Ammi majus L. (Bishop’s Weed)

Distribution and Importance Ammi majus L. (Bishop’s weed) is a subtropical species belonging to the family Apiaceae. It is a widely distributed species in the Mediterranean region, from the Canary Islands to Iran. Its range covers North Africa (Morocco, Egypt, Ethiopia) and all of southern Europe. The species also occurs on other continents linder similar climatic conditions: in Argentina, southern United States, and less commonly in Australia and New Zealand. Ammi majus L. is regarded as the richest, natural source of linear furanocoumarins called psoralens. These compounds are found mostly in the fruits of this species. The psoralens are successfully applied in photochemotherapy of numerous dermatological diseases, e.g., in treating vitiligo, psoriasis, mycosis fungoides, atopic eczema, pityriasis lichenoides, urticaria pigmentosa, alopecia areata, and others. The therapy mostly makes use of photosensitizing and antiproliferating properties of psoralens. These properties are particularly enhanced in the presence of long-wavelength UV, called UV-A (λ = 320-400 nm), hence the treatment is often referred to as PUVA therapy (psoralens + UV-A). The use of fruits of Ammi majus in treating vitiligo has a long Read more […]

Coronilla Species

Distribution, Classification, and Importance of the Genus Coronilla The genus Coronilla s.l. (Fabaceae) consists of about 50 species of perennial shrubs and perennial or annual herbs occurring in North and Central Europe, the Canary Islands, the Mediterranean region, North Asia, China, and Somaliland. The genus was divided by Uhrova (1935) into four sections, namely the two monospecific sections Emerus and Ballia, the sections Eucoronilla (divided into five series), and Scorpioides. In the more recent revisions by Zoz and Jahn, the latter taking into consideration also chemotaxonomic aspects, Uhrova’s scheme was followed, with only minor differences in the treatment of the third section, called by them Coronilla. A complete systematic revision on the basis of morphoanatomical, cytological, geographical, and chemical characters led Schmidt to propose a new classification of the genus. In Schmidt’s scheme, the genus is divided into the two monospecific sections Emerus and Ballia, the section Coronilla with a reduced number of species, and the section Scorpioides, formerly including only C scorpioides (L.) Koch and C. repanda (Poir.) Guss., and now including eight additional species, namely: C. coronata L., C. ramosissima Read more […]

DERMATOLOGICAL AGENTS

DERMATOLOGICAL AGENTS are used for a wide variety of purposes and some of the more important pharmacological types and terms will be discussed. ANTIINFLAMMATORY AGENTS are frequently used to treat inflammatory and/or allergic reactions of the skin. The commonest agents used are CORTICOSTEROIDS (of the GLUCOCORTICOID type), which have potent antiinflammatory and ANTIALLERGIC properties. There is a range of steroids available as creams or ointments, which vary in concentration and the strength of the antiinflammatory action of the particular corticosteroid: the choice depends on the severity of the skin condition. Some preparations are available without prescription for minor skin inflammation, whereas at the other extreme some preparations are reserved for severe outbursts of eczema or psoriasis. There are many corticosteroids used clinically for dermatological conditions. Inflammatory skin conditions are sometimes complicated by a coexisting infection, and there are many compound preparations available containing ANTIBACTERIAL or ANTIFUNGAL AGENTS together with an antiinflammatory corticosteroid. ANTIPERSPIRANTS are substances that help to prevent sweating. Medically, they are needed only in cases of severe Read more […]

Ruta graveolens

Ruta graveolens L. (Rutaceae) Herb of Grace, Common Rue Ruta graveolens L. is a glabrous herb with stem that can grow up to 14-45 cm. Lower leaves are more or less long-petiolate with ultimate segments 2-9 mm wide, lanceolate to narrowly oblong. Inflorescence is rather lax; pedicels are as long as or longer than the capsule; bracts are lanceolate, leaf-like. Sepals are lanceolate and acute. Petals are oblong-ovate, denticulate and undulate. Capsule is glabrous; segments somewhat narrowed above to an obtuse apex. Origin Native to Europe. Phytoconstituents Rutoside, rutaverine, arborinine, rutin, elemol, pregei-jerene, geijerene, furocoumarins, bergapten, xanthotoxin, fagarine, graveolinine and others. Traditional Medicinal Uses It is frequently used to treat worm and parasitic infection. It has been commonly used for the treatment of psoriasis and vitiligo due to the psoralens and methoxypsoralens present. It is also used to relieve muscle spasms, as carminative, emmenagogue, haemostat, uter-onic, vermifuge, to treat hepatitis, dyspepsia, diarrhoea, bug bite, cancer, cold, fever, snakebite, earache, toothache and as an antidote especially in malarial poisoning. It is also used as an abortifacient to terminate Read more […]

Hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism is a persistent insufficiency in thyroid hormone production leading to a generalized decrease in metabolic functions (Thyroid Hormone: A Review of Its Synthesis and Release). It is the most prevalent of the pathologic hormone deficiencies, and can reduce physical and mental functional ability, quality of life, and long-term health. Hypothyroidism is classified on the basis of onset (congenital or acquired), endocrine dysfunction level (primary, secondary, or tertiary), and severity, which is classified as overt (clinical) or mild (subclinical) hypothyroidism. The total frequency of hypothyroidism, including subclinical cases, among adult females from all age groups, ranges from 3.0% to 7.5%, with significantly higher rates in women over 60 years old. Hypothyroidism occurs at a rate approximately 10 times higher in women than men. Thyroid Hormone: A Review of Its Synthesis and Release Iodide, which is primary nutritionally derived, is concentrated by the thyroid gland, converted to organic iodine by thyroid peroxidase (TPO), and then incorporated into tyrosine in thyroglobulin in the thyroid. Tyrosines are iodinated at one (monoiodotyrosine) or two (di-iodotyrosine) sites and then joined to form the Read more […]

