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 […]

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 […]

Nettle (Urtica dioica)

Nettle: Medical Uses Nettle is used for allergy symptoms and anemia. It also is used to prevent hair loss, stimulate hair growth, promote weight loss, and strengthen the liver. Historical Uses Nettle is the Anglo-Saxon word for “needle.” In folklore, nettle was used as a footbath for rheumatism, a spring tonic, a diuretic, and a remedy for asthma. Growth Nettle grows 2 to 3 feet high and has dark green leaves with stinging hairs. Touching or brushing against the leaves sometimes causes a severe local irritation. Parts Used • Leaves • Roots Major Chemical Compounds • FlavonoidsAcetylcholine • Histamine • Serotonin • Chlorophyll • Carotenoids • High amounts of iron, calcium, vitamin C, and silica. Nettle: Clinical Uses Nettle is used for allergy symptoms and anemia. It also is used to prevent hair loss, stimulate hair growth, promote weight loss, and strengthen the liver. It is used as a nutritive tea for pregnant and breast-feeding women. It can also be used for arthritis pain and for its anti-HIV effects. Mechanism of Action This herb has antihistamine and diuretic effects. It increases production of breast milk. It has antiprostatic, androgenic, keratogenetic, Read more […]

Herpes Simplex Virus

Herpes simplex virus (HSV) is a member of the human herpes virus group that includes, for example, herpes simplex virus-1, herpes simplex virus-2, and Epstein-Barr virus (EBV). Herpes simplex virus is a recurrent viral infection that remains dormant in the nervous system with periods of reactivation characterized by individual or multiple clusters of fluid-filled vesicles at specifically affected sites. Herpes simplex virus-1 and -2 are the main types of herpes virus seen in general clinical practice. Herpes simplex virus-1 typically manifests above the waist and is referred to as Herpes labialis because of it primarily appearing on the lips in the form of “cold sores.” Herpes simplex virus-2, Herpes genitalis, typically appears on the genitals, although it also produces skin lesions. The vesicles rupture, leaving small, sometimes painful ulcers, which generally heal without scarring, although recurrent lesions at the same site may cause scarring. Coinfection with herpes simplex virus-1 and -2 increases the frequency of herpes simplex virus-2 outbreaks. Orogenital sex can lead to cross-contamination of these sites, with oral herpes being more likely transmitted to the genitals than the other way around. The incubation Read more […]

Vervain: European Medicinal Uses

Now that we have returned to medicinal virtues of vervain, let us look at the medieval sources. The Old English Herbarium lists one internal use of the powdered herb peristerion, taken in drink to disperse poison, and 11 indications for vermenaca. These include liver pain, headache, wounds of various kinds including the bites of snakes, spiders and mad dogs, ‘for those who have clogged veins so that blood cannot get to the genitals’, an indication recalling the employment of vervain in love magic, and for those who cannot keep their food down. Two new uses are mentioned: for bladder stones and for swollen glands. Grieve tells us that the name vervain comes from the Celtic ‘fer’ and ‘faen’ meaning ‘to drive away the stone’. The Salernitan herbal specifies the root in mead for bladder stones, Macer wants equal parts of vervain, betony Stachys officinalis and saxifrage in white wine and Fuchs cites Aetius of Amida and Simeon Seth on the herb taken in drink with honey for unspecified stones. Parkinson and Culpeper after him state that vervain cleanses the kidneys and bladder of humours which engender stones, and helps to break stones and expel gravel. Quincy comments more generally on indurations and obstructions of the Read more […]

Ricinus communis

Ricinus communis L. (Euphorbiaceae) Castor Oil Plant, Castor Bean Ricinus communis L. is an erect herb, growing up to 3.6 m high, having pinkish succulent stem and large alternate palmate leaves that are green or reddish brown. Leaves are lobed, consisting of 6-8 radiating leaflets with serrated edges and prominent central veins. Flowers are green, pink or red and inconspicuous, with no petals. The fruits are capsular, with three lobes, prickly and green, containing three seeds. Origin Native to Africa, naturalised throughout tropics and subtropics. Phytoconstituents Ricin, ricinoleic acid, ricinine, p-coumaric acid, ferulic acid, o-coumaric acids, syringic acid, cinnamic acids, stigmasterol, fucosterol and others. Traditional Medicinal Uses Its leaf poultice is applied to boils and sores in India; to treat headaches and fever in Hawaii. The leaves and roots are used in a decoction for anal prolapse, arthritis, constipation, facial palsy, lymphadenopathy, strabismus, uteral prolapse, cough, and also as a discutient and expectorant. The heated leaves are applied to gout and swellings as well. The leaves and oil are used for dermatological purposes in Nigeria. Its seeds are used to treat abscesses and skin eruptions, Read more […]

