Medicinal Properties of Sri Lanka Cinnamon


Medicinal properties of ‘true’ cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylanicum): a systematic review

Ranasinghe P, Pigera S, Premakumara GA, Galappaththy P, Constantine GR, Katulanda P
BMC Complement Altern Med. 2013 Oct 22;13:275
PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3854496

Priyanga Ranasinghe of the University of Colombo (Sri Lanka) and colleagues at the University of Colombo and the Industrial Technology Institute conducted a comprehensive systematic review of the scientific literature to provide a comprehensive summary of the potential medicinal benefits of Sri Lanka cinnamon Cinnamomum zeylanicum (C. verum).

The authors begin by making an important distinction between two main varieties of cinnamon, C. zeylanicum and C. cassia, based on the coumarin content of the two:

Sri Lanka cinnamon (C. verum/C. zeylanicum)
Sri Lanka cinnamon (C. verum/C. zeylanicum) [Source: USDA photo, Wikimedia Commons]

“Cinnamon is a common spice used by different cultures around the world for several centuries. It is obtained from the inner bark of trees from the genus Cinnamomum, a tropical evergreen plant that has two main varieties; [C. zeylanicum] and [C. cassia] (also known as Cinnamomum aromaticum/Chinese cinnamon)…. [C. zeylanicum], also known as Ceylon cinnamon (the source of its Latin name, zeylanicum) or ‘true cinnamon’ is indigenous to Sri Lanka and southern parts of India…. One important difference between [C. cassia] and [C. zeylanicum] is their coumarin (1,2-benzopyrone) content. The levels of coumarins in [C. cassia] appear to be very high and pose health risks if consumed regularly in higher quantities. According to the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR), 1 kg of [C. cassia] powder contains approximately 2.1-4.4 g of coumarin, which means 1 teaspoon of [C. cassia] powder would contain around 5.8-12.1 mg of coumarin. This is above the Tolerable Daily Intake (TDI) for coumarin of 0.1mg/kg body weight/day recommended by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). The BfR in its report specifically states that [C. zeylanicum] contains ‘hardly any’ coumarin. Coumarins are secondary phyto-chemicals with strong anticoagulant, carcinogenic and hepato-toxic properties… The EFSA advocates against the regular, long term use of [C. cassia] as a supplement due to its coumarin content. In addition, according to currently available evidence coumarin does not seem to play a direct role in the observed biological effects of [C. cassia]. Hence, although [C. cassia] has also shown many beneficial medicinal properties, [its] coumarin content is likely to be an obstacle against regular use as a pharmaceutical agent, unlike in the case of [C. zeylanicum].”

Reviewing the literature, the authors found that available in-vitro and in-vivo evidence suggests that C. zeylanicum has anti-microbial, anti-parasitic, anti-oxidant and free radical scavenging properties, and that it lowers blood glucose, serum cholesterol and blood pressure. They caution, however, that because of the paucity of studies in humans, and other limitations of the current evidence, further randomized double-blinded placebo-controlled clinical trials will be required to establish therapeutic safety and efficacy of C. zeylanicum as a pharmaceutical agent.

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 Sources of Chinghi Traditional Natural Herbal Shampoo


Identification of the plants use as natural herbal shampoo in Manipur

Singh SR, Phurailatpam AK, Senjam P
Afr J Tradit Complement Altern Med. 2013 Nov 2;11(1):135-9
PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3957255

Manipur, India
Manipur, India [Source: CC-by-sa PlaneMad/Wikimedia ]
S.R. Singh and A.K. Phurailatpam of the College of Horticulture & Forestry, CAU, Pasighat; with P. Senjam of Bidhan Chandra Krishi Viswavidyalaya, Mohanpur, Nadia conducted a field survey in the Imphal valley of Manipur on the use of herbs as ingredient sources for the preparation of a traditional natural herbal shampoo referred to as Chinghi by the Meitei people, the majority ethnic group of Manipur, one of the northeastern states of India.

From the introduction:

“Manipur, popularly known as “Jewel of India” is located on the eastern frontier of India; it is bounded on the east by Myanmar (Burma), on the north by Nagaland, on the west by Assam and on the south by Mizoram & Myanmar (Burma). Physically, Manipur comprises of two parts – the hills and the valley. The valley is at the centre surrounded by hills on all sides. The hills cover about 3 by 4 of the total area of the State and is situated at 23.80°–25.68°N latitude and 93.03°–94.78°E longitude covering a total geographical area of 22,327 km.2 It comprises 1820 sq. km of flat plateau of alluvial valley popularly known as “Imphal valley” inhabited by the Meitei (Manipuri) and Meitei pangal (Manipuri muslim) and 20,507 sq. km of hill territory and forms a part of the Himalayan mountain system, which carries this cup-shaped wonderland inside its series of hill ranges inhabited by 30 different tribes of Naga tribes and kuki tribes. All the hills are covered with luxuriant growth of forests with nagesar, jurul, Indian rubber, tan, oak, ash, teak and palm. It is part of both Himalaya as well as Indo-Burma biodiversity hotspots in the world supporting about 50% of the total India’s biodiversity. In Manipur, the Meitei (Manipuri) community inhabiting in the valley regions have the traditional knowledge of using natural herbal shampoo called “Chinghi” from time immemorial to treat different ailments of hair like anti-ageing of the hair, black and shininess of the hair without any harmful effect on the hair. History reveals that in the beginning of the 14th century there has been a good description of medicinal plants and herbal treatment for many diseases. A number of works on ethnobotony of Manipur have been done since 1980s and some comprehensive accounts of its folklore are available but none of the study is reported on the identification of the plant species used for herbal shampoo preparation by the people of the Meitei (Manipuri) community from time immemorial and even today also it is very popular and every household is using it. Therefore, it is now necessary to study details of their scientific name, common name, local name, family, part used evaluation of its chemical content in its ingredients and to conserved it ingredients plant species for the future.”

Centella asiatica
Centella asiatica [Source: Forest & Kim Starr, Wikimedia Commons]
The survey revealed the therapeutic application of 35 plant species used as ingredients in the preparation of Chinghi, which are boiled with local sticky rice water. Plant species used in the herbal shampoo include Centella asiatica, Oxalis sps., Hydrocele asiatica, Emblica officinialis, Meyna laxiflora, Spondias pinnata, Mussaenda roxburghii, and Portulaca oleracea.

The authors caution that the Meitei collect the plant ingredients from the wild, and that collection from urban sources could contain toxic residues of insecticides and fungicides that may promote hair loss. They also note that the preparation of Chinghi requires detailed knowledge that is not available outside of the Meitei community, and recommend preservation of this traditional knowledge of herbal shampoo:

“The state of Manipur experienced a variety of flora and fauna flourishing hitherto in the wild state as its natural home. These ingredients source of herbal shampoo has been grown throughout the length and breadth of the region and belief behind this mode of using it is good for hair and prevent from graying the hair, smooth, black and shininess of the hair. This could be attributed due to the presence of photochemical in the ingredients of it but still now no research work has been done about the chemical constituents and its mechanism in the prevention of graying of hair. Thus, if this hidden mechanism and chemical constituents in the ingredients is explored without further delay, the state will be in a position to occupy a sizeable share in the National Market in general and International Market in particular for the anti-ageing herbal shampoo manufacturing. It is indeed the rightful time that steps be taken up for preservation of this traditional knowledge of herbal shampoo making before it is too late.”

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.


First Ethnobotanical Study of Arjan-Parishan Protected Area, Fars Province, Iran


Ethnobotanical study of medicinal plants used in Arjan – Parishan protected area in Fars Province of Iran

Dolatkhahi M, Dolatkhahi A, Nejad JB
Avicenna J Phytomed. 2014 Nov;4(6):402-12
PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4224954

Fars Province of Iran
Fars Province of Iran [Source: k-k, Wikimedia Commons]
Mehdi Dolatkhahi of Payam Noor University, Ali Dolatkhahi of Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, and Javad Bagher Nejad of Kazeroon Jahad Keshavarzi documented important useful medicinal plants and their medicinal characteristics for treatment of human ailments in the Arjan-Parishan protected area in Fars province of Iran (the original homeland of the ancient Persians) .

Using direct interviews with 80 local participants, particularly those who were more familiar with the herbs and their medicinal properties, the team documented 85 traditional medicinal plant species, including scientific name, local name, parts used, and ways of application and ailments. This is the first publication of the ethnobotany of this region.

From the introduction:

“Our surrounding nature is the habitat of many unknown medicinal plants that indigenous people use ‎ for treating their ailments. Iran, by having varied climate and geographical regions and also different types of ‎mountains, plains, deserts, hills, river and lakes, and wetlands is considered to be a center for accessing valuable and ‎scare medical species. The native knowledge of medicinal plants has been put in danger of ‎being lost by assimilating these tribes and loss of traditional community life. Therefore, it ‎seems necessary to perform ethnobotanical studies in Iran to record all the knowledge of folk medicine practiced ‎among native people. Arjan – Parishan protected area with two very beautiful wetlands ‎Parishan and Arjan is situated 60 km west of Shiraz in Fars province. This geographic region is one of the ‎most important human migration roads in Iran, showing a great plant biodiversity, so traditional usage of ‎medicinal plant is a familiar therapeutic way for native people. In recent years, traditional use of plants for medical ‎purposes has drawn the attention of researchers in our country as well. However, there are no published records on ‎ethnobotanical knowledge of medicinal plants in the area.‎”

