The Therapeutic Potential For Cannabis

«Cannabis Use and Abuse by Man: An Historical Perspective» of this site provides a fascinating, historical account of the use of cannabis across many cultures and centuries. Suffice it to say here that any natural substance with over 5000 years of medical history will have attached to it a heritage of hearsay and legend through which one must sift to identify areas of true therapeutic potential for us in the late twentieth century and beyond. A summary of conditions for which cannabis has been used, ranging through various shades of rationality, appears in Table Medicinal and quasi-medicinal uses for cannabis and its derivatives: Indications for which only anecdote or reports of traditional use exist: aphrodisiac muscular spasm in rabies / tetanus Huntingdon’s chorea jaundice toothache earache tumour growth cough hysteria insanity menstrual cramps rheumatism movement disorders gut spasm pyrexia inflammed tonsils migraine headache increasing uterine  contractions in childbirth urinary retention/ bladder spasm parasite infection fatigue allergy fever herpetic pain hypertension joint inflammation diarrhoea malaria forgetfulness Indications Read more […]

Specific Medicinal Uses of Cannabis

The historical and contemporary, medicinal uses of cannabis have been reviewed on several occasions. Perhaps the earliest published report to contain at least some objectivity on the subject was that of O’Shaughnessy (1842), an Irish surgeon, working in India, who described the analgesic, anticonvulsant and muscle relaxant properties of the drug. This report triggered the appearance of over 100 publications on the medicinal use of cannabis in American and European medical journals over the next 60 years. One such use was to treat nausea and vomiting; but it was not until the advent of potent cancer chemotherapeutic drugs that the antiemetic properties of cannabis became more widely investigated and then employed. One can argue that the available clinical evidence of efficacy is stronger here than for any other application and that proponents of its use are most likely to be successful in arguing that cannabis should be re-scheduled (to permit its use as a medicine) because it has a “currently accepted medical use”. Specific Medicinal Uses of Cannabis: Use as an Antiemetic Specific Medicinal Uses of Cannabis: Glaucoma Specific Medicinal Uses of Cannabis: Multiple Sclerosis Spastic Conditions A discussion Read more […]

Herb-Drug Interactions: Isoflavones

Isoflavonoids This is a large group of related compounds with similar structures and biological properties in common, which are widely available as additives in dietary supplements as well as the herbs or foods that they were originally derived from. Isoflavones are the subject of intensive investigations and new information is constantly being published. You may have come to this monograph via a herb that contains isoflavones. The information in this monograph relates to the individual isoflavones, and the reader is referred back to the herb (and vice versa) where appropriate. It is very difficult to confidently predict whether a herb that contains one of the isoflavones mentioned will interact in the same way. The levels of the isoflavone in the particular herb can vary a great deal between specimens, related species, extracts and brands, and it is important to take this into account when viewing the interactions described below. Types, sources and related compounds Isoflavones are plant-derived polyphenolic compounds that are a distinct group of flavonoids. They can exert oestrogen-like effects, and therefore belong to the family of ‘phytoestrogens’. Most occur as simple isoflavones, but there are other derivatives Read more […]

Grapeseed extract: Actions

Main Actions Most evidence of activity derives from in vitro and animal studies for oligomeric proanthocyanidin complexes (OPCs) or grapeseed extract; however, some clinical studies are also available. The stilbene resveratrol (3, 4′, 5 trihydroxystilbene) has also been the focus of much investigation and exhibits anti-inflammatory, antithrombotic, anticarcinogenic and antibacterial activities, but it is uncertain whether significant amounts are present in the seeds and GSE. ANTIOXIDANT Grapeseed PC extract has demonstrated excellent free radical scavenging abilities, in both test tube and animal models, and provided significantly greater effects than vitamins C, E and beta-carotene. In vitro tests have further identified a vitamin E sparing effect, in which proanthocyanidins prevent vitamin E loss and cause alpha-tocopherol radicals to revert to their antioxidant form. INHIBITS PLATELET AGGREGATION Grapeseed extract has been shown to inhibit platelet aggregation, and combining extracts of grapeseed and grape skin produces a far greater antiplatelet effect in test tubeand ex vivo tests. Inhibition of platelet function was confirmed more recently by Vitseva et al (2005). STABILISES CAPILLARY WALLS AND ENHANCES Read more […]

