Choisya ternata (Mexican Orange)

Choisya ternata Kunth (Rutaceae family) are bushy shrubs of 2 m maximum height. They are ornamental, with persistent leaves and white flowers resembling those of orange trees whence their French name: Oranger du Mexique or English name: Mexican orange (). In Germany they are called Dreizahlige Choisya, and in their native country, Mexico, they are known as Hierba del Clavo, Flor del Clavo, Clavillo, and Clavo de Olor. The genus name is dedicated to the Genevan naturalist, Choisy (1799-1859). Botanical Traits and Classification The genus Choisya was studied by Gray (1888), Standley (1923), and later by Muller (1940). Choisya neglecta is the nearest to Choisya ternata, differing only by smaller leaflets and inflorescences. The other species counted by Muller are sometimes classified in a related genus, Astrophyllum, but according to Dreyer et al. (1972), the comparison of the chemical constituents of Choisya ternata, Choisya mollis, and Choisya arizonica cannot justify this distinction. Therefore, the genus Choisya contains seven species: C. ternata Kunth, C. neglecta Muller, C. dumosa A. Gray, C. mollis Standley = Choisya dumosa var. mollis Benson, C. arizonica Standley = Choisya dumosa var. arizonica Benson, C. palmeri Read more […]

Ambrosia tenuifolia Spreng (Altamisa)

Ambrosia tenuifolia Spreng (Ambrosiinae, Heliantheae) is a perennial herb of the Compositae family. The estimated total number of Ambrosia species reaches 40, all of them distributed on the American continent, except A. senegalensis, which grows in Egypt (). Ambrosia tenuifolia is a South American plant indigenous to Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Argentina. A. tenuifolia Spreng and A. elatior L. are known in Argentina by the names of Altamisa and Ajenjo del Campo. Both plants are used by the natives in medicinal beverages since several pharmacological effects have been attributed to them. Distribution and Importance of Ambrosia tenuifolia In Argentina, Ambrosia tenuifolia () is found in the Provinces of Tucuman Catamarca, Cordoba, San Luis, Santa Fe, Buenos Aires, and Patagonia. It can grow in fertile, sandy, argillaceous, humid, or saltpetrous soil. It is propagated from seeds and rhizomes, especially during spring. It blooms at the end of the summer and during the autumn. The composition of the essential oil of Ambrosia tenuifolia was studied by Talenti et al. (). It was evaluated by techniques in perfumery and considered to be of interest in the composition of perfumes. Its infusion is used in popular medicine Read more […]

Caffeine: Production by Plant (Coffea spp.)

Caffeine and Man During evolution Homo sapiens has selected from the plant kingdom’s vast diversity a few species containing caffeine and related purine alkaloids [PA] and has manufactured them into pleasant “stimulants”. This process occurred in different civilizations from East to West and resulted in six “self-prescribed” drugs which are coffee (Coffea arabica L. and Coffea canephora Pierre ex Froehner), tea (Camellia sinensis (L.) O. Kuntze), cocoa (Theobroma cacao L.), mate (Ilexparaguariensis St. Hil.), guarana (Paullinia cupana H.B.K.) and cola (Cola nitida Schott et Endl.). Since they are taken daily or at least very frequently, caffeine, the active principle, is a regular component of the human diet. For the major dietary caffeine sources Barone and Roberts () suggest caffeine content values as follows; 85, 60 and 3 mg of caffeine per 5-oz cup for ground roasted, instant, and decaffeinated coffee respectively; 40. and 30 mg per 5-oz cup for leaf or bag tea and instant tea respectively; 18 mg per 6-oz glass for colas; 4 mg per 5-oz cup for cocoa or hot chocolate; and 5 mg per 8-oz glass for chocolate milk. From product usage and consumption analyses, the same authors estimate that the mean daily intake is approximately Read more […]

Artemisia Ludoviciana ssp. Mexicana (Estafiate)

Estafiate or iztauyatl (Artemisia ludoviciana ssp. mexicana) is one of the most popular medicinal plants in Mexican phytotherapy and is nowadays used especially for gastrointestinal pain, as a vermifuge and as a bitter stimulant. The historical and modern uses of this species are reviewed. The first report of its medicinal use dates back to the 16th century, but at that time it was used for completely different illnesses. Only very limited pharmacological studies to evaluate these claims are available; anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antihelmintic effects have been reported. The aerial parts contain a large number of sesquiterpene lactones, flavonoids as well as essential oil which has not yet been studied in detail. Estafiate or iztauyatl (Artemisia ludoviciana ssp. mexicana) is one of the most popular remedies in Mexican phytotherapy. It is frequently sold in markets in the cities and also grown in many house gardens (). It is thus a locally important economic product and a phytotherapeutic resource which requires documentation of its regional or national importance as well as evaluation and monitoring for efficacy and safety. Plants generally are an important medicinal resource to many people in Mexico and Read more […]

Large cardamom (Amomum subulatum Roxb.)

