What is Lobelia and Benefits

Cutler described its utility in asthma in 1813 and Reece introduced this drug in 1829 to English medical profession.
The herb found indigenous to Eastern and Central U.S.A, and Holland consists of dried aerial parts of Lobelia inflata Linn. (Lobelia BP/USP) of the family Campanulaceae. It is official in British Pharmacopoeia and United States Pharmacopoeia. The Indian herb of lobelia consists of dried aerial parts of Lobelia nicotianae folia Heyne (Lobelia IP) of the family Campanulaceae. Lobelia is also referred as Indian tobacco, Herba lobelia, Lobelia herb or Asthma weed. Lobelia should contain not less than 0.55 percent of total alkaloids, calculated as lobeline.  

Lobelia consists of stems, leaves, flowers, fruits and seeds.

Morphological features of Lobelia BP/USP – Stem is green with purple patches. Upper part of stem is cylindrical hairy and the lower part is angular, channeled and less hairy. Leaves are mostly broken and are pale green in color. Leaves are ovate, oblong and irregularly toothed. Water pores are present on teeth and hairs are present on entire lamina especially on veins of lower surface. Flowers are light blue colored, 7mm long with a tubular corolla. Fruit is an inferior capsule and yellowish-green in color and inflated. Seeds are long and broad, reddish-brown colored. Lobelia has a slight irritating smell and taste is unpleasant, acrid and burning.

Morphological features of Lobelia IP – it has thick and thin stems. Thick stem is greenish to yellow, straight, cylindrical and hollow in the middle. Thin stems obtained from twigs are greenish-yellow, cylindrical. Leaves are of two types, lower leaves are bigger, yellowish-green pr greenish-yellow colored and upper leaves are smaller, dull green colored. They are lanceolate to oblong-lanceolate shaped with acute or acuminate apex. Upper surface of leaf is glabrous and lower pubescent (hairy). This drug has tobacco-like odour and acrid nauseating taste. Lobelia pyramidilis is met with as an adulterant of Indian lobelia.

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What is Ashwagandha ?

Ashwagandha also known by names like winter cherry, Asgandh, or Withania root consists of dried roots and stem bases of Withania somnifera Linn. belonging to the family Solanaceae. Withania is also known as Indian Ginseng and Ashwagandha is considered similar to ginseng. As such Withania genus comprises of about 23 species but economically only two species are considered and they are Withania somnifera (Ashwagandha) and Withania coagulans (Ashutosh booti). So, we will be discussing Ashwagandha only. 

Ashwagandha is a small woody herb or shrub found in diverse areas ranging from Africa, the Mediterranean and East into India. The dried tuberous roots are used for medicinal purpose and so, let us get to know about the root morphologically. Roots are buff to grey colored externally with longitudinal wrinkles. They are unbranched, straight, and conical and some of them also bear a crown that possesses a number of bud scars. Taste of root is bitter-mucilaginous and fresh roots smell similar to urine of horse.

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What is Datura and Benefits

A well-known ingredient that was used in love potions and witches’ brews, Datura has found itself a long historical use. Datura also known as Angel’s trumpets or Moonflowers or Devil’s berry consists of the dried leaves and flowering tops of Datura metel Linn. and Datura metel var.factuosa belonging to the family Solanaceae. It should contain not less than 0.20% of total alkaloids of Datura calculated as levo-hyoscyamine. The percentage of alkaloids in Datura metel var.factuosa is 1.5 times more than that of Datura metel.

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What is Areca?

Areca, a slender perennial palm, trunk, reaching a height of about 25-30 m, belonging to the family Arecaceae is a genus consisting single-stemmed palms of nearly 50 species among which the best-known member is Areca catechu which also goes by the names Betel Palm, Areca nut, areca quid, Areca Palm, Pinang Palm, Supari, Puga.

It is cultivated in coastal regions of South India, Malaysia, Srilanka, South China and East Indies and in tropical to subtropical climates of East Africa, South Asia and the Pacific Islands. The name Areca comes from a local Malay name from Malabar Coast of India and Catechu also from a local name for this palm, caccu. Areca catechu has served many purposes to mankind over the years. The fruit has been used for medicine and food while tree/Palm for shelter and handicraft goods.

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Senega and its Benefits

Senega plant, scientifically known as Polygala senega or Polygata senega var.latifolia, has been known to medicinal world for long. Senega root is the key part, providing most of its health benefits. Senega root is also known as Senega snake root, Radix senegae, Rattlesnake root,  milkwort and mountain flax.

Senega root has a peculiar shape. It has an elongated tapering grayish to brownish-yellow colored root with a tufted crown. The crown is linked to the bases of large number of aerial stems, buds and small shoots; and consists of numerous purplish buds. The root is either found singly or divided into branches just below the crown portion. It shows presence of keel (a sharp spiral tapering potion). It has a smooth and splintery fracture. Senega tastes sweet at first and then gets acrid. It has a characteristic odour.

