General introduction to the genus Lavandula

Lavandula species (Labiatiae, syn. Lamiaceae) are mainly grown for their essential oils, which are used in perfumery, cosmetics, food processing and nowadays also in ‘aromatherapy’ products. The dried flowers have also been used from time immemorial in pillows, sachets etc. for promoting sleep and relaxation. Numerous lavender plants are also sold as ornamental plants for the garden; these include Lavandula latifolia, Lavandula pinnata, Lavandula lanata, Lavandula dentata and Lavandula stoechas and their numerous cultivars. Lavender oil, distilled from Lavandula angustifolia was used extensively in Victorian times as a perfume and applied in numerous cosmetic products, but now it is used mainly in combination with other essential oils and aromachemicals. This species and numerous hybrids/cultivars, for example, Lavandin ‘grosso’ were originally grown in the South of France, but are now grown virtually round the world. True lavender oil, consisting mainly of linalool and linalyl acetate, has a very variable composition due to the genetic instability of the oil-producing plants and variations due to temperature, water quantity, altitude, fertilizers, time of year, geographic distribution etc. The chemical composition Read more […]

Chamomile: Traditional Use and Therapeutic Indications

Traditional Use Chamomile has been known for centuries and is well established in therapy. In traditional folk medicine it is found in the form of chamomile tea, which is drunk internally in cases of painful gastric and intestinal complaints connected with convulsions such as diarrhea and flatulence, but also with inflammatory gastric and intestinal diseases such as gastritis and enteritis. Externally chamomile is applied in the form of hot compresses to badly healing wounds, such as for a hip bath with abscesses, furuncles, hemorrhoids, and female diseases; as a rinse of the mouth with inflammations of the oral cavity and the cavity of the pharynx; as chamomile steam inhalation for the treatment of acne vulgaris and for the inhalation with nasal catarrhs and bronchitis; and as an additive to baby baths. In Roman countries it is quite common to use chamomile tea even in restaurants or bars and finally even in the form of a concentrated espresso. This is also a good way of fighting against an upset stomach due to a sumptuous meal, plenty of alcohol, or nicotine. In this case it is not easy to draw a line and find out where the limit to luxury is. Clinic and practice Preliminary remark The suitability of the empirical Read more […]

Sempervivum spp. (Houseleek)

Distribution and Importance of Sempervivum The genus Sempervivum (Crassulaceae) contains approximately 80 species and several subspecies. The name is indicative of their evergreen, sempervirent nature (semper = always, vivum = living). Houseleeks (Sempervivum spp.) grow mainly on sunny, barren hillsides, mostly at 1000-2000 m. They are favourite plants in rock-gardens, because they grow on walls and roofing tiles. One of the most important species, Sempervivum tectorum L. is native to the Alps, but it can be found sporadically as far as the Pyrenees and the northern regions of the Balkan Peninsula, in central Anatolia. It grows well under extreme conditions, usually in calcareous soil. It is a cosmopolitan species living in dry circumstances (Hegnauer 1964). It can be used on extreme sites (notably in urban environments), if its basic ecological and growth requirements are respected. One of the most important ecophysiological features of Sempervivum – in which it is similar to other members of Crassulaceae family – is nocturnal C02 fixation; this physiological adaptation to a dry environment enables tolerance of water deficiency. This metabolism, known as CAM (crassulacean acid metabolism), is an alternative Read more […]

Healing Powers of Aloes

Aloe is a medicinal plant that has maintained its popularity over the course of time. Three distinct preparations of aloe plants are mostly used in a medicinal capacity: aloe latex (=aloe); aloe gel (=aloe vera); and, aloe whole leaf (=aloe extract). Aloe latex is used for its laxative effect; aloe gel is used topically for skin ailments, such as wound healing, psoriasis, genital herpes and internally by oral administration in diabetic and hyperlipidaemic patients and to heal gastric ulcers; and, aloe extract is potentially useful for cancer and AIDS. The use of honey may make the aloe extract therapy palatable and more efficient. Aloe preparations, especially aloe gel, have been reported to be chemically unstable and may deteriorate over a short time period. In addition, hot water extracts may not contain adequate concentrations of active ingredients and purified fractions may be required in animal studies and clinical trials. Therefore it should be kept in mind that, in some cases, the accuracy of the listed actions may be uncertain and should be verified by further studies. There are at least 600 known species of Aloe (Family Liliaceae), many of which have been used as botanical medicines in many countries for 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 […]

Indian Almond, Katapang

Terminalia catappa L. (Combretaceae) Terminalia catappa L. is a tall tree, up to 25 m tall. Branches are horizontally whorled, giving it a pagoda shape. Leaves are shiny, obovate, 10-25 cm long, tapering to a short thick petiole. Leaves are yellow that turn red before shedding. Flowers are small and white. Fruits have smooth outer coat, 3-6 cm long, flattened edges, with a pointed end. Pericarp is fibrous and fleshy. Origin Native to tropical and temperate Asia, Australasia, the Pacific and Madagascar. Phytoconstituents Catappanin A, chebulagic acid, 1-desgalloylleugeniin, geraniin, granatin B, punicalagin, punicalin, tercatain, terflavins A & B, tergallagin, euginic acid and others. Traditional Medicinal Uses Terminalia catappa has been used to treat dysentery in a number of Southeast Asian countries. In Indonesia, the leaves are used as a dressing for swollen rheumatic joints while in the Philippines, they are used to expel worms. In Karkar Island, New Guinea, juice from the squeezed leaves is applied to sores and the sap from the white stem pith is squeezed and drunk to relieve cough. In Nasingalatu, Papua New Guinea, the flower is crushed, mixed with water and drunk to induce sterility. In New Britain, Read more […]

