Medicinal Properties of Gymnema sylvestre

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Phytochemical and pharmacological properties of Gymnema sylvestre: an important medicinal plant

Tiwari P, Mishra BN, Sangwan NS
Biomed Res Int. 2014;2014:830285
PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3912882

Pragya Tiwari, B. N. Mishra, and Neelam S. Sangwan of the Central Institute of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants and Gautam Buddh Technical University review the phytochemistry and pharmacological activities of the Ayurvedic medicinal herb Gymnema sylvestre and its phytoconstituents.

From the abstract:

Gymnema sylvestre
Gymnema sylvestre [Source: Vinayaraj, Wikimedia Commons]

Gymnema sylvestre (Asclepiadaceae), popularly known as “gurmar” for its distinct property as sugar destroyer, is a reputed herb in the Ayurvedic system of medicine. The phytoconstituents responsible for sweet suppression activity includes triterpene saponins known as gymnemic acids, gymnemasaponins, and a polypeptide, gurmarin. The herb exhibits a broad range of therapeutic effects as an effective natural remedy for diabetes, besides being used for arthritis, diuretic, anemia, osteoporosis, hypercholesterolemia, cardiopathy, asthma, constipation, microbial infections, indigestion, and anti-inflammatory. G. sylvestre has good prospects in the treatment of diabetes as it shows positive effects on blood sugar homeostasis, controls sugar cravings, and promotes regeneration of pancreas. The herbal extract is used in dietary supplements since it reduces body weight, blood cholesterol, and triglyceride levels and holds great prospects in dietary as well as pharmacological applications.”

The team reviews published literature on the medicinal plant’s history; taxonomy; phytochemical profile; biosynthesis and genomics; mechanism of action; pharmacological activities (antidiabetic, antiarthritic, anticaries, antibiotic/antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, anticancer/cytotoxic, antihyperlipidemic, immunostimulatory, hepatoprotective, wound healing, ethnobotanical); and bioavailability/toxicity.

Noting the increasingly endangered status of G. sylvestre, the authors recommend alternative methods of cultivation and conservation of this and other medicinal plants with pharmacological importance:

“One major factor that comes into play is that many medicinal plants of commercial importance face threat of extinction due to increase in demand and destruction of their habitats due to urbanization and industrialization. The prime initiative should focus on the cultivation and conservation of medicinal plants with pharmacological importance. Although, the herb has immense prospects in drug development, but it faces threat of extinction due to continuous deforestation and absence of established lines and varieties. The in vitro propagation of plants, in plant tissue culture offers a promising alternative for the production of valuable secondary metabolite. G. sylvestre, being a valuable medicinal plant and source of bioactive substances, needs to be propagated and conserved. In vitro propagation of plants with high bioactive content and cell culture technologies for large-scale production of such secondary metabolites with medicinal significance will be highly prospective and will provide new dimensions to this area of research.”

Read the complete article at PubMed Central.

The information on my blog is not intended as a substitute for medical professional help or advice but is to be used only as an aid in understanding current medical knowledge. A physician should always be consulted for any health problem or medical condition.

Avocado Seeds vs. Giardiasis, Amoebiasis, Trichomoniasis & Tuberculosis

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Antiprotozoal and antimycobacterial activities of Persea americana seeds

Jiménez-Arellanes A, Luna-Herrera J, Ruiz-Nicolás R, Cornejo-Garrido J, Tapia A, Yépez-Mulia L
BMC Complement Altern Med. 2013 May 16;13:109
PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3663756

Persea americana fruit and cross-section showing seed
Persea americana fruit and cross-section showing seed [Source: Muhammad Mahdi Karim, Wikimedia Commons]
Adelina Jiménez-Arellanes of the Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social, with coauthors from the Instituto Politécnico Nacional and UIM en Enfermedades Infecciosas y Parasitarias evaluated extracts of avocado seeds for activity against Giardia lamblia, Entamoeba histolytica and Trichomonas vaginalis infection and against drug-resistant Mycobacterium tuberculosis.

