Plants Used in Traditional European Medicine

The practice of herbal medicine in Europe has been influenced by the remedies used and described by the ancient Greeks and by the traditions of Middle Eastern countries. Also often used are those herbal remedies used in North American traditional medicine, whose uses were learnt from the native Americans by the European settlers largely in the period between the 17th and 19th centuries. Galanthus and Narcissus Species Galanthus species (Amaryllidaceae) were used traditionally in Bulgaria and Turkey for neurological conditions. The alkaloid galantamine (50) was originally isolated in the mid-20th century from G. woronowii Losinsk., commonly known as the ‘snowdrop’, but has now also been isolated from some species of Narcissus (Amaryllidaceae) and Leucojum aestivum L. (Amaryllidaceae). Galantamine is one of the few drugs of natural origin used to alleviate symptoms in Alzheimer’s disease, and it is now a licensed drug in Europe for this purpose. The mode of action of galantamine is principally by inhibition of acetylcholinesterase. It is reported to bind at the base of the active site gorge of the enzyme (Torpedo californica acetylcholinesterase), interacting with both the choline-binding site and the acyl-binding Read more […]

Herb-Drug Interactions: Parsley

Petroselinum crispum (Mill.) A.W.HiII (Apiaceae) Synonym(s) and related species Apium petroselinum L., Carum petroselinum (L.) Benth., Petroselinum peregrinum (L.) Lag., Petroselinum sativum Hoffm., Petroselinum vulgare Lag. Constituents All parts of the parsley plant contain similar compounds but possibly in different proportions. The most important constituents are the natural coumarins (furanocoumarins including bergapten, psoralen, 8- and 5-methoxypsoralen), and the phthalides Z-ligustilide, cnidilide, neocnidilide and senkyunolide. Flavonoids present include apigenin, luteolin and others. There is also a small amount of volatile oil present, in all parts but especially the seed, containing apiole, myristicin, eugenol, osthole, carotol and others. Use and indications Parsley root and seed are traditionally used as a diuretic, carminative and for arthritis, rheumatism and other inflammatory disorders. The leaves are used as a culinary herb in foods. Pharmacokinetics A small study in mice reported that a parsley root extract reduced the liver content of cytochrome P450 when compared with control animals. The general significance of this is unclear and further study is needed. For information on the pharmacokinetics Read more […]

Herb-Drug Interactions: Ginkgo

Ginkgo biloba L. (Ginkgoaceae) Synonym(s) and related species Fossil tree, Kew tree, Maidenhair tree. Salisburia adiantifolia Sm., Salisburia biloba Hoffmanns. Pharmacopoeias Ginkgo (US Ph 32); Ginkgo capsules (US Ph 32); Ginkgo dry extract, refined and quantified (British Ph 2009, European Ph 2008); Ginkgo leaf (British Ph 2009, European Ph, 6th ed., 2008 and Supplements 6.1, 6.2, 6.3 and 6.4); Ginkgo tablets (US Ph 32); Powdered ginkgo extract (The United States Ph 32). Constituents Ginkgo leaves contain numerous flavonoids including the biflavone glycosides such as ginkgetin, isoginkgetin, bilobetin, sciadopitysin, and also some quercetin and kaempferol derivatives. Terpene lactones are the other major component, and these include ginkgolides A, B and C, and bilobalide, Ginkgo extracts may be standardised to contain between 22 and 27% flavonoids (flavone glycosides) and between 5 and 12% terpene lactones, both on the dried basis. The leaves contain only minor amounts of ginkgolic acids, and some pharmacopoeias specify a limit for these. The seeds contain ginkgotoxin (4-O-methylpyridoxine) and ginkgolic acids. Use and indications The leaves of ginkgo are the part usually used. Ginkgo is often used Read more […]