Tanacetum parthenium (L.) Schultz Bip. (Feverfew)

Tanacetum parthenium (L.) Schultz (Family Compositae) is a member of a genus of 14 species native to Europe and Asia; it has several synonyms: e.g., Matricaria parthenium L.; Chrysanthemum parthenium (L.) Bernh., Pyrethrum parthenium (L.) Sm.; Leucanthemum parthenium (L.) Gren. and Godron; and is very closely related to Parthenium parthenifblium (Willd., Schultz Bip. ().Tanacetum parthenium is a perennial herb strongly aromatic in all its parts with a vertical rootstock and erect stem (up to 70 cm) with yellow-green leaves and a flowering period from June to late August. The flowerheads (1 to 2.4 cm in diam.) are carried in dense corymbs with spreading, white, rather short ray florets and yellow disk florets. (). The species was probably originally confined to S.E. Europe, Asia Minor, and the Caucasus but is now naturalized throughout Europe and the Americas. It is abundant on waysides and waste ground and in mountain shrub. The plant is commercially grown on a small but increasing scale and is much privately cultivated as a pot herb. Extracts of the leaves or the fresh foliage have been extensively used in folk medicine. This has led to the adoption of a rich variety of local names: midsummer daisy, nosebleed, devil Read more […]

Stauntonia hexaphylla

Stauntonia hexaphylla (Lardizabalaceae, Japanese name mube) () is widely distributed in thickets in lowlands and foothills in warmer regions of Japan, Korea and China. It is an evergreen, glabrous woody climber, whose flowers, usually unisexual, bloom pale yellow in April-May (). Stauntonia plants occur over 15 species in eastern Asia. A general outline of the lardizabalaceous family has been earlier cited (). A decoction of the stem and the root of the plant or the pericarp of the fruit is used as a diuretic in Japan and China. The fruits also activate the circulation and improve the eyesight, the barks are prepared in a compound to treat blennorrhea and to regulate menstruation (India-China) (). From defatted powdered seeds of Stauntonia hexaphylla extd. (1.1 kg), three acidic triterpene glycosides mubenins A (7.2 g), B (7.9 g), and C (5.2 g) containing oleanolic acid for A and B, and hederagenin for C as the sapogenins were isolated and determined. Furthermore, six triterpene saponins (Yemuoside YM 7, 8, 9,11,13, and 14) and two lignan glycosides (YM 2 and 6) have been reported from Stauntonia chinensis DCNE grown in South China. This plant has been used as a traditional medicine in China especially for analgesic Read more […]

Ambrosia tenuifolia Spreng (Altamisa)

Ambrosia tenuifolia Spreng (Ambrosiinae, Heliantheae) is a perennial herb of the Compositae family. The estimated total number of Ambrosia species reaches 40, all of them distributed on the American continent, except A. senegalensis, which grows in Egypt (). Ambrosia tenuifolia is a South American plant indigenous to Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Argentina. A. tenuifolia Spreng and A. elatior L. are known in Argentina by the names of Altamisa and Ajenjo del Campo. Both plants are used by the natives in medicinal beverages since several pharmacological effects have been attributed to them. Distribution and Importance of Ambrosia tenuifolia In Argentina, Ambrosia tenuifolia () is found in the Provinces of Tucuman Catamarca, Cordoba, San Luis, Santa Fe, Buenos Aires, and Patagonia. It can grow in fertile, sandy, argillaceous, humid, or saltpetrous soil. It is propagated from seeds and rhizomes, especially during spring. It blooms at the end of the summer and during the autumn. The composition of the essential oil of Ambrosia tenuifolia was studied by Talenti et al. (). It was evaluated by techniques in perfumery and considered to be of interest in the composition of perfumes. Its infusion is used in popular medicine Read more […]

Historical review of the use of lavender

The classical physicians Lavender has been used as a healing plant and was first mentioned by Dioscorides (c. 40—90 AD) who found what was probably Lavandula stoechas growing on the islands of Stoechades (now known as Hyeres); this was used in Roman communal baths. Dioscorides attributed to the plant some laxative and invigorating properties and advised its use in a tea-like preparation for chest complaints. The author also recounts that Galen (129—99 ad) added lavender to his list of ancient antidotes for poison and bites and thus Nero’s physician used it in anti-poison pills and for uterine disorders. Lavender in wine was taken for snake bites stings, stomach aches, liver, renal and gall disorders, jaundice and dropsy. Pliny differentiated between Lavandula stoechas and Lavandula vera, the latter was apparently used only for diluting expensive perfumes. Pliny the Elder advocated lavender for bereavement as well as promoting menstruation. Abbess Hildegard The Abbess Hildegard (1098—1179) of Bingen near the Rhine in what is now Germany, was the first person in the Middle Ages to clearly distinguish between Lavandula vera and Lavandula spica (): On Palsy one who is tormented should take galangale, with 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 […]

Angelica sinensis (Oliv.) Diels.

