Solanum dulcamara L. (Bittersweet)

Biology and Distribution Solanum dulcamara L. (=Dulcamara flexuosa Moench) (), known as dogwood or bittersweet (Solanaceae), is a clambering or prostrate, perennial shrub which may grow to a height of 2 m (Hegi 1927). Its stem is angular and woody with the exception of the herbaceous top and ranges in diameter between 0.25 and 2 cm, rarely up to 5-6 cm. The leaves are alternate, long-stalked, sparsely pubescent on both sides, and quite variable in shape. The oval- to egg-shaped leaf blade is pointed at the tip. Its base, however, may also be cordate, arrow-shaped, or may consist of one or two lobes. Different leaf forms may be found on the same plant. The flowers emerge axillary in panicle-like loose clusters. The calyx bears five narrow teeth; the five joint petals are bright purple and their tips are somewhat reflexed when fully expanded. The five stamens have yellow anthers which form a conspicuous column. The fruit is a round- to egg-shaped berry, green when young and becoming bright red when mature. In Europe, the flowering season is May to September. It is distributed throughout Europe and is also a native to North Africa, West Asia, India, the USSR, China, and Japan. It is not clear whether its occurrence in Read more […]

Aloes and the immune system: Specific activities

Anti-inflammatory effects The ability of aloe leaf gels to reduce the severity of acute inflammation has been evaluated in many different animal models. For example, Adler studied inflammation in the hind paw of the experimental rat induced by kaolin, carrageenan, albumin, dextran, gelatin and mustard. Of the various irritants tested, Aloe vera was especially active against gelatin-induced and kaolin-induced edema and had, in contrast, minimal activity when tested against dextran-induced edema. Ear swelling induced by croton oil has also been used as an assay. The swelling induced by croton oil on a mouse ear is significantly reduced by application of an aloe gel. In addition, soluble acemannan-rich extracts administered either orally or by intraperitoneal injection to mice will also reduce this swelling. In another model, the acute pneumonia induced in mouse lungs by inhalation of a bacterial endotoxin solution is significantly reduced by systemic administration of an aloe carbohydrate solution. In both these cases the reduction in inflammation is associated with a significant reduction in tissue infiltration by neutrophils. In general, aloe free of anthraquinones was more effective than aloe with anthraquinone. Some Read more […]

Specific Medicinal Uses of Cannabis

The historical and contemporary, medicinal uses of cannabis have been reviewed on several occasions. Perhaps the earliest published report to contain at least some objectivity on the subject was that of O’Shaughnessy (1842), an Irish surgeon, working in India, who described the analgesic, anticonvulsant and muscle relaxant properties of the drug. This report triggered the appearance of over 100 publications on the medicinal use of cannabis in American and European medical journals over the next 60 years. One such use was to treat nausea and vomiting; but it was not until the advent of potent cancer chemotherapeutic drugs that the antiemetic properties of cannabis became more widely investigated and then employed. One can argue that the available clinical evidence of efficacy is stronger here than for any other application and that proponents of its use are most likely to be successful in arguing that cannabis should be re-scheduled (to permit its use as a medicine) because it has a “currently accepted medical use”. Specific Medicinal Uses of Cannabis: Use as an Antiemetic Specific Medicinal Uses of Cannabis: Glaucoma Specific Medicinal Uses of Cannabis: Multiple Sclerosis Spastic Conditions A discussion 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 […]

Oenothera Species (Evening Primrose)

The Plant Species of the genus Oenothera L. (Onagra Miller) from the family Onagraceae are characteristic of America, the homeland of species acclimated in Europe. The American flora has the most numerous representatives; plants of these species can be found in natural localities, or they are grown as decorative plants with white, pink to reddish purple, or mostly bright yellow flowers. A few species are also found in Russia. At present, the genus Oenothera is believed to be distributed throughout the world with the exception of Antarctica. The genus Oenothera is divided into 14 sections. As a result of the creation of hybrid forms, pure single-species populations of this genus are becoming more and more rare. There are two groups of taxonomists, differing in their opinions on its systematics. The total number of Oenothera species is estimated at 123 by American taxonomists, and at 212 by European authors. By 1992, 26 species and permanent hybrids had been found in Poland, grouped in three series: Devriesia (3 species), Oenothera (16 species), and Rugglesia (7 species). The species of the genus in question are herbaceous plants, annual, biennial or perennial, with single leaves, sometimes bipinnated, without Read more […]

Scoparia dulcis L. (Sweet Broomweed)

