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 […]

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 […]

Aloe vera in wound healing: Gel components

Saccharides Mono- and polysaccharides form about 25% of the solid fraction of the aloe gel. Mannose and glucose are the most significant monosaccharides found in the gel. These sugars most commonly serve as fuels and building blocks. For example, mannose-6-phosphate is required to initiate glycoprotien and glycolipid synthesis in the endoplasmic reticulum of all nucleated cells. Optimal nutrition is required for the growth, regulation, reproduction, defense, regeneration and repair during wound healing. In addition, saccharides such as mannose are essential in the golgi apparatus of all cells to complete synthesis of all structural and functional molecules. Lastly, the mannose-6-phosphate of Aloe vera has been shown to activate the insulin-like growth factor receptor of the fibroblast, stimulating it to increase collagen and proteoglycan synthesis. This activity has been shown to increase wound tensile strength. The polysaccharide component of aloe gel is primarily glucommannans that are comprised of glucose and mannose (β1→ 4 linked acetylated mannan). These polysaccharides, unlike other sugars, are absorbed complete and appear in the bloodstream undigested. Here, they have many activities. It has been very Read more […]

Malva sp. (Mallow)

Distribution and Importance of the Plant Although about 1000 species are designated with the common name of mallow, approximately 30 species belonging to the genus Malva (of the Malvaceae family) are known for their medicinal value, mostly in a traditional sense. The common (blue or high) mallow (Malva sylvestris L.) is a biennial to short-lived perennial with prostrate to semi-erect stems (10-80 cm long) and long-stalked rounded leaves with a heart-shaped base and five to seven broad shallow-toothed lobes. The leaves of M. sylvestris var. incanescens Gris are hairy. The flowers (appearing from May to September) are pale lilac to bright mauve-purple and the seeds are flat button-like nutlets. The plant is found naturally in marginal or waste lands, hedgerows and roadsides and is approximately 1 m high, with stalked, roundish, five- to seven-lobed leaves. Plant parts abound with a mild mucilage. Malva aegyptia (Egyptian mallow) is an annual species, endemic in the Mediterranean countries, 20-50 cm high with purple-blue flowers. Malva cretica (Crecian mallow) is another Mediterranean species, which is an annual, 10-30 cm high with rose-coloured leaves. Malva ambigua Guss (M. sylvestris var. ambigua) is a 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 […]

Astragalus Species (Milk Vetch)

Botany and Distribution of Astragalus The genus Astragalus, the largest in the Fabaceae (Leguminosae), comprises ca. 2000 species. In Europe 133 species are found. The plants are cultivated and also selected from wild stock. Cultivated varieties are mostly selected from Astragalus membranaceus for medicinal use and are mainly cultivated in China. Astragalus plants are annual or perennial herbs or small shrubs up to 150-200 cm. Their leaves are imparipinnate or paripinnate, sometimes terminating in a spine; leaflets entire. Flowers in racemes or axillary clusters, sessile or pedicellate. Calyx infundibuliform, tubular or campanulate, sometimes inflated in fruit, with distinct, equal or unequal teeth; keel not mucronate at apex (very rarely adaxially mucronate); stamens 10, diadelphous (very rarely 5, monadelphous); stigma and style glabrous. Legume is usually dehiscent, very varied in shape and texture, glabrous or hairy, unilocular to bilocular. Seeds are one to many. History and Demand on the World Market Astragalus was well known to Theophrastus and Dioscurides and is a plant of the Bible. The medical use of Astragalus species dates back over 1000 years. The gum tragacanth (GT) obtained by incision from the Read more […]

Maitake Mushroom (Grifola frondosa)

Maitake Mushroom: Medical Uses Maitake mushroom is used for anticancer effects, stimulation of the immune system in cancer patients, and as supportive therapy for patients undergoing chemotherapy or patients with HIV or AIDS, high blood pressure, hyperlipidemia, weight loss, or diabetes. Historical Uses The maitake is known as the “hen of the woods” and is valued for “maintaining health and promoting longevity”. Growth This mushroom is cultivated in Japan and native to the northeastern part of that country. Part Used • Edible mushroom Major Chemical Compound • D-fraction, a polysaccharide Maitake Mushroom: Clinical Uses Maitake mushroom is used for anticancer effects, immune stimulation in cancer patients, and adjunct therapy for patients undergoing chemotherapy. It is also used for patients with HIV and AIDS, high blood pressure, hyperlipidemia, weight loss, or diabetes (Natural Medicine, 2000). Mechanism of Action The D-fraction of beta-glucan has been shown to possess antitumor activity. It also lowers blood glucose and reduces weight in rats. It has immunostimulant effects (Natural Medicine, 2000). The most recent maitake extract is the MD-fraction, which, combined with the D-fraction, is helpful Read more […]

Modern Recommendations – Introducing The Pyrrolizidine Alkaloid Question

Weiss addresses the question of carcinogenic compounds in the herb and the experiments done to establish their nature, but concludes ‘investigations of this kind may be of scientific interest but have no relevance whatsoever when it comes to practical therapy … all this has no bearing on the genuine value of the coltsfoot … The amount of the potentially carcinogenic pyrrolizidine alkaloids found in the dried plant drug was so small that it may be disregarded’. Weiss values the distinctive combination of mucilage and bitter, making coltsfoot a good tonic as well as a cough herb. He calls it the remedy of choice in chronic cases, especially for chronic emphysema and silicosis, diseases included in Priest & Priest’s specific indications. The leaves and flowers are used. He suggests a relief for the enduringly irritating morning cough for sufferers of these complaints by making a flask of coltsfoot tea, sweetened with honey, at night and keeping it by the bedside for use the following morning before rising, thus avoiding the unpleasant coughing spasms otherwise regularly appearing at the beginning of the day. The British Herbal Pharmacopoeia notes the actions of coltsfoot as expectorant, antitussive, demulcent Read more […]

Diseases of the Respiratory System

Herbs For Diseases Of The Respiratory System Prescription For Bronchitis Prescription For Feline Bronchial Asthma Strategy Treatment depends on the severity and concurrent conventional treatment. For example, if the patient is on steroids, consider hepatoprotection and immune support. Inhalant drugs (bronchodilators and steroids) may be necessary for some patients. Consider inhalation therapy of inhaled steam from herbal teas. Avoid stressing cats if administering herbs is difficult. Consider herbs that stabilize mast cells and the herbs for allergic bronchitis. The following simple formula for feline asthma support is easy to give and well tolerated (use glycetract). Marshmallow: Demulcent, vulnery, diuretic, antitussive; 1 part. Give one-half to 1 ml per 10 pounds 2 to 3 times daily in food or diluted and by mouth. Prescription For Sinusitis / Rhinitis Strategy Determine whether inhaled allergens are involved (boarding the patient in a different environment for a few days might improve the condition) and reduce exposure to inhaled allergens (such as dust mites). Consider environmental irritants such as cigarette smoke, dust, and pollution, and consider elimination diets. Inhalation therapy may be useful. Read more […]