Stauntonia hexaphylla

Stauntonia hexaphylla (Lardizabalaceae, Japanese name mube) () is widely distributed in thickets in lowlands and foothills in warmer regions of Japan, Korea and China. It is an evergreen, glabrous woody climber, whose flowers, usually unisexual, bloom pale yellow in April-May (). Stauntonia plants occur over 15 species in eastern Asia. A general outline of the lardizabalaceous family has been earlier cited (). A decoction of the stem and the root of the plant or the pericarp of the fruit is used as a diuretic in Japan and China. The fruits also activate the circulation and improve the eyesight, the barks are prepared in a compound to treat blennorrhea and to regulate menstruation (India-China) (). From defatted powdered seeds of Stauntonia hexaphylla extd. (1.1 kg), three acidic triterpene glycosides mubenins A (7.2 g), B (7.9 g), and C (5.2 g) containing oleanolic acid for A and B, and hederagenin for C as the sapogenins were isolated and determined. Furthermore, six triterpene saponins (Yemuoside YM 7, 8, 9,11,13, and 14) and two lignan glycosides (YM 2 and 6) have been reported from Stauntonia chinensis DCNE grown in South China. This plant has been used as a traditional medicine in China especially for analgesic Read more […]

Sophora flavescens (Kurara)

Distribution and Medicinal Usage Sophora flavescens, (Kurara) belongs to the family Leguminosae and is distributed in Mongolia, the eastern part of Russia, China, Korea, and Japan. The dry roots of this plant have been used as antipyretic analgesic, bitter stomachic, anthelmintic, as an external preparation for eczema, and an agricultural insecticide in China and Japan (). A number of interesting pharmacological activities were reported for alkaloids and the extracts of this plant, for example, a diuretic activity, an antimicrobial activity, an antiarrhythmic activity (), and an antiulcerogenic activity (). History of Alkaloid Study In 1889, Nagai first reported the isolation of matrine, a main alkaloidal constituent, from the dry roots of Sophora flavescens. The skeletal structure of matrine was proposed by Tsuda (), and subsequently it was proved by synthetic studies (). The absolute structure of (+)-matrine was confirmed by Okuda et al. (). Several new alkaloids related to matrine were isolated and their structures were determined from Sophora flavescens and related plant species in the course of our continued studies of lupin alkaloids (). The biosynthesis of matrine was also investigated in intact plants of Read more […]

Orthosiphon aristatus (Java Tea)

Orthosiphon aristatus (Bl.) Miq. (syn. Orthosiphon grandiflorus Bold, syn. Orthosiphon spicatus (Thunb.) Bak., syn. Orthosiphon stamineus Benth.) is a member of the Lamiaceae () native to tropical Asia and is currently under cultivation in Indonesia, the main exporter of this medicinal plant (). Due to its broad distribution as a medicinal plant, 0. aristatus has adopted several synonymes such as Indischer Nierentee (German), Koemis koetjihg (Dutch), Kumis kuting (Indonesian), Java tea (English) or feuilles de barbiflore (French) (). Leaves of Orthosiphon aristatus (Orthosiphonis folium DAB 10) are used to prepare a tea which is known for its diuretic properties. The tea is especially recommended as a treatment of chronic kidney or bladder inflammations (). In addition to its diuretic effect, the tea is reported to cause increased excretion of NaCl (). The bioactive constituents of this medicinal plant, however, are still basically unknown. In a previous study with differentiated plants of Orthosiphon aristatus we showed for the first time that hydroxycinnamic acid derivatives such as the main compound rosmarinic acid () are the major phenolic constituents present in leaves and stems (). The predominance of rosmarinic Read more […]

Atractylodes spp.

