Phaseolus Species

The Phaseolae (family Leguminosae) are grown agronomically as a grain legume for both human and animal nutrition. Of the four species, Phaseolus acutifolius (tepary bean), P. coccineus (scarlet runner bean), P. lunatus (lima and butter bean), and P. vulgaris (known variously as common, field, green, snap, wax or French bean) are grown extensively. Related species, such as P. angularis and P. aureus have recently been reclassified as belonging to the genus Vigna and will not be considered further in this post. All of the Phaseolae originate from southern or central America and are grown for their dried seeds or fleshy pods for human consumption. After harvesting, the vines may also be used as fresh or silaged cattle feed. Of all the bean species, Phaseolus vulgaris is the most important agronomic crop, being a major dietary component in Latin America and Africa. P. vulgaris was first domesticated in 5000 b.c. in central America and was distributed to the rest of the world by the Spanish in the 16th century. The major world producer of P. vulgaris is the USA where after harvest with typical yields of 1.5 t/ha, it is either dried or canned as baked beans. Similarly, P. lunatus is also grown for its beans with its cultivation Read more […]

Hypertension in Pregnancy

Hypertension is the most common medical problem of pregnancy, affecting 10% of all pregnant women. The condition can lead to devastating outcomes with significantly increased risks of placental abruption, disseminated intravascular coagulation (disseminated intravascular coagulopathy), cerebral hemorrhage, hepatic failure, and acute renal failure. Hypertensive disorders of pregnancy are a significant cause of maternal and perinatal morbidity and mortality, and therefore require accurate diagnosis and proper medical management. CAM treatments for hypertensive disorders during pregnancy should always accompany proper medical management in conjunction with the care of an obstetrician. Hypertensive disorders of pregnancy are divided into four categories according to the National High Blood Pressure Education Program (NHBPEP) 2000 Working Group: 1. Preeclampsia-eclampsia 2. Chronic hypertension 3. Preeclampsia superimposed on chronic hypertension 4. Gestational (transient) hypertension Hypertension itself is defined as a sustained increase in blood pressure > 140 / 90. Elevated blood pressure should be documented on at least two consecutive occasions greater than 6 hours apart, using the appropriate-size Read more […]

Descriptions of Hypertensive Disorders of Pregnancy

Descriptions of Hypertensive Disorders of Pregnancy by Classification and General Conventional Treatment Approaches A great deal of debate and uncertainty surrounds the etiology, classification, and medical treatment of pregnancy hypertensive disorders. The following discussion provides a brief overview of the salient points of each of the pregnancy hypertensive disorders and their specific medical treatments based on current recommendations. Preeclampsia Preeclampsia is a disease specific to pregnancy, with “cure” occurring only upon delivery of the placenta. The etiology of preeclampsia remains unknown, although there are numerous theories. It appears that it is a complex, multifactorial condition with genetic factors, immunologic factors, altered inflammatory pathways, insulin resistance (obesity, hyperlipidemia, glucose intolerance), endothelial dysfunction, macronutrient and micronutrient deficiencies, altered placental angiogenesis, and subclinical infections possibly participating in the risk of developing this condition. Advanced maternal age, first pregnancy, poor nutrition, residence at high altitudes, and lack of adequate prenatal care have also been associated with increased risk. There is a common thread Read more […]

Botanical Treatment Of Hypertension In Pregnancy

Improperly treated pregnancy hypertensive disorders can have dire consequences to the mother and baby. It is not recommended that pregnant women attempt self-medication for pregnancy hypertension, nor that this be done by inexperienced practitioners. The best treatment is obstetric medical care accompanied, when appropriate, by prudent use of herbal medicines as adjunct therapy, under the guidance of an herbalist, nat-uropath, or midwife trained in the use of botanical medicines in pregnancy. Although popular for the treatment of hypertension in the nonpregnant population, herbal diuretics such as dandelion leaf (Taraxacum officinale) are not appropriate for the treatment of pregnancy hypertensive disorders, and may potentially cause exacerbation. The herbs discussed in the following are those commonly used for treating gestational and chronic hypertension that are considered generally safe for use during pregnancy. Botanical treatment for preeclampsia is not recommended and has not been investigated. Cramp Bark and Black Haw Cramp bark and black haw have been used by midwives as part of herbal antihypertensive protocol for gestational hypertension. Traditionally, they have been used as mus-culoskeletal relaxants Read more […]


Heartburn (Gastroesophageal Reflux) In Pregnancy Heartburn is caused by a reflux of gastric acids into the lower esophagus, usually occurring after meals or when lying down. The gastric acids irritate the esophagus, causing a burning sensation behind the sternum that may extend into the neck and face, and may be accompanied by regurgitation, nausea, and hypersalivation. Inflammation and ulceration of the esophagus may result. Up to two-thirds of women experience heartburn during pregnancy. Only rarely it is an exacerbation of preexisting disease. Symptoms may begin as early as the first trimester and cease soon after birth. Most women first experience reflux symptoms after 5 months of gestation; however, many women report the onset of symptoms only when they become very bothersome, long after the symptoms actually began. The prevalence and severity of heartburn progressively increases during pregnancy. The exact causes(s) of reflux during pregnancy include relaxed lower esophageal tone, secondary to hormonal changes during pregnancy, particularly the influence of progesterone, and mechanical pressure of the growing uterus on the stomach which contributes to reflux of gastric acids into the esophagus. However, some Read more […]

