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Herbal Meds



In Europe, Asia and Africa there is an increasing use of standardized herbal medicines being prescribed alongside or in place of chemical drugs. In order to do this legally, the herbal medicines are being standardized mainly by firms in Germany and Switzerland and literature based on clinical trials is finding its way into World Health Organization (WHO) Monographs and the various European Official and professional Herbal Society Documents, including the European Scientific Cooperative on Phytotherapy (ESCOP) Monographs and most important of all, the German Commission E (Com. E) Monographs. At this time, not all key traditional uses have been tested sufficiently to give "clear-cut" answers - does it work or doesn't it. Please remember herbs are being used in some countries as "serious medicines", not just as condiments, hence, they have doses, side efffects, contra-indications, quality checks, etc. Too many herbal teas don't accomplish much, because, in reality, they are just for fun!!! My brother- in-law was never cured nor got relief for his migraines, because he just wanted a "dash" of the appropriate herb (feverfew) in his salads!

Alfalfa (Medicago sativa)

Its leaves and particularly its sprouts are high in trace elements and Vitamins A, B and D. Alfalfa extracts may lower blood cholesterol, but there is no scientific evidence to support its use as an anti-arthritic agent.

Ashwandgandha Root Bark- (Withania somnifera)

Extracts from the root of this plant have been shown to have sedative, tranquilizing and anti-stress properties. They have also been shown to be of use in many cases of senile debility, loss of memory and loss of muscular energy. They appear to lower serum cholesterol, with no side effects and have an anti-inflammatory action in cases of rheumatism. The extracts have also been found to be of use in seminal debility.

Dose: Boil 1 teaspoon of dried root bark in 1.5 pints of water in a closed container for 1/2 hour. Drink 1 cup of the cooled liquid, twice in a day.

Ashwandgandha has not to my knowledge, yet been evaluated by Com. E, ESCOP or WHO.

Bearberry or Uva ursi (Arctostaphylos uva ursi)

Traditionally used as a diuretic, but can cause irritation. Recent scientific findings appear to show that it has antiviral and antibacterial properties. The German E Commission has approved its use for inflammatory disorders of the urinary tract.

Bilberry or European Blueberry (Vaccinium myrtillus)

(American Blueberry is Vaccinium corymbosum) These berries are high in anthocyanins which appear to lower blood cholesterol and help prevent blood clots and inaddition appear to breakdown plaque deposits. Bilberries seem to improve eyesight, prticularly night vision and slow macular degeneration. The German E Commission has approved their use to treat diarrhea and vascular disorders.

Black Cohosh Root- (Cimicifuga racemosa)

This rhizome contains tripene glycosides.

According to the Com. E Report this Medicinal Root is can be used for PMS (premenstrual) discomfort, painful menstruation and menopausal problems. The herb has an estrogen-like action, and binds to estrogen receptors. May occasionally cause gastric discomfort in some people.

Daily Dose: Alcohol extract corresponding to 40mg of the herbal drug. *Should not be taken for longer than 6 months at a time*.

This is a Native American plant which contains acetin which lowers blood pressure *(should not be used with other blood pressure lowering agents)* It is a peripheral vasodilator, an anti-bacterial and an anti-yeast agent, it is an anti-inflammatory agent (useful particularly in rheumatism) and a hypoglycemic agent. The Russians have used it for treating high blood pressure and as a central nervous system (CNS) "tonic".

Bladder Wrack (Fucus vesiculosus)

It is high in Vitamin C and iodide and potassium, thus has been used to treat some forms of goiter and hence some forms of obesity, too. It also appears to have antimicrobial properties and in animals can lower blood lipids.

Blue Cohosh Root - (Caulophyllum thalictroides)

This Native American Herbal Root has been used traditionally as an aid to promote rapid child delivery through stimulation of the uterine muscle and as an aid for parturition.

Research has shown this herb to be an anti-inflammatory and anti-hyperensive agent. It also also appears to be useful in the treatment of liver cirrhosis.

Daily Dose: ROOT 1 teaspoon of granulated root boiled in 1.5 pints of water for 1/2 hour. 1 cup per day drunk very slowly

BOERHAAVIA - Boerhaavia diffusa or B. repens (Spreading Hogweed or Punarnava Root)

Young leaves from this plant can be eaten as greens (it is a Pot Herb), as can the roots. In Traditional Medicine it has been used as a diuretic and laxative.

Boswellia or Indian Frankicense (Boswellia serrata)

In India usedas an anti-inflammatory and to relieve osteoarithritis and bursitis. There is contradictory evidence as to whether it is helpful inrheumatoid athritis. This gum extract may be helpful to persons with asthma.

