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World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd. 5 Toh Tuck Link, Singapore 596224

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A GUIDE TO MEDICINAL PLANTS An Illustrated, Scientific and Medicinal Approach

Copyright © 2009 by World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd.

All rights reserved. This book, or parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or any information storage and retrieval system now known or to be invented, without written permission from the Publisher.

For photocopying of material in this volume, please pay a copying fee through the Copyright Clearance Center, Inc., 222 Rosewood Drive, Danvers, MA 01923, USA. In this case permission to photocopy is not required from the publisher.

ISBN-13 978-981-283-709-7 ISBN-10 981-283-709-4

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Email: [email protected]

Printed in Singapore.


The contents of the book serve to provide both general and scientific information about medicinal plants and their uses and are not intended as a guide to self-medication by consumers or to treatment by health care professionals. The general public is advised to discuss the information contained herein with a physician, pharmacist, nurse or other authorised health care professionals. Neither the authors nor the publisher can be held responsible for the accuracy of the information itself or the consequences from the use or misuse of the information in this book.

The resources are not vetted and it is the reader's responsibility to ensure the accuracy of the information cited. Readers are reminded that the information presented is subject to change as research is on-going and there may be interindividual variations. While every effort is made to minimise errors, there may be inadvertant omissions or human errors in compiling these monographs.

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This book is dedicated to our families for their support and to our students who continue to inspire us!

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At first glance, "A Guide to Medicinal Plants: An Illustrated, Scientific and Medicinal Approach" appears to be a medical compendium of plants intended as a guide and reference resource for professionals in the field. To my delight and I am sure of anyone who picks up this book, I discovered it contains nuggets of information that would interest a great many readers, from schoolchildren to teachers, from undergraduates to researchers, from home-makers to business people and of course, the healthcare professionals.

It is an authoritative and well-researched work on seventy-five, mostly familiar plants that have medicinal value. These grow well here and in the tropics. Although there have been books on medicinal plants published locally, none can match this comprehensive work which, as the authors state, is the first of its kind.

It contains information in well laid-out sections that would interest the healthcare professionals and at the same time, provide the general public valuable insights into the traditional use of plants as medicines. Today such plants are being studied intensively to elucidate their bioactive composition in the hope of discovering novel therapeutics and potential cures for major diseases such as cancer and AIDS.

This guidebook is user friendly. It provides the reader the ability to identify the seventy-five plants through their scientific, vernacular and common names as well as through the descriptions and high quality photographs. Readers are also free to go straight to the section that interests them most. A strength of this book is the detailed references provided for each plant and these are provided towards the end of the book for the serious reader or researcher.

One word of caution that the authors themselves have provided in the text but is worth repeating. Do not mistake this scientific book for a do-it-yourself medication guide. As the authors aptly state, "the information collated is not meant to be a guide for self medication by consumers or for treatment by healthcare professionals."

I commend the authors for this labour of love and have no doubt that this book will be much sought after by both the healthcare professionals and the lay public.

Professor Leo Tan Wee-Hin President

Singapore National Academy of Science

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"All things are poison and nothing is without poison, only the dose permits something not to be poisonous" i.e., "the dose makes the poison".


This book presents up-to-date information on a total of 75 medicinal plants. It is a single, comprehensive yet easy to read book on various important information on medicinal plants for both the general public and health professionals (clinicians, pharmacists, nurses and Complementary and Alternative Medicine practitioners).

This is the first publication of its kind on medicinal plants growing in Singapore. Information collated includes plant description, origin of the plants, traditional medicinal uses, phytoconstituents, pharmacological activities, adverse reactions and reported drug-herb interactions. In this era of evidence-based medicine, scientists are increasingly looking towards the traditional uses of medicinal plants for clues to the discovery of potential lead compounds and novel therapeutics.

With the growing interest in drug discovery, this book is useful and timely as many of the plants found growing in Singapore are still understudied. Besides native medicinal plants, some of the plants featured in this book also include those that originated from other parts of the world. It will appeal to both local and overseas readers. Colourful photographs of each plant are also included for ease of reference and aesthetic appeal. There is no minimum level of knowledge required to read this book yet it is useful for academics, scientists and professionals as it provides a comprehensive reference list at the end of the book. This book will also appeal to working professionals, clinicians, pharmacists, nurses, educators and researchers. It serves as a quick reference to the medicinal uses and properties of medicinal plants. Educators and students in complementary medicine and health, pharmacognosy, medicinal chemistry, natural products, pharmacology, toxicology, pharmacovigilance, medicine, pharmacy, nursing, botany, biology, chemistry and life sciences

A Guide to Medicinal Plants will find the information useful. Greater understanding of such plants will enhance their appreciation of nature and their various fields of study.

The authors hope that this book will inspire and stimulate further research and greater interest in nature, biodiversity, bioconservation, drug discovery and our natural resources, the medicinal plants.

Guide to Using This Book

This book is intended for both the general public as well as health professionals. Hence, it is quite a challenge to present the vast amount of information collated from published literature over the years, in a simple way that will benefit and interest different groups of readers. In general, the information presented is fully referenced. Wherever possible, the original terms in the references are used. Difficult botanical and medical terms are explained in simple terms in the glossaries provided.

Monographs of the plants are arranged in alphabetical order of the Latin binomial name. Each monograph consists of information which includes the scientific name with the family name in parenthesis, common name(s), coloured photographs, description, origin, phytoconstituents, traditional medicinal uses, pharmacological activities, dosage (if available), adverse reactions, toxicity and reported drug-herb interactions. Authors' notes are added in some cases as well. Cross listings of the scientific names and common names, and vice versa, are provided in the appendix for easy reference.

