Callitris spp. (Cypress Pine)

Distribution and Morphology The name Callitris is derived from the Greek word kallistos, and means most beautiful (). It was first named by Ventenat in 1808 (), and is a relatively small genus that belongs to the division of Gymnospermae, order Coniferales, family Cupressaceae (). Appreciable nomenclature complexities occur and therefore the reports on the number of Callitris species varies. In the Index Kewensis the names of 39 species are listed (Hooker and Jackson 1895). Although present in North Africa with two species, Callitris quadrivalvis and Callitris articulata (), most species are found in Australia, New Caledonia, Tasmania, and New Zealand (). Callitris, vernacularly named cypress pine, is found in all states of Australia and covers approximately 4300000 ha of forest (). The most common and most important species is C. columellaris, also known as the white cypress pine (). Therefore, the greater part of the literature on Callitris deals with this species. Confusingly enough, previously used names for C. columellaris are: C. glauca, C. intratropica, C. arenosa and C. hugelii (). In addition, recently another new name, C. glaucophylla, has been introduced for this species by Thompson and Johnson (), while Read more […]

Allium cepa L. (Onion)

The Allium species have been a source of food flavors and medicinal compounds in many areas of the world for several thousand years. The attraction of the alliums as a flavor source is primarily the pungent volatile constituents which are released when the fresh tissue is cut or chewed, and also the presence of milder odors in the cooked vegetables. The major alliums used as food in Western Europe include the onion (Allium cepa L.), garlic (A. sativum L.), chives (A. schoenoprasum L.) and leek (A. porrum L.), but Allium fistulasum L. and Allium tuberosum are grown on a large scale and eaten raw or cooked in China, Japan, and South East Asia. All the alliums referred to may be eaten raw, or as a cooked vegetable, or used as a flavor additive to fresh or cooked foods (). On a commercial scale, the flavor may be added as a powder, an oil, or as dried shredded bulb tissue. The importance of Allium is indicated by the fact that flavor derived from this source (usually garlic or onions) is the major flavor additive to convenience foods. The therapeutic value of fresh and extracted Allium has always been recognized, as can be judged by the list of ailments that are reported to be cured by garlic and onion. These are hemorrhoids, Read more […]

The Possible Mechanisms of Perilla in the Treatment of Allergy

Although the precise mechanisms of Perilla treatment for allergy are not yet well elucidated, recent researches on the various phytochemicals and their pharmacological properties have also revealed some mechanisms of Perilla action in allergy. Kosuna () recently published a review on anti-inflammatory active compounds in Perilla. Several active components contained in Perilla have been found to be linked with antiallergy and anti-inflammatory actions. These include elemicine, CX-pinene, caryophyllene, myristicin, β-sitosterol, apigenin, phenylpropanoids and also some flavonoids which act as anti-inflammatory agents (). From current knowledge, the mechanisms of allergy treatment by Perilla may involve the following aspects which are Linked to the regulation of the condition by the immune system. Perilla Leaf Extract TNF inhibition Relevant to this section is the Perilla leaf extract which contains active components of molecular weight less than 10000. As mentioned above, Yamazaki reported that Perilla extract was shown to be active in inhibiting TNF production (). Kosuna proposed that more than ten active components contained in the Perilla leaf extract were active in inhibiting TNF production which plays an important Read more […]

Eucalyptus oil products: Formulations and legislation

Eucalyptus oils are being used with increasing frequency in a variety of products found in the supermarket or pharmacy. ‘With extract of Eucalyptus’ or ‘With Eucalyptus essential oil’ claims are becoming more common on the labels of modern consumer products such as cosmetics, toiletries and household products due to the ever-increasing interest in natural or botanical ingredients. Eucalyptus oil may be used as an active ingredient to provide scientifically provable benefits – such as nasal decongestion or antibacterial effects – or at much lower dosages to impart more esoteric or folkloric connotations to the product concerned. Eucalyptus oils are also used as components of perfumes to provide a medicinal-type note to the fragrance. Eucalyptus globulus, or Blue Gum, oil was a traditional Australian aboriginal remedy for infections and fevers. It is now used all over the world for relieving coughs and colds, sore throats and other infections. Its main constituent, 1,8-cineole, is mucolytic (i.e. it thins out and relaxes the flow of mucus) and is excreted through the lung surface. Eucalyptus radiata oil is sometimes preferred by aromatherapists for its more pleasant smell while Eucalyptus smithii oil is Read more […]

The use of eucalyptus oils in consumer products

Insect repellents As noted in the introduction, Eucalyptus citriodora oil has been used as a ‘natural’ insect repellent. Depending on the product formulation it is used in, Lemon Eucalyptus (known as Quwenling in China) is up to four or five times more effective and longer-lasting than citronella oil (from Cymbopogon nardus), one of the best known natural insect repellents. p-Menthane-3,8-diol is the main active component of Quwenling and this can be isolated and used as a highly effective insect repellent. Eucalyptus citriodora oil contains up to 80–90 per cent citronellal, along with geraniol, both of which are known to have insect repellent activity but tend to dilute the much higher activity of the p-menthane-3,8-diol. The Mosi-guard Natural insect repellent spray produced by MASTA in the UK contains ‘Extract of Lemon Eucalyptus’ and claims on the label: Approved and recommended by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Field trials have shown effective protection for 6 h after a single application in mosquito infected areas. Also protects against many other biting insects. Mosi-guard Natural is made from a natural and renewable resource. It is kind to your skin and has no adverse effects Read more […]

