Categories
Herbs & Plants

St. John’s Wort

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Botanical Name: Hypericum perforatum
Family: Clusiaceae

Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Malpighiales
Genus: Hypericum
Species: H. perforatum

Common Names: St. John’s wort, hypericum, Klamath weed, goat weed

Other Names: Spotted St. John’s wort, Hypericum, Klamath Weed, Touch-and-heal, Goat weed, Rosin Rose

Habitat:
St. John’s Wort is a perennial herb native to North America and Canada from Nova Scotia, Ontario Quebec south to the United States, eastern states. Found growing in open sunny or partial shady areas, along roadsides in dry, gravelly soils.

Description:
St John’s wort is a perennial plant with extensive, creeping rhizomes. Its stems are erect, branched in the upper section, and can grow to 1 m high. It has opposing, stalkless, narrow, oblong leaves which are 12 mm long or slightly larger. The leaves are yellow-green in color, with transparent dots throughout the tissue and occasionally with a few black dots on the lower surface. Its flowers measure up to 2.5 cm across, have five petals, and are colored bright yellow with conspicuous black dots. The flowers appear in broad cymes at the ends of the upper branches. The sepals are pointed, with glandular dots in the tissue. There are many stamens, which are united at the base into three bundles.

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Identification
St John’s wort can be visually recognized by leaf and flower type. Yellow, five petaled flowers approximately 20 mm across occur between late Spring and early to mid Summer. Leaves exhibit obvious translucent dots when held up to the light, giving them a ‘perforated’ appearance, hence the plant’s Latin name. When flowers or seed pods are crushed, a reddish/purple liquid is produced.

Cultivation
St. John’s Wort is easy to grow from seed or root division in spring or autumn, in any well-drained but moisture retentive soil. Succeeds in dry soils, prefers sun or semi-shade.

.Seedlings of St John’s wort-

Chemical Composition:
Herb and flowers contain different flavonoids (rutin, hyperoside, isoquercetin, quercitrin, quercetin, I3,II8-biapigenin, amentoflavone, astilbin, miquelianin). Phenolic acids (chlorogenic acid, 3-O-coumaroylquinic acid). Different naphtodianthrones (hypericin, pseudohypericin, protohypericin, protopseudohypericin), phloroglucinols (hyperforin, adhyperforin). And also essential oils (composed mainly of sesquiterpenes). The naphthodianthrones hypericin and pseudohypericin along with the Phloroglucinol derivative hyperforin are thought to be the active components.

Herbal Use and Medicinal Properties:-
There are 400 species of St. John’s Wort found throughout the world, it has been used as a medicinal for thousands of years, but has only recently been studied for its medicinal value. Now proven to have many highly active compounds including rutin, pectin, choline, sitosterol, hypericin and pseudohypericin. The flowers and leaves are medicinal as analgesic, antiseptic, antispasmodic, aromatic, astringent, cholagogue, digestive, diuretic, expectorant, nervine, resolvent, sedative, stimulant, vermifuge and vulnerary. Some compounds of the plant have been shown to have potent anti-retroviral activity without serious side effects and they are being researched in the treatment of AIDS.Hypericum perforatum is thought to be a mild antidepressant of the class “MAO inhibitor.” The mechanism by which St. John’s Wort acts as an antidepressant is not fully understood. Early research indicated that this it mildly inhibits the enzyme monoamine oxidase (MAO). MAO is responsible for the breakdown of two brain chemicals – serotonin and nor epinephrine. By inhibiting MAO and increasing nor epinephrine, it may exert a mild anti-depressive action. The antidepressant or mood elevating effects of Hypericum perforatum were originally thought to be due solely to hypericin, but hypericin does not act alone, it relies on the complex interplay of many constituents such as xanthones and flavonoids for its antidepressant actions. Hypericum perforatum may also block the receptors that bind serotonin and so maintain normal mood and emotional stability.

