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 […]

Zingiber officinale Roscoe (Ginger)

The treatment of dyspepsia, flatulence, colic, vomiting, diarrhoea, spasms, and other stomach complaints. Morphology and Distribution Ginger (Zingiber officinale Roscoe) is a perennial plant with fleshy and bent finger-like rhizomes. The rhizomes branch usually up to the 4th order and show negative geotropism, and also possess oil cells. Zingiber officinale is believed to be native to tropical Asia. However, this plant is widely cultivated for the aromatic and pungent rhizomes in the tropical, subtropical and temperate regions, such as India, Ceylon, Indonesia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Jamaica and West Indies, Florida (USA), Queensland (Australia), China, and Japan. Zingiber officinale rhizomes are roughly classified into three categories, such as the fresh rhizome (Shinshoga in Japanese), the propagation rhizome (Taneshoga) and the 1-year-old rhizome (Oyashoga). These rhizomes are widely utilized not only as food, but also as medicine. Pharmacological studies show that ginger rhizomes are effective for intestinal disorders and salivary secretion, for stimulating the vasomotor and respiratory centres, for relaxing the tracheal and ileal smooth muscles, and for lowering serum and hepatic cholesterol levels. Read more […]

Gloriosa superba L. (Flame Lily)

Gloriosa superba L., also known as the flame lily, has a wide distribution in tropical and subtropical areas. The plant has numerous uses as remedies and potions to the local populations of both Africa and Asia. Clewer et al. (1915) found that Gloriosa superba contained the alkaloid colchicine. Preparations of colchicine have been used to cure acute gout. Colchicine is known to inhibit mitosis, interfere with the orientation of fibrils, induce polyploidy, and has been used in the treatment of cancer. Since the discovery of colchicine in Gloriosa, a number of researchers have proposed that Gloriosa could serve as a commercial source of colchicine. Bellet and Gaignault compared the relative colchicine content of the genera Colchicum (the traditional source of colchicine) and Gloriosa. On a dry mass basis, Colchicum yielded 0.62% colchicine and 0.39% colchicoside, while Gloriosa yielded 0.9% and 0.82% respectively. This supports the argument that Gloriosa can be a commercially viable source of colchicine, provided that it can be propagated at a fast rate. Gloriosa is a member of the order Liliales and the family Colchicaceae. Members of the family Colchicaceae are geophytes, having either corms or small tubers as their Read more […]

Coleus spp.

The Genus Coleus More than 300 species belong to the genus Coleus, a member of the family Lamiaceae. Coleus species are native to tropical and subtropical regions of Africa, Australia, the East Indies, the Malay Archipelago, and the Philippines. Some species, especially those with showy colorful foliage, are grown as ornamentals all over the world. In India, tubers of some Coleus species, namely, C. tuberosus and C. forskohlii, are eaten as vegetables and pickles, leaves of other Coleus species (e.g. C. amboinicus) are used as spices. Preparations from several Coleus species are used in Ayurvedic medicine in India, e.g., preparations from C. amboinicus are active against skin problems and worms. Other preparations from Coleus are traditionally used against heart diseases, abdominal colic, respiratory disorders, painful micturition, insomnia, and convulsions. The genus Coleus was first described by de Loureiro in 1790. The name Coleus is derived from the Greek work koleos, which means sheath. This relates to a typical characteristic of Coleus, where the four filaments fuse at the bottom to form a sheath around the style (de Loureiro 1790). Plants of the genus Coleus grow as herbaceous perennials, subshrubs, and low 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 […]

Primary Dysmenorrhoea

Primary dysmenorrhoea is caused by uterine contractions which are too strong and occur too frequently. Between the contractions, the uterine muscle does not relax properly, and there is an abnormally high ‘resting tone’. The overall effect is a reduction in the amount of blood flowing through the uterine muscle (ischaemia) which causes the pain known as primary dysmenorrhoea. The most usual cause of primary dysmenorrhoea is an imbalance in the prostaglandins levels. Prostaglandins are complex hormone-like substances found in most body tissues. There are many different types of prostaglandins which control bodily functions by working together as an integrated team. When the different types of prostaglandins are present in normal ratios, menstruation proceeds normally. An imbalance in the ratios in favour of the type of prostaglandins which increase muscle spasm will cause period pain. Their role in menstruation is complex and is discussed in ‘Prostaglandins’. The uterine tonics The uterine tonics, Aletris farinosa, Caulophyllum thalictroides, Angelica sinensis and Rubus idaeus, are used to treat pain because they are believed to regulate the muscular activity of the uterus and help initiate contractions which are Read more […]

