Flax (Linum Usitatissimum)

Medical Uses Flaxseed is used for constipation and for intestinal cleansing in diverticulitis. It is also used for menopausal symptoms and sore throats and for its antioxidant effects. Historical Uses Flax is one of the earliest foods known to humans. It is also a textile fiber used to make linen. The seed is used in paints (linseed oil). Flax has also been used to make paper. Growth Flax is cultivated as a crop. Flax: Part Used • Seeds Major Chemical Compounds • Alpha-linolenic acid • Lignans • Fiber • The best source of omega-3 essential fatty acids Flax: Clinical Uses Flaxseed is used for constipation and for intestinal cleansing in diverticulitis. It is also used for menopausal symptoms and sore throats and for its antioxidant effects. It may help to prevent or decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease. Flaxseed is approved by the German Commission E for “chronic constipation, irritable colon, diverticulitis and as mucilage, externally for inflammation”. Mechanism of Action Essential fatty acids reduce the risk of blood clotting and thus decrease the risk of heart disease and stroke. They are building blocks of prostaglandins, which help to reduce pain and inflammation; help promote Read more […]

Black Cohosh (Cimicifuga Racemosa)

Medical Uses Black cohosh is helpful in relieving menopausal symptoms, including mood swings, hot flashes, profuse sweating, and sleep disturbances. It has been the largest-selling herbal dietary supplement for menopause in the United States. Historical Uses In China, black cohosh root has been used for centuries for menopausal symptoms and women’s health in general. Native Americans and Eclectic physicians used black cohosh for rheumatism, menstrual difficulties, and sore throats. Native American women have used it for menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes, anxiety, and depression. Do not confuse it with blue cohosh. Growth Black cohosh is a member of the buttercup family. It is native to the northeastern U. S. and grows in sunny areas in temperate zones. An at-risk endangered herb, black cohosh can be grown in herb gardens. The roots maybe harvested after 2 years. Black Cohosh: Part Used • Root Major Chemical Compounds • Triterpene • Glycosides Black Cohosh: Clinical Uses Studies show that black cohosh is safe and helpful in relieving menopausal symptoms, particularly mood swings, hot flashes, profuse sweating, and sleep disturbances. It is “a safe, effective alternative to estrogen replacement Read more […]

Oats (Avena sativa)

Oats: Medical Uses Oats are used externally for eczema, psoriasis, chickenpox, and shingles (herpes zoster). Historical Uses Oats have been used to stabilize blood glucose levels, soothe the nervous and digestive systems, reduce cravings for cigarettes, and reduce cholesterol levels. Used externally, they help stop itching from conditions as chickenpox and shingles. Growth Oats are grown as a crop in sunny, well-drained, fertile soil. Threshing separates the grains, which are then dehusked and rolled for cereals. Seeds are milled from the cultivated plant. Part Used • Seeds Major Chemical Compounds • Alkaloid • Glycosides • Fixed oils • Iron • Zinc Clinical Uses Besides their nutritive value, oats are an adaptogenic grain (they help with stress). They also lower cholesterol and help to relieve menopausal symptoms. Oats are used externally for eczema, psoriasis, chickenpox, and shingles (herpes zoster). Oats and a low-calorie diet help to lower blood pressure and improve lipid profiles. Oatstraw (dried, threshed leaf and stem of the oat plant) is approved by the German Commission E for “topical applications in herbal baths for inflammation and seborrheic skin diseases with pruritus”. Mechanism 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 […]

Australian Bush Flower Essences: Case Histories

The following few brief anecdotes and case histories illustrate the scope and potential of the Australian Bush Flower Essences. One woman was in so much pain from arthritis that she was unable to sit down in the chair. The joints of her fingers were swollen, gnarled and deformed. Her condition had commenced four years earlier when her husband had left her for another woman. I prescribed Sturt Desert Pea for her, an essence for grief. After five days she rang back to say that all she had done was cry in that time but also that she was free of pain and the deformity in her hands had gone! Rheumatologists would declare this either as impossible or a miracle. A young woman in her early twenties wanted a prescription of Bush Essences to help her recover from her impending surgery for cervical cancer. After further discussion she confided that when she was fifteen years old she had been raped. Feeling that this was a likely trigger as to why she developed such a serious illness so early in life, I prescribed Flannel Flower, Fringed Violet and Wisteria to treat the emotional and physical shock and trauma of that event. After a few days she developed a burning sensation in the cervix, but she thought that this was part Read more […]

Paeony (Paeonia Officinalis)

Family: Paeoniaceae Part used: root Paeonia are long-lived, hardy, robust herbaceous perennials. The two main European species are Paeonia officinalis L. subsp. officinalis, ‘female paeony’, which is found from France across to the Balkans and Paeonia mascula (L.) Mill., ‘male paeony’, which is found around the Mediterranean and in Greece, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Iraq and Iran. A remnant population of introduced Paeonia mascula persists on Steep Holm, an island in the Bristol Channel. Both species contain several subspecies, which are described and illustrated by Halda (2004) and Page (2005). The two species hybridize if grown together. Both species are considered to be close relatives to Paeonia lactiflora. The Flora of Turkey gives six Paeonia species, including Paeonia mascula but not including Paeonia officinalis. Paeonia mascula has stiff stems (to 75 cm) which bear large compound leaves and the plant forms large clumps. Solitary, large, single, red terminal flowers with up to 10 petals and numerous yellow stamens occur in April. Three to five smooth, curved seed pods split to reveal bright pink unfertilized ovules and shiny, blue-black fertilized seeds. Paeonia officinalis is similar with deeply cut divided Read more […]