The authors note that seeds of Persea americana are widely used in traditional Mexican medicine:

Persea americana Mill. (Lauraceae) is an edible fruit commonly known as aguacate (avocado) that grows throughout the tropics. The seeds (crude or toasted) are employed in traditional Mexican medicine to treat skin rashes, diarrhea, and dysentery caused by helminths and amoebas, for the cure of infectious processes caused by fungi and bacteria, as well as for the treatment of asthma, high blood pressure, and rheumatism. The seeds of P. americana used alone or mixed with other species, such as Psidium guajava, Mentha piperita or Ocimum basilicum, are mainly employed for the treatment of diarrhea.”

Giardia lamblia
Giardia lamblia [Source: CDC / Janice Haney Carr, Wikimedia Commons]
In this first study to evaluate the activity of extracts from P. americana seeds against the organisms that cause giardiasis, amoebiasis, trichomoniasis and drug-resistant tuberculosis, the team verified they are indeed active against G. lamblia (giardiasis) and E. histolytica (amoebiasis), and that the seeds may be a source of potential molecules against drug-resistant species of M. tuberculosis as well.

The authors recommend further studies to identify the active compounds responsible for the antiprotozoal and antimycobacterial activity they observed with extracts obtained from avocado seeds. They are currently working on isolation and identification of the active compounds responsible for the activity they observed against M. tuberculosis.

Read the complete article at PubMed Central.

The information on my blog is not intended as a substitute for medical professional help or advice but is to be used only as an aid in understanding current medical knowledge. A physician should always be consulted for any health problem or medical condition.

Medicinally Important Wild Vegetables of Lesser Himalayas-Pakistan

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Ethnobotanical appraisal and cultural values of medicinally important wild edible vegetables of Lesser Himalayas-Pakistan

Abbasi AM, Khan MA, Shah MH, Shah MM, Pervez A, Ahmad M
J Ethnobiol Ethnomed. 2013 Sep 14;9(1):66
PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3853161

Arshad Mehmood Abbasi of COMSATS Institute of Information Technology and coauthors from Quaid-i-Azam University conducted an appraisal to explore ethnomedicinal and cultural importance of wild edible vegetables used by the populace of Lesser Himalayas-Pakistan.

Ficus carica
Ficus carica [Source: Wikimedia Commons, Trew, C.J., Plantae selectae quarum imagines ad exemplaria naturalia Londini, in hortis curiosorum nutrit, vol. 8: t. 73 (1771) [G.D. Ehret]]
The team documented a total of 45 medically important wild vegetables. Ficus carica was the most cited species followed by Ficus palmata, Bauhinia variegata, Solanum nigrum, Amaranthus viridis, Medicago polymorpha, Chenopodium album, Cichorium intybus, Amaranthus hybridus and Vicia faba.

Noting threats to habitats supporting wild edible plants in the region (e.g., agricultural land expansion, over-harvesting, over-grazing, uncontrolled fire setting, fuel wood collection), the authors recommended further documentation and support of local communities that use these plants:

“Present findings also revealed that many wild edible vegetables species are under pressure from various anthropogenic factors, demand public awareness, community based management and urgent collection of germplasm. Further exploration is suggested into nutritional profile, phytochemical analysis, antioxidant potential, essential and toxic components in conventional food resources; pharmacological applications; dietary requirements; skill training in farming and biotechnological techniques to improve yields.”

Read the complete article at PubMed Central.

The information on my blog is not intended as a substitute for medical professional help or advice but is to be used only as an aid in understanding current medical knowledge. A physician should always be consulted for any health problem or medical condition.

Plant Resources of Banda Daud Shah, District Karak, Pakistan

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Ethnobotanical assessment of plant resources of Banda Daud Shah, District Karak, Pakistan

Murad W, Azizullah A, Adnan M, Tariq A, Khan KU, Waheed S, Ahmad A
J Ethnobiol Ethnomed. 2013 Nov 22;9(1):77
PubMed PMID: 24267174
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in Pakistan
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in Pakistan [Source: TUBS, Wikimedia Commons]

Waheed Murad and coauthors from Kohat University of Science and Technology and Islamia College Peshawar surveyed about 100 elderly respondents regarding ethnomedicinal uses of plants in Banda Daud Shah, Karak, a district of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan.

