Sophora flavescens (Kurara)

Distribution and Medicinal Usage Sophora flavescens, (Kurara) belongs to the family Leguminosae and is distributed in Mongolia, the eastern part of Russia, China, Korea, and Japan. The dry roots of this plant have been used as antipyretic analgesic, bitter stomachic, anthelmintic, as an external preparation for eczema, and an agricultural insecticide in China and Japan (). A number of interesting pharmacological activities were reported for alkaloids and the extracts of this plant, for example, a diuretic activity, an antimicrobial activity, an antiarrhythmic activity (), and an antiulcerogenic activity (). History of Alkaloid Study In 1889, Nagai first reported the isolation of matrine, a main alkaloidal constituent, from the dry roots of Sophora flavescens. The skeletal structure of matrine was proposed by Tsuda (), and subsequently it was proved by synthetic studies (). The absolute structure of (+)-matrine was confirmed by Okuda et al. (). Several new alkaloids related to matrine were isolated and their structures were determined from Sophora flavescens and related plant species in the course of our continued studies of lupin alkaloids (). The biosynthesis of matrine was also investigated in intact plants of Read more […]

Quercus spp. (Oak)

The genus Quercus covers several hundred species and natural hybrids, distributed mainly over the temperate zones of the northern hemisphere (subgenus euquercus), as well as in tropical and subtropical regions of Asia (subgenus cyclobalanopsis). Oaks may be evergreen or deciduous trees, arborescent shrubs, or bushes. Their longevity often exceeds 400 years (). The different tissues of oak trees often accumulate large amounts of poly-phenols. These polyphenols are mainly tannins. The bark of Quercus robur and Quercus petraea in Europe (known as tan) (Meunier and Vaney 1903), and that of Quercus velutina and Quercus prinus in the United States (), were used on a large scale in the leather industry until the end of the last century. Bark, acorn cups, and galls from oaks, all rich in tannins, have been traditionally used in pharmacology for their astringent, hemostatic, and antiseptic properties. Tannic acid produced from galls of Quercus infectoria has been most commonly used; acorns from Quercus robur and galls from Quercus suber, as well as barks from both species, have also been used (). The main therapeutic applications of these tannins were externally to heal wounds, burns, dermatosis, hemorrhoids, etc., and Read more […]

Atractylodes spp.

Botanical Description The genus Atractylodes belongs to the family Asteraceae and comprises eight species of perennial herbs distributed in East Asia ():Atractylodes japonica Koidz. ex Kitam. in Japan, Korea, and China; Atractylodes koreana Kitam. (A. lancea var. simplicifolia Kitam.) () in Korea and China; Atractylodes lancea DC, Atractylodes chinensis Koidz. (A. lancea DC. var. chinensis Kitam.), Atractylodes ovata DC. (A. macrocephala Koidz.) and a few other species in China (Beijing Institute of Botany 1975). They grow wild, and some of them are cultivated in these countries as medicinal plants. Figure 1 shows A. lancea at the flowering stage. Flowers of Atractylodes are mostly (Institute of Materia Medica 1979) or entirely (Beijing Institute of Botany 1975) unisexual, and interspecific hybridization occurs (). The chromosome number is 24 in somatic cells of A. chinensis (), A. lancea (), A. lancea DC. var. simplicifolia Kitam. (), and A. ovata (). Usage of Atractylodes spp. Although young shoots of A. japonica are served as a wild vegetable in Japan, Atractylodes plants are mainly of medicinal value. Their rhizomes are important crude drugs prescribed in various preparations of Chinese medicine as Jutsu in Read more […]

