respiratory

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)

 

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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

Mullein (Verbascum thapsus)

mullein-verbascum-thapsus-cover.jpg

Mullein

Mullein is considered a staple in herbal medicine. It wasn't native to North America and was brought over by European settlers. Despite the new introduction of the herb, it was quickly adopted into use by the local native Americans and is even referred to commonly as Indian Tobacco.

Mullein is a very safe herb and offers benefits to a number of different systems in the body.

Out of all systems, mullein is most commonly used for respiratory and digestive system conditions. It's popular as an anticatarrhal and for both soothing dry coughs, and eliminating catarrh with productive coughs. Although the entire plant can be used for either one, the leaves are generally preferred for dry coughs and the roots for productive coughs.

Mullein is as useful topically as it is internally for inflammation, muscle spasms, and infection.

 

+ Indications

  • Arthritis (Topical)
  • Bed wetting
  • Desentery
  • Dry coughs
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Inflammation
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
  • Irritable Bowel Disease (IBS)
  • Kidney dysfunction
  • Lower respiratory tract infection
  • Muscle aches (Topical)
  • Otitis media (Topical)
  • Parasites
  • Skin irritations
  • Upper respiratory tract infection
  • Urinary tract infection
  • Water retention
  • Wet coughs

+ Contraindications

  • The fresh leaves can be irritating to the skin.
  • In general, this is a very safe herb, and there are rarely any reports of adverse reaction, even at high doses.

Main Herbal Actions:

  • Anthelmintic
  • Anti-catarrhal
  • Antispasmodic
  • Astringent
  • Expectorant
  • Lymphatic
  • Antibacterial
 

What Is Mullein Used For?

Mullein is mainly used for treating respiratory infections and persistent coughs. Somewhat ironically, it's often smoked for its soothing effect on the lungs. It tends to increase moisture of the lungs, especially the leaves, making it especially useful for unproductive, dry coughs.

It's also used for gastrointestinal inflammation, parasitic infection, and muscle aches. It tends to have a humidifying effect thoughout the body, providing a soothing effect, especially with dryness.

One of the most well-known uses for the herb is in the form of an infused oil for ear infections.

 

Technical Details: Mullein

Weekly Dose

Part Used

  • Leaf, root, and flower

Family Name

  • Scrophulariaceae

Distribution

  • Originates from Europe around the Mediterranean, but has spread all around Europe & North America

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Constituents of Interest

  • Iridoid glycosides

Common Names

  • Mullein
  • Lady's Flannel
  • Gordolobo
  • Punchón
  • Candelaria

Quality

  • Root: Neutral, drying
    Leaf: Cool, moistening
    Flower: Cool

Pregnancy

  • Unknown

Taste

  • Salty

Duration of Use

  • Long term use is acceptable.
 

Botanical Information

Mullein belongs to the figwort family (Scrophulariaceae) — a family consisting or roughly 65 different genera and 1800 species.

The Verbascum genus itself contains around 250 different species.

Verbascum is a popular garden plant for its ability to thrive in dry, nutrient-poor soils, and for their incredibly long flower duration.

The herb is biennial — the first season growing in a rosette leaf pattern, the second with a large velvety flower spike. Some mullein plants can grow up to three meters tall.

 

Research Overview:

Still compiling research.

 

Clinical Applications Of Mullein:

Although there are many ways to use mullein, it excels with treating respiratory tract conditions. The leaves are excellent for treating dry coughs, while the root is much better for productive wet coughs.

Mullein is useful as a topical treatment for skin irritations, and as an oil for ear infections, especially the more drying flower of the plant.

Mullein also makes for an excellent lymphatic, both internally and externally.

 

Cautions:

Caution advised when working with the fresh leaf of this plant, as it can cause contact dermatitis in some individuals.

 

Author:

Justin Cooke, BHSc

The Sunlight Experiment

(Updated November 2018)

 

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Magnolia (Magnolia officinalis)

magnolia-cover.jpg

Magnolia Summary

Magnolia is one of the oldest flowering plants in existence, dating back as far as 95 million years ago. The first angiosperm is thought to have originated 130 million years ago. this is long before bees first appeared. To no surprise then, magnolia have evolved to be pollinated by beetles instead, which have been around for much longer.

