Claviceps purpurea (Ergot):

Ergot (Claviceps purpurea), best known as a disease of rye and some other grasses, is probably the most widely cultivated fungus and has now become an important field crop. The main reason for its importance is the presence of ergot alkaloids, extensively used in medicine. Currently, ergot alkaloids cover a large field of therapeutic uses as drugs of high potency in the treatment of uterine atonia, postpartum bleeding, migraine, orthostatic circulatory disturbances, senile cerebral insufficiency, hypertension, hyperprolactinemia, acromegaly, and parkinsonism. Recently, new therapeutic uses have emerged, such as, e.g., against schizophrenia, applications based on newly discovered antibacterial and cytostatic effects, immunomodulatory and hypolipemic activity. Of the naturally occurring ergot alkaloids only two are used in the therapy: ergotamine and ergometrine. The rest of the therapeutically important ergot compounds are semisynthetic compounds. Ergot alkaloids are traditionally obtained by extraction of ergot sclerotia artificially cultivated on cereals. The parasitic cultures are not able to produce all alkaloids, e.g., clavine, necessary for most semisynthetic drugs. Crop fluctuations and market demand have Read more […]

Stress: Ashwagandha

The roots of ashwagandha have long been used as “rasayana” drugs in Ayurvedic medicine to prevent or treat disease through the restoration of a healthy balance of life. Ashwagandha is used in Ayurvedic medicine as a general restorative medicine, and to improve general health, longevity, and prevent disease. Ashwagandha is much less stimulating than ginseng, making it preferable for patients with irritability, anxiety, and insomnia, and as a gentle tonic herb for the nervous system. The species name, somnifera, indicates the plant’s traditional use for sleep induction. Ashwagandha is immunomodu-latory and improves energy in patients experiencing stress-induced illness or exhaustion. It is indicated in inflammatory conditions, such as arthritis or other musculoskeletal disorders, and it is combined with other herbs in the treatment of cancer. Ashwagandha is used in Ayurveda and Unani systems of medicine for the treatment of pain, skin diseases, infection, inflammation, gastrointestinal disorders, rheumatism, and epilepsy. It is also used as a general tonic for the improvement of libido, liver health, mental state, cancer, heart disease, and the immune system. In vivo studies support its use for anti-inflammatory, immunomodulatory, Read more […]