Rue

Ruta graveolens The genus includes six species found in Europe. The Flora of Turkey gives two Ruta species, not including Ruta graveolens. Ruta graveolens L. is a native of southeastern Europe but is widely naturalized in southern Europe and cultivated worldwide. It is a shrubby perennial with a distinctive smell. Smooth erect stems (14-45 cm) bear alternate, stalked bluish-grey-green pinnate leaves with deeply lobed obovate leaflets. Shiny yellow flowers with four spoon-shaped petals occur in terminal umbel-like groups in June-August. A smooth green capsule containing many seeds develops in each flower while other flowers around are still coming into flower. Other species used Ruta angustifolia Pers. and Ruta chalepensis L. are found in southern Europe and are similar but with fringed cilia on the petal edge. Quality All Ruta species are associated with phytophotodermatitis (see below) and plants should not be touched with bare hands, especially on sunny days. Rue is included among the plants discussed in this book not because we ourselves use it, but because of its reputation as a great healing medicine in the Western herbal tradition and the suspicion that it is a neglected remedy. Its application extends Read more […]

Rue In Classical Medicine

Dioscorides lists over a dozen external uses of rue. The herb infused into olive oil by cooking and applied to the abdomen helps inflations of the colon downwards and of the uterus, while the herb ground up with honey and applied to the perineum, ‘from the genitalia to the anus’, relieves uterine suffocation. A similar application is made to joints to relieve pain, while mixed with figs it disperses oedema. As a plaster with barley groats, it assuages severe eye pains and in combination with rose ointment and vinegar it is rubbed onto the head in cases of headache. Ground and inserted into the nostrils, it can stop nosebleeds; plastered on with the leaves of sweet bay, it helps inflammation of the testicles or with a cerate (wax) of myrtle it remedies their pustules. Rubbed on with salt and pepper, it treats dull-white leprosy, which is either vitiligo or psoriasis, and both raised and flat warts. Applied with honey and alum it is good for lichen-like eruptions of the skin. The fresh juice, warmed in a pomegranate shell and instilled, combats earache or mixed with the juice of fennel and honey then smeared on is a remedy for dim-sightedness. Another mixture with vinegar, white lead and rose ointment treats erysipelas, Read more […]

Herb-Drug Interactions: Natural coumarins

Natural coumarins are widespread in herbal medicines and vegetables. There is a misconception that if a plant contains natural coumarins it will have anticoagulant properties, but very specific structural requirements are necessary for this – namely there must be a non-polar carbon substituent at the 3-position of 4-hydroxycoumarin. Moreover, at present, there are no established interactions between warfarin and herbal medicines that have been attributed to the natural coumarin content of the herb. Even in the classic case of haemorrhagic death of livestock that led to the discovery of dicoumarol, it was the action of the mould on the natural coumarin in the sweet clover (melilot) that led to the production of the anticoagulant, so consumption of a spoiled product would seem to be necessary for this specific interaction to occur. This suggests that the occurrence of natural coumarins in dietary supplements or herbal medicines should not trigger immediate concern as regards interactions with anticoagulants. The information in this family monograph relates to the individual natural coumarins, and the reader is referred back to the herb (and vice versa) where appropriate. Note that, to avoid confusion with the synthetic Read more […]

Ginkgo biloba: Contraindications. Practice Points. FAQ

Contraindications and Precautions If unusual bleeding or bruising occurs, stop use immediately. Although new clinical evidence suggests that Ginkgo biloba does not affect clotting times, it may be prudent to suspend use for 1 week prior to major surgery. CEREBRAL HAEMORRHAGE AND EPILEPSY Recent, rare case reports have suggested that ginkgo should be used with caution in people with known risk factors for cerebral haemorrhage and epilepsy until further investigation can clarify its safety. Pregnancy Use Not recommended in pregnancy as insufficient reliable evidence is available to determine safety. Practice Points / Patient Counselling • Ginkgo biloba is a complex herb that contains many different active constituents and works by means of multiple mechanisms. Therefore, it has applications in many varied conditions. • It is an effective treatment in conditions of acquired cognitive impairment, including dementia of any degree of severity and intermittent claudication, according to evidence from meta-analyses. • Positive evidence also exists for premenstrual syndrome, sudden deafness, Raynaud’s syndrome and depression when associated with cognitive decline. • Largely based on the herb’s physiological Read more […]

Ginkgo biloba: Uses. Dosage. Adverse Reactions

Other Uses Ginkgo biloba is used for many other indications, including improving connective tissue conditions such as haemorrhoids, common allergies, reducing the effects of exposure to radiation and to prevent some of the complications associated with diabetes. In the UK and other European countries, the cardioprotective effects of EGb 751 in myocardial ischaemia and reperfusion are currently being investigated in preclinical studies. ADJUNCT IN CANCER TREATMENT As a herb with significant antioxidant activity, ginkgo has been used to reduce the toxic side-effects of some chemotherapeutic drugs. Evidence from in vivo studies demonstrate protective effects against nephrotoxicity induced by cisplatin and cardiotoxicity induced by doxorubicin. Clinical trials are not yet available to determine its effectiveness in practice. CANCER PREVENTION A 2005 review puts forward the case that Ginkgo biloba should be more widely used as a safe, preventative agent for reducing cancer incidence. This recommendation is based on results from numerous in vitro and experimental studies showing that ginkgo affects many factors associated with the incidence and mortality of cancer. Dosage Range The recommended dose varies depending Read more […]