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 […]

Black Cohosh (Cimicifuga Racemosa)

Medical Uses Black cohosh is helpful in relieving menopausal symptoms, including mood swings, hot flashes, profuse sweating, and sleep disturbances. It has been the largest-selling herbal dietary supplement for menopause in the United States. Historical Uses In China, black cohosh root has been used for centuries for menopausal symptoms and women’s health in general. Native Americans and Eclectic physicians used black cohosh for rheumatism, menstrual difficulties, and sore throats. Native American women have used it for menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes, anxiety, and depression. Do not confuse it with blue cohosh. Growth Black cohosh is a member of the buttercup family. It is native to the northeastern U. S. and grows in sunny areas in temperate zones. An at-risk endangered herb, black cohosh can be grown in herb gardens. The roots maybe harvested after 2 years. Black Cohosh: Part Used • Root Major Chemical Compounds • Triterpene • Glycosides Black Cohosh: Clinical Uses Studies show that black cohosh is safe and helpful in relieving menopausal symptoms, particularly mood swings, hot flashes, profuse sweating, and sleep disturbances. It is “a safe, effective alternative to estrogen replacement 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 […]

Chronic Pelvic Pain

Chronic pelvic pain (CPP) is defined as pelvic pain lasting more than 6 months. Some authors add the additional criteria that the pain be noncyclic. It is one of the most common presenting complaints in gynecologic practice, affecting as many as one in seven American women. Chronic pelvic pain comprises up to 10% of outpatient gynecologic visits, accounts for 20% of laparoscopies, and results in 12% (75,000 / year) of all hysterectomies performed annually in the United States. Estimated annual direct medical costs for outpatient visits for chronic pelvic pain in the United States among women 18 to 50 years old is estimated to be $881.5 million. It is often an extremely frustrating condition for both patient and care provider because in many cases an etiology cannot be identified and there is no apparent pathology. Treatment of presumed underlying conditions is frequently ineffective, and the “pain itself becomes the illness.” Because the cause often cannot be identified, chronic pelvic pain is frequently attributed to psychogenic causes. Although these may play a role in chronic pelvic pain for some women with lack of an identifiable cause, this does not necessarily equate with a psychosomatic origin for this complaint. Common Read more […]

Botanical Treatment Of Chronic Pelvic Pain

Effective botanical treatment of chronic pelvic pain requires a clear understanding of possible etiologies and the appropriate treatment of the underlying cause of the pain. For patients with diagnosed gynecologic conditions associated with pelvic pain, readers are referred to the relevant chapters in this textbook, such as, dysmenorrhea, interstitial cystitis, uterine fibroids, endometriosis, and so forth. Treatments discussed in the following may be used as adjunct palliative therapies for pain, inflammation, and concomitant symptoms in these conditions. In the absence of a clearly identified pathology, the practitioner can approach treatment symptomatically via specific botanical treatments for pain reduction, and attempt to address mechanisms that may be associated with CPP, for example, inflammation. One theory of chronic pelvic pain that was popular among physicians in the early-and mid-twentieth century, and that is still considered a possibility, is that of pelvic congestion syndrome. Women with this syndrome, which is poorly defined, are thought to exhibit many of the symptoms associated with CPP, including aching and dragging sensations in the lower back, lower abdomen, and pelvis, dysmenorrhea, and dyspareunia. Read more […]

Botanical Treatment Of Chronic Pelvic Pain: Marijuana

One herb, not available widely (or at least, legally available) for clinical use that has clinically demonstrated significant uterine antispasmodic and analgesic effects is Cannabis indica, more commonly referred to as marijuana. This controversial medicinal plant and recrea-tionally used herb has a long history of use for relief of uterine spasms and dysmenorrhea, considered by the Eclectics to be a “soothing uterine tonic.” In fact, its use is ancient, with references and artifacts of its use found widely in Middle Eastern, Ayurvedic, and Semitic writings, continuing through to its medical use in Europe well into the late nineteenth century for the treatment of a variety of gynecologic and obstetric conditions, not limited to but including dysmenorrhea. A pharmaceutical product from the late nineteenth century, Dysmenine Compound, produced by the Keysall Pharmical Company, Kansas City, MO, contained Cannabis, Cypripedium, Scutellaria, Pulsatilla, Viburnum prunifolium, Caulophyllum, Viburnum opulus, and Capsicum. The compound was indicated for dysmenorrhea, menstrual colic, and cramps. Indeed, this formula is not very different from one that might be prescribed by herbalists today (see sample formulae in the following); Read more […]