Traditional medicinal uses refer to those uses that have been reported and may not have been studied scientifically. Pharmacological activities refer to the biological activities that have been reported in scientific publications involving mainly in vitro or in vivo tests using animals, and very rarely, in clinical trials. Activities due to extracts as well as pure components are reported. Due to space constraints, only the keywords are given. Interested readers can refer to the original publications for more details. The full list of references is provided at the end of the book according to the plant names in alphabetical order.

"No information as yet" means that no such information is available, the authors have not found the relevant information, or the information found is not cited due to lack of clarity or completeness. A word of caution: although some dosages have been reported and cited, these have largely not been verified in clinical trials. For phytoconstituents, it is not possible to list down all reported constituents. Hence only selected constituents, especially those peculiar to the plant are shown, typically with the most important ones listed first. Interested readers can refer to the references cited for further details.

A Guide to Medicinal Plants

Although medicinal plants are generally safe when used appropriately according to the traditional methods, some are inherently toxic. In addition, inappropriate use (wrong plant parts, dose, frequency, route of administration, preparation, etc.) or abuse may lead to undesirable consequences. The information collated is not meant to be a guide for self medication by consumers or for treatment by health care professionals. There is a fine line between a poison and a useful drug afterall.


The authors would like to express our heartfelt gratitude to:

Professor Wee Yeow Chin for his professional advice and constructive criticisms

Professor Ben-Erik van Wyk, Professor Zhao Zhong Zhen and Professor Hugh Tan for their professional advice

Staff and students who have contributed to this book

The National University of Singapore for financial support of an Academic Research Fund (R-148-000-079-112)

Staff of Nparks (Singapore) and Singapore Botanic Gardens, especially Professor Benito Tan, Mr Lua Hock Keong, Ms Serena Lee, Ms Patricia Yap and the park rangers

Staff of Singapore Science Centre

Many like-minded friends and colleagues for their interesting and inspiring discussions on medicinal plants

Staff of World Scientific Publishing for their professionalism and support

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Authors and Contributors iii

