Leontopodium alpinum Cass. (Edelweiss)

Distribution of the plant The genus Leontopodium (Compositae; Inulae; Gnaphaliinae sensu amplo) consists of between 30 and 40 species () found growing in mountainous areas of Japan (), Asia () and Europe (). A single species, Leontopodium alpinum Cassini, is considered to represent the genus in Europe () and the once separate Leontopodium nivale (Ten) Huet ex Hand.-Mazz. is now regarded as a subspecies, i.e. Leontopodium alpinum subsp. nivale (Ten) Tutin, stat. nov. (). The plant is protected by national legislation in Austria, Germany, Italy and Liechtenstein. Leontopodium alpinum, commonly known as edelweiss, is a perennial plant with a branching rootstock and fibrous roots (). Aerial structures exhibit wide morphological diversity (). Foliage leaves are linear to lanceolate in shape, 3-8 mm wide and pubescent. Inflorescence stalks develop from June to August and grow 2-45 cm high. The characteristically star-shaped “flower” varies in diameter from 1.5-10.5 cm and consists of an inflorescence made up of up to 12 densely aggregated capitula, which are subtended by an involucre of hairly leaves (). Leontopodium alpinum is traditionally found growing on limestone formations at altitudes up to 3140 m but can be easily Read more […]

Citrus in Traditional Medicine

Citrus in traditional Asiatic medicine In a comparative study of the use of herbal drugs in the traditional medicines of India and Europe, Pun () found a marked similarity between the drugs used in the two continents. He attributed this not only to the similarity of the vegetation in the two areas, but also to the influence that traditional Indian medicine, in particular the Atherveda, one of the most ancient repositories of human knowledge, had on Egypt, Greece and Rome. He listed the principal uses of a small number of these drugs, including bitter orange peel, which in India is used as an aromatic, stomachic, tonic, astringent and carminative agent, and lemon, which is used as a flavouring and for its carminative and stomachic effects. In the Valmiki-Ramayana, written after the Vedas and one of the most sacred of all religious books which enumerates the virtues of the medicinal plants that Lord Rama (Vishnu) met during his fourteen-year journey around different parts of India, Karnick and Hocking () identified and listed fifty of these drugs with their use as described in the Ayurvedica (or native Indian) system of medicine. The immature fruit of Citrus aurantifolia (Christm) Swingle was used as an fortifier, Read more […]

Bioactivity of Basil

Traditional Medicine Basil has traditionally been used for head colds and as a cure for warts and worms, as an appetite stimulant, carminative, and diuretic. In addition, it has been used as a mouth wash and adstringent to cure inflammations in the mouth and throat. Alcoholic extracts of basil have been used in creams to treat slowly healing wounds. Basil is more widely used as a medicinal herb in the Far East, especially in China and India. It was first described in a major Chinese herbal around A.D. 1060 and has since been used in China for spasms of the stomach and kidney ailments, among others. It is especially recommended for use before and after parturition to promote blood circulation. The whole herb is also used to treat snakebite and insect bites. In Nigeria, a decoction of the leaves of Ocimum gratissimum is used in the treatment of fever, as a diaphoretic and also as a stomachic and laxative. In Franchophone West Africa, the plant is used in treating coughs and fevers and as an anthelmintic. In areas around Ibadan (Western State of Nigeria), Ocimum gratissimum is most often taken as a decoction of the whole herb (Agbo) and is particularly used in treating diarrhoea. It is known to the Yorubas as “Efirin-nla” Read more […]

Anisodus acutangulus

Anisodus (Solanaceae) comprises four species and three varieties, e.g. A. luridus, A. luridus var. fischerianus, A. acutangulus, A. acutangulus var. breviflorus, A. mairei, A. tanguticus, A. tanguticus var. viridulus. All of these are distributed in China, and only one (A. luridus) in Nepal, Bhutan, and India. They are perennial herbs or subshrubs. Stems are dichotomous or trichotomous; roots thick and fleshy; leaves simple, alternate or subopposite, entire or large-toothed, petiolate. Flowers solitary, axillary, lateral or between branches, usually pendulous. Calyx campanulate-funnel or funnel-shaped with ten veins, lobes four or five, with varying forms and length; Corolla campanulate with 15 veins, four to five lobed, imbricate. Stamens five, nearly equal length, anther ovate, introrse, longitudinally split, pistil a little longer than stamen, pyramid-shaped ovary. Capsila globose or nearly globose. All four species are raw material for the commercial production of various tropanes, of which scopolamine (also known as hyoscine) and hyoscyamine (atropine) are particularly important drugs. Two drugs are used as a remedy for stomach pains, fractures, rheumatic pains, arthritis, spamolysis etc.. Hyoscyamine has a Read more […]

