Chamomile: Traditional Use and Therapeutic Indications

Traditional Use Chamomile has been known for centuries and is well established in therapy. In traditional folk medicine it is found in the form of chamomile tea, which is drunk internally in cases of painful gastric and intestinal complaints connected with convulsions such as diarrhea and flatulence, but also with inflammatory gastric and intestinal diseases such as gastritis and enteritis. Externally chamomile is applied in the form of hot compresses to badly healing wounds, such as for a hip bath with abscesses, furuncles, hemorrhoids, and female diseases; as a rinse of the mouth with inflammations of the oral cavity and the cavity of the pharynx; as chamomile steam inhalation for the treatment of acne vulgaris and for the inhalation with nasal catarrhs and bronchitis; and as an additive to baby baths. In Roman countries it is quite common to use chamomile tea even in restaurants or bars and finally even in the form of a concentrated espresso. This is also a good way of fighting against an upset stomach due to a sumptuous meal, plenty of alcohol, or nicotine. In this case it is not easy to draw a line and find out where the limit to luxury is. Clinic and practice Preliminary remark The suitability of the empirical Read more […]

Healing Powers of Aloes

Aloe is a medicinal plant that has maintained its popularity over the course of time. Three distinct preparations of aloe plants are mostly used in a medicinal capacity: aloe latex (=aloe); aloe gel (=aloe vera); and, aloe whole leaf (=aloe extract). Aloe latex is used for its laxative effect; aloe gel is used topically for skin ailments, such as wound healing, psoriasis, genital herpes and internally by oral administration in diabetic and hyperlipidaemic patients and to heal gastric ulcers; and, aloe extract is potentially useful for cancer and AIDS. The use of honey may make the aloe extract therapy palatable and more efficient. Aloe preparations, especially aloe gel, have been reported to be chemically unstable and may deteriorate over a short time period. In addition, hot water extracts may not contain adequate concentrations of active ingredients and purified fractions may be required in animal studies and clinical trials. Therefore it should be kept in mind that, in some cases, the accuracy of the listed actions may be uncertain and should be verified by further studies. There are at least 600 known species of Aloe (Family Liliaceae), many of which have been used as botanical medicines in many countries for Read more […]

Healing Powers of Aloes: Pharmacology and Therapeutic Applications

Constipation Aloe latex possesses laxative properties and has been used traditionally to treat constipation. The old practice of using aloe as a laxative drug is based on its content of anthraquinones like barbaloin, which is metabolised to the laxative aloe-emodin, isobarbaloin and chrysophanic acid. The term ‘aloe’ (or ‘aloin’) refers to a crystalline, concentrated form of the dried aloe latex. In addition, aloe latex contains large amounts of a resinous material. Following oral administration the stomach is quickly reached and the time required for passage into the intestine is determined by stomach content and gastric emptying rate. Glycosides are probably chemically stable in the stomach (pH 1–3) and the sugar moiety prevents their absorption into the upper part of the gastrointestinal tract and subsequent detoxification in the liver, which protects them from breakdown in the intestine before they reach their site of action in the colon and rectum. Once they have reached the large intestine the glycosides behave like pro-drugs, liberating the aglycones (aloe-emodin, rhein-emodin, chyrosophanol, etc.) that act as the laxatives. The metabolism takes place in the colon, where bacterial glycosidases are Read more […]

Cryptomeria japonica Don (Japanese Cedar)

Cryptomeria japonica Don (Japanese cedar, Japanese name sugi), belonging to the family Taxodiaceae, is one of the most useful coniferous trees, growing very tall with a straight stem; its valuable wood is white and soft, reaching more than 50 m in height and more than 5 m in diameter. Sugi yields good timber and is also cultivated as an ornamental in Japan. Extracts of sugi leaves by boiling are used for the cure of trauma, tumour, eczema and gonorrhaea. Sugi is a rich source of phenolic extracts and volatile oils. The former consist mainly of flavans, yielding about 17.1% of dry weight of the inner bark, and the major component is oligomeric procyanidin, used as a tanning reagent in the leather industry. The latter are known to have a yield of about 0.7% from the fresh leaves, in which diterpenes of kaurene, isokaurene, 9-ketoferruginol (sugiol) and the others have been found. Sugi volatile oils are sometimes used as aroma for liquor (Japanese sake). The author recently succeeded in establishing the cell culture of sugi. The cell suspension culture contained flavan derivatives almost exclusively as the phenolic extractives, yielding about 0.6% of dry weight of the cells. The volatile oils were also examined in the Read more […]

Coptis

Coptis rhizome (Japanese name woren), belonging to the Ranunclaceae, is very commonly used in Japanese traditional medicine as antipyretic, antidote and an-tidysentery. The cultivation of the rhizome of Coptis plant grows very slowly and takes 5-6 years before use as raw material or as a source of berberine from the rhizome. Its rootstock and fibrous roots contain much berberine and other minor protoberberine alkaloids. Berberine is an useful antibacterial agent, and has stomachic and anti-inflammatory effects. Berberine can be obtained from Coptis rhizome and Phellodendron bark and has a wide market in Japan and East Asia. It is of pharmaceutical significance to investigate callus culture of this plant for berberine production. Several researchers have been working on its production. Coptis () has 15 species of small herbs with perennial root stocks distributed in the temperate regions of the northern hemisphere. The following species are used medicinally: C. japonica in Japan, C. chinensis in China, C. teeta in India and C. trifolia in North America. The powdered rhizome or an extract of C. japonica is a bitter stomachic and astringent. It has been used as remedy for severe headache; a concentrated solution Read more […]

Oenothera Species (Evening Primrose)

