Eleuthero Root (Eleutherococcus senticosus)

Also known as Siberian ginseng, this herb is specific for reducing the negative effects of stress, and improving athletic performance. It was popularized in the 1970's by...

Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera)

Ashwaghanda is a well rounded, non-stimulating tonic herb. It's useful for strengthening a weak system caused by overstimulation and exhaustion. A perfect herb for...

Rhodiola (Rhodiola rosea)

Rhodiola-herb.jpg

Rhodiola Summary

Rhodiola was made famous by some earlier research done by Russian scientists in the 1960's. Although a lot of this research still hasn't been released to the public, there has been a lot of new studies put forward to make up for this loss.

Rhodiola is well revered as an adaptogen for treating fatigue, cognitive decline, depression, and for athletic enhancement. It's considered to be a mild stimulant, though it doesn't produce the "wired" feeling many other stimulants produce. It increases energy levels and makes us more tolerant of stressful situations.

Although there is still a lot of research lacking, we know that Rhodiola can reduce cortisol levels in the body after exposure to stress, however, the details on how this interaction exists is still not well understood. There is also a great deal of confusion around which chemicals are active in the herb, some studies showing the rosavins, others tyrosol and the rhodiolasides.

As a result, each manufacturer tends to have a preference for one chemical group over the other in their products.

 

+ Indications

  • Age-related cognitive decline
  • Altitude sickness
  • Athletic performance enhancement
  • Cancer
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Chronic heart failure (CHF)
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Fibromyalgia
  • HIV
  • Hypertension
  • Insomnia (Sleep maintenance)
  • Metabolic Syndrome
  • Poor appetite
  • Poor concentration
  • Substance abuse

+ Contraindications

None noted.

Herbal Actions:

  • Adaptogen
  • CNS Stimulant (mild)
  • Antidepressant
  • Cardioprotective
  • Nootropic
 

What is Rhodiola Used For?

*Rhodiola rosea* is mainly used for its adaptogenic qualities, especially those specific to lowering cortisol levels. It's reliable for improving fatigue in debilitated or chronically fatigued people, as well as those experiencing generalized adaptive disorder, depression, or acute periods of extreme stress.

Rhodiola is a popular nootropic additive for increasing focus and mental endurance and is popular among athletes for increasing physical endurance as well.

 

Technical Information: Rhodiola

Weekly Dose

Part Used

  • Root/Rhizome

Family Name

  • Crassulaceae

Distribution

  • Northern climates of North America, Asia, and Europe

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Constituents of Interest

  • Rosavin
  • Tyrosol
  • Salidroside
  • Rhodiolaside

Common Names

  • Rhodiola
  • Rose Root
  • Arctic Root
  • Golden Root
  • King's Crown

CYP450

Unknown

Duration of Use

  • Long-term use of rhodiola is acceptable.
 

Botanical Information

Although Rhodiola rosea is the preferred species used, there are many species used in various indigenous medical systems such as Rhodiola alterna, Rhodiola brevipetiolata, Rhodiola crenulata, Rhodiola kirilowii, Rhodiola quadrifida, Rhodiola sachalinensis, and Rhodiola sacra.

The Crassulaceae family contains 34 genera and 1400 species. Most of the plants in this family can be found in colder climates.

Another medicinal species in this family is Kalanchoe.

 

Habitat Ecology, & Distribution:

Rhodiola grows at high altitude, mountainous regions of Europe, Asia, the Arctic, and North America.

 

Pharmacology & Medical Research

+ Altitude Sickness

Salidroside and Tyrosol from Rhodiola cerrulea extracts have been shown to regulate AMPK [11], which plays a major role in energy homeostasis [10]. It was also shown to maintain sodium channel transport by preserving NA+, K+, ATPase activity. The authors concluded that this mechanism may be responsible for Rhodiolas ability to reduce the symptoms of altitude sickness, particularly HAPE [11].

+ CNS Stimulant

Numerous clinical trials have demonstrated the CNS stimulating activity of Rhodiola rosea [8] based on various cognitive and fatigue scores.

Other studies have found the use of rhodiola at varying doses inconclusive as a stimulant [7].

+ Memory & Cognitive Performance

Rhodiola extracts have been shown in animal models to improve learning capacity and short/long-term memory in animals trained to perform certain tasks [2].

Rhodiola has been shown to inhibit monoamine oxidase (both MAO-A and MAO-B) in animal studies [4].

+ Depression

MAO-A inhibitors are effective in the treatment of depression [20]. Rhodiola has been shown to inhibit MAO-A & B in animal studies [4]. Other animal studies investigating the use of rhodiola on depression has shown a non-dose dependent improvement on depression scores in mice, which is due to the tyrosin and rhodiolaside content specifically [16, 18, 19].

A randomized double-blind clinical trial using a standardized Rhodiola rosea extract showed a significant antidepressant activity in the treatment group compared to placebo. This was based on various depressive symptoms including insomnia, emotional instability, and somatization. [17].

+ Stress And Fatigue (Adaptogenic)

A group of 56 healthy physicians in a double-blind randomized clinical trial were either given Rhodiola rosea extracts or placebo control for 2 weeks. Physicians were chosen based on criteria that investigated the likelihood that these physicians would experience mental exhaustion during a normal shift. A series of tasks were then given after each night shift to investigate any changes on mental fatigue as measured by a set of complex tasks. All of the physicians treated with Rhodiola rosea were noted to show improved test scores compared to those not treated with the herb. These effects were observed to be most active after two weeks of use, and not a single adverse reaction was reported during the study. [3].

Another study investigating the mental and physical effects of a long term, low dose (SHR-5 50 mg) on students during examination periods found significant improvements on test scores among the treatment group [9]. They were looking for the presence of mental and physical fatigue indications. The only test that showed no improvement in this study was the tapping test (muscular activation).

A study investigating the effects of Rhodiola rosea on free cortisol levels in chronically fatigues patients noted a reduction in cortisol levels after just a single treatment, and significantly after a 28-day course of treatment [21]. Rhodiola was also shown to reduce serum blood levels of cortisol after a stressful event in rabbits [22].

Animal research has shown that Rhodiola rosea extracts can reduce the expression of c-Fos in the hypothalamus of rats [23]. The expression of this gene is considered to be a valuable marker for identifying the activation of cells in the central nervous system associated with the stress response [24]. This suggests the mechanism of action for Rhodiola rosea on reducing cortisol levels is the result of HPA modulation in the hypothalamus, such as increasing feedback sensitivity and therefore reducing overall CRH release rather than acting directly on the adrenal glands.

+ Withdrawal

A Rhodiola rosea extract was shown to improve withdrawal symptoms in mice, with a noted increase in 5HT activity in treated animals. [1].

 

Clinical Applications Of Rhodiola:

Rhodiola serves as a reliable adaptogen with little to no side effects noted in any of the studies listed. It's useful for those suffering from high-stress conditions, chronically fatigued, or depressed.

This herb is also useful for increasing athletic performance in athletes and reducing the chances of being affected by altitude sickness when traveling above 2500 meters.

 

Cautions:

Caution when using Rhodiola with mania as the mental stimulation may produce negative side effects.

 

Author:

Justin Cooke, BHSc

The Sunlight Experiment

(Updated May 2019)

 

Recent Blog Posts:

References

  1. Mannucci, C., Navarra, M., Calzavara, E., Caputi, A. P., & Calapai, G. (2012). Serotonin involvement in Rhodiola rosea attenuation of nicotine withdrawal signs in rats. Phytomedicine, 19(12), 1117-1124. [animal studies]

  2. Petkov, V. D., Yonkov, D., Mosharoff, A., Kambourova, T., Alova, L., Petkov, V. V., & Todorov, I. (1986). Effects of alcohol aqueous extract from Rhodiola rosea L. roots on learning and memory. Acta physiologica et pharmacologica Bulgarica, 12(1), 3-16. [animal studies]

  3. Darbinyan, V., Kteyan, A., Panossian, A., Gabrielian, E., Wikman, G., & Wagner, H. (2000). Rhodiola rosea in stress induced fatigue—a double blind cross-over study of a standardized extract SHR-5 with a repeated low-dose regimen on the mental performance of healthy physicians during night duty. Phytomedicine, 7(5), 365-371. [RCT]

  4. Van Diermen, D., Marston, A., Bravo, J., Reist, M., Carrupt, P. A., & Hostettmann, K. (2009). Monoamine oxidase inhibition by Rhodiola rosea L. roots. Journal of ethnopharmacology, 122(2), 397-401. [animal studies]

  5. Ganzera, M., Yayla, Y., & Khan, I. A. (2001). Analysis of the marker compounds of Rhodiola rosea L.(golden root) by reversed phase high performance liquid chromatography. Chemical and pharmaceutical bulletin, 49(4), 465-467. [chemical analysis]

  6. Panossian, A., Wikman, G., & Sarris, J. (2010). Rosenroot (Rhodiola rosea): traditional use, chemical composition, pharmacology and clinical efficacy. Phytomedicine, 17(7), 481-493. [review article]

  7. Shevtsov, V. A., Zholus, B. I., Shervarly, V. I., Vol'skij, V. B., Korovin, Y. P., Khristich, M. P., ... & Wikman, G. (2003). A randomized trial of two different doses of a SHR-5 Rhodiola rosea extract versus placebo and control of capacity for mental work. Phytomedicine, 10(2), 95-105. [RCT]

  8. Panossian, A., & Wagner, H. (2005). Stimulating effect of adaptogens: an overview with particular reference to their efficacy following single dose administration. Phytotherapy Research, 19(10), 819-838. [Review]

  9. Spasov, A. A., Wikman, G. K., Mandrikov, V. B., Mironova, I. A., & Neumoin, V. V. (2000). A double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot study of the stimulating and adaptogenic effect of Rhodiola rosea SHR-5 extract on the fatigue of students caused by stress during an examination period with a repeated low-dose regimen. Phytomedicine, 7(2), 85-89. [RCT].

  10. Lee, S. Y., Shi, L. S., Chu, H., Li, M. H., Ho, C. W., Lai, F. Y., ... & Chang, T. C. (2013). Rhodiola crenulata and its bioactive components, salidroside and tyrosol, reverse the hypoxia-induced reduction of plasma-membrane-associated Na, K-ATPase expression via inhibition of ROS-AMPK-PKCξ pathway. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2013. [in vitro].

  11. Reznick, R. M., & Shulman, G. I. (2006). The role of AMP‐activated protein kinase in mitochondrial biogenesis. The Journal of physiology, 574(1), 33-39.

