Bromelain (Ananas Comosus)

Medical Uses Bromelain is used to decrease swelling after oral surgery and episiotomy. It is also used as an anti-inflammatory, an antibiotic, a treatment for cancer and sports injuries, an aid to wound healing, and a treatment for mild ulcerative colitis. Historical Uses In folk medicine, bromelian fruit latex was used to treat wounds, burns, and cancer. It was also used as an aid to digestion. Growth Commercial bromelain is derived from pineapple stems. The major producers of bromelain are Japan, Taiwan, and Hawaii. Bromelain: Part Used • Pineapple plant stem Major Chemical Compounds • Sulfur-containing proteolytic enzymes () • Glycoproteins • Vitamins that contain enzymes Bromelain: Clinical Uses This herb has been used to help resolve hematoma after oral surgery and episiotomy. It has also been used as an anti-inflammatory, an antibiotic, a treatment for cancer and sports injuries, an aid to wound healing (Natural Medicines, 2000), and a treatment for mild ulcerative colitis. It is approved by the German Commission E for “acute post-op and post-traumatic conditions of swelling, especially of the nasal and paranasal sinuses”. Mechanism of Action This proteolytic enzyme has fibrinolytic Read more […]

Echinacea (E. angustifolia, E. purpurea, and E. pallida)

Echinacea: Medical Uses Echinacea is used for the common cold, infections, and low immune status. It is given with antibiotics and chemotherapy and acts as an anti-inflammatory. Historical Uses Native Americans and Eclectic physicians used echinacea as a natural anti-infective for colds and flu. Native Americans first introduced echinacea to the colonists. Growth There are nine species of echinacea. This perennial will grow in most herb gardens in the northeast. The beautiful flower of E. purpurea, commonly called “purple cone-flower,” may grow up to 6 feet tall. E. angustifolia has narrow leaves and is much shorter, at about 2 feet. It has pink flowers. E. pallida grows to about 3 feet and is much paler. All three species have been cultivated in the U.S. and Europe. E. angustifolia is listed as an at-risk endangered herb. Parts Used • Aerial (above-ground) parts • Whole plant and root Major Chemical Compounds • Alkylamides • Caffeic acid derivatives • Cichoric acid • Polysaccharides • Glycoproteins Not all active chemical compounds are found in each species of echinacea. Mechanism of Action Alkylamides, which cause a tingling sensation on the tongue, produce anti-inflammatory Read more […]

Cervical Dysplasia: Discussion Of Botanicals

Blood Root The blood-red color of the sap from the roots of blood root led to its traditional use as a blood purifier. It was used as an emmenagogue, in the treatment of respiratory conditions, as a strong emetic, and for the treatment of fungal infections and ulcers. By the eighteenth century, blood root was used topically to treat indolent chancres and tumors as an ingredient in the popular “black salve,” an escharotic treatment that was used topically for the treatment of tumors. Extracts of sanguinarine, an alkaloid from the herb, have been shown to possess anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antioxidant, antiviral, antiproliferative, and apoptotic activities, and are under active research for the treatment of cancer. Sanguinarine, an alkaloid compound fund in blood root, is a potent inhibitor of NF-kappa B activation.’ Sanguinarine is an ingredient in dental hygiene products, for example, toothpaste, used for its antiplaque activity and in the treatment of gingivitis. There is controversy over the safety of its use in dental products, with contradictory research over whether it may cause malignant cell change and lead to the development of leukoplakia. Most studies have concluded that the extract is safe for dental Read more […]

Herb-Drug Interactions: Coffee

Coffea L. species. (Rubiaceae) Synonym(s) and related species Arabian coffee is from Coffea arabica. Robusta coffee is from Coffea canephora (Pierre ex Froehner) also known as Coffea robusta (Linden ex De Wild.). Other species include Coffea liberica. Constituents The kernel of the dried coffee bean contains xanthine derivatives, the main one being caffeine (1 to 2%), with some theobromine and theophylline. It also contains polyphenolic acids such as chlorogenic acids and various diterpenes (e.g. kahweol, cafestrol). Use and indications Coffee has been used as a stimulant and diuretic. However, when roasted, coffee beans are most commonly used as a beverage. Pharmacokinetics The pharmacokinetics of caffeine are discussed under caffeine. Evidence suggests that chlorogenic acid is hydrolysed in the gastrointestinal tract to free caffeic acid, which is then conjugated to form the glucuronate or sulphate. Interactions overview Coffee contains significant amounts of caffeine, so the interactions of caffeine, are relevant to coffee, unless the product is specified as decaffeinated. By virtue of its caffeine content, coffee may also cause serious adverse effects if used with other drugs or herbs with similar Read more […]

Herb-Drug Interactions: Pepper

Piper nigrum L. (Piperaceae) Synonym(s) and related species Black and white pepper are derived from the fruits of the same species, Piper nigrum L. Black pepper is the unripe fruit which has been immersed in hot water and dried in the sun, during which the outer pericarp shrinks and darkens into a thin, wrinkled black layer. White pepper consists of the seed only, prepared by soaking the fully ripe berries, removing the pericarp and drying the naked seed. Long pepper, Piper longum L., is a closely related species where the fruits are smaller and occur embedded in flower ‘spikes’, which form the seed heads. Constituents Alkaloids and alkylamides, the most important being piperine, with piperanine, piperettine, piperlongumine, pipernonaline, lignans and minor constituents such as the piperoleins, have been isolated from the fruits of both species of pepper. Black pepper and long pepper also contain a volatile oil which may differ in constitution, but is composed of bisabolene, sabinene and many others; white pepper contains very little. The pungent taste of pepper is principally due to piperine, which acts at the vanilloid receptor. Use and indications Pepper is one of the most popular spices in the world, Read more […]

