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 […]

The Medicinal Uses of Thyme

The uses of thyme, Thymus vulgaris and other Thymus species are well known, and extensive parts of the world get benefit from this plant group in medicinal and non-medicinal respects. Following the development of the medicinal uses of thyme we can see that thyme has changed from a traditional herb to a serious drug in rational phytotherapy. This is due to many pharmacological in vitro experiments carried out during the last decades, and even a few clinical tests. The studies have revealed well defined pharmacological activities of both, the essential oils and the plant extracts, the antibacterial and spasmolytical properties being the most important ones. The use of thyme in modern phytotherapy is based on this knowledge, whereas the traditional use of thyme describes only empirical results and often debatable observations. Therefore it seems necessary to present here the data available on the pharmacodynamics of thyme and thyme preparations in order to substantiate the use of thyme in modern medicine. The non-medicinal use of thyme is no less important, because thyme (mainly Thymus vulgaris) is used in the food and aroma industries. It serves as a preservative for foods and is a culinary ingredient widely used as Read more […]

Pharmacology of Black Pepper

Many spices used in food seasoning have broad spectrum of antimicrobial activity. Their antioxidant activity against lipid peroxidation enhances the keeping quality of food. Apart from the use as a popular spice and flavouring substance, black pepper as drug in the Indian and Chinese systems of medicine is well documented. In the Ayurvedic descriptions, pepper is described as katu (pungent), tikta (bitter), usbnaveerya (potency, leading to storing up of energy, easy digestion, diaphoresis, thirst and fatigue), to subdue vatta (all the biological phenomena controlled by CNS and autonomic nervous system) and kapha (implies the function of heat regulation, and also formation of various preservative fluids like mucus, synovia etc. The main functions of kapha is to provide co-ordination of the body system and regularization of all biological activities). Pepper is described as a drug which increases digestive power, improves appetite, cures cold, cough, dyspnoea, diseases of the throat, intermittent fever, colic, dysentery, worms and piles; also useful in tooth ache, pain in liver and muscle, inflammation, leucoderma and epileptic fits. Black pepper is called maricha or marica in Sanskrit, indicating its property to dispel Read more […]


Importance and Distribution of the Genus The genus Stephania (Menispermaceae) comprises approximately 50 species distributed from Africa through Asia to Australia. The importance of the genus in traditional medicine in Asia and Africa is well documented. The underground tubers of the vines are generally characterized by powerful pharmacological effects. Stephania abyssinica is a creeper indigenous to southern and eastern Africa. The leaves of this plant are used as a purgative and emetic, whereas the roots are employed in the treatment of roundworm, menorrhagia and boils. Stephania bancroftii is used by the aboriginal communities of Australia both as a treatment for diarrhea and as a fish poison. Stephania cepharantha (), a perennial plant native to mainland China known by the vernacular name “bei-yan-zi”, is commonly used as a folk medicinal herb. Decoctions from the tuber of Stephania cepharantha are traditionally used in China to treat a number of diseases including parotiditis, gastric ulcer, leukopenia, alopecia areata and alopecia androgenetica. The major components of this crude drug, known as Cepharanthin preparations, are the bisbenzylisoquinoline (BBI) alkaloids cepharanthine, isotetrandrine and cycleanine. Stephania Read more […]

Fritillaria spp. (Fritillary)

Fritillaria belongs to the family Liliaceae and its bulb is a traditional Chinese medicine (“Beimu” in Chinese). The bulb of the fritillary is divided into two groups according to its medical use: the fritillary bulb of zhebei and the fritillary bulb of chuanbei. The former is the underground bulb of Fritillaria thunbergii Miq. and the latter the underground bulb of F. sungbei Hsiao et K.C. Hsia, mss, F. cirrhosa D. Don, F. cirrhosa D. Don var. paohsinensis S.C. Chen, F. delavayi Franch., F. pallidiflora Schrenk., F. sichuanica S.C. Chen, and F. ussuriensis Maxim. Geographic Distribution F. thunbergii Miq. is a glabrous perennial plant. Its semi-globate bulb is white, 2-6 cm in diameter, and contains two or three thick bulb scales which are fused at one end. It is an erect, cylindrical, single stem with no branches, 30-70 cm high and green or light purple. The leaf is monophyllous and sessile. The leaves are opposite in the lower part of the stem, whorled with three to five leaves in the middle part of the stem, and alternate at the top of the stem. The leaves at the top of stem are shorter than those in the middle, and are lanceolate. The leaves above the middle of the stem and the apex of the leaf-like bract appear Read more […]