Hypericum perforatum is used in treating a wide range of disorders, including pulmonary complaints, bladder problems, diarrhea and nervous depression. It is also very effectual in treating bed wetting in children. It has a sedative and pain reducing effect, it is especially regarded as an herb to use where there are menopausal changes triggering irritability and anxiety. In addition to neuralgic pain, it will ease fibrosistis, sciatica and rheumatic pain. The oil extract of the plant can be taken for stomach ache, colic, intestinal problems, and as an expectorant for the congestion in the lungs. Externally, a medicinal infusion of the flowers in olive oil is applied to wounds, sores, burns, ulcers, swellings, cramps, rheumatism, tumors, caked breasts, and other skin problems. It is also valued in the treatment of sunburn and as a cosmetic preparation to the skin. Persons with fair skin should avoid exposure to strong sunlight and other sources of ultraviolet light, such as tanning beds, while taking St. John’s Wort. These individuals may suffer a dermatitis, severe burning, and possibly blistering of the skin. The severity of these effects will depend on the amount of the plant consumed and the length of exposure to sunlight.

Folklore
There are many ancient superstitions regarding this plant, its name Hypericum is derived from the Greek and means ‘over an apparition,’ a reference to the belief that it smelled so obnoxious to evil spirits that a whiff of it would cause them to fly. The plant was given to have magical powers. In ancient Greece, the herb was used to treat many ailments, including sciatica and poisonous reptile bites.

Recipes:-
For depression the usual dose is 300 mg 3 times a day. Timed release capsules are now on the market as well.One should remember to take it once a day. Effects should be felt within a few weeks.

“Medicinal” tea: Pour 1 cup of boiling water over l-2 teaspoonfuls of the dried herb and steep for l0-l5 minutes. This should be drunk three times a day.

Oil: Fill a pint jar loosely with dried herb, poor olive oil to top, seal tightly and allow to infuse for 4 to 5 weeks, shaking the jar occasionally.

What the Science Says:-
*There is some scientific evidence that St. John’s wort is useful for treating mild to moderate depression. However, two large studies, one sponsored by NCCAM, showed that the herb was no more effective than placebo in treating major depression of moderate severity.

*NCCAM is studying the use of St. John’s wort in a wider spectrum of mood disorders, including minor depression.

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:

*Antidepressants

*Birth control pills

*Cyclosporine, which prevents the body from rejecting transplanted organs

*Digoxin, which strengthens heart muscle contractions

*Indinavir and possibly other drugs used to control HIV infection

*Irinotecan and possibly other drugs used to treat cancer

*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.

You may click to learn more about St. John’s Wort

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://nccam.nih.gov/health/stjohnswort/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St_John’s_Wort

 

Categories
Herbs & Plants

Passionflower

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Botanical Name :Passiflora caerulea
Family: Passifloraceae
Genus: Passiflora
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Malpighiales

Other Names: Apricot Vine, Corona de Cristo, Granadilla, Maypop, Passiflora, Passiflora incarnata, Passion Vine, Water Lemon

Bengali Name :Jhumko Lata
Parts Used: The above-ground parts (flowers, leaves, and stems) of the passionflower are used for medicinal purposes. (Plant – dried, collected after some of the berries have natured
Flower – dried)

Habitat:
The plant is indigenous to an area from the southeast U.S. to Argentina and Brazil.Southeast Asia…India, Bangladesh & Burma.

Description:Passion flower (Passiflora; syn. Disemma Labill.) is a genus of about 500 species of flowering plants in the family Passifloraceae. They are mostly vines, with some being shrubs, and a few species being herbaceous. For information about the fruit of the passiflora plant, see passionfruit.

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It has a long vine which grows for 30 feet in length and bears alternate, serrate leaves with finely toothed lobes. The flowers are white with purple centers developing in the leaf axils, blooming from May to July. The fruit is a smooth, yellow, ovate berry containing numerous seeds.

CHEMICAL COMPOSITION
Alkaloids……..Apigenin………Carbohydrates
Coumarins……..Flavonoids……………Fructose
Glucose……….Gum……………………..Harmaline
Harmalol……..Harman………………….Harmine
Maltol……….Plant alcohols…………..Orientin
Raffinose……Saponaretin………………Saponarin
Scopoletin…..Stigmasterol……………Sitosterol
Sterols……..Sucrose……………………..Umbelliferone
Vitexin

Medical and entheogenic uses
Passiflora incarnata leaves and roots have a long history of use among Native Americans in North America. Passiflora edulis and a few other species are used in Central and South America. The fresh or dried leaves are used to make an infusion, a tea that is used to treat insomnia, hysteria, and epilepsy, and is also valued for its painkilling properties. It has been found to contain beta-carboline harmala alkaloids which are MAOIs with anti-depressant properties. The flower has only traces of these chemicals, but the leaves and the roots of some species contain more and have been used to enhance the effects of mind-altering drugs. Once dried, the leaves can also be smoked.

