Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Chinese Fundamental Herbs

Chinese Herbology (simplified Chinese: 中药学; traditional Chinese: 中藥學; pinyin: Zhōngyào xué), is the common name for the subject of Chinese materia medica. It includes the basic theory of Chinese materia medica, "crude medicine," "prepared drug in pieces" (simplified Chinese: 饮片; traditional Chinese: 飲片; pinyin: yǐnpiàn) and traditional Chinese patent medicines and simple preparations' source, collection and preparation, performance, efficacy, and clinical applications.

Chinese materia medica (simplified Chinese: 中药; traditional Chinese: 中藥; pinyin: Zhōngyào), is also the medicine based on traditional Chinese medicine theory. it includes Chinese crude medicine, prepared drug in pieces of Chinese materia medica, traditional Chinese patent medicines and simple preparations, etc.

Herbology is the Chinese art of combining medicinal herbs.

Herbology is traditionally one of the more important modalities utilized in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). Each herbal medicine prescription is a cocktail of many herbs tailored to the individual patient. One batch of herbs is typically decocted twice over the course of one hour. The practitioner usually designs a remedy using one or two main ingredients that target the illness. Then the practitioner adds many other ingredients to adjust the formula to the patient's yin/yang conditions. Sometimes, ingredients are needed to cancel out toxicity or side-effects of the main ingredients. Some herbs require the use of other ingredients as catalyst or else the brew is ineffective. The latter steps require great experience and knowledge, and make the difference between a good Chinese herbal doctor and an amateur. Unlike western medications, the balance and interaction of all the ingredients are considered more important than the effect of individual ingredients. A key to success in TCM is the treatment of each patient as an individual.

Chinese herbology often incorporates ingredients from all parts of plants, the leaf, stem, flower, root, and also ingredients from animals and minerals. The use of parts of endangered species (such as seahorses, rhinoceros horns, and tiger bones) has created controversy and resulted in a black market of poachers who hunt restricted animals. Many herbal manufacturers have discontinued the use of any parts from endangered animals.

In Chinese herbology, there are 50 "fundamental herbs." These include:

1. Agastache rugosa - huò xiāng (藿香)
2. Alangium chinense - bā jiǎo fēng (八角枫)
3. Anemone chinensis (syn. Pulsatilla chinensis)- bái tóu weng (白头翁)
4. Anisodus tanguticus - shān làng dàng (山莨菪)
5. Ardisia japonica - zǐ jīn niú (紫金牛)
6. Aster tataricus - zǐ wǎn (紫菀)
7. Astragalus propinquus (syn. Astragalus membranaceus) - huáng qí (黄芪)or běi qí (北芪)
8. Camellia sinensis - chá shù (茶树) or chá yè (茶叶)
9. Cannabis sativa - dà má (大麻)
10. Carthamus tinctorius - hóng huā (红花)
11. Cinnamomum cassia - ròu gùi (肉桂)
12. Cissampelos pareira - xí shēng téng (锡生藤) or (亞乎奴)
13. Coptis chinensis - duǎn è huáng lián (短萼黄连)
14. Corydalis ambigua - yán hú suǒ (延胡索)
15. Croton tiglium - bā dòu (巴豆)
16. Daphne genkwa - yuán huā (芫花)
17. Datura metel - yáng jīn huā (洋金花)
18. Datura stramonium (syn. Datura tatula)- zǐ huā màn tuó luó (紫花曼陀萝)
19. Dendrobium nobile - shí hú (石斛) or shí hú lán (石斛兰)
20. Dichroa febrifuga - cháng shān (常山)
21. Ephedra sinica - cǎo má huáng (草麻黄)
22. Eucommia ulmoides - dù zhòng (杜仲)
23. Euphorbia pekinensis - dà jǐ (大戟)
24. Flueggea suffruticosa (formerly Securinega suffruticosa) - yī yè qiū (一叶秋)
25. Forsythia suspensa - liánqiào (连翘)
26. Gentiana loureiroi - dì dīng (地丁)
27. Gleditsia sinensis - zào jiá (皂荚)
28. Glycyrrhiza uralensis - gān cǎo (甘草)
29. Hydnocarpus anthelminticus (syn. H. anthelminthica) - dà fēng zǐ (大风子)
30. Ilex purpurea - dōngqīng (冬青)
31. Leonurus japonicus - yì mǔ cǎo (益母草)
32. Ligusticum wallichii - chuān xiōng (川芎)
33. Lobelia chinensis - bàn biān lián (半边莲)
34. Phellodendron amurense - huáng bǎi (黄柏)
35. Platycladus orientalis (formerly Thuja orientalis) - cèbǎi (侧柏)
36. Pseudolarix amabilis - jīn qián sōng (金钱松)
37. Psilopeganum sinense - shān má huáng (山麻黄)
38. Pueraria lobata - gé gēn (葛根)
39. Rauwolfia serpentina - shégēnmù (蛇根木), cóng shégēnmù (從蛇根木), or yìndù shé mù (印度蛇木)
40. Rehmannia glutinosa - dìhuáng (地黄) or gān dìhuáng (干地黄)
41. Rheum officinale - yào yòng dà huáng (药用大黄)
42. Rhododendron tsinghaiense - Qīng hǎi dù juān (青海杜鹃)
43. Saussurea costus - yún mù xiāng (云木香)
44. Schisandra chinensis - wǔ wèi zi (五味子)
45. Scutellaria baicalensis - huáng qín (黄芩)
46. Stemona tuberosa - bǎi bù (百部)
47. Stephania tetrandra - fáng jǐ (防己)
48. Styphnolobium japonicum (formerly Sophora japonica) - huái (槐), huái shù (槐树), or huái huā (槐花)
49. Trichosanthes kirilowii - guā lóu (栝楼)
50. Wikstroemia indica - liǎo gē wáng (了哥王)

Monday, October 6, 2008

ST. JOHN'S WORT - Hypericum Perforatum

St John's wort (pronounced IPA: /sɪndʒənsˈwɝt/) used alone refers to the species Hypericum perforatum, also known as Tipton's Weed or Klamath weed, but, with qualifiers, is used to refer to any species of the genus Hypericum.

Therefore, H. perforatum is sometimes called Common St John's wort to differentiate it. The species of Hypericum have been placed by some in the family Hypericaceae, but more recently have been included in the Clusiaceae. Approximately 370 species of the genus Hypericum exist worldwide with a native geographical distribution including temperate and subtropical regions of North America, Europe, Asia Minor, Russia, India, and China.

Extracts of yellow-flowering Hypericum perforatum L. (St. John's wort) have been recommended traditionally for a wide range of medical conditions. The most common modern-day use of St. John's wort is the treatment of depression. Numerous studies report St. John's wort to be more effective than placebo and equally effective as tricyclic antidepressant drugs in the short-term treatment of mild-to-moderate major depression (1-3 months). It is not clear if St. John's wort is as effective as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressants such as sertraline (Zoloft®).

What St. John's Wort Is Used For

  • St John's wort is today most widely known as a herbal treatment for major depression. In some countries, such as Germany, it is commonly prescribed for mild depression, especially in children, adolescents, and where cost is a concern. Standardized extracts are generally available over the counter – however, in some countries (such as Ireland) a prescription is required. Extracts are usually in tablet or capsule form, and also in teabags and tinctures.
  • St. John's wort has been used for centuries to treat mental disorders and nerve pain.
  • St. John's wort has also been used as a sedative and a treatment for malaria, as well as a balm for wounds, burns, and insect bites.
  • Today, St. John's wort is used by some for depression, anxiety, and/or sleep disorders.

Other Medical Uses Of St. John's Wort

It may decrease alcohol intake. The constituent hyperforin, (found in the plant), appears to be responsible for decreasing alcohol consumption.

The aerial parts of the plant can be cut and dried for later delivery of the active ingredients in the form of an herbal tea with a pleasant, though somewhat bitter, taste.