Brindle Berry or Malabar Tamarind (Garcinia Cambogia)

The dried fruits are used in curries and in higher doses as a purgative. These fruits may also lower blood pressure. Brindle berries contain about 16% hydroxycitric acid which, it has been claimed, is an effective weight loss agent. However, this has not been supported by 2 well controlled human studies.

BUCHU (Barosma betulina or Agathosma betulina)

This African herbal medicine has been used as a diuretic, particularly for water retention in pre- and menstrual problems. As with all diuretics body levels of potassium may fall, so eat plenty of bananas. The phytochemical in this herb, dispherol, appears to have antibacterial action in bladder infections. CAUTION: In some instance this herb has been found to increase blood pressure.

Butcher's Broom Rhizome - (Ruscus aculeatus)

These rhizomes contain the steroid saponins ruscin and ruscoside.

The Com. E Report states that the main use of these rhizomes is as support therapy for the discomforts (pain, cramp, swelling and itching, particularly in the legs) of chronic venous insufficiency and also for the burning and itching in hemorrhoids. Side effects are rare - nausea. The animals models for this herbal drug have in addition, shown it to increase venous tone and have anti-inflammatory and diuretic properties.

Daily Dose: Raw extract, equivalent to 7-11mg of total ruscogenin, defined as the sum of ruscogenin and neoruscogenin.

CAMU-CAMU or RUMBERRY (Myrciaria dubia)

The fruit from this plant has the highest known content of Vitamin C in the world (4% dry weight versus lemons 0.56%). This fruit also contains fairly large quantities of calcium, iron, Vitamins B1, B2 and B3, beta-carotene, leucine, serine and valine. All medicinal claims for this plant seem to be based only on the nutritional values stated above.

California Poppy (Eschscholtzia californica)

There are claims that this plant has sleep inducing and sedative properties that are of help in insomnia, however these remain unproven.

Chamomile (German - Matricaria recutita or Chamomilla recutita; Roman - Anthemis nobilis)

Traditionally it is claimed to be one of nature's safest and most effective sedatives, with additional anti-flammatory and muscle relaxing effects. German E Commission has approved its use for inflammatory diseases of the gastrointestinal tract and gastrointestinal spasms.

CAT'S CLAW (Uncaria tomentosa)

This herb contains many phytochemicals with medicinal uses. Key ones are, the quinovic acid glycosides, which can reduce inflammations throughout the body and the oxyindole alkaloids and proanthocyanidins which can enhance the immune system.

Chasteberry Fruit - (Vitex agnus castus)

(Also called Monk's Pepper or Cloister Pepper). Traditional European "female remedy" plant.

The Herbal Medicine consists of the dried ripe fruit of this plant. This berry effects female hormone production.

The Com. E Report approves the following uses for these Herbal Dried Fruits: Premenstrual (PMS) complaints, irregularities of the menstrual cycle and for painful breasts. NOTE: Consult your doctor if symptoms persist.

*Contraindictations*: During lactation OR the use of dopamine-receptor antagonists.

Daily Dose: 30-40mg of the drug or its equivalent.

COLEUS FORSKOHLII (Plectranthus barbatus)

This herb is used in Ayurvedic medicine. It appears to be able, in some instances, to boost the body's production of both insulin and thyroid hormone. It also appears to be able to improve blood flow in the brain and ease intraoccular pressure in glaucoma. Some research suggests that this herb may be helpful in weightloss, however it can also improve nutrient absorption. Other properties appear to include boosting the immune system, decreasing blood pressure and reducing swellings in inflammatory conditions.

Cornelian cherry or Siberian cherry (Cornus mas)

Traditionally esteemed for its tonic and anti-diarrhea properties. In many nations used in drinks and preserves, for example in France in the alcoholic drink, "Vin de Cornoulle" and in Turkey, it is used as a flavoring for sherbets.

Damiana (Turnera diffus or T. aphrodisiaca)

Traditionally used as a laxative and a stimulant (depending on the dose) and for treatment of sexual disorders. Claims have been made that it is a safe aphrodisiac, but unfortunately this has not been scientifically proven to be so.

Devil's Claw Root- (Harpagophytum procumbens)

This a traditional African Herbal Medicine from the Kalahari Desert. One of the key components is the iridoidal glycoside, harpagide, an anti-inflammatory and smooth muscle relaxant, which is sometimes helpful in arithritis and rheumatism. In addition this plant appears to have has antiarrhythmic and antihypertensive activity and has been found to be able to lower cholesterol and neutral fat levels.

