Artemisia Ludoviciana ssp. Mexicana (Estafiate)

Estafiate or iztauyatl (Artemisia ludoviciana ssp. mexicana) is one of the most popular medicinal plants in Mexican phytotherapy and is nowadays used especially for gastrointestinal pain, as a vermifuge and as a bitter stimulant. The historical and modern uses of this species are reviewed. The first report of its medicinal use dates back to the 16th century, but at that time it was used for completely different illnesses. Only very limited pharmacological studies to evaluate these claims are available; anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antihelmintic effects have been reported. The aerial parts contain a large number of sesquiterpene lactones, flavonoids as well as essential oil which has not yet been studied in detail. Estafiate or iztauyatl (Artemisia ludoviciana ssp. mexicana) is one of the most popular remedies in Mexican phytotherapy. It is frequently sold in markets in the cities and also grown in many house gardens (). It is thus a locally important economic product and a phytotherapeutic resource which requires documentation of its regional or national importance as well as evaluation and monitoring for efficacy and safety. Plants generally are an important medicinal resource to many people in Mexico and Read more […]

Pharmacology of Poppy Alkaloids: Minor Opium Alkaloids

The pharmacology and biology of minor opium alkaloids have been surveyed previously in two comprehensive reviews (). Thebaine The pharmacology of thebaine was summarized by Reynolds and Randall in 1957 and studied comprehensively by a WHO Advisory Group in 1980. The pharmacological actions of thebaine in various isolated organs have been studied. Thebaine can induce a temporary decrease in blood pressure in anaesthetized dogs and this depressor effect showed a marked tachyphylaxis. In isolated guinea pig atrium, thebaine decreased the heart rate and contractions depending on the concentration. In isolated rabbit ileum it decreased the peristaltic movement and contractions (). The predominant effect of thebaine is stimulation of the central nervous system. In the mouse, rabbit, cat and dog increases in motor activity and reflex excitability were observed at doses around 2-10mg/kg s.c. or i.m. The Straub-tail response was noted only occasionally. The effects of thebaine on body temperature and respiration have also been studied. Convulsions were observed in almost all species of animals including the frog, pigeon, mouse, guinea pig, cat and dog. Transient tremors, restlessness and convulsions were observed in the Read more […]

The Citrus in the Old Pharmacopoeias

The importance of some species of Citrus (orange, lemon, citron) in therapy and pharmacy received official recognition with the appearance of the first pharmacopoeias. In the 1550 edition of the El Ricettario del I’Arte et Universita de Medici, et Spetiali della Citta di Firenze we find the recipe for a Sciroppo di Acetosita di Limoni. Later editions (Ricettario Fiorentino, 1802) included preparations using the leaves, fruit peel, fresh orange flowers, fresh citron fruit juice (Citrus limonia off., C. medica Linn.) and the peel of the fruit of lemon, Mela Rosa, bergamot etc. These were considered varieties of citron and were used for preparing Acqua Carminativa Comune. Orange and lemon peel was used for preparing Acqua di Fior d’Aranci (Vulgo Acqua Lanfa). The following are also described: Waters of whole citron or orange, lemon and bergamot peel; troches of orange or citron or lime, from the peel of the fruit; orange, bergamot, citron, lemon or Mela Rosa peel oil; Lemon juice syrup (Sciroppo d!Acetosita di Limoni) and Orange or Citron Peel Syrup. The Antidotarium of Carolus Clusius, published in Antwerp in 1561, describes how to prepare conserves of citriorum, malorum medicorum and limonum, and Syrupus acetositatis Read more […]

Citrus in Traditional Medicine

Citrus in traditional Asiatic medicine In a comparative study of the use of herbal drugs in the traditional medicines of India and Europe, Pun () found a marked similarity between the drugs used in the two continents. He attributed this not only to the similarity of the vegetation in the two areas, but also to the influence that traditional Indian medicine, in particular the Atherveda, one of the most ancient repositories of human knowledge, had on Egypt, Greece and Rome. He listed the principal uses of a small number of these drugs, including bitter orange peel, which in India is used as an aromatic, stomachic, tonic, astringent and carminative agent, and lemon, which is used as a flavouring and for its carminative and stomachic effects. In the Valmiki-Ramayana, written after the Vedas and one of the most sacred of all religious books which enumerates the virtues of the medicinal plants that Lord Rama (Vishnu) met during his fourteen-year journey around different parts of India, Karnick and Hocking () identified and listed fifty of these drugs with their use as described in the Ayurvedica (or native Indian) system of medicine. The immature fruit of Citrus aurantifolia (Christm) Swingle was used as an fortifier, Read more […]