The Arjan – Parishan protected region lies in ‎southwest Iran and includes the Arjan and Parishan wetlands. The vast ‎majority of the residents of this region are ethnic Persians and agriculture is the dominant economic activity.‎

The authors describe the biodiversity of the region:

“This area is important for plant biodiversity due to the presence of some ‎important habitats such as international wetland of Parishan and “oak forest” that are dominated by Quercus ‎brantii L. Approximately, 60 % of this area is surrounded by Zagros Mountain. International Wetland of Parishan ‎is located 12 km to the southeast of Kazeroon. The climate of this area is arid and cold desert with the average ‎elevation 820 mabove sea level. Arjan wetland with altitude of 2015 m above sea level is situated 60 km ‎west of Shiraz in Fars province. This area has semi-arid to semi-humid climate. Due to variation in altitude, ‎topography, and bio-climate within this area, the diversity of medicinal plants and indigenous medical knowledge ‎are rich. Therefore, this biodiversity can be important in aspects of ethnobotanical and pharmaceutical potentials. ‎At present, the Arjan – Parishan area is considered as protected area by IUCN classification.”

Adiantum capillus-veneris
Adiantum capillus-veneris [Source: USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database, Wikimedia Commons]
Frequently used and well-known medicinal plants in the region include Adiantum capillus-veneris, ‎Oliveria decumbens, Achillea tenuifolia, Anthemis altissima, Anthemis austro-iranica, Cynara scolymus, Berberis ‎vulgaris, Nasturtium officinale, Capparis spinosa,‎‏ ‏Citrullus colocynthis, Quercus brantii, Melissa officinalis, ‎Ocimum basilicum, Teucrium polium,‎‏ ‏Malva parviflora, Ficus carica, Olea europaea, Alhagi camelorum, ‎Plantago major, and Portulaca oleracea.

The team notes that traditional medical practice using local medicinal plants has been providing “excellent outcome in treating different types of ailment such as intestinal-digestive disorders, followed by bone and ‎joint pain, kidney and urogenital diseases, blood sugar and lipid, common cold, expectorant and fever, appetizing, ‎heart-blood circulatory system disorders, respiratory disorders, antiseptic, skin and hair, menstruate, insect bite, as well as as a ‎sedative.”

The authors recommend further studies to ‎identify the active ingredients of medicinal plants used in the area:

“It ‎is important to emphasize that intestinal-digestive system is the first target for traditional medicine in the area. ‎Therefore, the information documented on the medicinal plants of the Arjan – Parishan protected area may serve ‎as baseline data for future pharmacological and phytochemical studies and consequently discover new drugs.‎”‎

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.

Salamanca’s Galeria Urbana

"Siempre he sabido que la democracia llevaría a esto" (Ana Villalón, 2013)
“Siempre he sabido que la democracia llevaría a esto” (Ana Villalón, 2013)

A friend introduced me to Galeria Urbana, a free-range gallery in Salamanca’s Barrio del Oeste, where young artists and graphic designers are given  storefronts and buildings (vacant and occupied) to use as their canvases.

Artists include Julio Herrero, Pablo S. HerreroLaura Serradilla, Andrea Ruano Flores, Nuria San Jose, Sheila Rodríguez Cañestro, Álvaro Giménez, Alex Robles, Doa Oa Ocampo, Cristina Muñoz, Kike Martin, Cristina Carmona, Inés Carballido, Mónica C. Peláez, Héctor Carazo García, Alejandro Pérez, Verónica Ledo, David Iglesias, Elena Benito Alonso, Alejandro Labrador, David de la Mano, Arina Esse, Marcos Abella, César San José, Miguel Mateos, Alejandro Sánchez, Alsira MonforteBaz, Ana Villalón, Manolo Gutiérrez, and Antonio Feliz.

Galería Urbana en el Barrio del Oeste de Salamanca is a project of Asociación Vecinos ZOES, a community association, and Lemarte, an art collective formed by María Crisóstomo and Elena Gómez of the University of Salamanca.

I’ve posted a slideshow and album on Flickr. But this is only a small sample. See it for yourself (Salamanca is a terrific place to visit.)

Ethnomedicinal Herbs of Phyllanthus Species


An overview of important ethnomedicinal herbs of Phyllanthus species: present status and future prospects

Sarin B, Verma N, Martín JP, Mohanty A
ScientificWorldJournal. 2014 Feb 3;2014:839172
PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3932249

Bharti Sarin of the University of Delhi and co-authors from the National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources and Universidad Politecnica de Madrid present an overview of studies on pharmacognostics, phytochemistry, species identification, and genetic diversity of Phyllanthus herbs.