According to the Com E. Report, this root is for supportative therapy of degenerative disorders of the locomotor system. It action is that of an anti-inflammatory, it relieves pain and stimulates the liver. It is contraindicated in persons with gastric or duodenal ulcer or certain types of gallstones. It has no known side effects nor interactions with other drugs. The daily dose is 4.5gm of drug or its equivalent. There is also an ESCOP Monograph on this Herbal Medicine.

Echinacea (Coneflower, Echinacea purpurea, E. angustifolia, E. pallida)

Most is known about E. purpurea herba and E. pallida root, but in time probably will be shown to apply to the E. pallida and E. angustifolia or a mix, as well. The dose stated, is for E. purpurea herba OR use the *standardized* dose on products from Germany or Switzerland (England and the rest of Europe are converting over too).

The Echinacea Purpurea Herb (fresh above ground parts) is an official approved Com E herb for use as supportive therapy for *colds and chronic respiratory and lower urinary tract infections*. It should *not* be used by persons with progressive systemic diseases, such as, multiple sclerosis, HIV, AIDS, TB and other autoimmune diseases. The daily dosage should be 6-9ml of the expressed juices (or standardized equivalent) and should not be taken for longer than 8 weeks. No interaction with other drugs is known, although a few people have traditionally shown an allergic reaction, which may well have been due to impure preparations. The herb acts on the immune system, but the method of action is not fully understood. This herb also has antibacterial and antiviral properties. It contains caffeic acid, chicoric acid and echinacin. Caffeic acid inhibits integrase, an enzyme important in viral reproduction. Traditionally this herb is effective against herpes simplex and influenza.

Externally, the semi-solid herb containing at least 15% of the pressed the herb, can be used effectively for *poorly healing wounds or chronic ulcerations*.

Feverfew or Bachelor's Buttons (Tanacetum parthenium or Chrysanthemum parthenium)

Since the time of the Ancient Greeks this plant has been used to treat migraine headaches, but not other types of headaches. Recent scientific studies have confirmed this use for many migraine headaches. Also, traditionally Feverfew together with honey has been used for coughs, wheezing and difficulties in breathing. A tincture applied to the skin can relieve the pain from insect bites.

Ginkgo Biloba Leaves - (Maidenhair Tree)

The Ginko is the only survivor of the oldest living tree species, which goes back in time 200-million years!!! The Buddhist monks, who deemed it sacred planted it near their temples. The Chinese used an extract of the fruit to ward off TB, the seed kernel for respiratory and kidney infections and leaf extracts for drepression, toxic shock, circulatory ailments and senility.

The main action of this plant is to increase blood flow, it is a venous blood dilator. Hence, it can increase brain power function, and reduce memory loss and depression due to reduced blood flow to the brain. For the same reason it can be helpful in arrhythmias, poor circulation to the hands and feet, and in impotency due to erectile and other circulatory dysfunctions. It is useful for inflammations, slow healing ulcers and wounds primarily due to poor blood circulation. Ginkgo biloba also speeds up alcohol metabolism and dopamine synthesis.

According to the Com. E Report the following are the properties of the Gingko Biloba Leaf Extract:

  1. Improves hypoxic tolerance, particularly in cerebral tissue
  2. Inhibits the development of traumatic or toxically induced cerebral edema and accelerates its regression
  3. Reduces retinal edema and cellular lesions of the retina
  4. Inhibits age-related reduction of muscarinergic cholino- ceptors (parasympathetic receptors) and 2-adrenoceptors (sites on nerve cells/fibers which react to epinephrine or norepinephrine)
  5. Increase memory performance and learning capacity
  6. Improves microcirculatory blood flow and its rheological properties
  7. It is has antioxidant properties
  8. it is an antagonist of the platelet-activating factor (PAF) and
  9. It has neuroprotective effects.
In Europe this Herbal Drug is used mainly for:

A. Brain syndromes, including memory deficits, dementia and many others
Daily dosage: 120-240mg native dry extract (or equivalent) in 2 or 3 doses
Should be used for at least 8 weeks and then reviewed after a total of 3 months - to continue or not.

B. Improvement of pain-free walking in Stage II perpheral arterial occlusive disease (intermittent claudication)
Daily dosage:120-160mg native dry extract (or equivalent) in 2 or 3 doses
Should be used for no less than 6 weeks before reviewing its usefulness

C. Vertigo and tinnitus
Daily dosage: 120-160mg native dry extract (or equivalent) in 2 or 3 doses
Administration for more than 6-8 weeks has *no* therapeutic benefit.

There is also a World Health Organization (WHO) Monograph on Gingko Biloba.

Ginseng Root, Asian - (Panax ginseng)

(Please note the disclaimers above) This root has been shown to stimulate the immune system, improve concentration and reaction times and improve stamina and performance.

