Artemisia Ludoviciana ssp. Mexicana (Estafiate)

Estafiate or iztauyatl (Artemisia ludoviciana ssp. mexicana) is one of the most popular medicinal plants in Mexican phytotherapy and is nowadays used especially for gastrointestinal pain, as a vermifuge and as a bitter stimulant. The historical and modern uses of this species are reviewed. The first report of its medicinal use dates back to the 16th century, but at that time it was used for completely different illnesses. Only very limited pharmacological studies to evaluate these claims are available; anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antihelmintic effects have been reported. The aerial parts contain a large number of sesquiterpene lactones, flavonoids as well as essential oil which has not yet been studied in detail. Estafiate or iztauyatl (Artemisia ludoviciana ssp. mexicana) is one of the most popular remedies in Mexican phytotherapy. It is frequently sold in markets in the cities and also grown in many house gardens (). It is thus a locally important economic product and a phytotherapeutic resource which requires documentation of its regional or national importance as well as evaluation and monitoring for efficacy and safety. Plants generally are an important medicinal resource to many people in Mexico and Read more […]

Artemisia vulgaris L.

Artemisia vulgaris L., most commonly known as Mugwort, is a species of wide distribution throughout Europe, Asia and north America. Several other common names are listed by Grieve and Bisset including Felon Herb, Wild Wormwood and St. John’s Plant, noting that the latter name should not be confused with St. John’s Wort, Hypericum perforatum. The historical derivation of these names is suggested by Grieve, the herb having been used over many centuries. Most likely, the name “Mugwort” is linked with the plant’s use for flavouring beer prior to the modern use of hops (Humulus lupulus). Alternatively, Mugwort, may not relate to either drinking mugs or wort, but from “moughthe”, a moth or maggot since the plant has been thought to be useful in repelling moths. In the United Kingdom Artemisia vulgaris has received many local names. Grigson lists 24 names including Apple-Pie and Mugweed in Cheshire, Green Ginger and Smotherwood in Lincolnshire, Mugwood in Shropshire and Mugger in Scotland. Botany Habitat Mugwort is a hardy perennial common throughout temperate regions of the northern hemisphere. It grows readily in hedgerows, roadsides, river banks and waste places such as rubbish tips. Clapham et al. () state that geographically Read more […]

Chaste Tree Berry (Vitex Agnus-Castus)

Medical Uses Chaste tree berries are used for premenstrual syndrome and for menopausal and menstrual symptoms. Historical Uses Long associated with chastity and virtue, this herb is also known as “monk’s pepper” and chasteberry In folklore, chaste tree berry was used for menstrual problems and to increase milk flow Growth Chaste trees grow in the southern United States. The berries look and smell like peppercorns. Chaste Tree Berry: Part Used • Fruit Major Active Compounds • Flavonoids • Agnuside Chaste Tree Berry: Clinical Uses Chaste tree berry is used for premenstrual syndrome and for menopausal and menstrual symptoms. It is approved by the German Commission E for “menstrual irregularities, PMS, and mastodynia” (breast tenderness). Mechanism of Action Chaste tree berries work to balance progesterone and estrogen and decrease prolactin levels. They have shown significant competitive binding to estrogen receptors alpha and beta and have stimulated a progesterone receptor. Chaste Tree Berry: Dosage Tea: Pour 1 cup of boiling water onto 1 teaspoon (0.5 to 1 g) of ripe berries and let sit for 10 to 15 minutes. The tea may be taken up to three times a day. Standardized vitex extract: 40 drops Read more […]

White Deadnettle: Later Confusion

Grieve is no less confusing. There is an entry for white deadnettle with no medicinal uses appended, followed by purple deadnettle with medicinal actions and uses ― decoction of herb and flowers for haemorrhage, leaves to staunch wounds, dried herb as tea with honey to promote perspiration and act on kidneys, useful in cases of chill. Then, under a subheading ‘other species’, henbit, spotted deadnettle and hempnettle are described. This is followed by a quote from Gerard on white archangel after which the next heading, ‘parts used medicinally’, begins ‘the whole herb collected…’, but which herb is meant here is far from clear. Then a further ‘medicinal actions and uses’ confuses the picture even more. Whichever plant (or plants) is meant, it is astringent in nature, Grieve tells us, and used for stopping haemorrhage, spitting of blood and dysentery. The decoction of the flowers is a blood purifier for rashes, eczema etc., but no source is cited. Reputations from the tradition then follow – healing green wounds, bruises and burns. Culpeper and others follow, on lifting spirits, against quartan agues, and bleeding of nose and mouth applied to nape of neck. She rehearses use in the past for hardness of spleen, the Read more […]

