Sophora flavescens (Kurara)

Distribution and Medicinal Usage Sophora flavescens, (Kurara) belongs to the family Leguminosae and is distributed in Mongolia, the eastern part of Russia, China, Korea, and Japan. The dry roots of this plant have been used as antipyretic analgesic, bitter stomachic, anthelmintic, as an external preparation for eczema, and an agricultural insecticide in China and Japan (). A number of interesting pharmacological activities were reported for alkaloids and the extracts of this plant, for example, a diuretic activity, an antimicrobial activity, an antiarrhythmic activity (), and an antiulcerogenic activity (). History of Alkaloid Study In 1889, Nagai first reported the isolation of matrine, a main alkaloidal constituent, from the dry roots of Sophora flavescens. The skeletal structure of matrine was proposed by Tsuda (), and subsequently it was proved by synthetic studies (). The absolute structure of (+)-matrine was confirmed by Okuda et al. (). Several new alkaloids related to matrine were isolated and their structures were determined from Sophora flavescens and related plant species in the course of our continued studies of lupin alkaloids (). The biosynthesis of matrine was also investigated in intact plants of Read more […]

Atractylodes spp.

Botanical Description The genus Atractylodes belongs to the family Asteraceae and comprises eight species of perennial herbs distributed in East Asia ():Atractylodes japonica Koidz. ex Kitam. in Japan, Korea, and China; Atractylodes koreana Kitam. (A. lancea var. simplicifolia Kitam.) () in Korea and China; Atractylodes lancea DC, Atractylodes chinensis Koidz. (A. lancea DC. var. chinensis Kitam.), Atractylodes ovata DC. (A. macrocephala Koidz.) and a few other species in China (Beijing Institute of Botany 1975). They grow wild, and some of them are cultivated in these countries as medicinal plants. Figure 1 shows A. lancea at the flowering stage. Flowers of Atractylodes are mostly (Institute of Materia Medica 1979) or entirely (Beijing Institute of Botany 1975) unisexual, and interspecific hybridization occurs (). The chromosome number is 24 in somatic cells of A. chinensis (), A. lancea (), A. lancea DC. var. simplicifolia Kitam. (), and A. ovata (). Usage of Atractylodes spp. Although young shoots of A. japonica are served as a wild vegetable in Japan, Atractylodes plants are mainly of medicinal value. Their rhizomes are important crude drugs prescribed in various preparations of Chinese medicine as Jutsu in 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 […]

Ptelea trifoliata (Quinine Tree, Hop Tree)

Ptelea trifoliata L. (Rutaceae) is a bush of North American origin that has been cultivated in Europe since the eighteenth century. Pharmacological properties (particularly bacteriocidal and cytotoxic activities) are due to the presence of coumarins and quinoline alkaloids. Botany and Distribution Ptelea trifoliata’s common names include: quinine tree, potato chip tree, and hop tree (the latter being the most widely used today); in Spanish, Cola de Zorillo; in French Ptelea a 3 feuilles, trefle de Virginie, Orme de Samarie – this last name was first used in France around 1800 and is still widely used (). Ptelea trifoliata L., described by Linnaeus in 1753, is extremely variable in its morphology and chemical composition. This explains the description of numerous varieties which have often been raised to the rank of species. The most recent revision of the genus Ptelea is by Bailey () who recognizes only three species: Ptelea trifoliata L., Ptelea crenulata Greene, and Ptelea aptera Parry, although he subdivides P. trifoliata into five subspecies and ten varieties. The Ptelea species are deciduous bushes, 3-4 m tall, with trifoliate aromatic leaves (). A large number of detailed descriptions exist (). There have Read more […]

Gentiana Species

Distribution and Importance Gentiana species belong to the family Gentianaceae, order Gentianales, superorder Gentiananae, subclass Asteridae, class Magnoliopsida (). The species are divided into several sections according to the morphology of the above-ground organs (). The subgenera Eugentiana Kusnezow and Gentianella Kusnezow () are entered in Flora Europaea as separate genera: Gentiana L. and Gentianella Moench (). The genus Gentiana comprises about 400 species distributed chiefly in mountain regions, especially in the Alps, the Carpathians, the Central Asia mountains, and the Andes in South America. Due to their impressive and colorful flowers, gentians decorate mountain meadows. Some species are also found in the monsoon zone of India, in New Zealand, and in southern Australia. More rarely, gentians are found in the temperate zone lowlands of the northern hemisphere (). The yellow gentian root was already mentioned as a remedium stomachicum by Galen and Dioscorides (). Apart from Gentiana Iutea L., there are other medicinal species included in many pharmacopoeias and plant registers of the world (). According to most European pharmacopoeias, the official drug may also contain material from Gentiana pannonica 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 […]