The Com. E Report noted that in animal models, the endurance was enhanced under stress test conditions. The use proposed for this Herbal Medicine was as a tonic for invigorating and fortifying during times of fatigue, debilitation or lack of capacity to work or concentrate.

WHO has written a Report on Asian Ginseng. Its cousins, American Ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) has similar properties, although large amounts may raise blood pressure, whereas, Dwarf Ginseng (Panax trifolius) was used by North American tribes for colic, gout, rheumatism, headaches and shortness of breath. There are at least three other cousins, Panax repens, which is also stated to have some "tonic" properties; Panax murrayi, an Australian tree, which produces a gum containing 85% arabin (similar to gum Acacia and sometimes, used as a substitute for Gum Arabic) and Panax Edgerleyi, a New Zealand tree, whose leaves the Maoris used for perfumed oils.

Dose: 1-2gm of root or its equivalent per day. Should only be taken for up to 3 months, but courses could be repeated.

Gotu Kola (Centella asiatica) - Chi Hsing/Pai Kuo

In Fiji it has long been used to "energize and strengthen" the brain, improve memory and extend longevity. It is used as a tonic, a sedative, a diuretic (depending on the dose) and to accelerate wound healing. An overdose may cause narcotic stupor. In India, it has been used for rheumatism, mental illness and open sores in skin diseases. Scientific testing has proven inconclusive with regard to reducing blood pressure, speeding healing of wounds and sores and the successful treatment of rheumatism.

Griffonia seed (Griffonia simplicifolia or Bandeiraea simplicifolia)

Traditionally this West African herb has been used as an aphrodisiac, an aid for diarrhea and as a purgative (depending on the dose). These seeds have been found to contain 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP), which is formed from tryptophan, using a Vitamin B3 dependent enzyme. The 5-HTP is the immediate precursor of serotonin, which, via N-acetylserotonin can be transformed into the sleep promoting substance melatonin. 5-HTP has been found to ease hunger pains, thus aiding in weight loss, whereas serotonin has been found to alleviate depression and obsessive compulsive disorders (OCDs) and mitigate pain suffered in fibromyalgia and migraine headaches.

Guarana (Paullinia cupana)

The seeds of this plant typically contain nearly 5% caffein. Traditionally it is used to alleviate migraine headaches and is also claimed to be a tonic for fatigue (probably due to the caffeine) and is used as a sexual stimulant. South American Indians prepare an alcoholic beverage from Guarana seeds with Cassava and water. Crushed seeds are used to treat chronic diarrhea. Other medical uses of this shrub such as being able to quell hunger and thirst and cure headaches, have not been confirmed by scientific research, wheras other such as its stimulating effect on the circulatory system can be explained by its caffeine content.

Guggal/Gugal Gum Resin - (Commiphora mukul)

(A traditional Indian Ayurvedic Medicine used for over 2,500 years).

Clinical trials have shown a fall in total serum cholesterol, triglycerides, LDL and serum lipid-phosphorus and a raise in HDL, due to the steroides, Guggalsterone Z and E, in very nearly all patients with high levels of cholesterol associated with obesity, ischemic heart disease, hypertension, diabetes and similar conditions.

Other trials, this time in animals, have shown the presence of a highly potent anti-inflammatory agent.

Dose: Follow the label directions of the commercial preparation.

Guggal has not to my knowlege, been evaluated by Com. E ESCOP or WHO yet.

Gymnema sylvestre (Gumar)

Traditionally the leaves of this plant are felt to improve blood sugar control in diabetics, decrease appetite for about 90 minutes and destroy the power of the tongue to distinguish between sweet and sour for about 20 minutes. Scientific experiments on animals have shown that the gymnemic acids present in this plant bind to cholesterol causing it to be excreted in the feces and they can also bind to glucose and oleic acid.

Hawthorn Flowering Tips - (Crataegus monogyna or C. laevigata)

Traditionally the flowers and leaves of the Hawthorn tree have been considered as a tonic strengthener of cardiac/circulatory functions. Its action is unlike digitalis, hence in Europe often prescribed in Europe. instead of digitalis. This herb exhibits vasodilatory action, lowering blood pressure by lowering peripheral resistance to blood flow.

Hawthorn leaves with flowers contain flavonoids, such as, hyperside, vitexinrhamnose, rutin and vitexin and oligomeric procyanidins.

In the Com. E Report it is stated that this herbal medicine can increase the force of heart muscle contractions and the conditivity of the nerve fibers, increase the cardiac work tolerance and decrease the pressure/heart rate product in cases of cardiac insufficiency (Stage I and II NYHA (New York Heart Association) rating scheme).

