Allium cepa L. (Onion)

The Allium species have been a source of food flavors and medicinal compounds in many areas of the world for several thousand years. The attraction of the alliums as a flavor source is primarily the pungent volatile constituents which are released when the fresh tissue is cut or chewed, and also the presence of milder odors in the cooked vegetables. The major alliums used as food in Western Europe include the onion (Allium cepa L.), garlic (A. sativum L.), chives (A. schoenoprasum L.) and leek (A. porrum L.), but Allium fistulasum L. and Allium tuberosum are grown on a large scale and eaten raw or cooked in China, Japan, and South East Asia. All the alliums referred to may be eaten raw, or as a cooked vegetable, or used as a flavor additive to fresh or cooked foods (). On a commercial scale, the flavor may be added as a powder, an oil, or as dried shredded bulb tissue. The importance of Allium is indicated by the fact that flavor derived from this source (usually garlic or onions) is the major flavor additive to convenience foods. The therapeutic value of fresh and extracted Allium has always been recognized, as can be judged by the list of ailments that are reported to be cured by garlic and onion. These are hemorrhoids, Read more […]

Large Cardamom: Plantation Management

Soil condition, preparation of land and shade development Large cardamom is grown in forest loamy soils having soil depth a few inches to several feet. Color of soil ranges from brownish yellow to dark brown; in most cases from dark yellowish brown to very dark grayish brown. Texture is sandy, sandy loam, silty loam or clay. In general, soil is acidic having pH ranging from 5 to 5.5 or more, and with 1 per cent or more organic carbon (). On an average, these soils are high in available Nitrogen and medium in Phosphorous and Potassium. The mean nutrient concentrations reported from one study (mg/g of soil) are: organic carbon 23.87, total nitrogen 3.30 and total phosphorous 0.75 (). As the terrain is gentle to deep slope, chances of water logging is less, however, water-logged conditions are not suitable and adequate drainage is quite essential for better stand of the crop (). In general Large cardamom is cultivated on hill slopes, and often in terraced lands (earlier under paddy cultivation), after raising adequate shade trees. In case of land under gentle slope, cardamom is planted on the slopes and in case of medium and steep slopes, the slopes are cut into terraces before planting. Large cardamom is a shade-loving Read more […]

The use of eucalyptus oils in consumer products

Insect repellents As noted in the introduction, Eucalyptus citriodora oil has been used as a ‘natural’ insect repellent. Depending on the product formulation it is used in, Lemon Eucalyptus (known as Quwenling in China) is up to four or five times more effective and longer-lasting than citronella oil (from Cymbopogon nardus), one of the best known natural insect repellents. p-Menthane-3,8-diol is the main active component of Quwenling and this can be isolated and used as a highly effective insect repellent. Eucalyptus citriodora oil contains up to 80–90 per cent citronellal, along with geraniol, both of which are known to have insect repellent activity but tend to dilute the much higher activity of the p-menthane-3,8-diol. The Mosi-guard Natural insect repellent spray produced by MASTA in the UK contains ‘Extract of Lemon Eucalyptus’ and claims on the label: Approved and recommended by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Field trials have shown effective protection for 6 h after a single application in mosquito infected areas. Also protects against many other biting insects. Mosi-guard Natural is made from a natural and renewable resource. It is kind to your skin and has no adverse effects Read more […]

Adverse Reactions Associated with Echinacea and Other Asteraceae

Fifty percent of Australians report using some form of complementary alternative medicines (CAM) apart from vitamins in any 12-month period, with similar patterns of use in British and North American subjects. Despite the common perception that “natural therapy” is safe, toxic and hypersensitivity reactions to complementary and alternative medicine have been described. Given that these products are rarely packaged in childproof containers, accidental exposure also occurs. Allergic reactions are most common in atopic subjects. This is not surprising when one considers that up to 20% of atopic subjects use CAM. Furthermore, these patients are more likely than others to become sensitized to cross-reactive allergens and some use (or are advised to use) products such as Echinacea for treatment of allergic disease. When interpreting reports of immediate hypersensitivity to Asteraceae-derived CAM, it is helpful to bear in mind a number of important concepts: (1) exposure to Asteraceae is common; (2) sensitization is more common in subjects with preexistent allergic disease; (3) there is allergenic cross-reactivity between different Asteraceae, and between Asteraceae and some foods; and (4) patients sensitized by inhalation Read more […]


Hayfever (Allergic Rhinitis) Strictly speaking, hayfever is an allergic reaction to grass pollen, which usually occurs at its worst in May, June and July, often a stressful time for children as it is exam time. The term was originally related to symptoms caused by dust when haymaking and now includes a variety of seasonal allergic reactions due to pollen or some other airborne substance. Although most of the symptoms of over-sensitivity of the respiratory mucosa caused by hayfever are more annoying than serious, hayfever can trigger an asthma attack in a susceptible child. Hayfever rarely occurs before the age of five, and children tend to be worse affected during adolescence. Very often, these are children with an existing allergic tendency, who perhaps exchange a former allergic reaction, such as eczema, for hayfever (see Allergies). There may be an inherited disposition to allergies and / or hayfever, or it may be that weak digestion, poor diet or low general health has rendered the immune system and respiratory tract over-susceptible to pollen. Hayfever often occurs in children who have a tendency to chronic catarrh or frequent respiratory infections, as the mucous membranes are already irritated. It appears Read more […]

