Historical review of the use of lavender

The classical physicians Lavender has been used as a healing plant and was first mentioned by Dioscorides (c. 40—90 AD) who found what was probably Lavandula stoechas growing on the islands of Stoechades (now known as Hyeres); this was used in Roman communal baths (). Dioscorides attributed to the plant some laxative and invigorating properties and advised its use in a tea-like preparation for chest complaints (). The author also recounts that Galen (129—99 ad) added lavender to his list of ancient antidotes for poison and bites and thus Nero’s physician used it in anti-poison pills and for uterine disorders. Lavender in wine was taken for snake bites stings, stomach aches, liver, renal and gall disorders, jaundice and dropsy. Pliny differentiated between Lavandula stoechas and Lavandula vera, the latter was apparently used only for diluting expensive perfumes. Pliny the Elder advocated lavender for bereavement as well as promoting menstruation. Abbess Hildegard The Abbess Hildegard (1098—1179) of Bingen near the Rhine in what is now Germany, was the first person in the Middle Ages to clearly distinguish between Lavandula vera and Lavandula spica (): On Palsy one who is tormented should take galangale, Read more [...]

Chamomile: Traditional Use and Therapeutic Indications

Traditional Use Chamomile has been known for centuries and is well established in therapy. In traditional folk medicine it is found in the form of chamomile tea, which is drunk internally in cases of painful gastric and intestinal complaints connected with convulsions such as diarrhea and flatulence, but also with inflammatory gastric and intestinal diseases such as gastritis and enteritis. Externally chamomile is applied in the form of hot compresses to badly healing wounds, such as for a hip bath with abscesses, furuncles, hemorrhoids, and female diseases; as a rinse of the mouth with inflammations of the oral cavity and the cavity of the pharynx; as chamomile steam inhalation for the treatment of acne vulgaris and for the inhalation with nasal catarrhs and bronchitis; and as an additive to baby baths. In Roman countries it is quite common to use chamomile tea even in restaurants or bars and finally even in the form of a concentrated espresso. This is also a good way of fighting against an upset stomach due to a sumptuous meal, plenty of alcohol, or nicotine. In this case it is not easy to draw a line and find out where the limit to luxury is. Clinic and practice Preliminary remark The suitability of the empirical Read more [...]

Hyoscyamus reticulatus L.

Tropane alkaloids constitute one of the distinctive groups of secondary metabolites of the Solanaceae and many plants containing them have long been utilized for their medicinal, hallucinogenic, and poisonous properties (). Hyoscyamus plants are a natural source for the isolation of hyoscyamine (atropine) and scopolamine, 6-7 epoxide of hyoscyamine. Both alkaloids are of medicinal importance because of their suppressive activity on the parasympathetic nervous system. In addition, scopolamine is also applied to suppress the central nervous system, whereas hyoscyamine excites it. Ratios of hyoscyamine content to scopolamine content vary markedly between plant species. These differences result in a higher commercial demand for scopolamine than for hyoscyamine (and its racemic form atropine). Both appear in the USA in the list of the ten most used compounds of plant origin (). Because many tropane alkaloid-producing species accumulate hyoscyamine as the major alkaloid and scopolamine in minor quantities, it is of commercial importance to increase scopolamine content in these species (). Moreover, these plants also synthesize the calystegines, a pseudotropine-derived group of alkaloids, found in considerable amounts in Atropa Read more [...]