Daily Dose: 160-900mg native, water-ethanol extract corresponding to 30-168.7mg procyanidins (calculated as epicatechin) or 3.5-19.8mg flavonoids (calculated as hyperoside) OR equivalent dosage. Should not be taken for longer than 6 weeks if symptoms do not improve or legs swell. In the case of pain in the region of the heart, spreading to the arms, neck or abdomen or respiratory distress, *immediately* consult your MD. THIS HERBAL DRUG SHOULD ONLY BE USED WITH THE CONCURRENCE OF YOUR DOCTOR.

Horse Chestnut Seeds - (Aesculus hippocastanum)

The principal ingredient of the Horse Chestnut seeds is a triterpene glycoside mixture, aescin (escin).

This herb has been used for hemorrhoids and varicose veins. It is considered an anti-inflammatory and research indicates that it may be of use in atherosclerosis. Traditionally, it has been used for menstrual disorders.

The Com. E Report states that this Herbal Medicine can be used in cases of chronic venous insufficiency, when there is pain, swelling or itching in the legs or nocturnal cramping in the leg calfs. Isolated side effects of nausea or itching have been observed.

Daily Dose: 100mg aescin corresponding to 250-312.5mg of extract twice per day OR equivalent.

Horsetail or Shavegrass (Equisetum arvanse)

Traditionally, because of its high silicon content, this plant has been used to promote bone growth and hence repair and collagen formation. However the German E Commission has only approved its use for mild infections or inflammations of the urogenital tract.

Kudzu (Pueraria lobata)

The root of this herb is very high in starch. The starch from Kudzu is used as a commercial thickener. The root also contains the isoflavones, daidzein and daidzin, which have been used to curb the urge to consume alcohol.

Licorice Root (Glycyrrhiza glabra; G. uralensis)

The root contains several flavonoids of flavone and isoflavanone derivatives, in addition to potassium and calcium salts of glycyrrhizic acid, also phytosterols and coumarins.

Official use (from Germany commission E and WHO data)is for *catarrhs of the upper respiratory tract and gastric/duodenal ulcers*. The glycyrrhizic acid (a triterpene saponin) and its aglycone accelerate the healing of the gastric ulcers and soothes the mucous membranes in sore throats, etc. The secretolytic and expectorant effects produced on the respiratory tract have also been confirmed. Glycyrrhizin has been shown to be as effective as codeine as a cough suppressant (given st conditions).

This herbal root has a cortisonelike effect, because it reduces the conversion of cortisol to cortisone and hence, can sometimes, be safer than the administeration of cortisone itself. This root also potentiates the effects of hydrocortisone, allowing for a lower dose to be used. The anti-inflammatory properties of this root have proved useful in cases of Addison's disease and peptic ulcers.

Chinese traditional medicine has used this root to combat fevers and infections. The antiviral effects of this herb appear to be due to glycyrrhizin being able to inhibit the virus replication of the Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV) and hepatitis B. There are some Japanese studies which claim glycyrrhizin delays the appearance of HIV symptoms and can reduce the side effects from AZT. This herb is now being used for SARS, but results need further evaluation.

This drug should not be used by persons with liver or kidney diseases, fluid or sodium retention or potassium loss or during pregnancy. This is because during *prolonged use, at high doses* the mineralocorticoid effects of the drug may cause sodium or water retention or potassium loss, leading to hypertension. edema and hypokalemia and in rare cases, myoglobinuria. This drug should also *not* be used with other drugs (for example, thiazide diuretics) which increase potassium loss. With potassium loss, sensitivity to digitalis glycosides increases.

Dosage: Average daily dose: About 5-15g of the root (200-600mg of glycyrrhizin) OR of the influsion liquid 0.5-1g for upper respiratory infections; 1.5-3g for gastric/duodenal ulcers OR equivalent preparations. Duration of administration: *no longer than* 4-6 weeks. However, the root may used as a flavoring agent or sweetener (50 times sweeter than sugar) up to a *maximum* daily dosage equivalent of 100mg glycyrrhizin. (It works out that 3 cups of the herbal tea per day appears to be safe.)

Two other effects of this herbal root that need *further research* are:

  1. Its potential antidepressant activity (it contains 8 monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitors) and
  2. Because it can prevent the conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone, this root may be of help in cases of prostate enlargement.

Maca (Lepidium meyenii)

This plant is a staple food in parts of Peru. It contains 60-75% carbohydrates, 10-14% protein, 8.5% fiber, 2.2% lipids, the three fatty acids (linolenic, palmitic and oleic), 0.05-0.1% sterols and is rich in amino acids, sugars, iodine, iron, calcium and potassium. The medicinal properties attributed to this herb are probably ALL due to its nutritional content. Some merchants have called it, for commercial reasons, Peruvian ginseng.

