Akebia quinata

The lardizabalaceous family occurs in central (the Himalayas) to eastern Asia (Japan), and in Chile, and there are eight genera [Decaisnea (India, China), Sinofranchetia (China), Holboellia (E. Asia), Akebia (E. Asia), Parvatia (E. Himal.), Boquila (Chile), Stauntonia (E. Asia), and Lardizabala (Chile)]. About 38 species are recorded (). The plants are woody vines or sometimes shrubs. Leaves are palmate or rarely pinnate alternate. Flowers are usually unisexual. Ovules are usually many, and fruit berrylike, dehiscing lengthwise. Some genera are cultivated in the United States, where Akebia is more common (Decaisnea, Lardizabala, Stauntonia, and rarely Sargentadoxa along the southern border of the United States) (). Futhermore, some few species are found in East Asia and three species in Japan, i.e., Akebia quinata Decne (Akebi in Japanese), A. triforiata Koidz (Mitubaakebi in Japanese), and Stauntonia hexaphylla Decne (Mube in Japanese). A. quinata is widely distributed in thickets in hills and mountains in Japan, Korea, and China. It is a glabrous climber with woody vines or sometimes shrubs, with plants reaching to more than 3 m high, whose flowers, usually unisexual, bloom pale purple in April-May. The ovules are Read more [...]

Celery (Apium graveolens)

Celery (Apium graveolens L.) is an umbellifer and is therefore a close relative of parsley, parsnip, and carrot. Like many damp-loving umbellifers, wild celery has a wide distribution, extending from Sweden to Algeria, Egypt, Ethiopia, and in Asia from the Caucasus to Baluchistan and to the mountains of India (). The wild plant is bitter and was probably used for medicinal purposes before gaining popularity as a herb and a vegetable (). The curative powers attributed to celery are many and varied. Both the roots and seeds were used medicinally, especially in obstructions of the liver and spleen and in the treatment of fevers, jaundice and diaorrhea, pains in the chest, windy cholic and as a diuretic (). Celery seed (or its oil) is also apparently a cure for rheumatism, gout, bronchitis and asthma (), flatulence and colic () and is ascribed the properties of being abortifacient, antiseptic (), deobstruent, anti-inflammatory, a cardiac tonic, a sedative () and finally and in contradiction to the last, a stimulant (). Despite this wealth of medicinal qualities ascribed to celery and its seed, no pharmaceutical value is at present attributed to it, being regarded as one of many folk remedies (). The exceptions to this view 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 [...]

Horseradish (Armoracia rusticana)

Horseradish: Medical Uses Horseradish is used to treat urinary tract infections and respiratory congestion. Historical Uses In folklore, horseradish was used to treat urinary tract infections (UTIs) and respiratory congestion. Growth This perennial plant grows in Europe and North America. It prefers sun and well-drained soil. It is said to protect potatoes from Colorado beetles (). Part Used • Root Major Chemical Compounds • Mustard oil • Sinigrin • Iron • Potassium Horseradish: Clinical Uses Horseradish is approved by the German Commission E for “catarrhs of the respiratory tract and supportive therapy for UTIs” (). Mechanism of Action Horseradish has stimulant and diuretic effects. Horseradish: Dosage Root: Can be grated in small amounts and up to 20 grams a day added to food. Tea: Pour 1 cup of boiling water over 1 teaspoon of chopped herb, infuse for 5 minutes, and drink three times a day or more often to help flu symptoms. Poultice: Apply externally as a poultice (grate horseradish, wrap in a cloth, and place on chest) to ease congestion in bronchitis. Side Effects Horseradish may cause stomach distress if used in large amounts. Contraindications • Horseradish Read more [...]

Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra)

Licorice: Medical Uses Licorice has been used for peptic ulcer disease, canker sores, and cough. It is used topically for eczema, psoriasis, and herpes. Historical Uses Historically, licorice has been used as a flavoring agent in candy, tobacco, and soft drinks. Licorice syrup was used as a cough remedy. For years, licorice root has been valued in Germany and China and in Ayurvedic medicine. Growth Licorice comes from a small shrub that grows in temperate climates. Part Used • Root Major Chemical Compounds • Glycyrrhizin • Flavonoids • Phenolic compounds • Glicophenone • Glicoisoflavone • Phytosterols • Coumarins () Licorice: Clinical Uses Licorice has been used for peptic ulcer disease, canker sores, cough, and chronic fatigue syndrome (under supervision). It is used topically for eczema, psoriasis, and herpes (). It is also used for its antibacterial activity () and its antiparasitic, antitumor, and estrogenic activity (). It may be used for anti-HIV effects (). Mechanism of Action Licorice does not inhibit the release of gastric acid, but rather stimulates normal defense mechanisms by improving blood supply, increasing the amount and quality of substances that line Read more [...]