Round Leaf Chastetree, Beach Vitex

Vitex rotundifolia L. f. (Verbenaceae) Vitex rotundifolia L. f. is an evergreen woody tree, densely covered with short hairs. Leaves are opposite, simple, ovate, broadly oblong-elliptic, 2-5 cm long by 1.5-3 cm wide, rounded or abruptly acute at the base. Inflorescence panicles are at the terminal, densely flowered, 4-7 cm long with purple corolla. Fruits are globose, 5-7 mm. Origin Native to Temperate and Tropical Asia, Australasia and Pacific. Phytoconstituents Rotundifuran, prerotundifuran, vitexilactone, previtexilactone, vitexicarpin, vitricine, vitetrifolins D-G, vitexifolins A-E, isoambreinolide and others. Traditional Medicinal Uses In Malaysia, various parts of the plants are considered panacea for illnesses ranging from headache to tuberculosis. In China, the plant has been used for the treatment of cancer. A poultice of the leaves is used to treat rheumatism, contusions, swollen testicles and as a discutient in sprains. In Indonesia, leaves have been used in medicinal baths, as a tincture or for intestinal complaints. In Papua New Guinea, sap from crushed heated leaves is diluted with water and drunk to relieve headaches. The fruits are used to expel worms and in Vietnam, a decoction of dried fruits Read more […]

Asteraceae: Drug Interactions, Contraindications, And Precautions

Patient survey data from Canada, the U.S., and Australia show that one in five patients use prescription drugs concurrently with CAM. The inherent polypharmaceutical nature of complementary and alternative medicine increases the risk of adverse events if these complementary and alternative medicine either have pharmacological activity or interfere with drug metabolism. Since confirmed interactions are sporadic and based largely on case reports, advice to avoid certain drug-CAM combinations is based on known pharmacological and in vitro properties. Known Hypersensitivity to Asteraceae Cross-reactive sesquiterpene lactones are present in many, if not all, Asteraceae. Patients with known CAD from one plant may develop similar type IV reactions following contact with others. Affected patients are often advised to avoid contact with all Asteraceae, yet this advice is based on limited knowledge of cross-reactivity between relatively few members of this large family. Some authorities recommend avoiding Asteraceae-derived complementary and alternative medicine if, for example, the patient is known to have IgE-mediated inhalant allergy to ragweed. While a reasonable approach, this ignores a number of important facts: (1) Read more […]

Levisticum officinale Koch. (Garden Lovage)

Biology and Distribution Levisticum officinale Koch, i.e., garden lovage, a member of the Umbelliferae, is a perennial herb, 100-160 cm high, main root large, leaves di-tridigitatoinnate, flowers yellow-green compound umbel. Fruit ovoid or elliptic, lateral angular thick pinnation and back angular lower blunt pinnation, rarely long, one oil tube within angular trough. The herb grows widely in mountainous regions in the south of France and Yugoslavia (northern latitude of 43°-45°). It was introduced and planted in more than ten countries of Europe, America, Asia, and regions north of latitude 30°-60°. It was also introduced into China from Europe and planted as a medicinal herb more than 30 years ago. Cheng (1965b) reported the biological characteristics of growth, bloom, fructification, and winter dormancy, with observations on the phenological periods of this plant. Medicinal Value According to the literature, its roots, Radix Levistici, have long been cropped in the old European gardens as a domestic remedy which was used to cure pulmonary tuberculosis and heart disease 100 years ago. Its extract is a fragrant stimulant, reducing internal chill sudorific, diuretic, and emmenagog. In addition, as a flavoring, 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 […]

Garlic (Allium sativum)

Medical Uses Garlic is used for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, infections, and cancer prevention. Historical Uses Called the “stinking rose,” garlic has been used by the Egyptians, Chinese, Greeks, Romans, and native North Americans to heal many ailments. In the early 1900s, Dr. W Minuchin, a physician who was interested in the effects of garlic, performed clinical trials that showed its usefulness in treating tuberculosis, lupus, diphtheria, and infections. Growth Plant garlic cloves in the spring, about 2 inches deep and 6 inches apart, in well-drained soil. Planting garlic around vegetable plants helps to repel insects; planting it around fruit and nut trees helps to repel moles. Harvest the garlic when the top of the plant dies. Garlic: Part used • Bulb Major Chemical Compounds • Allicin • Ajoene • Selenium • Saponins • Fructans • Potassium • Thiamine • Calcium • Magnesium • Iron • Phosphorus • Zinc Garlic: Clinical Uses Garlic is used for hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, infection, and cancer prevention. It is approved by the German Commission E and the World Health Organization for hyperlipidemia and atherosclerotic vascular changes. Read more […]