Pepper in traditional medicine and health care

Pepper is one of the most important and unavoidable drugs in Ayurveda, Unani and Sidha, the Indian systems of Medicine. It is used as single drug or in combination with long pepper (Piper longum) and dry ginger (Zingiber officinale) the combination is popularly known as “Trikatu” — the three acrids which cures the three disordered humours-Vata, Pitta and Kapha and helps to maintain normal health. Maricham, the Sanskrit word for pepper literally means that which facilitates numbness of the tongue (“Mriyate Jihwa Anena Iti Maricham” i.e. the pungent property of the drug obstructs the sensory nerve endings of the taste buds). It also has the property of dispelling poison (“Mriyate Visham Anena”). The various Sanskrit synonyms of the drug given in ayurvedic texts of India describe its characters and different uses. According to these classics, pepper is pungent and acrid, hot, rubefacient, carminative, dry corrosive, alternative, antihelminthic and germicidal. It promotes salivation, increases the digestive power, gives relish for the food and cures cough, dyspnoea, cardiac diseases, colic, worms, diabetes, piles, epilepsy and almost all diseases caused by the disorders of vata and pitta. Pepper is prescribed Read more […]

History of usage of Lavandula species

The term lavender is considered to come from the Latin ’lavando’ part of the verb ’lavare’ to bathe, the Romans having used many plants to perfume their baths. The Greeks and Romans also referred to lavender as nard, from the Latin Nardus Italica, after the Syrian town Naarda. This was the beginning of much confusion as to which plant was being referred to in classical and medieval times. Lavandula is obvious, however nard and spike can refer to spike lavender or to spikenard (a plant imported from India during the Middle Ages and equally popular then for its aromatic properties). Despite much learned investigation into the identification of lavender in the writings of classical authors; it has remained impossible to unquestionably identify Lavandula vera or Lavandula spica. Lavandula stoechas is, however, distinctly referred to by both Dioscorides and Pliny. An alternative, but less likely explanation from Victorian times connected the name to the Latin ’livere’ meaning to be livid or bluish. Historical review of the use of lavender Main functions of lavender in the past There is a mystery surrounding the actual appearance or reappearance of lavender in Britain after Roman times. The Huguenots have Read more […]

History of usage of Lavandula species: transcriptions of texts in historical section

Abbess Hildegard When a person with palsy (possibly Parkinson’s disease) is afflicted they should take galangale (a rhizome with similar properties to ginger), with half as much nutmeg (50 per cent of the amount of galangale), and half as much of spike lavender as nutmeg, plus an equal amount of githrut (probably gith or black cumin) and lovage. To these he should add equal weights (amounts) of female fern and saxifrage (these two together should be equal to the five precious ingredients). Pulverise these in a pestle and mortar. If the patient is (well) strong, he should eat this powder on bread, if (ill) weak he should eat an electuary (soft pill made with honey) made from it. So today we might say, for example, the five precious ingredients: 100 gms of galangale; 50 gms of nutmeg; 25 gms spike lavender; 12.5 gms each of githrut and lovage. To this add: 100 gms each of female fern and saxifrage. The second recipe quoted is easier to understand, but less obviously effective. Lavender is hot and dry (referring to its properties under the Galenic system of medicine), having very little moisture (it is indeed a dry herb). It is not pleasant to eat, but does have a strong smell. If a person with many lice frequently 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 […]

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 […]

Fritillaria spp. (Fritillary)

Fritillaria belongs to the family Liliaceae and its bulb is a traditional Chinese medicine (“Beimu” in Chinese). The bulb of the fritillary is divided into two groups according to its medical use: the fritillary bulb of zhebei and the fritillary bulb of chuanbei. The former is the underground bulb of Fritillaria thunbergii Miq. and the latter the underground bulb of F. sungbei Hsiao et K.C. Hsia, mss, F. cirrhosa D. Don, F. cirrhosa D. Don var. paohsinensis S.C. Chen, F. delavayi Franch., F. pallidiflora Schrenk., F. sichuanica S.C. Chen, and F. ussuriensis Maxim. Geographic Distribution F. thunbergii Miq. is a glabrous perennial plant. Its semi-globate bulb is white, 2-6 cm in diameter, and contains two or three thick bulb scales which are fused at one end. It is an erect, cylindrical, single stem with no branches, 30-70 cm high and green or light purple. The leaf is monophyllous and sessile. The leaves are opposite in the lower part of the stem, whorled with three to five leaves in the middle part of the stem, and alternate at the top of the stem. The leaves at the top of stem are shorter than those in the middle, and are lanceolate. The leaves above the middle of the stem and the apex of the leaf-like bract appear Read more […]