Onobrychis viciifolia Scop. (Sainfoin)

Distribution and Importance of Sainfoin Sainfoin (Onobrychis viciifolia Scop, (family Leguminoseae) is a perennial forage legume that has been grown in Europe and Asia for centuries. The most widely used common name, sainfoin, is derived from the French “saint foin” meaning holy or wholesome hay. Other common names include: holy or holy hay, French grass, everlasting grass, medick vetchling, cockshead, esparcet, or snail grass. Its botanical genus name, Onobrychis, comes from the Greek words “onos” meaning ass, and it is felt that brychis is derived from “bruchis”, a plant. This provides some insight into the value that was placed on this species because it had been noted that asses were particularly partial to sainfoin as a feed. Sainfoin grew in Russia as a forage crop over 1000 years ago and was noted in France in the 14th century, Germany in the 17th century, and Italy in the 18th century. The first introductions of sainfoin came to North America from Europe in the early 1900s, but its success as a forage crop did not occur until the 1960s when strains from Turkey and the USSR displayed the necessary adaptibility and yield to enable the development of cultivars for the Northern Great Plains and Canadian Prairies. Read more […]

Ginger (Zingiber Officinale)

Medical Uses Ginger is used for nausea and vomiting, motion sickness, and inflammation. It may help to prevent cancer. Historical Uses Greek bakers imported ginger from the Orient to make gingerbread. Spanish mariners brought ginger to the New World. Growth Ginger is cultivated in tropical climates. Ginger: Part Used • The knotted and branched rhizome (an underground stem) called the root. Major Chemical Compounds • Volatile oils, particularly zingiberene, bisabolene, gingerols, and shogaols • Niacin • Vitamin A Ginger: Clinical Uses Ginger is used for nausea and vomiting, motion sickness, and inflammation. It also has anticancer effects. Ginger has been shown to relieve nausea and vomiting during pregnancy without adverse effects. It is approved by the German Commission E and the World Health Organization (WHO) for “prevention of motion sickness.” WHO also has approved ginger for postoperative nausea, pernicious vomiting in pregnancy, and seasickness, whereas the German Commission E approved ginger only for dyspepsia and does not recommend its use during pregnancy. Mechanism of Action Ginger does not influence the inner ear or the oculomotor system; apparently it exerts its antiemetic effect Read more […]

Valerian (Valeriana officinalis)

Valerian: Medical Uses Valerian is used for anxiety, stress, insomnia, and hypertension in which anxiety is a factor. Historical Uses The Greeks, Romans, and English colonists used valerian for sleep problems, digestive problems, and menstrual cramps. It has also been called garden heliotrope. Growth Native to Europe and North America, valerian will grow in New England herb gardens. It loves wet soil. Its stems can grow to 5 feet tall, and the petite flowers make up a flower head with small, fragrant pink and white flowers. The roots are harvested in the spring and fall. Unfortunately, they smell like dirty socks. Part Used • Root Major Chemical Compounds • 0.8 to 1 percent valeric acid • 1.0 to 1.5 percent valtrate • Volatile oils Valerian: Clinical Uses Valerian is used for anxiety, stress, insomnia, and hypertension in which anxiety is a factor. It is approved by the German Commission E for “restlessness and sleeping disorders based on nervous conditions.” It is approved by the World Health Organization for “sedative and sleep-promoting properties”. Valerian is generally regarded as safe and is approved for food use by the Food and Drug Administration. Mechanism of Action In animal studies, Read more […]

Botanical Treatment Of Chronic Pelvic Pain: Marijuana

One herb, not available widely (or at least, legally available) for clinical use that has clinically demonstrated significant uterine antispasmodic and analgesic effects is Cannabis indica, more commonly referred to as marijuana. This controversial medicinal plant and recrea-tionally used herb has a long history of use for relief of uterine spasms and dysmenorrhea, considered by the Eclectics to be a “soothing uterine tonic.” In fact, its use is ancient, with references and artifacts of its use found widely in Middle Eastern, Ayurvedic, and Semitic writings, continuing through to its medical use in Europe well into the late nineteenth century for the treatment of a variety of gynecologic and obstetric conditions, not limited to but including dysmenorrhea. A pharmaceutical product from the late nineteenth century, Dysmenine Compound, produced by the Keysall Pharmical Company, Kansas City, MO, contained Cannabis, Cypripedium, Scutellaria, Pulsatilla, Viburnum prunifolium, Caulophyllum, Viburnum opulus, and Capsicum. The compound was indicated for dysmenorrhea, menstrual colic, and cramps. Indeed, this formula is not very different from one that might be prescribed by herbalists today (see sample formulae in the following); Read more […]

Emmenagogue? Hormones?

Cullen notes a claimed, but to him unproven, emmenagogic action to the bitters. Wormwood is recorded with this property. The British Herbal Pharmacopoeia does not record this action for wormwood, despite such a property in both the sister herbs, Artemisia abrotanum and Artemisia vulgaris. Indeed there is no strong modern tradition for its use in this regard, even when designated emmenagogue, other than cautions against its use in pregnancy, carried by all our modern authors. Mills & Bone expand the caution to association with foetal malformation, and contraindication in breast feeding. Only Bartram recommends its use for abnormal absence of periods and Menzies-Trull for atonic vaginal discharge and leucorrhoea. Mills (1991), together with strong cautions, mentions its use for spasmodic dysmenorrhoea and relief of pain in childbirth. Wood lists it for amenorrhoea, infertility, menstrual cramps and painful parturition but does not discourse further, and Barker (2001) records an anecdotal transient worsening of premenstrual tension symptoms in susceptible individuals, preferring different plants to bring on delayed periods. Beyond this there is little discussion. Past tradition is only a little more fulsome with its Read more […]

Dong quai: Uses. Dosage

Clinical Use GYNAECOLOGICAL USE Orally, dong quai has been traditionally used in combination with other herbs for gynaecological ailments including menstrual cramps, irregularity, retarded flow, weakness during the menstrual period, and symptoms of menopause. Very little clinical research has been conducted to determine its effectiveness as sole treatment in these indications. In a 12-week randomised, placebo-controlled trial in 55 postmenopausal women, a combination of dong quai and chamomile was found to significantly reduce hot flushes and improve sleep disturbances and fatigue. Another double-blind, randomised, placebo-controlled clinical trial of 71 women using dong quai as a single agent (4.5 g/day) found no differences between groups in the number of vasomotor flushes, endometrial thickness, or vaginal cells over a 24-week period. It is suggested that dong quai may have some efficacy for premenstrual syndrome when used in traditional Chinese multi-herbal formulas, and an uncontrolled trial has suggested the possible benefit of uterine irrigation with dong quai extract for infertility due to tubal occlusion. Other Uses In TCM, dong quai is used to strengthen the heart, lung and liver meridians and harmonise Read more […]

Rosemary: Practice Points – Patient Counselling

Rosemary is widely used as a food seasoning and preservative. • Rosemary extract exhibits antioxidant, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, hepatoprotective and chemoprotective activity in various in vitro and experimental models. • Rosemary oil is widely used to assist in concentration and memory and to stimulate blood flow. • Traditionally, it has been used to relieve stomach, gall bladder and menstrual cramps, but its internal use has not yet been significantly investigated in controlled studies. • Rosemary is generally safe when the leaves are consumed in dietary amounts, although excessive intake may cause stomach irritation and seizures in susceptible people.