The therapeutic uses of Urtica in benign prostatic hyperplasia

The use of stinging nettle (Urtica dioica L.) root extracts in the therapy of benign prostatic hyperplasia has a rather short tradition. The basis is a report by a German physician about the use of tea in the treatment of urinary tract disorders. Biochemical models Inhibition of 5α-reductase Testosterone is transformed by 5α-reductase into dihydrotestosterone (DHT). DHT is the active androgen in the prostate (dihydrotestosterone hypothesis). Androgen deprivation has been shown to decrease the size of the prostate. Nettle root extracts come off badly in studies of their effect on 5α-reductase. Respective studies were made of 60% ethanolic extract and a 20% methanolic extract, both of which turned out to be ineffective. The study made by Rhodes and coworkers, however, is not without certain shortcomings. For instance, it compares data in mg/ml and not on the basis of daily doses, without taking into account that the daily dose shows distinct differences between finasterid and plant preparations (finasterid 1–5 mg/day; bazoton 600 mg of 20% methanolic extract, corresponding to 6,300 mg of drug per day). In addition to inaccuracies regarding the botanical names there is no consideration of the excipient. In Read more […]

The Efficacy of Echinacea Tea

Herbal remedies continue to grow in popularity in the U.S. as demonstrated by expanding sales with seemingly no correlation to scientific research. Echinacea preparations have developed into the best-selling herbal immunostimulants. Nine species of the genus Echinacea are found today in the U.S. and Canada. Native Americans used Echinacea to treat wounds, snakebites and other animal bites, tonsillitis, headache, and cold symptoms. In the early 1900s in the U.S., Echinacea was the most utilized indigenous medicinal plant. After the introduction of antibiotics, its use declined in the U.S., although today it remains popular in Europe. Although Echinacea is processed and sold around the world, Switzerland and Germany have been in the forefront by marketing more than 800 homeopathic products and drugs containing Echinacea (). Analyses of these preparations have shown that three different species of Echinacea are used in medicine and homeopathy: Echinacea angustifolia DC, Echinacea pallida (Nutt.) Nutt., and Echinacea purpurea (L.) Moench. (Asteraceae). Even though a number of species of Echinacea have shown an immunostimulating effect, E. purpurea has been the type most often used for relief of symptoms of flu, cold, Read more […]

Aloe vera in wound healing

Aloe vera gel is a powerful healer that has been successfully employed for millennia. It acts in the manner of a conductor, orchestrating many biologically active ingredients to achieve the goal of wound healing. Aloe can penetrate and anesthetize tissue, it is bactericidal, virucidal, and fungicidal. It possesses anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory properties and it serves as a stimulant for wound healing, a fuel for proliferating cells and a dressing for open wounds. Although some of the independent fractions of aloe have shown unique and impressive activity by themselves, the number of different substances acting in concert serves to confirm the relative complexity of aloe’s actions. Aloe vera certainly gives scope to the phrase, ‘the whole is more than the sum of its parts.’ Since it has been difficult to postulate, separate and isolate one substance that is responsible for aloe’s capabilities, many more controlled, scientific studies must be completed before all the secrets associated with the wound-healing abilities of aloe are unlocked. Future research may be directed at further investigation of the gel’s ability to stimulate cell growth in tissue culture and its antimicrobial, antifungal, antiviral Read more […]

Dionaea muscipula Ellis (Venus Flytrap)

In 1768, William Young, the royal botanist, imported living plants of the Venus fly-trap to England. They were shown to John Ellis, a member of the Royal Society, who recognised the Venus as a carnivorous plant. He wrote a letter and sent it with a dried plant to the Swedish scientist, Carl von Linne. Among others Ellis wrote: “Nature may have some views towards its nourishment in forming the upper joint of its leaf like a machine to catch food: upon the middle of this lies the bait for the unhappy insect that becomes its prey … the two lobes rise up, grasp it fast, lock the rows of spines together, and squeeze it to death … the small erect spines are fixed near the middle of each lobe, over the glands, that effectually put an end to all its struggles”. Linne gave this species the name Dionaea muscipula Ellis. This name comes from the Greek word Dionaia, the goddess of love. The very restricted natural occurrence of this unique species led to the investigation of the methods of its cultivation and propagation. Moreover, extracts of D. muscipula are used against malignant diseases. Distribution and General Morphology The carnivorous plant Dionaea muscipula Ellis (the Venus flytrap) is a monotypic genus belonging 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 […]

