Artemisia Dracunculus L.

Artemisia dracunculus L., French Tarragon, is a perennial herb, native to Europe, Russia, Siberia, China and western and central North America where it grows wild, especially along river banks. It was introduced to Britain in the mid-fifteenth century. This aromatic plant has an extensive fibrous root system which spreads by runners and stems which reach a maximum heigh of around 1 metre. The generic name is derived from the Greek Goddess Artemis who was believed to have given this group of plants to Chiron the centaur, while the specific name is derived from the Latin dracunculus meaning small dragon or snake, probably in reference to the long tongue-shaped leaves (). Its common name of tarragon is thought to be a corruption of the Arabic tarkhun also meaning a little dragon. French tarragon is used mainly as a culinary plant, although its value and popularity in cooking doubtless stems from it medicinal use as an aid to digestion whereby it can be taken as an infusion, or digestif, for poor digestion, intestinal distension, nausea, flatulence and hiccups, not to mention its claimed abilities to improve rheumatism, gout and arthritis as well as acting as a vermifuge and an agent to soothe toothache (). Traditional Read more [...]

Artemisia Absinthium L.

Artemisia absinthium L. is a member of the family Compositae (Asteraceae) and is known by the common names wormwood (UK), absinthe (France) and wermut (Germany). The name Artemisia is derived from the Goddess Artemis, the Greek name for Diana, who is said to have discovered the plant’s virtues (), while absinthium comes from the Greek word apinthion meaning “undrinkable”, reflecting the very bitter nature of the plant. The plant is also known by a number of synonyms which include: Absinthium, Wermutkraut, Absinthii Herba, Assenzio, Losna, Pelin, Armoise, Ajenjo and Alsem. The herb is native to warm Mediterranean countries, usually found growing in dry waste places such as roadsides, preferring a nitrogen-rich stoney and hence loose soil. It is also native to the British Isles and is fairly widespread (). Wormwood has been naturalised in northeastern North America, North and West Asia and Africa. Brief Botanical Description The stem of this shrubby perennial herb is multibranched and firm, almost woody at the base, and grows up to 130 cm in height (). The root stock produces many shoots which are covered in fine silky hairs, as are the leaves. The leaves themselves are silvery grey, 8 cm long by 3 cm broad, abundantly Read more [...]

Bioactivity of Basil

Traditional Medicine Basil has traditionally been used for head colds and as a cure for warts and worms, as an appetite stimulant, carminative, and diuretic. In addition, it has been used as a mouth wash and adstringent to cure inflammations in the mouth and throat. Alcoholic extracts of basil have been used in creams to treat slowly healing wounds (). Basil is more widely used as a medicinal herb in the Far East, especially in China and India. It was first described in a major Chinese herbal around A.D. 1060 and has since been used in China for spasms of the stomach and kidney ailments, among others. It is especially recommended for use before and after parturition to promote blood circulation. The whole herb is also used to treat snakebite and insect bites (). In Nigeria, a decoction of the leaves of Ocimum gratissimum is used in the treatment of fever, as a diaphoretic and also as a stomachic and laxative. In Franchophone West Africa, the plant is used in treating coughs and fevers and as an anthelmintic. In areas around Ibadan (Western State of Nigeria), Ocimum gratissimum is most often taken as a decoction of the whole herb (Agbo) and is particularly used in treating diarrhoea (). It is known to the Yorubas Read more [...]

Akar Putarwali, Batang Wali

Tinospora crispa (L.) Diels (Menispermaceae) Tinospora crispa (L.) Diels is a woody climber with numerous protrusions on the stem. Leaves are oblong-ovate, cordate, 8-9 cm by 7-8 cm and tapering to a pointed end. Flowers are small, with 6 petals, 2 mm in length and 8-27 cm racemes. Male flowers have yellow sepals whereas female flowers have green sepals. Drupelets are red, juicy and 7-8 mm long. Origin Native to Malesia, Indochina, Indian subcontinent and China. Phytoconstituents Boropetol B, borapetoside B, C & F, jatrorhizine, magnoflorine, palmatine, protoberberine, tembolarine, diosmetin, cycloeucalenol, cycloeucalenone and others. Traditional Medicinal Uses It is used for hypertension, diabetes mellitus, to treat malaria, remedy for diarrhoea and as vermifuge. In Malaysia, T. crispa extract is taken orally by Type 2 (non-insulin-dependent) diabetic patients to treat hyperglycaemia. Pharmacological Activities Anti-inflammatory, Antioxidant, Antimalarial, Antiprotozoal and Hypoglycaemic. Dosage No information as yet. Adverse Reactions The plant may result in an increased risk of hepatic dysfunction due to marked elevation of liver enzymes but is reversible upon discontinuation of T. crispa. Toxicity No Read more [...]

Cucumis sativus L. (Cucumber)

Cucumis sativus (cucumber), a creeping plant of the family Cucurbitaceae widely cultivated for its fruit, probably originated in northern India. It has been cultivated in India for 3000 years and the related species, Cucumis hardwickii Royle, has been found in the Himalaya mountain area. It is a tender annual with a rough, succulent trailing stem and stalked hairy leaves with three to five pointed lobes; the stem bears branched tendrils by which the plant can be trained to supports. The short-stalked, yellow, bell-shaped flowers are unisexual, but staminate and pistillate ones are borne on the same plant; the latter are recognized by the swollen warty green ovary below the rest of the flower. Flowers are insect-pollinated. Hives of bees are commonly placed near plantings in frames or fields or inside greenhouses to ensure pollination and fruit setting. The chromosome number is 2n = 14. The heat requirement of the cucumber is one of the highest among the common vegetables. There are three groups of varieties, based on adaptability and use: (1) very large-fruited, strong growing varieties adapted only to greenhouse or frame culture. Several English greenhouse varieties form fruits without pollination and seed formation, Read more [...]

