Chamomile: Traditional Use and Therapeutic Indications

Traditional Use Chamomile has been known for centuries and is well established in therapy. In traditional folk medicine it is found in the form of chamomile tea, which is drunk internally in cases of painful gastric and intestinal complaints connected with convulsions such as diarrhea and flatulence, but also with inflammatory gastric and intestinal diseases such as gastritis and enteritis. Externally chamomile is applied in the form of hot compresses to badly healing wounds, such as for a hip bath with abscesses, furuncles, hemorrhoids, and female diseases; as a rinse of the mouth with inflammations of the oral cavity and the cavity of the pharynx; as chamomile steam inhalation for the treatment of acne vulgaris and for the inhalation with nasal catarrhs and bronchitis; and as an additive to baby baths. In Roman countries it is quite common to use chamomile tea even in restaurants or bars and finally even in the form of a concentrated espresso. This is also a good way of fighting against an upset stomach due to a sumptuous meal, plenty of alcohol, or nicotine. In this case it is not easy to draw a line and find out where the limit to luxury is. Clinic and practice Preliminary remark The suitability of the empirical Read more […]

Healing Powers of Aloes

Aloe is a medicinal plant that has maintained its popularity over the course of time. Three distinct preparations of aloe plants are mostly used in a medicinal capacity: aloe latex (=aloe); aloe gel (=aloe vera); and, aloe whole leaf (=aloe extract). Aloe latex is used for its laxative effect; aloe gel is used topically for skin ailments, such as wound healing, psoriasis, genital herpes and internally by oral administration in diabetic and hyperlipidaemic patients and to heal gastric ulcers; and, aloe extract is potentially useful for cancer and AIDS. The use of honey may make the aloe extract therapy palatable and more efficient. Aloe preparations, especially aloe gel, have been reported to be chemically unstable and may deteriorate over a short time period. In addition, hot water extracts may not contain adequate concentrations of active ingredients and purified fractions may be required in animal studies and clinical trials. Therefore it should be kept in mind that, in some cases, the accuracy of the listed actions may be uncertain and should be verified by further studies. There are at least 600 known species of Aloe (Family Liliaceae), many of which have been used as botanical medicines in many countries for Read more […]

Healing Powers of Aloes: Pharmacology and Therapeutic Applications

Constipation Aloe latex possesses laxative properties and has been used traditionally to treat constipation. The old practice of using aloe as a laxative drug is based on its content of anthraquinones like barbaloin, which is metabolised to the laxative aloe-emodin, isobarbaloin and chrysophanic acid. The term ‘aloe’ (or ‘aloin’) refers to a crystalline, concentrated form of the dried aloe latex. In addition, aloe latex contains large amounts of a resinous material. Following oral administration the stomach is quickly reached and the time required for passage into the intestine is determined by stomach content and gastric emptying rate. Glycosides are probably chemically stable in the stomach (pH 1–3) and the sugar moiety prevents their absorption into the upper part of the gastrointestinal tract and subsequent detoxification in the liver, which protects them from breakdown in the intestine before they reach their site of action in the colon and rectum. Once they have reached the large intestine the glycosides behave like pro-drugs, liberating the aglycones (aloe-emodin, rhein-emodin, chyrosophanol, etc.) that act as the laxatives. The metabolism takes place in the colon, where bacterial glycosidases are Read more […]

Carum carvi L. (Caraway)

The genus Carum Rup. ex Linn. Syst. ed I. (1735) from the family Umbelliferae (= Apiaceae) comprises 195 species. In Europe five species grow: Carum carvi L., C. heldreichii Boiss., C. multiflorum (Sibth. et Sm.) Boiss., C. rigidulum (Viv.) Koch, ex DC, and C. verticillatum (L.) Koch. From the economical point of view, the most important is caraway, Carum carvi L. Sp. PL, 263 (1753), known also as Carum aromaticum Salisb., C. decussatum Gilib., C. officinale S.F. Gray, and C. careum Bub. (Index Kewensis 1895-1974). Caraway is biennial herb which grows up to 150 cm, indigenous to Europe and Asia, and widely cultivated in many countries for its aromatic fruits. Leaves are two-to three-pinnate, lobes 3 to 25 mm linear-lanceloate or linear. The lowest leaf segments are at least twice as long as wide. Petals whitish or pink. Fruits 3 to 6 mm, ovoid, 3 to 3.5 times as long as wide, with low rounded ridges, smelling strongly after crushing, 2n = 20. Medicinal Components Carum carvi L., caraway, is known as a spice and a medicinal herb. Fruits of this plant are used as flavoring spice in various foods. Dried fruits are used for preparing a stimulating tea, they are also a mild stomachic. Caraway fruits contain essential Read more […]

