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 […]

Grape Seed (Vitis Vinifera)

Medical Uses Grape seed extract is used as an antioxidant and for circulatory problems, varicose veins, sports injuries, and vision problems. Historical Uses Grapes have been eaten and consumed in wines for centuries. Grape seed extract was patented in 1970. Growth Wild grapes grow in warm regions of the northern hemisphere, South Africa, and South America. Part Used • Seed (red grape, crushed) Major Chemical Compounds • Essential fatty acids • Vitamin E • Procyanidins (antioxidant chemicals) • Flavonoids Grape Seed: Clinical Uses Grape seed extract is used as an antioxidant and for circulatory problems, varicose veins, sports injuries, and vision problems. It may be beneficial in the treatment of chronic pancreatitis. Mechanism of Action Grape seed extract protects against free radicals, which results in its antioxidant effects. Procyanidins strengthen blood vessels. A beneficial effect of grape seed proanthocyanidins is the chemoprevention of cellular damage, although its mechanism is not clearly understood. Grape Seed: Dosage Grape seed extract is standardized to 85 to 95 percent procyanidins. Capsules and tablets: 50 to 100 mg a day for prevention and 150 to 300 mg a day for Read more […]

Bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus)

Medical Uses Bilberry is used as an antioxidant and as a treatment for varicose veins, night blindness, diabetes, diarrhea, hemorrhoids, and gum inflammation. It may be used to treat diarrhea in children. Historical Uses This herb has been used since the Middle Ages, primarily in Europe, for kidney disorders, diarrhea, respiratory infections, and treatment for scurvy. Growth Bilberry is known as the European blueberry and is larger than the American blueberry. It grows in temperate zones. Bilberry and blueberry are from the same family. Bilberry: Parts Used • Dried, ripe fruit • Leaves Major Chemical Compounds • Glucoquinones (in leaves), which reduce blood glucose • Anthocyanosides (in fruits), which have been shown experimentally to dilate blood vessels • Tannins, flavonoids Bilberry: Clinical Uses Bilberry is used for antioxidant effects and for varicose veins, night blindness, diabetes, diarrhea, hemorrhoids, and gum inflammation. It is approved by the German Commission E for “non-specific acute diarrhea, mild inflammation of the mucous membranes and throat”. It maybe used to treat nonspecific diarrhea in children, as noted in Blumenthal et al. (2000). Mechanism of Action The tannins Read more […]

Horse Chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum)

Horse Chestnut: Medical Uses Horse chestnut is used to improve circulation for varicose veins and to treat leg cramps and hemorrhoids. Historical Uses Historically, horse chestnut seeds were used as an anticoagulant and for nocturnal leg cramps. Growth The deciduous horse chestnut tree grows in the northern hemisphere. It prefers well-drained soil and sun or partial shade. Part Used • Seed extract Major Chemical Compounds • Triterpenic saponin aescin Horse Chestnut: Clinical Uses Horse chestnut is used to improve circulation and to treat leg cramps, varicose veins, hemorrhoids, and chronic venous insufficiency. It is approved by the German Commission E for “chronic venous insufficiency”. Mechanism of Action Horse chestnut has anti-inflammatory effects. It also reduces capillary permeability, protects the integrity of the veins, and reduces levels of leukocytes and proteoglycan hydrolases in limbs affected by chronic venous insufficiency. Horse Chestnut: Dosage Seed extract: 300 mg twice daily, standardized to contain 15 to 21 percent aescin. Some studies used 50 mg of aescin per capsule twice a day. Do not make tea out of raw, unprocessed horse chestnut seeds. Gel or lotion: Apply 2 percent aescin Read more […]

Witch Hazel (Hamamelis virginiana)

Witch Hazel: Medical Uses Witch hazel may be used for hemorrhoids, varicose veins, sprains, bruises, muscle aches, scrapes, and sunburn. Historical Uses In folklore, witch hazel was used externally for inflammation and hemorrhoids. It is still available over the counter in pharmacies and is present in most home medicine chests. Growth Witch hazel is an ornamental tree with yellow flowers that have narrow petals. It grows wild in forests from Canada to Florida. Parts Used • Leaves • Bark Major Chemical Compounds • Tannins (found more in leaves than in bark) • Gallic acid • Bitters Witch Hazel: Clinical Uses Witch hazel may be used for hemorrhoids, varicose veins, sprains, bruises, muscle aches, scrapes, and sunburn. It is approved by the German Commission E for “minor skin injuries, local inflammation of the skin and mucous membranes, hemorrhoids and varicose veins”. Mechanism of Action Astringent properties result from tannins in the leaves and bark. They control bleeding and reduce inflammation. Witch Hazel: Dosage Undistilled or unrefined witch hazel: Use this form of witch hazel externally three to four times daily. It also may be used as a gel, an ointment, a lotion, or a salve. Decoction Read more […]