Ailanthus altissima

Ailanthus species (Simaroubaceae) have a history of use in traditional medicine, particularly for the treatment of dysentery, A. altissima is particularly noted as an antibacterial, anthelmintic, amoebicide and insecticide (); A. excelsa () is noted as a specific for respiratory problems and A. malabarica is noted for the treatment of dyspepsia, bronchitis, opthalmia and snake bite (). Ailanthus altissima: Distribution and Importance A. altissima Mill. Swingle. (Syn. A. glandulosa Desf.) originated in China, where it has been used in traditional medicine for enteritic infections of various origins (American Herbal Pharmacology Delegation 1975). Throughout the Far East, various parts of A. altissima are considered to be medicinal, with the use of either the fruits or bark of either root or stem for dysentery and various other gastric and intestinal upsets. Trees harvested for medicinal purposes are usually felled in the spring or autumn, and the bark is removed and dried in the sun. It is normally used to make aqueous extracts which are bitter, astringent and cooling. Bark extract has also been used to treat anaemia and as a taeniafuge, but does not have vermifuge properties. Leaves are toxic to domestic animals, causing Read more [...]

New Zealand Medicinal Plants

Despite the small area of New Zealand, comparable with that of California, it constitutes a distinctive botanic region. Of the approximate number of two thousand species of higher plants found, 75% are endemic to the country. Many unusual plants occur and the chemical investigations conducted to date have confirmed the unique nature of the flora. In view of these facts it is surprising that only a few native plants have been commercially exploited. Several of the trees, notably Agathis australis, Dacrydium cupressinum, Podocarpus totara, P. dacrydioides, and Vitex lucens yield useful timber, but the stands of these have largely been worked out. New Zealand flax, Phormium tenax, is cultivated for its fibre which is made into ropes and matting. Kauri gum (really a fossil product) up to a value of £21 million has been exported but it is a declining article of commerce. It has been shown that useful dyestuffs can be produced from a number of plants, particularly in the genus Coprosma, but no commercial exploitation has resulted. Pharmacology is probably the most promising field for extending the use of New Zealand native plants and it should therefore be of value to have a check list of those plants reported to have Read more [...]

The Americas

This is the only geopolitical region which extends from the Arctic circle to the Antarctic circle. This, in combination with other geographic factors, results in an impressive biological diversity — more than 100,000 species of higher plants occur naturally on these continents. At the same time it is or was the home to numerous indigenous groups speaking a multitude of languages. It is estimated that about 1,200 ethnolinguistic groups existed in 1492, but today about 420 (i.e., only a third) remain. Most of these belong to the poorest sections of society in their respective countries. Recent attempts to strengthen indigenous traditions have been diverse and it is to be hoped that these attempts succeed in improving the generally appalling living conditions and strengthening the local traditions. The Amazon basin and the Central American region are particularly diverse botanically. Historically, some regions of the Americas have distinguished themselves for the development of dominant cultures that left impressive religious and civil monuments, like the Maya, Zapotecs/ Mixtecs, and Aztecs (Nahua) in Mesoamerica, and the Inca in South America. In the case of the Aztecs, some written manuscripts or codices are available Read more [...]

Wormwood: Worms And Safety

An action associated with bitters in general and wormwood in particular is that of anthelmintic. Nevertheless, experience is not uniform. Dioscorides, notably, does not document wormwood as anthelmintic. He reserves the designation for seriphon, sea wormwood ‘boiled down either by itself or with rice and consumed with honey it destroys intestinal and round worms, gently purging the bowels’, although it is bad for the stomach, he adds. It will do the same boiled with lentil gruel, and moreover fattens the sheep (Dodoens extends this to beeves, sheep and cattle) that graze on it, presumably by ridding them of worms. Santonicon acts similarly. I can find no reference from Galen to the use of wormwood for worms, only sea wormwood, as Dioscorides. There is a small debate here about Galen’s declaring sea absinthium as of the same sort and taste similar to absinthium, while Dioscorides says seriphon, sea wormwood, more approaches abrotanum than absinthium. Mattioli says it is a case of deciding who is at fault, although Parkinson holds they cannot differ so much in judgment and that the place in Dioscorides or Galen is ‘perverted by some writer’s fault’. Pliny, however, does appear to commend wormwood for ‘worms of the Read more [...]

Herbal Stimulants

Occasionally it may be necessary to temporarily boost the energy of someone who is feeling depressed. The German Commission E has approved the use of Cola nitida (kola nut) as an adjunct therapy in depression, and Camellia sinensis (tea), Coffea arabica (coffee), and Ilex paraguayensis (yerba mate) may be useful stimulants due to their caffeine content. However, this is rarely an effective long-term therapy, and entirely fails to address the underlying causes of depression. Certainly, botanical stimulants should not be part of a standard regimen for depression, and it is in fact often recommended that the nearly ubiquitous stimulant caffeine be removed from the diet to stop masking symptoms and allow the person to deal with the real issues of depression. Instead, we recommend using adaptogens to provide stimulation. These do not contain caffeine and do not appear to have the suppressive effect of the caffeine alkaloid. Instead, they tend to stimulate the entire nervous system. On rare occasions, this may manifest as insomnia, agitation, or mild anxiety but usually adaptogens increase the person’s sense of well-being and energy without negatively affecting mood. That said, there is a case report of a woman, taking Read more [...]