Mathake (Terminalia catappa) (Sometimes called Indian or Tropical Almond)

Traditionally used as an antifungal agent. Recent experiments in lab animals have shown it to prevent chemically induced liver damage.

MELON, BITTER (Momordica charantia)

Research on this herb appears to indicate that it can help regulate blood sugar in both type 1 and type 2 diabetes in many people. CAUTION: Check with your MD and watch your blood sugar levels.

Mexican Wild Yam (Dioscorea villosa)

The root of this plant has been used as the precursor for the chemical manufacture of progesterone and estrogen. However, the chemically active agent in this plant, called diosgenin, is not a "natural progesterone", has no progesterone-like properties, nor does the human body convert it into estrogen. This have been said, in lab experiments diosgenin markedly increases the biliary output of cholesterol in the rat and has produced an estrogenic-like effect on mouse mammary epithelium.

Milk Thistle Fruit - (Silybum marianum)

Folklore gave it a mythical use of increasing lactation. However, in France it is used as a salad green and cooking vegetable and from Roman times, it was used as an antidote for the death cap mushroom (Amanita phalloides), which destroys the liver cells. The flavonoid, silymarin, in this plant potentiates the liver content of the major anti-oxidant, glutathione (GSH) and hence Milk Thistle is a liver-protective drug, which is helpful in the treatment of cirrhosis and hepatitis and other forms of liver poisoning. Milk Thistle also contains 8 anti-inflammatory agents that may be useful in psoriasis and chronic inflammatory conditions.

The mechanism of action of one of the main active agents of this plant, namely, silymarin, is to alter the structure of the liver cell (hepatocytes) membranes, so that liver toxins cannot penetrate the cell walls and in addition, silmarin increases ribosomal protein synthesis, thus stimulating the regeneration ability of the liver and the formation of new hepatocytes.

According to the Com. E Report, extracts of the seeds of the Milk Thistle plant are being used, in Europe, for toxic liver damage and as supportive therapy in chronic inflammatory liver disease and in liver cirrhosis. The daily dosage used is 12-15 gm of the seeds or 200-400mg of silymarin calculated as silibinin.

Motherwort - (Leonurus cardiaca)

This Herbal Medicine consists of the above-ground parts of this plant, and contains alkaloids (stachydrine), alkaloid- glycosides and bufenolide

The Com. E. Report states that the use of Motherwort is for "nervous" (emotion stress) cardiac disorders and as a support therapy for thyroid hyperfunction.

Daily Dose: 4.5g of herb or equivalent.

MUIRA PUAMA (Ptychopetalum olacoides)

Traditional used as an aphrodisiac. One research study showed some increase in libido and reduction of erectile dysfunction.

Mulberry fruit (Morus alba or Ramulus mori) - Sang Shen

Good to eat and sometimes used in cosmetics. Traditional used to relieve some effects of rheumatiod arithritis, to be a tonic for blood and body fluids. Also used for insomnia and to darken prematurely grey hair.


There are three Myrobans which are used in traditional Indian medicine and most often they are used together as Triphala. The three are:

AMLA FRUIT or INDIAN GOOSEBERRY (Emblica officinalis or E. myrobalan) This herb contains high amounts of tannins (28%), gallic acid (5%) and Vitamin C. The fruit of this herb is used as a diuretic and laxative. It has some cholesterol lowering properties and has a mild depressant action on the central nervous system (CNS). Folk tradition claims that an oil extracted for the fruit can promote hair growth.

HARITAKI FRUIT (Terminalia chebula or Chebulic myrobalan) This fruit contains 20-40% tannin and also gallic acid. The fruit has laxative, antimicrobial and antiviral properties. It may also have some cholesterol lowering properties.

VIBHITAKI FRUIT (Terminalia belercia/balercia or Balerica myrobalan) The fruit from this plant contains 17% tannins and is used as a laxative, with some antifungal and cholesterol lowering properties. The fruit can also be used as a preserve.

Passion Flower - (Passiflora incarnata)

This herbal medicine consists of fresh or dried, above-ground parts of Passiflora incarnata. The herb contains flavonoids, including vitexin, coumarin derivatives, maltol and harman alkaloids. According to the Com. E Report, the primary use of this plant is to calm nervous restlessness. Thus this herbal drug is a sedative and a tranquilizer and it can be of help in insomnia, fatigue and hyperactivity. ESCOP has also written a report on this herbal medicine.
  • Dose: 4-8gm of herb per day or equivalent preparation.