  12. Kerharo, J., & Adam, J. G. (1974). La pharmacopée sénégalaise traditionnelle: plantes médicinales et toxiques. (Pharmacopoeia).

  13. Steinegger, E., & Hansel, R. (1992). Pharmakognosie 5 Aufl. Kap 6.2. 1. Freie Phenolcarbonsauren Springer Verlag Berlin. (Pharmacopoeia).

  14. Hjaltalin, O. J. (1830). Islenzk grasafrædi. Koben havn.

  15. insert

  16. Kurkin, V. A., Dubishchev, A. V., Ezhkov, V. N., Titova, I. N., & Avdeeva, E. V. (2006). Antidepressant activity of some phytopharmaceuticals and phenylpropanoids. Pharmaceutical Chemistry Journal, 40(11), 614-619.

  17. Darbinyan, V., Aslanyan, G., Amroyan, E., Gabrielyan, E., Malmström, C., & Panossian, A. (2007). Clinical trial of Rhodiola rosea L. extract SHR-5 in the treatment of mild to moderate depression. Nordic journal of psychiatry, 61(5), 343-348.

  18. Perfumi, M., & Mattioli, L. (2007). Adaptogenic and central nervous system effects of single doses of 3% rosavin and 1% salidroside Rhodiola rosea L. extract in mice. Phytotherapy Research, 21(1), 37-43.

  19. Panossian, A., Nikoyan, N., Ohanyan, N., Hovhannisyan, A., Abrahamyan, H., Gabrielyan, E., & Wikman, G. (2008). Comparative study of Rhodiola preparations on behavioral despair of rats. Phytomedicine, 15(1-2), 84-91.

  20. Priest, R. G., Gimbrett, R., Roberts, M., & Steinert, J. (1995). Reversible and selective inhibitors of monoamine oxidase A in mental and other disorders. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, 91(s386), 40-43.

  21. Olsson, E. M., von Schéele, B., & Panossian, A. G. (2009). A randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel-group study of the standardised extract shr-5 of the roots of Rhodiola rosea in the treatment of subjects with stress-related fatigue. Planta medica, 75(02), 105-112.

  22. Panossian, A., Hambardzumyan, M., Hovhanissyan, A., & Wikman, G. (2007). The adaptogens Rhodiola and Schizandra modify the response to immobilization stress in rabbits by suppressing the increase of phosphorylated stress-activated protein kinase, nitric oxide and cortisol. Drug target insights, 2, 117739280700200011.

  23. Xia, N., Li, J., Wang, H., Wang, J., & Wang, Y. (2016). Schisandra chinensis and Rhodiola rosea exert an anti-stress effect on the HPA axis and reduce hypothalamic c-Fos expression in rats subjected to repeated stress. Experimental and therapeutic medicine, 11(1), 353-359.

  24. Luckman, S. M., Dyball, R. E., & Leng, G. (1994). Induction of c-fos expression in hypothalamic magnocellular neurons requires synaptic activation and not simply increased spike activity. Journal of Neuroscience, 14(8), 4825-4830.

Juniper (Juniperus communis)

Juniper berries are potent antiseptics when applied both topically and internally. They are often used to prevent the spread of infection and to treat urinary tract...Write here...

Chinese Clubmoss (Huperzia serrata)

huperzia-serrata.jpeg

Chinese Club Moss Summary

Chinese clubmoss, (otherwise known as Chinese firmoss) is a type of moss found in subtropical parts of Southern China, India, and the United States.

The whole herb can be used as a cognitive enhancer, and to treat organophosphate poisoning and neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease.

The main form this herb can be found in, however, is its concentrated extract of the alkaloid huperzine-A.

Huperzine-A is a popular addition to nootropic formulas for its ability to inhibit acetylcholinesterase. Thus improving reaction times, memory retrieval and storage, and preventing or slowing the onset of Alzheimer's disease. The potency of this chemical is astounding, as less than a mg of the extract is necessary to reach a therapeutic dose.

Huperzine-A can be found alone but is best taken in a formulation or stacked with other nootropic formulas. It's especially beneficial when in combination with racetams like piracetam or aniracetam, or choline donors like alpha-GPC.

You can find huperzine-A in formulas like Onnit Alpha-Brain, or by itself.

 

Indications

  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Cold and flu
  • Myasthenia gravis
  • Neurodegenerative disorders
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Poor circulation
  • Rheumatism
  • Swelling
  • To improve memory
  • Varicose veins

Contraindications

  • Nothing noted

Mechanisms

  • Acetylcholinesterase inhibitor
  • NDMA modulator
  • Antiglutamate

Herbal Actions:

  • Nootropic
  • Neuroprotective
  • Antioxidant
 

What is Chinese Clubmoss Used For?

Clubmoss isn't commonly used in Western herbal medicine but has a long history of use in traditional Chinese medicine. With that said, the most common uses for this herb are for treating neurological disorders — primarily involving memory loss.

The nootropic supplement huperzine-A is popular for enhancing focus and concentration. There is virtually no clinical research on the safety or effectiveness of this compound, however.

 

Traditional Uses of Chinese Clubmoss (Firmoss)

Usage of this herb can be traced all the way back to the Tang dynasty in China. It was mainly used during this time to treat rheumatism, colds and flus, and to relax the muscles and tendons.

More modern Chinese medicinal uses include bruises, sprains, poor circulation, swelling, organophosphate poisoning, myasthenia gravis, schizophrenia, and Alzheimers.

 

Herb Datasheet

Daily Dose

Otheer Relevant Species

  • Lycopodium serratum
  • Huperzia elmeri
  • Huperzia carinat
  • Huperzia aqualupian

Part Used

  • Whole herb

Family Name

  • Lycopodiaceae

Distribution

  • Clubmoss is found worldwide — thee species most commonly used for its huperzinee-A content (Huperzia serrata) is found predominantly in Asia.

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Constituents of Interest

  • Huperzine-A

Common Names

  • Chinese Firmoss
  • Qian Ceng Ta (China)
  • "Thousand layer pagoda"
  • Ground pine
  • Creeping cedar
  • Shi Song (China)

CYP450

Unknown

Duration of Use

  • Avoid long-term use in therapeutic doses.
 

Botanical Information

All club mosses differ from true mosses by their vascular structure. They do hower reproduce via spores.

These plants can live a very long time, and only grow up to 10 cm in height.

 

Habitat Ecology, & Distribution:

Huperzia serrata originates from India, and Southeast China, but are distributed worldwide. They tend to be easily found in subtropical zones in the United States and Southern China.

Due to the value of this herb as a cognitive enhancer, it has been over-harvested in many places where it can be found.

 

Pharmacology & Medical Research

Cognitive Enhancement:

Huperzia serrata contains an alkaloid known as huperzine-A. This alkaloid has been shown to produce anti-acetylcholinesterase activities in the brain [6-]. With fewer enzymes breaking down the acetylcholine, this neurotransmitter becomes more abundant and is more readily available for presynaptic neurons.

Huperzine-A is more effective at inhibiting acetylcholinesterase due to its ability to pass the blood-brain barrier more readily than other medications [9].

Additionally, huperzine-A has been reported to act as an NDMA receptor agonist. This results in a greater release of nerve growth factor (NGF) in the brain.

Alzheimer's Disease

There have been several reviews, including a Cochrane review on this herb for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease. All of these studies have noted a possible improvement in Alzheimer's therapy following Huperzine-A containing species. However, all noted a lack of large, long-term, clinical trials on the subject. [6-8].

The primary mechanism of action is suggested to be through a reduction in acetylcholinesterase, and subsequent amyloid beta plaquing on the neurons. [6].

Anti-Seizure

C#urrently, huperzine-A has been shown to posess anticonvulsant activity in mice [10]. Further studies are now underway.

Parkinson's Disease

Currently, only mice trials have been conducted. Protective effects have been noted in these mice trials, however. [11].

 

Phytochemistry

An alkaloid known as huperzine-A is currently regarded as the main active ingredient for the cognitive enhancing effects of Huperzia serrata.

This alkaloid is suggested to account for roughly 0.1% of the dry weight of the herb [1]. Analogs of both Huperzine-A and Huperzine-B have both been made. [3-5].

A similar alkaloid is also contained known as fordine.

In total, this herb contains flavonoids, alkaloids (lycopodine, lycodines including huperzine-A, fawcettimines, and more), triterpenes, flavones, and phenolic acids. [2].

 

Cautions

Not recommended for people with heart disease, seizure disorders, emphysema, or urinary tract blockages.

Consult your doctor if taking other medications and wish to take Huperzia spp. supplements or concentrated extracts.

 

Toxicity

This is a very safe herb to use, even in its concentrated extraction form of Huperzine-A. Side effects of the concentrated extract can include gastrointestinal discomfort and upset, restlessness, headaches, high blood pressure, sweating, appetite suppression. 

Never use huperzine-A supplements while pregnant or breastfeeding.  

 

Synergy

A common addition to nootropic formulas for its cholinergic actions. It's suggested to be especially beneficial with racetams like piracetam due to similar effects on acetylcholine.

 

Author:

Justin Cooke, BHSc

The Sunlight Experiment

(Updated May 2019)

 

Recent Blog Posts:

References:

  1. Yu CM, Tang XC, Liu JS, Han YY, inventors. Huperzines and analogs. US Patent 5,177,082. January 5, 1993.

  2. Ma X, Tan C, Zhu D, Gang DR, Xiao P. Huperzine A from Huperzia species—an ethnopharmacolgical review. J Ethnopharmacol . 2007;113(1):15-34.

  3. Darrouzain F, André C, Ismaili L, Matoga M, Guillaume YC. Huperzine A—human serum albumin association: chromatographic and thermodynamic approach. J Chromatogr B Analyt Technol Biomed Life Sci . 2005;820(2):283-288.

  4. Jiang H, Luo X, Bai D. Progress in clinical, pharmacological, chemical and structural biological studies of huperzine A: a drug of traditional Chinese medicine origin for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease. Curr Med Chem . 2003;10(21):2231-2252.

  5. Dvir H, Jiang HL, Wong DM, et al. X-ray structures of Torpedo californica acetylcholinesterase complexed with (+)-huperzine A and (-)-huperzine B: structural evidence for an active site rearrangement. Biochemistry . 2002;41(35):10810-10818.

