Herbs & Plants

Hyocyamus Niger

Botanical Name :Hyocyamus nigar
Family: Solanaceae
Genus: Hyoscyamus
Species:H. niger
Order: Solanales

Popular Name(s): Henbane Henbane, Niger Seed, Bird Feed, Black Henbane, and Common Henbane
Part Used : SEEDS

Habitat: Low-lying ground near the sea and Lower Mountain slopes.Found in sandhills, sandy open areas and waste ground in seven counties in Ireland.

Description: Annual/Biennial plant growing to a height of 1m. The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and requires a well-drained soil. The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It requires dry or moist soil. The plant can tolerate maritime exposure. The plant flowers from June to August, and the seeds ripen from August to September. The scented flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects.


Cultivation details:
Prefers a sunny position and a dry soil. Succeeds in ordinary garden soil[1] but prefers an alkaline soil. Plants succeed in sandy spots near the sea.

Cultivated commercially as a medicinal plant, only the biennial form is considered officinal.

Grows well in maritime areas, often self-sowing freely. Older plants do not transplant well due to a brittle taproot.

Seed – sow summer in a cold frame and pot on as soon as possible before the taproot is too long.

Flowers: Fresh
The flowers emit a sickly fishy smell.

Uses : It is widely used as a nutritious Bird feed.

Medicinal Uses: Gastric, or intestinal cramps, diarhhoea, neuralgia, cough hysteria, manis, skin inflammation and boils. Niger seeds has anodyne, narcotic and mydriatic properties, employed as a sedative in nervous infections. In veterinary practice used as urnary sedative.

Henbane has a very long history of use as a medicinal herb, and has been widely cultivated to meet the demand for its use. It is used extensively as a sedative and pain killer and is specifically used for pain affecting the urinary tract, especially when due to kidney stones. Its sedative and antispasmodic effect makes it a valuable treatment for the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, relieving tremor and rigidity during the early stages of the disease. This species is the form generally considered best for external use, whilst the white henbane (H. albus) is considered the most appropriate for internal use.

All parts of the plant, but especially the leaves and the seeds, can be used – they are anodyne, antispasmodic, mildly diuretic, hallucinogenic, hypnotic, mydriatic, narcotic and sedative. The plant is used internally in the treatment of asthma, whooping cough, motion sickness, Meniere’s syndrome, tremor in senility or paralysis and as a pre-operative medication. Henbane reduces mucous secretions, as well as saliva and other digestive juices. Externally, it is used as an oil to relieve painful conditions such as neuralgia, dental and rheumatic pains.The leaves should be harvested when the plant is in full flower and they can then be dried for later use. There is an annual and a biennial form of this species, both can be used medicinally but the biennial form is considered to be superior. This is a very poisonous plant that should be used with great caution, and only under the supervision of a qualified practitioner.

The seed is used in the treatment of asthma, cough, epilepsy, myalgia and toothache.

The seeds are used in Tibetan medicine, they are said to have a bitter, acrid taste with a neutral and poisonous potency. Anthelmintic, antitumor and febrifuge, they are used in the treatment of stomach/intestinal pain due to worm infestation, toothache, inflammation of the pulmonary region and tumours.

Other Uses:
The leaves scattered about a house will drive away mice.

Known Hazards:
Henbane can be toxic, even fatal, to animals in low doses. Not all animals are susceptible; for example, the larvae of some Lepidoptera species, including cabbage moths, eat henbane.

It was sometimes one of the ingredients in gruit, traditionally used in beers as a flavouring, until replaced by hops in the 11th to 16th centuries (for example, the Bavarian Purity Law of 1516 outlawed ingredients other than barley, hops, yeast, and water).

Henbane is thought to have been the “hebenon” poured into the ear of Hamlet’s father, although other candidates for hebenon exist

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.

Hyocyamus niger 'Black Henbane'

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Effective Treatment for Neuroblastoma

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Experts have claimed that they have discovered an effective treatment for deadly cancer — neuroblastoma — by applying new science with a 40-year-old known drug.


