Artemisia Absinthium L.

Artemisia absinthium L. is a member of the family Compositae (Asteraceae) and is known by the common names wormwood (UK), absinthe (France) and wermut (Germany). The name Artemisia is derived from the Goddess Artemis, the Greek name for Diana, who is said to have discovered the plant’s virtues, while absinthium comes from the Greek word apinthion meaning “undrinkable”, reflecting the very bitter nature of the plant. The plant is also known by a number of synonyms which include: Absinthium, Wermutkraut, Absinthii Herba, Assenzio, Losna, Pelin, Armoise, Ajenjo and Alsem. The herb is native to warm Mediterranean countries, usually found growing in dry waste places such as roadsides, preferring a nitrogen-rich stoney and hence loose soil. It is also native to the British Isles and is fairly widespread. Wormwood has been naturalised in northeastern North America, North and West Asia and Africa. Brief Botanical Description The stem of this shrubby perennial herb is multibranched and firm, almost woody at the base, and grows up to 130 cm in height. The root stock produces many shoots which are covered in fine silky hairs, as are the leaves. The leaves themselves are silvery grey, 8 cm long by 3 cm broad, abundantly pinnate Read more […]

Bioactivity of Basil

Traditional Medicine Basil has traditionally been used for head colds and as a cure for warts and worms, as an appetite stimulant, carminative, and diuretic. In addition, it has been used as a mouth wash and adstringent to cure inflammations in the mouth and throat. Alcoholic extracts of basil have been used in creams to treat slowly healing wounds. Basil is more widely used as a medicinal herb in the Far East, especially in China and India. It was first described in a major Chinese herbal around A.D. 1060 and has since been used in China for spasms of the stomach and kidney ailments, among others. It is especially recommended for use before and after parturition to promote blood circulation. The whole herb is also used to treat snakebite and insect bites. In Nigeria, a decoction of the leaves of Ocimum gratissimum is used in the treatment of fever, as a diaphoretic and also as a stomachic and laxative. In Franchophone West Africa, the plant is used in treating coughs and fevers and as an anthelmintic. In areas around Ibadan (Western State of Nigeria), Ocimum gratissimum is most often taken as a decoction of the whole herb (Agbo) and is particularly used in treating diarrhoea. It is known to the Yorubas as “Efirin-nla” Read more […]

Bidens alba (Smooth Beggar-Tick) and Bidens pilosa (Hairy Beggar-Tick)

The genus Bidens (Compositae) is composed of approximately 230 species having a worldwide distribution in tropical and temperate regions. It is primarily a continental group, which has become established on some islands, notably the Hawaiian islands. The centers of diversity are Africa and the New World, with each center having about 100 species. Several species are so abundant that they are considered serious weeds. Two will be of particular concern here: Bidens alba var. radiata (Schultz-Bip.) Ballard and B. pilosa var. minor (Blume) Sherff, another member of the complex. B. alba var. radiata (smooth beggar-tick) occurs in south eastern Mexico into Central America and in Florida, U.S.A.; B. pilosa var. minor (hairy beggar-tick) is primarily restricted to Central America (Ballard 1986). B. pilosa var. minor and B. alba var. radiata are erect annual herbs with opposite pinnate leaves. Flowers are organized into a capitulum with yellow disc flowers and five or six white (occasionally purple) ray flowers which are 5-7 mm long and have a nonfunctional style in the former species and ray flowers 15-18 mm long with no style in the latter. Both plants, in common with most species of Bidens, are found in moist, disturbed Read more […]

Round Leaf Chastetree, Beach Vitex

Vitex rotundifolia L. f. (Verbenaceae) Vitex rotundifolia L. f. is an evergreen woody tree, densely covered with short hairs. Leaves are opposite, simple, ovate, broadly oblong-elliptic, 2-5 cm long by 1.5-3 cm wide, rounded or abruptly acute at the base. Inflorescence panicles are at the terminal, densely flowered, 4-7 cm long with purple corolla. Fruits are globose, 5-7 mm. Origin Native to Temperate and Tropical Asia, Australasia and Pacific. Phytoconstituents Rotundifuran, prerotundifuran, vitexilactone, previtexilactone, vitexicarpin, vitricine, vitetrifolins D-G, vitexifolins A-E, isoambreinolide and others. Traditional Medicinal Uses In Malaysia, various parts of the plants are considered panacea for illnesses ranging from headache to tuberculosis. In China, the plant has been used for the treatment of cancer. A poultice of the leaves is used to treat rheumatism, contusions, swollen testicles and as a discutient in sprains. In Indonesia, leaves have been used in medicinal baths, as a tincture or for intestinal complaints. In Papua New Guinea, sap from crushed heated leaves is diluted with water and drunk to relieve headaches. The fruits are used to expel worms and in Vietnam, a decoction of dried fruits Read more […]

Eremophila Species (Poverty Bush; Emu Bush)

