Podophyllum spp.

Lignans, as natural products, are distributed widely in the plant kingdom. More than 200 compounds in this general class have been identified. Lignans have aroused considerable interest because some of them display antitumor activities. This is particularly true of the podophyllotoxin group of lignans, which are constituents of the medical resin extracted from Podophyllum species. Podophyllotoxins are a particularly instructive class of natural products for consideration in the design and synthesis of potential anticancer agents based upon natural product prototypes. History The medical use of Podophyllum species dates back over 1000 years. At that time the roots of wild chervil were used in a salve for treating cancer in England. About 400-600 years ago, the natives of the Himalayas and the American Indians independently discovered that the aqueous extracts of the roots (podophyllin) from Podophyllum species was a canthartic and poison. After the American Indians introduced the use of podophyllin to the American colonists, it became such a popular drug that it was included in the US Pharmacopoeia in 1820 as a canthartic and cholagog and remained until 1942, when it was removed because of its severe toxicity. However, Read more […]

Specific Medicinal Uses of Cannabis

The historical and contemporary, medicinal uses of cannabis have been reviewed on several occasions. Perhaps the earliest published report to contain at least some objectivity on the subject was that of O’Shaughnessy (1842), an Irish surgeon, working in India, who described the analgesic, anticonvulsant and muscle relaxant properties of the drug. This report triggered the appearance of over 100 publications on the medicinal use of cannabis in American and European medical journals over the next 60 years. One such use was to treat nausea and vomiting; but it was not until the advent of potent cancer chemotherapeutic drugs that the antiemetic properties of cannabis became more widely investigated and then employed. One can argue that the available clinical evidence of efficacy is stronger here than for any other application and that proponents of its use are most likely to be successful in arguing that cannabis should be re-scheduled (to permit its use as a medicine) because it has a “currently accepted medical use”. Specific Medicinal Uses of Cannabis: Use as an Antiemetic Specific Medicinal Uses of Cannabis: Glaucoma Specific Medicinal Uses of Cannabis: Multiple Sclerosis Spastic Conditions A discussion 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 […]

Dysosma pleiantha (Hance) Woodson

Dysosma comprises seven species distributed from central and southern China to Taiwan. Among them, Dysosma pleiantha (Hance) Woodson (Berberidaceae), highly prized by the mountain tribes of Taiwan for its medicinal properties, is a herbaceous, rhizomatous perennial. It is an interesting species discovered by Watters in Taiwan in 1881 and described by Hance in 1883 as Podophyllum pleianthum (). It was later introduced as the synonyms P. versipelle Hance, P. onzoi Hayata, etc.. Woodson (1928) compared the floral and vegetative features of P. pleiantha and those of other species of Podophyllum in herbarium material, and indicated some features which are quite different, and suggested this herb as D. pleiantha (Hance) Woodson. This plant, distributed from Himalayan districts to Taiwan through the mountainous parts of China, was rarely cultivated in any of the European and American botanical gardens until earlier in this century. So, contrary to its related species Podophyllum peltatum L. and P. Emodi Wall., its morphological and histological studies have been rather neglected, although some descriptions were given by Kumazawa (1936), Ying (1979), and Terabayashi (1983). Studies on its heteromorphic karyotype have been documented. Several Read more […]

Bidens alba (Smooth Beggar-Tick) and Bidens pilosa (Hairy Beggar-Tick)

The genus Bidens (Compositae) is composed of approximately 230 species having a worldwide distribution in tropical and temperate regions. It is primarily a continental group, which has become established on some islands, notably the Hawaiian islands. The centers of diversity are Africa and the New World, with each center having about 100 species. Several species are so abundant that they are considered serious weeds. Two will be of particular concern here: Bidens alba var. radiata (Schultz-Bip.) Ballard and B. pilosa var. minor (Blume) Sherff, another member of the complex. B. alba var. radiata (smooth beggar-tick) occurs in south eastern Mexico into Central America and in Florida, U.S.A.; B. pilosa var. minor (hairy beggar-tick) is primarily restricted to Central America (Ballard 1986). B. pilosa var. minor and B. alba var. radiata are erect annual herbs with opposite pinnate leaves. Flowers are organized into a capitulum with yellow disc flowers and five or six white (occasionally purple) ray flowers which are 5-7 mm long and have a nonfunctional style in the former species and ray flowers 15-18 mm long with no style in the latter. Both plants, in common with most species of Bidens, are found in moist, disturbed Read more […]

Taxol (Paclitaxel) and Cancer Chemotherapy

Taxol is an antineoplastic agent. This compound, first isolated from the bark of the Western yew tree in 1971, exhibits unique pharmacological actions as an inhibitor of mitosis, differing from the vinca alkaloids and colchicine derivatives in that it promotes rather than inhibits microtubule formation. Following its introduction into clinical trial, the drug was approved for treatment of cisplatin-refractory ovarian cancer in 1992 and has promising activity against cancers of the breast, lung, esophagus, and head and neck. Malignant neoplastic diseases may be treated by various approaches: surgery, radiation therapy, immunotherapy, or chemotherapy, or a combination of these. The extent of a malignant disease (staging) should be ascertained in order to plan an effective therapeutic intervention. Plants have antineoplastic activities. A significant portion of the product derived from plants serve either as protective agents against various pathogens (e.g., insects, fungi, or bacteria) or growth regulatory molecules (e.g., hormonelike substances that stimulate or inhibit cell division and morphogenesis). Chemical Groups Of Natural Products With Anticancer Properties Cancer Chemotherapy Before discussing the specific Read more […]

