Fennel (Foeniculum Vulgaris)

Medical Uses Traditionally, fennel has been used mainly to aid digestion, relieve stomach spasms, loosen coughs, freshen breath, and promote the flow of breast milk in nursing mothers. Fennel water has been given to infants to relieve colic. Fennel syrup and fennel honey have been used for upper respiratory infections in children. Historical Uses Fennel was a sacred herb in medieval times, and bunches of fennel were hung on doors to prevent the effects of witchcraft. Ancient Greeks thought that fennel gave them courage. The Greek meaning of fennel is “to grow thin”. In folklore, fennel seeds were used to promote milk flow, help calm colicky babies, suppress appetite, and aid digestion. Fennel has been used in India to aid digestion and freshen breath after eating. Growth Fennel is easy to grow from seed; it prefers warm soil with plenty of sun. Fennel: Part Used • Seeds Major Chemical Compounds • Volatile oil • Essential fatty acids • Flavonoids • Beta carotene • Vitamin C • Calcium • Iron Fennel: Clinical Uses Traditionally, fennel has been used mainly to aid digestion, relieve stomach spasms, loosen coughs, freshen breath, and promote the flow of breast milk in nursing Read more […]

Herb-Drug Interactions: Capsicum

Capsicum species (Solanaceae) Synonym(s) and related species Caspic, Cayenne, Cayenne pepper, Chili pepper, Chilli pepper, Hot pepper, Paprika, Red pepper, Tabasco pepper. Capsicum annuum L., Capsicum baccatum L., Capsicum chinense Jacq., Capsicum frutescens L., Capsicum minimum Roxb., Capsicum pubescens Ruiz & Pavon. Pharmacopoeias Capsicum (British Ph 2009, European Ph 2008, US Ph 32); Capsicum Oleoresin (US Ph 32); Refined and Quantified Capsicum Oleoresin (British Ph 2009, European Ph 2008); Standardised Capsicum Tincture (British Ph 2009, European Ph, 6th ed., 2008 and Supplements 6.1, 6.2, 6.3 and 6.4). Constituents The pungent principles of capsicum are the capsaicinoids (to which it may be standardised), present in concentrations up to 1.5%, but more usually around 0.1%. The major components are capsaicin, 6,7-dihydrocapsaicin, nordihydrocapsaicin, homodihydrocapsaicin and homocapsaicin. Other constituents include the carotenoid pigments (capsanthin, capsorubin, carotene, lutein), vitamins including A and C, and a small amount of volatile oil. Use and indications Capsicum possesses stimulant, antispasmodic, carminative and counterirritant effects, which has led to its use in conditions such Read more […]

Herb-Drug Interactions: Cinnamon

Cinnamomum cassia Blume and Cinnamomum verum J. Presl. and its varieties (Lauraceae) Synonym(s) and related species Cinnamomum cassia: Cassia, Chinese cinnamon, False cinnamon, Cassia lignea, Cinnamomum aromaticum Nees, Cinnamomum pseudomelastoma auct. non Liao. Cinnamomum verum: Canela, Ceylon cinnamon, Cinnamomum burmannii (Nees & T. Nees) Bl. (known as Batavian cinnamon or Panang cinnamon), Cinnamomum loureiroi Nees, Cinnamomum zeylanicum Nees., Cinnamomum zeylanicum Blume. Pharmacopoeias Cassia Oil (British Ph 2009, European Ph 2008); Ceylon Cinnamon Bark Oil (British Ph 2009, European Ph 2008); Ceylon Cinnamon Leaf Oil (British Ph 2009, European Ph 2008); Cinnamon (British Ph 2009, European Ph 2008); Cinnamon Tincture (British Ph 2009, European Ph, 6th ed., 2008 and Supplements 6.1, 6.2, 6.3 and 6.4). Constituents The bark of Cinnamomum cassia and Cinnamomum verum contains volatile oil mainly composed of trans-cinnamaldehyde, with cinnamylacetate, phenylpropylacetate, salicylaldehyde and methyleugenol. Diterpenes including cinncassiols, and tannins such as cinnamtannins, are also present. Use and indications Both varieties of cinnamon are mainly used for digestive disorders such as diarrhoea, Read more […]