  6. Li J, Wu HM, Zhou RL, Liu GJ, Dong BR. Huperzine A for Alzheimer's disease. Cochrane Database Syst Rev . 2008;(2):CD005592

  7. Desilets AR, Gickas JJ, Dunican KC. Role of huperzine A in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease. Ann Pharmacother . 2009;43(3):514-518.

  8. Kelley BJ, Knopman DS. Alternative medicine and Alzheimer disease. Neurologist . 2008;14(5):299-306.

  9. Wang R, Yan H, Tang XC. Progress in studies of huperzine A, a natural cholinesterase inhibitor from Chinese herbal medicine. Acta Pharmacol Sin . 2006;27(1):1-26.

  10. Bialer M, Johannessen SI, Kupferberg HJ, Levy RH, Perucca E, Tomson T. Progress report on new antiepileptic drugs: a summary of the Eigth Eilat Conference (EILAT VIII). Epilepsy Res . 2007;73(1):1-52.

  11. Chen LW, Wang YQ, Wei LC, Shi M, Chan YS. Chinese herbs and herbal extracts for neuroprotection of dopaminergic neurons and potential therapeutic treatment of Parkinson's disease. CNS Neurol Disord Drug Targets . 2007;6(4):273-281

Tea (Camellia sinensis)

Camellia sinensis is the plant that brings us tea in all its many colors and flavors. It has a fairly high level of caffeine, and plenty of antioxidants. It makes a great tea for...

Stevia (Stevia rebaudiana)

Stevia is used as a sugar alternative and antidiabetic. The source of stevias sweetness comes from special phytochemicals known as glycosides. They are up to 160 times sweeter...

Schisandra (Schisandra chinensis)

Schisandra is known commonly as the "5 flavor berry". In Chinese medicine, it's used to tone all 5 flavors. In western herbal medicine, it's used just as vaguely, to tone the...

Elder (Sambucus nigra)

Elder leaves and berries

Elder Overview:

Elder is an invasive tree spread throughout most of the world.

It can be found in cold climates like Canada and Scandinavian countries, as well as tropical areas in Central and South America, Southeast Asia, and Australia.

Elder trees are even frequently found in remote areas like the Pacific Islands.

Elder has many uses, especially for upper respiratory infections for its antitussive and antiviral activity.

As an antiviral, it has a relatively narrow range of efficacy, which is specific to enveloped viruses like influenza, and will only have a potent effect in the early stages of viral infection. For this, it is highly effective, however, and is one of the best herbs to keep around in in the event of an acute influenza infection.

 

+ Indications

  • Upper respiratory tract infection
  • Acute stages of influenza infection
  • Sinue pain
  • Neuropathic pain
  • As an emetic

+ Contraindications

  • Small children
  • Caution advised with larger doses

Herbal Actions:

  • Antiviral
  • Emetic (high doses)
  • Antitussive
  • Nervine (leaves)
 

What is Elder Used For?

Elder is primarily used in the acute stage of respiratory infections. it has the unique ability to structurally inhibit the reproductive cycle of the influenza virus. If used in the early stages of infection elder can be used to prevent widespread infection.

elder is also used for its ability to interact with the central nervous system. For this effect, elder is often used for nerve-related pain.

 

Traditional Uses of Elder

The use of elder dates back a very long time. Evidence of elder seeds, pollen, and dried fruits have been found at a Bronze Age archaeological site in Tuscany (Italy) [12], a Neolithic site in the French Alps [13], and Durankulak site the Black Sea coast and north-eastern Bulgaria [13].

Elder is used in Ayurvedic medicine, but not in depth. Its berries are used primarily as a diuretic, and aperient, while the bark as a hydragogue, cathartic and anti-epileptic.

In traditional Chinese medicine, elder is known as "mao gu xiao" (Sambucus formosana or Sambucus chinensis) is used (rarely) to treat liver disease. It's considered to be a warm bitter, useful for dispelling blood stasis.

In Indonesia, elder (Sambucus javanica) is used for pain relief, beri beri, and jaundice.

In Western herbal medicine, elder is most commonly used to treat sore throats, and as a purgative or emetic. It's also used to treat wounds (the leaves mainly), or as a diuretic (whole plant).

Elder was commonly combined with herbs like yarrow or boneset in the treatmeent of cold and flu.

 

Elder Monograph

Weekly Dose

Part Used

Flowers and berries

In some cases the leaves, bark, and roots can also be used with caution.

Family Name

Caprifoliaceae

Distribution

Invasive the world over. Common in North America, Western Asia, Europe, The Pacific Islands, and Austalia.

Sambucus australasica and Sambucus gaudichaudiana (Australian white elder) are found primarily in Australia and South America.

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Constituents of Interest

  • Cyanidin-3-O-glucoside
  • Ribosome-inactivating proteins (RIPs)

Common Names

  • Elder
  • Black Elder
  • Elderberry
  • European Elder
 

Products Containing Elder:

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Elder Extract

Herb Pharm

Made from the berries of Sambucus nigra

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Elder Berries

Starwest Botanicals

Dried berries of Sambucus nigra

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Sambucol® Syrup

PharmaCare

Made from Sambucus nigra

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Botanical Information:

There are about 30 different species of elder, 3 of which are most commonly used as medicine. The common names for these species include blue elder (Sambucus nigra), red elder (Sambucus racemosa), and white elder (Sambucus australasica).

 

Phytochemistry

Constituent Breakdown:

Elder contains several hundred compounds.

This includes phosphorous (high), vitamins A, B6, and C.

Also contained are polyphenols, anthocyanins (blue-berries)(cyanidin 3-glucoside, cyanidin-3-sambubioside, cyanidin-3, 5-diglucoside, and cyanidin-3-sambubioside-5-glucoside), anthoxanthins (white berries), ribosome-inactivating proteins (RIPs) (TYPE 2 RIPs; nigrin b, basic nigrin b, SNA, SNA1, and SNLRP, nigrin f, nigrin s, ebulin 1, ebulin r1, ebulin r2. TYPE 1 RIPs; ebulitins), flavonol glycosides (quercetin-3-O-rutinoside, kaempferol-3-O-rutinoside and isorhamnetin-3-O-rutinoside (about 90% of the total flavonoid content)), phenolic acids (5-O-cafeoylquinic acid and 1,5-di-O-caVeoylquinic acid (about 70% of the total phenolic acid content)), triterpenoids (ursolic acid),

Key Compounds Found in Elder:

Chemical class Chemical Name Pharmacology
Flavonoid pigments Anthocyanins (S. nigra/canadensis) and anthoxanthins (S. australasica) Water soluble flavonoids that are absorbed through the small intestine and reach peak concentration systemically after 30-60 minutes. They Remain mostly un metabolised before being excreted in the urine.
Flavonol glycosides quercetin-3-O-rutinoside, kaempferol-3-O-rutinoside and isorhamnetin-3-O-rutinoside (about 90% of the total flavonoid content) Some have been found to bind to viral membranes, possibly delivering main mechanism of actions through hemagglutinin, M2 ion channel, and neuraminidase inhibition.
Phenolic acids 5-O-caVeoylquinic acid and 1,5-di-O-caVeoylquinic acid (about 70% of the total phenolic acid content). Caffeoylquinic acids are mainly found in the plasma and urine as hydroxycinnamate metabolites. Research has suggested that most of the absorption is done in the upper GIT. Peak concentration varies greatly, ranging from 30 min to 6 hours (Tmax).
Triterpenes Ursolic acid Downregulates MMP-9 and inhibits COX-2. Reach peak concentration in the blood after 1 hour. Half life is 4 hours.
Lignans Nigrin b, basic nigrin b, SNA, SNA1, and SNLRP, nigrin f, nigrin s, ebulin 1, ebulin r1, ebulin r2 (type 2 RIPs). ebulitins (Type 1 RIP) RIPs have been shown to bind to viral envelop proteins, and have shown activity on sialic acid in the GIT (not confirmed in the repiratory epithelial tissue). The pharmacokinetics are not well understood.

What's The Deal With Elders Toxicity Claims?

A group of compounds found in elder called lectins are closely related to the common rat poison — ricin.

Leptins are essentially proteins that can bind with sugars. If leptins like ricin get into the cells, they can interact with our ribosomes (the organelle that does most of the manufacturing of proteins and various other compounds).

The common name given to leptins like ricin that stop the ribosomes from working is referred to as "Ribosome-Inactivating Proteins" or RIPs for short.

RIPs are also thought to be protective against viruses and predators, as well as a way for the plant to store nitrogen.

Several RIPs have been isolated from black elder [18-20].

Similar lectin-compounds can be found in other medicinal plants with similar uses (antiviral), and limitations (emetic) — Phytolacca americana (Phytolacca antiviral protein or PAP).

There are three types of RIPs: Type 1, type 2, and type 3. [19, 20].

Both ebulin and ricin are type two RIPs.

Why Elder Isn't The Same As Ricin

Despite structural similarities, elder isn't as toxic as ricin — and it's not as toxic as we once thought.

The Ld50 of ebulin 1 was 250 mg/kg, compared to ricins 0.023 µg/kg (intraperitoneal) and 0.0075 µg/kg (intravenous) [22] — that's a huge difference. You would essentially need more than 9000 times the dose of ebulin 1 compared to ricin to reach the same toxic dose.

There are some exceptions.

RIPs such as ebulin f and SELfd are toxic and resist breakdown in the stomach — leading to gastrointestinal irritation and upset.

The solution to this problem is to heat it before using it. The heat breaks reverse the ability for these RIPs to be broken down by pepsin in the stomach — thus preventing the toxic side-effects of ebulin f. [21, 25].

 

Clinical Applications Of Elder:

Elder is a great antiviral herb, especially for Influenza and some of the other enveloped viral species if used at the early stages of infection.

 

Cautions:

Elder is an emetic, especially in preparations that contain fresh plant material (unheated). If nausea occurs, dial back the dose. Contrary to popular belief elder is NOT posionous. Emetics are frequently misinterpreted to be dangerously poisonous.

Elder is thought to decrease the effectiveness of morphine.

