Healing Powers of Aloes: Pharmacology and Therapeutic Applications

Constipation Aloe latex possesses laxative properties and has been used traditionally to treat constipation. The old practice of using aloe as a laxative drug is based on its content of anthraquinones like barbaloin, which is metabolised to the laxative aloe-emodin, isobarbaloin and chrysophanic acid. The term ‘aloe’ (or ‘aloin’) refers to a crystalline, concentrated form of the dried aloe latex. In addition, aloe latex contains large amounts of a resinous material. Following oral administration the stomach is quickly reached and the time required for passage into the intestine is determined by stomach content and gastric emptying rate. Glycosides are probably chemically stable in the stomach (pH 1–3) and the sugar moiety prevents their absorption into the upper part of the gastrointestinal tract and subsequent detoxification in the liver, which protects them from breakdown in the intestine before they reach their site of action in the colon and rectum. Once they have reached the large intestine the glycosides behave like pro-drugs, liberating the aglycones (aloe-emodin, rhein-emodin, chyrosophanol, etc.) that act as the laxatives. The metabolism takes place in the colon, where bacterial glycosidases are Read more […]

Flax (Linum Usitatissimum)

Medical Uses Flaxseed is used for constipation and for intestinal cleansing in diverticulitis. It is also used for menopausal symptoms and sore throats and for its antioxidant effects. Historical Uses Flax is one of the earliest foods known to humans. It is also a textile fiber used to make linen. The seed is used in paints (linseed oil). Flax has also been used to make paper. Growth Flax is cultivated as a crop. Flax: Part Used • Seeds Major Chemical Compounds • Alpha-linolenic acid • Lignans • Fiber • The best source of omega-3 essential fatty acids Flax: Clinical Uses Flaxseed is used for constipation and for intestinal cleansing in diverticulitis. It is also used for menopausal symptoms and sore throats and for its antioxidant effects. It may help to prevent or decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease. Flaxseed is approved by the German Commission E for “chronic constipation, irritable colon, diverticulitis and as mucilage, externally for inflammation”. Mechanism of Action Essential fatty acids reduce the risk of blood clotting and thus decrease the risk of heart disease and stroke. They are building blocks of prostaglandins, which help to reduce pain and inflammation; help promote Read more […]

Sex Herbs

The following herbs are used to improve sexual function: • Anise imitates the female hormone estrogen, increasing sexual intensity and satisfaction • Epimedium, a Chinese herb, has a testosterone-like substance and enhances a woman’s sexual desire • Fenugreek augments breast size and is used to elevate sex drive • Fennel prolongs orgasm, allowing men to enjoy sex for a longer period of time • Guarana seed tea has aphrodisiac effect • Quebracho (in South America) and Sheng Jing (in China) are used in male infertility and erectile dysfunction (impotence) Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a condition defined by the inability to attain or maintain penile erection sufficient for satisfactory sexual intercourse. In 1995, it was estimated that approximately 152 million men worldwide suffered from erectile dysfunction, with projections for 2025 growing to a prevalence of 322 million affected men. In the past, erectile dysfunction was believed to be caused by nonspecific psychological causes; however, in the past two decades, the majority of cases have been attributed to an organic etiology. Although erectile dysfunction patients can have a number of medical conditions, organic erectile dysfunction Read more […]

Herbs For Diseases Of The Urogenital System

Herbs can treat a number of diseases of the urogenital system, including acute and chronic nephritis, cystitis, FLUTD, urinary incontinence, prostate and ovarian conditions, and urolithiasis (calcium oxalate, struvite, and urate). Herbal actions of interest include the renal protective herbs that aid chronic renal disease, diuretics, urinary antiseptics, bladder tonics, antilithic herbs, and demulcents. Herbs that benefit prostate health are also discussed. Renal-tonic and protective herbs Several herbs may be beneficial for nephropathies. Astragalus (Astragalus membranaceus) has been shown to increase plasma and muscle protein and reduce urinary output of protein by improving dysfunctional protein metabolism in glomerulopathy. It can also prevent glomerular sclerosis. In rats with experimental nephritis, large doses of oral astragalus improved renal function, thus supporting the traditional use of large doses for the treatment of chronic nephritis in people. In China, another species of Astragalus (Astragalus mongholicus) and Dong guai (Angelica sinensis) have been used to treat nephrotic syndrome. Both herbs together or enalapril were administered to rats with chronic induced nephrosis and compared with control Read more […]

