Sanguinaria canadensis L. (Sanguinarius)

Sanguinaria canadensis L. () is a low perennial with mostly white flowers and thick rhizomes containing an acrid red-orange juice from whence the plant was named (sanguinarius, bleeding). This monotypic genus is a member of the Papaver-aceae family, known to contain a diversity of isoquinoline alkaloids, including the protoberberine and benzophenanthridine alkaloids which are found in many species of this family (). The synonymous Latin binomials for Sanguinaria canadensis are claimed to be Chelidonium maximum canadense, Sanguinaria acaulis, and Sanguinaria vernalis. Moreover, a number of vernacular names of Sanguinaria canadensis have been used, some examples include: bloodroot, Indian paint, red root, snakebite, and sweet slumber. Sanguinaria canadensis is distributed across Canada east to Nova Scotia, south from New England to Florida, west to Texas and north to Manitoba (). Historically speaking, the red-orange juice obtained from the roots and stem of the plant was used by native American Indians as a dye for clothing, baskets, and skin. Medicinal uses of this plant by native American Indians included a tea derived from roots which was used as a treatment for rheumatism, asthma, bronchitis, and as an emetic 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: Plant Cultural Techniques

Plant Establishment Natural stands In China Artemisia annua traditionally has been harvested from wild natural self seeded stands. Although no specific crop production statistics are available, because of a confidentiality policy of Chinese authorities, it is believed that the bulk of Chinese production still comes from wild stands. These stands are the source of much of the artemisinin derived drugs used in China and probably the bulk of those drugs exported elsewhere (WHO, 1994) although some selected lines of Artemisia annua are cultivated as a row crop in Szechwan Province (). Ideally the harvesting of raw material for medicinal drug production from wild stands is not a good policy (). The plant material in wild stands is typically very variable in its content of the required medicinal constituents and this has an impact on the economics of drug extraction. Added to this the continual encroachment and elimination of wild stands will ultimately limit the source of genetic variability which is vital to the development of improved seed lines (). Another negative factor against utilisation of wild stands is that transport distances often become uneconomic with a crop such as Artemisia annua with a relatively low artemisinin 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 […]

Neem in Agriculture

Earlier Reports on Pesticide Activities The activity of neem against locusts, though not well documented, has been well known to Indian farmers since very early times and some information about it is available in the earlier publications (). It was mentioned that locusts avoided feeding on leaves sprayed with crude extracts of neem and China berry. It was Robert Larson of Vikwood Botanicals, USA, who during his many business trips to India, brought to the notice of American scientific workers the property of neem against insects. This was the era when the use of synthetic pesticides was widespread, and more and more health hazards about them were coming to light, but no alternative was in sight. There was a need for safer and effective biodegradable pest control compounds with greater stability. The Problems Created by Synthetic Pesticides It was seen that the continuous and indiscriminate use of synthetic chemicals for the control of insects led to the following problems: Environmental pollution, as the chemicals brought about biochemical changes in the various organisms. Health hazards due to high residue levels. Indiscriminate destruction of insects, without any consideration of their beneficial or harmful 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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

Antifungal activity of eucalyptus oils

Human pathogens The volatile oil from Eucalyptus camaldulensis (syn. E. rostrata) has been the subject of several studies where the target organisms were dermatophytic fungi. Singh et al. () tested the oil against four human pathogens, Trichophyton mentagrophytes, Epidermophyton floccosum, Microsporum cants and M. gypseum, as well as two storage fungi, Aspergillus nidulans and A. terreus. At concentrations of 10,000 ppm (1 per cent) the oil showed fungicidal activity towards all the test organisms. In a second study (), a combination of oils from E. camaldulensis and Juniperus communis was found to be more effective than either single oil against Epidermophyton floccosum, M. gypseum and Paecilomyces variotii. The minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) and time taken to inhibit mycelial growth were less with the mixture than with the individual oils, suggesting that there were synergistic interactions between the components present in the two oils. In a wide-ranging study Pattnaik et al. () tested ten essential oils, one of them from Eucalyptus citriodora, against twelve test fungi (mostly human pathogens, with a few plant pathogens): Alternaria citrii, Aspergillus fumigatus, A. oryzae, Candida albicans, Cryptococcus 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 […]