Specific Medicinal Uses of Cannabis: Use as an Antiemetic

Many agents used in cancer chemotherapy produce severe nausea and vomiting in most patients. Symptoms can last for hours or days and have a major impact on patient nutrition and electrolyte status, body weight and physical and mental resilience to both the disease and its treatment. The current choice of available anti-emetics is limited and most are only partially effective, which may lead patients to refuse therapy all together, or for clinicians to use chemotherapeutic regimens which are less than optimum. For these reasons, the search for more effective antiemetics continues. Cannabis In the late 1960s and early 1970s, patients receiving various cancer chemotherapy regimes (including mustine, vincristine, prednisone and procarbazine) noted that smoking cannabis from illicit sources, before and during chemotherapy, reduced the incidence of nausea and vomiting to a variable degree. Only since the isolation of THC have formal clinical trials on the safety and efficacy of cannabis derivatives been conducted. As far as crude cannabis is concerned, we have only anecdotal evidence that inhaling its smoke is effective in a variable percentage of patients who vomit, despite supposedly adequate doses of standard antiemetics. There Read more […]

Healing Powers of Aloes

Aloe is a medicinal plant that has maintained its popularity over the course of time. Three distinct preparations of aloe plants are mostly used in a medicinal capacity: aloe latex (=aloe); aloe gel (=aloe vera); and, aloe whole leaf (=aloe extract). Aloe latex is used for its laxative effect; aloe gel is used topically for skin ailments, such as wound healing, psoriasis, genital herpes and internally by oral administration in diabetic and hyperlipidaemic patients and to heal gastric ulcers; and, aloe extract is potentially useful for cancer and AIDS. The use of honey may make the aloe extract therapy palatable and more efficient. Aloe preparations, especially aloe gel, have been reported to be chemically unstable and may deteriorate over a short time period. In addition, hot water extracts may not contain adequate concentrations of active ingredients and purified fractions may be required in animal studies and clinical trials. Therefore it should be kept in mind that, in some cases, the accuracy of the listed actions may be uncertain and should be verified by further studies. There are at least 600 known species of Aloe (Family Liliaceae), many of which have been used as botanical medicines in many countries for Read more […]

Coptis

Coptis rhizome (Japanese name woren), belonging to the Ranunclaceae, is very commonly used in Japanese traditional medicine as antipyretic, antidote and an-tidysentery. The cultivation of the rhizome of Coptis plant grows very slowly and takes 5-6 years before use as raw material or as a source of berberine from the rhizome. Its rootstock and fibrous roots contain much berberine and other minor protoberberine alkaloids. Berberine is an useful antibacterial agent, and has stomachic and anti-inflammatory effects. Berberine can be obtained from Coptis rhizome and Phellodendron bark and has a wide market in Japan and East Asia. It is of pharmaceutical significance to investigate callus culture of this plant for berberine production. Several researchers have been working on its production. Coptis () has 15 species of small herbs with perennial root stocks distributed in the temperate regions of the northern hemisphere. The following species are used medicinally: C. japonica in Japan, C. chinensis in China, C. teeta in India and C. trifolia in North America. The powdered rhizome or an extract of C. japonica is a bitter stomachic and astringent. It has been used as remedy for severe headache; a concentrated solution Read more […]

Carum carvi L. (Caraway)

The genus Carum Rup. ex Linn. Syst. ed I. (1735) from the family Umbelliferae (= Apiaceae) comprises 195 species. In Europe five species grow: Carum carvi L., C. heldreichii Boiss., C. multiflorum (Sibth. et Sm.) Boiss., C. rigidulum (Viv.) Koch, ex DC, and C. verticillatum (L.) Koch. From the economical point of view, the most important is caraway, Carum carvi L. Sp. PL, 263 (1753), known also as Carum aromaticum Salisb., C. decussatum Gilib., C. officinale S.F. Gray, and C. careum Bub. (Index Kewensis 1895-1974). Caraway is biennial herb which grows up to 150 cm, indigenous to Europe and Asia, and widely cultivated in many countries for its aromatic fruits. Leaves are two-to three-pinnate, lobes 3 to 25 mm linear-lanceloate or linear. The lowest leaf segments are at least twice as long as wide. Petals whitish or pink. Fruits 3 to 6 mm, ovoid, 3 to 3.5 times as long as wide, with low rounded ridges, smelling strongly after crushing, 2n = 20. Medicinal Components Carum carvi L., caraway, is known as a spice and a medicinal herb. Fruits of this plant are used as flavoring spice in various foods. Dried fruits are used for preparing a stimulating tea, they are also a mild stomachic. Caraway fruits contain essential Read more […]