Healing Powers of Aloes

Aloe is a medicinal plant that has maintained its popularity over the course of time. Three distinct preparations of aloe plants are mostly used in a medicinal capacity: aloe latex (=aloe); aloe gel (=aloe vera); and, aloe whole leaf (=aloe extract). Aloe latex is used for its laxative effect; aloe gel is used topically for skin ailments, such as wound healing, psoriasis, genital herpes and internally by oral administration in diabetic and hyperlipidaemic patients and to heal gastric ulcers; and, aloe extract is potentially useful for cancer and AIDS. The use of honey may make the aloe extract therapy palatable and more efficient. Aloe preparations, especially aloe gel, have been reported to be chemically unstable and may deteriorate over a short time period. In addition, hot water extracts may not contain adequate concentrations of active ingredients and purified fractions may be required in animal studies and clinical trials. Therefore it should be kept in mind that, in some cases, the accuracy of the listed actions may be uncertain and should be verified by further studies. There are at least 600 known species of Aloe (Family Liliaceae) (), many of which have been used as botanical medicines in many countries Read more [...]

Healing Powers of Aloes: Pharmacology and Therapeutic Applications

Constipation Aloe latex possesses laxative properties and has been used traditionally to treat constipation (). The old practice of using aloe as a laxative drug is based on its content of anthraquinones like barbaloin, which is metabolised to the laxative aloe-emodin, isobarbaloin and chrysophanic acid (). The term ‘aloe’ (or ‘aloin’) refers to a crystalline, concentrated form of the dried aloe latex. In addition, aloe latex contains large amounts of a resinous material. Following oral administration the stomach is quickly reached and the time required for passage into the intestine is determined by stomach content and gastric emptying rate. Glycosides are probably chemically stable in the stomach (pH 1–3) and the sugar moiety prevents their absorption into the upper part of the gastrointestinal tract and subsequent detoxification in the liver, which protects them from breakdown in the intestine before they reach their site of action in the colon and rectum (). Once they have reached the large intestine the glycosides behave like pro-drugs, liberating the aglycones (aloe-emodin, rhein-emodin, chyrosophanol, etc.) that act as the laxatives. The metabolism takes place in the colon, where bacterial glycosidases Read more [...]

Bioactivity of Basil: Other Activities

Plants belonging to the genus Ocimum exhibit a great deal of different pharmacological activities of which the most important, as concluded by the number of research reports, will be discussed below. The activities to be discussed in more detail are anti-inflammatory, immunomodulating and adaptogenic, anticarcinogenic, hypoglycemic and blood lipid lowering, radioprotective, effect on the CNS, antiulcerogenic, hepatoprotective and the effect on smooth muscle. In addition to these activities a number of other activities are also reported in the literature, such as antioxidant (), angioprotective effect (), effect on the reproductive behaviour () and antiwormal activity (). Anti-inflammatory Activity Ocimum sanctum L., popularly known as “Tulsi” in Hindi and “Holy Basil” in English, is a widely known sacred plant of Hindus. Different parts of the plant have been claimed to be valuable in a wide spectrum of diseases (). For instance, it is used for the treatment of arthritis, rheumatism, pain and fever in the Ayurvedic system of medicine (). Ocimum sanctum is now intensively studied in order to prove these activities by pharmacological evidence. A methanol extract and an aqueous suspension of Ocimum sanctum Read more [...]

Bidens alba (Smooth Beggar-Tick) and Bidens pilosa (Hairy Beggar-Tick)

The genus Bidens (Compositae) is composed of approximately 230 species having a worldwide distribution in tropical and temperate regions. It is primarily a continental group, which has become established on some islands, notably the Hawaiian islands. The centers of diversity are Africa and the New World, with each center having about 100 species (). Several species are so abundant that they are considered serious weeds. Two will be of particular concern here: Bidens alba var. radiata (Schultz-Bip.) Ballard () and B. pilosa var. minor (Blume) Sherff, another member of the complex. B. alba var. radiata (smooth beggar-tick) occurs in south eastern Mexico into Central America and in Florida, U.S.A.; B. pilosa var. minor (hairy beggar-tick) is primarily restricted to Central America (Ballard 1986). B. pilosa var. minor and B. alba var. radiata are erect annual herbs with opposite pinnate leaves. Flowers are organized into a capitulum with yellow disc flowers and five or six white (occasionally purple) ray flowers which are 5-7 mm long and have a nonfunctional style in the former species and ray flowers 15-18 mm long with no style in the latter. Both plants, in common with most species of Bidens, are found in moist, disturbed Read more [...]