Magnolia is a common herb in traditional Chinese medicine for treating Qi stagnation and removing obstructions.

It remains popular for reducing sinus infection and congestion, sinus headaches, asthma, coughs, and catarrh as well as anxiety and heightened cortisol levels.

 

+ Indications

  • Abdominal pain
  • Alzheimer's Disease
  • Amoebic dysentery
  • Anxiety
  • Asthma
  • Bloating
  • Catarrh
  • Coughs
  • Diarrhea
  • Gas
  • Gastroenteritis
  • Menstrual cramps
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Poor appetite
  • Poor digestion
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Rhinitis
  • Sinus infection
  • Stress
  • Typhoid
  • Ulcers

+ Contraindications

Avoid use during convalescence.

Herbal Actions:

  • Antioxidant
  • Antiallergic
  • Antiasthmatic
  • Anxiolytic
  • Antibacterial
  • Antifungal
  • Antispasmodic
  • Aphrodisiac
  • Emmenagogue
  • Expectorant
 

How Is Magnolia Used?

Magnolia is used for its anxiolytic and digestive effects.It's often combined with Phellodendron for treating both acute and chronic stress.

Magnolia is also commonly used for upper respiratory tract infection, sinus congestion, and catarrh.

 

Herb Details: Magnolia

Weekly Dose

Part Used

  • Bark

Family Name

  • Magnoliaceae

Distribution

  • Eastern Asia, North America, Central America

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Constituents of Interest

  • Honokiol
  • Magnolol

Common Names

  • Magnolia
  • Ch'Uan Pu (China)
  • Chinese Magnolia
  • Choon Pok
  • Hou Pu

Quality

  • Warm

Pregnancy

  • Unknown

Taste

  • Bitter

Duration of Use

  • Long term use acceptable, but should be monitored by a professional.
 

Botanical Information

Magnolia officinalis is a medium sized tree, ranging from 5 to 15 m in height. It's deciduous, with purple brown bark.

Magnolia is a member of the Magnoliaceae family of plants. There are 2 subfamilies in this family, including Magnollioideae and Liriodendroideae. The latter of which only includes Liriodendron (Tulip trees). In The Magnoliaceae family there are approximately 219 species, distributed into 17 genera. The vast majority are included in the Magnolia genus, which has about 210 different species.

One interesting note is that it appears magnolia appeared before bees did. The flowers are instead evolved to be pollinated by beetles, due to the extremely tough carpels on the flower. There have also been fossils discovered with plants contained in the Magnoliaceae family as far back as 95 million years ago, making Magnolia one of the oldest remaining angiosperms.

 

Research Overview:

Still compiling research.

 

Clinical Applications Of Magnolia:

Magnolia increases the activity of GABA receptors, as well as the muscarinic receptors. This is why Magnolia is useful for both its sedative effect, as well as some mild stimulating effects. While most anxiolytic herbs have a particular effect on the parasympathetic nervous system (through GABAergic effects), Magnolia also increases the activity of the sympathetic nervous system through the muscarinic acetylcholine receptors in a similar way to GABA.

Magnolia is especially useful for eliminating nasal congestion, sinus infections, coughs, and catarrh. It's used to improve indigestion and dysentery, though it is not commonly used for bacterial or fungal infections alone.

Magnolia is also used for reducing symptoms of stress and anxiety. It can reduce cortisol levels in stressed individuals, especially in combination with Phellodendron. Its primary actions for this involves GABAergic activities, and have been shown to lower salivary cortisol levels in stressed individuals.

Magnolia should be avoided in those who are chronically fatigued, or who are suffering from convalescence. Traditional Chinese medicine suggests that magnolia should be avoided with any condition involving yin deficiency.

 

Cautions:

Avoid use with convalescence.

 

Author:

Justin Cooke, BHSc

The Sunlight Experiment

(Updated November 2018)

 

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Marshmallow (Althaea officinalis)

Marshmallow root has a high concentration of soothing mucilage. It can be concentrated and used as a vegan alternative for egg whites. Medicinally the mucilage is used to...