Anti-anxiety:
Passion flower has a tranquilizing effect, including mild sedative and anti-anxiety effects. In studies conducted since the 1930’s, its mode of action has been found to be different than that of most sedative drugs (sleeping pills), thus making it a non-addictive herb to promote relaxation.

Insomnia:
The sedative effect of Passion flower has made it popular for treating a variety of ailments, including nervousness and insomnia. Research had indicated that passion flower has a complex activity on the central nervous system (CNS), which is responsible for its overall tranquilizing effects. Also, it apparently has an antispasmodic effect on smooth muscles within the body, including the digestive system, promoting digestion.

Oral passion flower products are most frequently used for their effects on the central nervous system (CNS). While not all of their effects are understood, certain chemicals in passion flower may act like a class of prescription drugs known as benzodiazepines. Drugs such as benzodiazepines and herbals such as passion flower increase levels of a neurotransmitter known as gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). Neurotransmitters are chemicals that carry messages from nerve cells to other cells. In general, GABA decreases the activity of nerve cells in the brain, causing relaxation, possibly relieving anxiety, and potentially treating insomnia.

In addition, passion flower contains chemicals known as harmala alkaloids, which are thought to block an enzyme involved in depression. This enzyme, monoamine oxidase, breaks down other neurotransmitters–especially dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin–which affect mood stability. Blocking monoamine oxidase may increase the amounts of other neurotransmitters, which may improve mood. No large human studies have been performed to prove the effectiveness of passion flower for any CNS uses, however.

Although applying passion flower to the skin is not as common as taking it by mouth, topical forms may help to relieve minor skin conditions such as burns, cold sores, insect bites, razor burn, scrapes, and sunburn. Passion flower products also have been used to alleviate the itching and burning pain of hemorrhoids. Laboratory studies have shown that it possesses some possible mild anti-infective activity, so it may also help to prevent skin surface infections. Again, however, these uses have yet to be proven in human studies.

FOLKLORE
Passion flower has a mild sedative effect that encourages sleep. This property has been well-substantiated in numerous studies on animals and humans. Nervous symptoms and cramps that inhibit sleep are alleviated by ingestion of the herb, and leading quickly to restful uninterrupted and deep sleep. When Spanish explorers first encountered the Indians of Peru and Brazil, they found this plant used in native folk medicine as a sedative. They took it back to Spain, from whence it gradually spread throughout Europe. It was in Europe that the leaves of the plant first found use as a sedative and sleep-inducing substance. Interestingly, its sedative effect was not noted by American until lately.

Today, more than 400 species of passion flower are found throughout the world. The active constituents of passion flower can be broadly classified as alkaloids and flavonoids, supported in their actions by a variety of other constituents, including amino acids, sugars, coumarins, and alcohols (actually sterols).

A decoction of passion flower has been successfully used in bronchial asthma. It has been used in Europe and America as a topical treatment for burns; compresses of the herb have a marked effect on inflammations.

The leaves of Passiflora edulis are used in South America as a diuretic and for hemorrhoidal inflammations. In Brazil, Passiflora incarnata is used as an antispasmodic and sedative. In North America, passion flower is often used as an analgesic and anticonvulsant, with some success noticed in cases of tetanus. In Italy, a combination of passion flower, belladonna, and lobelia is used to treat asthma. In Poland, a proprietary drug for treating excitability, contains an extract of passion flower.

Numerous homeopathic drugs contain passion flower; it is possible that the main sedative activity of the plant is truly homeopathic in nature, being in that respect a function of the harman alkaloid constituents otherwise stimulant in nature.

