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 Read more [...]

Eucommia ulmoides Oliv. (Eucommiaceae)

Distribution and Significance Eucommia {Eucommia ulmoides) is a deciduous tree belonging to the family Eucommiaceae. As a mature tree, it is 20 m in height and 40 cm in diameter at breast height and has a chromosome number of 2n = 34. It is a gynodioecious plant, which shows characteristically a white filamentous natural polymer, gutta-percha, when a piece of the bark or folded leaf is pulled apart (). Wild species are vertically distributed in the warm and humid zone in the southeastern part of the Chinese continent at sea level (300-1300 m). As a medicinal raw material, it has been cultivated in the southeastern region of China at 500-1100 m sea level, and recently it has also been cultivated in Japan, Taiwan, and Korea (). Further, it is known to have originated from the Tertiary period, and many species of Eucommiaceae have been found among Pliocene fossil plants, from which it is known to be distributed all over the world (Chinese Agricultural Encyclopaedia 1989). Eucommia, mainly its bark, is used as a medicinal herb material for tonics and hypotensive drugs, which is specified in the Japanese Pharmacopoeia. Further, its leaves are used as a basis for beverages. Gutta-percha, which is contained in the plant Read more [...]

Catalpa bignonioides Walt. (Indian Bean)

Botany, Distribution, and Importance of Catalpa The genus Catalpa L. belongs to the family Bignoniaceae and comprises 13 species of deciduous trees (). The plants are found in East Asia, North America (extending northward into Missouri and Indiana) and the West Indies. Catalpa trees are usually grown for their attractive, white, pink, or yellow flowers, which appear during the summer (the flowering time is July and August), and their large (10-20 cm in length) heart-shaped leaves. Leaves are opposite, long petioled. Bisexual flowers are organized into terminal pannicles. The corolla is campanulate in form. There are five stamens, two of them are represented by staminodes. The fruits are long (20-35 cm), cylindrical capsules including numerous flat seeds, tomentose at both ends. The fruits remain on the branches throughout the winter (). Catalpa plants require fresh soil, rich in nutrients. They are phytophilous and thermophilous plants; the immature shoot tips die in winter (). Catalpa has proved to be very decorative – an excellent tree for planting in parks or streets due to its tolerance to city pollution (). Catalpa plants are also important from a medicinal point of view. Their medicinal uses described in the Read more [...]

Phytolacca americana L. (Pokeweed)

Phytolacca americana (Phytolaccaceae), in addition to serving as an occasional food, is a medicinal plant listed officially in the United States and in the French and Japanese Pharmacopeia. The plant has been used in folk medicine as a diuretic, purgative, antiscorbutic, and antisyphilitic agent (Fournier 1948). The roots are reputed in Korea to treat edema and rheumatism (). At present, P. americana is used in some French homeopathic preparations to alleviate influenza, acute amygdalis, quinsy, mammary and rheumatic pains, and chronic pharyngitis (). The plant and its tissue cultures have been investigated as a source of saponins, betalains, mitogens, and antiviral proteins. Botanical Traits and Classification The genus Phytolacca belongs to the family Phytolaccaceae, order Centro-spermae (or Caryophyllales), suborder Chenopodiineae (which includes ten families accumulating the pigments betalains). This suborder is closely related to the anthocyanin suborder Caryophyllineae. Both suborders are derived from a common ancestor, probably preadapted for C4 photosynthesis, which had evolved ring-like inclusions composed of proteinaceous filaments, contained in the sieve-element plastids in all the Centrospermae families Read more [...]

Medicago Species (Alfalfa)

Distribution and Importance of Medicago Species The genus Medicago (family Leguminosae) contains a number of species, which, following breeding efforts over 2000 years, have become the world’s major forage legumes. Due to their ability to fix nitrogen, the various species have been cultivated for use as green-manuring agents and as a forage crop of high nutritional value to pigs, cattle, sheep, and poultry (). At various times, Medicago has also been used as a source of fiber for paper production and as a salad or vegetable garnish for human consumption, while the seeds have been extracted for edible oils and dye-stuffs. The most commonly encountered Medicago species are listed and briefly described in Table Common names, distribution, and uses of Medicago species. Within the individual species there is considerable genetic variability, which has ensured the distribution of the plants in a wide variety of environments. This large genetic pool has allowed the plant breeders to incorporate desirable traits into commercial cultivars. An example of this has been the development of cold-hardy alfalfa cultivars by crossing M. falcata with M. sativa (). Table Common names, distribution, and uses of Medicago species Medicago Read more [...]

Asteraceae: Drug Interactions, Contraindications, And Precautions

Patient survey data from Canada, the U.S., and Australia show that one in five patients use prescription drugs concurrently with CAM. The inherent polypharmaceutical nature of complementary and alternative medicine increases the risk of adverse events if these complementary and alternative medicine either have pharmacological activity or interfere with drug metabolism (). Since confirmed interactions are sporadic and based largely on case reports, advice to avoid certain drug-CAM combinations is based on known pharmacological and in vitro properties (). Known Hypersensitivity to Asteraceae Cross-reactive sesquiterpene lactones are present in many, if not all, Asteraceae. Patients with known CAD from one plant may develop similar type IV reactions following contact with others (). Affected patients are often advised to avoid contact with all Asteraceae (), yet this advice is based on limited knowledge of cross-reactivity between relatively few members of this large family. Some authorities recommend avoiding Asteraceae-derived complementary and alternative medicine if, for example, the patient is known to have IgE-mediated inhalant allergy to ragweed (). While a reasonable approach, this ignores a number of important Read more [...]

