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Concept: Herb


The Italian herbal products market is the most prosperous in Europe. The proof is represented by the use of these products in several marketing categories, ranging from medicine to nutrition and cosmetics. Market and legislation in Italy are at the same time cause and consequence of this peculiar situation. In fact, the legislation on botanical food supplements in Italy is very permissive and at the same time the market shows an overall satisfaction of users and strong feedback in terms of consumption, which brings a widening use of medicinal plants, formerly the prerogative of pharmaceuticals, to other fields such as nutrition. This review summarizes the market and normative panorama of herbal products in Italy, highlighting the blurred boundaries of health indications, marketing authorizations and quality controls between herbal medicines and non pharmaceutical products, such as food supplements, cosmetics and other herbal-based “parapharmaceuticals”.

Concepts: Pharmacology, Medicine, Botany, Pharmaceutical drug, Herbalism, Herb, Pharmacy, Food and Drug Administration


Medicinal plants are globally valuable sources of herbal products, and they are disappearing at a high speed. This article reviews global trends, developments and prospects for the strategies and methodologies concerning the conservation and sustainable use of medicinal plant resources to provide a reliable reference for the conservation and sustainable use of medicinal plants. We emphasized that both conservation strategies (e.g. in situ and ex situ conservation and cultivation practices) and resource management (e.g. good agricultural practices and sustainable use solutions) should be adequately taken into account for the sustainable use of medicinal plant resources. We recommend that biotechnical approaches (e.g. tissue culture, micropropagation, synthetic seed technology, and molecular marker-based approaches) should be applied to improve yield and modify the potency of medicinal plants.

Concepts: Pharmacology, Biodiversity, Conservation biology, Agriculture, Herbalism, Herb, Sustainability, In-situ conservation


INTRODUCTION: Echinacea preparations are among the most popular herbal remedies worldwide. Although it is generally assigned immune enhancement activities, the effectiveness of Echinacea is highly dependent on the Echinacea species, part of the plant used, the age of the plant, its location and the method of extraction. OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to investigate the capacity of an artificial neural network (ANN) to analyse thin-layer chromatography (TLC) chromatograms as fingerprint patterns for quantitative estimation of three phenylpropanoid markers (chicoric acid, chlorogenic acid and echinacoside) in commercial Echinacea products. MATERIAL AND METHODS: By applying samples with different weight ratios of marker compounds to the system, a database of chromatograms was constructed. One hundred and one signal intensities in each of the TLC chromatograms were correlated to the amounts of applied echinacoside, chlorogenic acid and chicoric acid using an ANN. RESULTS: The developed ANN correlation was used to quantify the amounts of three marker compounds in Echinacea commercial formulations. The minimum quantifiable level of 63, 154 and 98 ng and the limit of detection of 19, 46 and 29 ng were established for echinacoside, chlorogenic acid and chicoric acid respectively. CONCLUSION: A novel method for quality control of herbal products, based on TLC separation, high-resolution digital plate imaging and ANN data analysis has been developed. The method proposed can be adopted for routine evaluation of the phytochemical variability in Echinacea formulations available in the market. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Concepts: Chromatography, Echinacea, Caffeic acid, Herbalism, Cichoric acid, Neural network, Artificial neural network, Herb


The use of herbal medicinal products and supplements has increased during last decades. At present, some herbs are used to enhance muscle strength and body mass. Emergent evidence suggests that the health benefits from plants are attributed to their bioactive compounds such as Polyphenols, Terpenoids, and Alkaloids which have several physiological effects on the human body. At times, manufacturers launch numerous products with banned ingredient inside with inappropriate amounts or fake supplement inducing harmful side effect. Unfortunately up to date, there is no guarantee that herbal supplements are safe for anyone to use and it has not helped to clear the confusion surrounding the herbal use in sport field especially. Hence, the purpose of this review is to provide guidance on the efficacy and side effect of most used plants in sport. We have identified plants according to the following categories: Ginseng, alkaloids, and other purported herbal ergogenics such asTribulus Terrestris, Cordyceps Sinensis. We found that most herbal supplement effects are likely due to activation of the central nervous system via stimulation of catecholamines. Ginseng was used as an endurance performance enhancer, while alkaloids supplementation resulted in improvements in sprint and cycling intense exercises. Despite it is prohibited, small amount of ephedrine was usually used in combination with caffeine to enhance muscle strength in trained individuals. Some other alkaloids such as green tea extracts have been used to improve body mass and composition in athletes. Other herb (i.e. Rhodiola, Astragalus) help relieve muscle and joint pain, but results about their effects on exercise performance are missing.

