Sophora flavescens (Kurara)

Distribution and Medicinal Usage Sophora flavescens, (Kurara) belongs to the family Leguminosae and is distributed in Mongolia, the eastern part of Russia, China, Korea, and Japan. The dry roots of this plant have been used as antipyretic analgesic, bitter stomachic, anthelmintic, as an external preparation for eczema, and an agricultural insecticide in China and Japan (). A number of interesting pharmacological activities were reported for alkaloids and the extracts of this plant, for example, a diuretic activity, an antimicrobial activity, an antiarrhythmic activity (), and an antiulcerogenic activity (). History of Alkaloid Study In 1889, Nagai first reported the isolation of matrine, a main alkaloidal constituent, from the dry roots of Sophora flavescens. The skeletal structure of matrine was proposed by Tsuda (), and subsequently it was proved by synthetic studies (). The absolute structure of (+)-matrine was confirmed by Okuda et al. (). Several new alkaloids related to matrine were isolated and their structures were determined from Sophora flavescens and related plant species in the course of our continued studies of lupin alkaloids (). The biosynthesis of matrine was also investigated in intact plants of Read more […]

Ajuga reptans (Bugle)

Ajuga reptans () is a member of the Lamiaceae (Labiatae), subfamily Lamioideae (). It is a small perennial plant, 10 to 40 cm high and common in Europe, West Asia, North America, Algeria, and Tunisia (synonym: Bugula reptans; French name: bugle; German name: Giinsel). It is cultivated as an ornamental plant and several varieties have been described: var. viridissima (dark-colored leaves), var. atropurperea (deep blue-purple-colored leaves), var. variegata (leaf borders are white and aquamarine), var. alpina G.B., var. stolonifera, var. alba G.B. (white flowering). Most plants have blue flowers; plants with white, rose or lilac-colored flowers are seldom. Ajuga reptans grows on all kind of soils, especially under trees and in grasslands. It produces stolons, from which the floral shoots stand up. Normal leaves have a peduncle; leaves from flower shoots have no peduncle. Hybrids between Ajuga reptans and Ajuga genevensis and between A. reptans and A. pyramidalis are also known. Ajuga reptans has been used in treating lung diseases, for gargling, as an astringent, and has bile-stimulating activity. Together with mint leaves, it has been used as an anti-dispepticum (). In some regions, the young plants and sprouts Read more […]

Cannabis and Cannabinoids in Pain Relief

Cannabis is a term that describes products derived from the Indian hemp, Cannabis sativa. It has its origins probably in India but now grows all over the world. The chemical compounds responsible for intoxication and medicinal effects are found mainly in a sticky golden resin exuded from the flowers of the female plants and surrounding leaves. Cannabis sativa contains a wide range of different chemicals including a family of compounds called “cannabinoids”. Of the cannabinoids delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is probably the main compound responsible for the psychotropic activities. Cannabis has been used as a medicine for thousands of years and is mentioned in a Chinese herbal dating back to 2700 BC. There are records of ’its medicinal use in Egyptian papyri of the sixteenth century BC. Much later, the plant is mentioned in Assyrian texts and in Greek and Roman sources as a medicinal agent. Early Experiences in the 19th Century Cannabis Tincture was used in the nineteenth century as an analgesic, as well as numerous other conditions and was considered milder and less dangerous than opium. W.B.O’Shaughnessy was the first of the western physicians to take an interest in cannabis as a medicine on account 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 […]

Ptelea trifoliata (Quinine Tree, Hop Tree)

Ptelea trifoliata L. (Rutaceae) is a bush of North American origin that has been cultivated in Europe since the eighteenth century. Pharmacological properties (particularly bacteriocidal and cytotoxic activities) are due to the presence of coumarins and quinoline alkaloids. Botany and Distribution Ptelea trifoliata’s common names include: quinine tree, potato chip tree, and hop tree (the latter being the most widely used today); in Spanish, Cola de Zorillo; in French Ptelea a 3 feuilles, trefle de Virginie, Orme de Samarie – this last name was first used in France around 1800 and is still widely used (). Ptelea trifoliata L., described by Linnaeus in 1753, is extremely variable in its morphology and chemical composition. This explains the description of numerous varieties which have often been raised to the rank of species. The most recent revision of the genus Ptelea is by Bailey () who recognizes only three species: Ptelea trifoliata L., Ptelea crenulata Greene, and Ptelea aptera Parry, although he subdivides P. trifoliata into five subspecies and ten varieties. The Ptelea species are deciduous bushes, 3-4 m tall, with trifoliate aromatic leaves (). A large number of detailed descriptions exist (). There have 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 […]

