Aloes and the immune system

There is a moderate scientific literature on the immunological effects of extracts from plants of the genus Aloe. Unfortunately, it is difficult to assess the significance of many of these studies because of two problems. First, most studies have been undertaken using many different, poorly characterized, complex aloe extracts. Second, studies have been performed using several different Aloe species, making comparisons impossible. Although anecdotal reports describe a wide variety of both immunostimulating and immunosuppressive effects, controlled scientific studies have substantiated very few of these. Most studies that have been performed have focused on the clear mesophyll gel of the Aloe vera leaf and on its major storage carbohydrate, acetylated mannan (acemannan). Recently a unique pectin has been isolated from aloe mesophyll cell walls and appears to have unique and important properties. Some consistent properties have, however, been noted. Thus aloe gel extracts and partially purified acemannan preparations have mild anti-inflammatory activity and multiple possible pathways for this activity have been investigated. Aloe extracts also have some limited macrophage activating properties. These include the release Read more […]

Anthemis nobilis L. (Roman Chamomile)

Anthemis nobilis L. (syn. Anthemis odorata Lamk.; Chamaemelum nobile L., All.; Chamaemelum odoratum Dod.; Chamomilla nobilis God.; Leucanthemum odoratum Eid. Ap.; Ormenis nobilis Gay), so-called Roman chamomile, is a perennial herb of the Asteraceae family. It is native to the southwest of Europe (France, Spain, and Portugal), and has spread all over the Europe. It is also present in southwest Asia. The plant reaches a height of 15 to 30 cm and generally flowers from June to September. A. nobilis plants are cultivated in the south of England, Belgium, France, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Egypt, and Argentina. In France (Anjou) more than 160 ha are devoted to this cultivation; the production yield is about 1 ton of dry flowers per ha. As a result of breeding, some of the tubular florets present in the wild plant have become ligulated, and it is these “double” or “semi-double” flower heads which form the commercial drug. The double variety (cultivar) is the main source of the commercial drug today, and has been certainly known since the 18th century; it is sterile, and is propagated vegetatively by suckering. The flowers are collected in dry weather and dried; storage is achieved in the absence Read more […]

Drosera spp. (Sundew)

“Ancient botanical treatises and pharmacopoeias attribute various properties to the sundew, or Drosera, whose red droplets of mucilage do not dry out in the sun. Certain extracts of these plants serve as treatment for corns, verrucas, and burns. Infusions and other extracts are used against coughs, respiratory disorders, tuberculosis, arteriosclerosis, inflammations, intestinal illnesses, and syphilis. These preparations are diuretic, soothing and even aphrodisiac”.. Drosera extracts are still being used against infections and ailments of the respiratory tract. Plumbagin and related compounds occur in the Droseraceae and are thought to be responsible for its therapeutic properties. Although plumbagin occurs in many species of Drosera the compound is also extracted from species of Plumbago (). Frequent harvesting of natural populations of Drosera in Europe have resulted in the plants becoming increasingly scarce and alternate sources of plants are therefore being sought. Vegetative propagation of Drosera and the production of plumbagin in vitro may serve as an alternative to the utilization of natural populations. Distribution and General Morphology of Drosera The genus Drosera was the first of the carnivorous Read more […]

Anxiety Disorders: Supplements With Possible Efficacy

In addition to supplements discussed above, a few other compounds may also have some efficacy in treating symptoms of anxiety. However, since the data that supports the use of the following supplements is extremely limited, clinicians should proceed with caution, and consider the use of the compounds discussed in this section as experimental. St. John’s Wort As described in site, St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum) is an herb that exists in many species throughout the world, and it is widely used as an antidepressant. It is available in a variety of preparations, including capsules, liquid, oils, and raw herb to be brewed as tea. St. John’s Wort contains a plethora of active ingredients, including flavonoids, naphthodianthrones, phloroglucinols, phenolic acids, terpenes, and xanthones. These exert a variety of psychoactive effects, and several of these are described below. Of all herbal supplements, St. John’s Wort is the one that has been researched most extensively and there is strong support for its efficacy in reducing depressive symptoms. The use of St. John’s Wort as an anxiolytic is more recent, but a few studies suggest that is may be effective. Davidson and Connor (2001) reported case studies of patients Read more […]

Aloe (Aloe vera)

Medical Uses Aloe is discussed here for external use only. It may be applied topically for wound healing, insect bites, burns, and sunburn. Historical Uses Aloe has been used as a medicinal plant to heal the skin for more than 4000 years. It is also called the burn plant. Growth This member of the lily family may grow to 30 feet or more in height. It may also be grown as a houseplant and is cultivated in the West Indies. Unlike most plants, aloe maybe grown in the bedroom because it maybe beneficial, helping to increase oxygen during sleep time and removing toxins. Part Used • Gel inside leaves Major Chemical Compounds • Anthraquinones (aloin.barbaloin) • Polysaccharides (glycoproteins, acemannan, mucopolysaccharides) • Prostaglandins • Fatty acids • Zinc • Vitamins C and E Aloe: Clinical Uses Aloe is discussed here for external use only. It maybe applied topically for wound healing, insect bites, burns, and sunburn. Mechanism of Action Prostaglandins decrease inflammation and promote wound healing. Vitamin C, vitamin E, and zinc are needed for wound healing also. Polysaccharides assist in wound repair and epidermal growth. Aloe: Dosage In the store, look for products that Read more […]

Turmeric (Curcuma longa)