In their introduction, the authors note Pakistan’s uniquely rich and threatened ethnobotanical knowledge:

“Pakistan is bestowed with a unique biodiversity that is stretched along nine major ecological zones. A major part of country is quite rich in medicinal herbs due to its salubrious climate. Numerous ethnomedicinal plants extracted from the wild are being used by local communities of different geographical regions having century’s old traditional knowledge on such plants. A number of medicinal plants are well known about their properties and proper use at the community level, however many are yet to be explored for their medicinal values. In early 1950 more than 80% of Pakistani population was totally dependent on ethnomedicines for traditional health practices, but now it is experienced only in the rural areas, because the indigenous knowledge develops and changes with the passage of time, with change of natural resources and culture. Indigenous knowledge on ethnomedicines is under threat due to the current modernizing trends among the rural societies, which is reducing the locals’ wisdom on the precious flora. In Pakistan, about 6000 plant species have been reported so far, however ethnomedicinal knowledge on 600 plant species only have been documented. There is a dire need to preserve this valuable traditional knowledge.”

The team collected 58 plant species, including 40 species used for the preparation of various ethnomedicines, used against gastrointestinal disorders, dermatological disorders, inflammations, cardiovascular disorders, fever and dental problems.

Dalbergia sissoo
Dalbergia sissoo [Source: Khalid Mahmood, Wikimedia Commons]
Of multipurpose medicinal plants, several were identified as under pressure, due to exploitation for construction, firewood and fodder purposes: Dalbergia sisso ranked first (most threatened); Acacia modesta and Acacia nilotica ranked second; Morus nigra ranked third; Ziziphus nummularia ranked fourth, while Monotheca buxifolia and Capparis desidua ranked fifth.

The authors also note the threat of extinction of ethnobotanical knowledge among the indigenous people:

“It was noted that ethnomedicinal knowledge is becoming restricted only to the elders, Hakeem’s (traditional practitioners) and Pensaries (local herb sellers); while young people are totally ignorant of this wealth. Advancement in science and technology has changed the social values and therefore, younger generation are transforming at a much faster rate into the new tradition. Medicinal plants knowledge is going to be obsolete because of the interference of modern cultural changes. It is therefore very important to document the native flora along with their ethnomedicinal recipes before extinction of the indigenous knowledge.”

Read the complete article at PubMed.

The information on my blog is not intended as a substitute for medical professional help or advice but is to be used only as an aid in understanding current medical knowledge. A physician should always be consulted for any health problem or medical condition.

Náhuatl Homegardens of the Tehuacán Valley, Mexico

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Plant management and biodiversity conservation in Náhuatl homegardens of the Tehuacán Valley, Mexico

Larios C, Casas A, Vallejo M, Moreno-Calles AI, Blancas J
J Ethnobiol Ethnomed. 2013 Nov 6;9:74
PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3827996

Tehuacán Valley ecoregion
Location of the Tehuacán Valley ecoregion in southeastern Puebla and northern Oaxaca states [Source: Cephas – North America second level political division 2.svg, Wikimedia Commons]
Carolina Larios of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) and coauthors conducted a study of plant species of homegardens of Náhuatl communities in the Tehuacán Valley of central Mexico, and their similarity with wild native species in the surrounding habitats.

Noting that the Tehuacán Valley is one of the arid zones with the highest biodiversity in the Americas, and one of the areas of Mesoamerica with the oldest history of plant management, the authors focused on homegardens because they are among the most ancient management systems that still provide economic benefits to people and are reservoirs of native biodiversity.

The study had three primary aims:

  • Inventorying plant species occurring in homegardens, their nomenclature, use and traditional management;
  • Determining richness, abundance and diversity of plant species composing homegardens, and their role in maintaining native plant species;
  • Evaluating harvest, consumption and incomes obtained from homegardens’ products and comparing the role of this system in people’s subsistence and culture in different ecological conditions.

The team recorded a total of 281 native plant species in homegardens, including 50 medicinal plant species. They found that “homegardens provide a high diversity of resources for subsistence of local households and significantly contribute to conservation of native biodiversity.”

