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Concept: Herbalism


Herbal products available to consumers in the marketplace may be contaminated or substituted with alternative plant species and fillers that are not listed on the labels. According to the World Health Organization, the adulteration of herbal products is a threat to consumer safety. Our research aimed to investigate herbal product integrity and authenticity with the goal of protecting consumers from health risks associated with product substitution and contamination.

Concepts: Organism, Species, Herbalism, DNA barcoding, World Health Organization, Herbal, Consumer protection, Consumer


Magnolia grandiflora L. flower is wildly used in Asian as a traditional herbal medication. The purpose of the study was to investigate the antimelanogenic and antioxidant properties of Magnolia grandiflora L. flower extract. In the study, the inhibitory effects of M. grandiflora L. flower extract on mushroom tyrosinase, B16F10 intracellular tyrosinase activity and melanin content were determined spectrophotometrically. Meanwhile, the antioxidative capacity of the flower extract was also investigated.

Concepts: Antioxidant, Melanin, Herbalism, Melanocyte, Tyrosinase, Magnolia, Magnolia grandiflora


Samsoeum (SSE), a traditional herbal formula, has been widely used to treat cough, fever, congestion, and emesis for centuries. Recent studies have demonstrated that SSE retains potent pharmacological efficiency in anti-allergic and anti-inflammatory reactions. However, the anti-cancer activity of SSE and its underlying mechanisms have not been studied. Thus, the present study was designed to determine the effect of SSE on cell death and elucidate its detailed mechanism.

Concepts: Cancer, Cell division, Apoptosis, The Canon of Medicine, Chemotherapy, DNA replication, Cultural studies, Herbalism


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


Global HIV-1 treatment would benefit greatly from safe herbal medicines with scientifically validated novel anti-HIV-1 activities. The root extract from the medicinal plant Pelargonium sidoides (PS) is licensed in Germany as the herbal medicine EPs®7630, with numerous clinical trials supporting its safety in humans. Here we provide evidence from multiple cell culture experiments that PS extract displays potent anti-HIV-1 activity. We show that PS extract protects peripheral blood mononuclear cells and macrophages from infection with various X4 and R5 tropic HIV-1 strains, including clinical isolates. Functional studies revealed that the extract from PS has a novel mode-of-action. It interferes directly with viral infectivity and blocks the attachment of HIV-1 particles to target cells, protecting them from virus entry. Analysis of the chemical footprint of anti-HIV activity indicates that HIV-1 inhibition is mediated by multiple polyphenolic compounds with low cytotoxicity and can be separated from other extract components with higher cytotoxicity. Based on our data and its excellent safety profile, we propose that PS extract represents a lead candidate for the development of a scientifically validated herbal medicine for anti-HIV-1 therapy with a mode-of-action different from and complementary to current single-molecule drugs.

Concepts: Immune system, Pharmacology, Medicine, Ayurveda, Alternative medicine, Herbalism, PBMC, Pelargonium sidoides


OBJECTIVE:Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) use is high among children and youth with chronic illnesses. The objective of this study was to assess the prevalence and patterns of CAM use in 10 subspecialty clinics in Canada and to compare CAM use between 2 geographically diverse locations.METHODS:This survey was carried out at 1 Children’s Hospital in western Canada (Edmonton) and 1 Children’s Hospital in central Canada (Ottawa). Questionnaires were completed by parents in either French or English.RESULTS:Although demographic characteristics of the 2 populations were similar, CAM use at the western hospital was 71% (n = 704) compared with 42% (n = 222) at the central hospital (P < .0001). Most respondents agreed or strongly agreed that they feel comfortable discussing CAM in their clinic. The most common CAM products currently used were multivitamins/minerals, herbal products, and homeopathic remedies. The most common CAM practices currently used were massage, chiropractic, relaxation, and aromatherapy. Eighty adverse effects were reported, and 55 (68.8%) of these were self-assessed as minor.CONCLUSIONS:Results of this study indicate that CAM use is high among pediatric specialty clinic outpatients and is much greater in the western than in the central hospital. Most respondents felt that their CAM use was helpful with few or no harms associated. Many patients, using CAM alongside their conventional medicines, are still not discussing their CAM use with their physicians and are increasing the likelihood for potential interactions and preventable harms.

Concepts: Medicine, Hospital, Ayurveda, Physician, Pediatrics, Alternative medicine, Herbalism, Aromatherapy