Concepts: Nervous system, Physical exercise, Caffeine, Alternative medicine, Herbalism, Herb, Herbal, Alkaloid


The present work was designed to evaluate the effect of some commonly used herbs viz. garden cress (Lepidium sativum), black seed (Nigella sativa) and fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graceum) on the disposition of phenytoin after oral administration in a dog model. Phenytoin was given orally at a dose of 50 mg, and blood samples were obtained for the determination of drug’s pharmacokinetic parameters. After a suitable washout period, animals were commenced on a specific herb treatment for one week. Garden cress treatment caused a modest increase in maximum observed concentration (C(max) ) and terminal half-life (T(1/2λ) ) of phenytoin with a reduction in clearance by 33%. The effect of black seed therapy was more drastic on drug elimination and to a lesser extent on its volume of distribution at steady state (V(ss) ) with a consequent reduction in systemic exposure measured by area under the curve (AUC(0-∞) ) by about 87%. The effect of fenugreek therapy resembled, albeit to a lesser extent, that of black seed with a significant reduction in AUC(0-∞) by ~72%. In addition, there was a 73% increase in V(ss) . Our findings suggest that the phenytoin disposition can be significantly altered by the concurrent consumption of tested herbal products. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Concepts: Pharmacology, Distribution, Pharmacokinetics, Herb, Herbs, Nigella sativa, Garden cress, Lepidium


The study was carried out to determine the effect of ginger on the plasma pharmacokinetics of ciprofloxacin and Isoniazid in a rat model in phase 1. The effects of the herb on the penetration of ciproflacin and Isoniazid into the lung tissues were also determined in phase 2. In phase 1, Albino rats of both sexes (n = 20) were divided into 4 groups of 5 rats per group. Two groups received oral ciprofloxacin (20 mg/kg) and isoniazid (15 mg/kg). Other groups were fed with ginger (5 mg/kg) for 10 days followed by the drug administration on the 11th day. Blood samples were collected from each group at 0-, 0.5-, 1-, 2-, 5-, 8-, 12-, and 24-hour intervals. Plasma concentrations of the drugs were determined by a spectrophotometric method and the pharmacokinetic parameters determined using noncompartmental method as implemented in the winNonlin program. In phase 2, where the effects of the herb on the penetration of the drugs were determined, the concentrations of ciprofloxacin and isoniazid attained in the lung fluid of rats in the presence and absence of the herb were compared after a single oral dose of the drugs used in the same dose range as in phase 1. In the first phase, treatment with ginger significantly increased the area under the concentration-time curve of ciprofloxacin, whereas Vz and Cl were decreased. Ginger significantly decreased the area under the concentration-time curve of isoniazid, whereas Vz and Cl were increased. Ginger enhanced the penetration of ciprofloxacin and Isoniazid into the lung tissues; however, their rates of penetration were delayed.

Concepts: Pharmacology, Rat, Pharmacokinetics, Herb, Ginger, Zingiberaceae, Spice, Zingiber


Toxicodendron vernicifluum (Stokes) F.A. Barkley (Anacardiaceae) has traditionally been used as a food supplement and in traditional herbal medicine to treat inflammatory diseases and cancers for centuries in Korea. This study was designed to isolate the bioactive constituents from the ethanol extract of Toxicodendron vernicifluum bark and evaluate their cytotoxic and anti-inflammatory activities.