Michelle Haber, a molecular and cellular biologist in Australia, said laboratory trials with mice genetically programmed to develop neuroblastoma — a solid tumour that spreads rapidly through the body — showed the drug, DFMO, delayed the development of tumours or prevented them forming in the first place.

By combining DFMO with conventional anti-cancer drugs such as cisplatin, that was then used to treat mice with neuroblastoma, the tumours were reduced, took longer to return and some tumours never came back, according to a report published in The Australian.

Haber, executive director of Sydney-based Children’s Cancer Institute Australia for Medical Research, said, “The mice were cured. That’s something you virtually never see in aggressive neuroblastoma.”

Luciano Dalla-Pozza, head of oncology at Children’s Hospital in Sydney welcomed the series of genetic and animal experiments Haber’s team had conducted.

“If the trial was opened now, I’d unhesitantly look at enrolling patients in it,” Dalla-Pozza said.

While roughly 75 per cent of children diagnosed with other cancers survive, only 50 per cent of those diagnosed with neuroblastoma survive. Two-thirds of youngsters get an aggressive form of neuroblastoma that kills more than 80 per cent of them within a year.

Haber said discussions were under way with Sydney Children’s Hospital and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia for trials of combination therapy with children who had relapsed from neuroblastoma.
“For me that’s incredibly exciting,” Haber said.

Sources: The Times Of India

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Winning the War on Cancer

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In the book Winning the War on Cancer, author Dr. Mark Sircus discusses sodium bicarbonate, which helps to save countless lives every day. Sodium bicarbonate is the time-honored method to “speed up” the return of the body’s bicarbonate levels to normal.

It is also the least expensive, safest, and perhaps most effective cancer medicine there is.

Sodium bicarbonate delivers a natural form of chemotherapy in a way that effectively kills cancer cells — without the side effects and costs of standard chemotherapy treatments. The only problem with the treatment, according to Sircus, is that it’s too cheap. Since no one is going to make money from it, no one will promote it.

Those that do will be persecuted for it. The trouble with doing new studies on bicarbonate is that they are expensive and no drug company is going to fund a study when they can’t profit from the treatment.

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Ayurveda to Cure Chemotherapy Effects

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India has patented an ayurveda medicine that promises to reduce the side effects of chemotherapy during cancer treatment and improve the blood platelet count among patients…….…click  & see

The medicine, Medihope, made by a Pune-based manufacturer, was awarded the patent after it received favourable field results. It will be in the Indian market within a month.

“We have found favourable results after at least 10 years of laboratory tests and later by conducting trials on over 2,000 patients,” said RD Katkar, chief executive of Hope Ayurvedic Medicine Private Ltd.

Chemotherapy is the use of anti-cancer (cytotoxic) drugs to destroy cancer cells. It is known to weaken the immune system, cause weight loss, decrease the hemoglobin percentage and blood platelet count.

“Let me clarify that the medicine is not a cure for cancer but is an effective medicine to reduce the side effects of chemotherapy and various radiation therapies used in cancer treatment,” Katkar said.

Katkar, who was in Delhi to participate in an ongoing annual traditional medicine fair in Delhi organised by the health ministry, said the intake of the medicine as a “supplement with cancer drugs expedites recovery”.

He claimed that the composition produced from 12 medicinal plants helps increase the blood platelet count and hemoglobin percentage. It also reduces pain from chemotherapy.

Bhupinder Singh, a doctor working at the company’s laboratory in Pune, said: “As a medical practitioner, I found the substance much helpful. Besides, there are other benefits like maintaining the white blood cell count and increase in the weight of patients.”

Singh said the medicine available in powder form needs to be taken every morning by boiling it in water.

“A cancer patient needs to take the medicine for a year,” he said, adding it would cost nearly Rs.60,000 for yearlong treatment.

