Tag Archives: Aristolochia Serpentaria

Aristolochia Serpentaria

Botanical Name :Aristolochia Serpentaria
Family: Aristolochiaceae
Genus: Aristolochia
Species: A. serpentaria
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Piperales

Common Names: Aristolochia reticulata. Serpentatiae Rhizoma. Serpentary Rhizome. Serpentary Radix. Virginian Snakeroot. Aristolochia officinalis. Aristolochia sagittata. Endodeca Bartonii. Endodeca Serpentaria. Snakeweed. Red River or Texas Snakeroot. Pelican Flower. Virginia serpentaria. Snagrel. Sangrel. Sangree. Radix Colubrina. Radix Viperina.

Habitat : Aristolochia Serpentaria  is native to eastern North America, from Connecticut to southern Michigan and south to Texas and Florida.

Description:
Aristolochia serpentaria is a perennial herb, growing in rich, shady woods, the roots being collected in Western Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky, where it is packed in bales containing about 100 lb., often mixed with leaves, stems and dirt.

It has a short, horizontal rhizome, giving off numerous long, slender roots below. The flowers are peculiar, growing from the joints near the root and drooping until they are nearly buried in the earth or in their dried leaves. They are small, and brownish-purple in colour. Attempts at cultivation are being made, as the rather large use of serpentaria has caused the drug to become scarcer. A specimen was grown in an English garden as far back as 1632. There is one in cultivation at Kew, but it has not flowered there. The genus Endodeca was defined from this species, but it has no characters to distinguish it. Serpentaria has a yellowish or brownish colour, and both smell and taste are aromatic and resemble a mixture of valerian and camphor. Several kinds are cultivated in hothouses for the singularity and, in some cases, the handsome appearance of their flowers, though their colours are usually dingy. The bent shape causes some blossoms to act as a fly-trap. A. sipho, a native of the Alleghany Mountains, is cultivated as an outdoor climbing plant, for the sake of its large leaves, the shape of its flowers inspiring the name of Pipe-Vine or Dutchman’s Pipe.

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Many species of Aristolochia have been employed in medicine, the classical name being first applied to A. Clematitis and A. rotunda, from their supposedemmenagogue properties. A. serpentaria and A. reticulata, or Texas Snakeroot, differ slightly in leaves and flowers, the latter having a slightly coarser root. Both are recognized as official in the United States of America.

Virginia snakeroot is considered an endangered species in New York, where no reports of the species were made for the century between 1895 and 1994, when it was rediscovered in the Hudson Highlands. Since then, other scattered populations have been observed in the state.

The plant is also rare in Connecticut, where it is on that state’s list of species of special concern. In Michigan, its status is “Threatened

Constituents : A volatile oil in the proportion of about 1/2 per cent, and a bitterprinciple – Aristolochin – an amorphous substance of yellow colour and bitter and slightly acrid taste, soluble in both water and alcohol. The medicinal properties are due to these two substances, but the root also contains tannic acid, resin, gum, sugar, etc.

A more recent analysis gives volatile oil, resin, a yellow, bitter principle considered analagous to the bitter principle of quassia, gum, starch, albumen, lignin, malate and phosphate of lime, oxide of iron and silica.

About 1/2 OZ. of the oil is furnished by 100 lb. of the root, the coarser, A. reticulata, yielding rather more. The resinous aristinic acid has been obtained from a number of species, including A. serpentaria. The alkaloid Aristolochine, found in several varieties, requires fuller investigation.

Medicinal Action and Uses : Stimulant, tonic and diaphoretic, properties resembling those of valerian and cascarilla. Too large doses occasion nausea, griping pains in the bowels, sometimes vomiting and dysenteric tenesmus. In small doses, it promotesthe appetite, toning up the digestive organs. It has been recommended in intermittent fevers, when it may be useful as an adjunct to quinine. In full doses it produces increased arterial action, diaphoresis, and frequently diuresis. In eruptive fevers where the eruption is tardy, or in the typhoid stage where strong stimulants cannot be borne, it may be very valuable. An infusion is an effective gargle in putrid sore-throat. It benefits sufferers from dyspepsia and amenorrhoea.

