The Citrus in Pharmacology Treatises and in Therapy from the Eighteenth to Twentieth Centuries

In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, all Materia medica and Pharmacology treatises reported drugs obtained from Citrus species, already present in the above-mentioned Pharmacopoeias (Boehraave, 1772; De Rochefort, 1789; Edwards and Vavasseur, 1829; Chevallier and Richard, 1830; Ferrarini, 1825; Semmola, 1836; Cassola, 1838; Targioni-Tozzetti, 1847; Bouchardat, 1855; Orosi, 1856-57; Cantani, 1887). Boerhaave (1772) attributes to Citrus fruits the property of curing various illnesses (morbes), and lists citron oil among remedies for fevers in general, heart disease (Pulvis cardiacus, calidus, narcoticus), or to be used together with other medicinals against burning fevers (In siti febbrili, Decoctum in valida siti et debilitati); as an antiemetic (Haustus anti-emeticus), antiscorbutic (Antiscorbutica frigidiuscula), colluttorium (Colluttoria oris. In Calidis), in treating dropsy (Mistura aromatica, cardiaca, acida, sitim sedans, vires vitales excitans, lymphae fluorem concilians), infirmities in pregnant women (ad gravidarum morbos), as an aromatic cardiac medicated wine (yinum medicatum, aromaticum, cardiacuni) or in an acid aromatic cardiac mixture, and also in hue Venerea as Mistura anodina e diaforetica. An Read more […]


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 […]

White Deadnettle (Lamium Album)

Family: Lamiaceae Part used: aerial parts Lamium album L. is a spreading perennial, common in Britain, found by roadsides and on rough ground in »ny and shady sites. The Flora of Turkey gives 27 Lamium species, including Lamium album and Lamium purpureum. Erect, pubescent, square stems (to 25 cm) bear opposite, fresh-green, dentate, stalked leaves. White flowers occur in whorls. The tubed corolla (2 cm) has a curved upper lip, the lower lip has two to three teeth on each side and the calyx is five-toothed. The flowers are creamy-yellow in bud. It flowers for long periods from early spring. Other species used Culpeper lists white, yellow and red deadnettles. Yellow deadnettle Lamium galeobdolon, syn. Lamiastrum galeobdolon or Galeobdolon luteum is a perennial plant of woodlands. It has yellow flowers and taller stems than the white deadnettle. Culpeper describes red deadnettle as an annual with pale, reddish flowers. This is probably Lamium purpureum L, which is a common weed. The Galeopsis genus is closely related and some descriptions could be of common hemp-nettle, Galeopsis tetrahit L, which is native to Europe and Western Asia and grows on disturbed sites or roadsides. It is a herbaceous annual with hairy Read more […]

White Deadnettle: Modern Use

Modern texts, if the herb appears in them at all, mainly limit themselves to white deadnettle, but vary quite widely in their range of applications. Chevallier cites Gerard on lifting the spirits but restricts his internal uses mainly to women’s complaints. It is, he says, astringent and demulcent, used as a uterine tonic, to stop intermenstrual bleeding and menorrhagia; traditionally for vaginal discharge; sometimes taken to relieve painful periods. It can be taken against diarrhoea and externally used for varicose veins and haemorrhages. Wood cites Hill, Weiss and a 19th century UK herbalist who records the familiar traditional uses of helping the spleen, whites, flooding, nose bleeds, spitting blood, haemorrhages, green wounds, bruises and burns. The source of some of his specific indications ― cough, bronchitis, pleurisy, inflamed prostate, anaemia -is unclear, given his text. Menzies-Trull covers a broad range of uses, although there is no specific discussion of them. Bartram too gives a broad sweep, designating the flowering tops haemostatic, astringent, diuretic, expectorant, anti-inflammatory, vulnerary, antispasmodic and menstrual regulator, with uses including heavy and painful menstrual bleeding, cystitis, Read more […]

External Use As An Astringent

Before moving to current practice, we can trace long usage of tormentil as an astringent in external remedies. Dioscorides advises the decoction of root, boiled down to one third, held in the mouth to relieve toothache, used as a rinse to control putrid humours in the mouth and as a gargle for hoarseness of the trachea. These are also given by Dodoens, who suggests the root and the leaf together. Dioscorides then gives a long list of indications and recommends a preparation of boiled root, ground up in vinegar to keep shingles in check, restrain herpes, disperse scrophulous swellings in glands, indurations, swellings, aneurysms, abscesses, erysipelas, fleshy excrescences in fingers, callous lumps and mange. Galen recommends pentaphyllum to dry wounds. Apuleius advises the juice of the herb bruised and mixed with egg yolk, rubbed on painful feet to take away the pain in 3 days. This usage also is given by Dalechamps and Bauhin, and reappears as a balm for the feet in Gloucestershire. The Salernitan herbal refers to tormentil, which resembles cinquefoil, and recommends the juice of the root placed inside a fistula and the juice mixed with white wine applied for fleck in the eye. Turner finds it similar to bistort Polygonum Read more […]


