Aside

I believe the all-too-common description of clinical studies done in China as of poor or insufficient quality should be discarded, and rephrased as indicating the non-compliance of those studies with the standards of clinical data established in the Western, pharmaceutical drug-based medicine. Truly, the stringent level of controls espoused by the Western pharmacological research is borderline paranoid and, in certain regards, excessive.

Hypertension Induced By Licorice. Again.

Not quite a novel idea for most herbalists, yet a good reminder that [non-deglycyrrhinized] licorice can induce a potentially serious condition: a case report by Allcock and Cowdery (2015).

Reference:

Allcock E, Cowdery J. Hypertension induced by liquorice tea. BMJ Case Rep. 2015 Jun 15;2015. pii: bcr2015209926. doi: 10.1136/bcr-2015-209926. PMID: 26077805.

Flavonoid Content In Certain Tropical Plants

Lovely piece of data: Miean KH, Mohamed S. Flavonoid (myricetin, quercetin, kaempferol, luteolin, and apigenin) content of edible tropical plants. J Agric Food Chem. 2001 Jun;49(6):3106-12. PubMed PMID: 11410016.

Total flavonoids:

  • onion leaves (1497.5 mg/kg quercetin, 391.0 mg/kg luteolin, and 832.0 mg/kg kaempferol)
  • Semambu leaves (2041.0 mg/kg)
  • bird chili (1663.0 mg/kg)
  • black tea (1491.0 mg/kg)
  • papaya shoots (1264.0 mg/kg)
  • guava (1128.5 mg/kg).

The major flavonoid in these plant extracts is quercetin, followed by myricetin and kaempferol.

Luteolin could be detected only in:

  • broccoli (74.5 mg/kg dry weight)
  • green chili (33.0 mg/kg)
  • bird chili (1035.0 mg/kg)
  • onion leaves (391.0 mg/kg)
  • belimbi fruit (202.0 mg/kg)
  • belimbi leaves (464.5 mg/kg)
  • French bean (11.0 mg/kg)
  • carrot (37.5 mg/kg)
  • white radish (9.0 mg/kg)
  • local celery (80.5 mg/kg)
  • limau purut leaves (30.5 mg/kg)
  • dried asam gelugur (107.5 mg/kg).

Apigenin was found only in:

  • Chinese cabbage (187.0 mg/kg)
  • bell pepper (272.0 mg/kg)
  • garlic (217.0 mg/kg)
  • belimbi fruit (458.0 mg/kg)
  • French peas (176.0 mg/kg)
  • snake gourd (42.4 mg/kg)
  • guava (579.0 mg/kg)
  • wolfberry leaves (547.0 mg/kg)
  • local celery (338.5 mg/kg)
  • daun turi (39.5 mg/kg)
  • kadok (34.5 mg/kg).

In vegetables, quercetin glycosides predominate, but glycosides of kaempferol, luteolin, and apigenin are also present. Fruits contain almost exclusively quercetin glycosides, whereas kaempferol and myricetin glycosides are found only in trace quantities.

Herbal Medicine Safety: The Current State Of Knowledge

In the editorial to the recent issue of Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, a broad review is given of the common misunderstandings about the safety of herbal medicines, and the following issues are highlighted:

1) Herbal medicines have been known to have adverse effects for as long as they have been used. The recent examples include Radix Bupleuri Chinensis, as well as ephedra (ma huang).

2) The herbal toxicity may be intrinsic (related to the herb per se) or extrinsic (related to product contamination, adulteration, misidentification, or improper processing or preparation).

3) Herb-drug interactions are common. As an example, concomitant use of Chinese herbal medicinal products and antipsychotic treatment was associated with nearly 60% risk of adverse outcomes.

4) Traditional methods of preparation often include specific steps to decrease toxicity, often accompanied with improved efficacy of the final product.

5) Dramatic examples of herbal toxicity are typically associated with inappropriate use of herbal medicines. Such is the example of ephedra (ma huang), used traditionally for respiratory disorders, but which caused several deaths, strokes, and heart attacks after being used “off-label” for weight reduction.

February 7, 2015 In Herbal Research

Clinical trials

Peganum harmala oil: significant decrease in pain and difficulty in function in knee osteoarthritis (Abstract)

Single herbs

Fermented red ginseng (Panax ginseng): effects on cancer cells (Abstract)

Interactions

Flavonoid fraction of Tilia americana and serotonergic drugs (Abstract)

January 28, 2015 In Herbal Research

Clinical trials

Panax notoginseng saponin therapy is superior to the current treatment of acute intracerebral/intracranial hemorrhage: meta-analysis and mini-review of possible mechanisms of action (Abstract)

Adverse Effects

Liver injury associated with the use of herbal medicines and dietary supplements seems to be increasing (Abstract)

Cannabis smoking is shown to have additional adverse effects on respiratory health in tobacco smokers (Abstract)

Interactions

A novel method to assess botanical-drug interactions, based on the use of human plasma/serum rather than chemical buffers, is more consistent with clinical data than earlier in vitro studies (Abstract)

January 24, 2015 In Herbal Research

Large-scale assays:

Medicinal plants against multidrug-resistant enteropathogenic bacteria infecting hospitalized children under 5 (Abstract)

Thai medicinal plants against cervical and oral cancers (Abstract)

Herbal combinations:

Peganum harmala seeds, Rhus coriaria fruit, and Urtica dioica leaves: antidiabetic, hypolipidemic, liver and renal damage-recovering effects in rats (Abstract)

Single herbs:

Artemisia annua: effects on neutrophils (Abstract, Free full text)

Chrysanthemum zawadskii var. latilobum: hair growth-stimulating effect in mice (Abstract)

January 23, 2015 In Herbal Research

Traditional Chinese medicine: integration with Science

New insights into the chemical and biochemical basis of the “Yang-invigorating” action of Chinese Yang-tonic herbs (Abstract)

Review

Pomegranate in the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular diseases (Abstract)

Single botanicals

Chaenomeles speciosa (flowering quince): endurance increase in rats (Abstract)

Flos Lonicerae: anti-gastritic effects in rats (Abstract)

Regulation

Rhizome Coptidis and berberine: the ban in Singapore is lifted (Abstract)

January 22, 2015 In Herbal Research

Isolated compounds

Astragaloside IV: attenuation of injury caused by myocardial ischemia/reperfusion in rats (Abstract)

Curcumin: healing effects on burn wounds in rats (Abstract)

Morin: protection of gastric mucosa from nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug-induced inflammation and apoptosis (Abstract)

Puerarin: amelioration of hepatic steatosis aka non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (Abstract)

March 31, 2014 In Herbal Research

Review:

Phyllanthus spp.: (Abstract, Free full text)

Polyherbal preparations:

The effects of Chinese formula Huanglian Jie Du Tang (Rhizoma Coptidis, Radix Scutellariae, Cortex Phellodendri and Fructus Gardenia) and its components on amyloid beta peptide in the brains of mice (Abstract, Free full text)

Herb-herb interaction:

Sedum sarmentosum partially attenuates renotoxicity of aristolochic acid (Abstract, Free full text)

Single herbs:

Bacopa monnieri: content of bacoside A and bacopaside I increase with moderate concentrations of Cd (cadmium) in the soil/feeding solution (Abstract, Free full text)

Isolated constituents:

Berberine (from Berberis spp., Hydrastis canadensis, Coptis chinensis): prevents post-surgery intestinal adhesion and inflammation in rats (Abstract, Free full text)

Triptolide (from Tripterygium wilfordii): toxicity against primary breast cancer cells and breast cancer stem cells (Abstract)