Disclaimer v

Foreword ix

Preface xi

Guide to Using This Book xiii

Acknowledgement xv

Plant Monographs 1

1. Abrus precatorius L. (Leguminosae) 2

2. Adiantum capillus-veneris L. (Polypodiaceae) 4

3. Allamanda cathartica L. (Apocynaceae) 6

4. Aloe vera Mill. (Aloaceae) 8

5. Andrographis paniculata (Barm.f.) Nees (Acanthaceae) 11

6. Ardisia elliptica Thunb. (Myrsinaceae) 13

7. Areca catechu L. (Palmae) 15

8. Asplenium nidus L. (Aspleniaceae) 18

9. Aster tataricus L.f. (Compositae) 20

10. Azadirachta indica A. Juss. (Meliaceae) 22

11. Barringtonia asiatica L. (Lecythidaceae) 24

12. Barringtonia racemosa (L.) K. Spreng (Lecythidaceae) 26

13. Bauhinia purpurea L. (Leguminosae) 28

14. Bixa orellana L. (Bixaceae) 30

15. Calophyllum inophyllum L. (Guttiferae) 32

16. Cananga odorata (Lam.) Hook. f. & Th. (Annonaceae) 34

17. Capsicum annuum L. (Solanaceae) 36

18. Cassia fistula L. (Leguminosae) 38

19. Catharanthus roseus (L.) G. Don (Apocynaceae) 40

20. Celosia argentea L. (Amaranthaceae) 42

21. Centella asiatica (L.) Urban (Umbelliferae) 44


A Guide to Medicinal Plants

22. Cerbera odollam Gaertn. (Apocynaceae) 47

23. Cissus quadrangularis L. (Vitaceae) 49

24. Cocos nucifera L. (Palmae) 51

25. Coix lacryma-jobi L. (Gramineae) 53

26. Crinum asiaticum L. (Amaryllidaceae) 55

27. Cymbopogon citratus (DC.) Stapf. (Gramineae) 57

28. Dolichos lablab L. (Leguminosae) 59

29. Elephantopus scaber L. (Compositae) 61

30. Euphorbia hirta L. (Euphorbiaceae) 63

31. Eurycoma longifolia Jack (Simaroubaceae) 65

32. Hibiscus mutabilis L. (Malvaceae) 67

33. Hibiscus rosa-sinensis L. (Malvaceae) 69

34. Hibiscus tiliaceus L. (Malvaceae) 71

35. Impatiens balsamina L. (Balsaminaceae) 73

36. Imperata cylindrica (L.) P. Beauv. (Gramineae) 75

37. Ipomoea pes-caprae (L.) Sweet (Convolvulaceae) 77

38. Ixora chinensis Lam. (Rubiaceae) 79

39. Jatropha curcas L. (Euphorbiaceae) 81

40. Juniperus chinensis L. (Cupressaceae) 83

41. Kaempferia galanga L. (Zingiberaceae) 85

42. Lantana camara L. (Verbenaceae) 87

43. Lonicera japonica Thunb. (Caprifoliaceae) 89

44. Mangifera indica L. (Anacardiaceae) 91

45. Manihot esculenta Crantz (Euphorbiaceae) 93

46. Melaleuca cajuputi Roxb. (Myrtaceae) 95

47. Melastoma malabathricum L. (Melastomaceae) 97

48. Mimosa pudica L. (Leguminosae) 99

49. Mirabilis jalapa L. (Nyctaginaceae) 101

50. Morinda citrifolia L. (Rubiaceae) 103

51. Nelumbo nucifera Gaertn. (Nymphaeaceae) 105

52. Nephelium lappaceum L. (Sapindaceae) 107

53. Nerium oleander L. (Apocynaceae) 109

Contents xix

54. Ophiopogon japonicus Ker-Gawl. (Liliaceae) 111

55. Peltophorum pterocarpum Backer ex K. Heyne (Leguminosae) . . .113

56. Persicaria hydropiper L. (Polygonaceae) 115

57. Phyllanthus amarus Schum. & Thonn. (Euphorbiaceae) 117

58. Piper nigrum L. (Piperaceae) 119

59. Piper sarmentosum Roxb. (Piperaceae) 122

60. Plantago major L. (Plantaginaceae) 124

61. Punica granatum L. (Punicaceae) 127

62. Rhodomyrtus tomentosa (Ait.) Hassk (Myrtaceae) 129

63. Rhoeo spathacea (Sw.) Stearn (Commelinaceae) 131

64. Ricinus communis L. (Euphorbiaceae) 132

65. Ruta graveolens L. (Rutaceae) 135

66. Saccharum officinarum L. (Gramineae) 137

67. Sauropus androgynus (L.) Merr. (Euphorbiaceae) 139

68. Sesbania grandiflora Pers. (Leguminosae) 141

69. Solanum nigrum L. (Solanaceae) 143

70. Swietenia macrophylla King (Meliaceae) 145

71. Terminalia catappa L. (Combretaceae) 147

72. Thevetia peruviana (Pers.) K. Schum. (Apocynaceae) 149

73. Tinospora crispa (L.) Diels (Menispermaceae) 151

74. Vitex rotundifolia L. f. (Verbenaceae) 153

75. Zingiber officinale Roscoe (Zingiberaceae) 155

Appendix 159

List of Native and Non-native Plants 160

List of Plants by Scientific Name 161

List of Plants by Common Name 164

List of Abbreviations and Symbols 169

References 171

Botanical Glossary 249

Medical Glossary 257

Index 279

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Plant Monographs

1. Abrus precatorius L. (Leguminosae) Rosary Pea, Indian Licorice, Precatory Bean

Seeds of Abrus precatorius

Description: Abrus precatorius L. is a perennial climber with a slender stem. Leaves are pinnate and 5-8 cm long. Leaflets are rhomboid, numbering 20-24 or more, opposite and are 1.2-1.8 cm long. Leaf margin is entire. It bears pink flowers arranged in dense axillary racemes. Pods are oblong, cylindrical, inflated, 5-6 cm by 1 cm and contains 3-6 round, glossy, black and red seeds.[1-3]

Origin: Native to Pakistan, India, Ceylon and tropical Africa; and introduced widely in the New and Old World.[4]

Phytoconstituents: Abrectorin, abricin, abridin, abrins A-D, (+)-abrine, abruslactone A, abrusgenic acid, abrusogenin, abrusoside A-D, precatorine, abruquinones, abraline, abrusic acid, abruquinone G and others.[2,5-18]

Traditional Medicinal Uses: A decoction of the leaves has been prescribed for scurvy, cough, bronchitis, sprue and hepatitis and as a refrigerant. They are also

1. Abrus precatorius L.

applied on painful swellings, eye inflammation, cancer, syphilis and on leucoder-mic spots.[19] The leaves are also effective in the treatment of coryza, cough, fever, and j aundice resulting from viral hepatitis and intoxications.[6] The seeds have been used to treat fever, malaria, headache, dropsy and to expel worms.[3] A decoction of the seeds is applied for abdominal complaints, conjunctivitis, irachoma and malarial fever.[2] Central Africans use powdered seed as an oral contraceptive.[5] It is also used to lower high blood pressure and relieve severe headache.[5] The seeds are very toxic and can be applied externally to treat bacterial infection and accelerate the bursting of boils and to cure mastitis and galactophoritis.[6] The seed has purgative properties and is used as an emetic, tonic, aphrodisiac, and for nervous disorders. The poultice can be used as suppository, abortifacient, or tonic for pregnant women and children and to treat severe headaches.[19] Water from the boiled roots is used to cure cough, bronchitis, sore throat and also applied as an emetic agent.[25]

Pharmacological Activities: Antibacterial,[20] Anthelmintic,™ Antiviral,[17] Anti-inflammatory,[10'22'23] Anticancer/Antitumour,[1124-30] Antiplatelet,[23] Antiprotozoal,™ Immunomodulatory/27'32™ Antioxidant,[23] Antiplasmodial,[17] Antitubercular[17] and Molluscicidal.[36]

Dosage: In Central Africa, 200 mg powdered seeds are used as an oral contraceptive which can last 13 menstrual cycles.[5] Approximately 14 g of powdered seeds are used as tonic for pregnant women and children.[19] About 5-7 of seed grains are prescribed for pertussis.[37]

Adverse Reactions: Ingestion of Abrus seeds resulted in pulmonary oedema and hypertension.[38] Abrine can cause coma, confusion, convulsions, dehydration, gastroenterosis and hypotension.[37]

Toxicity: The LD50 of abrin in mice is 0.02 mg/kg body weight.[2] Ingestion of seeds causes severe stomach cramping accompanied by nausea, severe diarrhoea, cold sweat, fast pulse, organ failure, coma and circulatory collapse.^5™ Oral administration of a 50% ethanol extract of A. precatorius seeds (250 mg/kg) in albino rats for 30 and 60 days induced infertility in males which was reversible.[40] Dose-dependent degenerative changes in the testicular weights, sperm count, spermatogenesis and Leydig cells were observed in testes of rats treated with steroidal fraction of the seeds.[41] The methanol extract of the seeds caused a concentration-related impairment of percentage human sperm motility with an EC50 of 2.29 mg/ml.[42]

Contraindications: No information as yet.