Nettle (Urtica dioica)

Nettle: Medical Uses Nettle is used for allergy symptoms and anemia. It also is used to prevent hair loss, stimulate hair growth, promote weight loss, and strengthen the liver. Historical Uses Nettle is the Anglo-Saxon word for “needle.” In folklore, nettle was used as a footbath for rheumatism, a spring tonic, a diuretic, and a remedy for asthma. Growth Nettle grows 2 to 3 feet high and has dark green leaves with stinging hairs. Touching or brushing against the leaves sometimes causes a severe local irritation. Parts Used • Leaves • Roots Major Chemical Compounds • FlavonoidsAcetylcholine • Histamine • Serotonin • Chlorophyll • Carotenoids • High amounts of iron, calcium, vitamin C, and silica. Nettle: Clinical Uses Nettle is used for allergy symptoms and anemia. It also is used to prevent hair loss, stimulate hair growth, promote weight loss, and strengthen the liver. It is used as a nutritive tea for pregnant and breast-feeding women. It can also be used for arthritis pain () and for its anti-HIV effects (). Mechanism of Action This herb has antihistamine and diuretic effects. It increases production of breast milk. It has antiprostatic, androgenic, keratogenetic, Read more [...]

Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)

Dandelion: Medical Uses Dandelion root is used most often for liver disease and to increase bile flow. The root is also used as a coffee substitute. The leaves are used primarily for their diuretic effect and for adolescent acne. Historical Uses Dandelion first appeared in the 10th century in Arabian medicine and has been used as a diuretic, a treatment for anemia, a blood tonic, a mild laxative, and an appetite stimulant. Europeans used dandelion to treat diabetes. It is reported that dandelion is more nutritious than spinach. It may have antiviral properties that help prevent herpes. It also has been used to treat premenstrual syndrome and hepatitis. It is also called lion’s tooth and wild endive. Growth Dandelions grow in lawns and fields throughout the spring and summer in the northern hemisphere and are usually considered weeds. The plant has “lion-toothed” leaves and a bright yellow upright flower. Parts Used • Leaves • Roots • All parts are edible Major Chemical Compounds • Chicoric acid • Monocaffeytartaric acid • Taraxacin (bitter) • Taraxacerin • Sesquiterpene lactones • Phytosterols • Iron • Vitamins A, B, and C One ounce of fresh dandelion leaves Read more [...]


A common inflammatory pilosebaceous disease characterized by comedones, papules, pustules, inflamed nodules, superficial pus-filled cysts, and, in extreme cases, canalizing and deep, inflamed, sometimes purulent, sacs. (The Merck Manual) Acne is a common, potentially disfiguring skin disease. Unfortunately, it often affects those in an emotionally vulnerable stage of life — adolescents. Acne involves the sebaceous glands in the skin, which secrete lubrication (sebum) for the hair follicles (pilosebaceous follicles) and surrounding skin. These are located in greatest concentrations on the face, back, shoulders, and chest. Acne is most common in adolescents, with a peak in the late teens. Acne may, however, appear for the first time in the mid-20s or later and can persist into the 40s or 50s. Acne lesions are commonly of three types: Blackheads are glands plugged with excessive material that discolors on exposure to air. Whiteheads are small collections of pus within glands. Nodules or, papules are the red and inflamed areas of more extensive infection. A complex of causes underlies acne. Unfortunately, determining underlying causes is rarely as simple as blaming fats, chocolate, and sugar. Important predisposing Read more [...]


A chronic and recurrent disease characterized by dry, well-circumscribed, silvery, scaling papules and plaques of various sizes. (The Merck Manual) This is a common skin disease of unknown cause that affects up to 3 % of the American population. Onset usually occurs before age 20, but all age groups may be affected. The severity of this condition can vary from the presence of one or two cosmetically annoying lesions to a physically disabling and disfiguring affliction of the entire body surface. The condition is not contagious in any way, and general health usually is not affected. However, it is no exaggeration to say that in extreme cases, psoriasis be ruinous to the individual’s physical, emotional, and economic well-being. In addition, some cases are associated with a severe form of arthritis, called psoriatic arthritis, that affects general health in much the same way as rheumatoid arthritis does. Psoriasis usually develops slowly, following a typical course of remission and recurrence. The characteristic psoriatic plaques, or lesions, are sharply demarcated, red and raised, covered with silvery scales, and bleed easily. These plaques do not usually itch, and will heal without leaving scar tissue or affecting Read more [...]

Eczema and dermatitis

Superficial inflammation of the skin, characterized by vesicles (when acute), redness, edema, oozing, crusting, scaling, and usually itching. (The Merck Manual) The terms eczema and dermatitis are the cause of much confusion. In keeping with the broad guidelines given in The Merck Manual, we shall use these terms synonymously to indicate superficial inflammation of the skin. The dermatologist subdivides dermatitis and eczema into a range of different disease entities distinguished by location and appearance. For the phytotherapist, however, the most important distinction is between cases with an internal or endogenous cause and those with a contact or exogenous cause. In cases of dermatitis or eczema of exogenous cause, it is often possible to solve the problem simply by removing or avoiding the surface irritant, if it can be identified! Such problems, often called contact dermatitis, are commonly caused by: • Industrial solvents • Dyes • Nickel and other metals • Leather-tanning chemicals • Some soaps In such cases, eczema is the final result of a complex series of internal reactions to allergens and irritants. It is often associated with other allergic diseases, such as hay fever and asthma, Read more [...]