Chemical Groups Of Natural Products With Anticancer Properties

Plant-derived natural products with documented anticancer and antitumor properties can be classified into the following chemical groups (): • Aldehydes • Alkaloids • Flavonoids • Glycosides • Lignans • Lipids • Quinones • Phenols and derivatives • Polysaccharides • Proteins • Terpenoids Aldehydes are volatile substances found (along with alcohols, ketones, and esters) in minute amounts and contributing to the formation of odor and flavor of plant parts. Plants containing aldehydes with anticancer properties include the following: • Cinnamomum cassia • Mondia whitei • Rhus vulgaris • Sclerocarya caffra Alkaloids are weak bases, capable of forming salts, which are commonly extracted form tissues with an acidic, aqueous solvent. Alternatively, free bases can be extracted with organic solvents. Plants containing alkaloids with anticancer properties include the following: Aconitum napellus Acronychia baueri, A. haplophylla Annona purpurea Brucea antidysenterica Calycodendron milnei Cassia leptophylla Chamaecyparis sp. Chelidonium autumnale Ervatamia microphylla Eurycoma longifolia Fagara macrophylla Nauclea orientalis Psychotria Read more […]

Shiitake Mushroom (Lentinus edodes)

Shiitake Mushroom: Medical Uses Shiitake mushroom is used for candidiasis (yeast infections), colds, allergies, and heart disease. Historical Uses The most common edible mushroom in the world, the shiitake mushroom is also known as the black forest mushroom, the Chinese mushroom, and the king of mushrooms. In China, shiitake mushrooms have been eaten medicinally for centuries to boost the immune system. Growth Shiitake mushrooms grow in Japan on fallen shiia trees. This mushroom is native to China, Japan, and other parts of Asia, but not to the United States. Parts Used • Fruiting body • Mycelium Major Chemical Compounds • Polysaccharides Shiitake Mushroom: Clinical Uses Shiitake mushroom is used for candidiasis, colds, allergies, and heart disease. It is active against lung cancer and melanoma, and it has hypolipi-demic and antithrombotic effects. Mechanism of Action This mushroom increases the production and ability of natural killer cells and macrophages to destroy tumor cells. Polysaccharides bind to specialized receptor sites on macrophages and natural killer cells, thereby sending out chemical signals to fight off infection. Shiitake Mushroom: Dosage Fresh mushrooms: 3 to 4 mushrooms Read more […]

Soy (Glycine max)

Soy: Medical Uses Soy is used for high cholesterol, diabetes mellitus, and menopausal symptoms and is also used for its anticancer effects and prevention of osteoporosis. Historical Uses In China, soy is valued highly and has been called one of the five sacred grains. Growth Soy is a subtropical plant that is now cultivated in temperate regions. The plant grows from 1 to 5 feet tall. Part Used • Seed (soybean) Major Chemical Compounds • Genistein, a major isoflavone in soy and a weak estrogen • Daidzein, another isoflavone Soy: Clinical Uses Soy is used to treat high cholesterol (, diabetes mellitus, and menopausal symptoms and is also used for its anticancer effects and prevention of osteoporosis. Labels approved by the Food and Drug Administration state that soy may help lower cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease. Soy is approved by the German Commission E for mild hypercholesterolemia. Soy products containing isoflavones may provide a viable alternative to hormones for maintaining bone density and protecting against cardiovascular diseases, especially for postmenopausal women who choose to not take hormone replacement therapy. Japanese people consume an average of 7 to Read more […]

Korean ginseng: Clinical Use

In the scientific arena, ginseng and the various ginsenosides are used in many forms and administered via various routes. This review will focus primarily on those methods commonly used in clinical practice. CANCER PREVENTION The various anticancer actions of Panax ginseng, as demonstrated in animal and in vitro trials, support its use as an agent to prevent the development and progression of cancer. A 5-year prospective study of 4634 patients over 40 years of age found that ginseng reduced the relative risk of cancer by nearly 50%. A retrospective study of 905 case-controlled pairs taking ginseng showed that ginseng intake reduced the risk of cancer by 44% (odds ratio equal to 0.56). The powdered and extract forms of ginseng were more effective than fresh sliced ginseng, juice or tea. The preventative effect was highly significant (P < 0.001). There was a significant decline in cancer occurrence with increasing ginseng intake (P < 0.05). Epidemiological studies in Korea strongly suggest that cultivated Korean ginseng is a non-organ-specific human cancer preventative agent. In case-control studies, odds ratios of cancer of lip, oral cavity and pharynx, larynx, lung, oesophagus, stomach, liver, pancreas, Read more […]