Botanical Description The genus Atractylodes belongs to the family Asteraceae and comprises eight species of perennial herbs distributed in East Asia ():Atractylodes japonica Koidz. ex Kitam. in Japan, Korea, and China; Atractylodes koreana Kitam. (A. lancea var. simplicifolia Kitam.) () in Korea and China; Atractylodes lancea DC, Atractylodes chinensis Koidz. (A. lancea DC. var. chinensis Kitam.), Atractylodes ovata DC. (A. macrocephala Koidz.) and a few other species in China (Beijing Institute of Botany 1975). They grow wild, and some of them are cultivated in these countries as medicinal plants. Figure 1 shows A. lancea at the flowering stage. Flowers of Atractylodes are mostly (Institute of Materia Medica 1979) or entirely (Beijing Institute of Botany 1975) unisexual, and interspecific hybridization occurs (). The chromosome number is 24 in somatic cells of A. chinensis (), A. lancea (), A. lancea DC. var. simplicifolia Kitam. (), and A. ovata (). Usage of Atractylodes spp. Although young shoots of A. japonica are served as a wild vegetable in Japan, Atractylodes plants are mainly of medicinal value. Their rhizomes are important crude drugs prescribed in various preparations of Chinese medicine as Jutsu in Read more […]

Ajuga reptans (Bugle)

Ajuga reptans () is a member of the Lamiaceae (Labiatae), subfamily Lamioideae (). It is a small perennial plant, 10 to 40 cm high and common in Europe, West Asia, North America, Algeria, and Tunisia (synonym: Bugula reptans; French name: bugle; German name: Giinsel). It is cultivated as an ornamental plant and several varieties have been described: var. viridissima (dark-colored leaves), var. atropurperea (deep blue-purple-colored leaves), var. variegata (leaf borders are white and aquamarine), var. alpina G.B., var. stolonifera, var. alba G.B. (white flowering). Most plants have blue flowers; plants with white, rose or lilac-colored flowers are seldom. Ajuga reptans grows on all kind of soils, especially under trees and in grasslands. It produces stolons, from which the floral shoots stand up. Normal leaves have a peduncle; leaves from flower shoots have no peduncle. Hybrids between Ajuga reptans and Ajuga genevensis and between A. reptans and A. pyramidalis are also known. Ajuga reptans has been used in treating lung diseases, for gargling, as an astringent, and has bile-stimulating activity. Together with mint leaves, it has been used as an anti-dispepticum (). In some regions, the young plants and sprouts Read more […]

Large cardamom (Amomum subulatum Roxb.)

Large cardamom or Nepal cardamom (Amomum subulatum Roxb.) is a spice cultivated in the sub-Himalayan region of north-eastern India, especially in Sikkim since time immemorial. In the past the aboriginal inhabitants of Sikkim, Lepchas, collected capsules of large cardamom from natural forest, but later on these forests passed into village ownership and the villagers started cultivation of large cardamom. The presence of wild species, locally known as churumpa, and the variability within the cultivated species supports the view of its origin in Sikkim (). Later the cultivation has spread to northern Uttar Pradesh, north-eastern States of India (Arunachal Pradesh, Mizorum and Manipur), Nepal and Bhutan. Sikkim is the largest producer of large cardamom; the annual production in India is about 3500–4000 mt of cured Large cardamom. The average productivity is 100–150 kg/ha, but in well-maintained plantations the productivity reaches 1000–2000 kg/ha. Nepal and Bhutan are the other two countries cultivating this crop with an annual production of about 1500 mt. This spice is used in Ayurvedic preparation in India as mentioned by Susruta in the sixth century BC and also known among Greeks and Romans as Amomum (Ridley, 1912). Read more […]