From the introduction:

“The genus Phyllanthus (Phyllanthaceae) consists of approximately 1000 species, spread over the American, African, Australian, and Asian continents. All three major habits [sic], that is, trees, shrubs, and herbs, are seen amongst the Phyllanthus species. Most of the herbs belonging to genus Phyllanthus have been shown to contain different combinations of secondary metabolites which render them with medicinal properties. The major class of bioactive compounds like alkaloids, flavonoids, lignans, phenols, tannins, and terpenes has been isolated from these herbs.”

Phyllanthus urinaria
Phyllanthus urinaria [Source: Raffi Kojian –, Wikimedia Commons]
The team focused on 12 species: P. ajmerianus, P. amarus, P. debilis, P. fraternus, P. kozhikodianus, P. maderaspatensis, P. rheedii, P. rotundifolius, P. scabrifolius, P. tenellus, P. urinaria, and P. virgatus. Except P. ajmerianus, P. rotundifolius, and P. scabrifolius, the 12 have been scientifically investigated and shown to be of pharmacological value. Many of the herbs form an integral part of the Ayurveda system of medicine:

“The ethnic tribes of India and other Asian countries have used the herbs of Phyllanthus species since ancient times, as traditional home remedies. The decoctions of various parts of the herbs are used for treating hepatic, urinary, and sexually transmitted diseases, diabetes, hypertension, cancer, and wounds. Taking cue from the ethnic medications and potential of herbal treatments, the modern society is now eager to resort to green medicines which are without adverse side effects.”

Considering the medicinal properties of the Phyllanthus herbs, the authors recommend that these species should be assessed for pharmacognostics and pharmacological properties, and the assessment of genetic diversity of these species, which will have implications for formulating conservation strategies in the future.

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.

Medicinal Uses of Pistacia Species


Five Pistacia species (P. vera, P. atlantica, P. terebinthus, P. khinjuk, and P. lentiscus): a review of their traditional uses, phytochemistry, and pharmacology

Bozorgi M, Memariani Z, Mobli M, Salehi Surmaghi MH, Shams-Ardekani MR, Rahimi R
ScientificWorldJournal. 2013 Dec 15;2013:219815
PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3876903

Mahbubeh Bozorgi and colleagues from Tehran University of Medical Sciences review the literature concerning ethnomedicinal uses, phytochemistry, and pharmacological activities of five Pistacia species: P. vera, P. atlantica, P. terebinthus, P. khinjuk, and P. lentiscus.

From the abstract:

Pistacia vera
Pistacia vera [Source: Paolo Galli, Wikimedia Commons]
Pistacia, a genus of flowering plants from the family Anacardiaceae, contains about twenty species, among them five are more popular including P. vera, P. atlantica, P. terebinthus, P. khinjuk, and P. lentiscus. Different parts of these species have been used in traditional medicine for various purposes like tonic, aphrodisiac, antiseptic, antihypertensive and management of dental, gastrointestinal, liver, urinary tract, and respiratory tract disorders. Scientific findings also revealed the wide pharmacological activities from various parts of these species, such as antioxidant, antimicrobial, antiviral, anticholinesterase, anti-inflammatory, antinociceptive, antidiabetic, antitumor, antihyperlipidemic, antiatherosclerotic, and hepatoprotective activities and also their beneficial effects in gastrointestinal disorders. Various types of phytochemical constituents like terpenoids, phenolic compounds, fatty acids, and sterols have also been isolated and identified from different parts of Pistacia species.”

The authors note that different parts of Pistacia species have been traditionally used for a wide range of purposes:

“Resin of P. lentiscus has been used for variety of gastric ailments in the Mediterranean and Middle East countries for the last 3000 years. It was used in ancient Egypt as incense; it has also been used as a preservative and breath sweetener. Most of the traditional uses reports for resin of P. atlantica are from Iran and have been used for the treatment of digestive, hepatic, and kidney diseases. Fruit of P. vera (pistachio) is used all over the world. Records of the consumption of pistachio as a food date to 7000 BC. Pistachio is cultivated in the Middle East, United States, and Mediterranean countries. Iran is one of the biggest producers and exporters of pistachio nuts.”

The team reviews the literature of Pistacia spp. as antioxidants, antimutagens, antimicrobials and antivirals, anti-inflammatories and antinociceptives, effects on gastrointestinal disorders, antidiabetics, antitumors, effects on liver and serum biochemical parameters, effects on atherosclerosis, and anticholinesterase activity.

They conclude that current research on crude plant parts, extracts, and pure metabolites of Pistacia spp. provides scientific evidence for traditional uses and reveals the genus to be a valuable source for medicinally important molecules.

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.