Drosera spp. (Sundew)

“Ancient botanical treatises and pharmacopoeias attribute various properties to the sundew, or Drosera, whose red droplets of mucilage do not dry out in the sun. Certain extracts of these plants serve as treatment for corns, verrucas, and burns. Infusions and other extracts are used against coughs, respiratory disorders, tuberculosis, arteriosclerosis, inflammations, intestinal illnesses, and syphilis. These preparations are diuretic, soothing and even aphrodisiac”.. Drosera extracts are still being used against infections and ailments of the respiratory tract. Plumbagin and related compounds occur in the Droseraceae and are thought to be responsible for its therapeutic properties. Although plumbagin occurs in many species of Drosera the compound is also extracted from species of Plumbago (). Frequent harvesting of natural populations of Drosera in Europe have resulted in the plants becoming increasingly scarce and alternate sources of plants are therefore being sought. Vegetative propagation of Drosera and the production of plumbagin in vitro may serve as an alternative to the utilization of natural populations. Distribution and General Morphology of Drosera The genus Drosera was the first of the carnivorous Read more […]

Onobrychis viciifolia Scop. (Sainfoin)

Distribution and Importance of Sainfoin Sainfoin (Onobrychis viciifolia Scop, (family Leguminoseae) is a perennial forage legume that has been grown in Europe and Asia for centuries. The most widely used common name, sainfoin, is derived from the French “saint foin” meaning holy or wholesome hay. Other common names include: holy or holy hay, French grass, everlasting grass, medick vetchling, cockshead, esparcet, or snail grass. Its botanical genus name, Onobrychis, comes from the Greek words “onos” meaning ass, and it is felt that brychis is derived from “bruchis”, a plant. This provides some insight into the value that was placed on this species because it had been noted that asses were particularly partial to sainfoin as a feed. Sainfoin grew in Russia as a forage crop over 1000 years ago and was noted in France in the 14th century, Germany in the 17th century, and Italy in the 18th century. The first introductions of sainfoin came to North America from Europe in the early 1900s, but its success as a forage crop did not occur until the 1960s when strains from Turkey and the USSR displayed the necessary adaptibility and yield to enable the development of cultivars for the Northern Great Plains and Canadian Prairies. Read more […]

Anxiety Disorders: Supplements With Possible Efficacy

In addition to supplements discussed above, a few other compounds may also have some efficacy in treating symptoms of anxiety. However, since the data that supports the use of the following supplements is extremely limited, clinicians should proceed with caution, and consider the use of the compounds discussed in this section as experimental. St. John’s Wort As described in site, St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum) is an herb that exists in many species throughout the world, and it is widely used as an antidepressant. It is available in a variety of preparations, including capsules, liquid, oils, and raw herb to be brewed as tea. St. John’s Wort contains a plethora of active ingredients, including flavonoids, naphthodianthrones, phloroglucinols, phenolic acids, terpenes, and xanthones. These exert a variety of psychoactive effects, and several of these are described below. Of all herbal supplements, St. John’s Wort is the one that has been researched most extensively and there is strong support for its efficacy in reducing depressive symptoms. The use of St. John’s Wort as an anxiolytic is more recent, but a few studies suggest that is may be effective. Davidson and Connor (2001) reported case studies of patients Read more […]

Bromelain (Ananas Comosus)

Medical Uses Bromelain is used to decrease swelling after oral surgery and episiotomy. It is also used as an anti-inflammatory, an antibiotic, a treatment for cancer and sports injuries, an aid to wound healing, and a treatment for mild ulcerative colitis. Historical Uses In folk medicine, bromelian fruit latex was used to treat wounds, burns, and cancer. It was also used as an aid to digestion. Growth Commercial bromelain is derived from pineapple stems. The major producers of bromelain are Japan, Taiwan, and Hawaii. Bromelain: Part Used • Pineapple plant stem Major Chemical Compounds • Sulfur-containing proteolytic enzymes () • Glycoproteins • Vitamins that contain enzymes Bromelain: Clinical Uses This herb has been used to help resolve hematoma after oral surgery and episiotomy. It has also been used as an anti-inflammatory, an antibiotic, a treatment for cancer and sports injuries, an aid to wound healing (Natural Medicines, 2000), and a treatment for mild ulcerative colitis. It is approved by the German Commission E for “acute post-op and post-traumatic conditions of swelling, especially of the nasal and paranasal sinuses”. Mechanism of Action This proteolytic enzyme has fibrinolytic Read more […]