The use of eucalyptus oils in consumer products

Insect repellents As noted in the introduction, Eucalyptus citriodora oil has been used as a ‘natural’ insect repellent. Depending on the product formulation it is used in, Lemon Eucalyptus (known as Quwenling in China) is up to four or five times more effective and longer-lasting than citronella oil (from Cymbopogon nardus), one of the best known natural insect repellents. p-Menthane-3,8-diol is the main active component of Quwenling and this can be isolated and used as a highly effective insect repellent. Eucalyptus citriodora oil contains up to 80–90 per cent citronellal, along with geraniol, both of which are known to have insect repellent activity but tend to dilute the much higher activity of the p-menthane-3,8-diol. The Mosi-guard Natural insect repellent spray produced by MASTA in the UK contains ‘Extract of Lemon Eucalyptus’ and claims on the label: Approved and recommended by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Field trials have shown effective protection for 6 h after a single application in mosquito infected areas. Also protects against many other biting insects. Mosi-guard Natural is made from a natural and renewable resource. It is kind to your skin and has no adverse effects Read more […]

Pharmacology of Poppy Alkaloids: Major Opium Alkaloids

 The latex obtained by the incision of unripe seed capsules of Papaver somniferum and which is known as opium is the source of several pharmacologically important alkaloids. Dioskorides, in about AD 77, referred to both the latex (opos) and the total plant extract (mekonion) and to the use of oral and inhaled (pipe smoked) opium to induce a state of euphoria and sedation. Since before the Christian era the therapeutic properties of opium were evident, with the first written reference to poppy juice by Theophrastus in the third century BC. Powdered opium contains more than 40 alkaloids which constitute about 25% by weight of the opium and are responsible for its pharmacological activity. In 1803 the German pharmacist Sertiirner achieved the isolation of morphine as one of the active ingredients of opium. Morphine, codeine, thebaine, papaverine, narcotine and narceine are the most important bases, with many of the remaining (minor) alkaloids occurring only in traces. Morphine Morphine has long occupied an eminent position on the list of useful drugs. As a pure alkaloid, it has been employed for over a century and a half and, as the most important constituent of opium, it has contributed to the comfort of the human Read more […]

Tagetes spp. (Marigolds)

Tagetes species were used by ancient civilizations like the Aztecs for various purposes (). The pigments of the flowers were used as a dye and in chicken feed, oil was extracted from the leaves and used as an ingredient of perfumes, and the roots were also assumed to have interesting properties. Field tests in the USA in the 1930s showed that larvae of a root-knot nematode entered the roots of marigolds, but usually failed to develop and neither reached the adult stage nor produced eggs (). In 1953, a Dutch bulb breeder () reported the biological activity of common garden marigolds (Tagetes patula) against root rot in Narcissus caused by free-living nematodes. The latter finding was an incentive for a scientific analysis of the effect of Tagetes plants by the crop protection industry and the academic world. A few years after the initial report by Van de Berg-Smit (), Uhlenbroek and Bijloo () isolated and described some active principles from Tagetes plants. These chemicals belonged to a group of heterocyclic sulphur-containing compounds, the thiophenes. The thiophene oe-terthienyl, which occurs in Tagetes and related species, was first synthesized in 1941 () and isolated from plants in 1947 (). In the past three Read more […]

Polygonum hydropiper L. (Water Pepper)

Distribution and Importance Polygonum hydropiper L. (family Polygonoceae) is a member of a genus of some 175 species. It is a semi-erect (25-75 cm) annual herb with a branched stem and lance-shaped leaves, carrying its greenish-pink flowers in slender racemes (). The species is widespread in most parts of Europe, temperate Asia, and North America, and it also occurs at scattered sites in North Africa. Across its main range it is abundant in the verges of ponds and ditches and on waterlogged grasslands and water meadows. Polygonum hydropiper is not grown commercially but has found an exceptionally impressive range of uses in folk medicine and also as a culinary herb, and this has led to the adoption of a rich variety of apt local names, e.g. fireweed, arsemart and smartweed are examples of some 20 English regional names in addition to the accepted vernacular name of “water pepper“. The flower heads have little odour but all the aerial parts have a bitter acrid taste and contain vesicant compounds that blister the skin upon repeated handling (). Medicinal use of Polygonum hydropiper goes back to Dioscorides (ca. 60 a.d.) and tinctures of foliage are used as diuretics, diaphoretics, and to arrest gynecological bleeding Read more […]