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Artemisia mexicana

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Botanical Name : Artemisia mexicana
Family: Compositae: Asteraceae
Genus: Artemisia
Specis: Mexicana

Common Names: Mexican White Sagebrush , Mexican Wormwood, Agenjo del Pais, Ambfe (Otomi), Artemisia, Cola de Zorillo (‘little tail of the fox’), Ensencio de Mata Verde (‘incense of the green bush’), Guitee (Zapotec), Hierba de San Juan (Spanish, ‘Saint John’s herb’), Hierba Maestra (Spanish, “master herb’), Si’isim (Maya), Tlalpoyomatli (Aztec)

Habitat :Artemisia mexicana is native to South-western N. America – Missouri to Texas, Arkansas and Mexico. It grows in the prairies, hillsides, barrens and sands.

Description:
Artemisia mexicana is a perennial upright shrubby herb that can grow up to three feet tall. The leaves are whitish grey and covered on both sides with fine hairs. They exude an aromatic-bitter scent immediately when crushed. The flowers are small, yellow and clustered (Voogelbreinder 2009, 93).

The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Wind.Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers dry or moist soil and can tolerate drought.

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This plant is so similar to European wormwood in appearance that even experienced botanists have a hard time telling them apart. Some botanists even believe that A. mexicana is a sub-species of A. absinthium (Ratsch 1998, 73). A. mexicana is found in both dry and moist areas of Mexico and the Yucatan Peninsula. It may also be found in Arizona and New Mexico (Ohno et al. 1980).
Cultivation:
We have very little information on this species and do not know if it will be hardy in Britain, though judging by its native range it should succeed outdoors in many parts of this country. The following notes are based on the general needs of the genus. Easily grown in a well-drained circumneutral or slightly alkaline loamy soil, preferring a warm sunny dry position. Established plants are drought tolerant. Plants are longer lived, more hardy and more aromatic when they are grown in a poor dry soil. Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer.

Propagation:
Seed – surface sow from late winter to early summer in a greenhouse, making sure that the compost does not dry out. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for their first winter. Plant out in late spring or early summer. Division in spring or autumn. Basal cuttings in late spring. Harvest the young shoots when about10 – 15cm long, pot up in a lightly shaded position in a greenhouse or cold frame and plant them out when well rooted. Very easy.

Traditional Uses: The Aztecs and other native peoples of Mesoamerica have been using A. mexicana for various ritual and medicinal purposes for hundreds of years. The Aztecs used A. mexicana as a ritual incense – the plant is sacred to Uixtociuatl, the Aztec goddess of salt and salt makers. It is sacred to Tlaloc, the rain god, who also holds Argemone mexicana and Tagetes lucida as holy – this suggests a possible interesting psychoactive incense or smoking mixture. Today in Mexico it is used in folk medicine and smoked as a marijuana substitute (Ratsch 1998, 74).

Medicinal Uses:
The plant is emmenagogue, stimulant and vermifuge. The leaves can be chewed to treat sore throats. A poultice of the chewed leaves can be used on sores.
The Aztecs used the stems of A. mexica as a tonic and to relieve coughs. The flowers were consumed by those with low energy (Voogelbreinder 2009, 93). In Mexican folk medicine, which is strongly influenced by Aztec knowledge, an alcohol extract of A. mexicana herbage is taken for digestive troubles (Martínez 1994 cited in Ratsch 1998, 74). Similarly, a tea made from the plant is taken by those who have lost the desire to eat, as well as to treat coughs and diarrhea. The roots and plant material are used to treat epilepsy and as a form of birth control – the plant can bring on menstruation and cause abortions (Reza 1994 cited in Ratsch 1998, 74). The Yucatec Maya burn the herb as an incense to relieve headaches (Pulido Salas & Serralta Peraza 1993 cited in Ratsch 1998, 74).

Traditional Effects: A. mexicana contains a powerful essential oil, as well as several active alkaloids. Thujone is likely present in the plant, as it is so similar to A. absinthium, but the compound has not yet been formally detected. Smoking the dried herbage creates mild stimulation followed by pleasant euphoria if enough smoke is inhaled. The effects may vary widely from person to person, however. The plant contains fewer toxic alkaloids than A. absinthium and is therefore easier to work with (Martínez 1994 cited in Ratsch 1998, 74).

Known Hazards; Although no reports of toxicity have been seen for this species, skin contact with some members of this genus can cause dermatitis or other allergic reactions in some people.
Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Resources:
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Artemisia+mexicana

Artemisia mexicana – Mexican Wormwood

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Ptychopetalum olacoides

Botanical Name : Ptychopetalum olacoides
Family: Olacaceae
Genus: Ptychopetalum
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Santalales

Common Name : Muira Puama, Potency wood, Marapuama, Marapama, Muiratã, Muiratam, Pau-homen, Potenzholz

Habitat :Muira Puama is native to the Brazilian Amazon and other parts of the Amazon rainforest
Description:
Ptychopetalum olacoides is a shrub or a small trees growing to about 14 feet in height. Its leaves are short-petioled, up to 3 inches in length and 2 inches in breadth light green on upper surface, dark brown on lower surface. The inflorescences consist of short axillary racemes of 4 to 6 flowers each. The root is strongly tough and fibrous, internally light brown with thin bark and broad wood, has a faint odor, and tastes slightly saline and acrid.