Long boiling impairs its virtues. A cold infusion is useful in convalescence from acute diseases.

It is probable that as it does not disturb the bowels, it may often be used where Guaiacum is not easily tolerated, for stimulating capillary circulation and promoting recovery in chronic forms of gouty inflammation.

Disclaimer:
The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider

Resources:
http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/s/snaker56.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aristolochia_serpentaria

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Black Cohosh: An Effective Natural Remedy for Menopausal Symtpoms

Black cohosh, Black bugbane or Black snakeroot; syn. Actaea racemosa and Cimicifuga racemosa is a member of the family Ranunculaceae, native to eastern North America from the extreme south of Ontario south to central Georgia, and west to Missouri and Arkansas.

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It is a glabrous herbaceous perennial plant, growing 0.75-2.5 m tall. The basal leaves are up to 1 m long and broad, tripinnately compound, the leaflets with a coarsely toothed margin. The flowers are produced in late spring and early summer on a tall stem in racemes up to 50 cm long; they have no petals or sepals, only a tight cluster of 55-110 white stamens 5-10 mm long surrounding the white stigma. The flowers have a distinctly sweet smell. The fruit is a dry follicle 5-10 mm long containing several seeds.

Although Blue Cohosh (Caulophyllum thalictroides) is similarly named, it is actually a plant in a separate genus.

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Uses:
Black cohosh has been included in herbal compounds or dietary supplements marketed to women as remedies for the symptoms of premenstrual tension, menopause and other gynecological problems. However, a recent study published in Annals of Medicine (December 19, 2006)casts serious doubt on its efficacy. The researchers actually found black cohosh slightly less effective than a placebo and concluded that the herb “shows little potential as an important therapy for relief of vasomotor symptoms.” However, that study used a product that contained 5 mgs of the active component a day whereas the current daily recommended dose of the long-used standard Remifemin contains 2 mgs. The American Botanical Council discusses that study.

It was thought that black cohosh contained estrogen-like chemicals, but recent research suggests that it works by binding to serotonin receptors. Native Americans used black cohosh to treat gynecological disorders and other disorders as well, including sore throats, kidney problems, and even depression.

Black cohosh has been used as an abortifacient.

History and Claims
This herbal goes by many names. These include: Black Cohosh, Cimicifuga Racemosa, Squaw Root, Rattle Snake Root and Black Snake Root. It does NOT go by the name Snake Root, this is an unrelated herbal–Aristolochia Serpentaria. If a woman chooses to use it, she will most likely buy it under its brand name of Remifemin. This comes in drops or tablets.

Black Cohosh has been used by Native Americans, Europeans, and Chinese for centuries.

Native Americans used it for a wide variety of female problems. They used it to restore normal menstrual function, to return a woman to her pre-pregnancy state after birth, and for menopause. It has been described as “hormone-like” and a mild euphoric by some. It has scientific evidence to support its effect on improving blood pressure. In addition, it has many claims that were not investigated for the purposes of this article. These claims include: its use as an astringent, an anti-diarrheal, a water pill, and a cough suppressant/expectorant. It is also believed to improve heart rate, increase sweating, and be an antidote to rattlesnake poison.

Garden use:
Cimicifuga racemosa grows in dependably moist, fairly heavy soil. It bears tall tapering racemes of white midsummer flowers on wiry black-purple stems, whose mildly unpleasant, medicinal smell at close range gives it the common name ‘Bugbane’. The drying seed heads stay handsome in the garden for many weeks. Its burgundy, deeply cut leaves add interest to American gardens, wherever summer heat and drought do not make it die back, which make it a popular garden perennial.
Chemistry and Pharmacology of Black Cohosh (Cimicifuga Racemosa or Reminfemin):
It is classified as a phytoestrogen. It is from the plant family N.O. Ranunculaceae. The active components of the natural form include: acetin, cimicifugioside, acetylacteal, 27-deoxyactin, cimigenol, deoxyacetylateal. The processed forms also include isoterulic and salicylic acid (the main ingredient is aspirin).

