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 […]

Stevia: Steviol

Steviol is ent-13-hydroxykaur-16-en-19-oic acid (C20H30O3; molecular weight 318). The compound is well absorbed by mouth. Pharmacological actions Energy metabolism Steviol inhibits oxidative phosphorylation, with 40 µM producing 50% inhibition. It is, therefore, more potent than the related aglycones atractyligenin and dihydrosteviol, which produce 50% inhibition at 210 µM and 100 µM, respectively. Some of the mitochondrial actions of steviol are summarized on Table. The effects on oxidative phosphorylation are complex, involving at least three components: (i) inhibition of adenine nucleotide exchange; (ii) inhibition of NADH oxidase; and (iii) inhibition of L-glutamate dehydrogenase. Adenine nucleotide exchange between intra- and extramitochondrial spaces is involved in the shuttling of high energy phosphate groups generated in the mitochondrion to their sites of consumption in the cytoplasm. Inhibition of this exchange, therefore, implies a profound disturbance of energy flow in the cell. Unlike atractyligenin, the inhibition produced by steviol is non-competitive. Inhibition of nucleotide exchange is dependent on the presence of a free CO2H group, with inhibitory action not being seen with the methylated analog, Read more […]

Stevia: Stevioside

Absorption, distribution and metabolism In the rat, stevioside (125 mg/kg; p.o.) has a half-life of 24 hour, and is largely excreted in the feces in the form of steviol. Other metabolites include steviolbioside. In this species, at least, metabolism appears to be mediated primarily by the gut microflora. Thus, [17-14C] stevioside is converted to steviol by suspensions of rat intestinal microflora. Conversion is complete within two days. The distribution of a derivative, [131I]iodostevioside (position of the label not reported), has been studied in rats following i.v. administration. Radioactivity rapidly accumulated first in the small intestine and then in the liver. Within two hours, 52% of the radioactivity administered appeared in the bile. The largest biliary component was [131I]iodosteviol (47% of total radioactivity), followed by [131I]iodostevioside (37%) and an unidentified metabolite (15%). Non-enzymatic conversion of stevioside to steviol does not occur. Acid hydrolysis yields isosteviol, while incubation for up to three months under conditions ranging pH 2–8 and 5 to 90 °C does not result in detectable formation of steviol. Stevioside appears to be poorly transported across the cell membrane. No Read more […]

Specific Medicinal Uses of Cannabis

The historical and contemporary, medicinal uses of cannabis have been reviewed on several occasions. Perhaps the earliest published report to contain at least some objectivity on the subject was that of O’Shaughnessy (1842), an Irish surgeon, working in India, who described the analgesic, anticonvulsant and muscle relaxant properties of the drug. This report triggered the appearance of over 100 publications on the medicinal use of cannabis in American and European medical journals over the next 60 years. One such use was to treat nausea and vomiting; but it was not until the advent of potent cancer chemotherapeutic drugs that the antiemetic properties of cannabis became more widely investigated and then employed. One can argue that the available clinical evidence of efficacy is stronger here than for any other application and that proponents of its use are most likely to be successful in arguing that cannabis should be re-scheduled (to permit its use as a medicine) because it has a “currently accepted medical use”. Specific Medicinal Uses of Cannabis: Use as an Antiemetic Specific Medicinal Uses of Cannabis: Glaucoma Specific Medicinal Uses of Cannabis: Multiple Sclerosis Spastic Conditions A discussion 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 […]

Onobrychis viciifolia Scop. (Sainfoin)

Distribution and Importance of Sainfoin Sainfoin (Onobrychis viciifolia Scop, (family Leguminoseae) is a perennial forage legume that has been grown in Europe and Asia for centuries. The most widely used common name, sainfoin, is derived from the French “saint foin” meaning holy or wholesome hay. Other common names include: holy or holy hay, French grass, everlasting grass, medick vetchling, cockshead, esparcet, or snail grass. Its botanical genus name, Onobrychis, comes from the Greek words “onos” meaning ass, and it is felt that brychis is derived from “bruchis”, a plant. This provides some insight into the value that was placed on this species because it had been noted that asses were particularly partial to sainfoin as a feed. Sainfoin grew in Russia as a forage crop over 1000 years ago and was noted in France in the 14th century, Germany in the 17th century, and Italy in the 18th century. The first introductions of sainfoin came to North America from Europe in the early 1900s, but its success as a forage crop did not occur until the 1960s when strains from Turkey and the USSR displayed the necessary adaptibility and yield to enable the development of cultivars for the Northern Great Plains and Canadian Prairies. Read more […]