Large cardamom or Nepal cardamom (Amomum subulatum Roxb.) is a spice cultivated in the sub-Himalayan region of north-eastern India, especially in Sikkim since time immemorial. In the past the aboriginal inhabitants of Sikkim, Lepchas, collected capsules of large cardamom from natural forest, but later on these forests passed into village ownership and the villagers started cultivation of large cardamom. The presence of wild species, locally known as churumpa, and the variability within the cultivated species supports the view of its origin in Sikkim (). Later the cultivation has spread to northern Uttar Pradesh, north-eastern States of India (Arunachal Pradesh, Mizorum and Manipur), Nepal and Bhutan. Sikkim is the largest producer of large cardamom; the annual production in India is about 3500–4000 mt of cured Large cardamom. The average productivity is 100–150 kg/ha, but in well-maintained plantations the productivity reaches 1000–2000 kg/ha. Nepal and Bhutan are the other two countries cultivating this crop with an annual production of about 1500 mt. This spice is used in Ayurvedic preparation in India as mentioned by Susruta in the sixth century BC and also known among Greeks and Romans as Amomum (Ridley, 1912). 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 […]

Pharmacology of Poppy Alkaloids: Major Opium Alkaloids

 The latex obtained by the incision of unripe seed capsules of Papaver somniferum and which is known as opium is the source of several pharmacologically important alkaloids. Dioskorides, in about AD 77, referred to both the latex (opos) and the total plant extract (mekonion) and to the use of oral and inhaled (pipe smoked) opium to induce a state of euphoria and sedation. Since before the Christian era the therapeutic properties of opium were evident, with the first written reference to poppy juice by Theophrastus in the third century BC. Powdered opium contains more than 40 alkaloids which constitute about 25% by weight of the opium and are responsible for its pharmacological activity. In 1803 the German pharmacist Sertiirner achieved the isolation of morphine as one of the active ingredients of opium. Morphine, codeine, thebaine, papaverine, narcotine and narceine are the most important bases, with many of the remaining (minor) alkaloids occurring only in traces. Morphine Morphine has long occupied an eminent position on the list of useful drugs. As a pure alkaloid, it has been employed for over a century and a half and, as the most important constituent of opium, it has contributed to the comfort of the human Read more […]

Tagetes spp. (Marigolds)

Tagetes species were used by ancient civilizations like the Aztecs for various purposes (). The pigments of the flowers were used as a dye and in chicken feed, oil was extracted from the leaves and used as an ingredient of perfumes, and the roots were also assumed to have interesting properties. Field tests in the USA in the 1930s showed that larvae of a root-knot nematode entered the roots of marigolds, but usually failed to develop and neither reached the adult stage nor produced eggs (). In 1953, a Dutch bulb breeder () reported the biological activity of common garden marigolds (Tagetes patula) against root rot in Narcissus caused by free-living nematodes. The latter finding was an incentive for a scientific analysis of the effect of Tagetes plants by the crop protection industry and the academic world. A few years after the initial report by Van de Berg-Smit (), Uhlenbroek and Bijloo () isolated and described some active principles from Tagetes plants. These chemicals belonged to a group of heterocyclic sulphur-containing compounds, the thiophenes. The thiophene oe-terthienyl, which occurs in Tagetes and related species, was first synthesized in 1941 () and isolated from plants in 1947 (). In the past three Read more […]

Elettaria cardamomum Maton (Cardamom)

Cardamom is a polymorphic species of the monotypic genus Elettaria. True cardamom or lesser cardamom is a monocot belonging to the family Zingiberaceae under the natural order Scitaminae. The varietal status of true cardamom has been designated as Elettaria cardamomum var. cardamomum (syn. var. minor Watt; var. minuscula Burkhill, Purseglove 1975). The seeds, contained in the dried fruits (capsules) and possessing a characteristic pleasant aroma, are the cardamom of commerce. Rosengarter () ranked cardamom as the third costliest spice in the world. In India it is the second most important spice next to black pepper (). The plant is a tall perennial shrub (), the aerial part of which consists of 10-20 erect, leafy shoots (pseudo-stem), 2-5.5 m tall and made of leaf sheaths. The shoots and the panicle emerge from a horizontal subterranean woody rhizome. Each panicle bears numerous small, white or pale-green flowers characterized by a conspicuous labellum with violet streaks radiating from the center. The flowers are hermaphrodites. The ripe fruit () is an ovoid trilocular capsule containing 15-20 aromatic seeds. Cardamom cultivation is mainly concentrated in the southern states of India, i.e., Kerala, Karnataka, Read more […]

Capsicum spp. (Peppers)

Capsicum peppers are known by a variety of common names (chilli, paprika, pimiento, sweet, red, cayenne, and bird), which are more closely connected with their uses as foods and spices than with any taxanomic differences (). However, the main division may be drawn between the sweet peppers, which are forms of Capsicum annuum and are eaten as a vegetable (), and the more pungent peppers, which can be Capsicum annuum, Capsicum frutescens, Capsicum baccatum, Capsicum pubescens or Capsicum chinense, and are generally used as spices (). The pungency of Capsicum peppers is derived mainly from the compound capsaicin (), one of the most pungent compounds known, which is detectable on the palate at dilutions of from 1 to 15 million (). It is with the pungent varieties of Capsicum, rather than the vegetable varieties, that the spice industry is concerned and the following figures are with reference to these varieties. The commercial cultivation of Capsicum spp. is widespread, with major producers including India, Pakistan, China, East Africa, the USA, and Mexico (). It has been estimated by the International Trade Centre (1982) that during the period 1976-1980, average imports of Capsicum ranged from 40000 to 44000 t/a, with Read more […]