Artemisia Ludoviciana ssp. Mexicana (Estafiate)

Estafiate or iztauyatl (Artemisia ludoviciana ssp. mexicana) is one of the most popular medicinal plants in Mexican phytotherapy and is nowadays used especially for gastrointestinal pain, as a vermifuge and as a bitter stimulant. The historical and modern uses of this species are reviewed. The first report of its medicinal use dates back to the 16th century, but at that time it was used for completely different illnesses. Only very limited pharmacological studies to evaluate these claims are available; anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antihelmintic effects have been reported. The aerial parts contain a large number of sesquiterpene lactones, flavonoids as well as essential oil which has not yet been studied in detail. Estafiate or iztauyatl (Artemisia ludoviciana ssp. mexicana) is one of the most popular remedies in Mexican phytotherapy. It is frequently sold in markets in the cities and also grown in many house gardens (). It is thus a locally important economic product and a phytotherapeutic resource which requires documentation of its regional or national importance as well as evaluation and monitoring for efficacy and safety. Plants generally are an important medicinal resource to many people in Mexico and Read more […]

Cannabis and Cannabinoids in Pain Relief

Cannabis is a term that describes products derived from the Indian hemp, Cannabis sativa. It has its origins probably in India but now grows all over the world. The chemical compounds responsible for intoxication and medicinal effects are found mainly in a sticky golden resin exuded from the flowers of the female plants and surrounding leaves. Cannabis sativa contains a wide range of different chemicals including a family of compounds called “cannabinoids”. Of the cannabinoids delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is probably the main compound responsible for the psychotropic activities. Cannabis has been used as a medicine for thousands of years and is mentioned in a Chinese herbal dating back to 2700 BC. There are records of ’its medicinal use in Egyptian papyri of the sixteenth century BC. Much later, the plant is mentioned in Assyrian texts and in Greek and Roman sources as a medicinal agent. Early Experiences in the 19th Century Cannabis Tincture was used in the nineteenth century as an analgesic, as well as numerous other conditions and was considered milder and less dangerous than opium. W.B.O’Shaughnessy was the first of the western physicians to take an interest in cannabis as a medicine on account Read more […]

Non-Medicinal Uses of Cannabis Sativa

The plant Cannabis sativa has been providing man with a range of his most basic needs for centuries (). We know that hemp — the fibrous extract of C. sativa, was used for clothing in ancient Egypt, at least as early as 1,200 years BC and the use of the plant as a source of rope is well documented in many cultures down the centuries (see «Cannabis Use and Abuse by Man: An Historical Perspective»). The seeds from the plant have been subjected to various treatments to provide food and the fibre has also been used from early times as a major paper making material; indeed, early editions of the Gothenburg and King James Bibles were published on such paper and much later, the first two drafts of the American Declaration of Independence. The new president of the United States, George Washington was to be found exhorting his head gardener to: “Make the most of the Indian hemp seed…and sow it everywhere” (Washington, 1794). These peaceful uses were not the only ones however. From the 17th century onwards, the British Royal Navy — at the time the most powerful navy in the world — relied heavily on hemp for ropes, rigging and caulking. In the mid-1800s, a typical 44-gun man of war might inventory some 60 tons Read more […]

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 […]

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 […]

Obesity-Depression and Prevention of Cardiovascuear Disorders

Excessive lipid induces obesity. This is a physiologically abnormal phenomenon in modern society. Obesity is closely related to excessive serum lipid. Experiments show that tea drinking plays an obesity-depressing role via an increase of fundamental metabolic rate and the degradation of fat. Investigations carried out by French, Japanese and Chinese scientists have also shown that Pu-Er tea and Oolong tea possess a significant obesity depressing effect (). Researches using different kinds of tea revealed that the serum lipid depressing and obesity depressing effects of compressed tea was greater than that of green tea and black tea (). High levels of blood cholesterol induce the deposit of lipid on the vessel wall and cause the constriction of coronary arteries, atherosclerosis and thrombus formation. It is related to the fact that tea drinking decreases the serum lipid and cholesterol level. In the past, atherosclerosis was thought to result from a level of serum cholesterol above 200dl and a relatively low level of high-density cholesterol and high level of LDL. Current views are that it is induced by the oxidation of low-density cholesterol cholesterol that leads to foci of endothelial abnormalities associated Read more […]