Recent authors identify agrimony as a topical astringent for wounds, ulcers and sore throats and an astringent, bitter tonic, indicated for gastrointestinal and urinary problems such as indigestion, diarrhoea and colitis, urinary tract infections, enuresis and incontinence and kidney and bladder gravel. Because of its gentleness it is particularly suitable for children and the elderly. These indications are largely represented in the British Herbal Pharmacopoeia (1983): a mild astringent for diarrhoea in children, mucous colitis and grumbling appendicitis; a diuretic for cystitis and kidney stones; and external use as a gargle for acute sore throat and chronic nasopharyngeal catarrh. Agrimony has also been used in France for venous insufficiency and heavy legs, and for haemorrhoids. Among the German authors, Schulz et al (1998) suggest agrimony only for mild, transient forms of diarrhoea and inflammations of the oropharyngeal mucosa, while Weiss specifies its use in chronic cholecystopathies with gastric subacidity, but requiring consistent use for some time to achieve success. Williamson references research indicating anti-diabetic activity, lending weight to the claim of Hool and Robinson 100 years earlier. Hoffmann Read more […]

Herb-Drug Interactions: German Chamomile

Matricaria recutita L. (Asteraceae) Synonym(s) and related species ChamomiUa, Hungarian chamomile, Matricaria flower, Scented mayweed, Single chamomile, Sweet false chamomile, Wild chamomile. ChamomiUa recutita (L.) Rauschert, ChamomiUa vulgaris SF Gray, Matricaria chamomilla L. Pharmacopoeias Chamomile (The United States Ph 32). Constituents The flowerheads of German chamomile contain essential oil composed mainly of (-)-alpha-bisabolol. Sesquiterpenes and proazulenes (e.g. matricarin and matricin) are also present. Chamazulene (1 to 15%), another volatile oil found in chamomile, is formed from matricin during steam distillation of the oil. Other constituents present in chamomile include flavonoids (apigenin, luteolin, quercetin, rutin), and the natural coumarins umbelliferone and its methyl ether, heniarin. Use and indications German chamomile is used for dyspepsia, flatulence and travel sickness, especially when the gastrointestinal disturbance is associated with nervous disorders. It is also used for nasal catarrh and restlessness. German chamomile is widely used in babies and children as a mild sedative, and to treat colic and teething pain. It has been used topically for haemorrhoids, mastitis and Read more […]

Herb-Drug Interactions: Cranberry

Vaccinium macrocarpon Aiton (Ericaceae) Synonym(s) and related species Large cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon) is the cultivated species. European cranberry or Mossberry (Vaccinium oxycoccus) has also been used. Pharmacopoeias Cranberry Liquid Preparation (The United States Ph 32). Constituents The berries contain anthocyanins and proanthocyanidins (mainly oligomers of epicatechin), and organic acids including malic, citric, quinic and benzoic acids. Note that, although salicylic acid does not appear as a constituent of the juice in many cranberry monographs, some studies have shown low levels of salicylates in commercial cranberry juice (e.g. 7mg/L), which resulted in detectable plasma and urine levels of salicylic acid in women who drank 250 mL of cranberry juice three times daily. Use and indications The main use of cranberries and cranberry juice is for the prevention and treatment of urinary tract infections, although they have also been used for blood and digestive disorders. Cranberries are commonly used in food and beverages. Pharmacokinetics There is high absorption and excretion of cranberry anthocyanins in human urine, as shown by a study where 11 healthy subjects drank 200 mL of cranberry Read more […]


LEEKS were used, but not in a way easily foreseen. Lupton, in the mid-seventeenth century, ordered the patient to take nine or ten fresh leeks, and to put a thread through the midst of them, “but cut off the tops of the leaves, then hang them round the party’s neck that bleeds, so that the leaves be upward to the nose, and the heads of them downwards…” The homeopathic use of NETTLES for nosebleed is quite traditional. Martin noted the use on Gigha in 1703, the roots being chewed and held to the nostrils, and earlier still, it was claimed that “being stamped, and the juice put up into the nosthrills, it stoppeth the bleeding of the nose”. The Physicians of Myddfai also recommended it, and Wesley prescribed the same cure. Lupton, in the mid-17th century, too, said “let the party that bleedeth chew the root of a nettle in his mouth, but swallow it not down, and without doubt the blood will staunch; for if one keep it in his mouth, he can lose no blood”. A leechbook of the 14th century includes “for bledyng of the nose. Take the bark of (HAZEL), and branse it and blow the powder in thi nose”, a remedy that would probably work quite well, but would be far too long-winded, unless, of course, one had a stock of the powdered Read more […]


An early remedy shows a great mixture of magic and medicine, for it required the herbalist to dig up a BRAMBLE of which both ends were in the earth, and then to take the newer root, cut nine chips on the left hand and sing three times, Miserere mei Deus, and nine times the Our Father. Having completed that part of the preparation, “take then MUG WORT and everlasting and boil these three in several kinds of milk until they become red. Let him then sup a good bowl of it fasting at night, some time before he takes other food. Make him rest in a soft bed, and wrap him up warm…”. Astringent as they are, bramble leaves and roots, have always been used for diarrhoea and dysentery, and that includes the AMERICAN BLACKBERRY (Rubus villosus). A syrup made from the root is an American country medicine for the complaint, and the juice from the fruit, spiced and laced with whisky, is a well-valued carminative drink in Kentucky, the original of the well-known “Blackberry Cordial”. Gerard recommended MYRTLE (“the leaves, fruit, buds and juyce”) for dysentery. A root infusion of the African tree CATCHTHORN (Zizyphus abyssinica) is taken for dysentery. There is a lot of tannin in the bark, so that is probably the reason for this Read more […]