Herb-Drug Interactions: Melatonin

N-(2-(5-Methoxyindol-3-yl)ethyl)acetamide Types, sources and related compounds N- Acetyl-5-methoxytryptamine. Use and indications Melatonin is a hormone that is produced in the pineal gland of the brain and influences the circadian rhythm. Supplements are therefore principally used for treating sleep disturbances and disorders such as jet lag, insomnia, sleep walking, and shift-work sleep disorder. It is also believed to have anticancer and antihypertensive properties, and has been used to treat cluster headaches. Melatonin has also been detected in a large number of plant species, including those used as foods. Concentrations detected have been very variable, the reasons for which are currently uncertain. In addition, the importance of dietary melatonin is unclear. Pharmacokinetics When an oral melatonin supplement 3mg was given to 17 healthy subjects the AUC and maximum serum levels of melatonin were about 18-fold and 100-fold greater, respectively, than overnight endogenous melatonin secretion, although there was a wide variation between individuals.The oral bioavailability was approximately 15% after oral doses of 2 or 4mg, possibly due to significant first-pass metabolism. The half-life has been found Read more […]

Herb-Drug Interactions: Liquorice

Qycyrrhiza glabra L. (Fabaceae) Synonym(s) and related species Licorice. Spanish and Italian liquorice is Glycyrrhiza glabra var typica Reg. et Herd. Persian or Turkish liquorice is Glycyrrhiza glabra L var violacea Boiss. Russian liquorice is Glycyrrhiza glabra L var glanduli-fera. Chinese liquorice is the closely related Glycyrrhiza uralensis Fisch., also known as Gancao. Pharmacopoeias Licorice (US Ph 32); Liquorice (British Ph 2009); Liquorice Dry Extract for Flavouring Purposes (British Ph 2009); Liquorice Liquid Extract (British Ph 2009); Liquorice Root (European Ph 2008); Liquorice Root for use in THM (British Ph 2009); Powdered Licorice (US Ph 32); Powdered Licorice Extract (US Ph 32); Processed Liquorice Root for use in THMP (British Ph 2009); Standardised Liquorice Ethanolic Liquid Extract (British Ph 2009, European Ph, 6th ed., 2008 and Supplements 6.1, 6.2, 6.3 and 6.4). Constituents Liquorice has a great number of active compounds of different classes that act in different ways. The most important constituents are usually considered to be the oleanane-type triterpenes, mainly glycyrrhizin (glycyrrhizic or glycyrrhizinic acid), to which it is usually standardised, and its aglycone glycyrrhetinic Read more […]

Herb-Drug Interactions: Ginseng

Panax ginseng C.A.Mey (Araliaceae) Synonym(s) and related species Many species and varieties of ginseng are used. Panax ginseng C.A.Mey is also known as Asian ginseng. Chinese ginseng, Korean ginseng, Oriental ginseng, Renshen. Panax quinquefolius L. is also known as American ginseng. Other species used include: Panax notoginseng (Burkill) F.H.Chen ex C.Y.Wu & K.M.Feng known as Sanchi ginseng, Tienchi ginseng and Panax pseudo-ginseng Wall, also known as Himalayan ginseng. It is important to note that Siberian ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosus Maxim.) is often used and marketed as a ginseng, but it is from an entirely different plant of the Araliaceae family and possesses constituents that are chemically different. It will be covered in this monograph with distinctions made throughout. Not to be confused with ashwagandha, which is Withania somnifera. This is sometimes referred to as Indian ginseng. Not to be confused with Brazilian ginseng, which is Pfaffia paniculata. Pharmacopoeias American Ginseng (US Ph 32); American Ginseng Capsules (US Ph 32); American Ginseng Tablets (US Ph 32); Asian ginseng (US Ph 32); Asian Ginseng Tablets (US Ph 32); Eleuthero (US Ph 32); Eleutherococcus (British Read more […]

