Traditional Uses of Neem

The therapeutic efficacy of neem must have been known to man since antiquity as a result of constant experimentation with nature. Ancient man observed the unique features of this tree: a bitter taste, non-poisonous to man, but deleterious to lower forms of life. This might have resulted in its use as a medicine in various cultures, particularly in the Indian subcontinent and later on in other parts of the world. Ayurveda The word neem is derived from Sanskrit Nimba, which means “to bestow health”; the various Sanskrit synonyms of neem signify the pharmacological and therapeutic effects of the tree. It has been nicknamed Neta — a leader of medicinal plants, Pichumarda — antileprotic, Ravisambba — sun ray-like effects in providing health, Arishta — resistant to insects, Sbeetal — cooling (cools the human system by giving relief in diseases caused by hotness, such as skin diseases and fevers), and Krimighana — anthelmintic. It was considered light in digestion, hot in effect, cold in property. In earlier times, patients with incurable diseases were advised to make neem their way of life. They were to spend most of the day under the shade of this tree. They were to drink infusions of various parts of Read more […]

Industrial Quality Control of Ginkgo Products

The marketing of pharmaceutical products in Europe requires an authorisation, according to the directives 65/65 EEC and 75/318 EEC. Phytomedicines are included in this general legislation, and are subjected to the same treatment as medicinal products in general. Thus, evidence of the product’s safety, efficacy and quality has to be submitted before a marketing authorisation will be granted. In this chapter the focus will be on the parameters and the analytical methods to evaluate the quality of Ginkgo biloba leaves extracts and finished products. Earlier experience gained at the University of Lausanne (Camponovo) and at Pharmaton for the standardisation of GK 501 Ginkgo biloba extract Pharmaton and for the finished product Gincosan and Memfit Pharmaton, plays an important role in this. Control of Starting Material (Ginkgo Biloba Leaves) A consistent quality for products of vegetable origin can only be guaranteed if the starting materials are rigorously defined. But what does a good quality of Ginkgo leaves mean? So far, there are no pharmacopoeia monographs on Ginkgo biloba leaf to which one can refer. Each producer supplies its own monograph with some specifications that are more or less detailed and dependent Read more […]

Development of the U.S. Pharmacopeia’s Monograph on Ginkgo Biloba

It is amazing that the Ginkgo tree, Ginkgo biloba L., the last remaining member of the Ginkgoaceae family has suddenly engaged the interest of Western medicine. Worldwide use of Ginkgo leaf extracts is reported to be on the rise in view of the reported beneficial effects of the Ginkgo as an antiasthmatic and on the circulatory system. Is it more appropriate to say that Western medicine has at last considered the medicinal properties of Ginkgo biloba whose fruits and seeds have been valued in China for their medicinal properties for the last several hundred years? Though the leaves of Ginkgo biloba were sparsely used, in comparison to the fruits and seeds, in ancient medicines in the East, the Western medicine as practiced extensively in Europe uses the leaves. Senna leaves are used directly in the preparation of tea, but traditionally extracts of Ginkgo leaves are used directly in the Western medicine preparations. United States Pharmacopeia’s (USP) interest and involvement in the development and establishment of public standards began in 1820 with the publication of its first edition. The first edition of the United States Pharmacopeia included monographs on botanicals. Thereafter for the next 120 years or so the Read more […]

Development of the U.S. Pharmacopeia’s Monograph on Ginkgo Biloba: Appendix

Ginkgo Leaf Ginkgo leaf consists of the dried leaf of Ginkgo biloba Linn (Fam. Ginkgoaceae. Packaging and storage Preserve in well-closed containers, protected from light and moisture. Labeling The label states that it is Ginkgo Leaf and states also the genus and species. USP Reference standards USP Quercetin RS, USP Rutin RS. Botanic characteristics Macroscopic: Dried whole, folded or fragmented leaves, with or without attached petiole, varying from khaki green to greenish-brown in color, often more brown at the apical edge, and darker on the adaxial surface. Lamina broadly obcuneate (fan shaped), 2 to 12cm in width and 2 to 9.5cm in length from petiole to apical margin; mostly 1.5 to 2 times wider than long. Base margins entire, concave; apical margin sinuate, usually truncate or centrally cleft, and rarely multiple cleft. Surface glabrous, with wrinkled appearance due to prominent dichotomous venation appearing parallel and extending from the lamina base to the apical margin. Petiole of a similar color to leaf, channeled on the adaxial surface, 2 to 8cm in length. Histology — Transverse section of lamina: A thin but marked cuticle occurs over a single layer of epidermal cells on both surfaces. Read more […]

Alkyl Phenols in Ginkgo Biloba

The phenolic lipids are a comparatively little known group of compounds which may be considered as biogenetically derived from fatty acids and containing a benzene ring, one to two phenolic groups and zero to one carboxyl group on the benzene ring. Some of them have had an applied artistic use for centuries for the preparation of Japanese and Chinese lacs, and others, e.g. the Cashew Nut Shell Liquid (CNSL) play a vital role in certain modern technical uses for chemical treatments and industrial utilizations. Historically, most of the analytical work on alkyl phenols has been carried out on Anacardium occidentale, because of its commercial value, and the acquired experience was translated to other alkyl phenols containing plants. This paper reviews the literature concerning the characterization of these compounds in Ginkgo biloba plant materials and in pharmaceutical preparations mainly derived from the leaves of the plant. In fact, side effects concerning the allergenic properties of this class of compounds, have been described, and a number of industrial processes have been set up in order to avoid their occurrence in phytopharmaceuticals. A small review on the chemistry and biology of ginkgo alkylphenols has appeared Read more […]

