Antimicrobial activity of eucalyptus oils

The preservative properties of the volatile oils and extracts of aromatic and medicinal plants have been recognised since Biblical times, while attempts to characterise these properties in the laboratory date back to the early 1900s (e.g. Hoffman and Evans 1911). Martindale (1910) included ‘Eucalyptus amygdalina’ (probably the phellandrene variant of Eucalyptus dives) and Eucalyptus globulus oils, as well as eucalyptol (1,8-cineole), in his study of the antiseptic powers of essential oils and although the ‘carbolic coefficients’ of eucalyptus oils were not as great as those for oils containing large amounts of phenolics – such as origanum (carvacrol), cinnamon leaf (eugenol) and thyme (thymol) – they did, nevertheless, give some quantitative measure of the antiseptic properties of eucalyptus leaf oils. Many volatile oils – particularly those of herbs and spices, but including those from Eucalyptus – have been used to extend the shelf-life of foods, beverages and pharmaceutical and cosmetic products; their antimicrobial and antioxidant properties have also pointed to a role in plant protection. Such a wide variety of applications, actual or potential, has meant that the antimicrobial properties of 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 […]

The Use of Echinacea in Pregnancy and Lactation

Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is an umbrella term that covers a number of healthcare modalities that generally fall outside the realm of the conventional medical model. Herbal medicine is considered to be a primary complementary and alternative therapy. In recent years, the use of herbal products has increased dramatically, particularly in developed countries, by people who wish to maintain good health and reduce the need for conventional drug therapy. Echinacea products are among the most popular phytomedicines. While these remedies have a long history of use in pregnancy, during delivery, and for lactation, clinically relevant sources of information on the safety and risk of such products are lacking. Given the great variation in product composition and constituent concentration, the actual safety of Echinacea has not been easy to study in pregnancy and lactation. To date, there is only one published study that has examined the safety of Echinacea use during pregnancy for upper respiratory tract ailments. Pregnancy Facts There is an underlying baseline risk for malformations associated with every pregnancy, regardless of the mother’s exposure to a substance of concern. As a result, the primary Read more […]

Respiratory System: Herbal Treatment of Children

The Function Of The Respiratory System To ensure sufficient intake of oxygen it is vital for children to have a fully functioning respiratory system, to have plenty of fresh air and exercise every day and that they breathe properly. The quality of the air breathed in is also of vital importance. Children’s lungs are delicate organs susceptible to external factors including heat, dust, moulds, pathogenic micro-organisms and chemical irritants. The pollution in the air, cigarette smoke, carbon monoxide, lead from car fumes, etc., becomes pollution in their lungs, which is then carried in the blood all round the body. According to Western medicine the main function of the lungs is the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide and the maintenance of acid-base in the body. We also know that the air we breathe is not only vital to our physiological functioning, but also to our more subtle processes. In India air is called “prana”, the breath of life. Not only are we breathing in gases vital for normal functioning of our cells and tissues, but we are also taking in the energy of the atmosphere around us which radiates from the trees and other green plants and ultimately from the sun. Correct breathing is vital for our nerves Read more […]

Northern Asia

In the history of medicinal plant use in eastern Asia and Siberia, a very important school of medical practice, traditional Chinese medicine, links practices from a number of traditions that have been handed down by word of mouth (as in Siberia or northern China) and for which written historical sources are very rare and poorly investigated (e.g., Mongolian traditional medicine and the Tibetan school). The Chinese Materia Medico, has been growing throughout the last 2,000 years. This increase results from the integration of drugs into the official tradition from China’s popular medicine as well as from other parts of the world. The first major Materia Medica after Tao Hong Jing was the Xin xiu ben cao 659 ad, also known as Tang Materia Medica, which was the official pharmacopoeia of the Tang dynasty. It contained 844 entries and was China’s first illustrated Materia Medica. Zheng lei ben cao, 1108 ad, was the major medical treatise during the Song dynasty and contained 1,558 substances. However, China’s most celebrated medical book is represented by Li Shi-Zhen’s Ben cao gang mu, posthumously printed in 1596 ad, with 1,173 plant remedies, 444 animal-derived drugs and 275 minerals. This tradition has continued into Read more […]

Botanical Treatment Strategies for Herpes: Immunomodulation and Adaptogenic Support