Distribution Angelica sinensis (Oliv.) Diels. (Chinese name Dang Gui) is a member of the family Umbelliferae. There are 80 species of Angelica, mainly distributed in the northern temperate zone and New Zealand. In China, there are approximately 40 species, mainly distributed in the south-west, north-east and north-west zones, e.g. in the provinces of Yung Nan, Si Chuan, Shan Si, Hu Bei, Gan Su etc. The altitude of these areas is about 1500-3000 m, the annual average temperature is 5.5-11.4°C, the annual rainfall is 500-600 mm. A few species of Angelica may be used for food, forage and medicine. The common species are A. acutiloba (Sieb. et Zucc), A. polymorpha, Maxin, A. porphyrocoulis Naxai et Kitag, A. tsinlingensis, A. sinensis etc., of which A. sinensis is the most important. A. sinensis: perennial herb (80-150 cm), leaves tridigitato-pinnate divided, petioles expand tubular sheath, flowers white compound umbel, fruit longelliptic lateral angular with wide wings. As a cultivated plant, Dang Gui (A. sinensis) is mainly produced in the southeast of the Gan Su province, China, e.g. Min Xian and Dang Chang Xian. Since 1970, Dang Gui has also been produced in Shan Xi, Si Chuan and Yung Nan provinces, the seeds, Read more […]

Primary Dysmenorrhoea

Primary dysmenorrhoea is caused by uterine contractions which are too strong and occur too frequently. Between the contractions, the uterine muscle does not relax properly, and there is an abnormally high ‘resting tone’. The overall effect is a reduction in the amount of blood flowing through the uterine muscle (ischaemia) which causes the pain known as primary dysmenorrhoea. The most usual cause of primary dysmenorrhoea is an imbalance in the prostaglandins levels. Prostaglandins are complex hormone-like substances found in most body tissues. There are many different types of prostaglandins which control bodily functions by working together as an integrated team. When the different types of prostaglandins are present in normal ratios, menstruation proceeds normally. An imbalance in the ratios in favour of the type of prostaglandins which increase muscle spasm will cause period pain. Their role in menstruation is complex and is discussed in ‘Prostaglandins’. The uterine tonics The uterine tonics, Aletris farinosa, Caulophyllum thalictroides, Angelica sinensis and Rubus idaeus, are used to treat pain because they are believed to regulate the muscular activity of the uterus and help initiate contractions which are Read more […]

Adverse Reactions Associated with Echinacea and Other Asteraceae

Fifty percent of Australians report using some form of complementary alternative medicines (CAM) apart from vitamins in any 12-month period, with similar patterns of use in British and North American subjects. Despite the common perception that “natural therapy” is safe, toxic and hypersensitivity reactions to complementary and alternative medicine have been described. Given that these products are rarely packaged in childproof containers, accidental exposure also occurs. Allergic reactions are most common in atopic subjects. This is not surprising when one considers that up to 20% of atopic subjects use CAM. Furthermore, these patients are more likely than others to become sensitized to cross-reactive allergens and some use (or are advised to use) products such as Echinacea for treatment of allergic disease. When interpreting reports of immediate hypersensitivity to Asteraceae-derived CAM, it is helpful to bear in mind a number of important concepts: (1) exposure to Asteraceae is common; (2) sensitization is more common in subjects with preexistent allergic disease; (3) there is allergenic cross-reactivity between different Asteraceae, and between Asteraceae and some foods; and (4) patients sensitized by inhalation Read more […]

Hyssop (Hyssopus otificinalis)

Hyssop: Medical Uses Hyssop is used for asthma, bronchitis, and coughs and as an expectorant, a diaphoretic, and a stimulant. Historical Use Hyssop, which is Greek for “holy herb,” was used to cleanse and purify for sacredness. Growth This perennial shrub of the Lamiaceae family grows on the sides of roads and can be planted in herb gardens. The leaves and flowers have a camphorlike odor and a bitter taste because of their volatile oils. Hyssop can be planted next to cabbage plants to deter insects. Parts Used • Dried aerial (above-ground) parts Major Chemical Compounds • Terpenoids • Volatile acids • Flavonoids • Lyssopin • Tannin Hyssop: Clinical Uses Hyssop is used for asthma, bronchitis, and coughs and as an expectorant, a diaphoretic, and a stimulant. Mechanism of Action Caffeic acid, unidentified tannins, and unidentified higher molecular weight compounds exhibit strong anti-HIV activity, which maybe useful in treating patients with AIDS. Hyssop: Dosage Tea as an infusion: Steep 1 to 2 teaspoon of dried flower tops in 150 mL of boiling water for 10 to 15 minutes. Strain and drink up to three times a day (Natural Medicines, 2000). Gargle: Tea may be used as a gargle (Natural Read more […]

Turmeric (Curcuma longa)

Turmeric: Medical Uses Turmeric inhibits cancer, has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, and lowers cholesterol levels. It may be used for stomach upset, acne, dermatitis, infections, dandruff, gastritis, gingivitis, herpes, inflammation, sunburn, and psoriasis. Historical Uses Turmeric was used internally to regulate blood sugar in diabetics and to prevent colon cancer. It was applied topically as a paste to reduce canker sores and cold sores. It was also used as a yellow dye for the robes of Buddist monks. Turmeric is also known as Indian saffron or yellow ginger. Crowth A member of the ginger family, turmeric is a perennial plant cultivated in tropical regions of Asia. Part Used • Root Major Chemical Compounds • Curcumin • Volatile oils • Tumerone • Atlantone and zingiberone sugars • Resins • Proteins • Vitamins and minerals. Turmeric: Clinical Uses Turmeric inhibits cancer, has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, and lowers cholesterol levels. It is approved by the German Commission E and the World Health Organization for dyspepsia. It is also used for acne, dermatitis, infections, dandruff, gastritis, gingivitis, herpes, inflammation, sunburn, and psoriasis. Read more […]