Diseases of the Skin: Alteratives Or Depuratives

Alteratives or depuratives, otherwise known as blood cleansers, are used to effect a gradual change in chronic disease states, including skin diseases, and are the foundation of any skin formula. There is a dearth of scientific research to support the use of alteratives; however, traditional use and indications are based on empirical observations in people and may have application in animals. Cleavers (Galium aparine) are used for dry skin conditions, eczema, seborrhoea, and psoriasis. The iridoid glycoside constituents are mildly laxative. Burdock root (Articum lappa) is one of the best known alteratives for eczema and chronic inflammatory states. One of its constituents, inulin, works as a gentle laxative. It is traditionally recommended for dry, red, scaly skin with hair loss. Oregon grape (Mabonia aquifolium) is used for rough, dry, scaly skin and dandruff. Red clover flowers (Trifolium pratense) and Yellow dock root (Rutnex crispus) are used for chronic skin disease. Cholaretic herbs are also considered to have depurative activity. These include Dandelion (Taraxacum offtcinale), Fumitory (Fumaria officinalis), Barberry (Berberis vulgaris), and Globe artichoke (Cynara scolymus). Similarly diuretic herbs that Read more […]

Hyperthyroidism

Pathophysiology Hyperthyroidism, or thyrotoxicosis, is the result of excessive levels of circulating thyroid hormones. It is characterized by elevated total T4, free T4, free thyroxine index, and/or tri-iodothyronine and tri-iodothyronine resin uptake. Low thyroid-stimulating hormone and normal levels of tri-iodothyronine and thyroxine characterize subclinical hyperthyroidism, and it has the same causes as overt hyperthyroidism. Graves’ disease, an autoimmune disorder in which stimulatory anti-TSH receptor antibodies are formed, comprises the majority of hyperthyroid cases. In fact, the strongest risk factor for both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism is the presence of thyroid peroxidase antibodies. These antibodies are directed toward the receptors in the cell membrane of the thyroid gland, causing the gland to increase growth, size, and function. Graves’ disease is characterized by several common features, including thyrotoxicosis, goiter, exophthalmos, and pretibial myxedema. Graves’ disease is eight times more common in women than men, typically presents between the ages of 20 and 40 years old, and the most common presentation is a diffuse nonpain-ful goiter. It may be more prevalent in some genetic HLA haplotypes. There Read more […]

Iodine: Deficiency Signs and Symptoms

PRIMARY DEFICIENCY Iodine deficiency results when iodide intake is <20 µg/day. In situations of moderate deficiency, TSH induces thyroid hypertrophy in order to concentrate iodide, resulting in a goitre. Most of these cases remain euthyroid, but in cases of severe iodine deficiency, myxoedema may result in adults and cretinism in infants, both of which are serious conditions. Myxoedema is characterised by swelling of the hands, face, feet and peri-orbital tissues and can lead to coma and death if sufficiently severe and left untreated. Endemic cretinism is divided into two forms, neurologic or myxoedematous, depending on the interplay of genetics and iodine deficiency. Usually children with neurologic cretinism are mentally deficient and often deaf mute but of normal height and strength and may have goitre. Myxoedematous cretinism is characterised by dwarfism, mental deficiency, dry skin, large tongue, umbilical hernia, muscular incoordination and puffy facial features. Concomitant selenium deficiency may be a contributing factor in myxoedematous cretinism. Early treatment with thyroid hormone supplementation can promote normal physical growth; however, intellectual disability may not be prevented and in very Read more […]

Saw palmetto: Practice Points – Patient Counselling. FAQ

• Substantial scientific evidence has shown that saw palmetto is an effective treatment for stages 1 and 2 of BPH in cases where the diagnosis of cancer is negative. It is as effective as finasteride and alpha-adrenoreceptor antagonist drugs such as tamsulosin and alfuzosin, although prazosin may be slightly more effective. • Typically, symptom reduction is experienced within 1-2 months’ treatment, which is well tolerated, and associated with fewer side effects than finasteride and tamsulosin. • The herb does not affect PSA levels therefore PSA test results will be unaffected. • If symptoms worsen, blood is detected in the urine or acute urinary retention occurs, seek professional advice. Answers to Patients’ Frequently Asked Questions What will this herb do for me? Saw palmetto has been investigated in numerous scientific studies and shown to reduce symptoms of enlarged prostate with few side-effects. There is also some early research suggesting it may be useful in some forms of hair loss and prostatitis. When will it start to work? Symptom relief for enlarged prostate is generally experienced within 4-8 weeks. Are there any safety issues? Saw palmetto is well tolerated; however, Read more […]