Cultivation of Artemisia

The genus Artemisia includes a large number of species and some have been cultivated as commercial crops with a wide diversity of uses. Some better known examples include antimalarial (Artemisia annua – annual or sweet wormwood), culinary spices (Artemisia dracunculus – French tarragon), liquor flavouring (Artemisia absinthium – absinthe), garden ornamental (A. abrotanum – southernwood) and insect repellent (Artemisia vulgaris – mugwort). However this review will concentrate on the cultivation of Artemisia annua because of its contemporary importance as a source of new and effective antimalarial drugs. During World War II and in the years immediately following, the world wide incidence of malaria was dramatically reduced. On the one hand the Anopheles mosquito vector was successfully controlled by the advent of the insecticide DDT and on the other the organisms causing human malaria – the single celled Plasmodium species: falciparum, vivax, malariae and ovale – were effectively controlled by the use of synthetic derivatives of quinine. The specific statistics for India illustrate this dramatic reduction. In 1961 the incidence of malaria had fallen to about 100,000 reported cases, however by 1977 the number of reported Read more […]

The use of eucalyptus oils in consumer products

Insect repellents As noted in the introduction, Eucalyptus citriodora oil has been used as a ‘natural’ insect repellent. Depending on the product formulation it is used in, Lemon Eucalyptus (known as Quwenling in China) is up to four or five times more effective and longer-lasting than citronella oil (from Cymbopogon nardus), one of the best known natural insect repellents. p-Menthane-3,8-diol is the main active component of Quwenling and this can be isolated and used as a highly effective insect repellent. Eucalyptus citriodora oil contains up to 80–90 per cent citronellal, along with geraniol, both of which are known to have insect repellent activity but tend to dilute the much higher activity of the p-menthane-3,8-diol. The Mosi-guard Natural insect repellent spray produced by MASTA in the UK contains ‘Extract of Lemon Eucalyptus’ and claims on the label: Approved and recommended by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Field trials have shown effective protection for 6 h after a single application in mosquito infected areas. Also protects against many other biting insects. Mosi-guard Natural is made from a natural and renewable resource. It is kind to your skin and has no adverse effects Read more […]

Citrus in Traditional Medicine

Citrus in traditional Asiatic medicine In a comparative study of the use of herbal drugs in the traditional medicines of India and Europe, Pun () found a marked similarity between the drugs used in the two continents. He attributed this not only to the similarity of the vegetation in the two areas, but also to the influence that traditional Indian medicine, in particular the Atherveda, one of the most ancient repositories of human knowledge, had on Egypt, Greece and Rome. He listed the principal uses of a small number of these drugs, including bitter orange peel, which in India is used as an aromatic, stomachic, tonic, astringent and carminative agent, and lemon, which is used as a flavouring and for its carminative and stomachic effects. In the Valmiki-Ramayana, written after the Vedas and one of the most sacred of all religious books which enumerates the virtues of the medicinal plants that Lord Rama (Vishnu) met during his fourteen-year journey around different parts of India, Karnick and Hocking () identified and listed fifty of these drugs with their use as described in the Ayurvedica (or native Indian) system of medicine. The immature fruit of Citrus aurantifolia (Christm) Swingle was used as an fortifier, Read more […]

Bioactivity of Basil

Traditional Medicine Basil has traditionally been used for head colds and as a cure for warts and worms, as an appetite stimulant, carminative, and diuretic. In addition, it has been used as a mouth wash and adstringent to cure inflammations in the mouth and throat. Alcoholic extracts of basil have been used in creams to treat slowly healing wounds. Basil is more widely used as a medicinal herb in the Far East, especially in China and India. It was first described in a major Chinese herbal around A.D. 1060 and has since been used in China for spasms of the stomach and kidney ailments, among others. It is especially recommended for use before and after parturition to promote blood circulation. The whole herb is also used to treat snakebite and insect bites. In Nigeria, a decoction of the leaves of Ocimum gratissimum is used in the treatment of fever, as a diaphoretic and also as a stomachic and laxative. In Franchophone West Africa, the plant is used in treating coughs and fevers and as an anthelmintic. In areas around Ibadan (Western State of Nigeria), Ocimum gratissimum is most often taken as a decoction of the whole herb (Agbo) and is particularly used in treating diarrhoea. It is known to the Yorubas as “Efirin-nla” 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 […]

Yellow Oleander, Trumpet Flower

Thevetia peruviana (Pers.) K. Schum. (Apocynaceae) Thevetia peruviana (Pers.) K. Schum. is a shrub, up to 6 m tall. All parts contain highly poisonous milky latex. Leaves are simple, few, exstipulate and spirally arranged. Blade is linear, 7-13 cm by 0.5-1 cm and glossy. Flowers are large, yellow, 5 cm across, gathered in few flowered terminal cymes. Fruits are green, shiny, globose, 4-5.5 cm across with 4 or less poisonous seeds. Origin Native to Central and South America. Phytoconstituents Thevetins A and B, thevetosides, acetylperuvoside, epipemviol, perusitin, theveneriin, thevebioside, thevefolin, pervianoside I-III and others. Traditional Medicinal Uses Used as an abortifacient, to treat congestive heart failure, malaria, leprosy, indigestion, ringworm, venereal disease and even as a suicide instrument. Used in India as an astringent to the bowel, useful in urethral discharge, worms, skin diseases, wounds, piles, eye problems and itch. Used in continental Europe and is considered particularly useful in mild myocardial insufficiency and digitalis intolerance. Its bark is used as an emetic, febrifuge, insecticidal, poison and for reviving patients with heart failure. Pharmacological Activities Antiarrhythmic, Read more […]

