Rehmannia glutinosa

General Morphology and Distribution Glutinous rehmannia (Rehmannia glutinosa Libosch., Scrophulariaceae), with the Chinese name Dihuang, is one of the most common and important Chinese medicinal herbs. It is a perennial herbaceous plant, 10-37 cm in height, covered with long, soft, gray-white, glandular hairs over the whole plant. The plant grows as a rosette before flowering, with leaves 3-10 cm in length and 1.5-4 cm in width. The inflorescence is a raceme, over 40 cm long, flowering in April-May, setting capsular fruits with 300-400 seeds and maturing in May-early June. The plant part for medicinal use is the root tuber (Rhizoma Rehmanniae). Wild Rehmannia plants are distributed on hillside, field ridge and roadside. Cultivated varieties or strains are mostly selected from R. glutinosa Libosch. f. hueichingensis (Chao et Schih) Hsiao. The Rehmannia plants for medical use are mainly cultivated and produced in most areas of China, especially in the provinces of Henan and Shandong. Both fresh or dried rhizome (Rhizoma Rehmanniae) and prepared rhizoma of Rehmannia (Rhizoma Rehmanniae Praeparatae) have been used as traditional Chinese medicine. Wild Rehmannia mostly growing in the provinces of Liaoning, Hebei, Shandong Read more […]

Northern Asia

In the history of medicinal plant use in eastern Asia and Siberia, a very important school of medical practice, traditional Chinese medicine, links practices from a number of traditions that have been handed down by word of mouth (as in Siberia or northern China) and for which written historical sources are very rare and poorly investigated (e.g., Mongolian traditional medicine and the Tibetan school). The Chinese Materia Medico, has been growing throughout the last 2,000 years. This increase results from the integration of drugs into the official tradition from China’s popular medicine as well as from other parts of the world. The first major Materia Medica after Tao Hong Jing was the Xin xiu ben cao 659 ad, also known as Tang Materia Medica, which was the official pharmacopoeia of the Tang dynasty. It contained 844 entries and was China’s first illustrated Materia Medica. Zheng lei ben cao, 1108 ad, was the major medical treatise during the Song dynasty and contained 1,558 substances. However, China’s most celebrated medical book is represented by Li Shi-Zhen’s Ben cao gang mu, posthumously printed in 1596 ad, with 1,173 plant remedies, 444 animal-derived drugs and 275 minerals. This tradition has continued into 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 […]

Stress: Schisandra

This herb (spelled schisandra or schizandra) has an ancient history of use in China, where it is called wu wei zi, or five flavored fruit, because of it is said to possess the five flavors of classical Chinese medicine: sour, bitter, sweet, salty, and pungent. Because of this, it is held in high regard in the Chinese materia medica and is still widely used in traditional Chinese medicine today. In the first century classic herbal compendium, the Divine Husbandman’s Classic of the Materia Medica (Shen Nong Ben Cao Jing), schisandra is classified among the superior medicines, purported to “prolong the years of life without aging,” increase energy (qi), treat fatigue, emaciation and langor, act as a male sexual tonic, and treat asthma. It was also considered antihepatotoxic, antidiabetic, antitussive, and is a sedative, tonic, and treatment for cholera. In combination with other herbs, its applications become much broader. The fruit is considered highly astringent, and is therefore used for a variety of secretory excesses, including night sweats, chronic diarrhea, and in males, spermatorrhea. Official indications for the fruit include diabetes, frequent urination, night sweats, chronic cough, and dyspnea. Schisandra was Read more […]

Herb-Drug Interactions: Schisandra

Schisandra chinensis K.Koch (Schisandraceae) Synonym(s) and related species Gomishi (Japanese), Magnolia vine, Wu-Wei-Zi (Chinese). Kadsura chinensis Turcz. Schisandra sphenanthera Rehder & EH Wilson is often used with, or substituted for, Schisandra chinensis. Other species of Schisandra are also used medicinally in China. Constituents The major active components of the fruits of Schisandra chinensis are dibenzocyclooctene lignans. The identity and nomenclature are confusing, because, when originally isolated by different researchers, the same compounds were given different names. The main groups of compounds are the schisandrins (schizandrins) and the gomisins (some of which were originally called wuweizu esters) and their derivatives. Schisandrin is also referred to in the literature as schisandrol A, gomisin A as schisandrol B, deoxyschisandrin as schisandrin A or wuweizu A, and schisantherin B as gomisin B or wuweizu B, for example. An essential oil contains borneol, 1,8-cineole, citral, sesquicarene and other monoterpenes. Extracts of Schisandra sphenanthera are reported to have a fairly similar chemical composition. Use and indications Schisandra is a very important herb in Chinese medicine. Read more […]

