Quercus spp. (Oak)

The genus Quercus covers several hundred species and natural hybrids, distributed mainly over the temperate zones of the northern hemisphere (subgenus euquercus), as well as in tropical and subtropical regions of Asia (subgenus cyclobalanopsis). Oaks may be evergreen or deciduous trees, arborescent shrubs, or bushes. Their longevity often exceeds 400 years (). The different tissues of oak trees often accumulate large amounts of poly-phenols. These polyphenols are mainly tannins. The bark of Quercus robur and Quercus petraea in Europe (known as tan) (Meunier and Vaney 1903), and that of Quercus velutina and Quercus prinus in the United States (), were used on a large scale in the leather industry until the end of the last century. Bark, acorn cups, and galls from oaks, all rich in tannins, have been traditionally used in pharmacology for their astringent, hemostatic, and antiseptic properties. Tannic acid produced from galls of Quercus infectoria has been most commonly used; acorns from Quercus robur and galls from Quercus suber, as well as barks from both species, have also been used (). The main therapeutic applications of these tannins were externally to heal wounds, burns, dermatosis, hemorrhoids, etc., and Read more […]

Leontopodium alpinum Cass. (Edelweiss)

Distribution of the plant The genus Leontopodium (Compositae; Inulae; Gnaphaliinae sensu amplo) consists of between 30 and 40 species () found growing in mountainous areas of Japan (), Asia () and Europe (). A single species, Leontopodium alpinum Cassini, is considered to represent the genus in Europe () and the once separate Leontopodium nivale (Ten) Huet ex Hand.-Mazz. is now regarded as a subspecies, i.e. Leontopodium alpinum subsp. nivale (Ten) Tutin, stat. nov. (). The plant is protected by national legislation in Austria, Germany, Italy and Liechtenstein. Leontopodium alpinum, commonly known as edelweiss, is a perennial plant with a branching rootstock and fibrous roots (). Aerial structures exhibit wide morphological diversity (). Foliage leaves are linear to lanceolate in shape, 3-8 mm wide and pubescent. Inflorescence stalks develop from June to August and grow 2-45 cm high. The characteristically star-shaped “flower” varies in diameter from 1.5-10.5 cm and consists of an inflorescence made up of up to 12 densely aggregated capitula, which are subtended by an involucre of hairly leaves (). Leontopodium alpinum is traditionally found growing on limestone formations at altitudes up to 3140 m but can be easily Read more […]

The Medicinal Uses of Thyme

The uses of thyme, Thymus vulgaris and other Thymus species are well known, and extensive parts of the world get benefit from this plant group in medicinal and non-medicinal respects. Following the development of the medicinal uses of thyme we can see that thyme has changed from a traditional herb to a serious drug in rational phytotherapy. This is due to many pharmacological in vitro experiments carried out during the last decades, and even a few clinical tests. The studies have revealed well defined pharmacological activities of both, the essential oils and the plant extracts, the antibacterial and spasmolytical properties being the most important ones. The use of thyme in modern phytotherapy is based on this knowledge, whereas the traditional use of thyme describes only empirical results and often debatable observations. Therefore it seems necessary to present here the data available on the pharmacodynamics of thyme and thyme preparations in order to substantiate the use of thyme in modern medicine. The non-medicinal use of thyme is no less important, because thyme (mainly Thymus vulgaris) is used in the food and aroma industries. It serves as a preservative for foods and is a culinary ingredient widely used as Read more […]

Scutellaria baicalensis Georgi

Distribution of Scutellaria The genus Scutellaria belongs to the family Labiatae and subfam. Scutellarideae. Scutellaria is widely distributed all over the world except for South Africa, and there are about 300 species. The calyx of this genus is remarkably specialized to become two-lip-shaped, and characterized by the upper lip having a flat or dish-shaped upper surface on which a small swelling forms; the dish-shaped part peels offat fruit maturation to allow a seed to fall. The 15 species, such as S. maekawa Hara, S. brachyspica Nakai et Hara, S. laeteviolace Koizumi, S. iyoensis Nakai and others are distributed only in Japan. Further S. indica L., S. indica var. parvi flora Makino, S. sterigillosa Hensl, S. dependens Maxim, and others are distributed over wide areas in Japan, the Korean Peninsula, the northeastern section of China and the Indonesian Peninsula. Furthermore, S. baicalensis Georgi is native to the region from the northern section of China to Siberia. It was introduced into Japan from the Korean Peninsula in the middle period of the Edo era and has been cultured in various parts of Japan for the medicinal uses of the root. In Japanese Pharmacopoeia the root of S. baicalensis Georgi, excepting the Read more […]

Vaccinium Species

Distribution and Importance of the Plant The genus Vaccinium, from the heath family (Ericaceae), includes a wide range of popular berry species of economic importance, including the American cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon Ait.), the wild lowbush blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium Ait.), cultivated highbush and rabbiteye blueberries (V. corymbosum L. and V. ashei Reade), bilberry (V. myrtillus L.) and lingonberry (V. vitis-idaea L.). While these crops are well known throughout the world, in many cases, their individual distributions are quite narrow. Wild lowbush blueberry, for example, is localized in the extreme northeastern United States and maritime provinces of Canada (); bilberry is grown only in a few European countries with an isolated pocket of distribution in the Rocky Mountain region of the USA, and cranberry production, which until recently was confined to the eastern and western coasts of the USA, has recently expanded into higher elevations in South America. The harvested berries are marketed fresh, frozen, and in some cases, sweetened and dried (personal communication, D. Nolte, Decas Cranberry Co.). They are also popular components in bakery items, dried cereals, jams, juices, and numerous related Read more […]