Hyperforin, a major constituent, has also been found to have antibacterial properties; in ultrapurified form a concentration of 0.1 mg/ml kills methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus.

Hyperforin can stimulate the release of the neurotransmitter norepinephrine, leading to speculation that it might alleviate the symptoms of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). A randomized controlled trial of St. John's wort found no significant difference between the botanical and placebo in the management of ADHD symptoms over eight weeks.

Side Effects and Cautions

* St. John's wort may cause increased sensitivity to sunlight. Other side effects can include anxiety, dry mouth, dizziness, gastrointestinal symptoms, fatigue, headache, or sexual dysfunction.
* Research shows that St. John's wort interacts with some drugs. The herb affects the way the body processes or breaks down many drugs; in some cases, it may speed or slow a drug's breakdown. Drugs that can be affected include:
o Antidepressants
o Birth control pills
o Cyclosporine, which prevents the body from rejecting transplanted organs
o Digoxin, which strengthens heart muscle contractions
o Indinavir and possibly other drugs used to control HIV infection
o Irinotecan and possibly other drugs used to treat cancer
o Warfarin and related anticoagulants
* When combined with certain antidepressants, St. John's wort may increase side effects such as nausea, anxiety, headache, and confusion.
* St. John's wort is not a proven therapy for depression. If depression is not adequately treated, it can become severe. Anyone who may have depression should see a health care provider. There are effective proven therapies available.
* Tell your health care providers about any complementary and alternative practices you use. Give them a full picture of what you do to manage your health. This will help ensure coordinated and safe care.

More Precaution (Adverse Effects) On St John's wort

At large doses, St John's wort is poisonous to grazing livestock (cattle, sheep, goats, horses).

Behavioural signs of poisoning are general restlessness and skin irritation. Restlessness is often indicated by pawing of the ground, head shaking, head rubbing, and occasional hindlimb weakness with knuckling over, panting, confusion and depression. Mania and hyperactivity may also result including running in circles until exhausted. Observations of thick wort infestations by Australian graziers include the appearance of circular patches giving hillsides a ‘crop circle’ appearance, possibly from this phenomenon. Animals typically seek shade and have reduced appetite. Hypersensitivity to water has been noted, and convulsions may occur following a knock to the head. Although general aversion to water is noted, some may seek water for relief.

Severe skin irritation is physically apparent, with reddening of non-pigmented and unprotected areas. This subsequently leads to itch and rubbing, followed by further inflammation, exudation and scab formation. Lesions and inflammation that occur are said to resemble the conditions seen in foot and mouth disease. Sheep have been observed to have face swelling, dermatitis, and wool falling off due to rubbing. Lactating animals may cease or have reduced milk production, pregnant animals may abort. Lesions on udders are often apparent. Horses may show signs of anorexia, depression (with a comatose state), dilated pupils, and injected conjunctiva.

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SCHIZANDRA, Schizandra Chinensis (Medicinal Herbs)

SCHIZANDRA, Schizandra Chinensis, Schisandra Chinensis (五味子 in Chinese, pinyin: wǔ wèi zi, literally "five flavor berry") is a deciduous woody vine hardy and is dioecious, meaning individual plants are either male or female, thus both male and female plants must be grown if seeds are desired.

It is very tolerant to shade. Its Chinese name comes from the fact that its berries possess all five basic flavors: salty, sweet, sour, pungent (spicy), and bitter. Sometimes it is more specifically called běi wǔ wèi zi (北五味子; literally "northern five flavor berry") to distinguish it from another traditionally medicinal schisandraceous plant Kadsura japonica that grows only in subtropical areas.

Its berries are used in traditional Chinese medicine and they are most often used in dried form, and boiled to make a tea. Medicinally it is used as a tonic and restorative adaptogen with notable clinically documented liver protecting effects. The primary hepatoprotective (liver protecting) and immuno-modulating constituents are the lignans schizandrin, deoxyschizandrin, gomisins, and pregomisin, which are found in the seeds of the fruit.