Andrographis Andrographis, an Asian herb used in the Ayurvedic medicine and traditional Chinese medicine, has been used traditionally as an anti-inflammatory, hepatoprotective, antiviral, antioxidant, and immune-enhancing herbal medicine. In vitro and in vivo studies demonstrate immune enhancing activity and immunomodulating effects including its ability to stimulate both antigen-specific and nonspecific immunity, reduce inflammation, relieve fever and sore throat, and reduce incidence of common cold and upper respiratory infection in children and adults. Andrographalide, a constituent of the herb, has demonstrated anticancer activity. One study demonstrated specific anti-herpes simplex virus activity using isolate diterpenes from the herb. Western herbal medicine uses this herb in combination with other immunomodulating herbs, and in multieffect comprehensive formulae for patients who experience recurrent herpes outbreaks and who also have a tendency toward frequent colds and infections generally, and who also may be run down and depleted. It is excellent combined with adaptogens for overall immune support. Eleuthero Eleuthero is an important traditional medicine in China and Russia, used to stimulate the immune Read more […]

Preventive Botanical Medicines During Flu Season

The best treatment for seasonal influenza is prevention. In all the traditional medicine systems of Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and so on, the distinction between plants as foods and as medicines is vague and arbitrary. People intent on protecting themselves and their children from flu who stay up late, snack on sweet or refined treats, and skip balanced, nourishing meals while religiously taking doses of echinacea or other herbs are fighting a losing battle. In a nutshell, proper nutrition is the best method of avoiding coming down with the flu in the first place. A healthy diet, rich in fruits and vegetables as well as spicy, warming dishes prepared with cayenne or jalapeno peppers (Capsicum spp.), mustard (Brassica nigra) seed, ginger (Zin-giber officinale) rhizome, horseradish (Cochlearia armoracia) root, and garlic (Allium sativum) bulbs, are the best preventative. Vitamin-rich herbs, as teas or juices, can also be added to the diet during flu season. These include rose hips (Rosa canina) and berries, as teas or food. Other key nutrients include selenium. Animal studies show that selenium-deficient mice are more susceptible to flu virus and also tended to develop pneumonia when infected with the flu. Interestingly, Read more […]

Herpes Virus

Over the centuries herbal medicinal products formed the basis of medicaments in Africa, China, India and in many other civilisations. Traditional healers have long used herbal products to prevent or to cure infectious conditions but scientific interest in natural antivirals is more recent, spurred on by the rapid spread of emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases. Additionally the rapid rate of species extinction leads to irretrievable loss of structurally diverse and potentially useful phytochemicals, compounds which are often species/strain-specific with diverse structures and bioactivities, synthesised mainly for defence against predators. The herpes virus The herpes virus belongs to Herpesviridae, a family of DNA viruses that cause diseases in humans and animals. There are eight distinct viruses in this family, known to cause disease in humans. Viruses of the herpes group are morphologically indistinguishable, share many common features of intracellular development, but differ widely in biological properties. All human herpes viruses (HHV) contain a large double-stranded, linear DNA with 100-200 genes encased within an icosahedral protein capsid wrapped in a lipid bilayer envelope, called a virion. Following Read more […]

Cardiovascular Diseases

Cardiovascular diseases constitute one of the major causes of disability and death all over the world. Increased mechanisation, Westernisation of lifestyle and genetic factors, coupled with an increase in life expectancy owing to control of infectious diseases, have contributed to its rise in the developing world as well. Despite remarkable advances in the identification of various risk factors and our enhanced knowledge regarding the aetiopathogenesis of cardiovascular diseases and molecular targeting for drug development, effective drug management of cardiovascular diseases still eludes medical researchers. There continues to be an unmet need for better and safer drugs to treat as well as to prevent cardiovascular diseases. In this regard, it is important to remember that many of the cardiovascular diseases are preventable, either by lifestyle modification and/or by drugs. The past few decades have witnessed the introduction of a remarkable number of not only new drugs, but also new classes of drugs, for the treatment of cardiovascular diseases. These include calcium-channel blockers, angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors, angiotensin-receptor blockers, various hypolipidaemic agents, and various antiplatelet Read more […]

Herbs For Diseases Of The Respiratory System

Herbs provide a number of actions that benefit both upper and lower respiratory diseases, including bronchitis (acute, allergic, and chronic), feline bronchial asthma, and sinusitis / rhinitis. Interestingly, some of the respiratory herbs are in the most commonly used, mass produced cough medicines available through pharmacies. These include cherry bark, Irish moss, and Licorice. Several groups of herbal actions are useful in the treatment of chronic respiratory disorders, and many traditional respiratory herbs fall into more than 1 group. In terms of respiratory therapy, the major actions are as follows. Antitussives Antitussives reduce coughing either through demulcent action, by removing the irritation (expectorant) action, or by depressing the cough reflex. This group therefore includes expectorants, demulcents, and anticatarrhals. The best known antitussive herbs are Irish moss (Cbondrus crispus), Wild cherry (Prunus serotina), and Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra). Licorice root contains a potent antitussive compound, liquilitin apioside, the antitussive effects of which may depend on both peripheral and central mechanisms. A 50% methanol extract of licorice (100 mg / kg PO) reduced by more than 60% the number Read more […]