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 […]

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 […]

History of usage of Lavandula species

The term lavender is considered to come from the Latin ’lavando’ part of the verb ’lavare’ to bathe, the Romans having used many plants to perfume their baths. The Greeks and Romans also referred to lavender as nard, from the Latin Nardus Italica, after the Syrian town Naarda. This was the beginning of much confusion as to which plant was being referred to in classical and medieval times. Lavandula is obvious, however nard and spike can refer to spike lavender or to spikenard (a plant imported from India during the Middle Ages and equally popular then for its aromatic properties). Despite much learned investigation into the identification of lavender in the writings of classical authors; it has remained impossible to unquestionably identify Lavandula vera or Lavandula spica. Lavandula stoechas is, however, distinctly referred to by both Dioscorides and Pliny. An alternative, but less likely explanation from Victorian times connected the name to the Latin ’livere’ meaning to be livid or bluish. Historical review of the use of lavender Main functions of lavender in the past There is a mystery surrounding the actual appearance or reappearance of lavender in Britain after Roman times. The Huguenots have Read more […]

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 […]

Gloriosa superba L. (Flame Lily)

Gloriosa superba L., also known as the flame lily, has a wide distribution in tropical and subtropical areas. The plant has numerous uses as remedies and potions to the local populations of both Africa and Asia. Clewer et al. (1915) found that Gloriosa superba contained the alkaloid colchicine. Preparations of colchicine have been used to cure acute gout. Colchicine is known to inhibit mitosis, interfere with the orientation of fibrils, induce polyploidy, and has been used in the treatment of cancer. Since the discovery of colchicine in Gloriosa, a number of researchers have proposed that Gloriosa could serve as a commercial source of colchicine. Bellet and Gaignault compared the relative colchicine content of the genera Colchicum (the traditional source of colchicine) and Gloriosa. On a dry mass basis, Colchicum yielded 0.62% colchicine and 0.39% colchicoside, while Gloriosa yielded 0.9% and 0.82% respectively. This supports the argument that Gloriosa can be a commercially viable source of colchicine, provided that it can be propagated at a fast rate. Gloriosa is a member of the order Liliales and the family Colchicaceae. Members of the family Colchicaceae are geophytes, having either corms or small tubers as their Read more […]

Round Leaf Chastetree, Beach Vitex

Vitex rotundifolia L. f. (Verbenaceae) Vitex rotundifolia L. f. is an evergreen woody tree, densely covered with short hairs. Leaves are opposite, simple, ovate, broadly oblong-elliptic, 2-5 cm long by 1.5-3 cm wide, rounded or abruptly acute at the base. Inflorescence panicles are at the terminal, densely flowered, 4-7 cm long with purple corolla. Fruits are globose, 5-7 mm. Origin Native to Temperate and Tropical Asia, Australasia and Pacific. Phytoconstituents Rotundifuran, prerotundifuran, vitexilactone, previtexilactone, vitexicarpin, vitricine, vitetrifolins D-G, vitexifolins A-E, isoambreinolide and others. Traditional Medicinal Uses In Malaysia, various parts of the plants are considered panacea for illnesses ranging from headache to tuberculosis. In China, the plant has been used for the treatment of cancer. A poultice of the leaves is used to treat rheumatism, contusions, swollen testicles and as a discutient in sprains. In Indonesia, leaves have been used in medicinal baths, as a tincture or for intestinal complaints. In Papua New Guinea, sap from crushed heated leaves is diluted with water and drunk to relieve headaches. The fruits are used to expel worms and in Vietnam, a decoction of dried fruits Read more […]

Achillea millefolium L. ssp. millefolium (Yarrow)