Drug-Herb Interactions: No information as yet.

2. Adiantum capillus-veneris L. (Polypodiaceae)

Black Maidenhair Fern, Southern Maidenhair Fern, Venus Hair Fern

Adiantum capillus-veneris fern

Description: Adiantum capillus-veneris L. is a perennial fern with short creeping stems. Leaf blades are lanceolate, pinnate, 10-45 cm by 4-15 cm and glabrous. Ultimate segments are various but generally cuneate or fan-shaped to irregularly rhombic, about as long as well as broad with its base broadly to narrowly cuneate. Plant is delicate, brittle and has dark stalks.[1-6]

Origin: Native to America, Mexico, West Indies and South America. It can also be found in temperate regions of Eurasia and Africa.[6]

Phytoconstituents: Adiantoxide, adiantone, isoadiantone, isoadiantol, hydroxyadiantone, capesterol and others.[1'4'7-11]

2. Adiantum capillus-veneris L.

Traditional Medicinal Uses: The fern is considered an astringent, demulcent, depurative, diaphoretic, diuretic, emmenagogue, emollient, expectorant, laxative, stimulant, sudorific and a tonic.[1] It is also used for alopecia, asthma, bladder ailments, catarrh, chest ailments, chills, cold, dropsy, dysmenor-rhoeal, fever, head ailments, hepatosis, labour, lung ailments, respiratory problems, rheumatism, sclerosis, snake bite, sores, sore throat, splenosis, stones and other urinary calcification.[1,4] The plant expels worm, induces vomitting and relieves fever. Used externally, it is poulticed on snakebites and as a treatment for impetigo.[13] The Russians use the herb for rhinitis while the French, with orange flowers and honey, uses it for pulmonary catarrh.[1] A handful of leaves is made into a tea and drunk as an expectorant, astringent, tonic for coughs, throat afflictions and bronchitis.[1] The plant is also used as a hair wash for dandruff and to promote hair growth in Latin America.[13] The ashes mixed with vinegar and olive oil is rubbed into the scalp to cure alope-cia.[5] In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the leaves are used for bronchial diseases and as an expectorant;[3] and in Africa, the leaves are smoked to prevent head and chest colds.[1]

Pharmacological Activities: Antibacterial.[12]

Dosage: Taken internally as a tea prepared from powdered dried fronds. The standard single dose is 1.5 g of drug to 1 cup of fluid per dose.[13]

Adverse Reactions: No known side effects with therapeutic dosages.[13]

Toxicity: No information as yet.

Contraindications: Should not be used during pregnancy.[13] Drug-Herb Interactions: No information as yet.

3. Allamanda cathartica L. (Apocynaceae)

Allamanda, Common Allamanda, Golden Trumpet

Allamanda cathartica flowers and leaves

Description: Allamanda cathartica L. is a woody shrub that can grow up to 4 m tall. The stems exude milky white sap when incised. Leaves are simple, exstipulate, glossy, leathery and glabrous. Leaf blade is oblong-lanceolate, 8-15 cm by 4-5 cm and arranged in opposites of 3-5 sessiles. Flowers are large, tubular, bright yellow and 4-5 cm long.[1-3]

Origin: Native to South America; cultivated in China for medicine.[4]

Phytoconstituents: Allamandin, plumericin, plumieride, ursolic acid and others.[35-10]

Traditional Medicinal Uses: The plant has been used as a purgative to induce vomiting at low dosage.[3] Its leaves are cathartic and the bark is used as a hydra-gogue for ascites.[11] In Surinam's traditional medicine, its roots are used against jaundice, for complications with malaria and enlarged spleen.[11]

3. Allamanda cathartica L.

Pharmacological Activities: Anthelmintic,[12] Antifungal,[713 15] Antineoplastic,119 Antivenom[17] and Wound healing.[18]

Dosage: No information as yet.

Adverse Reactions: No information as yet.

Toxicity: Every part of the plant was reported to be poisonous.[19] The sap of the plant was reported to cause mild and occasional oral irritation and slight nausea when sucking cut stems. Rash or dermatitis were also reported when sap was in contact with sensitive skin.[19]

Contraindications: No information as yet.

Drug-Herb Interactions: No information as yet.

4. Aloe vera Mill. (Aloaceae)

Aloe, Lidah Buaya

Aloe vera Young and old plants

Description: Aloe vera Mill. is a short-stemmed, up to 50 cm, succulent herb with thick green leaves that have a sharp and pointed apex, 15-50 cm by 4-7 cm, arranged in a rosette around the short stem. Blade is green to variegate with small white or glaucous dots, irregular bands, lanceolate, tapering from base to apex, glabrous with green and spiny-toothed margins. The leaves contain a thick colourless juice. Flowers are yellow, orange or red, crowded into a rosette and in panicles.[1-3]

Origin: Native to North Africa; cultivated in China for medicine and widely used as indoor ornamental plants.[3,4]

Phytoconstituents: Aloin (barbaloin), arabinose, aloe-emodin, aloetinic acid, emodin, aloeresin A-C, aloesone, aloeride and others.[2,5-12]

Traditional Medicinal Uses: The plant has been used in cosmetic preparations for the treatment of pimples, acne and mouth ulcers.[2] It has also been used to control bleeding, itching of piles, and relief from arthritic pains.[2] The Chinese uses the plant juice as a mild laxative, wash for piles, abscesses and scabies. In the Philippines, it is used to treat dysentery and pain in the kidneys.[2] The plant has been found to treat bacterial infection, as a cathartic, emmenagogue, purgative and vermifuge. It can be used in the treatment of burns, oedema, pain, swellings and wounds; treatment of l eukemia, lung cancer; treatment of constipation, eczema, piles and pertussis.[6,13-15] The whole