Artemisia annua

Artemisia annua (Quing-hao), a fern-like weed, has been used in Chinese medicine for more than 2000 years in the treatment of fever. The active principle, artemisinin (quinghaosu, QHS, artenuin), a sesquiterpene lactone with a characteristic peroxide bridge, was isolated by Chinese scientists in 1972 from the leafy portion of the plants (). Assays carried out on other species of Artemisia failed to show any appreciable amount of artemisinin (TDR 1981). However, other species of the genus are considered important as a source of medicines and flavors. From Artemisia douglasiana, for example was isolated dehydroleucodin (DHL), a sesquiterpene lactone with antiulcerous properties (). Artemisia dracunculus, also known as tarragon, is used as a spice in cooking and to flavor vinegar, and Artemisia absintium used in the production of volatile oils (). Botanical Description Artemisia annua (), popularly known as sweet Annie, annual wormwood, or sweet wormwood is a member of the Compositae family (Asteraceae). It is an annual herbaceous plant that grows in wild forms in different parts of the world, exhibiting great variety in both shape and size. It ranges from small, almost prostrate plants to tall, erect specimens which Read more […]

Perilla and the Treatment of Allergy

Perilla (Perilla frutescens Britt.), a traditional Chinese herb, has recently received special attention because of its beneficial effects in the treatment of some kinds of allergic reactions without the side effects associated with some other used antiallergy medicines. In this chapter, the authors present a review of the problem of allergy and the current favorable evidence for the use of Perilla products towards its resolution. The Allergy Problem Allergy is an abnormal immune reaction of the body to allergens such as pollen, dust, certain foods, drugs, animal fur, animal pets, animal excretions, feathers, microorganisms, cosmetics, textiles, dyes, smoke, chemical pollutants and insect stings. Certain conditions such as cold, heat, or light may also cause allergic symptoms in some susceptible people. Some allergens are just specific to some individuals but not to others. Allergens may act via inhalation, ingestion, injection or by contact with the skin. The resulting allergy may cause the victim to have a medical problem such as hay fever (allergicrhinitis), or atopic dermatitis (eczema), or allergic asthma, with symptoms ranging from sneezing, rhinorrhea, nasal itch, obstruction to nasal air-flow, loss of sense Read more […]

Pharmacology of Poppy Alkaloids: Major Opium Alkaloids

┬áThe latex obtained by the incision of unripe seed capsules of Papaver somniferum and which is known as opium is the source of several pharmacologically important alkaloids. Dioskorides, in about AD 77, referred to both the latex (opos) and the total plant extract (mekonion) and to the use of oral and inhaled (pipe smoked) opium to induce a state of euphoria and sedation. Since before the Christian era the therapeutic properties of opium were evident, with the first written reference to poppy juice by Theophrastus in the third century BC. Powdered opium contains more than 40 alkaloids which constitute about 25% by weight of the opium and are responsible for its pharmacological activity. In 1803 the German pharmacist Sertiirner achieved the isolation of morphine as one of the active ingredients of opium. Morphine, codeine, thebaine, papaverine, narcotine and narceine are the most important bases, with many of the remaining (minor) alkaloids occurring only in traces. Morphine Morphine has long occupied an eminent position on the list of useful drugs. As a pure alkaloid, it has been employed for over a century and a half and, as the most important constituent of opium, it has contributed to the comfort of the human Read more […]

Solanum dulcamara L. (Bittersweet)

Biology and Distribution Solanum dulcamara L. (=Dulcamara flexuosa Moench) (), known as dogwood or bittersweet (Solanaceae), is a clambering or prostrate, perennial shrub which may grow to a height of 2 m (Hegi 1927). Its stem is angular and woody with the exception of the herbaceous top and ranges in diameter between 0.25 and 2 cm, rarely up to 5-6 cm. The leaves are alternate, long-stalked, sparsely pubescent on both sides, and quite variable in shape. The oval- to egg-shaped leaf blade is pointed at the tip. Its base, however, may also be cordate, arrow-shaped, or may consist of one or two lobes. Different leaf forms may be found on the same plant. The flowers emerge axillary in panicle-like loose clusters. The calyx bears five narrow teeth; the five joint petals are bright purple and their tips are somewhat reflexed when fully expanded. The five stamens have yellow anthers which form a conspicuous column. The fruit is a round- to egg-shaped berry, green when young and becoming bright red when mature. In Europe, the flowering season is May to September. It is distributed throughout Europe and is also a native to North Africa, West Asia, India, the USSR, China, and Japan. It is not clear whether its occurrence in Read more […]