Herb-Drug Interactions: Chinese angelica

Angelica sinensis (Oliv.) Diels (Apiaceae) Synonym(s) and related species Dang Gui (Chinese), Danggui, Dong quai. Angelica polymorpha van sinensis. Other species used in oriental medicine include Angelica dahurica. Not to be confused with Angelica, which is Angelica archangelica L. Pharmacopoeias Angelica Sinensis Root for use in THM (British Ph 2009); Processed Angelica Sinensis Root for use in THMP (British Pharmacopoeia 2009). Constituents The major constituents include natural coumarins (angelicin, archangelicin, bergapten, osthole, psoralen and xanthotoxin) and volatile oils. Other constituents include caffeic and chlorogenic acids, and ferulic acid. Angelica sinensis also contains a series of phthalides (n-butylidenephthalide, ligustilide, n-butylphthalide). Use and indications One of the most common uses of Chinese angelica root is for the treatment of menopausal symptoms and menstrual disorders. It has also been used for rheumatism, ulcers, anaemia, constipation, psoriasis, the management of hypertension and to relieve allergic conditions. Pharmacokinetics Evidence is limited to experimental studies, which suggest that the effects of Angelica dahurica and Angelica sinensis may not be equivalent. Read more […]

Herb-Drug Interactions: St John’s wort

Hypericum perforatum L. (Clusiaceae) Synonym(s) and related species Hypericum, Millepertuis. Hypericum noeanum Boiss., Hypericum veronense Schrank. Pharmacopoeias St John’s Wort (British Ph 2009, European Ph 2008, US Ph 32); St John’s Wort Dry Extract, Quantified (British Ph 2009, European Ph, 6th ed., 2008 and Supplements 6.1, 6.2, 6.3 and 6.4). Constituents The main groups of active constituents of St John’s wort are thought to be the anthraquinones, including hypericin, isohypericin, pseudohypericin, protohypericin, protopseudohypericin and cyclopseudohypericin, and the prenylated phloroglucinols, including hyperforin and adhyperforin. Flavonoids, which include kaempferol, quercetin, luteolin, hyperoside, isoquercitrin, quercitrin and rutin; biflavonoids, which include biapigenin and amentoflavone, and catechins are also present. Other polyphenolic constituents include caffeic and chlorogenic acids, and a volatile oil containing methyl-2-octane. Most St John’s wort products are standardised at least for their hypericin content (British Pharmacopoeia 2009), even though hyperforin is known to be a more relevant therapeutic constituent, and some preparations are now standardised for both (The United Read more […]

Herb-Drug Interactions: Soya

Glycine max (L.Merr.) (Fabaceae) Synonym(s) and related species Soy. Glycine soja Siebold and Zucc. Pharmacopoeias Hydrogenated Soya Oil (British Ph 2009); Hydrogenated Soybean Oil (European Ph, 6th ed., 2008 and Supplements 6.1, 6.2, 6.3 and 6.4, The United States Ph 32); Powdered Soy Isoflavones Extract (US Ph 32); Refined Soya Oil (British Ph 2009); Soybean Oil (US Ph 32); Soybean Oil, Refined (European Ph, 6th ed., 2008 and Supplements 6.1, 6.2, 6.3 and 6.4). Constituents The isoflavones in soya beans consist mainly of genistein and daidzein, with smaller amounts of isoformononetin, ononin, glycetein, desmethyltexasin and others. They are present mainly as glycosides, and the amount varies between the different soya products. Soya beans also contain coumestans (mainly in the sprouts) and phytosterols. The fixed oil from soya beans contains linoleic and linolenic acids. Fermented soya products contain variable amounts of tyramine. Use and indications Soya is a widely used food, particularly in Japanese and Chinese cuisine. Flour and protein from the beans are used as tofu and as a substitute for meat. Fermented products include soy sauce, natto and miso, and these can contain high concentrations Read more […]

Herb-Drug Interactions: Shatavari

Asparagus racemosus Willd. (Asparagaceae) Synonym(s) and related species Wild asparagus. Not to be confused with asparagus, which is Asparagus officinalis, the species used as a food. Constituents The root and rhizome of shatavari contain a series of steroidal saponins, the shatavarins and others, based on sarsapogenin, diosgenin and arasapogenin. The polycyclic alkaloid asparagamine A, benzofurans such as racemofuran and racemosol, and the isoflavone 8-methoxy-5,6,4′-trihydroxyisoflavone 7-O-beta-D-glucopyranoside are also present. Use and indications Shatavari is widely used in Ayurvedic medicine for dealing with problems related to women’s fertility, loss of libido, threatened miscarriage and menopausal problems, and to increase the flow of breast milk. It is also reported to be antispasmodic, aphrodisiac, demulcent, diuretic, anti-diar-rhoeal, antirheumatic and antidiabetic. Some of these indications are supported by pharmacological (but little clinical) evidence. Pharmacokinetics No relevant pharmacokinetic data found. Interactions overview Shatavari may have additive effects with conventional antidiabetic drugs, and may alter the absorption of a number of drugs by delaying gastric emptying. Shatavari Read more […]