    Pau D'arco (Tabebula spp.)

    In South America this herb is used to treat vaginal yeast infections, as well as fungal infections. The phytochemicals responsible are thought to include lapachol and beta-lapchone. CAUTION: High doses of particularly, the isolates, can be toxic.

    Pheasant's Eye Herb - (Adonis vernalis)

    This Herbal Medicine consists of the above-ground dried parts of this plant. The plant contains cardioactive glycosides and flavonoids.

    According to the Com. E Report this plant is used in cases of mild impairment of heart function, since it improves muscle contraction and "strengthens" the veins.

    NOTE: The effects of this herbal drug are potentiated by quinine, calcium, diuretics and laxatives and extended glucocorticoids.

    CONTRAINDICATIONS: Do not use with digitalis glycosides OR if potassium deficiency.

    Dose: Average daily dose 0.6gm standardized adonis powder
    Maximum single dose: 1gm
    Maximum Daily dose: 3gm.
    Overdose: May lead to nausea, vomiting and rhythmic heart disorders

    Pumpkin Seeds - (Cucurbita pepo)

    The dried ripe seeds contain cucurbitin (an amino acid), bound and free phytosterol, beta and gamma-tocopherols (Vitamin E), high amounts of L-tryptophan and minerals, including selenium.

    The approved use of these seeds, according to the Com. E Report are to treat urination problems of benign prostatic hyperplasias (BPH) stages 1 and 2 and bladder irritation conditions. NOTE: These seeds relieve the symptoms associated with the enlarged prostate, but do NOT reduce it size. CONSULT YOUR MD AT REGULAR INTERVALS.

    Daily Dose: 10gm of seed or equivalent preparation.

    Psyllium seeds (Plantago ovata - blonde and P. psyllium - black)

    Used in Indian medicine for diarrhea and dysentery and also for constipation (depending on the dose). Preliminary scientific experiments have shown that black psyllium seds lower cholesterol absorption and increase the rate of cholesterol transformation to bile acids. Psyllium seeds have been used in weight loss programs.

    Quebracho (Aspidosperma quebracho-blancho)

    This plant has at least 2 active alkaloids. Traditionally, extracts from the bark, act on the respiratory centers of the body, lessening the rate of respiration and decreasing the sensation of need for air/oxygen after active exercise. This plant traditionally is thought to act on the libido. The alkaloid quebrachine in this plant is very similar to yohimbine found in the well known and much abused West African plant Yohimbe (Pausinystalia yohimbe).

    RED CLOVER (Trifolium pratense)

    This herb contains at least 4 phytoestrogens, namely, genistein, formononetin, daidzein and biochanin-A. These phytoestrogens can be helpful for menopausal and pre- and menstrual problems. CAUTION Do not use during pregnancy and lactation. Very High doses of this herb can be toxic.

    Rose Hips (Rosa rugosa and Rosa spp.)

    The hips are used as a natural souce of Vitamin C.

    Saw Palmetto Berry - (Serenoa serrulata and Serenoa repens)

    The Medicinal herb consists of the ripe dried fruits of this plant. The drug contains fatty oil with phytosterols (sitosterols) and polysaccharides. The action of Saw Palmetto Berries is to prevent testosterone from being converted to dihydro- testosterone. Preliminary evidence indicates that this herb may aid people with a thyroid deficiency

    The Com. E Report noted that these berries were approved for use for urination problems in benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH). NOTE: The action of these berries is not reduce the size of the prostate, but just the symptoms. CONSULT YOUR MD AT REGULAR INTERVALS.

    Daily Dose: 1-2gm of Saw Palmetto berries or equivalent dose.

    Scotch Broom Herb - (Cytisus scoparius or Sarothamus scoparius)

    Geoffrey of Anjou adopted this herb as a sign of humility, on his helmet badge, hence the English "Plantagenet" Kings.

    This Herbal Medicine is made from the above-ground parts of this plant. The herb contains alkaloids, mainly spateine. (The FDA consider this an UNSAFE drug).

    HOWEVER, the Com. E Report *approved* the use of this herb for functional heart and circulatory disorders. BUT, due to its tyramine content, if monamino oxidase (MAO) inhibitors are simultaneously administered, a blood pressure crisis may occur.

    This herb also has been used for urinary tract disorders, but is contraindicated in acute renal disease.