Herb-Drug Interactions: Glucosamine

2-Amino-2-deoxy-beta-D-glucopyranose Types, sources and related compounds Chitosamine, Glucosamine hydrochloride, Glucosamine sulfate potassium chloride, Glucosamine sulfate sodium chloride. Pharmacopoeias Glucosamine Hydrochloride (US Ph 32); Glucosamine Sulfate Potassium Chloride (US Ph 32); Glucosamine Sulfate Sodium Chloride (US Ph 32); Glucosamine Tablets (The United States Ph 32). Use and indications Glucosamine is a natural substance found in chitin, mucoproteins and mucopolysaccharides. It can be made by the body, and is found in relatively high concentrations in cartilage, tendons and ligaments. The primary use of supplemental glucosamine is for the treatment of osteoarthritis and other joint disorders. It is sometimes given with chondroitin. Glucosamine in supplements may be prepared synthetically, or extracted from chitin. Pharmacokinetics The oral bioavailabihty of glucosamine has been estimated to be about 25 to 50%, probably due to first-pass metabolism in the liver. Glucosamine is rapidly absorbed and distributed into numerous tissues, with a particular affinity for articular cartilage. Interactions overview Glucosamine supplements have modestly increased the INR in a few patients taking Read more […]

Goldenseal: Uses. Dosage

Clinical Use Goldenseal has not been significantly investigated under clinical trial conditions, so evidence is derived from traditional, in vitro and animal studies. Many of these have been conducted on the primary alkaloids. All results are for the isolated compound berberine, and although this compound appears to havevarious demonstrable therapeutic effects, extrapolation of these results to crude extracts of goldenseal is premature. It should also be noted that equivalent doses of the whole extract of goldenseal are exceptionally high. DIARRHOEA A double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomised trial examined the effect of berberine alone (100 mg four times daily) and in combination with tetracycline for acute watery diarrhea in 400 patients. Patients were divided into four groups and given tetracycline, tetracycline plus berberine, berberine or placebo; 185 patients tested positive for cholera and those in the tetracycline and tetracycline plus berberine groups achieved a significant reduction in diarrhea after 16 hours and up to 24 hours. The group given berberine alone showed a significant reduction in diarrhea volume (1 L) and a 77% reduction in cAMP in stools. Noticeably fewer patients in the tetracycline and Read more […]


AMOEBICIDAL AGENTS (antiamoebic agents; amoebicides) are used to treat or prevent infections caused by amoebic microorganisms, which are small unicellular organisms that prefer damp environments. Although now classified as part of the kingdom Protista, phylum Rhizopoda, amoebae were originally classified as Protozoa. Consequently, the term antiamoebic agent tends to be used as synonymous with ANTIPROTOZOAL AGENT, and a number of agents are effective against both. One genus of amoebae responsible for a number of diseases are the Entamoeba, found particularly in the gastrointestinal tract of humans. E. histolytica invades and destroys the tissues of the gut wall causing amoebic dysentery and ulceration of the gut wall. Infection of the liver by this species causes amoebic hepatitis. E. gingivalis, found within the spaces between the teeth, is associated with periodontal disease and gingivitis. In practice, treatment of amoebiasis can be divided into treatment of bowel lumen amoebiasis, and tissue-invading amoebiasis. The bowel lumen infection, which is usually asymptomatic, may be in trophozoites form (non-infective) or in cysts form (infective); and treatment is directed at eradicating cysts with a luminal amoebicide Read more […]


ANTIBIOTICS are, strictly speaking, natural products secreted by microorganisms into their environment, where they inhibit the growth of competing microorganisms of different species. In common usage, the term is generally applied to a wide range of chemicals, whether directly isolated from mould ferments, their semisynthetic derivatives, or synthetic chemicals showing some structural similarities. Also, in everyday language the term is used to denote drugs with a selectively toxic action on bacteria or similar non-nucleated single-celled microorganisms (including chlamydia, rickettsia and mycoplasma), though such drugs have no effect on viruses. In this loose parlance even the sulphonamides may, incorrectly, be referred to as antibiotics because they are antimicrobial. More confusing is the fact that a number of antibiotics are used as cytotoxic agents in cancer chemotherapy (e.g. bleomycin): see ANTICANCER AGENTS. Further, partly because of the recent development of high-throughput screens for lead chemicals, a number of new drug chemical classes have arisen from antibiotic leads (e.g. the CCK antagonist asperlicin and derivatives, from Aspergillus spp.). The antimicrobial antibiotics have a selectively toxic Read more […]


ANTIBACTERIAL AGENTS are a subset of ANTIMICROBIAL AGENTS normally used to treat infections caused by bacteria, on which they have a selective toxic action. A distinction can be made between bacteriostatic’ agents that act primarily by arresting bacterial growth (e.g. sulphonamides, tetracycline antibiotics, chloramphenicol), as compared to the ‘bactericidal’ agents, which act primarily by killing bacteria (e.g. penicillin antibiotics, cephalosporin antibiotics, aminoglycoside antibiotics, isoniazid, rifampicin). See ANTIBIOTICS; ANTISEPTICS; SULPHONAMIDES.