Citrus species and their essential oils in traditional medicine

The genus Citrus L. (Fam. Rutaceae) contains a large number of species (more than 400) (INDEX Kewensis, 1997) along with innumerable varieties, cultivars, etc. All cultivated species probably derive from plants native to tropical and subtropical zones of Southeast Asia (). India would appear to be the original cradle of the Citrus genus. We find references to their usage in ancient Hindu medicine as Amara-Koscba () under the names Jambira (Citrus acida) and Nardnga (Citrus aurantium). The lemon is one of the remedies found in numerous treatises on Vedic-Brahminic medicine, the most important of which is the Susruta (1300 BC) (). According to Bretschneider (1871), the Pent’ ts’ao Rang Mu, a book of Materia medica that draws together knowledge dating back thousands of years BC and is considered a true Pharmacopoeia, includes the fruits of Citrus digitata and Citrus japonica in section IV/2 (Mountain fruits). Of the hundreds of species belonging to the Citrus genus, only a small number were extensively cultivated and acclimatised, initially in neighbouring countries and later, at the time of the conquests of Alexander the Great (330 BC), also in Greece and Palestine. There is reliable documentation of the use Read more […]

The Citrus in the Old Pharmacopoeias

The importance of some species of Citrus (orange, lemon, citron) in therapy and pharmacy received official recognition with the appearance of the first pharmacopoeias. In the 1550 edition of the El Ricettario del I’Arte et Universita de Medici, et Spetiali della Citta di Firenze we find the recipe for a Sciroppo di Acetosita di Limoni. Later editions (Ricettario Fiorentino, 1802) included preparations using the leaves, fruit peel, fresh orange flowers, fresh citron fruit juice (Citrus limonia off., C. medica Linn.) and the peel of the fruit of lemon, Mela Rosa, bergamot etc. These were considered varieties of citron and were used for preparing Acqua Carminativa Comune. Orange and lemon peel was used for preparing Acqua di Fior d’Aranci (Vulgo Acqua Lanfa). The following are also described: Waters of whole citron or orange, lemon and bergamot peel; troches of orange or citron or lime, from the peel of the fruit; orange, bergamot, citron, lemon or Mela Rosa peel oil; Lemon juice syrup (Sciroppo d!Acetosita di Limoni) and Orange or Citron Peel Syrup. The Antidotarium of Carolus Clusius, published in Antwerp in 1561, describes how to prepare conserves of citriorum, malorum medicorum and limonum, and Syrupus acetositatis Read more […]

The Citrus in Pharmacology Treatises and in Therapy from the Eighteenth to Twentieth Centuries

In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, all Materia medica and Pharmacology treatises reported drugs obtained from Citrus species, already present in the above-mentioned Pharmacopoeias (Boehraave, 1772; De Rochefort, 1789; Edwards and Vavasseur, 1829; Chevallier and Richard, 1830; Ferrarini, 1825; Semmola, 1836; Cassola, 1838; Targioni-Tozzetti, 1847; Bouchardat, 1855; Orosi, 1856-57; Cantani, 1887). Boerhaave (1772) attributes to Citrus fruits the property of curing various illnesses (morbes), and lists citron oil among remedies for fevers in general, heart disease (Pulvis cardiacus, calidus, narcoticus), or to be used together with other medicinals against burning fevers (In siti febbrili, Decoctum in valida siti et debilitati); as an antiemetic (Haustus anti-emeticus), antiscorbutic (Antiscorbutica frigidiuscula), colluttorium (Colluttoria oris. In Calidis), in treating dropsy (Mistura aromatica, cardiaca, acida, sitim sedans, vires vitales excitans, lymphae fluorem concilians), infirmities in pregnant women (ad gravidarum morbos), as an aromatic cardiac medicated wine (yinum medicatum, aromaticum, cardiacuni) or in an acid aromatic cardiac mixture, and also in hue Venerea as Mistura anodina e diaforetica. An Read more […]