    Daily Dose: Extract equivalent to 1-1.5gm of drug

    Siberian Ginseng Root- (Eleutherococcus senticosus)

    The Com. E Report states that this Herbal Root contains lignans and coumarin derivatives. NOTE: The root drug acts as a monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitor. In various stress models, the endurance of the test animals was increased. In human volunteers, the lymphocyte count, especially that of the T-lymphocytes and especially the helper cells, increased following the administration of the root extracts. The Report summed-up the use of this Herbal Medicine as being a tonic for invigorating and fortifying during times of fatigue, debilitation or lack of capicity to work or concentrate. The Russians have used this root extensively with patients undergoing chemotherapy and also radiotherapy. They also prescribed it for their cosmonauts and Olympic athletes to provide energy and negate stress effects.

    *Contraindicated* in persons with high blood pressure. Dose: 2-3gm of root or equivalent preparation per day. Should only be taken for up to 3 months, but courses could be repeated.

    St. John's Wort (Hypericum perforatum)

    Wort means plant. This herb is called St John's because traditionally, (take your pick) it began to bloom at the time of St. John's Day (24 June) and/or developed red spots on this leaves on the anniversary of the death of John the Baptist (29 August) . The official herb consists of the dried above ground parts of this plant. It is used officially, internally for, *"psychovegetative" disturbances, depressive moods, anxiety and/or nervous complaints* and externally for, *treatment and post-therapy of acute contused injuries, myalgia and first degree burns*. This herb is a known *anti-inflammatory* agent and an *antidepressant*. It is often claimed that its anti- depressant activity is because hypericin is a MAO (monoamine oxidase) inhibitor, HOWEVER, the MAO activity has *only* been found in NON-mammian systems and *subsequent* animal and human research has indicated NO or VERY SLIGHT MAO activity in mammalian (including human) systems. However, care should be exercised, if this herbal drug is *combine* with known MAO inhibitors, etc. (amphetamines, narcotics, tryptophan, alcohol and smoked or pickled foods), this is because potential *potentiation effects* are at present unknown - HENCE YOU ARE THE GUINEA PIG OR EXPERIMENTAL SUBJECT!

    St. John's Wort is a powerful antidepressant, equivalent or more powerful than amitriptyline (Elavil) and imiprimine (Tofranil). It can relieve anxiety, insomnia and improve the quality of sleep and also restore self-esteem. Its action (externally) on burns is to "speed-up healing and reduce scarring".

    Initial experiments have shown that the compounds hypericin and pseudohypericin present in this herb can kill Herpes simplex, hence, the antiviral (and may be, the anti-bacterial) properties of this plant need further investigation.

    Please remember photosensitivity is a possible side effect in some people, especially if they are fair-skinned.

    The average daily dose for internal use is 2-4g of the herbal drug OR 0.2-1mg of total hypericin OR as state in equivalents thereof.

    In conclusion, the FDA once declared (1977) this herb as "unsafe", due to some experiments using cattle, which DO NOT APPLY to humans - we are human not cattle I hope!

    Skullcap (Scutellaria laterifolia)

    The Cherokees use this plant for "female health" and in ceremonies when girls enter womanhood. Traditionally used for menstrual problems and PMS. It also has an active sedative and tranquilizing action. In addition, there is a recent report that skullcap extracts may be of use against pulmonary infections. Note: Dried skullcap preparation may become inert and hence useless.

    Stinging Nettle Root (Urtica dioica/Urtica urens)

    The root contains beta-sitosterol and its glycosides and scopoletin.

    This Herb has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties and to lower blood sugar in animal tests.

    This Herbal Root has been the subject of an ESCOP Report and has been approved for use by Com. E to help with difficulties in urination in benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) stages I and II, by increasing urinary flow. A mild gastric upset is occasionally found in some people following administration of this drug. NOTE: This drug does not reduce the size of the prostate, only relieves the symptoms. CONSULT YOUR MD AT REGULAR INTERVALS.

    Daily Dose: 4-6gm of the drug or equivalent preparation.

    SUMA (Pfaffia paniculata)

    The roots of this plant are high in Vitamins A, B1, B2, B5 and E. They also contain fair amounts of iron, zinc, magnesium, potassium and up to 19 amino acids. Although called by some merchants, for commercial reasons, Brazilian Ginseng, this herb has NO known nor proven medicinal uses.

    TRIBULUS TERRESTRIS (Land or Small Caltrops)

    It is a famine food in North India. This herb has diuretic properties.

    Valerian Root- (Valerian officinalis)

    The root contains monoterpenes and sesquierpenes (valerenic acids). According to the Com. E Report the main use of this Herbal Medicine is to calm nervous restlessness, to promote sleep and act as a sedative. This root is a safe tranquilizer and of use in the treatment of hyperactivity and also insomnia.

    Both ESCOP and WHO have written reports on this widely used herbal medicine.

    Dose: Tea of 2-3gm of root per cup or its equivalent, once to several times per day. Home Page

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