Tag Archives: medicinal plants

Ethnopharmacological Knowledge among Migrants in Diadema, São Paulo

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Garcia D, Domingues MV, Rodrigues E.
Ethnopharmacological survey among migrants living in the Southeast Atlantic Forest of Diadema, São Paulo, Brazil.
J Ethnobiol Ethnomed. 2010 Oct 29;6:29.
PubMed PMID: 21034478; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC2987905. [Free full text via PubMed Central.]

Noting that an understanding of how people of diverse cultural backgrounds have traditionally used plants and animals as medicinal substances during displacements is one of the most important objectives of ethnopharmacological studies, biologists at the Universidade Federal de São Paulo interviewed five migrants who described knowledge about 12 animals and 85 plants used medicinally in their places of origin. The five interviewees migrated from northeast and southeast Brazil and established themselves in Diadema in the 1940s.

From the Background:

“Cultural mixing mediated by the migration of people around the world has generated increasing interest in recent years within the field of ethnopharmacology. Medicinal plants have been used by human societies throughout history, also across geographical barriers. The continuous use of certain plants and animals for medicinal purposes over time reflects their potential therapeutic value. Such substances become even more promising when they are persistently used by migrating human groups despite the considerable distances travelled and the consequent exposure to different cultures and vegetal resources.”

Seven plants [Impatiens hawkeri W. Bull., [Artemisia camphorata Vill.], Equisetum arvensis L. [sic – Equisetum arvense?], Senna pendula (Humb. & Bonpl. ex Willd.) H.S. Irwin & Barneby, Zea mays L., Fevillea passiflora Vell. and Croton fuscescens Spreng)] and two animals (Atta sexdens and Periplaneta americana) showed maintenance of use among migrants during their displacement in Brazilian territory and have not yet been studied by pharmacologists.

The authors acknowledge that their work raises significant issues related to property rights, as the dynamic use of natural resources presents particularly varied influences: “The interviewed migrants had passed through several Brazilian cities and were exposed to distinct vegetation and cultures. In this migration, they have passed on and incorporated knowledge in an intensive exchange where formulas and uses are mixed and re-invented as a result of contact between cultures.”

Free full text available via 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.

Survey of Plants Used in Northern Peru for Reproductive Problems and Female Health

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Bussmann RW, Glenn A.
Medicinal plants used in Northern Peru for reproductive problems and female health.
J Ethnobiol Ethnomed. 2010 Nov 1;6:30.
PubMed PMID: 21040536; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC2984435. [Free full text via PubMed Central.]

Botanists from the William L. Brown Center at the Missouri Botanical Garden documented a total of 105 plant species identified as herbal remedies for reproductive problems in Northern Peru. Only a third of the plants have previously been studied for their medicinal properties.

From the Background:

“Northern Peru is believed to be the center of the Central Andean Health Axis, and traditional medicinal practices in this region remain an important component of everyday life. [Traditional Medicine] is also gaining acceptance by national governments and health providers. Peru’s National Program in Complementary Medicine and the Pan American Health Organization recently compared Complementary Medicine to allopathic medicine in clinics and hospitals operating within the Peruvian Social Security System. The results showed that the cost of using Traditional Medicine was less than the cost of Western therapy. In addition, for each of the criteria evaluated – clinical efficacy, user satisfaction, and future risk reduction – Traditional Medicine’s efficacy was higher than that of conventional treatments, including fewer side effects, higher perception of efficacy by both the patients and the clinics, and a 53-63% higher cost efficiency of Traditional Medicine over that of conventional treatments for the selected conditions. According to [the World Health Organization], the sustainable cultivation and harvesting of medicinal species is one of the most important challenges for the next few years.”

The authors provide an overview on medicinal plant species employed in Northern Peru in traditional remedies for reproductive problems and female health, comparing this use to the western scientific evidence regarding their efficacy. Most of the species identified were Asteraceae (aster, daisy, or sunflower family, 9.52%), followed by Lamiaceae (mint family) and Fabaceae (legume family) (8.57% and 6.67%).

