorter period and its colour and taste are between green and black tea. Tea leaves contain high quantities of polyphenols, which make up 20-30% of their dry weight. When tea leaves are rolled and crushed during processing, the enzyme polyphenol oxidase converts catechins (categorised earlier as flavonols) to polymeric forms, which give the fermented oolong and black teas their characteristic colours. Black tea is the form usually consumed in the UK although green tea is available and extracts of green tea in tablet form are marketed. Tea contains some essential nutrients but these probably provide only a tiny fraction of the adult requirement for these nutrients. Tea also contains the alkaloid caffeine and smaller amounts of theobromine which are responsible for the stimulating effect of the beverage. The components Read more […]

Panax ginseng

(Ginseng) Several plants of the Panax genus are commonly referred to as ginseng. Ginseng (Panax ginseng) was used by the Chinese as an aphrodisiac because its forked roots resemble the lower part of the human body. Native Americans brewed a type of tea from one species, Panax quinquefolius, and they ate the roots of the dwarf ginseng, Panax trifolius. Some plants referred to as Siberian, Manchurian and Brazilian ginseng do not belong to the Panax genus and so may not contain the agents in Panax ginseng to which its effects are attributed. The term ginseng usually refers to Panax ginseng also called Chinese or Korean ginseng and this is the most commonly used and tested variety of ginseng. It has been suggested that as many as six million Americans may use ginseng preparations. The name of the genus Panax is derived from the Greek word for panacea meaning ‘all healing’ and it is suggested that ginseng preparations have a number of diverse effects that promote general well-being. The active principles of ginseng are believed to be substances called ginsenosides which are saponins consisting of a steroidal triterpene and a sugar residue (triterpene glucuronides). Around a dozen of these ginsenosides have been identified Read more […]