Historical review of the use of lavender

The classical physicians Lavender has been used as a healing plant and was first mentioned by Dioscorides (c. 40—90 AD) who found what was probably Lavandula stoechas growing on the islands of Stoechades (now known as Hyeres); this was used in Roman communal baths. Dioscorides attributed to the plant some laxative and invigorating properties and advised its use in a tea-like preparation for chest complaints. The author also recounts that Galen (129—99 ad) added lavender to his list of ancient antidotes for poison and bites and thus Nero’s physician used it in anti-poison pills and for uterine disorders. Lavender in wine was taken for snake bites stings, stomach aches, liver, renal and gall disorders, jaundice and dropsy. Pliny differentiated between Lavandula stoechas and Lavandula vera, the latter was apparently used only for diluting expensive perfumes. Pliny the Elder advocated lavender for bereavement as well as promoting menstruation. Abbess Hildegard The Abbess Hildegard (1098—1179) of Bingen near the Rhine in what is now Germany, was the first person in the Middle Ages to clearly distinguish between Lavandula vera and Lavandula spica (): On Palsy one who is tormented should take galangale, with Read more […]

Artemisia Dracunculus L.

Artemisia dracunculus L., French Tarragon, is a perennial herb, native to Europe, Russia, Siberia, China and western and central North America where it grows wild, especially along river banks. It was introduced to Britain in the mid-fifteenth century. This aromatic plant has an extensive fibrous root system which spreads by runners and stems which reach a maximum heigh of around 1 metre. The generic name is derived from the Greek Goddess Artemis who was believed to have given this group of plants to Chiron the centaur, while the specific name is derived from the Latin dracunculus meaning small dragon or snake, probably in reference to the long tongue-shaped leaves. Its common name of tarragon is thought to be a corruption of the Arabic tarkhun also meaning a little dragon. French tarragon is used mainly as a culinary plant, although its value and popularity in cooking doubtless stems from it medicinal use as an aid to digestion whereby it can be taken as an infusion, or digestif, for poor digestion, intestinal distension, nausea, flatulence and hiccups, not to mention its claimed abilities to improve rheumatism, gout and arthritis as well as acting as a vermifuge and an agent to soothe toothache. Traditional Uses French Read more […]

Artemisia Absinthium L.

Artemisia absinthium L. is a member of the family Compositae (Asteraceae) and is known by the common names wormwood (UK), absinthe (France) and wermut (Germany). The name Artemisia is derived from the Goddess Artemis, the Greek name for Diana, who is said to have discovered the plant’s virtues, while absinthium comes from the Greek word apinthion meaning “undrinkable”, reflecting the very bitter nature of the plant. The plant is also known by a number of synonyms which include: Absinthium, Wermutkraut, Absinthii Herba, Assenzio, Losna, Pelin, Armoise, Ajenjo and Alsem. The herb is native to warm Mediterranean countries, usually found growing in dry waste places such as roadsides, preferring a nitrogen-rich stoney and hence loose soil. It is also native to the British Isles and is fairly widespread. Wormwood has been naturalised in northeastern North America, North and West Asia and Africa. Brief Botanical Description The stem of this shrubby perennial herb is multibranched and firm, almost woody at the base, and grows up to 130 cm in height. The root stock produces many shoots which are covered in fine silky hairs, as are the leaves. The leaves themselves are silvery grey, 8 cm long by 3 cm broad, abundantly pinnate Read more […]

The Therapeutic Potential For Cannabis

«Cannabis Use and Abuse by Man: An Historical Perspective» of this site provides a fascinating, historical account of the use of cannabis across many cultures and centuries. Suffice it to say here that any natural substance with over 5000 years of medical history will have attached to it a heritage of hearsay and legend through which one must sift to identify areas of true therapeutic potential for us in the late twentieth century and beyond. A summary of conditions for which cannabis has been used, ranging through various shades of rationality, appears in Table Medicinal and quasi-medicinal uses for cannabis and its derivatives: Indications for which only anecdote or reports of traditional use exist: aphrodisiac muscular spasm in rabies / tetanus Huntingdon’s chorea jaundice toothache earache tumour growth cough hysteria insanity menstrual cramps rheumatism movement disorders gut spasm pyrexia inflammed tonsils migraine headache increasing uterine  contractions in childbirth urinary retention/ bladder spasm parasite infection fatigue allergy fever herpetic pain hypertension joint inflammation diarrhoea malaria forgetfulness Indications Read more […]