Pharmacology of Poppy Alkaloids: Minor Opium Alkaloids

The pharmacology and biology of minor opium alkaloids have been surveyed previously in two comprehensive reviews (). Thebaine The pharmacology of thebaine was summarized by Reynolds and Randall in 1957 and studied comprehensively by a WHO Advisory Group in 1980. The pharmacological actions of thebaine in various isolated organs have been studied. Thebaine can induce a temporary decrease in blood pressure in anaesthetized dogs and this depressor effect showed a marked tachyphylaxis. In isolated guinea pig atrium, thebaine decreased the heart rate and contractions depending on the concentration. In isolated rabbit ileum it decreased the peristaltic movement and contractions (). The predominant effect of thebaine is stimulation of the central nervous system. In the mouse, rabbit, cat and dog increases in motor activity and reflex excitability were observed at doses around 2-10mg/kg s.c. or i.m. The Straub-tail response was noted only occasionally. The effects of thebaine on body temperature and respiration have also been studied. Convulsions were observed in almost all species of animals including the frog, pigeon, mouse, guinea pig, cat and dog. Transient tremors, restlessness and convulsions were observed in the Read more […]

Pharmacology of Poppy Alkaloids: Major Opium Alkaloids

 The latex obtained by the incision of unripe seed capsules of Papaver somniferum and which is known as opium is the source of several pharmacologically important alkaloids. Dioskorides, in about AD 77, referred to both the latex (opos) and the total plant extract (mekonion) and to the use of oral and inhaled (pipe smoked) opium to induce a state of euphoria and sedation. Since before the Christian era the therapeutic properties of opium were evident, with the first written reference to poppy juice by Theophrastus in the third century BC. Powdered opium contains more than 40 alkaloids which constitute about 25% by weight of the opium and are responsible for its pharmacological activity. In 1803 the German pharmacist Sertiirner achieved the isolation of morphine as one of the active ingredients of opium. Morphine, codeine, thebaine, papaverine, narcotine and narceine are the most important bases, with many of the remaining (minor) alkaloids occurring only in traces. Morphine Morphine has long occupied an eminent position on the list of useful drugs. As a pure alkaloid, it has been employed for over a century and a half and, as the most important constituent of opium, it has contributed to the comfort of the human Read more […]

Polygonum hydropiper L. (Water Pepper)

Distribution and Importance Polygonum hydropiper L. (family Polygonoceae) is a member of a genus of some 175 species. It is a semi-erect (25-75 cm) annual herb with a branched stem and lance-shaped leaves, carrying its greenish-pink flowers in slender racemes (). The species is widespread in most parts of Europe, temperate Asia, and North America, and it also occurs at scattered sites in North Africa. Across its main range it is abundant in the verges of ponds and ditches and on waterlogged grasslands and water meadows. Polygonum hydropiper is not grown commercially but has found an exceptionally impressive range of uses in folk medicine and also as a culinary herb, and this has led to the adoption of a rich variety of apt local names, e.g. fireweed, arsemart and smartweed are examples of some 20 English regional names in addition to the accepted vernacular name of “water pepper“. The flower heads have little odour but all the aerial parts have a bitter acrid taste and contain vesicant compounds that blister the skin upon repeated handling (). Medicinal use of Polygonum hydropiper goes back to Dioscorides (ca. 60 a.d.) and tinctures of foliage are used as diuretics, diaphoretics, and to arrest gynecological bleeding Read more […]

Cephaelis ipecacuanha A. Richard (Brazilian Ipecac)

The genus Cephaelis (family Rubiaceae) is comprised of about 100 species and is native to the tropics of the Americas, Africa, and Asia. Its species are mostly evergreen shrubs or small trees with opposite, undivided leaves and small flowers in terminal heads with an involucre of bracts. The plant generally starts flowering in the second year from germination, and the flowers have a five-toothed calyx, a five-lobed corolla, five stamens, and a two-branched style (). The fruits are small, usually two-seeded, berry-like drupes and their production becomes maximum three to four years after germination. There are two pharmaceutically important species, Cephaelis ipecacuanha A. Richard (also known as Psychotria ipecacuanha Stokes and Uragoga ipecacuanha Baill), and C. acuminata Karsten. The drug ipecac (ipecacuanha root) is the dried root or rhizome of these plants, which was used in Amazonian folk medicine and was introduced into Europe in 1672 to treat amoebic dysentery (). Distribution and Importance of the Ipecac Cephaelis ipecacuanha, known in commerce as Rio or Brazilian ipecac, is found over a large area in Brazil, particularly in the moist and shady forests of Matto Grosso and Minas Geraes. Plantations have Read more […]

Antibacterial activity of eucalyptus oils

The antibacterial properties of plant volatile oils have been recognised since antiquity and have been rediscovered in more recent times. Eucalyptus leaf oils have received attention in a number of studies. Deans and Ritchie () examined the antibacterial effects of fifty volatile oils purchased from a commercial supplier, including eucalyptus, on twenty-five different bacterial genera. The culture collection consisted of food spoilage, food poisoning, human, animal and plant disease types, along with indicators of faecal pollution and secondary opportunist pathogens. Eucalyptus oil was most effective against Elavobacterium suaveolens and the dairy organism Leuconostoc cremoris. However, it was not amongst the ten most inhibitory oils (thyme, cinnamon, bay, clove, bitter almond, lovage, pimento, marjoram, angelica and nutmeg). Leaf oils from eight Brazilian-grown eucalypts were tested against Mycobacterium avium by Leite et al. (): E. botryoides, E. camaldulensis, Eucalyptus citriodora, E. deglupta, Eucalyptus globulus, E. grandis, E. maculata and E. tereticornis. M. avium was sensitive to all the oils at 10mg/ml but only four of them at 5 mg/ml: Eucalyptus citriodora, E. maculata, E. camaldulensis and E. tereticornis. Read more […]