A comprehensive table lists species used in Northern Peru for reproductive problems.

Free full text is available via 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.

The Grapefruit: Metabolic and Cardiovascular Perspectives

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Owira PM, Ojewole JA. The grapefruit: an old wine in a new glass? Metabolic and cardiovascular perspectives.
Cardiovasc J Afr. 2010 Sep-Oct;21(5):280-5. Review.
PubMed PMID: 20972517. [Free Full Text via PubMed.]

Noting that grapefruit is popular worldwide for its taste and nutritive value and also as a functional food with health benefits, researchers from the University of KwaZulu-Natal (Durban, South Africa) reviewed the literature about grapefruit, its interactions with drugs, and its effects on the metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular disease.

From the Conclusions:

“In the last 10 years, grapefruit has been a pharmacologoist’s nightmare, given its popularity and potential for interaction with many therapeutic drugs. To date, no clear guidelines have been put forward to protect vulnerable patients against the hazardous consequences of grapefruit–drug interactions. However, it is now emerging that apart from drug interactions, which have largely been attributed to furanocoumarins, flavonoids such as naringin and hesperidin could be playing more important roles in the prevention of diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. Attention has now shifted to investigating the molecular mechanisms by which these flavonoids exert their protective cardiovascular effects. In the coming years, basic and clinical research in cardiovascular pharmacology should be focused on grapefruit and its flavonoids and/or their chemical derivatives.”

Free full text is available via 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.

Herbal Mixtures in Traditional Medicine in Northern Peru

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Bussmann RW, Glenn A, Meyer K, et al. Herbal mixtures in traditional medicine in Northern Peru. J Ethnobiol Ethnomed. 2010 Mar 14;6:10.
PubMed PMID: 20226092; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC2848642.
[Free full text via PubMed Central.]

Noting with the World Health Organization that “the sustainable cultivation and harvesting of medicinal species is one of the most important challenges for the next few years,” researchers from Missouri Botanical Garden undertook a detailed survey of herbal mixtures employed by traditional practitioners (curanderos) in Northern Peru and the specific applications they are used for, in order to provide a baseline for more in-depth studies on efficacy and safety, as well as possible applications.

Researchers collected plants in the field, in markets, and at the homes of curanderos. In accordance with Peru’s rights under the Convention on Biological Diversity, the identification of the plant material was conducted entirely in Peru and no plant material was exported.

The investigation yielded a total of 974 herbal preparations used to treat 164 different afflictions, which were classified under the curandero’s terminology. Nearly a third of the afflictions treated with traditional herbal mixtures were psychosomatic, followed by respiratory illnesses, female issues, kidney problems and heart problems.

Nearly 65% of the medicinal plants used in the region were applied in mixtures, leading the researchers to speculate this might help explain why traditional one-plant, one single-compound based drug
discovery efforts have yielded very little results, and why so many plant species that have been documented for a certain use are found inefficient or toxic in clinical trials.

From the Conclusions:

“Peruvian curanderos appear to employ very specific guidelines in the preparation of these cocktails, and seem to have a clear understanding of disease concepts when they diagnose a patient, which in turn leads them to often apply specific mixtures for specific conditions. There seems to be a widespread exchange of knowledge about mixtures for treatment of bodily diseases, while mixtures for spiritual, nervous system and psychosomatic disorders appear to be more closely guarded by the individual healers.”

The full text is available via 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.

Genistein as an Inhibitor of Cancer Cell Invasion and Metastasis: Review

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Pavese JM, Farmer RL, Bergan RC. Inhibition of cancer cell invasion and metastasis by genistein.
Cancer Metastasis Rev. 2010 Sep;29(3):465-82. Review.
PubMed PMID: 20730632; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC2933845.
[Free full text via PubMed Central.]

