Lec# 20 Plants and Medicine w I. Medicinal Plants w II. Poisonous Plants w III. Psychoactive Plants
Disclaimer! w Critical evaluation is extremely important here. I am not making any endorsements nor should you use this information to treat yourself without the consultation of a doctor!
Someone once said there are only two types of fools: one professes “this is old and therefore good” and the other says “This is new and therefore better” w Point: Use your scientific evaluations in the matter, it is a matter of life or death!
I. Medicinal Plants w 1. Approximately 25% of today’s prescription drugs come from plant extracts (see Table 1). w 2. Only about 15% of the known plant species have been screened for medicinal purposes. w 3. Most medicinal plants come from the Tropics.
Medicinal Plants in the Tropics w Most medicinal plants have been identified by the indigenous people by trial and error. w 50% of the 250,000 plant species are from the Tropics. w At least 10,000 species in the Tropics have not yet been identified.
NCI - Plant Collection Program (1986-1991) w 10,000 plant samples collected for screening against HIV and cancer w 2500 species and 200 families w Of the 3000 extracts analyzed, 170 contained agents active against HIV w 776 fully identified species, 106 had active agents. 62 were previously known as medicinal plants. 44 were entirely new.
1. Medicinal Plants (continued) w 4. The most significant medicinal plants used for prescription drugs contain steroids or alkaloids (see Table 1).
1. Medicinal Plants (continued) w 5.The rapid destruction of our tropical rainforests threatens the development of potentially useful drugs
1. Medicinal Plants (continued) w 6. There are a host of non-prescription plant remedies which have medicinal uses. These are often referred to as “herbal medicines”.
Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba) w Complex of phytomedicinals from the leaves w Improves blood flow w Improves memory in older people w Effective free-radical scavenger w Side effects are restlessness, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting
Echinacea (Echinacea species) w Extracts from shoot, root and rhizome w Acts as immunostimulant w Speeds up cycle of cold virus and flus w NOT preventative.
Ginseng (Panax ginseng, P. quinquefolium, Elutherococcus senticocus) w Mixture of compounds from root w Traditional Chinese medicine for 5000 years w Increases stress tolerance w Speeds up metabolism w Anti-carcinogenic w No known side-effects
Chamomile (Matricaria recutita and Chamaemelum nobile) w Mixture of terpenoids, coumarins, and flavonoids from dried flower heads w Soothes stomach- aches w Anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic and anti-bacterial actions w Mild sedative
Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium) w Sesquiterpenoid lactones from leaves w Used for 2000 years w Effective head-ache treatment, especially migraines
Garli c (Allium sativum) Onion (Allium cepa) w Organo-sulfur compounds from leaves w Anti-carcinogenic and anti-microbial w Anti-atherosclerosis and anti-hypertensive w Toxic in high amounts
Milk Thistle (Silybum marianum) w Complex of flavolignans from seeds w Protects liver against toxins, particularly against poison from Amanitas phalloides w Helps against hepatitis and cirrhosis of the liver
St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum) w extract from leaves w Effective for depression and sleeplessness w anti-retroviral activities (AIDS) w Side effects include photosensitivity and dermatitis
Saw Palmetto (Serenoa repens) w from fruits w Increases frequency of urination w Treatment for prostate cancer w Protects against edema (water retention) and inflammation
English Hawthorn (Crataegus laevigata) w Leaves, flowers and fruit can be used w Increases dilation of blood vessels w Used for mild forms of heart disease
Green Tea (Camellia sinensis) w Polyphenols from leaves w anti-cancer inhibiting tumor initiation and cell proliferation w anti-oxidant
Wine Grape (Vitis vinifera) w Contains over 50 different flavonoid phenolics including resveratrol and catechins w Reduces heart disease by inhibiting platelet aggregation, lowering LDL (low density lipoproteins) and acting as antioxidants
White Wine vs. Red Wine Phenolics (mg/L)White WineRed Wine Total Phenolics200-3001500-3000 Hydroxycinnamates50-20025-150 Anthocyanins0600-1000 Catechins10-5060-150 FlavonolsNegligible25-250
Licorice (Glycyrrhiza spp.) w Phenolic compounds from the root or rhizome w anti-oxidant w anti-tumor w anti-inflammatory
Ginger (Zingiber officinale) w from the rhizome w Over 12 compounds with anti-oxidant activities greater than vitamin E w anti-tumor w anti-emetic (inhibits vomiting)
Soybeans (Glycine max) w Contains phytoestrogens like isoflavones w Reduces health risks associated with menopause: osteoporosis and heart disease in women w Reduces prostrate, colon and breast cancer
Vegetables w Vitamin A, C and E w anti-oxidant w anti-cancer
Take Home Message w Many plants with medicinal qualities w Often a synergistic effect of different compounds w No magic bullet