Aspilia mossambicensis

Aspilia mossambicensis (Oliv.) Wild (Asteraceae), is widespread in central and eastern tropical Africa (), ranging from Ethiopia through east Africa, the Congo, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Mozambique, and Transvaal to Natal (). Various folk uses of this and other Aspilia species have been reported, including its use as a remedy for cystitis and gonorrhoea (), treatment of abdominal pains, intestinal worms, and skin infections (). Previous reports for two other species of Aspilia (A. montevidencis and A. parvifolia) showed the presence of the tridecapentaynene derivative, thiophene A (I) (), in roots (). Methanol and aqueous extracts of Aspilia africana have recently been shown to have antibacterial activity against Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria, including Agrobacterium tumefaciens, at concentrations ranging from 0.1 to 0.5 g/ml (). Evidence that wild chimpanzees use Aspilia mossambicensis as a dietary and medicinal supplement () suggested the possibility that the plant could have biocidal activity, and prompted an investigation of the phytochemistry of this species. Thiarubrines A and B (II, IV) and the mono-thiophenic derivatives, thiophenes A and B (I, III), were subsequently isolated from leaves of dried Read more […]

The use of eucalyptus oils in consumer products

Insect repellents As noted in the introduction, Eucalyptus citriodora oil has been used as a ‘natural’ insect repellent. Depending on the product formulation it is used in, Lemon Eucalyptus (known as Quwenling in China) is up to four or five times more effective and longer-lasting than citronella oil (from Cymbopogon nardus), one of the best known natural insect repellents. p-Menthane-3,8-diol is the main active component of Quwenling and this can be isolated and used as a highly effective insect repellent. Eucalyptus citriodora oil contains up to 80–90 per cent citronellal, along with geraniol, both of which are known to have insect repellent activity but tend to dilute the much higher activity of the p-menthane-3,8-diol. The Mosi-guard Natural insect repellent spray produced by MASTA in the UK contains ‘Extract of Lemon Eucalyptus’ and claims on the label: Approved and recommended by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Field trials have shown effective protection for 6 h after a single application in mosquito infected areas. Also protects against many other biting insects. Mosi-guard Natural is made from a natural and renewable resource. It is kind to your skin and has no adverse effects 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 […]

Southern and Southeastern Asia

India The current practices within traditional Indian medicine reflect an ancient tradition that can be traced back to at least 900 bc, to written Ayurvedic records. These practices, all holistic in nature, are divided into three principal systems: Ayurveda, Siddha, and Unani. The most ancient is Ayurveda, literally meaning the “science of life,” and has a basis in the spiritual as well as the temporal. The practice of Ayurveda is aimed at the intrinsic whole of the patient and involves the administration of medicinal preparations of complex mixtures containing animal, plant, and mineral products. Siddha can be considered similar to Ayurveda and is governed by the understanding that everything, including the human body, is made up of the five basic elements: earth, water, fire, air and space. In addition, 96 major elements are considered to constitute human beings and include the constituents of physiological, moral, and intellectual elements. An imbalance among any of these is believed to result in disease. Siddha medicine is based more on a psychosomatic system in which treatments are based on minerals, metals, and herbal products. The Unani medical system can be sourced to the writings of the Greek philosopher-physician Read more […]

Vervain

Verbena officinalis, vervain Family: Verbenaceae Part used: aerial parts Verbena officinalis L. is a hardy, herbaceous perennial found in Eurasia, North and South America. It is found on rough grassland on dry soils. The Flora of Turkey gives two Verbena species, including Verbena officinalis. It forms an evergreen rosette which overwinters. Erect, hairy, woody, square stems (to 70 cm) bear opposite leaves with the lower leaves deeply lobed with serrated edges. Clusters of small pinkish lilac flowers with a two-lipped, five lobed tubular corolla occur on slender branched spikes in June to September. The calyx is long and tubular and the fruit contains four nutlets. A study carried out on waste ground the UK over 13 years found that population density depended on winter temperature in that plants died below -17°C, and summer temperature as seed germination required a temperature of above 19°C. Other species used Verbena hastata is a taller North American species that is easy to cultivate. It has bright green, larger, toothed leaves, a dark stem and branching flowerheads of blue flowers. It is discussed in American texts. Lemon verbena Aloysia triphylla (syn. Lippia citriodora) is a half-hardy lemon scented Read more […]