Importance and Distribution of the Genus The genus Stephania (Menispermaceae) comprises approximately 50 species distributed from Africa through Asia to Australia. The importance of the genus in traditional medicine in Asia and Africa is well documented. The underground tubers of the vines are generally characterized by powerful pharmacological effects. Stephania abyssinica is a creeper indigenous to southern and eastern Africa. The leaves of this plant are used as a purgative and emetic, whereas the roots are employed in the treatment of roundworm, menorrhagia and boils. Stephania bancroftii is used by the aboriginal communities of Australia both as a treatment for diarrhea and as a fish poison. Stephania cepharantha (), a perennial plant native to mainland China known by the vernacular name “bei-yan-zi”, is commonly used as a folk medicinal herb. Decoctions from the tuber of Stephania cepharantha are traditionally used in China to treat a number of diseases including parotiditis, gastric ulcer, leukopenia, alopecia areata and alopecia androgenetica. The major components of this crude drug, known as Cepharanthin preparations, are the bisbenzylisoquinoline (BBI) alkaloids cepharanthine, isotetrandrine and cycleanine. Stephania Read more […]

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 […]

Brucea spp.

Botanical Aspects Brucea (Simaroubaceae) is a widely distributed genus occurring in tropical Africa and tropical Asia. Brucea species are very bitter monoecius or dioecius shrubs or small trees ranging from 0.3-10 m in height. Willis (1966) grouped Brucea into ten species; however, in the revision for the Flora Malesiana Nooteboom (1962) accepts only six species, consequently, some species’ names which have appeared in the chemical literature are now accepted as synonyms of other species. The major species are: 1. B. javanica (L.) Merr., known as Kho-sam, Ya-Tan-Tzu, and Macassar kernels. It is distributed from Sri-Lanka through SE Asia to China and Taiwan, and throughout Malaysia to N Australia. The species has been introduced into Fiji and Micronesia. Among the synonyms of B. javanica are B. sumatrana Roxb., B. sumatrensis Speng., B. gracilis DC, B. glabrata Decne., and B. amarissima Desv. and Merr.. 2. B. mollis Wall., commonly known as makamara or suga. Ranges from east of the Himalayas, through Burma, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Hainan to Malaysia, and also throughout the Philippines. Synonyms for this species include B. luzoniensis Vidal, B. membranacea Merr., B. macrobotrys Merr., B. stenophylla Merr., Read more […]

Clerodendron trichotomum Thunb

The Plant Clerodendron tvichotomum Thunb., whose Japanese name is kusagi, meaning bad-smelling tree, belongs to the Verbenaceae and grows wild in fields and mountains in Japan and China. It has a stalk of more than 3 m in height and a wide egg-shaped leaf. It blossoms in August, has many white flowers with five red sepals, and the fruits assume a sky-blue pigment when they ripen in October. Formerly, the blue pigment of the fruit was used to color clothes in sky-blue and its extract was used as a herbal medicine. Clerodendrine A, B and clerodenronine A, B are contained in the leaf, and clerodron and clerodon triterpenoids are contained in the root. These substances are effective in the treatment of hypertension, rheumatism, diarrhea, etc. Current Condition of Food Colors The Food Sanitation Act (Law No. 233) was established and issued in Japan on 24 December 1947 and enforced on 1 January 1948. The Food Sanitation Act Enforcement Regulations (ordinance No. 23 of the Ministry of Health and Welfare, 1948) were established and issued on July 13 in the following year. Simultaneously, specifications and standards of foods, additives, apparatus, containers, and packages were delineated (Notification No. 54, 1948), specifying Read more […]

Morinda Species

The genus Morinda belongs to the family Rubiaceae. Among the many species comprising this genus, six are of some pharmaceutical and technical importance. One of these is Morinda citrifolia which occurs in India and Southeast Asia. Its leaves and roots are used in the treatment of hypertension or as a diuretic and laxative. A more recent study shows that extracts of the roots exhibit an analgesic and probably sedative effect on mice. Morinda lucida, another plant dealt with in this Chapter, grows in central Africa. Natives of central Africa use the plant as a diuretic, purgative and in the treatment of leprosy, fever, malaria, yellow fever, diarrhea and dysentery. The technical use of Morinda plants as a dye is based on the occurrence of anthraquinone pigments in the roots. The pigments isolated from both M. citrifolia and M. lucida plants are listed in Thomson (1987). A publication by Demagos et al. (1981) and reviews by Wijnsma and Verpoorte (1986) as well as by van den Berg and Labadie (1989) contain later additions to the array of known anthraquinones. While roots are the main source of anthraquinones, pigments are also present in the heartwood, leaves and even flowers. The anthraquinones present in cell suspension Read more […]