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What is Belladonna and its Health Benefits

Belladonna derives its name from the Italian word ‘Bella’ meaning beautiful and ‘donna’ meaning lady. Belladonna was introduced for the first time in the London Pharmacopoeia in 1809. Historically, it was used as witch-craft in the middle-ages. Its juice was used as a cosmetic.

Belladonna coming under tropane alkaloids consists of dried leaves and aerial parts of Atropa belladonna Linn.(European belladonna) or Atropa acuminata Royle ex Lindley(Indian belladonna) or mixture of both the species collected during the flowering stage of the plants. These species belongs to family Solanaceae. It contains not less than 0.3% of tropane alkaloids, calculated as ‘hyoscyamine’. Its popular names include Folia belladonna, Deadly night shade leaves, Poison Black cherry or simply belladonna herb. 

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What is Squill and its Health Benefits

Squill is biological source is dried slices of bulbs of two species Urginea maritima (European squill) and Urginea indica (Indian squill) both belonging to family Liliaceae/Hyacinthaceae. Genus name, Urginea is derived from an Arabian tribe, Ben Urginea and was coined by German botanist, Adolphe Steinhill along with the identification of other species. There are numerous other species of Squill like Scilla siberica (Siberian squill), Scilla peruviana (Portuguese Squill), Scilla bifolia (Alpine Squill) which are commonly not used much nowadays.

Squill is a perennial geophyte with fibrous roots proceeding from the base of large, tunicated, globular bulb, 6-10 inches tall. It’s rounded pear-shaped bulbs with white transparent outer scales, about the size of a big onion consisting of thin and papery red or orange-brown coloured fleshy coats enclosing each other completely. Bulbs grow in half submerged condition in sandy soil and sends long, lanceolate, pointed, shinning, dark green leaves 2 feet long when fully grown. Bulbs are pale yellowish to white coloured, bitter, acrid and mucilaginous in taste and slight in odour. The plant blooms whitish flowers which stand on purple peduncles in April and May which is followed by oblong capsules.

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What is Liquorice and its Health Benefits

Liquorice or Licorice drug includes peeled as well as unpeeled stolons, roots and stems of Glycyrrhiza species belonging to the Leguminosae family. There are mainly three varieties of licorice and they are Glycyrrhiza glabra var.typica (Spanish licorice), G.glabra var.glandulifera (Russian licorice) and G.glabra var.violacea (Persian licorice). 

The Spanish licorice plant appears like an erect shrub up to 1.5 meters high bearing purplish blue colored papilionaceous flowers and it gives out large number of stolons. The Russian licorice plant has a big root stock along with a number of elongated roots, but does not bear stolons. The Persian licorice plant shows violet flowers. They have a faint and characteristic odour with a sweet taste. Unpeeled pieces are wrinkled longitudinally whereas peeled drug is fibrous without wrinkles. 

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is Dioscorea?

Dioscorea, a pan-continental genus of over 600 species/taxa of family Dioscoreaceae is mainly found in Africa, India, Southeast Asia, Australia, and tropical America. About only 12 out of 600 species are considered edible. Its name comes from ancient Greek physician and botanist Dioscorides. It’s a tuberous herbaceous perennial climber 2-12m or taller, slightly brown in colour, odourless, bitter in taste, with alternate, broad heart-shaped leaves and soft, horizontally arranged rhizomes. It consists of greenish – yellow, six petaled, mostly dioceious, rarely monoeicious flowers.

Also known by the names Rheumatism root, colic root, yam. The word yam is derived from African word for root/tuber ‘nyami’. Different species are known by different yam names i.e Chinese yam (D.opposita), Air yam/potato (D.bulbifera), wild yam (D.villosa), bitter yam (D.dumetorum), lesser yam (D.esculenta), water yam (D.alata), cush-cush yam (D.trifida), white yam (D.rotundata) etc.

A yam is not, contrary to belief in the US and UK a sweet potato. Yams are starchier and drier as compared to sweet potatoes.
The edible part used in yam is tuber whereas it’s storage roots in case of sweet potatoes. Yams taste more like potatoes (starchy) than sweet potatoes (sweet).

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Health Benefits of Thevetia or Oleander

Thevetia or oleander is acknowledged by different names in different parts of world like be-still nuts in Hawaii, cascaveleria in Brazil, cerebra Thevetia in India, yee tho in Thai, lucky nut is West Indies etc.  Oleander itself consist of two plant species – Nerium oleander (common oleander) and Thevetia peruviana (yellow oleander) belonging to family apocynaceae or dogbane.

Thevetia is an evergreen shrub or tree, having funnel shaped bright yellow or sometimes orange-red colour flowers which is a most attractive feature and therefore it is utilised mostly for landscaping. It is planted as ornamental plant in gardens and parks in tropical and subtropical regions, tolerates most soils and is drought tolerant.

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