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The small, white flowers have a pungent fragrance similar to jasmine’s. The Ptychopetalum genus is a small one – only two species of small trees grow in tropical South America and five in tropical Africa. The two South American varieties, P. olacoides (found in Brazil, French Guiana, Guyana, and Suriname) and P. uncinatum (found only in Brazil), are used interchangeably in South American herbal medicine systems. The olacoides variety is usually preferred, as it has a higher content of lupeol (one of the plant’s active phytochemicals).
Medicinal Uses:
Historically all parts of Muira Puama have been used medicinally, but typically it is the bark and root of Ptychopetalum olacoides which is harvested and used both traditionally and in herbal products. It contains long-chain fatty acids, plant sterols, coumarin, lupeol, and the alkaloid muirapuamine. There is a second almost identical species, Ptychopetalum uncinatum, which is sometimes used as a substitute with the only noticeable difference being a lower concentration of the chemical lupeol.

The root and bark are used for a variety of ailments by indigenous peoples in the Rio Negro area of South America, but the effectiveness of Muira Puama preparations are unproven.

There is evidence that Muira Puama is anxiogenic in rodents (causes anxiety), which would be consistent with a stimulant effect, without affecting coordination. However, rather than increasing the activity of excitatory neurotransmitters, it decreases the activity of an inhibitory neurotransmitter.

Ptychopetalum olacoides, a traditional Amazonian “nerve tonic”, possesses anticholinesterase activity.

Abstract
The cholinergic hypothesis of Alzheimer disease (AD) has provided the rationale for the current pharmacotherapy of this disease, in an attempt to downgrade the cognitive decline caused by cholinergic deficits. Nevertheless, the search for potent and long-acting acetylcholinesterase (AChE) inhibitors that exert minimal side effects to AD patients is still an ongoing effort. Amazonian communities use traditional remedies prepared with Ptychopetalum olacoides (PO, Olacaceae) roots for treating various central nervous system conditions, including those associated with aging. The fact that PO ethanol extract (POEE) has been found to facilitate memory retrieval in the step down procedure in young and aged mice prompt us to evaluate its effects on AChE activity in memory relevant brain areas. POEE significantly inhibited AChE activity in vitro in a dose- and time-dependent manner in rat frontal cortex, hippocampus and striatum; a significant inhibition was also found in these same brain areas of aged (14 months) mice after acute administration of POEE (100 mg/kg ip). We propose that such AChE inhibitory activity is a neurochemical correlate of a number of therapeutic properties traditionally claimed for P. olacoides, particularly those associated with cognition.

Muira puama is still employed around the world today in herbal medicine. In Brazil and South American herbal medicine, it is used a neuromuscular tonic, for asthenia, paralysis, chronic rheumatism, sexual impotency, grippe, ataxia, and central nervous system disorders In Europe, it is used to treat impotency, infertility, neurasthenia, menstrual disturbances and dysentery. It has been gaining in popularity in the United States where herbalists and health care practitioners are using muira puama for impotency, menstrual cramps and PMS, neurasthenia and central nervous system disorders. The benefits in treating impotency with muira puama has recently been studied in two human trials which showed that Muira puama was proven to be effective in improving libido and treating erectile dysfunction. In a study conducted in Paris, France, of 262 male patients experiencing lack of sexual desire and the inability to attain or maintain an erection, 62% of the patients with loss of libido reported that the extract of muira puama “had a dynamic effect” and 51% of patients with erectile dysfunctions felt that muira puama was beneficial. The second study conducted by Waynberg in France evaluated the positive psychological benefits of Muira puama in 100 men with male sexual asthenia.

It is important to note that to achieve the beneficial effects of the plant, proper preparation methods must be employed. The active constituents found in the natural bark thought to be responsible for Muira Puama’s effect are not water soluble nor are they broken down in the digestive process. Therefore taking a ground bark or root powder in a capsule or tablet will not be very effective. High heat for at least 20 minutes or longer in alcohol in necessary to dissolve and extract the volatile and essential oils, terpenes, gums and resins found in the bark and root that have been linked to Muira Puama’s beneficial effects.

Safety:
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.

Allergies:
Avoid in individuals with a known allergy or hypersensitivity to muira puama (Ptychopetalum olacoides), any of its constituents, or any related members of the Olacaceae family.

Side Effects and Warnings
*Muira puama is generally considered by experts to be a safe herb, and no serious adverse effects have been reported in the available scientific literature.
*Muira puama may raise blood pressure and CNS (central nervous system) stimulation, which may alter blood pressure, heart functions, and CNS effects on heart tissue. Muira puama may also have proposed testosterone-like proprieties, which may cause anabolic side effects, such as increases in energy, aggression, or appetite, changes in voice, or enlargement of genitalia.
*Use cautiously in patients taking steroidal drug therapy or in patients with hormone-sensitive conditions (e.g., breast cancer, endometriosis, ovarian cancer, prostate cancer).
*Use cautiously in patients with hypertension (high blood pressure) or cardiac disease, as muira puama may exacerbate these conditions.
*Use cautiously in patients taking CNS-acting medications, as muira puama may stimulate the CNS.

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding : Avoid use during pregnancy due to reported idiosyncratic motor/sacral stimulant properties. Muira puama is not recommended in breastfeeding women due to a lack of available scientific data.

Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.
Resources:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ptychopetalum
http://www.rain-tree.com/muirapuama.htm#.VsFcAipTffI
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12895682
http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_LMN.htm
http://www.foodsforliving.com/ns/DisplayMonograph.asp?storeID=F491B142FA784F2CBDF1E053A643A6A7&DocID=bottomline-muirapuama