Picrasma quassioides Bennet (Japanese Quassia Tree)

The genus Picrasma contains about six species and belongs to the family Simaroubaceae. A wide variety of biologically active compounds have been isolated from members of this family, the majority of which are quassinoids. The wood from these trees has been used as a traditional medicine and lately some quassins have been reported to have important antileukemic properties (). Picrasma quassioides (D. Don) Bennett, (Simaba quassioides D. Don; P. ailanthoides Planch.) is a lofty, deciduous tree whose distribution is reported throughout the tropics, with most commercial supplies being obtained from the West Indies. It does, however, also grow in more temperate regions (). The slender tree grows to 20-40 ft. and is characterized by its young bark, which is reddish-brown and marked with yellow spots. The glossy green leaves are pinnate, bearing several long, ovate leaflets, which turn to a dramatic scarlet color in the autumn (). Picrasma quassioides, like some other simaroubaceous species, produce bitter drugs which have been used extensively in folk medicine. Quassia wood was originally derived from the bushy tree Quassia amara, but is now also harvested from Picrasma quassioides. After felling, the trunk and main Read more […]

Artemisia vulgaris L.

Artemisia vulgaris L., most commonly known as Mugwort, is a species of wide distribution throughout Europe, Asia and north America. Several other common names are listed by Grieve and Bisset including Felon Herb, Wild Wormwood and St. John’s Plant, noting that the latter name should not be confused with St. John’s Wort, Hypericum perforatum. The historical derivation of these names is suggested by Grieve, the herb having been used over many centuries. Most likely, the name “Mugwort” is linked with the plant’s use for flavouring beer prior to the modern use of hops (Humulus lupulus). Alternatively, Mugwort, may not relate to either drinking mugs or wort, but from “moughthe”, a moth or maggot since the plant has been thought to be useful in repelling moths. In the United Kingdom Artemisia vulgaris has received many local names. Grigson lists 24 names including Apple-Pie and Mugweed in Cheshire, Green Ginger and Smotherwood in Lincolnshire, Mugwood in Shropshire and Mugger in Scotland. Botany Habitat Mugwort is a hardy perennial common throughout temperate regions of the northern hemisphere. It grows readily in hedgerows, roadsides, river banks and waste places such as rubbish tips. Clapham et al. () state that geographically Read more […]

Wormwood: Worms And Safety

An action associated with bitters in general and wormwood in particular is that of anthelmintic. Nevertheless, experience is not uniform. Dioscorides, notably, does not document wormwood as anthelmintic. He reserves the designation for seriphon, sea wormwood ‘boiled down either by itself or with rice and consumed with honey it destroys intestinal and round worms, gently purging the bowels’, although it is bad for the stomach, he adds. It will do the same boiled with lentil gruel, and moreover fattens the sheep (Dodoens extends this to beeves, sheep and cattle) that graze on it, presumably by ridding them of worms. Santonicon acts similarly. I can find no reference from Galen to the use of wormwood for worms, only sea wormwood, as Dioscorides. There is a small debate here about Galen’s declaring sea absinthium as of the same sort and taste similar to absinthium, while Dioscorides says seriphon, sea wormwood, more approaches abrotanum than absinthium. Mattioli says it is a case of deciding who is at fault, although Parkinson holds they cannot differ so much in judgment and that the place in Dioscorides or Galen is ‘perverted by some writer’s fault’. Pliny, however, does appear to commend wormwood for ‘worms of the Read more […]


ANTHELMINTICS (anthelminthic drugs) are used to treat infections by parasitic organisms of the helminths family (helminthos, a worm). A large proportion of humankind harbours helminths of one species or another. In some cases there may only be minor discomfort, but in many cases there is serious morbidity. The form of treatment depends in part on the form of the infection. Intestinal forms include infection by tapeworms, including Taenia species. Tissue forms include Trematodes or flukes (genus Schistosoma, class Trematoda, phylum Platyhelminthes) cause schistosomiasis — or bilharziasis. The drugs that treat fluke infection by Schistosoma mansoni, S.japonicum and S. haematobium are called ANTISCHISTOSOMES. In all cases there is a complicated life cycle in which hosts other than humans are utilized. Treatment varies with the stage of the life cycle. Anthelmintic drugs, in order to act, must be capable of penetrating the cuticle of the worm or pass into its alimentary tract. They work in a variety of ways to damage the worm, causing paralysis, narcosis, or damaging its cuticle and so allowing partial digestion. Some drugs interfere with the metabolism, which may be very species-dependent. Benzimidazoles include albendazole, Read more […]