Allium cepa L. (Onion)

The Allium species have been a source of food flavors and medicinal compounds in many areas of the world for several thousand years. The attraction of the alliums as a flavor source is primarily the pungent volatile constituents which are released when the fresh tissue is cut or chewed, and also the presence of milder odors in the cooked vegetables. The major alliums used as food in Western Europe include the onion (Allium cepa L.), garlic (A. sativum L.), chives (A. schoenoprasum L.) and leek (A. porrum L.), but Allium fistulasum L. and Allium tuberosum are grown on a large scale and eaten raw or cooked in China, Japan, and South East Asia. All the alliums referred to may be eaten raw, or as a cooked vegetable, or used as a flavor additive to fresh or cooked foods (). On a commercial scale, the flavor may be added as a powder, an oil, or as dried shredded bulb tissue. The importance of Allium is indicated by the fact that flavor derived from this source (usually garlic or onions) is the major flavor additive to convenience foods. The therapeutic value of fresh and extracted Allium has always been recognized, as can be judged by the list of ailments that are reported to be cured by garlic and onion. These are hemorrhoids, 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 […]

Uncaria elliptica

Distribution and Importance of the Plant At least 34 species of the genus Uncaria (tribe Cinchonea, subtribe Mitragyninae Havil, family Rubiaceae) are widely distributed in Africa, tropical America, tropical and subtropical Asia (). About 14 species have been reported in Malaysia. Uncaria species are characterized by the presence of hooks on the nodes lying opposite leaves with interpetiolar stipules and a head-shaped inflorescence. It is a woody climber the stems of which are square-shaped, bearing ovate leaves with five to seven lateral veins. The midribs are typically pubescent with long straight hairs, although sometimes only finely pubescent with glabrous laminae. A typical young and an adult Uncaria elliptica plant (woody climber) are shown in Figs. 1 and 2, respectively. This plant was originally found growing among Hevea trees in a large rubber plantation near Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The identity was determined with the help of Dr. C.E. Ridsdale and Dr B.A. Krukoff, Botanists of Malesian Botany, Leiden. In open land, the Uncaria plant grows as a bush, also thriving well in the forest or cleared jungles. Some of the species commonly found in Malaysia, Sri Lanka, India, Burma, Thailand, Cambodia, and Indonesia 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 […]

The Effects of Tea on the Cardiovascular System

Cardiovascular diseases, together with cancers, are the main killing diseases of humans in the world. Of the cardiovascular diseases, atherosclerosis is one of the most prevalent. Atherosclerosis is primarily caused by hypercholesterolemia in which excess cholesterol accumulates in the blood vessels and oxidation of low-density cholesterol (LDL) leads to foci of endothelial abnormalities associated with the process of atherosclerosis (). It deteriorates further with the oxidation of lipids in the blood. Therefore, in order to maintain the cardiovascular system in good condition, it is very important to prevent not only an excessive increase of cholesterols in the blood, but also the oxidation of lipids in the blood. Hypertension is another major factor that can affect the health of the cardiovascular system. In this article, the antioxidative, hypolipidemic, hypotensive and the obesity-depressing activity of tea will be discussed. Antioxidative Activity of Tea Blood-Pressure Lowering Activity of Tea Blood Lipid and Cholesterol Lowering Effect Excessive lipids in blood is a common disorder of middle aged or old aged men and women. High serum-lipid includes high cholesterol and triglyceride content in blood. The cholesterol Read more […]

Blood-Pressure Lowering Activity of Tea

Hypertension is a common disorder in humans. Te a drinking can lower blood pressure. There are many Chinese traditional prescriptions, with tea as a major constituent, used in the treatment of hypertension and coronary disease in Chinese traditional medicine. A survey on the relationship between hypertension and tea drinking in 964 adults was carried out by Zhejiang Medical University of China during the 1970s. Results showed that the average rate of hypertension was 6.2% in the group who drank tea as habit, and 10.5% in the group who did not. Clinical experiments showed that hot water extract of green tea possessed a degree of blood pressure lowering effect. An experiment in vivo carried out on rats fed with diet supplemented with 0.5% crude catechins showed that the blood pressure in treated rats was 10–20 mm Hg lower than that in the control group (). A clinical experiment using green tea on high blood pressure patients was conducted at the Anhui Medical Research Institute of China. Results showed that a 10 g tea intake daily treatment over half a year, decreased the blood pressure by 20–30% (). A study was conducted to determine whether the effect in vitro is reflected in the lowering of blood pressure of Read more […]

Stevia: Stevioside

Absorption, distribution and metabolism In the rat, stevioside (125 mg/kg; p.o.) has a half-life of 24 hour, and is largely excreted in the feces in the form of steviol. Other metabolites include steviolbioside. In this species, at least, metabolism appears to be mediated primarily by the gut microflora. Thus, [17-14C] stevioside is converted to steviol by suspensions of rat intestinal microflora. Conversion is complete within two days. The distribution of a derivative, [131I]iodostevioside (position of the label not reported), has been studied in rats following i.v. administration. Radioactivity rapidly accumulated first in the small intestine and then in the liver. Within two hours, 52% of the radioactivity administered appeared in the bile. The largest biliary component was [131I]iodosteviol (47% of total radioactivity), followed by [131I]iodostevioside (37%) and an unidentified metabolite (15%). Non-enzymatic conversion of stevioside to steviol does not occur. Acid hydrolysis yields isosteviol, while incubation for up to three months under conditions ranging pH 2–8 and 5 to 90 °C does not result in detectable formation of steviol. Stevioside appears to be poorly transported across the cell membrane. No 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 […]

The Therapeutic Potential For Cannabis

«Cannabis Use and Abuse by Man: An Historical Perspective» of this site provides a fascinating, historical account of the use of cannabis across many cultures and centuries. Suffice it to say here that any natural substance with over 5000 years of medical history will have attached to it a heritage of hearsay and legend through which one must sift to identify areas of true therapeutic potential for us in the late twentieth century and beyond. A summary of conditions for which cannabis has been used, ranging through various shades of rationality, appears in Table Medicinal and quasi-medicinal uses for cannabis and its derivatives: Indications for which only anecdote or reports of traditional use exist: aphrodisiac muscular spasm in rabies / tetanus Huntingdon’s chorea jaundice toothache earache tumour growth cough hysteria insanity menstrual cramps rheumatism movement disorders gut spasm pyrexia inflammed tonsils migraine headache increasing uterine  contractions in childbirth urinary retention/ bladder spasm parasite infection fatigue allergy fever herpetic pain hypertension joint inflammation diarrhoea malaria forgetfulness Indications Read more […]