Bioactivity of Basil: Other Activities

Plants belonging to the genus Ocimum exhibit a great deal of different pharmacological activities of which the most important, as concluded by the number of research reports, will be discussed below. The activities to be discussed in more detail are anti-inflammatory, immunomodulating and adaptogenic, anticarcinogenic, hypoglycemic and blood lipid lowering, radioprotective, effect on the CNS, antiulcerogenic, hepatoprotective and the effect on smooth muscle. In addition to these activities a number of other activities are also reported in the literature, such as antioxidant, angioprotective effect, effect on the reproductive behaviour and antiwormal activity. Anti-inflammatory Activity Ocimum sanctum L., popularly known as “Tulsi” in Hindi and “Holy Basil” in English, is a widely known sacred plant of Hindus. Different parts of the plant have been claimed to be valuable in a wide spectrum of diseases. For instance, it is used for the treatment of arthritis, rheumatism, pain and fever in the Ayurvedic system of medicine. Ocimum sanctum is now intensively studied in order to prove these activities by pharmacological evidence. A methanol extract and an aqueous suspension of Ocimum sanctum leaves inhibited Read more […]

Ruta graveolens

Ruta graveolens (Rutaceae) and its tissue cultures are investigated from a wide variety of aspects, such as botanical studies, medicinal activities, chemical constituents and biosynthesis of some compounds. The in vitro culture of Ruta, quick-growing and with strong biogenetic potentialities, is an optimal implement for biochemical and physiological studies, and many research teams are using it in various fields which are reported in this chapter. Distribution and Importance of the Plant The genus Ruta belongs to the family Rutaceae, subfamily Rutoideae and tribe Ruteae. The subtribe Rutinae contains the following genera: Ruta L., Haplophyllum A. Juss., Thamnosma Torr. and Fr. and Boenninghausenia Reichb. Engler (1931) included Ruta and Haplophyllum in one genus. However, Waterman (1975) found that from a chemical standpoint Haplophyllum and Thamnosma are similar, but quite different from Ruta. According to the Flora Europaea, five species are assigned to the genus Ruta (). Ruta graveolens L. (common names: Engl.: common rue, herb of grace; French: rue fetide; German: Gartenraute; Spanish: ruda, arruda) is a well-known evergreen, half shrubby plant of 0.5 to 1 m in height, with leaves two- to three-pinnate and Read more […]

Angelica sinensis (Oliv.) Diels.

Distribution Angelica sinensis (Oliv.) Diels. (Chinese name Dang Gui) is a member of the family Umbelliferae. There are 80 species of Angelica, mainly distributed in the northern temperate zone and New Zealand. In China, there are approximately 40 species, mainly distributed in the south-west, north-east and north-west zones, e.g. in the provinces of Yung Nan, Si Chuan, Shan Si, Hu Bei, Gan Su etc. The altitude of these areas is about 1500-3000 m, the annual average temperature is 5.5-11.4°C, the annual rainfall is 500-600 mm. A few species of Angelica may be used for food, forage and medicine. The common species are A. acutiloba (Sieb. et Zucc), A. polymorpha, Maxin, A. porphyrocoulis Naxai et Kitag, A. tsinlingensis, A. sinensis etc., of which A. sinensis is the most important. A. sinensis: perennial herb (80-150 cm), leaves tridigitato-pinnate divided, petioles expand tubular sheath, flowers white compound umbel, fruit longelliptic lateral angular with wide wings. As a cultivated plant, Dang Gui (A. sinensis) is mainly produced in the southeast of the Gan Su province, China, e.g. Min Xian and Dang Chang Xian. Since 1970, Dang Gui has also been produced in Shan Xi, Si Chuan and Yung Nan provinces, the seeds, Read more […]