Medical Uses of Schisandra (remedies for)

Useful for the treatment of:

• chemotherapy support
• common cold/sore throat
• fatigue
• hepatitis
• liver support
• stress

Modern Chinese research suggests that lignans in schisandra regenerate liver tissue damaged by harmful influences such as viral hepatitis and alcohol. Lignans lower blood levels of serum glutamic pyruvic transaminase (SGPT), a marker for infective hepatitis and other liver disorders.

Schisandra fruit may also have an adaptogenic action, much like the herb ginseng, but with weaker effects. Laboratory work suggests that schisandra may improve work performance, build strength, and help to reduce fatigue.

Side effects of Schisandra

Side effects involving schisandra are uncommon but may include abdominal upset, decreased appetite, and skin rash.

Some herbs are known to react with your medication. Please consult your physician before starting on any herb.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

SAW PALMETTO, Serenoa Repens (Medicinal Herbs)

Serenoa repens, the saw palmetto, is the sole species currently classified in the genus Serenoa. It has been known by a number of synonyms, including Sabal serrulatum, under which name it still often appears in alternative medicine. It is a small palm, normally reaching a height of around 2-4 m. Its trunk is sprawling, and it grows in clumps or dense thickets in sandy coastal lands or as undergrowth in pine woods or hardwood hammocks. Erect stems or trunks are rarely produced but are found in some populations. It is endemic to the southeastern United States, most commonly along the Atlantic and Gulf coastal plains, but also as far inland as southern Arkansas. It is extremely slow growing, and long lived, with some plants, especially in Florida, possibly being as old as 500-700 years.

Saw palmetto is a fan palm (Arecaceae tribe Corypheae), with the leaves that have a bare petiole terminating in a rounded fan of about 20 leaflets. The petiole is armed with fine, sharp teeth or spines that give the species its common name.

The leaves are light green inland, and silvery-white in coastal regions. The leaves are 1-2 m in length, the leaflets 50-100 cm long. They are similar to the leaves of the palmettos of genus Sabal. The flowers are yellowish-white, about 5 mm across, produced in dense compound panicles up to 60 cm long. The fruit is a large reddish-black drupe and is an important food source for wildlife and historically for humans.

The plant is used as a food plant by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including Batrachedra decoctor (which feeds exclusively on the plant).

The genus name honors American botanist Sereno Watson.

Saw palmetto (Serenoa repens L.) is an herbal drug used to treat symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) and lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS). There has been a report that a preparation containing this herb has caused cholestatic hepatitis in one person and some indications exist that it may have the potential to produce liver toxicity.

What It Is Used For

* Saw palmetto is used mainly for urinary symptoms associated with an enlarged prostate gland (also called benign prostatic hyperplasia, or BPH).
* Saw palmetto is also used for other conditions, including chronic pelvic pain, bladder disorders, decreased sex drive, hair loss, and hormone imbalances.
* Saw palmetto berry has been used for urination difficulties due to prostate gland enlargement (benign prostatic hyperplasia, or BPH).

Side Effects

* Unlikely but report to your doctor promptly: headache, stomach pain or discomfort. If you notice other effects not listed above, contact your doctor or pharmacist.
* Some men using saw palmetto have reported side effects such as tender breasts and a decline in sexual desire.
* Tell your health care providers about any complementary and alternative practices you use. Give them a full picture of what you do to manage your health. This will help ensure coordinated and safe care.


If you have any of the following health problems, consult your doctor before using this product: illnesses affected by male hormones (e.g., prostate cancer). Liquid preparations of this product may contain sugar and/or alcohol. Caution is advised if you have diabetes, alcohol dependence or liver disease. Ask your doctor or pharmacist about the safe use of this product. Saw palmetto is not recommended for use during pregnancy. Consult your doctor before using this product. Because of the potential risk to the infant, breast-feeding while using this product is not recommended. Consult your doctor before breast-feeding.

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