Mullein: Background. Actions

Common Name Mullein Other Names Aaron’s rod, Adam’s flannel, blanket herb, bunny’s ears, candlewick plant, flannel-leaf, great mullein, Jacob’s staff Botanical Name / Family Verbascum densiflorum, Verbascum phlomides, Verbascum thapsus (family Scrophulariaceae) Plant Parts Used Flower — dried petals, leaves Chemical Components The flower contains water-soluble mucilage, polysaccharides, flavonoids (including apigenin, luteolin, kaempferol and rutin), caffeicacid derivatives, iridoid monoterpenes, triterpene saponins (verbascosaponin), sterols and invert sugar. One of the most investigated constituents isolated from plants in the Verbascum species is verbascoside, an iridoid glucoside. Whether the pharmacological effects demonstrated for this single constituent can be extrapolated to explain those for mullein is uncertain, as the effects of any herb are due to a number of phyto-constituents and their interaction with each other and the body. As such, information about verbascoside is included here in order to provide a further insight into the herb, but it should be interpreted accordingly. Verbascoside has also been isolated from other herbs such as Verbena officinalis, Echinacea purpurea roots, Euphrasia Read more […]

Quercetin: Background. Actions

Background and Relevant Pharmacokinetics Quercetin is a flavonol belonging to a group of polyphenolic substances known as flavonoids or bioflavonoids. The first flavonoids were identified in 1936 by Albert Szent-Györgyi, who was awarded the Nobel Prize for his discovery of vitamin C. Studies on the absorption, bioavailability, and metabolism of quercetin after oral intake in humans have produced contradictory results. The nature of quercetin metabolites in plasma is currently unclear and requires further elucidation, which may in part explain these inconsistencies. There appears to be marked individual variation in absorption rates ranging from 0% to over 50%. Factors that may improve bioavailability include: gender (especially females taking oral contraceptives), gastrointestinal flora, and concurrent intake of bromelain and papain. Absorption from onions is three times that of apples and twice that of black tea. The main determinant for the absorption of quercetin conjugates is the nature of the sugar moiety. Glucose-bound glycosides (quercertin glucosides) are effectively absorbed from the small intestine because the cells possess glucoside-hydrolysing activity and their glucose transport system is capable Read more […]

Turmeric: Background. Actions

Common Name Turmeric Other Names Chiang huang, curcuma, curcumae longae rhizoma, curcuma rhizome, e zhu, haridra, Indian saffron, jiang huang, jiang huang curcumae rhizoma, turmeric rhizome, turmeric root, yellow root, yu jin, zedoary Botanical Name / Family Curcuma longa (family Zingiberaceae [ginger]) Plant Part Used Dried secondary rhizome (containing not less than 3% curcuminoids calculated as curcumin and not less than 3% volatile oil, calculated on dry-weight basis). Chemical Components Turmeric rhizome contains 5% phenolic curcuminoids (diarylheptanoids), which give turmeric the yellow colour. The most significant curcuminoid is curcumin (diferuloymethane). It also contains up to 5% essential oil including sesquiterpene (e.g. Zingerberene), sesquiterpene alcohols and ketones, and monoterpenes. Turmeric also contains immune stimulating polysaccharides, including acid glucans known as ukonan A, B and C. Historical Note Turmeric is a perennial herb, yielding a rhizome that produces a yellow powder that gives curry its characteristic yellow colour and is used to colour French mustard and the robes of Hindu priests. Turmeric was probably first cultivated as a dye, and then as a condiment and cosmetic. Read more […]

Withania: Background. Actions

Common Name Withania Other Names Ashwagandha (and a variety of spellings including ashvagandha, ashwaganda, asvagandha), Ayurvedic ginseng, Indian ginseng, winter cherry Botanical Name / Family Withania somnifera (family Solanaceae) Sometimes confused with Physalis alkekengi, also known as winter cherry. Plant Parts Used Primarily root, although berry, leaves and bark are sometimes used. Chemical Components Steroidal lactones (withanolides, withaferin A), alkaloids (including withanine, somniferine, isopelietierine, anaferine, tropine, pseudotropine), flavonoids, saponins, sitoindosides, iron, choline, acylsteryl glucosides, coumarins (scopoletin and aesculetin), triterpene (beta-amyrin), phytosterols (stigmasterol and beta-sitosterol), essential oils (ipuranol, withaniol). Historical Note The name ashwagandha (one of the common names for this herb) comes from the Sanskrit meaning ‘horse-like smell’. Apparently, this name not only refers to the smell of the herb but also its strengthening and aphrodisiac qualities. It is often referred to as ‘Indian ginseng‘ because it is used in much the same way in Ayurvedic medicine as Panaxginseng in TCM, although it is considered less stimulating. Withania:  Main Read more […]