Uterine Tonics: Venotonics

Treatment of pelvic congestion syndrome incorporates a combination of therapeutic actions, including anti-inflammatory, uterine tonics, and herbs used as vascular tonics. Uterine tonics, which historically have included herbs such as blue cohosh, goldenseal, lady’s mantle, motherwort, partridge berry, red raspberry leaf, and cramp bark and black haw, are thought to exert their efforts by improving the overall tone of the uterine smooth musculature and vasculature. Goldenseal, for example, typically regarded for its antimicrobial effects, was used extensively by the Eclectics for the treatment of uterine bleeding resulting from a variety of conditions, including endometriosis, fibroids, and changes associated with menopause. Although no clinical studies have been conducted using whole herb, in vitro trials using berberine, one of the primary alkaloids in goldenseal, have demonstrated both uterine smooth muscles stimulant and inhibitory activity. Aqueous extracts of red raspberry leaf also have demonstrated both stimulatory and inhibitory effects on uterine smooth muscle. In fact, this paradoxic effect is seen with several of the herbs commonly used as both uterine tonics and spasmolytics, for example, cramp bark and Read more […]

Endometriosis: Anti-Inflammatories and Antioxidants

Inflammation is a hallmark of endometriosis, and as discussed, free radical damage may be part of the etiology of this disorder. It has been suggested that growth factors and inflammatory mediators produced by activated peritoneal leukocytes participate in the pathogenesis of endometriosis by facilitating endometrial cells growth at ectopic sites. Elevated levels of inflammatory cells and mediators such as peritoneal macrophages, prostaglandins, proteolytic enzymes, complement fragments, IL-1, and tumor necrosis factor (TNF) have been identified in the peritoneal fluid of patients with endometriosis. Numerous herbs that have been used traditionally for inflammatory types of conditions demonstrate significant anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects and should be considered for use in formulations for treatment and symptomatic relief, along with herbs whose use for inflammation is only recently being discovered. These are discussed in the following. Dong Quai Dong quai has antispasmodic, analgesic, and tonic effects, and has demonstrated significant antioxidant and free radical scavenging actions, partially through inhibition of anion radical formation. Limited animal and in vitro studies have reported Read more […]

Fibrocystic Breast

Fibrocystic Breasts And Breast Pain Benign breast conditions are a common finding in clinical practice, with fibrocystic breast changes and fibroadenomas occurring in 60% to 90% of all women. The hallmark of fibrocystic breast changes is that the cysts fluctuate in size and shape, may entirely disappear and reappear cyclically, and are associated with hormonal changes in the menstrual cycle. Women with this condition describe their breasts as feeling lumpy, “ropey,” and tender. The changes occur bilaterally. Fibroadenomas are mobile, solid, firm, rubbery masses that typically occur singly, and are not usually painful. They are second only to fibrocystic changes as the most common of the benign breast conditions, and are commonly found in women in their 20s. Breast tenderness that accompanies the menstrual cycle is known as cystic mastalgia.’ Cyclic mastalgia may be associated with other premenstrual complaints. The terms benign breast disorder and benign breast disease are unfortunate misnomers, as they are neither a disorder nor disease. In only a small percentage of cases are the atypical ductal and lobular hyperplasias associated with increased risk of breast carcinoma. Practitioners consulting with women for Read more […]

Dong quai: Interactions. Pregnancy Use. Practice Points. FAQ

Adverse Reactions Furanocoumarins, such as bergapten and psoralen, which are in dong quai have been widely studied for their phototoxicity; however, only Angelica gigas (Korean angelica) has been demonstrated to cause photodermatitis. Safrole, found in the volatile oil, is a potential carcinogen; however, no specific cases of carcinogenesis have been reported. High doses of dong quai volatile oil have been reported to cause nephrosis in rats but there are no reports in humans. Significant Interactions WARFARIN Case reports suggest the elevations in prothrombin and INR may occur when dong quai is used with warfarin — use caution if used concurrently with warfarin. Contraindications and Precautions Because dong quai may have oestrogenic effects, women with hormone-sensitive tumours, endometriosis and uterine fibroids should avoid using dong quai. Traditional contraindications include diarrhea due to weak digestion, haemor-rhagic disease, heavy periods, first trimester of pregnancy, and acute infection such as colds or flu. Pregnancy Use Dong quai may stimulate uterine contractions and is therefore contraindicated in pregnancy. Practice Points / Patient Counselling • Dong quai is a popular Chinese Read more […]