Botanical Treatment Of Chronic Pelvic Pain: Anti-inflammatories

Dong Quai Dong quai possesses antispasmodic, analgesic, anti-inflammatory antioxidant, uterine tonic, as well as specific immunomodulatory effects (see Plant Profiles). Immunostimulatory and anti-inflammatory effects have been attributed to isolated ferulic acid. It has been used traditionally in Chinese medicine for the treatment of “blood vacuity” and “blood stasis,” which may be considered related tochronic pelvic pain. Evening Primrose Oil It is thought that the use of evening primrose oil (evening primrose oil), with its high gamma linoleic acid content, may preferentially promote the synthesis of anti-inflammatory prostaglandin series over inflammatory prostaglandins. One critical review of the effects of evening primrose oil for the treatment of PMS concluded that there was no benefit. However, in a study of women (n = 40) who experienced symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) just prior to and at the onset of menstruation, 53% reported an improvement in symptoms, whereas no improvement was seen in the placebo group. Improvement generally took 2 to 3 months to become apparent. Blood analysis at the beginning and end of treatment revealed significant improvement in fatty acid imbalances in the evening primrose Read more […]

Uterine Tonics: Venotonics

Treatment of pelvic congestion syndrome incorporates a combination of therapeutic actions, including anti-inflammatory, uterine tonics, and herbs used as vascular tonics. Uterine tonics, which historically have included herbs such as blue cohosh, goldenseal, lady’s mantle, motherwort, partridge berry, red raspberry leaf, and cramp bark and black haw, are thought to exert their efforts by improving the overall tone of the uterine smooth musculature and vasculature. Goldenseal, for example, typically regarded for its antimicrobial effects, was used extensively by the Eclectics for the treatment of uterine bleeding resulting from a variety of conditions, including endometriosis, fibroids, and changes associated with menopause. Although no clinical studies have been conducted using whole herb, in vitro trials using berberine, one of the primary alkaloids in goldenseal, have demonstrated both uterine smooth muscles stimulant and inhibitory activity. Aqueous extracts of red raspberry leaf also have demonstrated both stimulatory and inhibitory effects on uterine smooth muscle. In fact, this paradoxic effect is seen with several of the herbs commonly used as both uterine tonics and spasmolytics, for example, cramp bark and Read more […]

Formulae For Chronic Pelvic Pain Treatment

The following is a small selection of possible formulae to illustrate formulation strategies for chronic pelvic pain treatment. These various formulae can be used concurrently, or elements from several may be combined to create a unique formula for individual patients. Other herbs discussed above may be substituted if they are more specifically indicated to a particular patient’s presenting picture. Further, chronic pelvic pain treatment, as discussed, almost invariably requires readers to refer to other relevant sections of this site for treatment options, for example, dysmenorrhea or interstitial cystitis. Formulae for Chronic Pelvic Pain General Tincture for CPP: Uterine Tonic / Antispasmodic Blue cohosh (Caulophyllum thalictroides) 20 mL Cramp bark (Viburnum opulus) 20 mL Peony (Paeonia lactiflora) 20 mL Motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca) 15 mL Horse chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum) 15 mL Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) 10 mL Total: 100 mL Dose: 5 mL twice daily This formula is an example of one that combines a variety of actions into a general formula that can be used long-term and daily for the treatment of chronic pelvic pain for women with Read more […]

Common Herbal Remedies for Anxiety

Ayurveda, the Indian traditional system of medicine uses herbs and their preparations to treat various neuropsychiatric disorders. Numerous herbs have been used for centuries in folk and other traditional medicine to calm the mind and positively enhance mood. Herbal medicine which plays an important role in developing countries, are once again becoming popular throughout developing and developed countries. Study by Sparreboom et al. revealed that use of herbal medicine is increasing enormously in the Western world. In spite of the large number of animal studies evaluating the potential anxiolytic effects of plant extracts, very few controlled studies have been conducted in a clinical setup. The efficacy and safety of utilizing these natural drugs to treat anxiety, has only just begun to be exactly tested in clinical trials within the last 10 to 15 years. For instance, both Kava-kava (Piper methysticum) and St. John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum) showed beneficial effectiveness in double blind, randomized placebo controlled trials to treat anxiety and depression. Also, extracts of valerian, hops, lemon balm and passion flower preparations have been employed for the prevention and treatment of psychiatric disorders such Read more […]