4. Aloe vera Mill.

plant has also been used for the treatment of rectal fissures and piles while the root is used to treat colic.[16] The juice from the leaves is used to increase menstrual flow.[13] The jelly is used as aperient, for wounds, applied on the abdomen in fever, after confinement, on swelling and is especially useful in correcting constipation due to intake of iron medication/1748 Fresh juice of the leaves is cathartic and cooling and used for various eye diseases.[16] The dried juice is applied with lime juice for reducing swellings and promoting granulation in ulcers. In Malaysia, it is used for treating wounds, fever, swellings and put on the abdomen of women after confinement. The mixture of sugar with sap obtained from heated leaves is taken for asthma. The mucilaginous flesh and the sap are used for burns. The watery extract is used as a hair tonic. It is also used in cosmetics for decreasing wrinkles and other skin problems. It is mixed with milk and given for dysentery and pains in the kidney.[15] It is used in Ayurveda to alleviate pain and is also mentioned in folk medicine of Arabian Peninsula for the management of diabetes.[19]

Pharmacological Activities: Angiogenic,[20] Antifungal/21-23 Antidiabetic/24'251 Anti-inflammatory/1226-30 Anticancer/31-38 Antimicrobial,[39] Antioxidant/1140-451 Antiproliferative/1238 Chemopreventive,[35 46] Gastric mucosal protection/4748 Hepatoprotective,[19'49'50] Neuroprotective,[51] Hypolipidaemic,[52] Immunomodulatory/11,33,53™ Immunostimulatory,[58] Antimutagenic,[31] Alloantigenic,[59] Antileishmanial,[6061] Prevention of kidney stones,[6263] Radioprotective^65 and Wound healing.[66-69]

Dosage: Single dose of powdered Aloe, 50-200 mg at bedtime; tincture BPC 1949 (1:40, 45% ethanol), 2-8 ml. Aloes should only be taken for short periods, maximum 8-10 days.[70] Doses of 10-30 mg act as a bitter stomachic; 60-200 mg as a laxative and 300-1000 mg as a purgative/18™ A dose of 1 teaspoon after meals, or otherwise advised by manufacturers and practitioners has been reported.[72] To prevent kidney stones, a dose of 2 to 3 tablespoon daily is reported. As a laxative, the recommended dose is 500 to 1000 mg daily. For burns or wound healing, fresh gel from plant may be applied topically and liberally. For haemorrhoids, as a stool softener, 0.05 to 2 g of dry aloe extract is administered. In the treatment of HIV, 800 to 1600 mg of acemannan daily (equivalent to 0.5 to 1 L of Aloe vera juice) is administered. To relieve constipation, 20 to 30 mg hydroxyanthracene derivatives daily, calculated as anhydrous aloin is prescribed.1[73]

Adverse Reactions: Barbaloin was shown to have a laxative effect.[70] Ingestion of A. vera is associated with diarrhoea, electrolyte imbalance,

A Guide to Medicinal Plants kidney dysfunction, and conventional drug interactions; episodes of contact dermatitis, erythema, and phototoxicity have been reported from topical applications.™ A. vera could also induce acute liver damage.[75]

Toxicity: Severe gastrointestinal cramping can occur if the latex (which is just below the leaf surface) is taken internally.[72] Toxic doses cause severe haemorrhagic diarrhoea and kidney damage, and sometimes death. The lethal dose of the dried plant extract is stated to be 1 g/day taken for a period of several days.[76]

Contraindications: Contraindicated in intestinal obstruction, acute inflammatory intestinal diseases (e.g., Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis), appendicitis and idiopathic abdominal pain. Should not be used during pregnancy. Should not be given to children below 12 years of age.[77] Should avoid application of Aloe topically on deep, vertical wounds. Contraindicated in menstruation and if the person has kidney complaints.[72]

Drug-Herb Interactions: Increase the actions of cardiac glycosides and antiarrhythmic drugs (chronic use of aloe causes potassium loss), thiazide diuretics, loop diuretics, licorice and corticosteroids.™ Aloe gel, when taken orally, can reduce the absorption of many medications. Thus, it should be taken two hours apart from all medications.[72] A study reported that Aloe vera preparations improved the absorption of both vitamins C and E.[78]

5. Andrographis paniculata

(Barm.f.) Nees (Acanthaceae)

Hempedu Bumi, Sambiloto, Chuan Xin Lian

Andrographis paniculata plants Andrographis paniculata flowers

Description: Andrographis paniculata (Barm.f.) Nees is an annual herb that grows up to 1 m in height. Stems are glabrous and articulated. Leaves are simple, opposite and exstipulate. Blade is dark green, bitter, glossy, simple, lanceolate, opposite and 4-8 cm by 1.3-2.5 cm. Its small and white flowers grow in terminal or axillary panicles. Both the bracts and the 5-lobed calyx are small. Fruits are upright, fusiform, capsular and contains 2-4 seeds.[1]

Origin: Native to Indian subcontinent and cultivated elsewhere.[2]

Phytoconstituents: Andrographolide, andropanolide, andrographic acid and andrographidine A, andrographatoside, andropaniculosin A and andropanicu-loside A and others.[3-14]

Traditional Medicinal Uses: The plant is used orally to prevent and treat common cold, influenza, pharyngotonsilitis, allergies and sinusitis. Traditionally, it is used for many conditions including anorexia, atherosclerosis, insect and

