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 […]

Onobrychis viciifolia Scop. (Sainfoin)

Distribution and Importance of Sainfoin Sainfoin (Onobrychis viciifolia Scop, (family Leguminoseae) is a perennial forage legume that has been grown in Europe and Asia for centuries. The most widely used common name, sainfoin, is derived from the French “saint foin” meaning holy or wholesome hay. Other common names include: holy or holy hay, French grass, everlasting grass, medick vetchling, cockshead, esparcet, or snail grass. Its botanical genus name, Onobrychis, comes from the Greek words “onos” meaning ass, and it is felt that brychis is derived from “bruchis”, a plant. This provides some insight into the value that was placed on this species because it had been noted that asses were particularly partial to sainfoin as a feed. Sainfoin grew in Russia as a forage crop over 1000 years ago and was noted in France in the 14th century, Germany in the 17th century, and Italy in the 18th century. The first introductions of sainfoin came to North America from Europe in the early 1900s, but its success as a forage crop did not occur until the 1960s when strains from Turkey and the USSR displayed the necessary adaptibility and yield to enable the development of cultivars for the Northern Great Plains and Canadian Prairies. Read more […]

Anxiety Disorders

As with depression, anxiety in the pediatric population has often been overlooked or minimized as normal childhood experiences. Currently, it is recognized that anxiety disorders in children and adolescents can cause substantial impairment and negatively affect their social, familial, educational, and developmental functioning, and may also affect their physical well-being. Point prevalence for any anxiety disorder in the pediatric population has been estimated to be between 3 and 5 percent, and up to 20 percent of children and adolescents exhibit significant subclinical or clinical symptoms of anxiety. Without treatment, most of the symptoms continue into adulthood, and risk for additional disorders, like depression and alcohol/substance abuse, increases. It is important to recognize and treat these disorders as early as possible, since successful treatment is likely to improve adoptive functioning as well as overall psychological, social, and physical development. Recognizing anxiety in children may be obscured by expectations about what constitutes normal functioning. While it is expected for very young children to exhibit stranger anxiety and difficulties sleeping alone, by the time the child reaches school age, Read more […]

Anxiety Disorders: Supplements With Likely Efficacy

Like depression, anxiety is an area of psychopharmacology where many naturopathic compounds have been studied. While kava has established efficacy with adults and consistently has been shown to be effective in decreasing symptoms of anxiety, no studies thus far have been performed with children and adolescents, and some risk of hepatotoxicity may be present, and consequently the supplement is included in this section. In addition, some other compounds have also revealed at least some efficacy, but research has primarily been done with adult patients, and clinicians must use caution when applying results of these studies to pediatric patients. Anxiolytic medications work by increasing the amount of activity in the serotonergic pathways, as well as altering the glutamate-GABA balance in favor of inhibitory effects. Supplements that accomplish similar changes in the brain have been shown to be effective in managing symptoms of anxiety. Kava Kava (Piper methysticum), alsto referred to as kava kava, is a tall bush indigenous to the South Pacific, especially Hawaii, Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, Tahiti, New Guinea, and New Zealand. Its root is typically ground, and indigenous cultures have also chewed it, prepared it as an infusion, Read more […]

Antimetabolites

Antimetabolites are structural analogues of naturally occurring compounds and function as fraudulent substances for vital biochemical reactions. Folic Acid Analogues Methotrexate (Amethopterin) is a folic acid antagonist that binds to dihydrofolate reductase, thus interfering with the synthesis of the active cofactor tetrahydrofolic acid, which is necessary for the synthesis of thymidylate, purine nucleotides, and the amino acids serine and methionine. Methotrexate is used for the following types of cancer: • Acute lymphoid leukemia: During the initial phase, vincristine and prednisone are used. Methotrexate and mercaptopurine are used for maintenance therapy. In addition, methotrexate is given intrathecally, with or without radiotherapy, to prevent meningeal leukemia. • Diffuse histiocytic lymphoma: Cyclophosphamide, vincristine, methotrexate, and cytarabine (COMA). • Mycosis fungoides: Methotrexate. • Squamous cell, large-cell anaplastic, and adenocarcinoma: Doxorubicin and cyclophosphamide, or methotrexate. • Head and neck squamous cell: Qi-platinum and bleomycin, or methotrexate. • Choriocarcinoma: Methotrexate. Tumor cells acquire resistance to methotrexate as the result of several Read more […]

Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis)