Distribution and Importance of Eremophila Species The genus Eremophila (Myoporaceae) consists of woody shrubs and trees which typically grow in low rainfall areas and are characterized by the viscid to resinous vegetative parts, ebracteate flowers and indehiscent woody fruit. In terms of biogeographical distribution, Eremophila is one of the most significant Australian desert genera. Of the 210 Eremophila species recognized by Chinnock, 175 occur throughout Western Australia. Seventy-five percent of the species are entomophilous, the remainder being ornithophilous. The genus is an important component of the semi-arid vegetation of pastoral zones and many species are browsed by animals when the plants are at the seedling stage. Some Eremophila species, e.g. E. gilesii F. Muell. and E. mitchellii Benth., are regarded as woody weeds. Many species occur on impoverished soil and, as a consequence, they are collectively referred to as poverty bush. Since emus favour the fruits of some Eremophila species, the term emu bush is also commonly used. Eremophila species have been highly valued for medicinal and cultural purposes by the Aboriginal people in central Australia. The use of different species in the cure or alleviation Read more […]

Diversity of Echinacea

Echinacea diversity will be discussed in terms of its species, varieties, cultivating stage and regions, plant parts, processing of plant and products, methodology, quality, clinical trials, and legislation. The diversity is shown at the level of the following constituents that are thought to show individual or combined biological and pharmacological activity: Lipophilic alkamides (dodecatetraenoic acid isobutylamides and related compounds, also called alkylamides) Moderately hydrophilic phenolic caffeoyl derivatives (cichoric acid, cynarin, echinacoside, caftaric acid, chlorogenic acid, etc.) Lipophilic polyalkynes and polyalkenes High-molecular weight hydrophilic glycoproteins and polysaccharides including heteroxylans, fructofuranoside, and arabinogalactans. The lipophilic alkamides and polar phenolic caffeoyl derivatives are considered to be the main pharmacologically active components in Echinacea alcohol extracts in which the polar polysaccharides are at very low level. The polysaccharides exist in expressed Echinacea juice, aqueous extract, and powdered whole herb. However, their levels in most Echinacea preparations and effects on the immune system after oral intake have been disputed. Species Table Read more […]

Popularity of Echinacea

Publications So far, over 800 scientific studies on Echinacea have been published including botanical, chemical, analytical, pharmacological, clinical aspects, and so on. Results of searches for publications about Echinacea in the databases Pub-Med, National Library of Medicine (www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/PubMed), ISI Web of Science (www.isinet.com) et al. Although Echinacea has a long tradition as a folk medicine among Native Americans and is now the most popular herb in North America, research on Echinacea in these countries was rare until the 1990s. Before the 1980s, most research on Echinacea was pioneered and conducted in Germany and published in German. More recently, studies on Echinacea have been carried out worldwide and are published mostly in English. Scientific publications about Echinacea are increasing rapidly. The annual number of publications on this herb found in Pub-Med in 2002 is 50 to 80 times greater than during the 1970s and 1980s. Searching the database CAplus (stneasy.fiz-karlsruhe.de) also showed that studies on Echinacea are increasing rapidly. During the 30 years between 1967 and 1997, 131 publications related to Echinacea were found (4.4/year), while in the 4 years between 1997 and 2001, 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 […]

Respiratory System: Herbal Treatment of Children

The Function Of The Respiratory System To ensure sufficient intake of oxygen it is vital for children to have a fully functioning respiratory system, to have plenty of fresh air and exercise every day and that they breathe properly. The quality of the air breathed in is also of vital importance. Children’s lungs are delicate organs susceptible to external factors including heat, dust, moulds, pathogenic micro-organisms and chemical irritants. The pollution in the air, cigarette smoke, carbon monoxide, lead from car fumes, etc., becomes pollution in their lungs, which is then carried in the blood all round the body. According to Western medicine the main function of the lungs is the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide and the maintenance of acid-base in the body. We also know that the air we breathe is not only vital to our physiological functioning, but also to our more subtle processes. In India air is called “prana”, the breath of life. Not only are we breathing in gases vital for normal functioning of our cells and tissues, but we are also taking in the energy of the atmosphere around us which radiates from the trees and other green plants and ultimately from the sun. Correct breathing is vital for our nerves Read more […]

Treating The Common Cold

When using herbs to treat the common cold, the aim is to support the body’s fight against the infection and speed recovery, while at the same time relieving the often annoying symptoms. Echinacea is one of the prime cold remedies that has received much press coverage over the last few years. Research shows preparations made from the pressed juice of the flowering aerial parts of Echinacea purpurea are an effective supportive treatment of common viral infections of the upper respiratory tract and can diminish the severity and the length of common colds significantly. Taking 2.5 ml of the tincture at the onset of infection and taken every 2 hours until all symptoms have cleared, can certainly stop a cold from progressing. At the first signs of infection, hot herbal infusions (sweetened with honey or flavoured with unsweetened blackcurrant / apple juice or liquorice if required) can be given to ease the symptoms and if taken every 2 hours can speed infection on its way. Equal parts of the four following herbs or any of them given singly as hot infusions can be taken in the same manner: 1. Yarrow stimulates the circulation and induces sweating, helping to reduce fevers, clear toxins, decongest the airways and soothe Read more […]