Adverse Reactions Associated with Echinacea and Other Asteraceae

Fifty percent of Australians report using some form of complementary alternative medicines (CAM) apart from vitamins in any 12-month period, with similar patterns of use in British and North American subjects. Despite the common perception that “natural therapy” is safe, toxic and hypersensitivity reactions to complementary and alternative medicine have been described. Given that these products are rarely packaged in childproof containers, accidental exposure also occurs. Allergic reactions are most common in atopic subjects. This is not surprising when one considers that up to 20% of atopic subjects use CAM. Furthermore, these patients are more likely than others to become sensitized to cross-reactive allergens and some use (or are advised to use) products such as Echinacea for treatment of allergic disease. When interpreting reports of immediate hypersensitivity to Asteraceae-derived CAM, it is helpful to bear in mind a number of important concepts: (1) exposure to Asteraceae is common; (2) sensitization is more common in subjects with preexistent allergic disease; (3) there is allergenic cross-reactivity between different Asteraceae, and between Asteraceae and some foods; and (4) patients sensitized by inhalation Read more […]

Fennel (Foeniculum Vulgaris)

Medical Uses Traditionally, fennel has been used mainly to aid digestion, relieve stomach spasms, loosen coughs, freshen breath, and promote the flow of breast milk in nursing mothers. Fennel water has been given to infants to relieve colic. Fennel syrup and fennel honey have been used for upper respiratory infections in children. Historical Uses Fennel was a sacred herb in medieval times, and bunches of fennel were hung on doors to prevent the effects of witchcraft. Ancient Greeks thought that fennel gave them courage. The Greek meaning of fennel is “to grow thin”. In folklore, fennel seeds were used to promote milk flow, help calm colicky babies, suppress appetite, and aid digestion. Fennel has been used in India to aid digestion and freshen breath after eating. Growth Fennel is easy to grow from seed; it prefers warm soil with plenty of sun. Fennel: Part Used • Seeds Major Chemical Compounds • Volatile oil • Essential fatty acids • Flavonoids • Beta carotene • Vitamin C • Calcium • Iron Fennel: Clinical Uses Traditionally, fennel has been used mainly to aid digestion, relieve stomach spasms, loosen coughs, freshen breath, and promote the flow of breast milk in nursing Read more […]

Chamomile (Matricaria Chamomilla)

Medical Uses This herb is used internally for the gastrointestinal tract and nervous system and for its anti-inflammatory, anti-allergic, and antispasmodic effects. It is used externally for skin and mucous membrane inflammation and hemorrhoids. Chamomile is used for babies to help with sleep, colic, and teething. Historical Uses Chamomile is also known as scented mayweed and German chamomile. Many cultures associated chamomile with healing. In the well-known story, Peter Rabbit’s mother gave Peter chamomile tea to help relieve his stomachache. Chamomile has been used for stomach discomforts, colic, and teething. It also has been used to promote relaxation. Growth Chamomile is an annual herb of the aster or composite family. Easy to grow in the garden, chamomile likes acidic soil, lots of sun, and good drainage. It grows to about 3 feet tall and has small daisylike flowers. The leaves are very fragile and feathery. Chamomile: Part Used • Flower heads Major Chemical Compounds • Bisabolol • Chamazulene • Flavonoids: quercetin and apigenin • Volatile oils () Chamomile: Clinical Uses Chamomile is used internally for the gastrointestinal tract and nervous system. It is also used internally Read more […]

Celery (Apium graveolens)

Celery (Apium graveolens L.) is an umbellifer and is therefore a close relative of parsley, parsnip, and carrot. Like many damp-loving umbellifers, wild celery has a wide distribution, extending from Sweden to Algeria, Egypt, Ethiopia, and in Asia from the Caucasus to Baluchistan and to the mountains of India. The wild plant is bitter and was probably used for medicinal purposes before gaining popularity as a herb and a vegetable. The curative powers attributed to celery are many and varied. Both the roots and seeds were used medicinally, especially in obstructions of the liver and spleen and in the treatment of fevers, jaundice and diaorrhea, pains in the chest, windy cholic and as a diuretic. Celery seed (or its oil) is also apparently a cure for rheumatism, gout, bronchitis and asthma, flatulence and colic and is ascribed the properties of being abortifacient, antiseptic, deobstruent, anti-inflammatory, a cardiac tonic, a sedative and finally and in contradiction to the last, a stimulant. Despite this wealth of medicinal qualities ascribed to celery and its seed, no pharmaceutical value is at present attributed to it, being regarded as one of many folk remedies. The exceptions to this view are publications by Kohli Read more […]