It is not known exactly how it works. But studies on animals and women have shown that its various components act on the hormonal system in at various levels. Some do bind to estrogen receptors in the body. It causes LH, but not FSH suppression. (Estrogens cause both to be suppresed, when they both rise they are signs of menopause) . Some studies have found it to cause an increase in vaginal epithelium that is superior to estrogen replacment.

The Scientific Evidence For Black Cohosh (Cimicifuga Racemosa or Reminfemin) For Menopausal Symptom Relief:
Most of the studies done used the Remifemin version of the herb. Many of the studies were done by the manufacturer of Remifemin.

Studies compared Black Cohosh to Estrogen Replacement (for physical and psychological symptoms) and valium (for psychological only), and to women not taking anything. In more than one study, black cohosh has been found to improve a myriad of physical and mood symptoms in the menopausal women who took it. Women who took it did as well as those who took estrogen or valium, and better than those who took nothing.

Black Cohosh was not found to cause any of the side effects commonly associated with hormone replacement. While it is reported that nausea and vomiting can be due to overdose, no evidence of discontinuation due to side effects was found. Over 93% of women in one study reported no side effects.

Black Cohosh is not associated with increased breast cancer rates, nor dysfunctional uterine bleeding. It is not habit-forming. It does not interact with other medications. It is considered non-toxic.
Side effects:
Black cohosh should not be used during pregnancy or lactation. There is a case report of neurological complications in a postterm baby after labor induction with a mixture of black cohosh and blue cohosh (Caullophylum thalictroides) during a home birth. Other cases of adverse outcomes experienced by neonates born to women who reportedly used blue cohosh to induce labor have been published in peer-reviewed journals.

Black cohosh produces endometrial stimulation. Since black cohosh increases blood flow to the pelvic area, its use is not recommended during menses as it may increase or prolong bleeding. Because of the possible estrogenic action, it should be used with caution after six months. Additionally, black cohosh contains tannin, which inhibits iron absorption. This, considered with possible effects of enhancing menstrual bleeding, gives good cause to monitor iron stores when taking black cohosh.

No studies have been published on long-term safety in humans. However concerns arise that, in humans, because of its estrogen-like effects, long-term use may promote metastasis of estrogen-sensitive cancer tissue via stimulation of cells in the endometrium or breast. Black cohosh increased metastasis of cancer to the lungs (but did not cause an increased incidence of breast cancer) in an experiment done on mice (which was never published and the lung tumors were never biopsied, just observed.)

The liver damage reported in a few individuals using black cohosh has been severe, but large numbers of women have taken the herb for years without reporting adverse health effects. See the NIH link above for thorough discussion of the liver issue. While studies of black cohosh have not proven that the herb causes liver damage, Australia has added a warning to the label of all products containing black cohosh, stating that it may cause harm to the liver of some individuals and should not be used without medical supervision.

Aside from pregnancy complications, increased menstrual bleeding, anemia, and rare but serious hepatic dysfunction, reported direct side-effects also include dizziness, diarrhea, nausea, and occasional gastric discomfort. Additional possible side effects include headaches, seizures, vomiting, sweating, constipation, low blood pressure, slow heartbeats, weight gain, and loss of bone mass (leading to osteoporosis).

Using Black Cohosh (Cimicifuga Racemosa or Reminfemin) For Menopausal Symptom Relief:
As mentioned Remifemin is the processed and packaged version and the one most studied. It comes in liquid (take 40 drops, two times a day) or tablets (take 2 tablets twice a day). Other regimens include: the fluid extract U.S.P — 15 to 30 drops, the fluid extract B.P. — 5 to 30 drops, tincture U.S.P. — 1 drachm, tincture B.P. — 15 to 60 drops, Cimicifugin — 1 to 6 grains, and powdered extract, U.S.P. — 4 grains.

Results have been found in as little as four weeks of use, but six to eight was more common. Twelve weeks is the point were a woman might discontinue the herb if it hasn’t worked by that time. While there is no documentation of adverse effects with long-term use, this practice has not been closely studied. Therefore, some have suggested a 6 month limit on its usage.

Help taken from :www.estronaut.com and en.wikipedia.org

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