 

Author:

Justin Cooke, BHSc

The Sunlight Experiment

(Updated May 2019)

 

Recent Blog Posts:

References:

  1. Zakay-Rones, Z., Varsano, N., Zlotnik, M., Manor, O., Regev, L., Schlesinger, M., & Mumcuoglu, M. (1995). Inhibition of several strains of influenza virus in vitro and reduction of symptoms by an elderberry extract (Sambucus nigra L.) during an outbreak of influenza B Panama. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 1(4), 361-369. [in vitro]

  2. Chen, C., Zuckerman, D. M., Brantley, S., Sharpe, M., Childress, K., Hoiczyk, E., & Pendleton, A. R. (2014). Sambucus nigra extracts inhibit infectious bronchitis virus at an early point during replication. BMC veterinary research, 10(1), 24. [in vitro]

  3. Mascolo, N., Capasso, F., Menghini, A., & Fasulo, M. P. (1987). Biological screening of Italian medicinal plants for anti‐inflammatory activity. Phytotherapy research, 1(1), 28-31.[in vitro]

  4. Yeşilada, E., Üstün, O., Sezik, E., Takaishi, Y., Ono, Y., & Honda, G. (1997). Inhibitory effects of Turkish folk remedies on inflammatory cytokines: interleukin-1α, interleukin-1β and tumor necrosis factor α. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 58(1), 59-73. [in vtro]

  5. Harokopakis, E., Albzreh, M. H., Haase, E. M., Scannapieco, F. A., & Hajishengallis, G. (2006). Inhibition of proinflammatory activities of major periodontal pathogens by aqueous extracts from elder flower (Sambucus nigra). Journal of periodontology, 77(2), 271-279. [in vitro]

  6. Abuja, P. M., Murkovic, M., & Pfannhauser, W. (1998). Antioxidant and prooxidant activities of elderberry (Sambucus nigra) extract in low-density lipoprotein oxidation. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 46(10), 4091-4096. Link. [in vitro]

  7. Murkovic, M., Adam, U., & Pfannhauser, W. (2000). Analysis of anthocyane glycosides in human serum. Fresenius' journal of analytical chemistry, 366(4), 379-381. [in vitro].

  8. Serkedjieva, J., Manolova, N., Zgórniak‐Nowosielska, I., Zawilińska, B., & Grzybek, J. (1990). Antiviral activity of the infusion (SHS‐174) from flowers of Sambucus nigra L., aerial parts of Hypericum perforatum L., and roots of Saponaria officinalis L. against influenza and herpes simplex viruses. Phytotherapy Research, 4(3), 97-100. [in vitro]

  9. Konlee, M. (1998). A new triple combination therapy. Positive health news, (17), 12. [case report]

  10. Ulbricht, C., Basch, E., Cheung, L., Goldberg, H., Hammerness, P., Isaac, R., ... & Weissner, W. (2014). An evidence-based systematic review of elderberry and elderflower (Sambucus nigra) by the Natural Standard Research Collaboration. Journal of dietary supplements, 11(1), 80-120. Link. [review article]

  11. Christensen, L. P., Kaack, K., & Fretté, X. C. (2008). Selection of elderberry (Sambucus nigra L.) genotypes best suited for the preparation of elderflower extracts rich in flavonoids and phenolic acids. European Food Research and Technology, 227(1), 293-305. Link. Other.

  12. Mariotti-Lippi, L.; Bellini, C.; Mori, S. Palaeovegetational reconstruction based on pollen and seeds/fruits from a bronze age archaeological site in Tuscany (Italy). Plant. Biosyst. 2010, 144, 902–908. [OTHER]

  13. Martin, L.; Jacomet, S.; Thiebault, S. Plant economy during the Neolithic in a mountain context: The case of “Le Chenet des Pierres” in the french Alps (Bozel-Savoie, France). Veg. Hist. Archaeobot. 2008, 17, s113–s122. [OTHER]

  14. Marinova, E.; Atanassova, J. Anthropogenic impact on vegetation and environment during the
    Bronze Age in the area of Lake Durankulak, NE Bulgaria: Pollen, microscopic charcoal,
    non-pollen palynomorphs and plant macrofossils. Rev. Palaeobot. Palynol. 2006, 141, 165–178. [OTHER]

  15. Mikulic-Petkovsek, M.; Schmitzer, V.; Slatnar, A.; Todorovic, B.; Veberic, R.; Stampar, F.; Ivancic, A. Investigation of anthocyanin profile of four elderberry species and interspecific hybrids. J. Agric. Food Chem. 2014, 62, 5573–5580. [Chemical profiling].

  16. Ding, M.; Feng, R.; Wang, S.Y.; Bowman, L.; Lu, Y.; Qian, Y.; Castranova, V.; Jiang, B.H.; Shi, X. Cyanidin-3-glucoside, a natural product derived from blackberry, exhibits chemopreventive and chemotherapeutic activity. J. Biol. Chem. 2006, 281, 17359–17368.

  17. Parikh, B.A.; Tumer, N.E. (2004). Antiviral activity of ribosome inactivating proteins in medicine. Mini Rev. Med. Chem. 2004, 4, 523–543.

  18. Girbes, T.; Ferreras, J.M.; Arias, F.J.; Stirpe, F. Description, distribution, activity and phylogenetic relationship of ribosome-inactivating proteins in plants, fungi and bacteria. Mini Rev. Med. Chem. 2004, 4, 461–476.

  19. Stirpe, F. Ribosome-inactivating proteins. Toxicon 2004, 44, 371–383.

  20. Lapadula, W.J.; Sánchez Puerta, M.V.; Juri Ayub, M. Revising the taxonomic distribution, origin
    and evolution of ribosome inactivating protein genes. PLoS One 2013, 8, e72825.

  21. Jiménez, P., Tejero, J., Cordoba-Diaz, D., Quinto, E. J., Garrosa, M., Gayoso, M. J., & Girbés, T. (2015). Ebulin from dwarf elder (Sambucus ebulus L.): a mini-review. Toxins, 7(3), 648-658. Link. [review article].

  22. He, X.; McMahon, S.; Henderson, T.D.; Griffey, S.M.; Cheng, L.W. Ricin toxicokinetics and its sensitive detection in mouse sera or feces using immuno-PCR. PLoS One 2010, 5, e12858. [Animal study]

  23. Iglesias, R.; Citores, L.; Ferreras, J.M.; Pérez, Y.; Jiménez, P.; Gayoso, M.J.; Olsnes, S.; Tamburino, R.; di Maro, A.; Parente, A.; et al. Sialic acid-binding dwarf elder four-chain lectin displays nucleic acid N-glycosidase activity. Biochimie 2010, 92, 71–80.

  24. Vimr, E.; Lichtensteiger, C. To sialylate, or not to sialylate: that is the question. Trends Microbiol. 2002, 10, 254–257.

  25. Jimenez, P.; Cabrero, P.; Basterrechea, J.E.; Tejero, J.; Cordoba-Diaz, D.; Girbes, T. Isolation and molecular characterization of two lectins from dwarf elder (Sambucus ebulus L.) blossoms related to the Sam n1 allergen. Toxins 2013, 5, 1767–1779

Olive Leaf (Olea europea)

Olive leaf is commonly used as an antibacterial and antiviral supplement. Its even better application is on heart health. Promoting lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol...

Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum)

reishi-ganoderma-lucidum.jpeg

What is Reishi?

Reishi is a medicinal forest-grown fungus. It's highly revered in traditional medical systems across Asia for its powerful immune-enhancing and longevity promoting benefits.

Medicinal mushrooms are notorious for their complex immunological benefits involving bidirectional changes to various immune processes.

Reishi is no different — it's often thought to be one of the most important medicinal herbs for longevity in traditional Chinese medicine.

This tree-eating fungus is often used for the prevention and treatment of many immune-related conditions — including cancer, autoimmunity, infection, and both acute and chronic infections.

Reishi is also used as an anxiolytic and general health tonic.

 

+ Indications

  • Allergies
  • Bronchitis and asthma
  • Cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Food sensitivities
  • Heart palpitations
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Hyperlipidemia
  • Neuralgia
  • Viral infection (including HIV and herpes simplex virus)

+ Contraindications

  • Caution advised in combination with ACE inhibitory medictions

Herbal Actions:

  • Adaptogen
  • Immunomodulator
  • Analgesic
  • Muscle relaxant
  • Nervine Relaxant
  • Hepatoprotective
  • Pulmonary trophorestorative
  • Cardiotonic
  • Chemoprotective
  • Anti-Cancer
  • Antiviral
  • Antibacterial
 

What is Reishi Used For?

Reishi has the unique ability to both stimulate and inhibit immune function — making it useful for a wide range of immunological disorders.

Reishi is also used for chronic anxiety, depression, and hyperactivity.

In traditional Chinese medicine reishi (lingzhi) is popular for treating lung conditions such as wheezing, excessive phlegm production, and chronic coughing.

 

Traditional Uses of Reishi

Traditional Chinese Medicine

In Traditional Chinese Medicine this fungus has been used for oxygen deficit tolerance (altitude sickness) and is often combined with chrysanthemum, rhodiola, and safflower seed.

Taste:

Sweet [5]

Energy:

Neutral [5]

Channels:

Heart, liver, lung [5]

Actions:

Tonifies, the heart, calms and anchors the Shen, stops cough, stops wheezing, dislodges phlegm, tonifies the spleen, tonifies the Qi, tonifies blood [5]

Indications:

Suitable during pregnancy [5].

Dose:

3-15g decocted20 mins [5]

Considered to be warming, astringent, nourishing, detoxifying, and tonifying (Rogers, 2011). Protects qi of the heart, used to repair a knotted, tight chest. Traditionally in this system, it was recommended to take this herb over long periods to reap the benefits of longevity.

The spores are suggested to contain high amounts of jing and considered an elixir of life [1].

Other uses include Hashimoto's disease, in foot baths for gout, altitude sickness prevention, and immune regulation. [1].

Ayurveda

A related species — Ganoderma applanatum — has been used extensively in Ayurvedic systems in the pine region of India. Its uses include stopping excessive salivation in the mouth, as a styptic.

Other Historical Uses

Reishi has been used medicinally in Asian countries for at least 4000 years and is the most widely depicted mushroom in Japan, Korea, and China, which can be found on temples, tapestries, statues, and paintings.

Reishis rarity and subsequent value made it most accessible to the privileged like emperors and royalty. It has long been associated with longevity and was included in many ancient medical texts for this purpose.

Used to treat liver ailments, lung conditions, kidney disease, nerve pain, hypertension, gastric ulcers, and insomnia. The antler growth pattern is considered very rare and is the most desired for promoting sexual function in both men and women.

Other uses include its use as a means to ward off evil by hanging dried specimens over the door. Similarly, it has been placed on the graves of shamans to protect from evil souls or spirits.

Reishi has been used in nearly every format imaginable including tinctures, teas/decoctions, powdered preparations, brewed into beers and wines, and eaten raw.