Preterm Labor

Preterm Labor And Uterine Irritability Preterm labor occurs prior to the end of the 37th pregnancy week. Preterm birth is one of the leading causes of infant mortality and also long-term disability in the United States. In spite of improvements in the outcome of prematurely born infants, the rate of premature delivery has continued to rise, largely as a result of assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs) and multiple pregnancies, although poor nutrition and lower socioeco-nomic status continue to play a major role. In 2004, 12.5% of all births in the United States occurred prior to 32 weeks gestation. Rates of preterm birth are highest among African-American women, adolescents, women older than 40, unmarried women, and women with lower socioeconomic status. Additional factors that contribute to premature labor include prior preterm birth, history of second trimester pregnancy loss, preterm premature rupture of the membranes (PPROM), multiple gestation, concurrent obstetric or medical complications, uteroplacental insufficiency, cigarette smoking, drug use, alcohol intake, lack of prenatal care, uterine abnormalities, infections, loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP), and fetal congenital abnormalities. Stress, Read more […]

Nausea And Vomiting Of Pregnancy

Nausea And Vomiting Of Pregnancy And Hyperemesis Gravidarum Nausea and vomiting of pregnancy (NVP), generally referred to as “morning sickness,” is a common pregnancy discomfort. Its association with pregnancy was documented on papyrus dating as far back as 2000 bce. The earliest reference is in Soranus’ Gynecology from the 2nd century ce.s9 Some degree of nausea, with or without vomiting, occurs in 50% to 90% of all pregnancies. It generally begins at about five to six weeks of gestation and usually abates by 16 to 18 weeks gestation. As many as 15% to 20% of pregnant women will continue to experience some degree of nausea and vomiting of pregnancy into the third trimester, and approximately 5% will continue to experience it until birth. The socioeconomic impact of nausea and vomiting of pregnancy on time lost from either paid employment or household work is substantial, with one study reporting as many as 8.6 million hours of paid employment and 5.8 million hours of household work lost each year because of nausea and vomiting of pregnancy. Additionally, women experiencing more extreme versions of nausea and vomiting of pregnancy or hyperemesis gravidarum are vulnerable to social isolation, and possibly depression, Read more […]

Stress: Ginseng

Ginseng (Panax ginseng; Panax quinquefolius) Ginseng species include Panax ginseng and Panax quinquefolius, Asian and American ginseng, respectively. Panax notoginseng and Panax pseudoginseng are also ginsengs but are not discussed here. Eleutherococcus sentico-sus, formerly referred to as Siberian ginseng, is not, in fact, a ginseng. White and red ginsengs are both forms of Panax ginseng, white being unprocessed, and the red having been steam prepared. In TCM, white and red ginseng are considered to have different actions, the former being much less stimulating, and the latter being used for deep deficiencies and to move the qi. Western herbalists consider American ginseng to be less heating and gentler than either Asian ginseng, especially compared with red ginseng. The word Panax is derived from the word panacea in deference to wide-ranging uses from immune support to energy enhancement to promotion of longevity. Ginsenosides are considered to be the pharmacologically active components of ginseng; however, as stated in Wichtl, “the theory for its use in traditional medicine cannot be explained based on the criteria of western rational medicine.” Chinese medicine has included ginseng in its pharmacopoeias for Read more […]

Raspberry: In Preparation For Birth

Raspberry may not now be amongst the herbs most commonly used as an astringent, but it is very widely used as a ‘partus praeparator’, to prepare for birth. Although it is considered to have been used ‘since ancient times’, references to use by women are few in the older authors. The Old English Herbarium gives ripe blackberries for ‘a woman’s menstrual flow,’ ‘three times seven’, simmered down in water by two thirds, made daily and taken on an empty stomach for 3 days. Dodoens recommends the juice of brambles for heavy menstrual flow. Gerard refers to the use of the decoction in all bleeding, and Parkinson, followed by Culpeper, recommends the decoction of the leaves and dried blackberry stems for heavy menstrual flow. Miller says it is considered good in miscarriage. However, there is an association between astringency and strengthening of the tissues and this provides a linkage to the recommendation of raspberry as a ‘partus praeparator’. Quincy includes astringents under strengtheners; substances which maintain the solids in a condition ready to exert themselves into action when needed. Strengtheners include substances ‘which crisp and corrugate the fibres into a more compacted tone’ and substances which absorb and Read more […]

Licorice: Adverse Reactions

Many of the adverse effects attributed to licorice are due to glycyrrhetinic acid (GA) at doses above 100-400 mg/day. For this reason, the deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL) may be safer and more appropriate in cases where glycyrrhizin (GL) or GA are not required for efficacy. Side-effects may be more pronounced in people with essential hypertension who appear to be more sensitive to the inhibition of 11HSD by licorice than normotensive subjects. • Hypercortisolism and pseudohyperaldosteronism — associated with sodium retention, potassium loss and suppression of the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system and presenting as hypertension, fluid retention, breathlessness, hypernatraemia and hypokalaemia. • Hypokalaemia — may present as hypotonia and flaccid paralysis, peripheral oedema, polyuria, proximal myopathy, lethargy, paraesthesiae, muscle cramps, headaches, tetany, breathlessness and hypertension. In practice, licorice is often mixed with the potassium-rich herb dandelion leaf, which also has mild diuretic effects. • Hypokalaemic paralysis — although rare, some cases have been reported as a result of chronic licorice use. • Rhabdomyolysis — a number of cases are reported in the scientific Read more […]