Black Nightshade, Terong Meranti, Poison Berry

Solanum nigrum L. (Solanaceae) Solanum nigrum L. is a small herb, up to 1.5 m tall. Leaves are ovate, ovate-oblong, glabrous, hairy, 1-16 cm by 0.25-12 cm. Inflorescence of 2-10 in an extra-axillary cluster, with white or purple corolla and yellow central protrusion. Fruit is globose, black in colour but is green when immature, 0.5 cm in diameter, with many seeds. Origin Native to Southwest Asia, Europe, India and Japan. Phytoconstituents Solanidine, α-, β-, γ-chaconine, desgalactotigonin, α-, β-solamargine, diosgenin, solanadiol, α-, β-, γ-solanines, soladulcidine, solanocapsine, α-, β-solansodamine, solasodine, α-solasonine, tigogenin, tomatidenol, uttronins A and B, uttrosides A and B, solanigroside A-H and others. Traditional Medicinal Uses The stem, leaves and roots are used as a decoction for wounds, tumours and cancerous growths, sores and as an astringent. They are also used as a condiment, stimulant, tonic, for treatment of piles, dysentery, abdominal pain, inflammation of bladder, relief of asthma, bronchitis, coughs, eye ailments, itch, psoriasis, skin diseases, eczema, ulcer, relief of cramps, rheumatism, neuralgia and expulsion of excess fluids. The roots are used as an expectorant. The Read more […]

Thapsia garganica L.

Thapsia garganica L., Apiaceae, called Derias by the Arabs, is an ancient medicinal plant that contains thapsigargins as the active constituents. Thapsigargins are highly oxygenated sesquiterpene lactones with three or four ester groups, a specific stereochemistry, with a ds-annulated lactone ring and possessing unique biological activities. The first known thapsigargin was trilobolid III isolated from Laser trilobum (L.) Borkh.. However, the biological activities were not recognized until the isolation of thapsigargin I and thapsigargicin II from T garganica (), a perennial herb growing on stony, sandy fields, and along roadsides in the Mediterranean area. The resin from roots of T garganica has been known since ancient times to cause a vigorous contact dermatitis and has been used in folk medicine until recently, especially by the Arabs of northern Africa. Radix Thapsiae and Resina Thapsiae have been recorded in several pharmacopoeias, most recently in the 1937 edition of the French Pharmacopoeia. The resin has been reported to be used against pulmonary diseases, catarrhs, and in the form of a medicinal plaster in the treatment of rheumatic pains. Since the isolation of thapsigargins from T garganica, analogous Read more […]

Euphorbia characias L.

Since antiquity, Euphorbia species have been used for multiple purposes. The leaves and branchlets of Euphorbia lancifolia Schlecht were used by Mayam Indians to produce a tea named Ixbut which is reported to act as a galactogogue, increasing the flow or volume of milk in postpartem women. Some species have been used for treatment of cancer, tumors, and warts for more than 2000 years. This is the case for E.fischeriana Steud., that was used in traditional Chinese medicine as an antitumor drug. Medicinal uses of Euphorbia species include treatment of skin diseases, warts, intestinal parasites, and gonorrhea. Table Some species of Euphorbia used in folk medicine summarizes the uses in folk medicine. The latex of some plants of Euphorbia is toxic, causing poisoning in human beings and livestock, skin dermatitis, and inflammations of mucous membranes, conjunctivitis, tumor promotion, and cancer. Table Some species of Euphorbia used in folk medicine Species Used as treatment of E. antiquorum L. Dyspepsia E. caudicifolia Haines Purgative, expectorant E. fischeriana Steud. Antitumor E. genistoides Berg. Diaphoretic E. helioscopia L. Bronchitis E. hirta L. Antihistaminic E. 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 […]

Anxiety Disorders: Supplements With Possible Efficacy

In addition to supplements discussed above, a few other compounds may also have some efficacy in treating symptoms of anxiety. However, since the data that supports the use of the following supplements is extremely limited, clinicians should proceed with caution, and consider the use of the compounds discussed in this section as experimental. St. John’s Wort As described in site, St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum) is an herb that exists in many species throughout the world, and it is widely used as an antidepressant. It is available in a variety of preparations, including capsules, liquid, oils, and raw herb to be brewed as tea. St. John’s Wort contains a plethora of active ingredients, including flavonoids, naphthodianthrones, phloroglucinols, phenolic acids, terpenes, and xanthones. These exert a variety of psychoactive effects, and several of these are described below. Of all herbal supplements, St. John’s Wort is the one that has been researched most extensively and there is strong support for its efficacy in reducing depressive symptoms. The use of St. John’s Wort as an anxiolytic is more recent, but a few studies suggest that is may be effective. Davidson and Connor (2001) reported case studies of patients 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 […]