 

Herb Datasheet: Reishi

Weekly Dose

Part Used

  • Fruiting body, Spores, Mycelium

Family Name

  • Ganodermataceae

Distribution

  • Asia, Europe, and North America

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Constituents of Interest

  • beta-glucans
  • Ergosterol

Common Names

  • Reishi
  • Ling Zhi
  • Saiwai-Take
  • Kishiban

CYP450

  • Unknown

Quality

  • Neutral

Pregnancy

  • No adverse reactions expected.

Taste

  • Bitter

Duration of Use

  • Suitable for long term use.
 

Mycological information

There are about 80 different species of Ganoderma, many of which are used as medicine to varying degrees. The Ganodermataceae contains 8 genera and roughly 300 different species.

Reishi is a saprophyte, meaning it only eats dying, decaying organic matter like wood. It's mainly found growing on dying trees, stumps, and fallen logs.

Ganoderma spp. releases approximatly 30 billion spores a day for up to 6 months a year [1].

 

Habitat Ecology, & Distribution:

Wild Ganoderma lucidum is rare but is indigenous to forested regions of Asia including Japan, China, and Russia. Other species are found in North America and Europe.

It grows on Elm (Ulmus spp.), alder (Alnus spp.), oak (Quercus spp.), maple (Acer spp.) and some strains on conifers. Other species of Ganoderma such as G. tsugae or G. oregonense grow better and almost exclusively on conifers. G. lucidum, however, prefers hardwoods.

G. lucidum can be found very rarely in the Pacific Northwest, and a similar species (G. curtisii), is seen more commonly in eastern Canada around the great lakes region [1]. This species is actually a yellow form of the red G. lucidum.

Most reishi products on the market are cultivated in a sterile environment on logs or sawdust in large laboratories.

 

Harvesting Collection, & Preparation:

Both the mycelium, fruiting body, and spores are used medicinally. The red and purple varieties are considered the most valuable. These phenotypes are also thought to be the most potent in their effects [1].

The spores can be either taken raw or can be cracked. This basically involves the germination, then drying of the spores and is suggested to provide stronger medicinal effects after this germination process has taken place.

Another, much more expensive way of ingesting the spores it to run it through a supercritical CO2 extractor. This method creates a product that is roughly equivalent to 20-40 of the raw spore capsules [1].

A mushroom oil can also be extracted from the fruiting body waxes, can be used as is topically, or added to lotions, and salves.

Cosmetically it is useful as a sunscreen due to its radioprotective effects, as well as in anti-aging creams, and to remove warts [1].

As with most hard, polypores, chop the fungus into strips (better when wet or a saw may have to be used), and crumble into small pieces.

Decoct in water, then strain and freeze the leftover mush, doing this will cause the cell walls to burst and allow more constituents to be extracted during the next process. Next, after it has been frozen for 24 hours or so, dethaw, and mix with 95% alcohol for at least 2 weeks.

In the end, strain, and combine with the decoction made earlier to a standardized amount.

 

Pharmacology & Medical Research

Antibacterial

Ganoderma applanatum is an effective inhibitor of:

  • Bacillus cereus
  • Cornybacterium diphtheria
  • Escheria coli
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa
  • Staphylococcus aureus
  • Streptococcus pyogenes

Gram-positive bacteria were more affected than gram-negative [1].

It has been suggested that the polysaccharides in Ganoderma spp. are more antibacterial — while the triterpenoids are more antiviral.

More research is needed to elucidate on this further.

Anti-diabetic

Ganoderma has been reported to produce potent lens aldose reductase inhibition, and significant inhibition of serum glucose and sorbitol accumulation in the lens of the eye, red blood cells, and sciatic nerves in diabetic rats (based on earlier studies) [1]. This shows potential as a treatment for diabetic induced retinopathy and other diabetes-related damage in the body

Has been shown to lower blood sugar levels in hyperglycemic models (fruiting body), and involved the ganoderan B and C [1].

In a study on type 2 diabetics not on insulin, were given reishi extracts, and compared to the placebo control group, were found to have significantly decreased glycosylated hemoglobin (8.4%-7.6%), in as little as 12 weeks. Fasting insulin levels, 2-hour -post-prandial insulin, fasting C-peptide, and post-prandial C-peptide all showed significant improvement in the reishi group [1].

Spores have also shown evidence for anti-diabetic effects [1].

Antioxidant

Methanol extracts of G. tsugae were found to be more potent in antioxidant effects that alpha-tocopherol, and exhibited significant inhibition of lipid peroxidation as such.

The antioxidant effects are not considered as reliable as G. lucidum but are very close. It is the phenol content that has been deemed responsible for these effects. [1].

G. tsugae fruiting body extract was shown to increase intracellular glutathione levels, which in turn protect against oxidative damage [1].

Antiulcer effects:

Polysaccharides from Ganoderma spp. protects the gastric mucosa, by improving PGE2. This backs up some of its uses in the form of tea for treating ulcers.

Antiviral

G. lucidum fruiting body extracts have been shown to inhibit HIV, and HPV [1].

Rogers, (2011) reports that Ganaderiol-F, ganodermadiol, ganoderic acid beta, and lucidumol have all been identified as antiviral agents.

G. resinaceum (and most likely G. tsugae, and G. lucidum as well), have been shown to inhibit punta toro, pichinde (viruses?), and H1N1 [1].

Blood Tonic

Reishi been shown to enhance the production of interleukin-1 in vitro, and increase white blood cell and hemoglobin levels in mice [1].

Cardiotonic

Reishi has been shown to improve symptoms of coronary heart disease [1].

G. lucidum has been shown to provide anti-cholesterol, anti-diabetic, reduced platelet aggregation, anti atherosclerotic, and antihypotensive effects, which all play a role in the development of cardiovascular disease.

Suggested to produce angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibition through its ganoderic acid B, C2, D, and F [1].

Chemoprotective

http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1534735403259066 Has been shown to increase natural killer cell activity of splenocytes by up to 52% [1]

Hepatoprotective

The triterpenoids contained in the mycelium of G. tsugae have shown hepatoprotective activity [1].

Ganodereic acid B has shown hepatoprotective effects [1].

Immunomodulatory

The polysaccharides from the mycelium were found to be both anti-inflammatories, and immune stimulating, Rogers, (2011), suggests contradiction from these two effects suggest bi-directional (immunomodulatory) effects on immune response, rather than just stimulat2ing. This appears to be dose-dependent and may be through modulation of cytokine production.

Has been shown to both reduce inflammation and increase immune response, which is slightly contradictory in that inflammation is an increase of immune response. It has been suggested that G. lucidum produces this apparent modulatory effect (that is balances the immune response by either stimulating or depressing it) through the enteric mucosal pathway (Look further into this as the book did not describe at all). Its effects on the immune system do not appear to be through IgE antibody synthesis. G. lucidum has been shown to produce this stabilizing, bidirectional effects on immunoglobulin levels, lowering when high, and raising when these antibodies when low. These effects suggest a mechanism of action for the benefits of reishi against food sensitivities [1].

Sedative

The spores are suggested to produce sedative and hypnotic effects in mice [1].

Other

Shown to treat bronchitis and other lung disorders effectively. The chemicals suggested to be responsible for these effects are gonoderic acids A, B, C1, and C2 [1].

 

Phytochemistry

Compounds by Anatomy

Fruiting Body

Carbohydrates, amino acids (including adenosine), steroids (ergosterols), protease, lysosomes, lipids, triterpenes, alkaloids, vitamins B2 and C, minerals (zinc, manganese, iron, copper, germanium), beta-glucans (up to 40.6%), [1].

Mycelium

Sterols, alkaloids, lactones, erogone, polysaccharides, triterpinoids,

Spores

choline, triterpenes, betaine, palmitic acid, stearic acid, ergosta7,22-dien-3b-ol, tetracosanoic acid, behenic acid, nonadecanoic acid, ergosterol, beta sitosterol, pyrophosphatidic acid, hentriacontane, tetracosane, ganodermasides (A and B) [1].

Species Specific Breakdown

Ganoderma tsugae

3 α-acetoxy-5α-lanosta-8,24-dien-21-oic acid, 2β,3α,9α-trihydroxy-5α-ergosta-7,22-dien, 3alpha-acetoxy-16alpha-tsugarioside B and C, ganoderic acid C2, ganoderic acid B, lucidone A, and glycans (various) [1].

Ganoderma applanatum

Ergosterol (and its peroxide), ergosta-7,22-dien-3b-ol, ergasta-7,22-dien-3-one, β-D-glucan, fungisterol, alnusenone, friedelin, triterpenoids (including ganoderenic, furanoganoderic, ganoderic acids), applanoxidic acids (A, B, C, and D), lanostandoid triterpenes E-H, lucidone A, ganoderma aldehyde, 3 linoleic acid steryl esters. To compare with G. lucidum, ganoderenic acid, and ganoderic acid is found in both [1].

Ganoderma lucidum

Still compiling research.

 

Clinical Applications Of Reishi:

Reishi is used as a supportive agent for cancer, autoimmune conditions, cardiovascular dysfunctions, respiratory dysfunctions, viral and bacterial infection, and hypertension. It's rarely used on its own, but makes for a great addition to herbal formulations.

 

Cautions:

Caution advised in combination with ACE inhibitor medications due to potential drug interactions.

 

Synergy

For altitude sickness: Combines well with rhodiola for this purpose.

It has been suggested that vitamin C helps absorb this mushroom, however, more research is needed to confirm this. Pineapple and ginger may also increase the absorption of reishi constituents.

 

Author:

Justin Cooke

The Sunlight Experiment

(Updated May 2019)

 

Recent Blog Posts:

References:

  1. Rogers, R. D. (2011). The fungal pharmacy: The complete guide to medicinal mushrooms and lichens of North America [Adobe Digital Editions version].

  2. Berovic, M., J. Habijanic, I. Zore, B. Wraber, D. Hodzar, B. Boh and F. Pohleven. Submerged cultivation of Ganoderma lucidum biomass and immunostimulatory effects of fungal polysaccharides. J. Biotechnol. 103: 77–86, 2003

  3. Jiang, Y., H. Wang, L. Lu and G.Y. Tian. Chemistry of polysaccharide Lzps-1 from Ganoderma lucidum spore and anti-tumor activity of its total polysaccharides. Yao. Xue. Xue. Bao. 40: 347–350, 2005.

  4. Cheng, K.C., H.C. Huang, J.H. Chen, J.W. Hsu, H.C. Cheng, C.H. Ou, W.B. Yang, S.T. Chen, C.H. Wong and H.F. Juan. Ganoderma lucidum polysaccharides in human monocytic leukemia cells: from gene expression to network construction. BMC Genomics 8: 411, 2007.