Cymbopogon Spreng. (Aromatic Grasses)

Distribution and Importance of the Plant Cymbopogon Spreng. is one of the major aromatic plant genera, belonging to the tribe Andropogoneae of the family Poaceae. The number of species recognized by different workers in this genus varies from 55 to over 100. With the exception of the cultivated and introduced species, Cymbopogon occurs only in the Old World tropics and subtropics. Like other members of the tribe Andropogoneae, Cymbopogon is adapted to hot moist conditions. The species are more or less evenly distributed in the area, but several rather diffuse centers of diversity such as Indo-China, India, East Africa, and Queensland can be recognized. The species of Cymbopogon are either densely or loosely tufted plants ranging in height from 20 cm to 3 m. They are mostly perennial; culms of most species are erect and unbranched. Most of the species of Cymbopogon can be clearly distinguished from the related genera in the tribe by their aromatic smell. The species like C. nardus (L.) Rendle, C. winterianus Jowitt, C. flexuosus (Nees) Wats., C. citratus (DC.) Stapf and C. martinii (Roxb.) Wats, have been cultivated for a long time for their essential oils. Lemongrass oil, citronella oil, palmarosa oil, and gingergrass Read more […]

Bidens alba (Smooth Beggar-Tick) and Bidens pilosa (Hairy Beggar-Tick)

The genus Bidens (Compositae) is composed of approximately 230 species having a worldwide distribution in tropical and temperate regions. It is primarily a continental group, which has become established on some islands, notably the Hawaiian islands. The centers of diversity are Africa and the New World, with each center having about 100 species. Several species are so abundant that they are considered serious weeds. Two will be of particular concern here: Bidens alba var. radiata (Schultz-Bip.) Ballard and B. pilosa var. minor (Blume) Sherff, another member of the complex. B. alba var. radiata (smooth beggar-tick) occurs in south eastern Mexico into Central America and in Florida, U.S.A.; B. pilosa var. minor (hairy beggar-tick) is primarily restricted to Central America (Ballard 1986). B. pilosa var. minor and B. alba var. radiata are erect annual herbs with opposite pinnate leaves. Flowers are organized into a capitulum with yellow disc flowers and five or six white (occasionally purple) ray flowers which are 5-7 mm long and have a nonfunctional style in the former species and ray flowers 15-18 mm long with no style in the latter. Both plants, in common with most species of Bidens, are found in moist, disturbed Read more […]

Haplophyllum patavinum (L.) G. Don fil. (Paduan rue)

Classification, Distribution, and Importance of the Plant The genus Haplophyllum belongs to the family Rutaceae. More than 70 species, growing from the Mediterranean region to eastern Siberia (most of them in western and central Asia), are assigned to this genus. Only eight species can be found in Europe (); H. patavinum (L.) G. Don fil. is the only species occurring in Italy. H. patavinum was first collected on the Euganean Hills (NE Italy), probably in 1722, by the Italian botanist Micheli, who described it as Pseudo-Ruta patavina (Micheli 1729) and stressed the differences from the genus Ruta (“plantae genus a Ruta diversum”). This species, described by Zanichelli (1730) as Pseudoruta Micheli, was then included by Linnaeus (1753) in the genus Ruta (Ruta patavina L.). De Jussieu (1825) split the genus Ruta into two genera, Ruta and Aplophyllum; the plant species from the Euganean Hills was assigned to the latter genus by Don (1831). Spach (1849) changed Aplophyllum into Haplophyllum. At present, there is general agreement regarding Haplophyllum as a genus distinct from Ruta, on the basis of morphological characters and chemical evidence. H. patavinum () belongs to the section Oligoon of the genus Haplophyllum Read more […]