Katkar said India has already patented the product and the company has registered itself in 108 other countries for getting patents as a special ayurvedic medicine.

Cancer is a leading cause of death worldwide. The disease accounted for 7.9 million deaths in 2007. According to the WHO, cancer is one of the top 10 killers in India and it kills over 400,000 Indians every year.

Sources: The Times Of India

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Gene test for lung cancer

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A new gene test developed by Taipei researchers can predict a lung cancer patient’s  outcome after surgery and the survival time……... Sanjit Bagchi reports.



Lung cancer is the most common cancer affecting people, especially in big cities. It is treatable, depending on the type, stage and severity, but researchers have always been on the lookout for a measure to predict or tailor the treatment of the disease.

Recently, researchers in Taiwan came up with a simple but effective gene test, which can work wonders in the treatment of lung cancer. The study has been published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Based on the biology, therapy and prognosis, lung cancer is broadly divided into two classes  non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and small cell lung cancer (SCLC), explains Dr A.K. Pathak and associates at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi. Three types of lung cancer    squamous cell carcinoma, adenocarcinoma and large cell carcinoma    are classified as NSCLC and account for 75-80 per cent of all lung cancer cases.

The clinical profile of lung cancer in India differs from that in the West. Generally, in India, the disease sets in in the fifth or sixth decade of a person’s life, almost 15-20 years earlier than in the West, the AIIMS researchers write in Indian Journal of Chest Diseases and Allied Sciences. Squamous cell carcinoma continues to be the commonest type in India whereas adenocarcinoma is gradually becoming the predominant subtype in the Western world,   they add. Dr Pathak and co-workers also note that  of all lung cancer deaths, 85 per cent are attributable to smoking tobacco, which contains harmful carcinogens.

Hsuan-Yu Chen of the National Taiwan University College of Public Health, Taipei, and his team studied more than 600 genes, which seem to influence survival in NSCLC patients. Of these, they singled out five genes   together called the  5-gene signature   which could significantly predict the patient’s outcome after surgery.

The new 5-gene test indicates if there is a need for chemotherapy. Patients belonging to the high-risk  group have a shorter overall survival (20 months) rate than those in the low-risk group (40 months).   This signature could be useful in stratifying patients according to risk in trials of treatment of the disease,   the researchers write, adding it   may reveal targets for the development of therapy for lung cancer.

After surgical resection, adjuvant chemotherapy is often administered  by chemotherapeutic drugs like cisplatin,   says Prof. Kalyan Dasgupta, former head of the department, chest medicine, Calcutta Medical College, Calcutta. However, it’s difficult to determine which patient is an ideal candidate for chemotherapy, as chemotherapy is helpful in only those who are at a high risk of cancer recurrence.  According to Chen and colleagues, The identification of the 5-gene signature has clinical implications. Cisplatin-based adjuvant chemotherapy is effective in some patients with NSCLC. We propose that patients who have tumours with a high-risk gene signature could benefit from this type of therapy, whereas those with a low-risk gene signature could be spared what may be called unnecessary treatment.

Prof. Dasgupta explains, Unnecessary use of chemotherapy may lead to side effects such as bone marrow suppression, fever, nausea and vomiting. Cost is another important factor.  He adds,  The new gene test can solve this problem. Since it can predict the patient’s surgery outcome and survival, it can determine if he/she needs chemotherapy or not. Treatment can thus be tailored accordingly.

The 5-gene test developed by Chen and co-workers is carried out through a technique known as reverse-transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). This test needs a small number of genes for analysis, a very small amount of specimen (of the tumour) and yields accurate results.

Dr Bikram Saha, assistant professor of medicine, North Bengal Medical College and Hospital, Darjeeling, says, As the test profiles gene expression, it may be relied on. Moreover, it seems to be acceptable in clinical practice since it does not involve complicated procedures. However, further studies are needed before it can be implemented in general clinical practice.

Source:The Telegraph (Kolkata,India)