  5. Hempen, C. H., & Fischer, T. (2009). A Materia Medica for Chinese Medicine: Plants, Minerals, and Animal Products. (Pg. 436-437).

  6. Thyagarajan, A., J. Jiang, A. Hopf, J. Adamec and D. Sliva. Inhibition of oxidative stress-induced invasiveness of cancer cells by Ganoderma lucidum is mediated through the suppression of interleukin-8 secretion. Int. J. Mol. Med. 18: 657–664, 2006.

  7. Xie, J.T., C.Z. Wang, S. Wicks, J.J. Yin, J. Kong, J. Li, Y. C. Li and C.S. Yuan. Ganoderma lucidum extract inhibits proliferation of SW 480 human colorectal cancer cells. Exp. Oncol. 28: 25–29, 2006.

  8. Paterson, R.R. Ganoderma — a therapeutic fungal biofactory. Phytochemistry. 67: 1985–2001, 2006.

  9. Lin, Y.L., Y.C. Liang, S.S. Lee and B.L. Chiang. (2005). Polysaccharide purified from Ganoderma lucidum induced activation and maturation of human monocyte-derived dendritic cells by the NFkappaB and p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase pathways. J. Leukoc. Biol. 78: 533–543.

Slippery Elm (Ulmus fulva)

Slippery elm bark is high in nutritious mucilage. It's great for treating all kinds of inflammation both inside and out. Internally, it can be used for conditions like...

Cannabis (Cannabis sativa/indica)

cannabis-leaf.jpg

Cannabis Overview

Cannabis is well known for its psychoactive effects, causing temporary changes in visual and auditory perception.

The cannabis plant is also a rich source of medicinal compounds. Cannabinoids related to THC exert medicinal action through the endocannabinoid system — a critical component of homeostasis.

Many of these cannabinoids aren't psychoactive, and wont produce the 'high' associated with the plant in their isolated forms.

Compounds like CBD, have become especially popular as a supplement recently for its broad medicinal benefits.

There are plenty of uses for cannabis — however, product selection, strain choice, and cannabinoid profiles make a big difference in the effects produced by the plant. It's important to use the right type of cannabis for the job.

+ Indications

  • Anorexia
  • Cancer
  • Crohn's disease
  • Dystonia
  • Epilepsy
  • General anxiety disorder
  • Glaucoma
  • Gout
  • Insomnia
  • Menstrual cramping
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Neuropathic pain
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Schizophrenia (Caution)
  • Social anxiety disorder
  • Substance abuse/addiction
  • Ulcerative colitis

+ Contraindications

  • Only use cannabis medicinally following the direction of a qualified medical practitioner.
  • Caution with anxious or depression.
  • May worsen symptoms of psychosis
  • Avoid use alongside medications unless first discussing with your doctor.

+ Potential Side-Effects

  • Apathy (long-term use)
  • Bronchitis (smoking)
  • Cough (smoking)
  • Depression
  • Dizziness
  • Dry eyes
  • Dry mouth
  • Eye reddening
  • Fatigue
  • Hallucinations
  • Headache
  • Heart palpitations
  • Hypertension/Hypotension
  • Increased appetite
  • Lightheadedness
  • Menstrual changes
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Numbness
  • Paranoia
  • Tachycardia

Herbal Actions:

  • Sedative/Stimulant
  • Anti-emetic
  • Anti-spasmodic
  • Anti-convulsant
  • Analgesic
  • Antinflammatory
  • Appetite Suppressant/Stimulant
  • Adaptogen
  • Anti-cancer
  • Antioxidant
 

What is Cannabis Used For?

Using cannabis as medicine poses challenges due to the large variety of effects each cannabinoid possesses. Different cannabinoid and terpene ratios can produce different effect profiles.

The plant has many claimed benefits, and though a lot of them can be validated, it's not a miracle plant.

Cannabis is especially reliable for a few key symptoms:

  • Lowering various forms of inflammation
  • Improving microbiome diversity (through CB2 receptor activity)
  • Reducing nervous excitability
  • Reducing convulsions
  • Improving sleep onset and maintenance
  • Lowering pain

Using cannabis as medicine should be attempted with caution due to the degree of variability the plant produces in terms of effect profile. What this means is that some cannabis extracts will make symptoms like anxiety worse, while others can dramatically improve it.

Choosing the right strain or extract is of the utmost importance when using cannabis as medicine.

The effects of cannabis can be contradictory:

  • It's both a stimulant and a sedative
  • It increases appetite, and suppresses it
  • It increases immune activity, and suppresses inflamamtion

These effects all contradict themselves in most cases. The reason this happens is because the cannabinoids work through a regulatory pathway (endocannabinoid system) rather than on a particular organ function.

It's similar to how adaptogens like ginseng, ashwagandha, or reishi produce often contradictory or bidirectional results.

 

Herb Details: Cannabis

Weekly Dose

Part Used

  • Leaves, flowers, seeds

Family Name

  • Cannabacea

Distribution

  • Worldwide

Common Names

  • Cannabis
  • Marijuana
  • Hemp
  • Mary Jane
  • Herb

Pregnancy

  • Avoid use while pregnant and nursing.

Duration of Use

  • Long-term use acceptable. Recommended to take breaks periodically.

CYP450

  • CYP2C9
  • CYP3A4
 

Botanical Information

Cannabis plants are members of the Cannabacea family. This small family comprises only 11 different genuses, and about 170 species.

Some common members of the family are hops (Humulus spp.) and celtis (Celtis spp.). The celtis genus contains the largest collection of species by far, with over 100 different species. Cannabis and Humulus are the closest related genus' in the group by far.

female-cannabis-sativa.jpg

There are three species of cannabis:

1. Cannabis sativa

Cannabis sativa is a tall, fibrous plant. It's high in cannabinoids, terpenes, and other phytochemicals — giving it many uses medicinally.

Cannabis sativa is the most commonly cultivated species. There are hundreds, if not thousands of different phenotypes of this species — the most important being hemp — which is a non-psychoactive, high fiber plant valued as both a health supplement and textile. It's also used for food (seeds), and to make biodeisel.

There are also Cannabis sativa strains high in the psychoactive component — THC — which make it popular as both medicine and recreational intoxicant.

2. Cannabis indica

Cannabis indica grows as s shorter, bushier plant. It's hgiher in THC, and there are few low-THC phenotypes available for this plant.

This species of cannabis is most often used recreationally.

3. Cannabis ruderalis

Cannabis ruderalis is a small, herbaceus plant more closely related to Cannabis sativa than Cannabis indica. It's low in cannabinoids, and terpenes, as well as fiber — limiting its value to humans.

This species has the unique ability to initiate flower production irrelevant to day length. Plant breeders have started mixing the plant with other species to gain these benefits. This makes cultivation easier in areas where day length is too short or too long for optimal cannabis cultivation.

 

Phytochemistry

There are 421 compounds in the cannabis plant [1], at least 66 of these are cannabinoids — some sources report as many as 112.

The top 6 cannabinoids in the plant (CBD, CBG, CNN, THC, THCV, and CBC), account for the vast majority of the cannabinoid profile.

The phenotype of the cannabis used is the primary determining factor for the cannabinoid profile of each plant.

Hemp plants for example, contain much higher levels of CBD, and lower levels of THC. Marijuana strains are the opposite, contianing high THC, and lower CBD.

Depending on the strain, this can vary dramatically — and you can find almost any combination of cannabinoid possible.

comparing-CBD-from-hemp-and-marijuana.jpg
 

The Cannabinoids:

Cannabinoids are a class of phytochemical compounds resembling the structure of our naturally occurring ecosanoid endocannabinoids; anandamide, and 2-AG. There are roughly 66 of these compounds in the cannabis plant, and a few found in other species of plants as well — such as helichrysum and echinacea.

Although the cannabinoids are very similar, their binding activity varies a lot [14]. Some bind to CB1 receptors (located primarily in the central nervous system), others bind to CB2 receptors (found primarily in immune tissue). Some cannabinoids will even bind to both, or work by increasing the concentrations of naturally occurring endocannabinoids instead.

Due to the wide range of variability between each cannabinoid, it’s useful to go over them in greater detail individually.

cbc-cannabichromene-header.jpg
CBC.jpg

1. CBC

Cannabichromene

CBC is the third most abundant cannabinoid in the cannabis plant.

It’s non-psychoactive.

CBC is far less studied than the two preceding cannabinoids CBD, and THC, though early research is starting to suggest it’s even better for treating conditions like anxiety than the famed CBD.

CBC content can be increased in the cannabis plant by inducing light-stress on the plant [5].

CBC Medicinal Actions

  • Antidepressant

  • Mild sedative

Receptors Affected

  • Vanilloid receptor agonist (TRPV3 and TRPV4) [4]

 
CBD-cannabidiol-header.jpg
CBD.jpg

2. CBD

Cannabidiol

In many cases, CBD is the most abundant cannabinoid. Only selectively bred cannabis strains will have higher THC concentrations than CBD.

CBD is famed for many reasons. It offers a wide range of medicinal benefits, and has been well-studied and validated over the past two decades.

CBD oils, e-liquids, and edibles have become highly popular in recent years as more of this research is being released and translated for the general public.

CBD Medicinal Actions

  • Antinflammatory

  • Mild appetite suppressant

  • Lowers stress

  • Adaptogenic

  • Mild sedative

  • Anti-emetic

Receptors Affected

  • Adenosine (A2a) reuptake inhibitor [6]

  • Vanilloid pain receptors (TRPV1, TRPV2, TRPV3) [7]

  • 5HT1A receptor agonist (serotonin receptor) [6]

  • FAAH (–) [6, 7]

  • PPARγ nuclear receptor (+) [48]

  • Mg2+‐ATPase (−) [11]

  • Arylalkylamine N‐acetyltransferase (−) [44]

  • Indoleamine‐2,3‐dioxygenase (−) [45]

  • 15‐lipoxygenase (−) [46]

  • Phospholipase A2 (+) [11]

  • Glutathione peroxidase (+) [47]

  • Glutathione reductase (+) [47]

  • 5‐lipoxygenase (−) [46]

Metabolism

  • CYP1A1 (−) [40]

  • CYP1A2 & CYP1B1 (−) [40]

  • CYP2B6 (−) [41]

  • CYP2D6 (−) [42]

  • CYP3A5 (−) [43]

 
cbg-cannabigerol-header.jpg
CBG.jpg

3. CBG

Cannabigerol

CBG is an early precursor for many of the other cannabinoids including THC.