Concepts: Inflammation, Disease, Infectious disease, Anti-inflammatory, Herb, Tradition, Urushiol, Toxicodendron


The volatile composition of 21 herb honeys (HHs) of seven different botanical origins was characterised for the first time. Ultrasound solvent extraction (USE) and headspace solid-phase microextraction (HS-SPME) followed by GC-FID/MS were successfully applied as complementary methods for monitoring the volatile plant flavours added by the bees. HHs showed significant compositional variability related to the botanical origin and compounds that could serve as traceability biomarkers were identified. The most important compounds with high abundance were (E - extract; H - headspace): caffeine (up to 68.7%, E) and trans-linalool oxide (up to 26.0%, H) in coffee HH, α-terpineol (up to 8.2%, E; 27.1%, H) and bornyl acetate (up to 3.1, E; 11.9%, H) in pine HH, thymol (up to 3.1%, E; 55.4%, H) in thyme HH. Hawthorn HH was characterised by the presence of herniarin (up to 13.4%, E) and lemon HH contained limonene (up to 1.6%, E; 33.2%, H). Other HHs (nettle and aloe) contained lower amounts of volatiles and their profiles were not specific. In all the HHs, methyl syringate was found and it was most abundant in thyme HH (up to 17.4%, E). The volatile fraction of HHs showed some substantial similarities and differences with the composition of herbs from which they derive. It confirms the selective bee-mediated transfer of phytochemicals, including known flavour-active volatiles into the final product, but also biotransformation of several compounds. Additionally, several similarities to the corresponding natural honeys were observed, but in general HHs exhibited less rich volatile profiles.

Concepts: Oxygen, Benzene, Botany, Herb, Solid phase microextraction, Herbs


The article aims to review all the chemical constituents and pharmacological properties of Vitex negundo L. (Verbenaceae) (VN). VN is an important medicinal plant used as reputed herbal medicine with versatile pharmacological activities in China, India and Japan. A total of 104 referred articles about VN were compiled from major databases and academic publishers, such as MEDLINE, Pubmed, Scholar, Elsevier, Springer, Wiley and CNKI. As a result, a total of 120 compounds isolated from VN can be divided mainly into four classes: flavonoids, lignans, terpenoids and steroids. The crude extracts and purified compounds of VN exhibited promising bioactivities, including anti-nociceptive, antiinflammatory, anti-tumor, anti-oxidant, insecticidal, antimicrobial, anti-androgenic, anti-osteoporotic, anti-cataract, hepatoprotective and anti-hyperglycemic activity. All the reported data lead us to conclude that VN has convincing medicinal potential. However, further researches are needed to explore its bioactive constituents, the structure-activity relationship and their molecular mechanisms of action. Copyright © 2015 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Concepts: Pharmacology, Medicine, Antioxidant, Ayurveda, Academic publishing, Herbalism, Herb, Vitex negundo


Regarding limited effectiveness of many hepatic medical approaches, seeking for novel treatment strategies is crucial to improve outcomes. Hence, the current study aims to compile a concise but critical review over reported liver diseases and related medicinal plants from the Persian medicine ‘perspectives. To this end, five main pharmaceutical manuscripts of Persian medicine from 9th-18th A.D. as well as the latest and largest medical textbook of Persian medicine were studied. By searching through databases such as PubMed and ScienceDirect, mechanisms or pharmacological activities of reported medicinal plants in the field of liver diseases were cited and discussed. In all, seventeen different liver diseases, mainly chronic, were cited in Persian medicine. Ninety three medicinal plants with liver tonic, hepatoprotective and related effectiveness belonging to 49 families were derived and authenticated from these studied manuscripts. More than 75% of the herbs showed related hepatoprotectivity and antioxidant activities. However, none of them have been examined clinically. Besides historical clarification, the current investigation compiled an evidence-based study on reported liver herbal remedies from the standpoints of Persian scholars. Conducting attributable clinical trials against the backdrops of proven in vitro and in vivo studies may result in new treatment discoveries for liver diseases.

Concepts: Pharmacology, Medicine, Ayurveda, In vivo, Avicenna, Alternative medicine, Herbalism, Herb