The Plant Species of the genus Oenothera L. (Onagra Miller) from the family Onagraceae are characteristic of America, the homeland of species acclimated in Europe. The American flora has the most numerous representatives; plants of these species can be found in natural localities, or they are grown as decorative plants with white, pink to reddish purple, or mostly bright yellow flowers. A few species are also found in Russia. At present, the genus Oenothera is believed to be distributed throughout the world with the exception of Antarctica. The genus Oenothera is divided into 14 sections. As a result of the creation of hybrid forms, pure single-species populations of this genus are becoming more and more rare. There are two groups of taxonomists, differing in their opinions on its systematics. The total number of Oenothera species is estimated at 123 by American taxonomists, and at 212 by European authors. By 1992, 26 species and permanent hybrids had been found in Poland, grouped in three series: Devriesia (3 species), Oenothera (16 species), and Rugglesia (7 species). The species of the genus in question are herbaceous plants, annual, biennial or perennial, with single leaves, sometimes bipinnated, without Read more […]

Black Nightshade, Terong Meranti, Poison Berry

Solanum nigrum L. (Solanaceae) Solanum nigrum L. is a small herb, up to 1.5 m tall. Leaves are ovate, ovate-oblong, glabrous, hairy, 1-16 cm by 0.25-12 cm. Inflorescence of 2-10 in an extra-axillary cluster, with white or purple corolla and yellow central protrusion. Fruit is globose, black in colour but is green when immature, 0.5 cm in diameter, with many seeds. Origin Native to Southwest Asia, Europe, India and Japan. Phytoconstituents Solanidine, α-, β-, γ-chaconine, desgalactotigonin, α-, β-solamargine, diosgenin, solanadiol, α-, β-, γ-solanines, soladulcidine, solanocapsine, α-, β-solansodamine, solasodine, α-solasonine, tigogenin, tomatidenol, uttronins A and B, uttrosides A and B, solanigroside A-H and others. Traditional Medicinal Uses The stem, leaves and roots are used as a decoction for wounds, tumours and cancerous growths, sores and as an astringent. They are also used as a condiment, stimulant, tonic, for treatment of piles, dysentery, abdominal pain, inflammation of bladder, relief of asthma, bronchitis, coughs, eye ailments, itch, psoriasis, skin diseases, eczema, ulcer, relief of cramps, rheumatism, neuralgia and expulsion of excess fluids. The roots are used as an expectorant. The Read more […]

Coronilla Species

Distribution, Classification, and Importance of the Genus Coronilla The genus Coronilla s.l. (Fabaceae) consists of about 50 species of perennial shrubs and perennial or annual herbs occurring in North and Central Europe, the Canary Islands, the Mediterranean region, North Asia, China, and Somaliland. The genus was divided by Uhrova (1935) into four sections, namely the two monospecific sections Emerus and Ballia, the sections Eucoronilla (divided into five series), and Scorpioides. In the more recent revisions by Zoz and Jahn, the latter taking into consideration also chemotaxonomic aspects, Uhrova’s scheme was followed, with only minor differences in the treatment of the third section, called by them Coronilla. A complete systematic revision on the basis of morphoanatomical, cytological, geographical, and chemical characters led Schmidt to propose a new classification of the genus. In Schmidt’s scheme, the genus is divided into the two monospecific sections Emerus and Ballia, the section Coronilla with a reduced number of species, and the section Scorpioides, formerly including only C scorpioides (L.) Koch and C. repanda (Poir.) Guss., and now including eight additional species, namely: C. coronata L., C. ramosissima Read more […]

Earache: Herbal Treatment of Children

Earache can be related to pain in the throat, gums, teeth or parotid glands (in mumps), which radiates to the ear. It can also be due to inflammation of the outer ear canal, and associated with swelling and an irritating discharge. Most commonly, however, especially in children under six, earache is caused by middle ear infection (otitis media). This may be either acute or chronic. Acute infections can occur as a sequel to other infections including colds, tonsillitis, measles or allergies. Infection of the outer ear can be caused by an object stuck in the ear, a boil in the ear canal, scratching or fiddling with the ear (which often happens with a skin irritation such as eczema in or around the ears); or from chlorine in swimming pools, which can irritate the skin of children who swim frequently and who do not dry their ears properly. Any discharge in the outer ear can be washed away gently with a warm infusion of antiseptic herbs, such as chamomile, elderflowers, golden seal (Hydrastis canadensis) or marigold, or a few drops of tincture can be used in warm water. One or two drops of warm olive oil with a few drops of essential oil of either chamomile or lavender (two drops to a teaspoon of oil) can be inserted Read more […]

Asthma: Herbal Treatment of Children

Asthma is not normally found in children under 2 years of age, although other respiratory disturbances cause wheezing, both in infants and older children: bronchiolitis in infants causes wheezing and trouble with breathing in and out when the bronchioles become inflamed and blocked. Children with croup wheeze, but it is characterized by trouble breathing in and not out as in asthma. Asthmatic bronchitis affects children mostly between the ages of two and six years. Wheezing is accompanied by a fever, dry cough and some difficulty breathing, and it is caused by constriction of bronchi and bronchioles, as a result of an allergic response to infection in the bronchi or to the mucus it produces. It normally occurs in children younger than those who normally develop classic asthma, it tends to develop in allergic children and always occurs as a result of infection. Thus it requires treatment for the infection as well as the accompanying allergic response. Obstruction of the airways by either spasm, hyper-responsiveness of the bronchial tubes, inflammation or swelling of the respiratory mucosa is certainly on the increase and can be triggered by a variety of different factors, which may act separately or in combination. Read more […]