A Guide to Medicinal Plants snake bites, bronchitis, prevention of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypertension, cholera and as a tonic.[11516]

Pharmacological Activities: Antiapoptotic,[17] Antibacterial,[18-20] Antifungal,1[18] Anticancer,[21-30] Antidiabetic/Hypoglycaemic,[31-36] Anti-fertility^3^ Anti-inflammatory,[38-48] Antioxidant,[4549-51] Antiplatelet,[5253] Antiprotozoal,[54-56] Antiviral,[57 58] Cardioprotective,[59] Chemopreventive,[60] Hepatoprotective,[61-63] Hypotensive,[64] Immunomodulatory, [35'42'65'66] Psychopharmacological activities,[67] Vasorelaxant[68] and Cytotoxic.[12]

Dosage: For decreasing symptoms of common cold, doses of 400 mg of standardised andrographolide are required three times daily; for preventing common cold, a dose of 200 mg daily for 5 days in a week; for relieving fever and sore throat in pharyngotonsilitis, doses of 3 g and 6 g daily were used.[16] Use 6-9 g for influenza with fever, sore throat, ulcers in the mouth, acute or chronic cough, colitis, dysentery, urinary tract infection, carbuncles, sores and venomous snake bite.[69]

Adverse Reactions: Orally, large doses of Andrographis may cause gastrointestinal distress, anorexia, emesis and urticaria. Androgapholide taken orally at 5 mg/kg three times a day may cause headache, fatigue, rash, abnormal taste, diarrhoea, itching, lymphadenopathy, anaphylactic reactions, etc.[16]

Contraindications: Contraindicated in pregnancy, likely to be unsafe due to abortifacient effect.[16]

Toxicity: No toxic effect was observed after administration of a decoction of Andrographis paniculata leaves to rabbits.[70] LD50 of androgapholide in mice through oral route is > 40 g/kg body weight, which indicates low toxicity.[71]

Drug-Herb Interactions: Simultaneous application of A. paniculata and warfarin did not produce significant effects on the pharmacokinetics of warfarin, and practically no effect on its pharmacodynamics.™

6. Ardisia elliptica Thunb. (Myrsinaceae)

Mata Pelanduk/Ayam, Sea-Shore Ardisia, Shoebutton Ardisia

Ardisia Elliptica
Ardisia elliptica trees Ardisia elliptica fruits

Description: Ardisia elliptica Thunb. is a small shrub that can grow up to 10 m tall. The leaves are obovate, 6-9 cm long with smooth margins. They have an acute apex and a cuneate leaf base. The leaves have a leathery texture. The plant bears whitish pink axillary inflorescences and the drupes are globular, 1-1.2 cm in diameter and grow in clumps, pale red when immature, and turning dark purplish upon maturity.[1-3]

Origin: Native to tropical and temperate Asia.[4]

A Guide to Medicinal Plants

Phytoconstituents: Rapanone,[5] bauerenol, a- and ^-amyrin,[6,7] syringic acid, isorhamnetin and quercetin,[8] bergenin,[9] 5-(Z-Heptadec-4'-enyl)resor-cinol and 5-pentadecylresorcinol.[10]

Traditional Medicinal Uses: The decoction of the leaves is used by the Malays to treat pain in the region of the heart.[10] The Kadazan Dusun tribes in Malaysia used paste made from the leaves of Ardisia elliptica to treat herpes and measles.[1'11] The fruits are used in Thai Traditional Medicine to cure diarrhoea with fever.[8]

Pharmacological Activities: Antiplatelet[1011] and Antibacterial.[8]

Dosage: No information as yet.

Adverse Reactions: No information as yet.

Toxicity: No information as yet.

Contraindications: No information as yet.

Drug-Herb Interactions: No information as yet.

7. Areca catechu L. (Palmae)

Betel Nut Palm, Areca Nut, Pinang

Fruit of Areca catechu Areca catechu tree

Description: Areca catechu L. is a tall, slender palm that can grow up to 10 m. Leaves are dark green, pinnate and up to 1.2-2 m long. Inflorescence is branched and male flowers grow in one row surrounding the female flower at the base of branch. Fruit is a one seeded ovoid berry about 5 cm long.[1-4]

Origin: Originate from the Philippines.[5]

Phytoconstituents: Arecoline, arecaidin, arecaine, catechin, glucides, guva-cine, guvacoline, arecolidine, isoguvacine, nicotine and others.[1,6-8]

Traditional Medicinal Uses: In Irian Jaya, parts of this tree are used on wounds, swellings and other skin afflictions. The pericarp is effective in the treatment of flatulence, oedema, dysuria and hyperemesis of pregnancy. On the Finschhafen coast, Papua New Guinea, the inner seed is chopped, heated over fire and pressed on sores caused by sea urchins. Chewing the betel nut with lime and the leaves of catkins or Piper betel gives a stimulant effect as well as an attributed sedative effect.[9] This may also be used to soothe a mad person. The red mixture is applied to ulcers in New Britain and to treat sores

A Guide to Medicinal Plants caused by venereal disease in Northern Province; whereas in New Ireland, the scraped bark is mixed with sea water with a leaf of Indocarpus fagiferus and drunk to treat asthma.[9] The Malays use a decoction of the leaves to treat diarrhoea in children.[1] The dried ripe fruits have been used by the Chinese to expel tapeworms and roundworms, treat diarrhoea, indigestion, lumbago, urinary problems and increase menstrual flow.[110] The kernel of the fruit is chewed as a narcotic, fresh or cured with slacked lime and betel leaves.[2] The fruits are also used for beriberi, dysentery, dyspepsia, dysuria, oedema and malaria.[6] The fruit can also be applied on venereal sores (ground fresh nut with betel leaf, Nigella sativa and roots of Gymnema hirsutus, cooked in mustard oil or butter and applied).[11]