Plants harvested early will be high in this compound.

Many users report that strains high in CBG are less likely to cause anxiety, and are good for people experiencing acute stress.

This is likely due to its role in blocking the serotonergic effects of THC through the 5-HT1A serotonin receptors [9].

CBG Medicinal Actions

  • Anti-anxiety

  • Adaptogenic

  • Mild sedative

Receptors Affected

  • A2-adrenoceptor antagonist [9]

  • CB1 and CB2 receptors agonist [9]

  • 5-HT1A receptors antagonist (serotonin receptor) [9]

  • Vanilloid receptor agonist (TRPA1) [8]

  • TRPM8 receptor antagonist [8]

 
cbn-cannabinol-header.jpg
CBN.jpg

4. CBN

Cannabinol

CBN is made from THC. As THC content breaks down with time, or heat, CBN levels increase overall.

Older harvested plants that have gone past their window of ripeness will be much higher in CBN.

It’s mostly non-psychoactive but may have some mild psychoactivity in some people.

Products or strains high in CBN will produce more of a heavy feeling and are best used for treating conditions like insomnia or anxiety.

This cannabinoid is potentially the most sedative of the group.

CBN Medicinal Actions

  • Sedative

  • Anti-anxiety

  • Appetite stimulant

Receptors Affected

  • CB1 receptor agonist [10].

Metabolism

  • CYP2C9

 
thc-tetrahydrocannabinol-header.jpg
THC.jpg

5. THC

Tetrahydrocannabinol

THC is the main psychoactive compound in the cannabis plant.

There are two main types:

  • Delta-8-THC — contained in very small amounts

  • Delta-9-THC — the most abundant form of THC in the cannabis plant

THC activates both CB1 and CB2 endocannabinoid receptors, causing changes in neurotransmitters like dopamine, norepinephrine, and most importantly, serotonin. It’s this change in neurotransmitter levels that produce the bulk of the high experienced by this compound.

Aside from its psychoactive effects, THC has medicinal benefits of its own.

It’s mentally stimulating and has some potent antidepressant effects through its euphoric effects.

THC Medicinal Actions

  • Appetite stimulant

  • Sedative (low doses)

  • Stimulant (high doses)

Receptors Affected

  • CB1 and CB2 agonist [11]

  • PPAR gamma receptor agonist [11, 15].

Metabolism

  • CYP2C9

 
thcv-Tetrahydrocannabivarin-header.jpg

6. THCV

Tetrahydrocannabivarin

THCV is the fraternal twin of THC.

It’s virtually identical except for one slight chemical difference — THCV is missing two carbon atoms.

This makes the effects of THCV very similar to THC — but is much weaker in its effects.

One study reported THCV as being 20-25% as strong as THC in its psychoactive effects [12].

There are others affected by this, including CBCV, and CBDV, though they are in far less concentrations.

tse-cannabinoid-family.jpg

THCV Medicinal Actions

  • Appetite suppressant

  • Euphoric

  • Antispasmodic

  • Paranoic

Receptors Affected

  • Vanilloid receptor agonist (TRPV3 and TRPV4) [13].

 
other-cannabinoids-header.jpg

7. Other Cannabinoids

There are also a lot of cannabinoids that can be found in much lower concentrations.

These make up the bottom 5% of the cannabinoid profile.

Few of these cannabinoids have many studies on them aside from chemical mapping to identify their structure.

We may see more research on these cannabinoids in the near future.

Some Novel Cannabinoids Include:

  • CBCV (cannabichromevarin)

  • CBDV (cannabidivarin)

  • CBE (cannabielsoin)

  • CBGM (cannabigerol monomethyl ether)

  • CBGV (cannabigerovarin)

  • CBL (cannabicyclol)

  • CBT (cannabicitran)

  • CBV (cannabivarin)

A Note On Synthetic Cannabinoids

There are also synthetic cannabinoids. These are compounds that are similar in shape and function to cannabinoids produced in our bodies, or in the cannabis plant.

It’s recommended that you stay far away from the synthetic cannabinoids — not only do they lack many of the medicinal actions of cannabis, they have the potential to cause serious harm.

The street drug known as “spice” is a combination of various synthetic cannabinoids. They were designed as an attempt to circumvent the legal hurdles preventing the sale of cannabis products for recreational use — and have since become a major cause of addiction and abuse.

Side-Effects of Synthetic Cannabinoid Use

  • Agitation and anxiety
  • Blurred vision
  • Chest pain
  • Death
  • Hallucinations
  • Heart attack
  • High blood pressure
  • Kidney failure
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Paranoia
  • Psychosis
  • Racing heart
  • Seizures
  • Shortness of breath

List of Synthetic Cannabinoids

  • JWH-018
  • JWH-073
  • JWH-200
  • AM-2201
  • UR-144
  • XLR-11
  • AKB4
  • Cannabicyclohexanol
  • AB-CHMINACA
  • AB-PINACA
  • AB-FUBINACA
 
terpenes.jpg

Cannabis Terpenes

Terpenes are a class of compounds characterized by their volatile nature, and hydrocarbon-based structure. These are contained in high amounts in the essential oil of plants.

Terpenes have a very low molecular weight, and will evaporate under low temperatures. This, combined with their characteristic aromas is what gives many plants their scent. Conifer trees, fruits, and many flowers (including cannabis) all owe their aroma to their terpene profile.

Each plant can contains hundreds of different terpenes — many of which will even overlap into unrelated plant species. Cannabis shares terpenes with pine trees, many different flowers, citrus fruits, and nutmeg, among others.

Terpenes add flavor as well as additional medicinal benefits. Terpenes often have antibacterial, antiviral, antinflammatory, and anxiolytic effects.

List of Cannabis Terpenes

  • A-humulene
  • a-Terpenine
  • Alpha Bisabolol
  • alpha-Terpineol
  • Alpha/Beta Pinene
  • Beta-Caryophyllene
  • Bisabolol
  • Borneol
  • Camphene
  • Caryophyllene oxide
  • D-Linalool
  • Eucalyptol (1, 8 cineole)
  • Geraniol
  • Guaiol
  • Isopulegol
  • Limonene
  • Myrecene
  • Nerolidol
  • p-Cymene
  • Phytol
  • Pulegone
  • Terpineol-4-ol
  • Terpinolene
  • Trans Ocimene
  • Valencene
  • ∆-3-carene
 

Pharmacokinetics/Pharmacodynamics

Cannabinoids work by mimicking the endocannabinoids anandamide and 2-AG.

Endocannabinoids-anandamide-2-ag.jpg

Learn more about cannabinoid metabolism.

 

Clinical Applications of Cannabis

As an herb, cannabis is very useful. It works through a set of receptors most other plants don’t interact with — the endocannabinoid system.

The endocannabinoid system plays a major role in maintaining homeostasis. This gives cannabis an effect profile similar to adaptogens — but through different mechanisms.

Cannabis is similar to adaptogens in that it offers a bidirectional effect profile — which means it can both increase, and decrease tissue function according to its homeostatic baseline.

But cannabis isn’t quite an adaptogen because it can’t increase the bodies resistance to stress, and doesn’t appear to exert any action on the hypothalamus or adrenal glands directly.

Although cannabis has broad actions and therefore can provide benefit to a wide range of body systems — choosing the right product, strain, and phenotype for the job is critical.

An experienced herbalist or naturopath using cannabis will take into account the cannabinoid profile, terpene content, and anecdotal effects of each strain or CBD product being used.

Unlike other herbs, you have to be very particular about the type of cannabis being used for each condition.

What Constitutes “Medicinal” Cannabis?

There’s a big difference between using cannabis because “it’s healthy”, and using it as a therapeutic agent aimed at treating a specific disease process.

Although it can be used as both, daily supplementing cannabis or extracts like CBD don’t constitute medical cannabis.

However, you can use cannabis to address the symptoms, or underlying causes for some conditions.

 

Cautions:

Caution advised whenever using cannabis due to the potential for intoxicating side-effects. Without careful consideration of cannabinoid profile, some strains, or cannabis products may make symptoms for certain conditions worse — especially anxiety, psychosis, bipolar disorder, and insomnia.

 

Author

Justin Cooke, BHSc

The Sunlight Experiment

(Updated Jan 2019)

 

Recent Blog Posts:

References:

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Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)

rosemary-rosemarinus-officinalis.jpg

Rosemary Summary:

Plants have ingenious ways of spreading their seeds around the world.

One of the most successful is the rosemary shrub.

It's desirable flavor, and useful medicinal qualities have enticed humans to carry its seeds along with them from Europe as they spread to all corners of the earth.

The majority of rosemary around the world is used for its desirable culinary quality, however, there are plenty of good medicinal uses of the plant as well.

It's used primarily as a nervine, circulatory stimulant, and digestive.

It stimulates blood flow to the body and the brain and has the benefits of promoting mental clarity, and moving other herbs deeper into the peripheral blood system.

The volatile oils contained in its leaves stimulate digestion and soothe upset stomachs.

Here's everything I know about rosemary.

 

+ Indications

  • Flatulent dyspepsia
  • Headaches
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Sciatica
  • Neuralgia
  • Balding
  • Muscle Aches & Pains

+ Contraindications

None noted.

Herbal Actions:

  • Antidepressant
  • Antimicrobial
  • Antispasmodic
  • Emmenagogue
  • Nervine Stimulant
  • Nootropic
  • Rubefacient
  • Carminative
 

How Is Rosemary Used?

Rosemary is popular in cooking. It's used medicinally to increase bloodflow to the brain, reduce nerve pain, and improve digestion. The essential oil is used topically to promote bloodflow and stimulate the hair follicles involved with premature balding.

 

Weekly Dose

Part Used

  • Leaf & twigs

Family Name

  • Lamiaceae

Distribution

  • Originally from Mediterranean, but has since spread all over the world.

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Constituents of Interest

  • Volatile oil (borneol, camphene, camphor, linalool)
  • Apigenin
  • Rosmarinic acid
  • Carnosol & Carnosolic acid
  • Rosmaricine

Common Names

  • Rosemary
  • Roosmaryn (Afrikaans)
  • Rozmarinë (Albania)
  • Ikleel al-Jabal (Arabic)
  • Rozmarin (Bulgaria)
  • Romarin (France/Germany)
  • Mannenro (Japan)
  • Alecrim (Portugal)
  • Mi Die Xiang (China)

CYP450

  • CYP1A2
  • CYP3A4
  • CYP2C9
  • Also P-gp

Quality

  • Warm, Acrid

Pregnancy

  • Caution advised during pregnancy.

