Rheum Species (Rhubarb)

Rhubarb, the rhizome and root of Rheum spp. (Polygonaceae), has been used since ancient times as an important drug in the East and West. It was described in Dioscorides’ De Materia Medica as Ra (pα), designating its native place, the Volga (Ra River) basin. It was said to be effective for disorders of stomach and intestine, as well as for pains in spleen, liver, kidney, abdomen, bladder, and chest (). In traditional Chinese medicine, rhubarb (Da-Huang in Chinese) has been used as a major component of some prescriptions for the treatment of blood stasis, in which it produces mildly purgative, antiinflammatory, and sedative effects. In western countries, rhubarb is mostly employed as a purgative drug in folk medicine. Several Rheum species are recognized as being the original rhubarb plants, from which Rheum palmatum L., Rheum tanguticum Maxim., and Rheum officinale Bail, are recommended for medicinal use. All these species with palmately or elliptically lobed large leaves are native in cool, high-altitude districts in Tibet, Chianhai, Yunnan, and Si-Chuang Provinces, China. A Korean species, Rheum coreanum Nakai, possesses similarly shaped leaves to those of Chinese origin. The rhizome and root of Rheum sp. growing 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 […]

Echinacea (E. angustifolia, E. purpurea, and E. pallida)

Echinacea: Medical Uses Echinacea is used for the common cold, infections, and low immune status. It is given with antibiotics and chemotherapy and acts as an anti-inflammatory. Historical Uses Native Americans and Eclectic physicians used echinacea as a natural anti-infective for colds and flu. Native Americans first introduced echinacea to the colonists. Growth There are nine species of echinacea. This perennial will grow in most herb gardens in the northeast. The beautiful flower of E. purpurea, commonly called “purple cone-flower,” may grow up to 6 feet tall. E. angustifolia has narrow leaves and is much shorter, at about 2 feet. It has pink flowers. E. pallida grows to about 3 feet and is much paler. All three species have been cultivated in the U.S. and Europe. E. angustifolia is listed as an at-risk endangered herb. Parts Used • Aerial (above-ground) parts • Whole plant and root Major Chemical Compounds • Alkylamides • Caffeic acid derivatives • Cichoric acid • Polysaccharides • Glycoproteins Not all active chemical compounds are found in each species of echinacea. Mechanism of Action Alkylamides, which cause a tingling sensation on the tongue, produce anti-inflammatory Read more […]


ANTIBIOTICS are, strictly speaking, natural products secreted by microorganisms into their environment, where they inhibit the growth of competing microorganisms of different species. In common usage, the term is generally applied to a wide range of chemicals, whether directly isolated from mould ferments, their semisynthetic derivatives, or synthetic chemicals showing some structural similarities. Also, in everyday language the term is used to denote drugs with a selectively toxic action on bacteria or similar non-nucleated single-celled microorganisms (including chlamydia, rickettsia and mycoplasma), though such drugs have no effect on viruses. In this loose parlance even the sulphonamides may, incorrectly, be referred to as antibiotics because they are antimicrobial. More confusing is the fact that a number of antibiotics are used as cytotoxic agents in cancer chemotherapy (e.g. bleomycin): see ANTICANCER AGENTS. Further, partly because of the recent development of high-throughput screens for lead chemicals, a number of new drug chemical classes have arisen from antibiotic leads (e.g. the CCK antagonist asperlicin and derivatives, from Aspergillus spp.). The antimicrobial antibiotics have a selectively toxic 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.