Black Nightshade, Terong Meranti, Poison Berry

Solanum nigrum L. (Solanaceae) Solanum nigrum L. is a small herb, up to 1.5 m tall. Leaves are ovate, ovate-oblong, glabrous, hairy, 1-16 cm by 0.25-12 cm. Inflorescence of 2-10 in an extra-axillary cluster, with white or purple corolla and yellow central protrusion. Fruit is globose, black in colour but is green when immature, 0.5 cm in diameter, with many seeds. Origin Native to Southwest Asia, Europe, India and Japan. Phytoconstituents Solanidine, α-, β-, γ-chaconine, desgalactotigonin, α-, β-solamargine, diosgenin, solanadiol, α-, β-, γ-solanines, soladulcidine, solanocapsine, α-, β-solansodamine, solasodine, α-solasonine, tigogenin, tomatidenol, uttronins A and B, uttrosides A and B, solanigroside A-H and others. Traditional Medicinal Uses The stem, leaves and roots are used as a decoction for wounds, tumours and cancerous growths, sores and as an astringent. They are also used as a condiment, stimulant, tonic, for treatment of piles, dysentery, abdominal pain, inflammation of bladder, relief of asthma, bronchitis, coughs, eye ailments, itch, psoriasis, skin diseases, eczema, ulcer, relief of cramps, rheumatism, neuralgia and expulsion of excess fluids. The roots are used as an expectorant. The Read more [...]

Medicago Species (Alfalfa)

Distribution and Importance of Medicago Species The genus Medicago (family Leguminosae) contains a number of species, which, following breeding efforts over 2000 years, have become the world’s major forage legumes. Due to their ability to fix nitrogen, the various species have been cultivated for use as green-manuring agents and as a forage crop of high nutritional value to pigs, cattle, sheep, and poultry (). At various times, Medicago has also been used as a source of fiber for paper production and as a salad or vegetable garnish for human consumption, while the seeds have been extracted for edible oils and dye-stuffs. The most commonly encountered Medicago species are listed and briefly described in Table Common names, distribution, and uses of Medicago species. Within the individual species there is considerable genetic variability, which has ensured the distribution of the plants in a wide variety of environments. This large genetic pool has allowed the plant breeders to incorporate desirable traits into commercial cultivars. An example of this has been the development of cold-hardy alfalfa cultivars by crossing M. falcata with M. sativa (). Table Common names, distribution, and uses of Medicago species Medicago Read more [...]

Baptisia tinctoria (L.) R. Brown

Botany, Distribution, and Importance Baptisia tinctoria (L.) R. Brown (synonyms: Sophora tinctoria L., Polydaria tinctoria Michaux Willd., commonly known as rattle bush, horsefly weed, indigo weed, yellow indigo, or yellow clover broom) and other members of the genus Baptisia were traditional medicinal plants for the American natives (Millspaugh 1887). Leaves of B. tinctoria were also used as a plant-derived dye (Gr. bapto, Lat. tingere: dye). It is a member of the family of Fabaceae (Leguminosae) and forms bushy shrubs up to 1 m high with woody perennial rhizomes and roots and annual aboveground parts (). The round stems are usually erect, often widely branched, glabrous, occasionally slightly pubescent and yellowish green. The subsessile leaves are terminately compound, with subsessile cuneate, obovate leaflets of 1 to 1.5 cm length, and are bluish green in color. The yellow flowers form loose terminal axillary racemes. The floral bracts are lanceolate-setaceous to ovate acuminate, the pedicels are 4 to 5 mm long, the calyx tube length is 3 to 4 mm. The corolla is papilionaceous, the upper part (standard) is about 1 cm long, the wings and the keel about 1.2 to 1.3 cm. The keel is curving upwards. The ten equally Read more [...]