Digitalis spp.

Digitalis plants are of great importance in pharmacy due to their production of cardioactive glycosides. They are most frequently employed in the treatment of heart diseases. Heart glycosides appear in several plant families which mostly are not related to each other, but they occur in many Digitalis species. The majority of investigations refer to D. purpurea and D. lanata. Digitalis, also known as foxglove, belongs to the family Scrophulariaceae. Inspired by the form of their flowers, Leonhart Fuchs (1542) for the first time used the name Digitalis in his herbal. The species of Digitalis are biennial or perennial herbs. The foliage consists of a rosette of leaves with inflorescences of about 1 m height. Their morphology and their flower can be seen from, exemplified by Digitalis lanata. Digitalis glycosides belong to the cardenolide type and are therefore named cardenolides. In the stereo-ring system, an unsaturated five-membered lactone ring is substituted in position 17, thus differentiating cardenolides from the bufa-dienolides presenting a six-membered lactone ring in this position. Apart from many cardiotonic glycosides, many ineffective glycosides occur in Digitalis plants. Different groups, substituted Read more […]

Ricinus communis

Ricinus communis L. (Euphorbiaceae) Castor Oil Plant, Castor Bean Ricinus communis L. is an erect herb, growing up to 3.6 m high, having pinkish succulent stem and large alternate palmate leaves that are green or reddish brown. Leaves are lobed, consisting of 6-8 radiating leaflets with serrated edges and prominent central veins. Flowers are green, pink or red and inconspicuous, with no petals. The fruits are capsular, with three lobes, prickly and green, containing three seeds. Origin Native to Africa, naturalised throughout tropics and subtropics. Phytoconstituents Ricin, ricinoleic acid, ricinine, p-coumaric acid, ferulic acid, o-coumaric acids, syringic acid, cinnamic acids, stigmasterol, fucosterol and others. Traditional Medicinal Uses Its leaf poultice is applied to boils and sores in India; to treat headaches and fever in Hawaii. The leaves and roots are used in a decoction for anal prolapse, arthritis, constipation, facial palsy, lymphadenopathy, strabismus, uteral prolapse, cough, and also as a discutient and expectorant. The heated leaves are applied to gout and swellings as well. The leaves and oil are used for dermatological purposes in Nigeria. Its seeds are used to treat abscesses and skin eruptions, Read more […]

Diseases of the Cardiovascular System

Herbs For Diseases Of The Cardiovascular System Formulas For Cardiovascular Conditions Strategy Implement appropriate lifestyle changes and appropriate diet. Monitor patients regularly, particularly if herbs are used as the sole treatment for early cases or if the patients are on conventional medication. Doses can be adjusted upwards if changes of less than 20% have been observed per week. The doses of conventional medicines may need to be reviewed 1 to 2 weeks after beginning treatment with herbs. It is assumed that conventional medicines will be used for diagnosed cardiac disease, whenever good evidence exists for efficacy. In most cases these formulas provide adjunctive care. The formulas below can be made as per the recipe or adapted from other recipes according to patient needs. They are formulated to allow substitution. Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy Astragalus: Immune-enhancing, tonic, cardiotonic, nephroprotective, diuretic, hypotensive; 1 part. Bugleweed: Cardioactive, diuretic, reduced heart rate, sedative, thyroxine antagonist; 1 part. Motherwort: Sedative, antispasmodic, cardiac tonic; 1 part. Ginkgo: PAF inhibitor, antioxidant, circulatory stimulant, cognitive enhancer; 1 part. Dandelion Read more […]

Herbs For Diseases Of The Cardiovascular System

Herbs considered important for the cardiovascular system are classified according to traditional actions of cardioactive, cardioprotective, cardiotonic, and circulatory stimulants. Anticoagulants are a more modern application of herbs to cardiovascular disease and nervines and diuretic herbs are traditionally included in formulas. The diseases that are indicated for these herbs include cardiomyopathy (dilatative and hypertrophic), congestive heart failure / valvular disease, heartworm disease, and hypertension. Cardioactive herbs Cardioactive herbs are some of the most potentially toxic herbs. Many of these contain cardioactive glycosides such as Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea) and Lily of the Valley (Convallaria majalis), which are ionotropic and lead to a more efficient and coordinated cardiac contraction. Perhaps the most useful from a veterinary perspective is Bugleweed (Lycopus europaeus, L. virginicus). It does not contain cardiac glycosides but is still cardioactive. L. virginicus was recognized by the early Eclectics as an excellent sedative with properties similar to digitalis but without adverse side effects. L. europaeus may have applications in feline hyperthyroidism as well as cardiovascular disease. L. Read more […]