Betony For Digestion

Otherwise Dalechamps and Bauhin are consistent with each other in citing Musa. Concerning the organs of digestion, 4 drachms (16 g) of the leaves eaten daily for 3 days or taken in 4 cyathi (180 mL) of cooled water soothe pains of the stomach, and of the liver and intestines if taken in hot water, while in wine they heal defects of the spleen and allay inflammation of the colon. If the pain in the intestines is due not to ‘crude juices’ but to constipation, this dose taken in double the quantity of water, this time honeyed, will comfortably move the bowels. A lesser amount of herb, 3 drachms or 12 g, in goat’s milk drunk for 3 days allays the vomiting of blood. Betony taken frequently in wine treats jaundice, and generally prevents drunkenness, removes a loathing for food and corrects dyspepsia. Musa’s recommendations place much weight on the volumes of liquid in which the herb is taken and whether it is hot or cold. Dioscorides insists that the dried, powdered herb, kept in a clay pot, is the correct preparation of the herb, suggesting that the powder is simply stirred into the liquids which Musa proposes. Furthermore, Dalechamps and Bauhin emphasize how different the powers of the leaves and flowers are from those Read more […]

Wormwood: A Digestive Herb

Wormwood seems to be a herb par excellence for the whole digestive tract. Most authorities prize its actions in this respect. Dioscorides says it has astringent and warming properties; it is diuretic; it can purge the bilious elements through the stomach and bowel; is a preventive for nausea; drunk with hartwort or Celtic nard it is good for flatulence and stomach pains; and a daily infusion or decoction of three cyathi (135 mL) remedies lack of appetite and jaundice. He advocates two external applications for gastrointestinal conditions: plasters made with Cyprian cerate help chronic conditions of hypochondria, liver and stomach, and those with unguent of roses are used for the stomach. For spleen disease or oedemata, it is mixed with figs, soda and darnel meal, although it is unclear whether this is for internal or external use. Dioscorides reports the custom around Propontis and Thrace of making a wine, absinthitis, from wormwood, used for the conditions mentioned, only if the patient has no fever. The same wine is drunk in spring as aperitif to bring good health. The juice, however, should not be taken internally, at least not neat, ‘since it is bad for the stomach and gives headaches’ he says. In relation to the Read more […]

Rue: Anthelmintic And Spasmolytic

Another traditional use for rue is as an anthelmintic. Dioscorides wants it boiled in olive oil and drunk to remove intestinal worms. This indication passes down through the Arabic and Renaissance sources, then is rarely mentioned, although Cullen recommends a strong decoction as an enema for ascarides in the rectum. Williamson states that the herb is reportedly anthelmintic and recent ethnobotanic research shows that rue is a popular traditional medicine in rural parts of Italy for worms and externally against head lice and parasites. Despite being a non-indigenous herb, it is also in much demand by the people of the Bredasdorp/Elim area of South Africa not only for worms but also for bladder and kidney problems, convulsions, diabetes, fever, headache, stomach complaints and sinus problems, in doses of 1 teaspoon of the herb to a cup of boiling water. An anthelmintic action is derived from the volatile oils and bitterness of rue and leads us to consider the plant’s actions in the digestive tract. Dioscorides notes that eaten or drunk it stops diarrhoea and, taken with dried dill Anethum graveolens, abdominal colic. Pliny says that the pounded leaves in wine with cheese are given to patients with dysentery. Rue soon Read more […]

Thyme: Background. Actions

Common Name Thyme Other Names Common thyme, garden thyme, farigola, folia thymi, gartenthymian, herba thymi, almindelig timian, thym, thymian, thymianblätter, timo Botanical Name / Family Thymus vulgaris (family Lamiaceae or Labiatae) Plant Parts Used Leaves and flowering tops Chemical Components The primary constituents are the volatile oils (1-2.5%), which include phenols (0.5%), namely thymol (30-70%), eugenol, and carvacrol (3-15%), also flavonoids, apigenin, luteolin and saponins and tannins. Rosmarinic acid, caffeic acid and calcium are also found in significant quantities. The herb also contains bitter principles and salicylates. Historical Note Although thyme has been used as a cooking spice for centuries in Europe, it is also used medicinally to treat common infections, coughs, bronchitis and asthma. The 17th century herbalist Nicholas Culpeper recommended thyme for whooping cough, gout, stomach pains and shortness of breath. It was also used in perfumes and embalming oils. In medieval times the plant was seen as imparting courage and vigour. Thyme:  Main Actions Although thyme has not been significantly investigated in human studies, there has been some investigation into the activity of thymol Read more […]