Herb-Drug Interactions: Ginger

Zingiber offidnale Roscoe (Zingiberaceae) Synonym(s) and related species Gan Jiang, Zingiber. Not to be confused with the wild gingers, which are Asarum canadense L. and Asarum europaeum L. Pharmacopoeias Ginger (British Ph 2009, European Ph 2008, US Ph 32); Ginger Capsules (US Ph 32); Ginger Tincture (US Ph 32); Powdered Ginger (The United States Ph 32). Constituents The constituents of ginger vary depending on whether fresh or dried forms are used. Generally, ginger rhizomes contain volatile oils of which zingiberene and bisabolene are major components: zingerone, zingiberol, zingiberenol, curcumene, camphene and linalool are minor components. The rhizomes also contain gingerols and their derivatives, gingerdiols, gingerdiones and dihydrogingerdiones. Sho-gaols are formed from gingerols during drying, and together these make up the pungent principles of ginger. Ginger extracts have been standardised to contain a minimum of 15mL/kg of essential oil with reference to the dried drug. Use and indications Ginger is thought to possess carminative, anti-emetic, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic and antiplatelet properties. Both fresh and dried ginger are mainly used to settle the stomach, to alleviate Read more […]

Herb-Drug Interactions: Dandelion

Taraxacum officinale Weber (Asteraceae) Synonym(s) and related species Lion’s tooth, Taraxacum. Leontodon taraxacum L., Taraxacum densleonis Desf., Taraxacum palustre (Lyons) Lam & DC. Taraxacum mongolicum Hand.-Mazz. is used in Chinese medicine. Constituents The root and leaf of dandelion contain sesquiterpene lactones including: taraxinic acid, dihydrotaraxinic acid, taraxacoside, taraxacolide and others; caffeic, chlorogenic and cichoric acids; the natural coumarins cichoriin and aesculin; and flavonoids based on luteolin. The phytosterols sitosterol, stigmas terol, taraxasterol and homotaraxasterol, the triterpenes beta-amyrin, taraxol and taraxerol, carotenoids, and vitamin A are also found. Use and indications Dandelion has been widely used as a diuretic, and also for its purported laxative, anti-inflammatory, choleretic (to increase bile secretion) and blood-glucose-lowering activity. Some of these activities have been demonstrated in some, but not all, animal studies, and no human studies appear to have been published. Dandelion has been used as a foodstuff (the leaf in salads, and the ground root as a coffee substitute). A prebiotic effect has been suggested for the root. Pharmacokinetics In Read more […]


ANTIBIOTICS are, strictly speaking, natural products secreted by microorganisms into their environment, where they inhibit the growth of competing microorganisms of different species. In common usage, the term is generally applied to a wide range of chemicals, whether directly isolated from mould ferments, their semisynthetic derivatives, or synthetic chemicals showing some structural similarities. Also, in everyday language the term is used to denote drugs with a selectively toxic action on bacteria or similar non-nucleated single-celled microorganisms (including chlamydia, rickettsia and mycoplasma), though such drugs have no effect on viruses. In this loose parlance even the sulphonamides may, incorrectly, be referred to as antibiotics because they are antimicrobial. More confusing is the fact that a number of antibiotics are used as cytotoxic agents in cancer chemotherapy (e.g. bleomycin): see ANTICANCER AGENTS. Further, partly because of the recent development of high-throughput screens for lead chemicals, a number of new drug chemical classes have arisen from antibiotic leads (e.g. the CCK antagonist asperlicin and derivatives, from Aspergillus spp.). The antimicrobial antibiotics have a selectively toxic Read more […]