Vaccinium Species

Distribution and Importance of the Plant The genus Vaccinium, from the heath family (Ericaceae), includes a wide range of popular berry species of economic importance, including the American cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon Ait.), the wild lowbush blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium Ait.), cultivated highbush and rabbiteye blueberries (V. corymbosum L. and V. ashei Reade), bilberry (V. myrtillus L.) and lingonberry (V. vitis-idaea L.). While these crops are well known throughout the world, in many cases, their individual distributions are quite narrow. Wild lowbush blueberry, for example, is localized in the extreme northeastern United States and maritime provinces of Canada (); bilberry is grown only in a few European countries with an isolated pocket of distribution in the Rocky Mountain region of the USA, and cranberry production, which until recently was confined to the eastern and western coasts of the USA, has recently expanded into higher elevations in South America. The harvested berries are marketed fresh, frozen, and in some cases, sweetened and dried (personal communication, D. Nolte, Decas Cranberry Co.). They are also popular components in bakery items, dried cereals, jams, juices, and numerous related Read more […]

History of usage of Lavandula species: transcriptions of texts in historical section

Abbess Hildegard When a person with palsy (possibly Parkinson’s disease) is afflicted they should take galangale (a rhizome with similar properties to ginger), with half as much nutmeg (50 per cent of the amount of galangale), and half as much of spike lavender as nutmeg, plus an equal amount of githrut (probably gith or black cumin) and lovage. To these he should add equal weights (amounts) of female fern and saxifrage (these two together should be equal to the five precious ingredients). Pulverise these in a pestle and mortar. If the patient is (well) strong, he should eat this powder on bread, if (ill) weak he should eat an electuary (soft pill made with honey) made from it. So today we might say, for example, the five precious ingredients: 100 gms of galangale; 50 gms of nutmeg; 25 gms spike lavender; 12.5 gms each of githrut and lovage. To this add: 100 gms each of female fern and saxifrage. The second recipe quoted is easier to understand, but less obviously effective. Lavender is hot and dry (referring to its properties under the Galenic system of medicine), having very little moisture (it is indeed a dry herb). It is not pleasant to eat, but does have a strong smell. If a person with many lice frequently Read more […]

Crataegus (Hawthorn)

Distribution and Importance of the Plant The genus Crataegus originates from northern temperate regions and comprises about 280 species depending upon botanical sources. It is widespread in western Asia, North America and in Europe, where 21 species have been indexed. Hybridization is frequent in this genus, causing many identification difficulties. Among the best-known species are Crataegus monogyna Jacq. and Crataegus laevigata (Poiret) DC (= C. oxyacantha auct.= C. oxyacanthoides Thuill.) belonging to the Eurasian subgenus Crataegus which are most common and are of growing pharmaceutical use. They have lobed or divided leaves, while the northern American subgenus americanae is characterized by entire or weakly lobed leaves. These deciduous, ramified, thorny shrubs produce white-pinkish scented flowers in corymbs during midsummer and the resulting red fruits remain on the trees until eaten by birds in winter. They show some differences in habitat: C. monogyna is found mainly in open fields, thickets and used as quickset hedges, while C. laevigata prefers woods or their borders. Ornamental pink- or red-flowered cultivars of C. laevigata such as uCoccinea plena”, “Rosea”, “Rubra” () are planted in avenues, parks Read more […]

Artemisia Herba-Alba

The genus Artemisia is a member of the large and evolutionary advanced plant family Asteraceae (Compositae). More than 300 different species comprise this diverse genus which is mainly found in arid and semi-arid areas of Europe, America, North Africa as well as in Asia. Artemisia species are widely used as medicinal plants in folk medicine. Some species such as Artemisia absinthium, Artemisia annua or Artemisia vulgaris have even been incorporated into the pharmacopoeias of several European and Asian countries. Sesquiterpene lactones are among the most prominent natural products found in Artemisia species and are largely responsible for the importance of these plants in medicine and pharmacy. For example, the antimalarial effect of the long known Chinese medicinal plant Qing Hao (Artemisia annua) is due to the sesquiterpene lactone artemisinin which is active against Plasmodium falciparum (). Another sesquiterpene lactone, absinthin, is the bitter tasting principle found in Artemisia absinthium formerly used to produce an alcolohic beverage called “absinth”. In addition to sesquiterpene lactones volatile terpenoids that constitute the so called essential oils are also characteristic metabolites of Artemisia species. Read more […]