Working under grants from the US National Institutes of Health, researchers from Northwestern University reviewed the structural, pharmacologic, and biological characteristics of genistein (a small, biologically active flavonoid found in high amounts in soy) relevant to its ability to inhibit metastasis of various cancer types, with a focus on genistein’s ability to regulate steps of the metastatic cascade, including cell proliferation, cell detachment, cell migration, and cell invasion. The authors also review preclinical and early clinical models of research.

The authors find that genistein represents both a tool for understanding cancer development and a promising candidate for evaluation as an inhibitor of metastasis in a variety of cancer types.

From the Conclusion:

“At concentrations of genistein near the micromolar range, which have been achieved in prospective phase I studies, genistein exhibits significant inhibition of tumor growth. This inhibition of proliferation has been linked to genistein’s interaction with a variety of different protein classes, including cell cycle regulators, proapoptotic and antiapoptotic proteins, and the Akt/NF-κB family of proteins. Additional preclinical studies have indicated that inhibition of the later steps of the metastatic cascade may be an important biological effect of genistein at low nanomolar concentrations, which are achieved through dietary consumption. Genistein has been shown to exert inhibitory effects on targets that are involved in almost every step of the metastatic cascade, including FAK, integrins, TGF-β signaling molecules, and MMPs, which together are critical to the processes of cell adhesion and invasion. Early positive clinical trial studies have corroborated these preclinical findings, as subjects administered genistein show decreased markers of advanced metastatic disease, such as MMP-2 and PSA. These preliminary evaluations will need to be pursued by larger confirmatory prospective clinical studies, but the findings from ongoing trials have already provided critical information about the clinical importance of these mechanisms.”

The full text is available via 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.

Chinese herbal medicines as adjuvant treatment during chemo- or radio-therapy for cancer

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Qi F, Li A, Inagaki Y, et al. Chinese herbal medicines as adjuvant treatment during chemo- or radio-therapy for cancer. Biosci Trends. 2010 Dec;4(6):297-307. Review. PubMed PMID: 21248427.

A benchmark review providing evidence for trials of Chinese herbal medicines as adjuvant cancer treatment during chemotherapy or radiotherapy.

The authors hypothesize that Chinese herbal medicines (e.g. Astragalus, Turmeric, Ginseng, TJ-41, PHY906, Huachansu injection, and Kanglaite injection) “have advantages in terms of suppressing tumor progression, increasing the sensitivity of chemo- and radiotherapeutics, improving an organism’s immune system function, and lessening the damage caused by chemo- and radio-therapeutics.” They recommend randomized, controlled clinical trials involving cancer patients.

Free full text via 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.

The use of medicinal plants in Mustang district, Nepal

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Bhattarai S, Chaudhary RP, Quave CL, Taylor RS.
The use of medicinal plants in the trans-Himalayan arid zone of Mustang district, Nepal.
J Ethnobiol Ethnomed. 2010 Apr 6;6:14.
PubMed PMID: 20370901

Investigators at the Nepal Academy of Science and Technology conducted field research in the Mustang district of north-central Nepal from 2005 to 2007 to document the use of medicinal plants in traditional botanical medicine.

Interviewing residents of 27 communities, the investigators recorded traditional uses of 121 medicinal plant species, mostly herbs, but also including shrubs, trees, and climbers. Plant-based medicine is used extensively in the region, within a number of medical systems including Ayurveda, traditional Chinese medicine, Unani (a tradition of Graeco-Arabic medicine), and Tibetan Amchi medicine.

Recent loss of biodiversity in Mustang – a fragile, mountainous ecosystem – prompted this ethnobotanical project to document the use of medicinal plants and indigenous ethnobotanical knowledge. The investigators interviewed Amchi healers, medicinal plant traders, farmers, hotel and shop owners and managers, traders, homemakers, and village elders.

The study found that medicinal plants play a pivotal role in primary healthcare in Mustang, that traditional Amchi medical practitioners maintain deep knowledge about their use, and that, “while over-harvesting of some important medicinal plants has increased, many Amchi are working towards both biological conservation of the medicinal plants through sustainable harvesting and protection of wild species and conservation of their cultural heritage.”