Polygonum hydropiper L. (Water Pepper)

Distribution and Importance Polygonum hydropiper L. (family Polygonoceae) is a member of a genus of some 175 species. It is a semi-erect (25-75 cm) annual herb with a branched stem and lance-shaped leaves, carrying its greenish-pink flowers in slender racemes (). The species is widespread in most parts of Europe, temperate Asia, and North America, and it also occurs at scattered sites in North Africa. Across its main range it is abundant in the verges of ponds and ditches and on waterlogged grasslands and water meadows. Polygonum hydropiper is not grown commercially but has found an exceptionally impressive range of uses in folk medicine and also as a culinary herb, and this has led to the adoption of a rich variety of apt local names, e.g. fireweed, arsemart and smartweed are examples of some 20 English regional names in addition to the accepted vernacular name of “water pepper“. The flower heads have little odour but all the aerial parts have a bitter acrid taste and contain vesicant compounds that blister the skin upon repeated handling (). Medicinal use of Polygonum hydropiper goes back to Dioscorides (ca. 60 a.d.) and tinctures of foliage are used as diuretics, diaphoretics, and to arrest gynecological bleeding Read more […]

The Citrus in Pharmacology Treatises and in Therapy from the Eighteenth to Twentieth Centuries

In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, all Materia medica and Pharmacology treatises reported drugs obtained from Citrus species, already present in the above-mentioned Pharmacopoeias (Boehraave, 1772; De Rochefort, 1789; Edwards and Vavasseur, 1829; Chevallier and Richard, 1830; Ferrarini, 1825; Semmola, 1836; Cassola, 1838; Targioni-Tozzetti, 1847; Bouchardat, 1855; Orosi, 1856-57; Cantani, 1887). Boerhaave (1772) attributes to Citrus fruits the property of curing various illnesses (morbes), and lists citron oil among remedies for fevers in general, heart disease (Pulvis cardiacus, calidus, narcoticus), or to be used together with other medicinals against burning fevers (In siti febbrili, Decoctum in valida siti et debilitati); as an antiemetic (Haustus anti-emeticus), antiscorbutic (Antiscorbutica frigidiuscula), colluttorium (Colluttoria oris. In Calidis), in treating dropsy (Mistura aromatica, cardiaca, acida, sitim sedans, vires vitales excitans, lymphae fluorem concilians), infirmities in pregnant women (ad gravidarum morbos), as an aromatic cardiac medicated wine (yinum medicatum, aromaticum, cardiacuni) or in an acid aromatic cardiac mixture, and also in hue Venerea as Mistura anodina e diaforetica. An Read more […]

Citrus in Traditional Medicine

Citrus in traditional Asiatic medicine In a comparative study of the use of herbal drugs in the traditional medicines of India and Europe, Pun () found a marked similarity between the drugs used in the two continents. He attributed this not only to the similarity of the vegetation in the two areas, but also to the influence that traditional Indian medicine, in particular the Atherveda, one of the most ancient repositories of human knowledge, had on Egypt, Greece and Rome. He listed the principal uses of a small number of these drugs, including bitter orange peel, which in India is used as an aromatic, stomachic, tonic, astringent and carminative agent, and lemon, which is used as a flavouring and for its carminative and stomachic effects. In the Valmiki-Ramayana, written after the Vedas and one of the most sacred of all religious books which enumerates the virtues of the medicinal plants that Lord Rama (Vishnu) met during his fourteen-year journey around different parts of India, Karnick and Hocking () identified and listed fifty of these drugs with their use as described in the Ayurvedica (or native Indian) system of medicine. The immature fruit of Citrus aurantifolia (Christm) Swingle was used as an fortifier, Read more […]