HIV Infection And Botanical Therapies

An estimated 19.2 million women worldwide are living with HIV infection or AIDS. Since the early 1990s, the proportion of AIDS cases in females aged 13 to 49 years has tripled from 7% to 25%. Appropriate treatment is essential to the wellness and longevity of HIV / AIDS patients. Conventional medical treatment, for example, highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART), which consists of a combination of antiretroviral therapies, including protease and reverse transcriptase inhibitors, is showing tremendous promise. Numerous HIV patients also use complementary and alternative therapies such as herbs and nutritional supplements in conjunction with their medical treatment, or in some cases, in lieu of conventional therapies. This chapter looks at the statistics and demographics of complementary and alternative medicine use for HIV / AIDS, reasons for use, risks and benefits associated with use, and provides a brief review of the literature based on two major reviews conducted by other researchers. There is a tremendous paucity of evidence on botanical therapies for HIV / AIDS; however, there is also a tremendous amount of human experience in the HIV community regarding natural therapies that may support conventional treatment, Read more […]

Vitex Agnus-Castus

Agnus castus is an aromatic tree or shrub (Vitex agnus-castus) also known as the chaste-tree. The ancient Greeks used it to reduce libido hence the name chaste-tree; paradoxically, it has also been said historically to have aphrodisiac qualities. According to Kiple and Ornelas (2000) the berries, which resemble peppercorns and which smell and taste like pepper, have been used as a spice; its use by Christian monks is the origin of the alternative name ‘monk’s pepper‘. According to Barnes (2003a) it is not used in foods, which suggests that any food use is historical or very limited. Extracts of Agnus castus contain many substances in small amounts and it is unclear which are responsible for its biological activity. Casticin is a flavonol present in the lipophilic fraction of extracts and, since the pharmacological activity is also present in this fraction, extracts are often standardised to contain a set amount of this ingredient. To obtain the extract the crushed fruits are extracted with aqueous alcohol; 20 mg of this extract is the standard dose. Current use of Agnus castus is almost always to alleviate symptoms of the premenstrual syndrome (PMS) which may be experienced to some extent by up to 50% of young women Read more […]

Nausea And Vomiting Of Pregnancy

Nausea And Vomiting Of Pregnancy And Hyperemesis Gravidarum Nausea and vomiting of pregnancy (NVP), generally referred to as “morning sickness,” is a common pregnancy discomfort. Its association with pregnancy was documented on papyrus dating as far back as 2000 bce. The earliest reference is in Soranus’ Gynecology from the 2nd century ce.s9 Some degree of nausea, with or without vomiting, occurs in 50% to 90% of all pregnancies. It generally begins at about five to six weeks of gestation and usually abates by 16 to 18 weeks gestation. As many as 15% to 20% of pregnant women will continue to experience some degree of nausea and vomiting of pregnancy into the third trimester, and approximately 5% will continue to experience it until birth. The socioeconomic impact of nausea and vomiting of pregnancy on time lost from either paid employment or household work is substantial, with one study reporting as many as 8.6 million hours of paid employment and 5.8 million hours of household work lost each year because of nausea and vomiting of pregnancy. Additionally, women experiencing more extreme versions of nausea and vomiting of pregnancy or hyperemesis gravidarum are vulnerable to social isolation, and possibly depression, Read more […]

Endometriosis: Conventional Treatment Approaches

Medical treatment of endometriosis includes both pharmaceutical and surgical approaches. Pharmaceutical treatments provide only suppression of the disease; they do not exact a cure. Decisions regarding treatment are based on endometriosis severity and staging, symptom picture, and ultimately, the woman’s needs and goals, for example, desire for children in the future. For women experiencing mild symptoms (or none) and for women who are close to menopause, the appropriate treatment may be to do nothing. For women with mild to moderate symptoms, and those who desire pregnancy, the appropriate pharmacologic therapy should be considered, and if necessary, can be combined with conservative surgery. It should be noted that, in spite of medical treatment, endometriosis has a high recurrence rate of 5% to 20% unless total hysterectomy and bilateral oophorectomy are performed. With pharmacologic interventions, pain typically resumes upon cessation of medications, although initially with pain that is less intense than prior to treatment. Pain relief, pregnancy rates, and recurrence rates are similar with all treatment methods. The goal of pharmaceutical treatment is to interrupt patterns of endometrial stimulation and bleeding. Read more […]