Turmeric: Medical Uses Turmeric inhibits cancer, has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, and lowers cholesterol levels. It may be used for stomach upset, acne, dermatitis, infections, dandruff, gastritis, gingivitis, herpes, inflammation, sunburn, and psoriasis. Historical Uses Turmeric was used internally to regulate blood sugar in diabetics and to prevent colon cancer. It was applied topically as a paste to reduce canker sores and cold sores. It was also used as a yellow dye for the robes of Buddist monks. Turmeric is also known as Indian saffron or yellow ginger. Crowth A member of the ginger family, turmeric is a perennial plant cultivated in tropical regions of Asia. Part Used • Root Major Chemical Compounds • Curcumin • Volatile oils • Tumerone • Atlantone and zingiberone sugars • Resins • Proteins • Vitamins and minerals. Turmeric: Clinical Uses Turmeric inhibits cancer, has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, and lowers cholesterol levels. It is approved by the German Commission E and the World Health Organization for dyspepsia. It is also used for acne, dermatitis, infections, dandruff, gastritis, gingivitis, herpes, inflammation, sunburn, and psoriasis. Read more […]

Witch Hazel (Hamamelis virginiana)

Witch Hazel: Medical Uses Witch hazel may be used for hemorrhoids, varicose veins, sprains, bruises, muscle aches, scrapes, and sunburn. Historical Uses In folklore, witch hazel was used externally for inflammation and hemorrhoids. It is still available over the counter in pharmacies and is present in most home medicine chests. Growth Witch hazel is an ornamental tree with yellow flowers that have narrow petals. It grows wild in forests from Canada to Florida. Parts Used • Leaves • Bark Major Chemical Compounds • Tannins (found more in leaves than in bark) • Gallic acid • Bitters Witch Hazel: Clinical Uses Witch hazel may be used for hemorrhoids, varicose veins, sprains, bruises, muscle aches, scrapes, and sunburn. It is approved by the German Commission E for “minor skin injuries, local inflammation of the skin and mucous membranes, hemorrhoids and varicose veins”. Mechanism of Action Astringent properties result from tannins in the leaves and bark. They control bleeding and reduce inflammation. Witch Hazel: Dosage Undistilled or unrefined witch hazel: Use this form of witch hazel externally three to four times daily. It also may be used as a gel, an ointment, a lotion, or a salve. Decoction Read more […]

Rosa Damascena

Rosa damascena, damask rose Family: Rosaceae Part used: flower petals, hips Forty-seven species within the Rosa genus are found wild in Europe, including Rosa gallica L, with Rosa sempervirens L. in more southern areas and the Rosa canina L. group in more northerly areas. The species have some common characteristics: firm stems, which are usually prickly, and bear pinnate leaves with stipules, which are usually deciduous. Terminal flowers are often white or pink and single or borne in corymbs. The roots are stout and roses are generally very hardy. Innumerable hybrids are cultivated in gardens and their ancestry can be complex mixtures of European and east Asian species. The complex history of the cultivation of roses is discussed by Shepherd (1978). ‘Old roses’ is the term used for the groups of roses which existed before 1857 when the first hybrid tea rose cv. La France appeared. The following four groups are significant and examples are given of varieties. Rosa x damascena Mill, is a pink rose that is a cultivated hybrid and is therefore correctly written as Rosa x damascena. It is argued that it developed in Iran as a cross between Rosa moschata Benth., Rosa gallica L. and Rosa feldschenkoana Regel. Rosa Read more […]

External Use As An Astringent

Before moving to current practice, we can trace long usage of tormentil as an astringent in external remedies. Dioscorides advises the decoction of root, boiled down to one third, held in the mouth to relieve toothache, used as a rinse to control putrid humours in the mouth and as a gargle for hoarseness of the trachea. These are also given by Dodoens, who suggests the root and the leaf together. Dioscorides then gives a long list of indications and recommends a preparation of boiled root, ground up in vinegar to keep shingles in check, restrain herpes, disperse scrophulous swellings in glands, indurations, swellings, aneurysms, abscesses, erysipelas, fleshy excrescences in fingers, callous lumps and mange. Galen recommends pentaphyllum to dry wounds. Apuleius advises the juice of the herb bruised and mixed with egg yolk, rubbed on painful feet to take away the pain in 3 days. This usage also is given by Dalechamps and Bauhin, and reappears as a balm for the feet in Gloucestershire. The Salernitan herbal refers to tormentil, which resembles cinquefoil, and recommends the juice of the root placed inside a fistula and the juice mixed with white wine applied for fleck in the eye. Turner finds it similar to bistort Polygonum Read more […]

Green tea: Interactions. Contraindications. Pregnancy Use. Practice Points

Adverse Reactions Due to the caffeine content of the herb, CNS stimulation and diuresis is possible when consumed in large amounts. One clinical study found an absence of any severe adverse effects when 15 green tea tablets were taken daily (2.25 g green tea extracts, 337.5 mg EGCG and 135 mg caffeine) for 6 months. Significant Interactions Controlled studies are not available for green tea, so interactions are speculative and based on evidence of pharmacological activity. Therefore, clinical significance is unknown. ANTICOAGULANTS Antagonistic interaction — a case of excessive consumption (2.25-4.5 L of green tea/day) was reported to inhibit warfarin activity and decrease the INR. Intake of large quantities of green tea should be done with caution. HYPOGLYCAEMIC AGENTS Caffeine-containing beverages can increase blood sugar levels when used in sufficient quantity (200 mg of caffeine); however, hypoglycaemic activity has been reported for green tea, which could theoretically negate this effect — the outcome of this combination is uncertain, therefore observe patient. IRON Tannins found in herbs such as Camellia sinensis can bind to iron and reduce its absorption — separate doses by at least 2 hours. Read more […]