Artemisia Species in Traditional Chinese Medicine and the Discovery of Artemisinin

Qing hao-an antimalarial herb A herb, named Qing Hao (usually pronounced ching how) in Chinese, sweet Annie or sweet wormwood in English, and properly known as Artemisia annua L. has become well known in western countries during the last 20 years. Herbal companies, which deal with traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), receive several inquiries concerning this herb every day. A. question commonly asked by those about to travel to Africa or S.E. Asia is “Can I take the herb called Qing Hao to prevent malaria during my trip?” Unfortunately, the answer has disappointed many people because although this herb is used for the treatment of malaria in TCM, usually combined with other herbs, it is not recommended for the prevention of the disease or as a deterrent to mosquitoes. However, the leaves of Qing Hao were burned as a fumigant insecticide to kill mosquitoes in ancient China but this practice no longer continues today since the development and marketing of more efficient mosquito-repellant devices. The discovery of artemisinin Qing Hao is a herb commonly used in China with a long history of use as an antipyretic to treat the alternate chill and fever symptoms of malaria and other “heat syndromes” in the traditional Chinese Read more […]

Traditional Uses of Neem

The therapeutic efficacy of neem must have been known to man since antiquity as a result of constant experimentation with nature. Ancient man observed the unique features of this tree: a bitter taste, non-poisonous to man, but deleterious to lower forms of life. This might have resulted in its use as a medicine in various cultures, particularly in the Indian subcontinent and later on in other parts of the world. Ayurveda The word neem is derived from Sanskrit Nimba, which means “to bestow health”; the various Sanskrit synonyms of neem signify the pharmacological and therapeutic effects of the tree. It has been nicknamed Neta — a leader of medicinal plants, Pichumarda — antileprotic, Ravisambba — sun ray-like effects in providing health, Arishta — resistant to insects, Sbeetal — cooling (cools the human system by giving relief in diseases caused by hotness, such as skin diseases and fevers), and Krimighana — anthelmintic. It was considered light in digestion, hot in effect, cold in property. In earlier times, patients with incurable diseases were advised to make neem their way of life. They were to spend most of the day under the shade of this tree. They were to drink infusions of various parts of Read more […]

Toxicology and Clinical Applications of Black Pepper

Toxicology of Black Pepper There are no data available on the acute or chronic toxicologic aspects of pepper and/ or its constituents. Pepper constituents are not used therapeutically in the allopathic system. Pepper has been in use since very early times as a spice and food additive. No health hazard or untoward action may arise in the concentrations used. The total contents of piperine and associated phenolic amides are of the order of 7–9 per cent w/w and that of the volatile oil are 2–4 per cent. At this level the actual doses of the different constituents available from the quantity of pepper powder, oleoresin or extractive used, will be very little to elicit any toxic reactions. Moreover, the pungent taste of piperine and flavour of the volatile oil constituents will themselves serve as a limiting factor for the intake of high doses. No acceptable daily intake (ADI) has been prescribed by the Joint FAO/WHO Experts Committee on Food Additives for piperine and/or the volatile principles. The major untoward action of pepper is the gastric mucosal injury at a dose of 1.5 g/kg food. There are a few reports about the carcinogenic potential of piperine. It enhances the DNA adduct formation, and extract of pepper Read more […]

Pharmacology of Black Pepper

Many spices used in food seasoning have broad spectrum of antimicrobial activity. Their antioxidant activity against lipid peroxidation enhances the keeping quality of food. Apart from the use as a popular spice and flavouring substance, black pepper as drug in the Indian and Chinese systems of medicine is well documented. In the Ayurvedic descriptions, pepper is described as katu (pungent), tikta (bitter), usbnaveerya (potency, leading to storing up of energy, easy digestion, diaphoresis, thirst and fatigue), to subdue vatta (all the biological phenomena controlled by CNS and autonomic nervous system) and kapha (implies the function of heat regulation, and also formation of various preservative fluids like mucus, synovia etc. The main functions of kapha is to provide co-ordination of the body system and regularization of all biological activities). Pepper is described as a drug which increases digestive power, improves appetite, cures cold, cough, dyspnoea, diseases of the throat, intermittent fever, colic, dysentery, worms and piles; also useful in tooth ache, pain in liver and muscle, inflammation, leucoderma and epileptic fits. Black pepper is called maricha or marica in Sanskrit, indicating its property to dispel Read more […]