Sweet broomweed (Scoparia dulcis L., Scrophulariaceae) is a perennial herb widely distributed in the torrid zone. The original habitat of this plant is tropical America. Stems are erect, branching, and sometimes woody at the base, 25-80 cm tall. Roots are pale yellow and straight, 10-15 cm long, with many lateral roots. Leaves are lanceolate, elliptical, or obovate, 5-20 mm long, with serrations at the edge, and are opposite or verticillate. The plant has small, white flowers with four calices. The corrola is actinomorphic and split in four. Flowers are 4-5 mm in diameter and bear four stamens and a pistil. Flowering time is summer and autumn. After flowering, ovate or globular capsules mature (2-3 mm in diameter), which contain many powder-like seeds. In tropical and subtropical regions of Asia, Africa, and South and Central America, the fresh or dried plant of S. dulcis has traditionally been used as a medicament for stomach disorders, bronchitis, diabetes, hypertension, hemorroids and hepatosis, and as an analgesic and antipyretic. The antidiabetic activity of the Indian S. dulcis is attributed to the glycoside ammelin obtained from the fresh plant. The methanolic and water extracts from roots of Formosan S. Read more […]

Onobrychis viciifolia Scop. (Sainfoin)

Distribution and Importance of Sainfoin Sainfoin (Onobrychis viciifolia Scop, (family Leguminoseae) is a perennial forage legume that has been grown in Europe and Asia for centuries. The most widely used common name, sainfoin, is derived from the French “saint foin” meaning holy or wholesome hay. Other common names include: holy or holy hay, French grass, everlasting grass, medick vetchling, cockshead, esparcet, or snail grass. Its botanical genus name, Onobrychis, comes from the Greek words “onos” meaning ass, and it is felt that brychis is derived from “bruchis”, a plant. This provides some insight into the value that was placed on this species because it had been noted that asses were particularly partial to sainfoin as a feed. Sainfoin grew in Russia as a forage crop over 1000 years ago and was noted in France in the 14th century, Germany in the 17th century, and Italy in the 18th century. The first introductions of sainfoin came to North America from Europe in the early 1900s, but its success as a forage crop did not occur until the 1960s when strains from Turkey and the USSR displayed the necessary adaptibility and yield to enable the development of cultivars for the Northern Great Plains and Canadian Prairies. Read more […]

Asthma: Herbal Treatment of Children

Asthma is not normally found in children under 2 years of age, although other respiratory disturbances cause wheezing, both in infants and older children: bronchiolitis in infants causes wheezing and trouble with breathing in and out when the bronchioles become inflamed and blocked. Children with croup wheeze, but it is characterized by trouble breathing in and not out as in asthma. Asthmatic bronchitis affects children mostly between the ages of two and six years. Wheezing is accompanied by a fever, dry cough and some difficulty breathing, and it is caused by constriction of bronchi and bronchioles, as a result of an allergic response to infection in the bronchi or to the mucus it produces. It normally occurs in children younger than those who normally develop classic asthma, it tends to develop in allergic children and always occurs as a result of infection. Thus it requires treatment for the infection as well as the accompanying allergic response. Obstruction of the airways by either spasm, hyper-responsiveness of the bronchial tubes, inflammation or swelling of the respiratory mucosa is certainly on the increase and can be triggered by a variety of different factors, which may act separately or in combination. Read more […]

Cayenne Pepper (Capsicum Annuum)

Medical Uses Cayenne pepper (capsaicin) is used for peptic ulcer disease, neuralgias, and herpes zoster. Historical Uses Cayenne pepper (capsaicin) was first used medicinally by a physician during Columbus’s voyage. Crowth This mildly pungent plant may be either annual or biennial. Its dark green fruits turn red when ripe. Cayenne Pepper: Part Used • Fruit Major Chemical Compounds • Capsaicinoids, including capsaicin • Vitamins A, C, and E Cayenne Pepper: Clinical Uses Cayenne pepper is used for neuralgias and herpes zoster and is effective in the treatment of peptic ulcer. It is approved by the German Commission E for “painful muscle spasms of the shoulder, arm, and spine in adults and children”. It has been shown to be useful for swallowing difficulty in acute tonsillitis. Mechanism of Action Capsaicin draws blood to the gastrointestinal tract for rapid healing. It also stops Substance P in the pain cycle. Capsicum species contain antinociceptive substances, which help to relieve chronic pain. Cayenne Pepper: Dosage External use: 1/2 ounce of cayenne powder added to 1 quart of rubbing alcohol for muscle aches; applied as a poultice. Ointment or cream: Preparations of .02 to .05 percent Read more […]