Diseases of the Blood and Lymph

Herbs For Diseases Of The Blood And Lymph: Anemia And Chylothorax When herbalists think of chronic disease they often think of blood cleansers and blood purifiers; however, veterinarians and doctors immediately argue there is no such thing (apart from dialysis and chelation). Nevertheless, alteratives and depuratives are terms that were common in the early veterinary literature until the mid 1900s, and were defined as drugs that effected “gradual change and corrected the morbid condition of organs”. Herbalists still know them as blood cleansers and blood purifiers. These herbs improve metabolic processes and waste elimination, so they are often mild in action and may have laxative, cholagogue, or diuretic action. This is how they improve general health and it illustrates how these herbs may be thought of as cleansing or purifying. Herbs that have traditionally been used as alteratives include Burdock, Neem, Oregon grape, Barberry, Gotu kola, Fumitory, Cleavers, Blue flag, Yellow dock, Sarsaparilla, Red clover, and Heartsease. Alteratives should be considered in a formula for any chronic condition as a means of improving overall health from a traditional perspective. Blood tonics are another traditional category Read more […]

Stress And Women’s Health

Stress, Adaptation, The Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal-Axis (HPA) And Women’s Health Viewed from the perspective of the evolution of the animal kingdom, sustained psychological stress is a recent invention, mostly limited to humans and other social primates. — Robert Sapolsky, author, Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers Stress is a fact of life. However, for most of our biological history, stress was a short-term crisis, after which, according to Robert Sapolsky, author of Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers, “it’s either over with or you’re over with.” Modern society, with its 24 / 7 work requirements and global Internet access, high level of stimulation and demand, and chronic (daily) repeated stresses, has opened us to a whole new realm of chronic, debilitating diseases. Western medicine is beginning to understand what has long been recognized by traditional medicine systems: that stress, or more traditionally viewed, one’s relationship with and response to the world, has an impact on health. What we now know scientifically is that the challenge of a small amount of stress, whether from positive or negative stressors (eustress / distress), can actually increase the overall health and performance of the individual organism, Read more […]


Hypothyroidism is a persistent insufficiency in thyroid hormone production leading to a generalized decrease in metabolic functions (Thyroid Hormone: A Review of Its Synthesis and Release). It is the most prevalent of the pathologic hormone deficiencies, and can reduce physical and mental functional ability, quality of life, and long-term health. Hypothyroidism is classified on the basis of onset (congenital or acquired), endocrine dysfunction level (primary, secondary, or tertiary), and severity, which is classified as overt (clinical) or mild (subclinical) hypothyroidism. The total frequency of hypothyroidism, including subclinical cases, among adult females from all age groups, ranges from 3.0% to 7.5%, with significantly higher rates in women over 60 years old. Hypothyroidism occurs at a rate approximately 10 times higher in women than men. Thyroid Hormone: A Review of Its Synthesis and Release Iodide, which is primary nutritionally derived, is concentrated by the thyroid gland, converted to organic iodine by thyroid peroxidase (TPO), and then incorporated into tyrosine in thyroglobulin in the thyroid. Tyrosines are iodinated at one (monoiodotyrosine) or two (di-iodotyrosine) sites and then joined to form the Read more […]

Green tea: Interactions. Contraindications. Pregnancy Use. Practice Points

Adverse Reactions Due to the caffeine content of the herb, CNS stimulation and diuresis is possible when consumed in large amounts. One clinical study found an absence of any severe adverse effects when 15 green tea tablets were taken daily (2.25 g green tea extracts, 337.5 mg EGCG and 135 mg caffeine) for 6 months. Significant Interactions Controlled studies are not available for green tea, so interactions are speculative and based on evidence of pharmacological activity. Therefore, clinical significance is unknown. ANTICOAGULANTS Antagonistic interaction — a case of excessive consumption (2.25-4.5 L of green tea/day) was reported to inhibit warfarin activity and decrease the INR. Intake of large quantities of green tea should be done with caution. HYPOGLYCAEMIC AGENTS Caffeine-containing beverages can increase blood sugar levels when used in sufficient quantity (200 mg of caffeine); however, hypoglycaemic activity has been reported for green tea, which could theoretically negate this effect — the outcome of this combination is uncertain, therefore observe patient. IRON Tannins found in herbs such as Camellia sinensis can bind to iron and reduce its absorption — separate doses by at least 2 hours. Read more […]

Licorice: Adverse Reactions

Many of the adverse effects attributed to licorice are due to glycyrrhetinic acid (GA) at doses above 100-400 mg/day. For this reason, the deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL) may be safer and more appropriate in cases where glycyrrhizin (GL) or GA are not required for efficacy. Side-effects may be more pronounced in people with essential hypertension who appear to be more sensitive to the inhibition of 11HSD by licorice than normotensive subjects. • Hypercortisolism and pseudohyperaldosteronism — associated with sodium retention, potassium loss and suppression of the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system and presenting as hypertension, fluid retention, breathlessness, hypernatraemia and hypokalaemia. • Hypokalaemia — may present as hypotonia and flaccid paralysis, peripheral oedema, polyuria, proximal myopathy, lethargy, paraesthesiae, muscle cramps, headaches, tetany, breathlessness and hypertension. In practice, licorice is often mixed with the potassium-rich herb dandelion leaf, which also has mild diuretic effects. • Hypokalaemic paralysis — although rare, some cases have been reported as a result of chronic licorice use. • Rhabdomyolysis — a number of cases are reported in the scientific Read more […]