From the conclusion:

“Homegardens studied in the municipality of Coyomeapan are reservoirs of high plant species diversity, nearly 34% of it being native to the Tehuacán Valle and nearly 16% to the local vegetation. The highest diversity was recorded in homegardens where the neighbouring forests had the least diversity, which suggests that management of homegardens aims at compensating scarcity of naturally available plant resources. Differently to other agroforestry systems of the area, cultivated species were markedly more abundant than plants under other management forms. Homegardens’ composition is influenced by ecological conditions and social factors according the role of the system in local people’s subsistence.

“The information documented may support local programs for agroecological practices linked to dynamic conservation of biodiversity and culture. Homegardens may be important for local and regional strategies of protection of threatened species along with those of economic importance. Promoting interchange of local experiences about use and management techniques among rural communities, as well as diffusion of ecological and cultural information about the species managed could strongly support such a process. Academic institutions and NGOs might contribute with scientific and regional and national management experiences for making decisions at different scales.”

Read the complete article at PubMed Central.

The information on my blog is not intended as a substitute for medical professional help or advice but is to be used only as an aid in understanding current medical knowledge. A physician should always be consulted for any health problem or medical condition.

Women’s Knowledge of Medicinal Plants in Madagascar’s Littoral Forest

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Medicinal plants used by women from Agnalazaha littoral forest (Southeastern Madagascar)

Razafindraibe M, Kuhlman AR, Rabarison H, Rakotoarimanana V, Rajeriarison C, Rakotoarivelo N, Randrianarivony T, Rakotoarivony F, Ludovic R, Randrianasolo A, Bussmann RW
J Ethnobiol Ethnomed. 2013 Nov 4;9:73
PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3827988

Atsimo Atsinanana Region of Madagascar
Madagascar with Atsimo Atsinanana Region highlighted [Source: Esculapio, Wikimedia Commons]
Mendrika Razafindraibe and coauthors from the University of Antananarivo and Missouri Botanical Garden conducted an ethnobotanical study to assess utilization of the Agnalazaha littoral forest by women in the commune of Mahabo-Mananivo, and to determine the diversity of medicinal plants used by them.

Agnalazaha Forest is located within the Atsimo Atsinanana region of southeastern Madagascar, and has been under the management of the Missouri Botanical Garden since 2002.

Working with 498 residents of Commune Rural Mahabo-Mananivo, the team collected 152 medicinal plants used by local people, including eight native species that were very well known and used for multiple conditions:

Nepenthes madagascariensis
Nepenthes madagascariensis [Source: Yves-Pascal Suter, Wikimedia Commons]
  • Voacanga thouarsii (used in childbirth and to treat gonorrhea, syphilis, mycosis, wounds, hypertension and stomach ulcers and for the care of the digestive tract)
  • Cinnamosma madagascariensis (for dental decay and general oral care, to treat malaria, and for care of complications after childbirth)
  • Olax emirnensis (used in childbirth and to treat malaria, hepatitis, epilepsy, dysentery and fatigue)
  • Syzygium emirnense (used in childbirth and to treat diarrhea, dental disease and scabies)
  • Nepenthes madagascariensis (used in childbirth and to treat malaria, filariasis, ear infections, syphilis and gonorrhea)
  • Phyllarthron madagascariense (to support breastfeeding and treat malaria and fatigue)
  • Suregada boiviniana (to help evacuate the placenta and treat epilepsy, dysentery and malaria)
  • Asteropeia micraster (to help evacuate the placenta and treat diarrhea, fatigue and mumps)

The authors conducted their work in the context of severe biodiversity loss (particularly of the littoral forest, of which only 10% of the original forest that once stretched 1600km along the eastern coast of Madagascar remains):

“Biodiversity loss, in general, has severe implications on environmental stability which in turn affects human health. When biodiversity directly adds to the wellness of a community as a resource for medicine, biodiversity loss can have even deeper consequences as medicinal plant species are lost or are no longer available….

“Our study found that many of the medicinal species sourced from Agnalazaha Forest were also utilized for other daily living needs. Native medicinal species may also be used as timber, construction materials, and firewood. Conservation concerns mostly lie in the overuse of these valuable daily living species. Conversations with community members highlighted the concern and interest they had for protecting the natural resource of Agnalazaha Forest while ensuring the forest could still be used. It is our goal that through careful ethnobotanical studies of the modern use of Agnalazaha Forest, we can help the community of Mahabo-Mananivo understand their forest use and establish community driven sustainable conservation plans.”