Piqueria trinervia Cav. (St. Nicholas Herb)

Piqueria trinervia is one of ca. 20 species of this genus belonging to the Com-positae with a wide distribution in Mexico, Central America, and the Antilla. It is a nonhardy herbaceous annual, 70-100 cm tall, and has oblong, lanceolate, slightly toothed leaves, three-nerved and large, loose corymbose panicles of small creamy white flowers. This species grows in open, moist, or dry rocky hillsides and in grasslands at an elevation of 1200-3300 m. The plant dies after the rainy season in Mexico. It has several vernacular names, e.g., tabardillo herb, St. Nicholas herb, or in an ancient native Mexican language, Yoloxiltic. It is often used in domestic medicine as a febrifuge and antipyretic, and against malaria, biliary calculus, typhus, and rheumatism. This species is of interest as an ornamental. It is grown for the clusters of tiny white flowers, used in flower arrangements. Interestingly, this plant is apparently not eaten by cattle even if they are pressed by hunger. The plants usually grow in relatively isolated, pure populations of different sizes, suggesting an allelopathic effect. Piqueria trinervia is found as a pioneer of secondary succession in abandoned agricultural or ruderal fields. It is frequently Read more […]

Damask rose: 18th Century And Later

In the 18th century Miller and Quincy present quite a contrasting picture to each other. Quincy classes the rose under Cardiacs and Cephalics, class one of Nervous Simples. Within his very detailed account of how such medicines achieve their effects, he suggests that ‘whatever is cordial must be cephalic as the head hath a principle share in agreeable sensations’, while cathartics and other evacuants will depress the spirits. Whatever ‘raises the spirits and gives sudden strength and cheerfulness’ is accounted cardiac or cordial, comforting the heart. The more spirituous anything is which enters into the stomach, the sooner a person feels its cordial effects. Common foods take a long time to achieve a sufficient fineness to reach the nerves, but a ‘spirituous substance’ is more readily available since ‘it is so fine and subtle in all its parts before it is taken, that it seems to enter or soak into the nerves as soon as it touches them; whereupon their vibrations are ‘invigorated’ and all sense of faintness is removed’. Rose, however, having been introduced as belonging to this category, is summarily dismissed among Quincy’s materia medica, its entry containing only a reference to orange and jessamy (jasmine) as being Read more […]

Basil: Current Views

Looking for references to basil in more current texts, the herbals which do not mention it are far greater in number than those which do. Bairacli Levy (1966) is fascinated by the herb and recommends it for culinary use, as an insecticide and as a powerful tonic stimulant and nerve remedy. It is advised for nausea, severe vomiting and indigestion, as well as topically for snake and spider bites and scorpion stings. Schauenberg & Paris (1977) list the infusion of the entire dried plant as a gastric antispasmodic, carminative and galactogogue. Ody (1993) has a more extensive monograph, listing the actions of basil as antidepressant, antiseptic and tonic, stimulating the adrenal cortex and preventing vomiting, while acting as a carminative, febrifuge and expectorant. She proposes several combinations: as a tincture with wood betony and skullcap for nervous conditions, or with elecampane Inula helenium and hyssop Hyssopus officinalis for coughs and bronchitis; as a juice mixed with honey in a syrup for coughs, or the juice in a decoction of cinnamon Cinnamomum zeylanicum and cloves Syzygium aromaticum for chills. Topically, it can be mixed with honey for ringworm and itching skin or the fresh herb can be rubbed on Read more […]

Irritable Bladder

For an irritable bladder a paste is made in India from amalaki and saffron with rose water and applied over the pubic region. A milk decoction of gokshura or shatavari and gokshura is also used. Gokshura guggul is also effective. Ayurvedic treatment of urinary tract infections • To relieve symptoms of urinary tract infections the main herb used is gokshura. • Turmeric, shilajit, pomegranate (Punka granatum), amalaki, varuna (Crataeva nurvala) and guduchi can also provide relief. • Tillotson quotes a clinical trial in India using varuna (Crataeva nurvala). Of 84 patients studied, with urinary tract infections accompanied by dysuria, 55% were cured, 40% showed improvement, with a 5% failure rate. Pitta: • Since acute infections are usually due to Pitta, to treat them effectively children need to follow an anti-Pitta diet, avoiding all spices (except coriander), and all nightshades particularly tomatoes. • Guduchi is one of the main anti-Pitta herbs cooling heat and inflammation. One to two ounces of fresh juice is taken with honey or milk three times daily. In this instance I use | tsp of the powder similarly. • Sandalwood is also used for Pitta conditions with burning urination. It cools heat Read more […]