Levisticum officinale Koch. (Garden Lovage)

Biology and Distribution Levisticum officinale Koch, i.e., garden lovage (), a member of the Umbelliferae, is a perennial herb, 100-160 cm high, main root large, leaves di-tridigitatoinnate, flowers yellow-green compound umbel. Fruit ovoid or elliptic, lateral angular thick pinnation and back angular lower blunt pinnation, rarely long, one oil tube within angular trough (). The herb grows widely in mountainous regions in the south of France and Yugoslavia (northern latitude of 43°-45°). It was introduced and planted in more than ten countries of Europe, America, Asia, and regions north of latitude 30°-60° (). It was also introduced into China from Europe and planted as a medicinal herb more than 30 years ago. Cheng (1965b) reported the biological characteristics of growth, bloom, fructification, and winter dormancy, with observations on the phenological periods of this plant. Medicinal Value According to the literature, its roots, Radix Levistici, have long been cropped in the old European gardens as a domestic remedy which was used to cure pulmonary tuberculosis and heart disease 100 years ago (). Its extract is a fragrant stimulant, reducing internal chill sudorific, diuretic, and emmenagog (). In addition, Read more [...]

Drosera spp. (Sundew)

“Ancient botanical treatises and pharmacopoeias attribute various properties to the sundew, or Drosera, whose red droplets of mucilage do not dry out in the sun. Certain extracts of these plants serve as treatment for corns, verrucas, and burns. Infusions and other extracts are used against coughs, respiratory disorders, tuberculosis, arteriosclerosis, inflammations, intestinal illnesses, and syphilis. These preparations are diuretic, soothing and even aphrodisiac”. (). Drosera extracts are still being used against infections and ailments of the respiratory tract. Plumbagin and related compounds occur in the Droseraceae and are thought to be responsible for its therapeutic properties (). Although plumbagin occurs in many species of Drosera the compound is also extracted from species of Plumbago (). Frequent harvesting of natural populations of Drosera in Europe have resulted in the plants becoming increasingly scarce () and alternate sources of plants are therefore being sought. Vegetative propagation of Drosera and the production of plumbagin in vitro may serve as an alternative to the utilization of natural populations. Distribution and General Morphology of Drosera The genus Drosera was the first of the carnivorous Read more [...]

Saponaria officinalis L.

Saponaria officinalis L.: In Vitro Culture and the Production of Triterpenoidal Saponins There are very few studies on the production of triterpenoids and their saponins by in vitro plant culture (). These products now enjoy growing interest since their chemical extraction and purification have become easier and their structural identity has been made possible by methods like RMN-13C or Fab-MS (). Among the plants producing triterpenoidal saponins, some contain great amounts of very polar saponins, essentially in the rhizome and the roots (Saponaria officinalis L., Gypsophila sp., Caryophyllaceae) or in the bark (Quillaja saponaria Mol., Quillaja smegmadermos D.C., Rosaceae). These saponins are among the biggest with nine to ten oses bound to a pentacyclic triterpenoid acid. Their amphiphilic structure confers to them some well-known properties such as detergent, emulsive, hemolytic and toxic substances. Some of them are still largely used as shampoo (Quillaja saponins) or to make photographic emulsion (saponins of S. officinalis, fuller’s herb or of Gypsophila sp., soapwort) (). First results showed us the presence of these compounds in plant cell culture in vitro, so we have tried to investigate their production Read more [...]

Berberine (Thalictrum spp.)

Berberine-containing plants have been used for more than 2000 years in traditional folk medicine for therapeutic treatment. Berberine alkaloids are widely distributed in plants of the families Berberidaceae, Ranunclaceae, Menispermaceae and Rutaceae. Coptis species (Ranunclaceae) and Phellodendron amurense (Rutaceae), typical berberine-containing plants, have been frequently used as a folk antidysenteric in Japan and East Asia, effective by its berberine alkaloids. Another berberine-containing plant, Berberis aristata (Berberidaceae) was used for cholera and other bacterial diarrhoea. The protoberberine alkaloids and their derivatives show at least four types of biological activity: antimicrobial, uterine, anti-inflammatory, and antileukemic and antineoplastic. (). Protoberberines and their derivatives as potential anticancer agents have been reviewed () and their chemistry has also been reviewed (). The cultivation of the rhizome of Coptis species is very slow, and takes 5-6 years to use as the raw material and as a source of berberine. The price of Coptis rhizome is at present very high (20000 yen/kg, 1983 in Japan), almost the same as that of Panax ginseng. It is of pharmaceutical significance to investigate callus Read more [...]