Read the complete article at PubMed Central.

The information on my blog is not intended as a substitute for medical professional help or advice but is to be used only as an aid in understanding current medical knowledge. A physician should always be consulted for any health problem or medical condition.

Liáng chá [涼茶] – Cooling Herbal Drinks of Southern China

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Ethnobotanical survey of cooling herbal drinks from southern China

Liu Y, Ahmed S, Long C
J Ethnobiol Ethnomed. 2013 Dec 19;9:82
PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3926322

Southern China
Lingnan (dark red) covers all or part of Guangdong, Guangxi, Hainan, Hong Kong, Macau, Hunan and Jiangxi provinces [Map source: Koryakov Yuri, Wikimedia Commons]
Yujing Liu, Selena Ahmed and Chunlin Long of Minzu University of China conducted an ethnobotanical survey of plant species used and commercialized as cooling herbal drinks in southern China’s Lingnan region.

From the abstract:

Liáng chá [涼茶] (“cooling tea”, “herbal tea” or “cool tisane” in Chinese) are herbal drinks widely produced in southern China and consumed by billions of people worldwide to prevent and treat internal heat as well as a range of associated health conditions. Globalization and renewed interest in botanical remedies has attracted growing attention in cooling herbal drinks by industry, scientists and consumers. However, there is a knowledge gap on the plant species used and commercialized for cooling herbal drinks in southern China and their associated ethnobotanical use, habitat and conservation status. This is the first study to document plant species used and commercialized as liáng chá in southern China’s Lingnan region and associated ethnomedical function, preparation methods, habitat and conservation status.”

The authors note that Lingnan, a tropical and subtropical region south of China’s Nanling Mountains, is a richly biodiverse and culturally diverse area, where the practice of liáng chá is regarded to have originated more than 2,000 years ago.

Glycyrrhiza uralensis
Glycyrrhiza uralensis is on China’s Regional Red List of threatened species [Source: Stickpen, Wikimedia Commons]
Working with 300 native-born residents from 12 socio-linguistic groups, the team documented a total of 238 species used for liáng chá, including 112 wild harvested species, 51 species that are either wild harvested or cultivated, 57 cultivated species and two naturalized species. One of the species is endangered (Paris polyphylla var. yunnanensis), one is critically endangered (Dendrobium officinale), eight are vulnerable (Notopterygium incisum, Atractylodes macrocephala, Magnolia liliiflora, Dendrobium chrysanthum, Dendrobium fimbriatum, Dendrobium loddigesii, Dendrobium nobile, Coptis chinensis), and three are listed in China’s Regional Red List of threatened species (Glycyrrhiza uralensis, Paeonia lactiflora, Paeonia veitchi).

The authors recommend conservation efforts and further research on the safety and efficacy of herbal drinks:

“The liáng chá industry of southern China reflects the rich plant species richness as well as cultural diversity and exchange of the region. As China’s herbal drink industry exceeds the market share of Coca-cola, future research is needed to understand the safety and efficacy of recorded herbal tisanes. The market-orientated production of herbal drinks should be monitored for ecological viability and product safety towards sustainability.”

Read the complete article at PubMed Central.

The information on my blog is not intended as a substitute for medical professional help or advice but is to be used only as an aid in understanding current medical knowledge. A physician should always be consulted for any health problem or medical condition.

Ethnobotany in Rayones, Nuevo León, México

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Ethnobotany in Rayones, Nuevo León, México

Estrada-Castillón E, Garza-López M, Villarreal-Quintanilla JA, Salinas-Rodríguez MM, Soto-Mata BE, González-Rodríguez H, González-Uribe DU, Cantú-Silva I, Carrillo-Parra A, Cantú-Ayala C
J Ethnobiol Ethnomed. 2014 Sep 1;10(1):62
PubMed PMID: 25179469

Nuevo León en México
Nuevo León en México [Source: Yavidaxiu, Wikimedia Commons]
Eduardo Estrada-Castillón of Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León and coauthors from Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León and Universidad Autónoma Agraria Antonio Narro conducted an ethnobotanical study in Rayones, Nuevo León, in northeastern México, to record knowledge and use of plant species among residents.