Passion flower has been commonly used in the treatment of nervous, high-strung, easily excited children; cardiovascular neuroses; bronchial asthma; coronary illness; circulation weakness; insomnia; problems experienced during menopause; concentration problems in school children; and in geriatrics. There is some experimental support for these applications.

Passion flower appears completely nontoxic, and has been approved for food use by the FDA.

Properties and Uses
Passion flower has related analgesic, sedative, sleep-inducing, and spasmolytic effects.
The major pharmacological effect of passion flower, first observed nearly a hundred years ago and consistently reported ever since, is a sedative property. The analgesic property of this herb was also observed, and doctors had success treating the sleeplessness experienced by neurasthenic and hysteric patients, as well as that caused by nervous exhaustion. Early investigators noticed that the herb worked best when sleeplessness could be traced to an inflammation of the brain; passion flower appeared to act as an analgesic and was free from side effects. Later in this century, investigators discovered that the flavonoid fraction was more effective. However, other tests showed that the most effective sedative activity was obtained from a combination of both the flavonoids and the alkaloids.

Early research indicated that an extract of passion flower was effective against the disturbance of menopause, and as agent against the sleeplessness that occurred during convalescence from the flu. The herb had no side effects, and appeared to induce a normal peaceful sleep. Observations on the day following administration revealed no depression of body or mind, in contrast to the morning-after effects usually experienced with narcotic drugs.

Passion flower is one of the main constituents of a German sleeping pill called Vita-Dor. This product, also containing aprobarbital, valerian root, hops, mellissa, and thiamine, is highly effective in inducing and maintaining sleep throughout the night. A recent Romanian patent was issued for a sedative chewing gum that contains passion flower extract in a base of several vitamins. Many other examples of the widespread application of passion flower in Europe could be cited; however, American recognition of the sedative effects of passion flower has lagged seriously behind.

Some of passion flower’s main constituents are the harmine and harman alkaloids (passiflorine, aribine, loturine, yageine, etc.). In man small doses (about 3-6 mg) stimulate the central nervous system, much like coffee and tea (black). In larger doses (15-35 mg), these alkaloids produce a strong motoric restlessness followed by drowsiness. Still larger doses intensify the motoric activity and cause hallucinations, convulsions, and vomiting. Oral doses of 300-400 mg will produce marked psychotic symptoms, replete with hallucinations, followed by pronounced central nervous system depression. Hence, passion flower is sometimes used as a mild hallucinogen. Since large doses of pure harman alkaloids are needed to produce psychoactive symptoms of any merit, use of the whole plant probably has no such observable effect.

Pharmacological investigations in animals indicate that relatively large doses of harman derivatives excite the central nervous system, producing hallucinations and convulsions that appear to be of extrapyramidal origin. These effects do not agree with the properties of the whole plant. Harman alkaloids arrest spasms in smooth muscle, lower the blood pressure, and expand the coronary vessels, effects which have also been observed in whole herb extracts and appear occasionally in the folk literature. A centrally-depressive chemical, a gamma-pyrone derivative called maltol, has been isolated from passion flower and shown to have mild sedative properties in mice; maltol could offset the stimulant properties of harman alkaloids, but it is unlikely that it account for all sedative effects observed in humans.

Presently, the active principle in passion flower remains unknown. It has been verified that the herb’s alkaloid fraction is sedative, the flavonoid fraction (also containing some harman) is active, and a combination of the two is most active.

DRUG INTERACTIONS
Possible Interactions
Passion flower should be used with caution in conjunction with CNS-depressants or stimulants.
Specifically, this herb should not be used at all in conjunction with the potent CNS-depressant analgesic, methotrimeprazine.

Toxicity Levels
No toxicity of passion flower has been noted, although harman alkaloids have demonstrated toxic effects (as discussed in the Method of Action section).

Safety:
There are no reported side effects for passion flower and the suggested dosages. However, it is not recommended for use in pregnant women or children under the age of two. If already taking a sedative or tranquilizer, consult a health care professional before using passion flower.

You may click to learn more

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.passionflower.org/
http://www.drugdigest.org/DD/DVH/HerbsWho/0,3923,4101%7CPassion%2BFlower,00.html
http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/passionflower-000267.htm
http://www.springboard4health.com/notebook/herbs_passion_flower.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Passiflora

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