Pharmacological Activities: Analgesic,[12] Anthelmintic,[613] Antibacterial,[14] Anticancer/Antineoplastic,[1516] Anticonvulsant,[17] Antidepressant^18'19 Antihypertensive^20'21 Antimitotic,[22] Antioxidant,[23] Apoptotic,[24]

Hypocholesterolaemic,[25] Immunomodulatory,[26,27] Immunostimulatory,[28-31]

Antihyaluronidase,[32] Antivenom,[33] Cell growth inhibitor,[34] Molluscicidal[35] and causes periodontitis.[36]

Dosage: For the treatment of diarrhoea, 30 g areca powder in 200 cm3 water, simmered for 1 hour is taken before breakfast. If expulsion does not take place within 9 hours, 50 cm3 of 50% magnesium sulphate solution may be taken.[11] A decoction of the pericarp has been prescribed in a daily dose of 6 to 12 g to treat flatulence, oedema, dysuria and hyperamesis during pregnancy. To treat diarrhoea and dysentery, a daily dose of 0.5 to 4 g of the kernel has been used.[7] For sore throat, the pressed juice is used as a gargle. 2 g of fresh nut can be chewed for 15 min or more before spitting it out. Another reported usage is rolling the leaves and placing them between teeth and gums/lips.[37]

Adverse Reactions: Excessive chewing can cause dizziness, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, and seizures.[38]

Toxicity: A dose of 8-10 g is toxic to humans.[639] Heavy consumption may cause the development of cancer in the upper and middle third of the oesophagus respectively[40] and chronic kidney disease.[41] Betel quid (a mixture of areca nut and flavouring ingredients with or without processed tobacco leaves) chewing resulted in a statistically significant increase in the risk of total and cerebrovascular deaths in the elderly population.[42] At higher doses, bradycardia, reflex excitability, tremor, spasms and eventual paralysis may occur. Long term effect as stimulant causes malignant tumours of oral cavity

7. Areca catechu L.

through formation of nitrosamines.[39] Betel quid chewing during pregnancy has a substantial effect on a number of birth outcomes, including sex ratio at birth, lower birth weight and reduced birth length.[43] It is toxic during pregnancy^'45 as it also possesses cytotoxic and genotoxic activities.[4647]

Contraindications: Should not be used during pregnancy and lactation. Should not be given to children. Patients with oral or oesophageal cancers, ulcers, oesophagitis, or renal disease should avoid its use.[37]

Drug-Herb Interactions: Decrease action of antiglaucoma agents. Increase action of beta-blockers, calcium channel blockers, cardiac glycosides (digoxin, digitoxin). For neuroleptics, extrapyramidal symptoms can occur.[37] Avoid taking alcohol and atropine.[38]

8. Asplenium nidus L. (Aspleniaceae)

Bird's Nest Fern

Asplenium nidus growing on the ground Asplenium nidus on a tree

Description: Asplenium nidus L. is a common epiphytic fern found growing on trees. Fronds are long, simple, green and grow from a central rhizome attached to the tree branch in the shape of a nest. Parallel lines of spores are found on the undersides of the fronds and radiate away from the midrib towards the leaf margin.[1]

Origin: Native to tropical Africa, temperate and tropical Asia and Australasia.[2]

Phytoconstituents: Kaempferol-3-0-gentiobiosie-7,4'-bisglucoside, kaempferol-3-O-diglucoside, kaempferol-3,7-diglycoside and kaempferol-3-0-vicianoside.[3]

Traditional Medicinal Uses: A. nidus is regarded as depurative. Infusion of the fronds is used to ease labour pains by Malaysia native tribes. The Malays pound the leaves in water and apply the resulting lotion to feverish head.[4] Two young fronds are eaten when they are still coiled, just after menstruation, in the morning as a contraceptive. Tea made from the fronds is recommended for general weakness.[5,6]

Pharmacological Activities: Oxytocic activity.[6]

Dosage: No information as yet.

8. Asplenium nidus L.

Adverse Reactions: No information as yet. Toxicity: No information as yet. Contraindications: No information as yet. Drug-Herb Interactions: No information as yet.

9. Aster tataricus L.f. (Compositae) Tatarian Aster, Tatarian Daisy

Aster Tataricus Root
Aster tataricus flowers Aster tataricus shrub

Description: Aster tataricus L.f. is a small shrub with abundant fibrous roots. Leaf blades are oblanceolate to lanceolate, margins serrate or entire, 4-18 by 1-5 cm and acute. Flower heads are in large bunches with white petals and yellow centre.[1-3]

Origin: Native to Siberia.[3]

Phytoconstituents: Shinone, friedelin, epifriedelinol, shinoside A-C, asteri-nin A-F, astins A-E, astertarone A&B and others.[4-11]

Traditional Medicinal Uses: The underground rootstock is used as a purgative, treats colds, coughs with excessive sputum or with blood and painful menstruation.[2] It is also used as a bechic-expectorant.[12] Used as an aromatic tonic in chronic gastroenteritis.[13]

Pharmacological Activities: Anticancer[14,15] and Antioxidant.[4] Dosage: No information as yet.

9. Aster tataricus L.f.

Adverse Reactions: No information as yet. Toxicity: No information as yet. Contraindications: No information as yet. Drug-Herb Interactions: No information as yet.