Based on interviews with 110 women and men from the region, Estrada-Castillón and his team recorded 252 species, 136 of them considered as medicinal. (Medicinal use was by far the most important use of plants overall, representing 71% of the total uses, followed by food [9%]).

Rosmarinus officinalis
Rosmarinus officinalis [Source: Franz Eugen Köhler, Köhler’s Medizinal-Pflanzen, Wikimedia Commons]
The most important medicinal plants (i.e., those with 10 or more uses) included Rosmarinus officinalis, Aloe vera, Trixis californica, Monarda citriodora, Litsea glaucescens, Turnera diffusa, Persea americana, Matricaria recutita, Tagetes lucida, Carya illinoinensis, Ocimum basilicum and Ruta chalepensis.

The authors note the rich diversity of ethnobotanical knowledge in Rayones, compared to other parts of Nuevo León:

“Surprisingly for us was to find that in Rayones, people knew more plants and more uses than in the central part (which includes six municipalities) and the southern part of the state of Nuevo León (which includes three municipalities). This is because both, men and women collected plants in field, and the rich plant diversity found in this area, since two important ecosystems, Sierra Madre Oriental (temperate) and the Chihuahuan Desert (arid) converge in this area. Interviewees mentioned that they collect and exchange plants with each other, and also, they exchange knowledge of plants and how they should be used. In Rayones as in the central and the southern region of the state of Nuevo Leon, the families Astraceae, Fabaceae, Cactaceae, Euphorbiaceae and Agavaceae are also the most diversified in wild species. The most diversified families with cultivated species are Rosaceae (mainly trees), Poaceae, Solanaceae, Rutaceae, and Cucurbitaceae. In Rayones, most of plants known and used by residents are herbaceous, wild and autochthonous species. The rich species diversity of wild genera such as Opuntia, Agave, Euphorbia and Acacia, as well as cultivated ones such as Citrus, Capsicum, Prunus, Cucurbita, and Allium, allow residents to use them in many different purposes. Several families such as Poaceae, Solanaceae, Cactaceae, Rosaceae, Fabaceae, Rutaceae, and Cucurbitaceae in Rayones as in other parts of México stand out as the most useful genera and species with different purposes in northeastern and southern of México.”

Read the complete article at PubMed.

The information on my blog is not intended as a substitute for medical professional help or advice but is to be used only as an aid in understanding current medical knowledge. A physician should always be consulted for any health problem or medical condition.

Identification of Medicinal Roots Collected & Traded in Morocco

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Botanical identification of medicinal roots collected and traded in Morocco and comparison to the existing literature

Ouarghidi A, Martin GJ, Powell B, Esser G, Abbad A
J Ethnobiol Ethnomed. 2013 Aug 15;9(1):59
PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3846589

Abderrahim Ouarghidi of the University of Cadi Ayyad and Global Diversity Foundation, along with co-authors from Centre for International Forestry Research and the University of British Columbia, collected data in collaboration with herbalists in an effort to help standardize nomenclature of species of medicinal roots collected in southern Morocco and traded in Marrakech.

The paper presents a brief literature review highlighting the need for additional primary botanical identification of medicinal plants in Morocco followed by the botanical identity and ethnomedicinal uses of species harvested for their roots.

Rubia peregrina
Rubia peregrina [Source: Wikimedia Commons, Aroche]
The team identified the vernacular names for 67 medicinal roots with a variety of uses, including Foua (Rubia peregrina L), used for hepatitis, liver problems, tonic, weight gain; Serghina (Tasserghint) (Petrorhagia illyrica, Corrigiola telephiifolia), used for weight gain, appetizer, incense, headache, migraine; and L’guseb (Phragmites communis Trin), used for hair problems.