To maintain biodiversity and ethnobotanical knowledge, the authors recommend collaborative research projects between the local people and national and international partners with relevant expertise.

Green Tea and Prostate Cancer

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Pandey M, Gupta S. Green tea and prostate cancer: from bench to clinic. Front Biosci (Elite Ed). 2009 Jun 1;1:13-25. PubMed PMID: 19482620; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC2728057.

Researchers at Case Western Reserve University review the evidence for green tea in the prevention and treatment of prostate cancer. Their setup is irresistible:

“Green tea, the most popular beverage next to water, is a rich source of tea catechins and has potential to be developed as a chemopreventive agent for prostate cancer. For centuries it has been used in traditional medicine in Far-East countries. Male populations in these countries where large quantities of green tea are consumed on regular basis have the lowest incidence of prostate cancer.”

Panday and Gupta provide a comprehensive introduction to the disease and green tea as a preventive and therapeutic agent in prostate cancer and make a clear case for the need to study biomarkers of the various pathways that are influenced by green tea polyphenols in this indication.

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.

Indigenous knowledge of medicinal plants used by Saperas community of Khetawas, Jhajjar District, Haryana, India

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Panghal M, Arya V, Yadav S, et al. Indigenous knowledge of medicinal plants used by Saperas community of Khetawas, Jhajjar District, Haryana, India. J Ethnobiol Ethnomed. 2010 Jan 28;6:4. PubMed PMID: 20109179 PubMed Central PMCID: PMC2826346 [full text]

Researchers at Maharshi Dayanand University, Rohtak, undertook oral interviews with traditional herbal medicine practitioners of the Nath community in Jhajjar District, Haryana, India.

From the background:

“The indigenous community of snake charmers belongs to the ‘Nath’ community in India have played important role of healers in treating snake bite victims. Snake charmers also sell herbal remedies for common ailments. In the present paper an attempt has been made to document on ethno botanical survey and traditional medicines used by snake charmers of village Khetawas located in district Jhajjar of Haryana, India as the little work has been made in the past to document the knowledge from this community.”

The investigation found the people of the snake charmer community used 57 medicinal plants for the treatment of various diseases.

From the conclusion:

“This community carries a vast knowledge of medicinal plants but as snake charming is banned in India as part of efforts to protect India’s steadily depleting wildlife, this knowledge is also rapidly disappearing in this community. Such type of ethno botanical studies will help in systematic documentation of ethno botanical knowledge and availing to the scientific world plant therapies used as antivenin by the Saperas community.

Read the full article.

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.

Ethnomedical survey of plants used by the Orang Asli in Kampung Bawong, Perak, West Malaysia

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Samuel AJ, Kalusalingam A, Chellappan DK, et al. Ethnomedical survey of plants used by the Orang Asli in Kampung Bawong, Perak, West Malaysia. J Ethnobiol Ethnomed. 2010 Feb 7;6:5. PubMed PMID: 20137098; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC2843656. [full text]

Investigators at Masterskill University College of Health Sciences in Malaysia carried out a qualitative ethnomedical survey among a local Orang Asli tribe to gather information on the use of medicinal plants in the region of Kampung Bawong, Perak of West Malaysia to evaluate the potential medicinal uses of local plants used in curing different diseases and illnesses.

Their survey revealed 62 medicinal plant species that grow in the wild naturally and have medicinal properties that are crucial in traditional medicine of the Orang Asli.

From the conclusions:

“…The local government and village authorities need to act fast to conserve the ethnomedical knowledge of Orang Asli in the village Kampung Bawong, and the medicinal plants require preservation in addition to the ethnobotanical and ethnomedical knowledge recording. The preservation of these herbs along with the traditional knowledge of how to use them is an indispensable obligation for sustaining traditional medicine as a medicinal and cultural resource. Thus a future extensive research of these plants in this locality is recommended to identify and assess their ethnomedical claim.”

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.