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 […]

Bioactivity of Basil: Other Activities

Plants belonging to the genus Ocimum exhibit a great deal of different pharmacological activities of which the most important, as concluded by the number of research reports, will be discussed below. The activities to be discussed in more detail are anti-inflammatory, immunomodulating and adaptogenic, anticarcinogenic, hypoglycemic and blood lipid lowering, radioprotective, effect on the CNS, antiulcerogenic, hepatoprotective and the effect on smooth muscle. In addition to these activities a number of other activities are also reported in the literature, such as antioxidant, angioprotective effect, effect on the reproductive behaviour and antiwormal activity. Anti-inflammatory Activity Ocimum sanctum L., popularly known as “Tulsi” in Hindi and “Holy Basil” in English, is a widely known sacred plant of Hindus. Different parts of the plant have been claimed to be valuable in a wide spectrum of diseases. For instance, it is used for the treatment of arthritis, rheumatism, pain and fever in the Ayurvedic system of medicine. Ocimum sanctum is now intensively studied in order to prove these activities by pharmacological evidence. A methanol extract and an aqueous suspension of Ocimum sanctum leaves inhibited Read more […]

Coptis

Coptis rhizome (Japanese name woren), belonging to the Ranunclaceae, is very commonly used in Japanese traditional medicine as antipyretic, antidote and an-tidysentery. The cultivation of the rhizome of Coptis plant grows very slowly and takes 5-6 years before use as raw material or as a source of berberine from the rhizome. Its rootstock and fibrous roots contain much berberine and other minor protoberberine alkaloids. Berberine is an useful antibacterial agent, and has stomachic and anti-inflammatory effects. Berberine can be obtained from Coptis rhizome and Phellodendron bark and has a wide market in Japan and East Asia. It is of pharmaceutical significance to investigate callus culture of this plant for berberine production. Several researchers have been working on its production. Coptis () has 15 species of small herbs with perennial root stocks distributed in the temperate regions of the northern hemisphere. The following species are used medicinally: C. japonica in Japan, C. chinensis in China, C. teeta in India and C. trifolia in North America. The powdered rhizome or an extract of C. japonica is a bitter stomachic and astringent. It has been used as remedy for severe headache; a concentrated solution Read more […]

Rehmannia glutinosa

General Morphology and Distribution Glutinous rehmannia (Rehmannia glutinosa Libosch., Scrophulariaceae), with the Chinese name Dihuang, is one of the most common and important Chinese medicinal herbs. It is a perennial herbaceous plant, 10-37 cm in height, covered with long, soft, gray-white, glandular hairs over the whole plant. The plant grows as a rosette before flowering, with leaves 3-10 cm in length and 1.5-4 cm in width. The inflorescence is a raceme, over 40 cm long, flowering in April-May, setting capsular fruits with 300-400 seeds and maturing in May-early June. The plant part for medicinal use is the root tuber (Rhizoma Rehmanniae). Wild Rehmannia plants are distributed on hillside, field ridge and roadside. Cultivated varieties or strains are mostly selected from R. glutinosa Libosch. f. hueichingensis (Chao et Schih) Hsiao. The Rehmannia plants for medical use are mainly cultivated and produced in most areas of China, especially in the provinces of Henan and Shandong. Both fresh or dried rhizome (Rhizoma Rehmanniae) and prepared rhizoma of Rehmannia (Rhizoma Rehmanniae Praeparatae) have been used as traditional Chinese medicine. Wild Rehmannia mostly growing in the provinces of Liaoning, Hebei, Shandong Read more […]

Catharanthus roseus (Periwinkle)

Catharanthus roseus (family Apocynaceae) is grown as an ornamental plant in many countries, although it originated from Madagascar. It is also known as Madagascar periwinkle or Cape periwinkle. This plant was used traditionally as a crude medicine for diabetes and other ailments. It has also been used as a substitute for hops in brewing beer. Now, however, C. roseus is most useful as a source of various alkaloids; approximately 90 indole alkaloids have been isolated from it, the most valuable being the dimeric alkaloids vinblastine and vincristine, which show antitumor activity. They are very similar in chemical structure, but their activity spectra and side effects are extremely different: vinblastine is effective against Hodgkin’s disease, choriocarcinoma, and the like, while vincristine is mainly employed to treat childhood acute leukemia. Vinblastin shows bone marrow toxicity, whereas vincristine is toxic to the nervous system. Due to the very low yields of these dimeric indole alkaloids in the plant (approx. 0.0005%), attempts have been made to produce alkaloid and other secondary metabolites in cell and tissue cultures. General reviews of work in this field have been published. In this chapter, attention is Read more […]