The authors urge further investigation targeting botanical identification of medicinal plants collected and used across Morocco:

“[A] lack of voucher specimens of medicinal plants, particularly medicinal roots, means many studies have been dependent on the available literature which, we have shown, is not as complete as is needed. There is an urgent need for accurate botanical identification of wild medicinal plants. We identified the existence of cases where multiple species are categorized under the same vernacular name and we provide site-specific data on botanical identity of traditional medicinal plants. Differences in knowledge (e.g. between ethnic groups), habitat, and geographic distribution can alter the local nomenclature used for naming medicinal plants. This suggests a need for further exhaustive investigation targeting botanical identification (with voucher specimens) of medicinal plants collected and used across multiple regions of Morocco. Furthermore, special attention should be given to endangered and over harvested species to ensure their sustainable use.”

Read the complete article at PubMed Central.

The information on my blog is not intended as a substitute for medical professional help or advice but is to be used only as an aid in understanding current medical knowledge. A physician should always be consulted for any health problem or medical condition.

Plants Used for Making Recreational Tea in Europe

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Plants used for making recreational tea in Europe: a review based on specific research sites

Sõukand R, Quave CL, Pieroni A, Pardo-de-Santayana M, Tardío J, Kalle R, Łuczaj Ł, Svanberg I, Kolosova V, Aceituno-Mata L, Menendez-Baceta G, Kołodziejska-Degórska I, Pirożnikow E, Petkevičius R, Hajdari A, Mustafa B
J Ethnobiol Ethnomed. 2013 Aug 13;9(1):58
PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3852985

Renata Sõukand of the Estonian Literary Museum and coauthors from Emory University, University of Gastronomic Sciences, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Instituto Madrileño de Investigación y Desarrollo Rural, Agrario y Alimentario, Estonian University of Life Sciences, University of Rzeszów, Uppsala University, Russian Academy of Sciences, University of Warsaw Botanic Garden, Institute of Ethnology and Cultural Anthropology University of Warsaw, University of Białystok, Institute of Lithuanian Literature and Folklore, and University of Prishtina reviewed “local plants used in water infusions as aromatic and refreshing hot beverages (recreational tea) consumed in food-related settings in Europe, and not for specific medicinal purposes.”

Origanum vulgare
Origanum vulgare [Source: Wikimedia Commons, Ivar Leidus]
From the abstract:

“The reviewed 29 areas are located across Europe, covering the post-Soviet countries, eastern and Mediterranean Europe. Altogether, 142 taxa belonging to 99 genera and 40 families were reported. The most important families for making herbal tea in all research areas were Lamiaceae and Asteraceae, while Rosaceae was popular only in eastern and central Europe. With regards to botanical genera, the dominant taxa included Mentha, Tilia, Thymus, Origanum, Rubus and Matricaria. The clear favorite was Origanum vulgare L., mentioned in 61% of the regions. Regionally, other important taxa included Rubus idaeus L. in eastern Europe, Chamaemelum nobile (L.) All. in southern Europe and Rosa canina L. in central Europe.”

Comprehensive, rigorous and fascinating, this is one of my favorite articles posted this year on PubMed.

The study was limited to species collected by people from local wild populations or cultivated in home gardens for personal or family use. As noted in the abstract, the team focused on 29 sample regions located in 14 countries: Russian Federation, Estonia, Lithuania, Ukraine, Belarus, Poland, Bulgaria, Romania, Kosovo, Serbia, Italy, Spain and Portugal (with a qualitative data set from Scandinavia included as a point of comparison).

Subsections and tables detail teas by region, and the text offers many interesting historical/literary observations, for example:

“Historically, some people have shown a preference for recreational tea although they could afford the “real thing”. Recall Agatha Christie’s fictional character Hercule Poirot who always drank recreational tea.”

The authors conclude on an appropriately sober note:

“Future research on the pharmacological, nutritional and phytochemical properties of the most popular plants used for making tea is important to ensure the safety and appropriateness of their use, especially as many of these are consumed on a daily basis. Moreover, in depth regional studies dedicated specifically to the use of local plants for making recreational teas will be important for developing a better understanding of their selection criteria, cultural importance and perceived properties in Europe and abroad.”

(But just between you and me, I’m looking forward to trying some of these teas that are new to me.)

Read the complete article at PubMed Central.

The information on my blog is not intended as a substitute for medical professional help or advice but is to be used only as an aid in understanding current medical knowledge. A physician should always be consulted for any health problem or medical condition.