Quercus spp. (Oak)

The genus Quercus covers several hundred species and natural hybrids, distributed mainly over the temperate zones of the northern hemisphere (subgenus euquercus), as well as in tropical and subtropical regions of Asia (subgenus cyclobalanopsis). Oaks may be evergreen or deciduous trees, arborescent shrubs, or bushes. Their longevity often exceeds 400 years (). The different tissues of oak trees often accumulate large amounts of poly-phenols. These polyphenols are mainly tannins. The bark of Quercus robur and Quercus petraea in Europe (known as tan) (Meunier and Vaney 1903), and that of Quercus velutina and Quercus prinus in the United States (), were used on a large scale in the leather industry until the end of the last century. Bark, acorn cups, and galls from oaks, all rich in tannins, have been traditionally used in pharmacology for their astringent, hemostatic, and antiseptic properties. Tannic acid produced from galls of Quercus infectoria has been most commonly used; acorns from Quercus robur and galls from Quercus suber, as well as barks from both species, have also been used (). The main therapeutic applications of these tannins were externally to heal wounds, burns, dermatosis, hemorrhoids, etc., and Read more […]

The Medicinal Uses of Thyme

The uses of thyme, Thymus vulgaris and other Thymus species are well known, and extensive parts of the world get benefit from this plant group in medicinal and non-medicinal respects. Following the development of the medicinal uses of thyme we can see that thyme has changed from a traditional herb to a serious drug in rational phytotherapy. This is due to many pharmacological in vitro experiments carried out during the last decades, and even a few clinical tests. The studies have revealed well defined pharmacological activities of both, the essential oils and the plant extracts, the antibacterial and spasmolytical properties being the most important ones. The use of thyme in modern phytotherapy is based on this knowledge, whereas the traditional use of thyme describes only empirical results and often debatable observations. Therefore it seems necessary to present here the data available on the pharmacodynamics of thyme and thyme preparations in order to substantiate the use of thyme in modern medicine. The non-medicinal use of thyme is no less important, because thyme (mainly Thymus vulgaris) is used in the food and aroma industries. It serves as a preservative for foods and is a culinary ingredient widely used as Read more […]

Stephania

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 […]

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 […]

Bioactivity of Basil: Other Activities

Plants belonging to the genus Ocimum exhibit a great deal of different pharmacological activities of which the most important, as concluded by the number of research reports, will be discussed below. The activities to be discussed in more detail are anti-inflammatory, immunomodulating and adaptogenic, anticarcinogenic, hypoglycemic and blood lipid lowering, radioprotective, effect on the CNS, antiulcerogenic, hepatoprotective and the effect on smooth muscle. In addition to these activities a number of other activities are also reported in the literature, such as antioxidant, angioprotective effect, effect on the reproductive behaviour and antiwormal activity. Anti-inflammatory Activity Ocimum sanctum L., popularly known as “Tulsi” in Hindi and “Holy Basil” in English, is a widely known sacred plant of Hindus. Different parts of the plant have been claimed to be valuable in a wide spectrum of diseases. For instance, it is used for the treatment of arthritis, rheumatism, pain and fever in the Ayurvedic system of medicine. Ocimum sanctum is now intensively studied in order to prove these activities by pharmacological evidence. A methanol extract and an aqueous suspension of Ocimum sanctum leaves inhibited Read more […]

Comfrey (Symphytum officinale)

Medical Uses Comfrey is used externally for superficial wounds, sore breasts, and hemorrhoids. Historical Uses In folklore, comfrey was used for healing gastric ulcers and reducing the inflammation around fractures. It is also known as knitbone. Growth Comfrey is a perennial plant that grows to about 2 to 4 feet high. It has huge, broad, hairy leaves and a small, bell-shaped flower. Comfrey: Parts Used • Leaves • Root Major Chemical Compounds • Allantoin • Pyrrolizidine alkaloids (more in the roots) • Mucilage • Tannins Comfrey: Clinical Uses Comfrey is used externally for superficial wounds, sore breasts, and hemorrhoids. Mechanism of Action AUantoin promotes cell proliferation, reduces inflammation, and controls bleeding. Its astringent properties help to heal hemorrhoids. Comfrey is unsafe when used internally. Comfrey: Dosage External Use Only Comfrey may be used externally up to three times daily. It may be applied to the skin in a compress, poultice, or ointment. Do not use for more than 10 days, and do not exceed 100 μg of pyrrolizidine alkaloids each day (Natural Medicines, 2000). Side Effects Comfrey may cause veno-occlusive disease and hepatotoxicity and may have Read more […]

Botanical Treatment Strategies for Herpes: Antiviral Botanicals

The following herbs represent a selection of botanicals used for internal and / or topical antiviral therapy. All have shown some measure of antimicrobial activity in various studies and are a promising area of research for herpes treatment. Specific studies of the effects of herbs on herpes simplex virus are presented in the following. These herbs may be used singly, but more commonly are used by herbal practitioners in combination with other antivirals, or in comprehensive, multiherb, multieffect formulae. Aloe Aloe has long been used by herbalists as a topical healing agent for wounds, burns, irritated skin, and sores. Two studies were conducted by Syed et al. examining the efficacy of topical aloe vera treatments on men experiencing primary outbreaks of genital herpes. In the first study, 120 men were randomized into three parallel groups receiving either 0.5% in hydrophilic cream, aloe vera gel, or placebo three times daily for 2 weeks. The shortest mean duration of healing occurred with aloe vera cream, followed by gel and then placebo with healing times of 4.8 days, 7.0 days, and 14.0 days, respectively. Percentages of cured patients were 70%, 45%, and 7.5%, respectively. In the second study, 60 men were randomized Read more […]

Heartburn

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 […]