Distribution and Importance Yarrow, commonly called soldier’s woundwort or herb of the good Lord, owes some of its common names to its known pharmacological, antihemorrhagic, and sedative properties. Dioscorides went even further in the applications of this plant; it can be used not only as a vulnerary, but also has tonic, antispasmodic, antipyretic, and antimycotic properties. Also, the scientific name of the plant is related to its antihemorrhagic action. According to the Greek legend, during the Trojan War (ca. 1250 B.C.), Achilles healed the wounds of King Telephos with yarrow; thus, the name Achillea, millefolium indicates that the leaves are finely divided. A. millefolium (Compositae) is a herbaceous, perennial plant that can reach 30-60 cm in height. Commonly scented, it usually presents white flowers. The leaves are greenish-gray due to the numerous trichomes. The plant is common throughout Europe, western Asia, Siberia, and North America, growing wild in fields, woods, and pastures. The flowering period extends from May to October. It is harvested from early to late summer, and is used either fresh or dried. The essential oil from the leaves, particularly that from the flower heads, is the source of its Read more […]

From Herb to Medicine: Forms of Herbal Products

Obviously, herbal products start as plants. They make the journey from plant to medicine by being either harvested from the wild (called wild-crafting) or grown for the purpose of creating an herbal medicine. Keep in mind that many herbs are endangered in the wild from either overuse or destruction of habitat. Some of the herbs that are currently at risk in the wild include American ginseng, black cohosh, bloodroot, blue cohosh, echinacea, goldenseal, helonias root, kava kava, lady’s slipper orchid, osha, partridge berry, peyote, slippery elm, sundew, trillium bethroot, true unicorn, Venus’s flytrap, and wild yam. If you wish to work with herbs, don’t search in the wild to obtain them. Instead, create an herb garden and grow and harvest the herbs yourself. After harvesting an herb, dry it to reduce the moisture content without destroying the plant’s active chemical compounds. The herb should be dried by spreading it loosely on a rack so that air can circulate around it to prevent mold. The procedure for harvesting and preparing each herb varies with the time of year and the part of the plant that will be used for medicinal purposes. Herbs should be stored in dark glass containers with tight-fitting lids, away from Read more […]

New Zealand Medicinal Plants

Despite the small area of New Zealand, comparable with that of California, it constitutes a distinctive botanic region. Of the approximate number of two thousand species of higher plants found, 75% are endemic to the country. Many unusual plants occur and the chemical investigations conducted to date have confirmed the unique nature of the flora. In view of these facts it is surprising that only a few native plants have been commercially exploited. Several of the trees, notably Agathis australis, Dacrydium cupressinum, Podocarpus totara, P. dacrydioides, and Vitex lucens yield useful timber, but the stands of these have largely been worked out. New Zealand flax, Phormium tenax, is cultivated for its fibre which is made into ropes and matting. Kauri gum (really a fossil product) up to a value of £21 million has been exported but it is a declining article of commerce. It has been shown that useful dyestuffs can be produced from a number of plants, particularly in the genus Coprosma, but no commercial exploitation has resulted. Pharmacology is probably the most promising field for extending the use of New Zealand native plants and it should therefore be of value to have a check list of those plants reported to have Read more […]

Horse Chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum)

Horse Chestnut: Medical Uses Horse chestnut is used to improve circulation for varicose veins and to treat leg cramps and hemorrhoids. Historical Uses Historically, horse chestnut seeds were used as an anticoagulant and for nocturnal leg cramps. Growth The deciduous horse chestnut tree grows in the northern hemisphere. It prefers well-drained soil and sun or partial shade. Part Used • Seed extract Major Chemical Compounds • Triterpenic saponin aescin Horse Chestnut: Clinical Uses Horse chestnut is used to improve circulation and to treat leg cramps, varicose veins, hemorrhoids, and chronic venous insufficiency. It is approved by the German Commission E for “chronic venous insufficiency”. Mechanism of Action Horse chestnut has anti-inflammatory effects. It also reduces capillary permeability, protects the integrity of the veins, and reduces levels of leukocytes and proteoglycan hydrolases in limbs affected by chronic venous insufficiency. Horse Chestnut: Dosage Seed extract: 300 mg twice daily, standardized to contain 15 to 21 percent aescin. Some studies used 50 mg of aescin per capsule twice a day. Do not make tea out of raw, unprocessed horse chestnut seeds. Gel or lotion: Apply 2 percent aescin Read more […]