Taste

  • Sweet, Acrid, Slightly Bitter

Duration of Use

  • Long term use is acceptable.
 

Research Overview:

Still compiling research

 

Botanical Info:

Rosemary is a mamber of the mint family, which is one of the largest plant families. It contains roughly 236 different genera, and 6900-7200 different species.

The Rosmarinus genus contains 4 different species, the one most commonly used as medicine is Rosmarinus officinalis, though the other species also have some use in the regions in which it grows.

It's hardy to colder climates, but grows primarily in the Mediterranean. It's also highly drought-resistant, and can survive without water for very long periods of time.

 

Clinical Applications Of Rosemary:

Rosemary is most useful as a circulatory stimulant, nervine stimulant, carminative and digestive.

It's used to treat cognitive conditions involving poor bloodflow like Alzheimer's disease, syncope, and headaches. it's also used as a nootropic and for increasing blood flow to the follicles of the hair to support hair growth. The essential oil is especially useful here for addressing symptoms of premature balding. It's also an excellent nervine used for conditions like neuralgia, sciatica, and depression when associated with debility or concussion.

Its digestive properties make it useful for addressing flatulence, indigestion, dyspepsia, and recovery from intestinal tract infection.

 

Cautions:

Caution advised if pregnant.

 

Products Containing Rosemary:

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Whole Dried Rosemary Leaf

Simply Organic

1.23-Ounce Container Filled With Organic Rosemary Leaves

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Rosemary Essential Oil (1 ounce)

NOW Solutions

28mL Rosmarinus officinalis essential oil

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Thought Flow

Harmonic Arts

A herbal blend to support healthy cognition.

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Author:

Justin Cooke

The Sunlight Experiment

(Updated November 2018)

 

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Peony (Paeonia lactiflora)

peony-cover.jpg

Peony Overview:

Peony is a common Chinese herbal medicine for treating hormone conditions in both men and women, as well as cardiovascular disease and muscle cramps. It's named after the mythological physician of the gods, Paeos, who was said to cure Pluto and other Greek gods injured during the Trojan war.

There are 3 main forms of peony in herbal medicine, tree peony, red peony, and white peony. These differentiations have nothing to do with the color of the flower, but the color of the roots after preparation. White peony is the most common, made from the roots of the plant without the bark attached. It's most commonly made from the species Paeonia lactiflora, but can be made from other species as well.

+ Indications

Internally

  • Angina
  • Candida
  • Epilepsy
  • Fungal infection
  • Hirsutism
  • Infertility
  • Menstrual dysfunction
  • Ovarian fibroids
  • Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
  • Poor liver function
  • Poor memory
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Uterine fibroids

Topically

  • Wounds
  • Fungal infection
  • Pain
  • Candida

+ Contraindications

  • Caution in combination with loose bowels.
  • Caution advised in combination with blood thinners due to potential for additive effect.

Main Herbal Actions:

  • Anti-Androgenic
  • Antinflammatory
  • Antispasmodic
  • Aromatase Inducer
  • Dopaminergic
  • Nootropic
  • Ovarian Tonic
  • Sedative (Mild)
  • Uterine Tonic
 

How Is Peony Used?

Peony is most commonly used for treating PMS symptoms, poly cystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), muscle cramps, and epilepsy. It is rarely used alone, as it is thought to have stronger effects in combination with other herbs like licorice or black cohosh.

 

Traditional Uses:

Peony is a common herb in the traditional Chinese herbal materia medica. it's considered to be specific for the liver, providing a soothing effect on liver energy and improves overall function. It's thought to nourish the blood, and is one of the great womens tonics, especially in combination with licorice.

Compared to Angelica sinensis, Peony is used in much the same way, however, peony is used when the condition involved "heat", while Angelica sinensis is used when the condition involves "cold".

 

Weekly Dose

Part Used

  • Roots

Family Name

  • Ranunculaceae

Distribution

  • Originated from Southern Europe, but has spread all over the world as a decorative garden flower.

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Constituents of Interest

  • Paeoniflorin
  • Proanthocyanidins
  • Flavonoids
  • Terpenoids
  • Tannins
  • Complex Polysaccharides

Common Names

  • Peony
  • White Peony
  • Red Peony
  • Tree Peony
  • Bai Shao Yao (China)

Quality

  • Cold (Slightly)

Pregnancy

  • Unknown

Taste

  • Bitter, sour

Duration of Use

  • Long term use is acceptable.
 

Research Overview:

Still compiling research.

 

Botanical Info:

Peony is the only member of the Paeoniaceae family. In the past it was included in the Ranunculaceae family insteat along with over 2000 other species of plants. There are roughly 33 different species of peony worldwide.

Medicinally, there are 4 main species used;

  • Paeonia suffruticosa (Tree peony)
  • Paeonia lactiflora (Chinese peony)
  • Paeonia veitchii (Chinese peony)
  • Paeonia obovata (Chinese peony)
 

Clinical Applications Of Peony:

Peony is useful as a smooth muscle relaxant due to its ability to interfere with acetlcholine in the neuromuscular junctions.

It's also a fairly reliable aromatase inducer, useful for improving the production of estrogen from testosterone, and E1 and E2 to 2-hydroxy catechol estrogens.

 

Cautions:

Caution advised in combination with blood thinners.

 

References:

  1. Bensky, D., Gamble, A., & Kaptchuk, T. J. (2004). Chinese herbal medicine: materia medica (Vol. 3, p. 1004). Seattle: Eastland Press.

  2. Kimura, M., Kimura, I., Takahashi, K., Muroi, M., Yoshizaki, M., Kanaoka, M., & Kitagawa, I. (1984). Blocking effects of blended paeoniflorin or its related compounds with glycyrrhizin on neuromuscular junctions in frog and mouse. The Japanese Journal of Pharmacology, 36(3), 275-282.

  3. Bone, K. (2003). A Clinical Guide to Blending Liquid Herbs E-Book: Herbal Formulations for the Individual Patient. Elsevier Health Sciences.

  4. Takeuchi, T., Nishii, O., Okamura, T., & Yaginuma, T. (1991). Effect of paeoniflorin, glycyrrhizin and glycyrrhetic acid on ovarian androgen production. The American journal of Chinese medicine, 19(01), 73-78.

  5. Grant, P., & Ramasamy, S. (2012). An update on plant derived anti-androgens. International journal of endocrinology and metabolism, 10(2), 497.

 

Author:

Justin Cooke

The Sunlight Experiment

(November 2018)


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Manuka (Leptospermum scoparium)

manuka-Leptospermum-scoparium-cover.jpg

Manuka Summary

In New Zealand, where manuka trees grow, the Maori consider male tea tree plants "Kanuka" and the female plants "Manuka". The plant is regarded very highly in this culture as a medicinal species.

The most well-known form of manuka is in manuka honey. This is a honey made by bees feasting primarily on manuka bushes. The honey has an impressive antibacterial profile when made from these plants. This is also reflected in the herb itself, which has been shown to have potent antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral activity.

Most of the medicinal benefits of the plant come from its essential oil content, which can vary a lot depending on the region the plant was grown in.

 

+ Indications

Internally

  • Anxiety
  • Candida
  • Cold/Flu
  • Colic
  • Coughs
  • Diarrhea
  • Dysentery
  • Dyspepsia
  • Eczema
  • Fatigue
  • Fevers
  • Gingivitis Mouthwash
  • Indigestion
  • Inflammation
  • Insomnia
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome IBS
  • Lethargy
  • Menorrhagia
  • Psoriasis
  • Upper respiratory tract infection

Topically

  • Anal fissures
  • Bacterial infection
  • Burns
  • Eczema
  • Fluid retention
  • Haemorrhoids
  • Impetigo
  • Muscle sprains
  • Slow healing ulcers
  • Wounds

+ Contraindications

Avoid long-term use alongside food. Tannins may impede mineral absorption.

Herbal Actions:

  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Antibacterial
  • Antifungal
  • Antispasmodic
  • Anxiolytic
  • Diaphoretic
  • Diuretic
  • Febrifuge
  • Sedative
  • Astringent
 

How Is Manuka Used?

Internally, manuka is used to treat gastrointestinal conditions like diarrhea, colic, inflammatory bowel syndrome, and dysentery. It's also used for urinary tract infection, anxiety, and cold/flu infections.

Manuka is used topically for its antibacterial, and vulnerary actions. It's used to treat slow healing skin and bone injuries, bacterial infections, candida, and eczema. It can be gargled for gingivitis, or for general oral hygiene.

Manuka honey is another common form of the plant. It's become so popular worldwide, it's been standardised by the phenol content. This is expressed as a unique manuka factor (UMF) value set by the Active Manuka Honey Association (AMHA). Anything over UMF 5 is considered strong enough to kill MRSA.

 

Technical Details: Manuka

Weekly Dose

Part Used

  • Leaves, Flowers, Bark

Family Name

  • Myrtaceae

Distribution

  • New Zealand

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Constituents of Interest

  • Leptospermone
  • Sesquiterpenes
  • Tannins
  • Citronellal

Common Names

  • Manuka
  • Tea Tree
  • New Zealand Tea Tree

Quality

  • Neutral-Warm

Pregnancy

  • Unknown

Taste

  • Spicy

Duration of Use

  • Long term use is acceptable, but should be taken away from food.
 

Botanical Information

Manuka is a member of the Myrtaceae family of plants. This family contains as many as 133 different genera, and around 3800 different species, many of which are medicinally relevant.

 

Research Overview:

Still compiling research

 

Clinical Applications Of Manuka:

Manuka is useful both internally and topically. It's been shown to be an effective antibacterial agent for various forms of bacteria (including Staphylococcus). It's also an effective antifungal and antiviral (including HSV). The antibacterial effects were the most noteable, with only some chemotypes of Manuka showing potent antifungal benefits.

Manuka can be used for nearly any form of bacterial infections both topically and internally, as well as wounds, ulcers, and gastrointestinal inflammation or infection. It's also useful for skin inflammation like eczema or psoriasis. The muscle relaxant effects make it useful for injuries, muscle tension, colic, and insomnia.

 

Cautions:

Tannin content may bind to minerals in the gut and prevent absorption.

 

Author:

Justin Cooke, BHSc

The Sunlight Experiment

(Updated November 2018)

 

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