The synthetic cannabinoid, UR-144 ((1-pentyl-1H-indol-3-yl)(2,2,3,3-tetramethylcyclopropyl)methanone), was identified in commercial ‘legal high’ products (herbal, resin, and powder). Along with this, six related compounds were detected. The most abundant one (2.1) was identified as 4-hydroxy-3,3,4-trimethyl-1-(1-pentyl-1H-indol-3-yl)pentan-1-one, a product of the electrophilic addition of water to the cyclopropane moiety in UR-144. Compound 2.1 was found to be undergo cyclisation which leads to the formation of two additional interconvertable compounds (2.3, tentatively identified as 1-pentyl-3-(4,4,5,5-tetramethyl-4,5-dihydrofuran-2-yl)-1H-indole which is stable only in absence of water and also observed as GC artifact) and 2.2, a protonated derivative of 2.3 which is formed in acidic solutions. The remaining compounds were identified as possible degradation products of the group 2 compounds (4,4,5,5-tetramethyldihydrofuran-2(3H)-one and 1-pentylindoline-2,3-dione) and intermediates or by-products from the synthesis of UR-144 ((1H-indol-3-yl)(2,2,3,3-tetramethylcyclopropyl)methanone, 1-pentyl-1H-indole and 1-(1-pentyl-1H-indol-3-yl)hexan-1-one). Pyrolysis of herbal products containing the group 2 compounds or UR-144 resulted in the formation of 3,3,4-trimethyl-1-(1-pentyl-1H-indol-3-yl)pent-4-en-1-one (3). This was confirmed by separate pyrolysis of 2.1 and UR-144. Also, the two additional minor compounds, 1-(1-pentyl-1H-indol-3-yl)ethanone and 1-(1-pentyl-1H-indol-3-yl)propan-1-one, were detected. Pathways for these transformations are presented. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Concepts: Group, Chemical compound, John Wiley & Sons, Herbalism, UCI race classifications, Cannabinoid, Electrophile, Electrophilic addition


ETHNOPHARMACOLOGICAL RELEVANCE: We studied the local knowledge and uses of medicinal plants among the Ivatan people of Batan Island by documenting their traditional practices. AIM OF THE STUDY: To identify the types of medicinal plants used in self-care by the indigenous people of Batan Island, the Philippines and to investigate the extent to which the plants are used. Conservation of medicinal plants and natural resources is becoming increasingly important; thus, this research aims to collect information from local people concerning the use of medicinal plants on Batan Island. MATERIALS AND METHODS: A total of 116 informants were interviewed, allowing for calculated informant consensus factors (ICF), use value (UV), and fidelity levels (FL) for each medicinal plant species used to cure various ailments. This helped to establish a consensus on which species are effective for particular ailments, as well as the species' relative importance, and enabled us to understand the extent of the potential utilization of each species. RESULTS: We describe the therapeutic effects of 112 plant species used medicinally against 13 categories of ailments. The highest ICF value (1.00) was cited for diseases of the ear and respiratory system and for use during pregnancy, childbirth and the postnatal period. The maximum FL of 100% was found for Carica papaya, Stachytarpheta jamaicensis, Musa sapientum, and Pedilanthus tithymaloides, used for the treatment of constipation, cuts and wounds, diarrhea, and dislocations and fractures, respectively. The highest UV was for Hibiscus rosa-sinensis (0.67). All plants with high UV were used for exogenous diseases, certain infectious and parasitic diseases, injuries, poisonings and other consequences of external factors, and diseases of the skin and subcutaneous tissues. In addition to its use for endogenous disease and lifestyle-related diseases and illnesses, Moringa oleifera is also used for diseases of the circulatory system, with a UV of 0.57 and Cocos nucifera is used for diseases of the genitourinary system, with a UV of 0.56. CONCLUSIONS: This study demonstrates that many plant species play an important role in local healing practices and that knowledge of traditional medicine is still utilized and plays a significant role on Batan Island. The documentation of this rich traditional ethno-medicinal knowledge has furnished us with novel information that not only will provide recognition of this undocumented knowledge but also could provide new avenues for pharmacological investigations to improve healthcare for a range of ailments.

Concepts: Pharmacology, Medicine, Ayurveda, Philippines, Alternative medicine, Herbalism, Medicinal plants, Batanes


Occidental medicine has a given definition for restless legs syndrome (RLS) and knowledge of RLS pathophysiology has led to the development of its therapeutic management. RLS has no cure. Many methods have been used for its treatment, among which traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) has been considered as a new approach. However, description and management of the disease symptoms can be found in Chinese ancient medical systems. The first mention of RLS may have been as early as the third century BC described as “leg uncomfortable”. Nonetheless, the lack of a complete description encompassing all four modern cardinal features of RLS makes this uncertain. On the other hand, the first description of RLS encompassing three of the four major modern criteria occurs in the ancient book of Neike Zhaiyao (Internal summary), 1529 AD just about a century and a half prior to the description of RLS by Sir Thomas Willis in England. Here, we introduce the philosophical concepts of traditional Chinese medicine and the description, classification and understanding of RLS symptoms in traditional Chinese medicine. We have conducted an in-depth review of the literature reporting one part of TCM, Chinese herbal treatment efficacy for RLS, through both English and Chinese search engines. Eighty-five studies were included in the review and more than 40 formulas (including 176 different ingredients) were found in the literature. According to the literature, Chinese herbs have been demonstrated to be safe and hold great potential to be an effective treatment modality for RLS, but the evidence is limited by the quality of these studies. Of the eighty-five studies, only nine were clinical trials with a control group and only three of them were randomized. In cases where herbal preparations were compared to Western medications for RLS, the herbal preparations appear to be superior. However, uncertainty as to whether the diagnosis of RLS was made in accord with Western norms and the use of homemade non-validated rating scales create uncertainty as to the meaning of these results. High-quality randomized and double blinded clinical trials of Chinese herbs in treating RLS will be required in the future. This review highlights aspects of Chinese herbal treatment important to guide future research and clinical practice. To our knowledge, this is the first systematic English review of the role of Chinese herbs in the treatment of RLS.

Concepts: Clinical trial, Alternative medicine, Herbalism, Traditional Chinese medicine, Restless legs syndrome, Chinese herbology, Chinese classic herbal formula, Li Shizhen