Medical Uses Goldenseal is used for infections of the mucous membranes, digestive disorders, gastritis, peptic ulcers, colitis, and traveler’s diarrhea. It has been used to treat streptococcus, staphylococcus, and bacterial vaginosis. Goldenseal’s major constituent (berberine) has also been effective in treating candidiasis (yeast infections). Scientists have disproved the rumor that goldenseal masks morphine in urine testing. Historical Uses Sometimes called “poor man’s ginseng,” goldenseal was discovered by Cherokee Indians who used it for eyewashes, acne, and eczema. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations cites goldenseal as one of the best-selling herbs internationally. It is very bitter. Growth Goldenseal is found in wooded areas in eastern North America, but it is endangered because of overharvesting. The plant prefers moist soil and shade. Part Used • Root Major Chemical Compounds • Alkaloids of berberine and hydrastine Goldenseal: Clinical Uses Goldenseal is used for infections of the mucous membranes, digestive disorders, gastritis, peptic ulcers, colitis, and traveler’s diarrhea. It has been used to treat streptococcus, staphylococcus, and bacterial vaginosis. Werbach Read more […]

Ginseng (Panax Ginseng)

Medical Uses Ginseng is used as an adaptogenic (for stress), an anti-fatigue agent, an anti-stress agent, and a tonic. Historical Uses Ginseng has been used medicinally in Asia for more than 5000 years. It is known as the ruler of tonic herbs. It is also known as “root of man.” Growth This perennial plant is indigenous to China and is cultivated in many countries. Ginseng: Part Used • Root Major Chemical Compounds • Triterpenoid saponins, especially ginsenosides. Ginseng: Clinical Uses Ginseng is approved by the German Commission E and the World Health Organization for use as an adaptogenic (for stress), an anti-fatigue agent, an anti-stress agent, and a tonic. In Germany, ginseng may be labeled as an aid to convalescence and a tonic to treat fatigue, reduced work capacity, and poor concentration. Mechanism of Action Triterpenoid saponins are believed to help the body build vitality, resist stress, and overcome disease. Ginseng inhibits platelet aggregation by inhibiting thromboxane A2 production. Ginsenosides may act on the pituitary gland, not the adrenal glands. The pituitary secretes corticosteroids indirectly through the release of adrenocorticotrophic hormone and also stimulates nerve fibers Read more […]

Bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus)

Medical Uses Bilberry is used as an antioxidant and as a treatment for varicose veins, night blindness, diabetes, diarrhea, hemorrhoids, and gum inflammation. It may be used to treat diarrhea in children. Historical Uses This herb has been used since the Middle Ages, primarily in Europe, for kidney disorders, diarrhea, respiratory infections, and treatment for scurvy. Growth Bilberry is known as the European blueberry and is larger than the American blueberry. It grows in temperate zones. Bilberry and blueberry are from the same family. Bilberry: Parts Used • Dried, ripe fruit • Leaves Major Chemical Compounds • Glucoquinones (in leaves), which reduce blood glucose • Anthocyanosides (in fruits), which have been shown experimentally to dilate blood vessels • Tannins, flavonoids Bilberry: Clinical Uses Bilberry is used for antioxidant effects and for varicose veins, night blindness, diabetes, diarrhea, hemorrhoids, and gum inflammation. It is approved by the German Commission E for “non-specific acute diarrhea, mild inflammation of the mucous membranes and throat”. It maybe used to treat nonspecific diarrhea in children, as noted in Blumenthal et al. (2000). Mechanism of Action The tannins Read more […]

New Zealand Medicinal Plants

Despite the small area of New Zealand, comparable with that of California, it constitutes a distinctive botanic region. Of the approximate number of two thousand species of higher plants found, 75% are endemic to the country. Many unusual plants occur and the chemical investigations conducted to date have confirmed the unique nature of the flora. In view of these facts it is surprising that only a few native plants have been commercially exploited. Several of the trees, notably Agathis australis, Dacrydium cupressinum, Podocarpus totara, P. dacrydioides, and Vitex lucens yield useful timber, but the stands of these have largely been worked out. New Zealand flax, Phormium tenax, is cultivated for its fibre which is made into ropes and matting. Kauri gum (really a fossil product) up to a value of £21 million has been exported but it is a declining article of commerce. It has been shown that useful dyestuffs can be produced from a number of plants, particularly in the genus Coprosma, but no commercial exploitation has resulted. Pharmacology is probably the most promising field for extending the use of New Zealand native plants and it should therefore be of value to have a check list of those plants reported to have Read more […]