White Deadnettle: Later Confusion

Grieve is no less confusing. There is an entry for white deadnettle with no medicinal uses appended, followed by purple deadnettle with medicinal actions and uses ― decoction of herb and flowers for haemorrhage, leaves to staunch wounds, dried herb as tea with honey to promote perspiration and act on kidneys, useful in cases of chill. Then, under a subheading ‘other species’, henbit, spotted deadnettle and hempnettle are described. This is followed by a quote from Gerard on white archangel after which the next heading, ‘parts used medicinally’, begins ‘the whole herb collected…’, but which herb is meant here is far from clear. Then a further ‘medicinal actions and uses’ confuses the picture even more. Whichever plant (or plants) is meant, it is astringent in nature, Grieve tells us, and used for stopping haemorrhage, spitting of blood and dysentery. The decoction of the flowers is a blood purifier for rashes, eczema etc., but no source is cited. Reputations from the tradition then follow – healing green wounds, bruises and burns. Culpeper and others follow, on lifting spirits, against quartan agues, and bleeding of nose and mouth applied to nape of neck. She rehearses use in the past for hardness of spleen, the Read more […]

White Deadnettle: Modern Use

Modern texts, if the herb appears in them at all, mainly limit themselves to white deadnettle, but vary quite widely in their range of applications. Chevallier cites Gerard on lifting the spirits but restricts his internal uses mainly to women’s complaints. It is, he says, astringent and demulcent, used as a uterine tonic, to stop intermenstrual bleeding and menorrhagia; traditionally for vaginal discharge; sometimes taken to relieve painful periods. It can be taken against diarrhoea and externally used for varicose veins and haemorrhages. Wood cites Hill, Weiss and a 19th century UK herbalist who records the familiar traditional uses of helping the spleen, whites, flooding, nose bleeds, spitting blood, haemorrhages, green wounds, bruises and burns. The source of some of his specific indications ― cough, bronchitis, pleurisy, inflamed prostate, anaemia -is unclear, given his text. Menzies-Trull covers a broad range of uses, although there is no specific discussion of them. Bartram too gives a broad sweep, designating the flowering tops haemostatic, astringent, diuretic, expectorant, anti-inflammatory, vulnerary, antispasmodic and menstrual regulator, with uses including heavy and painful menstrual bleeding, cystitis, Read more […]

Herb-Drug Interactions: Red vine leaf

Vitis vinifera L. (Vitaceae) Synonym(s) and related species Vitis vinifera is the Grape vine, of which there are many cultivars. Red vine leaf is a cultivar with red leaves. Constituents Red vine leaf contains a range of polyphenolics, mainly flavonoids, proanthocyanins and anthocyanins. The major flavonoids in the extract are quercetin and isoquercitrin. Catechins present include gallocatechin and epigallocatechin and their polymers. The red colour is due to the anthocyanins, which are mainly glucosides of malvidin, but also of delphinidin, cyanidin and pertunidin. Hydroxy-cinnamic acids (e.g. caffeic acid) and resveratrol are also present. Use and indications Red vine leaf extract is used both internally and externally to improve blood circulation, particularly in the legs for varicose veins. There is some clinical evidence to support its use in venous insufficiency. Pharmacokinetics No relevant pharmacokinetic data found. See under flavonoids, for information on the individual flavonoids present in red vine leaf, and see under resveratrol, for the pharmacokinetics of resveratrol. Interactions overview No interactions with red vine leaf found. For information on the interactions of flavonoids, see under Read more […]

Herb-Drug Interactions: Horse chestnut

Aesculus hippocastanum L. (Hippocastanaceae) Synonym(s) and related species Aesculus. Hippocastanum vulgare Gaertn. Pharmacopoeias Horse Chestnut (US Ph 32); Powdered Horse Chestnut (US Ph 32); Powdered Horse Chestnut Extract (The United States Ph 32). Constituents Horse chestnut seeds contain more than 30 saponins, a complex mixture known as ‘aescin’ or ‘escin’ (to which it may be standardised), based on the aglycones protoescigenin and barringtogenol-C. Other compounds including sterols and triterpenes, such as friedelin, taraxerol and spinasterol, and flavonoids, based on quercetin and kaempferol, are also present. The natural coumarins found in horse chestnut (such as aesculin (esculin) and fraxin) do not possess the minimum structural requirements for anticoagulant activity. Use and indications Horse chestnut extracts (aescin) are used to treat vascular insufficiency, especially varicose veins, venous ulcers, haemorrhoids and inflammation. They are usually applied as topical preparations, particularly gel formulations, but a licensed oral dosage form is also available. There is a considerable body of clinical and pharmacological evidence to support their use. Pharmacokinetics An isolated in vitro Read more […]

Horse chestnut: Uses

Clinical Use HCSE is chiefly used in chronic pathological conditions of the veins where there is increased activity of lysosomal enzymes resulting in damage to and hyperpermeability of vascularwalls. Numerous pharmacological and clinical trials have confirmed the efficacy of HCSE (horse chestnut standardised extract) in stabilising the walls of the venous system and improving conditions such as chronic venous insufficiency. CHRONIC VENOUS INSUFFICIENCY There is strong evidence that HCSE is an effective treatment for chronic venous insufficiency (CVI). A recent Cochrane review that assessed 17 RCT of HCSE capsules (standardised to escin) concluded that signs and symptoms of CVI improve with HCSE as compared with placebo. Six of seven placebo-controlled trials reported a significant reduction in leg pain for horse chestnut standardised extract compared with placebo, another study reported a statistically significant improvement compared with baseline and one study reported that HCSE may be as effective as treatment with compression stockings. Pruritus was assessed in eight placebo-controlled trials. Four trials (n = 407) showed a statistically significant reduction compared with placebo and two trials showed a statistically Read more […]