Large cardamom (Amomum subulatum Roxb.)

Large cardamom or Nepal cardamom (Amomum subulatum Roxb.) is a spice cultivated in the sub-Himalayan region of north-eastern India, especially in Sikkim since time immemorial. In the past the aboriginal inhabitants of Sikkim, Lepchas, collected capsules of large cardamom from natural forest, but later on these forests passed into village ownership and the villagers started cultivation of large cardamom. The presence of wild species, locally known as churumpa, and the variability within the cultivated species supports the view of its origin in Sikkim (). Later the cultivation has spread to northern Uttar Pradesh, north-eastern States of India (Arunachal Pradesh, Mizorum and Manipur), Nepal and Bhutan. Sikkim is the largest producer of large cardamom; the annual production in India is about 3500–4000 mt of cured Large cardamom. The average productivity is 100–150 kg/ha, but in well-maintained plantations the productivity reaches 1000–2000 kg/ha. Nepal and Bhutan are the other two countries cultivating this crop with an annual production of about 1500 mt. This spice is used in Ayurvedic preparation in India as mentioned by Susruta in the sixth century BC and also known among Greeks and Romans as Amomum (Ridley, 1912). Read more […]


Importance and Distribution of the Genus The genus Stephania (Menispermaceae) comprises approximately 50 species distributed from Africa through Asia to Australia. The importance of the genus in traditional medicine in Asia and Africa is well documented. The underground tubers of the vines are generally characterized by powerful pharmacological effects. Stephania abyssinica is a creeper indigenous to southern and eastern Africa. The leaves of this plant are used as a purgative and emetic, whereas the roots are employed in the treatment of roundworm, menorrhagia and boils. Stephania bancroftii is used by the aboriginal communities of Australia both as a treatment for diarrhea and as a fish poison. Stephania cepharantha (), a perennial plant native to mainland China known by the vernacular name “bei-yan-zi”, is commonly used as a folk medicinal herb. Decoctions from the tuber of Stephania cepharantha are traditionally used in China to treat a number of diseases including parotiditis, gastric ulcer, leukopenia, alopecia areata and alopecia androgenetica. The major components of this crude drug, known as Cepharanthin preparations, are the bisbenzylisoquinoline (BBI) alkaloids cepharanthine, isotetrandrine and cycleanine. Stephania Read more […]

Levisticum officinale Koch. (Garden Lovage)

Biology and Distribution Levisticum officinale Koch, i.e., garden lovage, a member of the Umbelliferae, is a perennial herb, 100-160 cm high, main root large, leaves di-tridigitatoinnate, flowers yellow-green compound umbel. Fruit ovoid or elliptic, lateral angular thick pinnation and back angular lower blunt pinnation, rarely long, one oil tube within angular trough. The herb grows widely in mountainous regions in the south of France and Yugoslavia (northern latitude of 43°-45°). It was introduced and planted in more than ten countries of Europe, America, Asia, and regions north of latitude 30°-60°. It was also introduced into China from Europe and planted as a medicinal herb more than 30 years ago. Cheng (1965b) reported the biological characteristics of growth, bloom, fructification, and winter dormancy, with observations on the phenological periods of this plant. Medicinal Value According to the literature, its roots, Radix Levistici, have long been cropped in the old European gardens as a domestic remedy which was used to cure pulmonary tuberculosis and heart disease 100 years ago. Its extract is a fragrant stimulant, reducing internal chill sudorific, diuretic, and emmenagog. In addition, as a flavoring, Read more […]

Herb-Drug Interactions: Pepper

Piper nigrum L. (Piperaceae) Synonym(s) and related species Black and white pepper are derived from the fruits of the same species, Piper nigrum L. Black pepper is the unripe fruit which has been immersed in hot water and dried in the sun, during which the outer pericarp shrinks and darkens into a thin, wrinkled black layer. White pepper consists of the seed only, prepared by soaking the fully ripe berries, removing the pericarp and drying the naked seed. Long pepper, Piper longum L., is a closely related species where the fruits are smaller and occur embedded in flower ‘spikes’, which form the seed heads. Constituents Alkaloids and alkylamides, the most important being piperine, with piperanine, piperettine, piperlongumine, pipernonaline, lignans and minor constituents such as the piperoleins, have been isolated from the fruits of both species of pepper. Black pepper and long pepper also contain a volatile oil which may differ in constitution, but is composed of bisabolene, sabinene and many others; white pepper contains very little. The pungent taste of pepper is principally due to piperine, which acts at the vanilloid receptor. Use and indications Pepper is one of the most popular spices in the world, Read more […]

Peppermint: Clinical Use. Dosage

In practice, peppermint and its derivatives are used in many forms and administered by various routes. This review will focus only on those methods that are commonly used by the public and preparations that are available OTC, such as oral dose forms, topical applications and inhalations. IRRITABLE BOWEL SYNDROME There have been several studies examining the effects of peppermint oil in the treatment of IBS. Newer studies have tended to use pH-triggered, enteric-coated peppermint oil capsules that prevent dissolution of the capsules until they have reached the small intestine, and release into the colon is extended over 10-12 hours. Enteric coating allows administration of a higher dose than would otherwise be possible to tolerate and, importantly, avoids the risk of excessively relaxing the lower oesophageal sphincter and causing reflux. A recent review identified 15 clinical trials investigating peppermint oil in IBS. Of these, 8 of 12 placebo-controlled studies show statistically significant effects in favour of peppermint oil, with average response for ‘overall success’ being 58% for peppermint oil and 29% for placebo. Three studies that compared peppermint oil to smooth muscle relaxants showed no difference Read more […]

Peppermint: Background. Actions

Common Name Peppermint Botanical Name / Family Mentha x piperita (family [Labiatae] Lamiaceae) Plant Parts Used Leaf or stem — essential oil is distilled from the aerial parts. Chemical Components Peppermint leaves contain about 2.5% essential oil, 19% total polyphenolic compounds, 12% total flavonoid compounds (eriocitrin, luteolin-7-O-rutinoside, hesperidoside) and 7% total hydroxycinnamic compounds (including rosmarinic acid). The biochemistry, organisation, and regulation of essential oil metabolism in the epidermal oil glands of peppermint have been defined and research is underway to create ‘super’ transgenic peppermint plants with improved oil composition and yield. Essential oil Over 100 constituents have been identified in peppermint oil. The principal constituents are menthol (35-55%), menthones (10-35%), isomenthone, menthyl acetate, menthofuran and cineole. To comply with the European Pharmacopoeia, the oil must not contain more than 4% pulegone and not more than 1% carvone. Historical Note The written record of mint dates back to an ancient Greek myth in which the Greek god Pluto was said to have affections for a beautiful nymph named Minthe. His jealous wife Persephone cast a spell on the Read more […]