10. Azadirachta indica A. Juss. (Meliaceae)


Aster Tata Ricusl
Fruits of Azadirachta indica Azadirachta indica tree

Description: Azadirachta indica A. Juss. is a tall evergreen tree, growing up to 30 m in height. Leaves are pinnate with opposite or alternate, lanceolate, serrated and glabrous 8-16 leaflets, 20-32 cm long. Flowers are yellowish white. Fruits are small, ellipsoid, about 5 cm long and green.[1-3]

Origin: A native of India and China, cultivated and naturalised throughout India, Malay Peninsula, Indonesia and Pakistan.[4]

Phytoconstituents: Azadirachtin O-Q, nimbin, deacylnimbin, salanin, nim-bidin, nimbinin, nimbidol, azadirone, melianol, meliacinol, nimbothalin, nimonol, azharone and others.[3,5-28]

Traditional Medicinal Uses: It is used for the treatment of a variety of human and veterinary ailments including head lice, mange, fleas, fever, convulsions, leprosy, scrofula, rheumatism, asthma, worm infestations, treat bacterial infection, insecticide, local application for indolent ulcer and consumed as tonic after childbirth.[8] It is used for boils, heart disease, fever,

10. Azadirachta indica A. Juss.

tuberculosis, diarrhoea, j aundice, dysentery, to promote healing, measles, smallpox, sores, inflamed gums, syphilis, leprosy, piles, urinary diseases, to expel worms, purgative, emollient, local stimulant, treat fever (crushed leaves added to lemon), disinfectant (oil from nuts), astringent, contraceptive and tonic.[29'30] It is also used for dermatological problems in Nigeria.[31] Neem has also been used to protect crops, stored grains and library books from insects. Neem leaves buried in grain bins are used to keep the stored crops insect-free. Crushed seeds soaked in water produce a potent pesticide that does not harm mammals, birds, earthworms and bees.[3]

Pharmacological Activities: General review.[32] Antibacterial,[33-37] Anticancer^38-46 Anticarcinogenic,[47-55] Anticonvulsant,[56] Antifertility,[5758] Antifungal,[35,59-61] Anti-inflammatory,[62] Antimalarial,[63-68] Antimicrobial,[69] Antioxidant,[70-74] Antiproliferative^75,76 Antipyretic,[77] Antiviral,[78,79] Gastroprotective,[80-82] Hepatoprotective,[83-85] Hypoglycaemic,[8687] Hypotensive,^8-96 Immunostimulatory,[38'91-93] Neuroprotective,[94] Anthelmintic,[95] Antihaemorrhagic,[37] Antileishmanial,[96] Antimutagenic,[97-99] Molluscicidal,[100] Insecticidal and Insect repellent.[101-110]

Dosage: Approximately 100 g of bark is soaked in 1 L of water and approximately 3 ml of this infusion is consumed daily for one month as a male contraceptive.[30]

Adverse Reactions: Nausea, vomiting, anorexia, hypersensitivity, Reye's syndrome (infants).[111]

Toxicity: Mice injected with the tetranortriterpenoid fractions (> 86 mg/feeding) into the tail vein died within 24 hours.[8] Various acute, subacute and chronic toxicity tests of extracts of neem have been reported, especially on human and animal fertility.[112] Non-aqueous extracts appeared to be the most toxic neem-based pesticide products.[112]

Contraindications: Should not be used during pregnancy and lactation, and in children. Should not be used in persons with hypersensitivity to neem.[111]

Drug-Herb Interactions: No information as yet.

[Authors' Note: An extensive review[112] on the safety of neem derived pesticides concluded that the use of neem derived pesticides as an insecticide should not be discouraged.]

11. Barringtonia asiatica L. (Lecythidaceae) Beach Barringtonia, Fish-killer tree, Putat Laut

Developing fruits of B. asiatica Barringtonia asiatica tree

Description: Barringtonia asiatica L. is a large tree bearing large simple leaves, 20-30 cm long which taper to the leaf base. Flowers are large and white with several white stamens. The flowers are actinomorphic and have four petals. The fruit is oblong, green, large, 8-10 cm across and contains one seed.[1-3]

Origin: Native to Africa, temperate and tropical Asia and Australasia.[4]

Phytoconstituents: A1-barrinin, ranuncoside VIII, A1-barrigenin and others.[45-7]

Traditional Medicinal Uses: The plant is used to treat fungal infections,[8] burns and wounds.[9] The leaves are heated and used to treat stomachache and

11. Barringtonia asiatica L.

rheumatism in the Philippines. Its fruits are used as a fish poison and the fruit juice for controlling scabies while the seeds are used for the expulsion of intestinal worms and also as a fish poison.[10] They are also used to treat sores, cough, influenza, sore throat, diarrhoea, swollen spleen after malaria.[11] In other provinces of Vietnam, the fresh nut is scraped and applied to sores; dried nut is ground into a powder, mixed with water and drunk to cure coughs, influenza, sore throat, bronchitis, diarrhoea and swollen spleen.[12] The bark is used in the treatment of tuberculosis.[11] In Yambio (Sudan), the inner bark is crushed and mixed with water and drunk to ease the aching associated with malaria. It is also used in combination with other plants as a medicine to treat tuberculosis in New Ireland and the Solomon Islands.[12]

Pharmacological Activities: Insect repellent,[5] Antibacterial and Antifungal.[13]

Dosage: To relieve the aching associated with malaria, inner bark is crushed and mixed with water and drunk, 2 cups per day for 2 days.[12]

Adverse Reactions: No information as yet.

Toxicity: No information as yet.

Contraindications: No information as yet.

Drug-Herb Interactions: No information as yet.

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