Figwort: Current Use As An Alterative

Wren, followed by the National Botanic Pharmacopoeia, gives the actions of alterative, diuretic and anodyne. Figwort is considered not ‘of paramount importance as an internal remedy”. Priest & Priest repeat Cook’s description as a gently stimulating and relaxing alterative with lower abdominal and pelvic emphasis, but emphasize the deobstruent action on enlarged and engorged lymph glands, for mammary tumours and nodosities and enlarged glands, and externally for haemorrhoids. Deobstruent is a term used to describe the action of removing obstructions to flow, and they suggest the addition of hepatics and more stimulating diuretics. In more recent years, figwort is used as a more general alterative for all skin conditions. The British Herbal Pharmacopoeia recommends it for chronic skin disease, eczema, psoriasis and pruritus. Although I have used this plant for 20 years, I had not previously grown it and was unaware of the tuberous roots until reading Dodoens. Going outside, digging a plant and finding the root was quite a shock. In addition, although suggested by recent authors, I have not used it externally. For example, Chevallier recommends external usage in healing wounds, burns, haemorrhoids and ulcers, and Read more […]


CALCIUM-CHANNEL BLOCKERS are agents that literally block or close any of the many types of calcium channels. However, in common usage the term is mainly used to describe a class of drugs finding increasing application in therapeutics (also called calcium antagonists or calcium-entry blockers) typified by the dihydropyridines (DHPs). In a more general usage of the term, there are many different classes of calcium-channel blockers, and many types of calcium channels. See CALCIUM-CHANNEL ACTIVATORS. First, in the cell membrane, the voltage-gated calcium channels are of at least six types — termed L, N, T, P, Q, R — that may be differentiated by electrophysiological, molecular cloning and pharmacological criteria. The L- and N-channels are high-voltage activated, voltage-dependent and undoubtedly of great importance in normal physiology; L mainly in smooth, cardiac and skeletal muscle (and some neurons), but N only in neurons. T-channels are important in repetitive activity in cardiac SA node of the heart, neurons and some endocrine cells. The remainder have been found more recently in neurons. These channels are products of different genes, but they all share great structural similarity — both with respect to Read more […]

Herb-Drug Interactions: Hawthorn

Crataegus laevigata (Poir.) DC, Crataegus monogyna Jacq. (Rosaceae) Synonym(s) and related species Crataegus, Haw, May, Weissdorn, Whitethorn. Crataegus oxyacantha auct, Crataegus oxyacanthoides Thuill. Pharmacopoeias Hawthorn Berries (British Ph 2009, European Ph 2008); Hawthorn Leaf and Flower (British Ph 2009, European Ph, 6th ed., 2008 and Supplements 6.1, 6.2, 6.3 and 6.4); Hawthorn Leaf and Flower Dry Extract (British Ph 2009, European Ph 2008); Hawthorn Leaf with Flower (US Ph 32); Quantified Hawthorn Leaf and Flower Liquid Extract (British Ph 2009, European Ph, 6th ed., 2008 and Supplements 6.1, 6.2, 6.3 and 6.4). Constituents The leaves and flowers of hawthorn are usually standardised to their flavonoid content, and the berries may be standardised to their procyanidin content. Other flavonoids present include quercetin, isoquercetin and their glycosides, and rutin. Other constituents include catechins and epicatechin dimers, polyphenolic acid derivatives including chlorogenic and caffeic acids, phenethylamine, dopamine, and ursolic and oleanolic acid triterpenenoid derivatives. Use and indications Hawthorn extracts are used as a cardiotonic, mild anti-hypertensive and antisclerotic. Pharmacokinetics No Read more […]