Round Leaf Chastetree, Beach Vitex

Vitex rotundifolia L. f. (Verbenaceae) Vitex rotundifolia L. f. is an evergreen woody tree, densely covered with short hairs. Leaves are opposite, simple, ovate, broadly oblong-elliptic, 2-5 cm long by 1.5-3 cm wide, rounded or abruptly acute at the base. Inflorescence panicles are at the terminal, densely flowered, 4-7 cm long with purple corolla. Fruits are globose, 5-7 mm. Origin Native to Temperate and Tropical Asia, Australasia and Pacific. Phytoconstituents Rotundifuran, prerotundifuran, vitexilactone, previtexilactone, vitexicarpin, vitricine, vitetrifolins D-G, vitexifolins A-E, isoambreinolide and others. Traditional Medicinal Uses In Malaysia, various parts of the plants are considered panacea for illnesses ranging from headache to tuberculosis. In China, the plant has been used for the treatment of cancer. A poultice of the leaves is used to treat rheumatism, contusions, swollen testicles and as a discutient in sprains. In Indonesia, leaves have been used in medicinal baths, as a tincture or for intestinal complaints. In Papua New Guinea, sap from crushed heated leaves is diluted with water and drunk to relieve headaches. The fruits are used to expel worms and in Vietnam, a decoction of dried fruits Read more […]

Claviceps purpurea (Ergot):

Ergot (Claviceps purpurea), best known as a disease of rye and some other grasses, is probably the most widely cultivated fungus and has now become an important field crop. The main reason for its importance is the presence of ergot alkaloids, extensively used in medicine. Currently, ergot alkaloids cover a large field of therapeutic uses as drugs of high potency in the treatment of uterine atonia, postpartum bleeding, migraine, orthostatic circulatory disturbances, senile cerebral insufficiency, hypertension, hyperprolactinemia, acromegaly, and parkinsonism. Recently, new therapeutic uses have emerged, such as, e.g., against schizophrenia, applications based on newly discovered antibacterial and cytostatic effects, immunomodulatory and hypolipemic activity. Of the naturally occurring ergot alkaloids only two are used in the therapy: ergotamine and ergometrine. The rest of the therapeutically important ergot compounds are semisynthetic compounds. Ergot alkaloids are traditionally obtained by extraction of ergot sclerotia artificially cultivated on cereals. The parasitic cultures are not able to produce all alkaloids, e.g., clavine, necessary for most semisynthetic drugs. Crop fluctuations and market demand have Read more […]

Quality Standardization of Echinacea

Although Echinacea products belong to the top best-selling group of herbal products, thus far its cultivation, harvesting, and extraction are realized without profound knowledge of factors that affect its quality. Commercially available preparations of varying quality are the result. The increasing popularity of Echinacea has raised concerns in the herbal medicine community and the media that there is a need to establish standards for Echinacea products. The diversity described above supports the need for greater efforts to provide authentic, safe, stable, and efficacious Echinacea products that are consistent from batch to batch (Bauer, 1999; Grant and Benda, 1999). Standard quality controls with scientific criteria start with a defined species, proper cultivation and harvesting through a defined drying and extraction procedure, and end with a quantitative determination by a defined method for one or more of its active ingredients (Tierra, 1999). Active Markers In order to standardize Echinacea preparations, some suitable active markers must be identified in the products. Although a number of active components have been studied and identified, their mechanisms of action and bioavailability are not yet completely Read more […]

Anxiety Disorders

As with depression, anxiety in the pediatric population has often been overlooked or minimized as normal childhood experiences. Currently, it is recognized that anxiety disorders in children and adolescents can cause substantial impairment and negatively affect their social, familial, educational, and developmental functioning, and may also affect their physical well-being. Point prevalence for any anxiety disorder in the pediatric population has been estimated to be between 3 and 5 percent, and up to 20 percent of children and adolescents exhibit significant subclinical or clinical symptoms of anxiety. Without treatment, most of the symptoms continue into adulthood, and risk for additional disorders, like depression and alcohol/substance abuse, increases. It is important to recognize and treat these disorders as early as possible, since successful treatment is likely to improve adoptive functioning as well as overall psychological, social, and physical development. Recognizing anxiety in children may be obscured by expectations about what constitutes normal functioning. While it is expected for very young children to exhibit stranger anxiety and difficulties sleeping alone, by the time the child reaches school age, Read more […]

Botanical Treatment Strategies for Herpes: Antiviral Botanicals

The following herbs represent a selection of botanicals used for internal and / or topical antiviral therapy. All have shown some measure of antimicrobial activity in various studies and are a promising area of research for herpes treatment. Specific studies of the effects of herbs on herpes simplex virus are presented in the following. These herbs may be used singly, but more commonly are used by herbal practitioners in combination with other antivirals, or in comprehensive, multiherb, multieffect formulae. Aloe Aloe has long been used by herbalists as a topical healing agent for wounds, burns, irritated skin, and sores. Two studies were conducted by Syed et al. examining the efficacy of topical aloe vera treatments on men experiencing primary outbreaks of genital herpes. In the first study, 120 men were randomized into three parallel groups receiving either 0.5% in hydrophilic cream, aloe vera gel, or placebo three times daily for 2 weeks. The shortest mean duration of healing occurred with aloe vera cream, followed by gel and then placebo with healing times of 4.8 days, 7.0 days, and 14.0 days, respectively. Percentages of cured patients were 70%, 45%, and 7.5%, respectively. In the second study, 60 men were randomized Read more […]