A Gynecological Remedy

So what do our classical writers say about the uses of artemisia in gynaecology and do those attributed to mugwort differ? Dioscorides recommends a decoction of the herb in a bath to draw down the menstrual blood and to bring out the foetus and the afterbirth. This is achieved by a warming and thinning effect, which could also procure an abortion. A pessary made from the juice of artemisia mixed with myrrh Commiphora molmol, or three drachms (12 g, increasing to 15 g in Ibn Sina’s entry) of the leaves given in drink will similarly draw out the menstrual blood or contents of the womb. The herb liberally plastered onto the lower abdomen will bring on a period and the decoction added to the bath water will treat uterine closure and inflammation. Pliny mentions only the pessary as cleansing for the uterus, with oil of iris or figs as a substitute for myrrh. Galen records that both artemisias have a heating effect in the second degree or above and are moderately drying in the first or second degree. They are of thin parts and can be used for fomentations of the uterus. Apuleius mentions no gynaecological uses and may be writing of Mattioli’s Artemisia tenuifolia instead. Having cited the classical texts, Bauhin moves Read more […]

Ocimum basilicum

Basil – Ocimum basilicum Family: Lamiaceae Part used: aerial parts Ocimum basilicum L. is a half-hardy annual or short-lived perennial, which is native to India and Asia and cultivated worldwide. It is very variable in morphology. Erect, branching, green stems (to 60 cm) support opposite, soft, bright-green oval leaves, which are slightly crumpled-looking. Whorls (usually six flowers) of small, white, lipped, tubular flowers are borne in terminal racemes. The fruit contains four small smooth black seeds. It is propagated from seed. Quality Many cultivars and varieties are used and some are cultivated, especially for the manufacture of pesto. Simon et al (1999) compare the growth habit and constituents of 42 forms cultivated in the USA, and note that the cultivars of var. purpurescens contain a substantial concentration of anthocyanins. Crosses can occur between any Ocimum basilicum varieties, cultivars and related species such as Ocimum minimum L. There is substantial variation in composition of the volatile oil and little correlation has been found between phenotype and chemotype or genotype and chemotype. Schnaubelt (1999) uses basil as an example of the broad range of healing qualities in aromatic oils, Read more […]

Hyssop: Ancient Uses And The Epilepsy Debate

As in many herbs, Dioscorides and Pliny read very similarly on hyssop, although Dioscorides seems more trim and precise. Galen is very succinct, saying only it is hot and dry in the third degree and ‘of thin parts’. Dioscorides says it has a warming property. He recommends it for inflammations of the lungs, asthmatics, a chronic cough, catarrh and orthopnoea (serious asthma, when the patient cannot breathe unless upright), boiled with figs, water, honey and rue. The same will kill intestinal worms and can also be used as ‘lozenge with honey“. The decoction with vinegar and honey ‘expels thick masses down the abdomen’. It will purge the bowel eaten with ‘brayed green figs’ and will act more strongly as a cathartic mixed with ‘garden cress or iris or hedge mustard’ (Beck). ‘It achieves even fresh and healthy looks’. As a plaster with fig and soda (other authors have nitre/saltpetre here) it is useful for the spleen and for oedemata, for inflammations with wine. Beck’s translation continues, ‘it also disperses black eye when plastered on with hot water. It is an excellent gargle for sore throat with a decoction of figs and it assuages toothaches when cooked with vinegar and employed as a mouthwash. Its vapour stops inflations Read more […]

Rue: Anthelmintic And Spasmolytic

Another traditional use for rue is as an anthelmintic. Dioscorides wants it boiled in olive oil and drunk to remove intestinal worms. This indication passes down through the Arabic and Renaissance sources, then is rarely mentioned, although Cullen recommends a strong decoction as an enema for ascarides in the rectum. Williamson states that the herb is reportedly anthelmintic and recent ethnobotanic research shows that rue is a popular traditional medicine in rural parts of Italy for worms and externally against head lice and parasites. Despite being a non-indigenous herb, it is also in much demand by the people of the Bredasdorp/Elim area of South Africa not only for worms but also for bladder and kidney problems, convulsions, diabetes, fever, headache, stomach complaints and sinus problems, in doses of 1 teaspoon of the herb to a cup of boiling water. An anthelmintic action is derived from the volatile oils and bitterness of rue and leads us to consider the plant’s actions in the digestive tract. Dioscorides notes that eaten or drunk it stops diarrhoea and, taken with dried dill Anethum graveolens, abdominal colic. Pliny says that the pounded leaves in wine with cheese are given to patients with dysentery. Rue soon Read more […]