Flavonoids of Ginkgo Biloba

The use of Ginkgo preparations for the treatment of cough, bronchial asthma, irritable bladder and alcohol abuse can be traced back to the origins of Chinese herbal medicine. But the modern use of Ginkgo phytomedicines is not derived from traditional medicine. Research on Ginkgo biloba, done by the pharmaceutical company of Dr. W.Schwabe, Karlsruhe, Germany, led to the introduction of Ginkgo leaf extracts in 1965 for the treatment of circulatory diseases resulting from older age. Today, preparations containing Ginkgo leaf extracts are among the best selling phytopharmaceuticals in Europe, particularly in France and Germany. Compared to the importance of Ginkgo preparations, there is only a very small number of publications dealing with quality control of Ginkgo and Ginkgo preparations. To date, only a few general quality standards for Ginkgo leaves and Ginkgo phytomedicines have been published, although various laboratories are actively involved in the analysis of Ginkgo constituents. It appears that the marketing strategies of most companies which produce Ginkgo preparations do not permit the publication of the company-developed quality control standards. A monograph entitled “Ginkgo folium” is in preparation for the Read more […]

Ginkgo (Ginkgo Biloba)

Medical Uses Ginkgo is used for circulation problems, Alzheimer’s disease, difficulties with memory, ringing in the ears, headaches, and dizziness. Ginkgo biloba is licensed in Germany for treating: cerebral dysfunction with difficulties in memory, dizziness, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), headaches, emotional instability with anxiety, and intermittent claudication. Historical Uses Legend has it that Chinese monks saved the ginkgo tree from extinction by growing it in monastery gardens. Growth The ginkgo is the oldest known living tree in the world. It is not difficult to grow, and ginkgo trees can be found in many city areas in the United States, including Central Park in New York City. The trees are able to withstand pollution and disease. Their leaves turn yellow in the fall. Ginkgo: Part Used • Dried leaves Major Chemical Compounds • Diterpenes known as ginkgolides, sesquiterpene bilobalide, quercetin Ginkgo: Clinical Uses Ginkgo is used for peripheral vascular disease, such as intermittent claudication and cerebral insufficiency. It is approved by the German Commission E and the World Health Organization. Ginkgo biloba is licensed in Germany for treating cerebral dysfunction with difficulties Read more […]

Northern Asia

In the history of medicinal plant use in eastern Asia and Siberia, a very important school of medical practice, traditional Chinese medicine, links practices from a number of traditions that have been handed down by word of mouth (as in Siberia or northern China) and for which written historical sources are very rare and poorly investigated (e.g., Mongolian traditional medicine and the Tibetan school). The Chinese Materia Medico, has been growing throughout the last 2,000 years. This increase results from the integration of drugs into the official tradition from China’s popular medicine as well as from other parts of the world. The first major Materia Medica after Tao Hong Jing was the Xin xiu ben cao 659 ad, also known as Tang Materia Medica, which was the official pharmacopoeia of the Tang dynasty. It contained 844 entries and was China’s first illustrated Materia Medica. Zheng lei ben cao, 1108 ad, was the major medical treatise during the Song dynasty and contained 1,558 substances. However, China’s most celebrated medical book is represented by Li Shi-Zhen’s Ben cao gang mu, posthumously printed in 1596 ad, with 1,173 plant remedies, 444 animal-derived drugs and 275 minerals. This tradition has continued into Read more […]

Treatment Of Depression

Depression ranks as one of the most widespread mental health problems in the world. Besides causing significant morbidity and mortality (through suicide), depression also contributes to or is associated with several other serious problems. Depression may contribute to atherosclerosis, perhaps by impairing glucose tolerance, and depression has been repeatedly linked to depressed immune function. In fact, over half of people with chronic or severe illnesses may suffer from depression. Depression can strike at any age, but depression in the elderly is a particularly significant problem. The surgeon general of the United States recently noted that suicide rates increase with age and that nearly 5 million of the 32 million Americans over 65 suffer from some form of depression. Natural medicine offers many options for helping cope despite the enormity of the problem of depression at any age. Today, allopathic antidepressant drugs are all too often prescribed and dispensed without a second thought as a treatment for depression. The decision to institute or maintain patients on these drugs should be made much more cautiously. The profitable new antidepressant drugs (selective serotonin-reuptake inhibitors [SSRIs] and atypical Read more […]

Cerebrovascular Insufficiency And Depression

Atherosclerosis of the vasculature feeding the brain can lead to a condition known as cerebrovascular insufficiency. This chronic low-grade ischemia can impair memory or otherwise mimic dementia. It can also produce a syndrome resembling depression. This syndrome is surprisingly little discussed in the United States but is much more widely recognized in Europe. The treatment is obviously the same as for atherosclerosis anywhere in the body — elimination of the underlying dietary and lifestyle causes (especially sedentariness) and addition of supportive nutrients and practices (like meditation). Ginkgo biloba (ginkgo) leaf extracts have been very rigorously shown to help alleviate cerebrovascular insufficiency symptoms. This is almost certainly due to ginkgo’s ability to reduce the underlying atherosclerosis and improve neuron function despite ischemia. It also seems to stimulate blood flow to the brain, perhaps by acting on blood vessels. The usual dose of ginkgo standardized extract is 80-160 mg two or three times per day. It should be used attentively in patients taking anticoagulants as the combination occasionally but rarely may have a synergistic effect and cause bleeding. Gingko has also been shown to Read more […]