White Deadnettle: Later Confusion

Grieve is no less confusing. There is an entry for white deadnettle with no medicinal uses appended, followed by purple deadnettle with medicinal actions and uses ― decoction of herb and flowers for haemorrhage, leaves to staunch wounds, dried herb as tea with honey to promote perspiration and act on kidneys, useful in cases of chill. Then, under a subheading ‘other species’, henbit, spotted deadnettle and hempnettle are described. This is followed by a quote from Gerard on white archangel after which the next heading, ‘parts used medicinally’, begins ‘the whole herb collected…’, but which herb is meant here is far from clear. Then a further ‘medicinal actions and uses’ confuses the picture even more. Whichever plant (or plants) is meant, it is astringent in nature, Grieve tells us, and used for stopping haemorrhage, spitting of blood and dysentery. The decoction of the flowers is a blood purifier for rashes, eczema etc., but no source is cited. Reputations from the tradition then follow – healing green wounds, bruises and burns. Culpeper and others follow, on lifting spirits, against quartan agues, and bleeding of nose and mouth applied to nape of neck. She rehearses use in the past for hardness of spleen, the Read more […]

Herb-Drug Interactions: Cannabis

Cannabis sativa L. (Cannabaceae) Synonym(s) and related species Bhang, Dagga, Ganja, Hashish, Indian hemp, Marihuana, Marijuana. Cannabis indica Lam. Constituents Cannabis herb contains a wide range of cannabinoids, which are the major active compounds. The main psychoactive constituent is delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC; dronabinol), and it is the cause of many of the pharmacological effects elicited by the consumption of cannabis. However, other cannabinoids, which do not possess psychoactive properties, such as cannabidiol, cannabinol (a decomposition product of delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol), cannabigerol and cannabichromene, are increasingly being investigated for their pharmacological and therapeutic properties. Cannabinoids are often found in the plant as their acid metabolites, e.g. ll-nor-9-carboxy-delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol, cannabidiol acid and others, especially if the plant has been grown in a cooler climate. These decarboxylate to the parent cannabinoid at high temperatures, such as during smoking. Most medicinal cannabis products have been heat treated to ensure that the cannabinoids are present only in the non-acid form. Use and indications Cannabis has no current established use in herbal Read more […]


Ruta graveolens The genus includes six species found in Europe. The Flora of Turkey gives two Ruta species, not including Ruta graveolens. Ruta graveolens L. is a native of southeastern Europe but is widely naturalized in southern Europe and cultivated worldwide. It is a shrubby perennial with a distinctive smell. Smooth erect stems (14-45 cm) bear alternate, stalked bluish-grey-green pinnate leaves with deeply lobed obovate leaflets. Shiny yellow flowers with four spoon-shaped petals occur in terminal umbel-like groups in June-August. A smooth green capsule containing many seeds develops in each flower while other flowers around are still coming into flower. Other species used Ruta angustifolia Pers. and Ruta chalepensis L. are found in southern Europe and are similar but with fringed cilia on the petal edge. Quality All Ruta species are associated with phytophotodermatitis (see below) and plants should not be touched with bare hands, especially on sunny days. Rue is included among the plants discussed in this book not because we ourselves use it, but because of its reputation as a great healing medicine in the Western herbal tradition and the suspicion that it is a neglected remedy. Its application extends Read more […]

Zinc: Background. Deficiency Signs and Symptoms

Background and Relevant Pharmacokinetics Zinc is an essential trace element known to play an important role in all human living cells. The human body contains approximately 2 g zinc in total, with 60% found in skeletal muscle and 30% in bone mass, although it is found in all body tissues and fluids. Dietary intake of zinc by healthy adults is 6-1 5 mg/day, but less than half of this is absorbed. It is now known that zinc absorption is influenced by many factors and adequate dietary intake is not necessarily indicative of adequate zinc status. High amounts of zinc in a meal cause a fractional decrease in zinc absorption and foods with high phytate content (e.g. wholegrains, corn and rice) significantly reduce zinc absorption due to the formation of strong and insoluble complexes. Concerns have also been raised over the potential of calcium, iron, copper and cadmium to reduce zinc absorption. Alternatively, the amount of animal protein in a meal positively correlates to zinc absorption and the amino acids histidine and methionine, and various organic acids present in foods, such as citric, malic and lactic acids, can also increase absorption. As such, zinc is best absorbed from animal food sources. Chemical Components Zinc Read more […]

Red clover: Background. Actions

Common Name Red clover Other Names Cow clover, meadow clover, purple clover, trifoil Botanical Name / Family Trifolium pratense L. (family Fabaceae) Plant Parts Used Flower head or leaf Historical Note Red clover has been used for a long time as an animal fodder as well as a human medicine. Traditionally, it is considered an alternative remedy with good cleansing properties useful in the treatment of skin diseases such as psoriasis, eczema and rashes. A strong infusion was used to ease whooping cough and other spasmodic coughs due to measles, bronchitis and laryngitis. It was recommended for ‘ulcers of every kind, and deep, ragged-edged, and otherwise badly-conditioned burns. It possesses a peculiar soothing property, proves an efficient detergent, and promotes a healthful granulation’. Combined with other herbs, red clover was recommended for syphilis, scrofula, chronic rheumatism, glandular and various skin affections. Interestingly, red clover was not traditionally used for the treatment of menopausal symptoms. Chemical Components FLOWER HEAD Flavonoids, including formononetin; flavonols, including isorhamnetin and quercetin glucosides; phenolic acids, including salicylic and p-coumaric acids; volatile Read more […]