Sage: Practice Points – Patient Counselling. FAQ

Sage is a widely used, popular spice and sage oil is used in a variety of culinary applications. • Sage has a long history of use in traditional medicine as an antispasmodic and carminative, to relieve excess sweating and as a gargle for inflammations of the mouth. • It is also commonly prescribed in combination with other herbs to relieve menopausal symptoms such as night sweats. • Sage contains volatile oils and tannins that are thought to be the key constituents responsible for most of its pharmacological actions. • It also has antibacterial and some antifungal activity. • A recent double-blind study suggests it may be useful in mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease. Other studies report it improves memory in healthy subjects. • Sage is likely to be safe when taken in amounts typically found in foods. Answers to Patients’ Frequently Asked Questions What will this herb do for me? Sage is used to reduce symptoms of menopause such as night sweats; however, scientific testing has not been conducted to confirm whether it is effective. Recent research suggests it may improve memory in Alzheimer’s disease and in healthy subjects. When will it start to work? The study in Alzheimer’s Read more […]

Sage: Clinical Use. Dosage

Although sage has not been the subject of many clinical studies, many of its constituents demonstrate significant pharmacological effects, providing a theoretical basis for some of its uses. REDUCES SECRETIONS Sage has been traditionally used to treat excessive perspiration and salivation, as well as dysmenorrhoea, diarrhea, galactorrhoea, sweats associated with menopause and to cease lactation. An open study of 80 patients confirmed that it can reduce perspiration. The high tannin content of the herb provides a theoretical basis for its use. DYSPEPSIA AND LACK OF APPETITE Sage’s reported antispasmodic action and bitter constituents support its use in treating loss of appetite, gastritis, flatulence, bloating and dyspepsia. These uses await support from clinical research. INFLAMMATION OF MUCOUS MEMBRANES Topically, sage is used as a gargle for laryngitis, pharyngitis, stomatitis, gingivitis, glossitis, minor oral injuries and inflammation of the nasal mucosa. These uses can be based on the pharmacological activity of its chemical components. In an open-label, single-blind, RCT of 420 patients, the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, benzydamine hydrochloride, was found to be more effective than sage in relieving Read more […]

Schisandra: Practice Points – Patient Counselling. FAQ

Schisandra chinensis is popular in TCM and is used to increase resistance to physical and emotional stressors and regarded as an adaptogen. • Traditionally, schisandra has been used to treat chronic cough and dyspnoea, diarrhea, night sweats, irritability, palpitations and insomnia. • It is commonly used as a liver tonic, and preliminary evidence has identified significant hepatoprotective effects. • Schisandra exerts direct antioxidant activity and increases hepatic and myocardial glutathione levels, thereby increasing antioxidant systems within the heart and liver. • Overall, little clinical evidence is available; therefore, much information is still speculative and based on in vitro and animal research and traditional use. Answers to Patients’ Frequently Asked Questions What will this herb do for me? Schisandra is often prescribed to increase physical and emotional resilience and as a liver tonic. It has antioxidant activity, and early research suggests it may have significant protective benefits for the liver. When will it start to work? This is uncertain due to insufficient research being available. Are there any safety issues? This is uncertain due to insufficient research Read more […]

Schisandra: Clinical Use. Dosage

The therapeutic activity of schisandra has not been significantly investigated under clinical trial conditions, so evidence is derived from traditional, in vitro and animal studies. LIVER DAMAGE, HEPATOPROTECTION Traditionally, schisandra has been used to treat a variety of liver disorders. Hepatoprotective effects have been observed in test tube and animal studies; however, the clinical significance of these findings in humans remains unknown. Several encouraging clinical reports using an analogue of schisandrin C are available; however, it is not known whether these effects will be seen with S. chinensis. ADAPTOGEN In TCM, schisandra is viewed as an adaptogen and prescribed with other herbs to increase resistance to physical and emotional stressorsand improve allostasis (see on Korean ginseng and Siberian ginseng for further information about adaptogenic activity and allostasis). Schisandra: Other Uses Traditionally, schisandra has been used to treat chronic cough and dyspnoea, diarrhea, night sweats, irritability, palpitations and insomnia. Based on the herb’s inhibitory effects on leukotriene biosynthesis and platelet-activating-factor activity and anti-inflammatory effects, it is also used for asthmatic Read more […]