Round Leaf Chastetree, Beach Vitex

Vitex rotundifolia L. f. (Verbenaceae) Vitex rotundifolia L. f. is an evergreen woody tree, densely covered with short hairs. Leaves are opposite, simple, ovate, broadly oblong-elliptic, 2-5 cm long by 1.5-3 cm wide, rounded or abruptly acute at the base. Inflorescence panicles are at the terminal, densely flowered, 4-7 cm long with purple corolla. Fruits are globose, 5-7 mm. Origin Native to Temperate and Tropical Asia, Australasia and Pacific. Phytoconstituents Rotundifuran, prerotundifuran, vitexilactone, previtexilactone, vitexicarpin, vitricine, vitetrifolins D-G, vitexifolins A-E, isoambreinolide and others. Traditional Medicinal Uses In Malaysia, various parts of the plants are considered panacea for illnesses ranging from headache to tuberculosis. In China, the plant has been used for the treatment of cancer. A poultice of the leaves is used to treat rheumatism, contusions, swollen testicles and as a discutient in sprains. In Indonesia, leaves have been used in medicinal baths, as a tincture or for intestinal complaints. In Papua New Guinea, sap from crushed heated leaves is diluted with water and drunk to relieve headaches. The fruits are used to expel worms and in Vietnam, a decoction of dried fruits 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 […]

Pinellia tevnata Breit (Chinese name Banhsia)

Distribution and Importance of the Plant Pinellia ternata Breit (Chinese name Banhsia), a perennial grass belonging to the Araceae, is an important Chinese medicinal herb that has been used in clinical practice for over 2000 years. Tuber globulose about 1 cm in diameter with hairy roots, few leaves with small bulbils of 3-5 mm in diameter borne at the middle and on the uppermost part; petioles 15-20 cm long, leaflets 3, ovate -elliptic to oblong – elliptic, 3-10 cm long, 1-3 cm broad, accuminate to acute at apex, acute to obtuse at base. Peduncles 25-35 cm long, spathe 6-7 cm long, green or green white rounded at apex, the limb lanceolate, puberulent inside; Spadix – erect, 6-10 cm long, with a filiform exerted appendage. It is widely distributed in China, especially in the south province, except for Nei Mongolia, Xin Jiang, Qing Hai, and Tibet. The altitude of these areas is below 2500 m. Pinellia ternata is one of the weeds in nonirrigated farm land (dry land), commonly seen in grassland, uncultivated land, corn fields, and/or under sparse woods. The species is also distributed in Japan and the Korean Peninsular. The plant grows well in warmer and more humid places and withstands damp or less sunshine. It is usually Read more […]

Phaseolus Species

The Phaseolae (family Leguminosae) are grown agronomically as a grain legume for both human and animal nutrition. Of the four species, Phaseolus acutifolius (tepary bean), P. coccineus (scarlet runner bean), P. lunatus (lima and butter bean), and P. vulgaris (known variously as common, field, green, snap, wax or French bean) are grown extensively. Related species, such as P. angularis and P. aureus have recently been reclassified as belonging to the genus Vigna and will not be considered further in this post. All of the Phaseolae originate from southern or central America and are grown for their dried seeds or fleshy pods for human consumption. After harvesting, the vines may also be used as fresh or silaged cattle feed. Of all the bean species, Phaseolus vulgaris is the most important agronomic crop, being a major dietary component in Latin America and Africa. P. vulgaris was first domesticated in 5000 b.c. in central America and was distributed to the rest of the world by the Spanish in the 16th century. The major world producer of P. vulgaris is the USA where after harvest with typical yields of 1.5 t/ha, it is either dried or canned as baked beans. Similarly, P. lunatus is also grown for its beans with its cultivation 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 […]

The Use of Echinacea in Pregnancy and Lactation

Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is an umbrella term that covers a number of healthcare modalities that generally fall outside the realm of the conventional medical model. Herbal medicine is considered to be a primary complementary and alternative therapy. In recent years, the use of herbal products has increased dramatically, particularly in developed countries, by people who wish to maintain good health and reduce the need for conventional drug therapy. Echinacea products are among the most popular phytomedicines. While these remedies have a long history of use in pregnancy, during delivery, and for lactation, clinically relevant sources of information on the safety and risk of such products are lacking. Given the great variation in product composition and constituent concentration, the actual safety of Echinacea has not been easy to study in pregnancy and lactation. To date, there is only one published study that has examined the safety of Echinacea use during pregnancy for upper respiratory tract ailments. Pregnancy Facts There is an underlying baseline risk for malformations associated with every pregnancy, regardless of the mother’s exposure to a substance of concern. As a result, the primary Read more […]