Honduras Mahogany, Broad-leaved Mahogany

Swietenia macrophylla King (Meliaceae) Swietenia macrophylla King is an evergreen tree, up to 30-35 m tall. Bark is grey and smooth when young, turning dark brown, ridged and flaky when old. Leaves are up to 35-50 cm long, alternate, glabrous with 4-6 pairs of leaflets. Each leaflet is 9-18 cm long. Flowers are small and white; and the fruit is dehiscent, usually 5-lobed capsule, erect, 12-15 cm long, grayish brown, smooth or minutely verrucose. The seed is woody, glossy and possesses wing-like structure at the base that aids its dispersion by wind. Origin Native to South America, cultivated in the Asia-Pacific and the Pacific for its quality wood. Phytoconstituents Swietenine, swietenolide, andirobin, khayasin T, swietemahonins E-G, swietenine acetate, swietenolide tiglate and others. Traditional Medicinal Uses The seeds of Swietenia macrophylla are traditionally used in several indigenous systems of medicine for the treatment of various ailments such as hypertension, diabetes and malaria. The local folks of Malaysia believe that the seeds are capable of “curing” hypertension and diabetes. The seeds are usually consumed raw by chewing. A decoction of seeds of Swietenia macrophylla is reported to treat malaria Read more […]

Akar Putarwali, Batang Wali

Tinospora crispa (L.) Diels (Menispermaceae) Tinospora crispa (L.) Diels is a woody climber with numerous protrusions on the stem. Leaves are oblong-ovate, cordate, 8-9 cm by 7-8 cm and tapering to a pointed end. Flowers are small, with 6 petals, 2 mm in length and 8-27 cm racemes. Male flowers have yellow sepals whereas female flowers have green sepals. Drupelets are red, juicy and 7-8 mm long. Origin Native to Malesia, Indochina, Indian subcontinent and China. Phytoconstituents Boropetol B, borapetoside B, C & F, jatrorhizine, magnoflorine, palmatine, protoberberine, tembolarine, diosmetin, cycloeucalenol, cycloeucalenone and others. Traditional Medicinal Uses It is used for hypertension, diabetes mellitus, to treat malaria, remedy for diarrhoea and as vermifuge. In Malaysia, T. crispa extract is taken orally by Type 2 (non-insulin-dependent) diabetic patients to treat hyperglycaemia. Pharmacological Activities Anti-inflammatory, Antioxidant, Antimalarial, Antiprotozoal and Hypoglycaemic. Dosage No information as yet. Adverse Reactions The plant may result in an increased risk of hepatic dysfunction due to marked elevation of liver enzymes but is reversible upon discontinuation of T. crispa. Toxicity No Read more […]

Scoparia dulcis L. (Sweet Broomweed)

Sweet broomweed (Scoparia dulcis L., Scrophulariaceae) is a perennial herb widely distributed in the torrid zone. The original habitat of this plant is tropical America. Stems are erect, branching, and sometimes woody at the base, 25-80 cm tall. Roots are pale yellow and straight, 10-15 cm long, with many lateral roots. Leaves are lanceolate, elliptical, or obovate, 5-20 mm long, with serrations at the edge, and are opposite or verticillate. The plant has small, white flowers with four calices. The corrola is actinomorphic and split in four. Flowers are 4-5 mm in diameter and bear four stamens and a pistil. Flowering time is summer and autumn. After flowering, ovate or globular capsules mature (2-3 mm in diameter), which contain many powder-like seeds. In tropical and subtropical regions of Asia, Africa, and South and Central America, the fresh or dried plant of S. dulcis has traditionally been used as a medicament for stomach disorders, bronchitis, diabetes, hypertension, hemorroids and hepatosis, and as an analgesic and antipyretic. The antidiabetic activity of the Indian S. dulcis is attributed to the glycoside ammelin obtained from the fresh plant. The methanolic and water extracts from roots of Formosan S. Read more […]

Phaseolus Species

The Phaseolae (family Leguminosae) are grown agronomically as a grain legume for both human and animal nutrition. Of the four species, Phaseolus acutifolius (tepary bean), P. coccineus (scarlet runner bean), P. lunatus (lima and butter bean), and P. vulgaris (known variously as common, field, green, snap, wax or French bean) are grown extensively. Related species, such as P. angularis and P. aureus have recently been reclassified as belonging to the genus Vigna and will not be considered further in this post. All of the Phaseolae originate from southern or central America and are grown for their dried seeds or fleshy pods for human consumption. After harvesting, the vines may also be used as fresh or silaged cattle feed. Of all the bean species, Phaseolus vulgaris is the most important agronomic crop, being a major dietary component in Latin America and Africa. P. vulgaris was first domesticated in 5000 b.c. in central America and was distributed to the rest of the world by the Spanish in the 16th century. The major world producer of P. vulgaris is the USA where after harvest with typical yields of 1.5 t/ha, it is either dried or canned as baked beans. Similarly, P. lunatus is also grown for its beans with its cultivation 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 […]