Important Medicinal Plants – compilation


Pharmaceutical Developments from Plants*
Written by Dr. Summer Ragosta

The information provided here is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, cure, prevent, or treat any illness or disease; neither is it the intention of Surfing Medicine International to prescribe any course of treatment or therapy.

The following list represents selected species only and is not exhaustive. For a more extensive compilation of plant-derived drugs including chemotherapeutic agents of plant origin, see Lewis and Elvin-Lewis (1977).

Apocynaceae
Catharanthus roseus (Madagascar Periwinkle) –
The indole alkaloids vincristine and vinblastine were isolated from C. roseus and have been used successfully in the treatment of Hodgkin’s disease, lymphosarcoma, and reticulum cell sarcoma (Hoffman 2003). This attractive flowering bush is commonly grown as an ornamental in tropical regions around the world. In Jamaica, C. roseus is used as a traditional treatment for diabetes (Mitchell & Ahmad 2006). Based on this information, Eli Lily Company discovered the anti-tumor effects of the alkaloids extracted from C. roseus (Sanders 2003) and has since developed pharmaceuticals that have saved thousands of lives.

Asteraceae
Artemisia annua (Annual Mugwort, Quinghao) –
Artemisinin and quinghaosu are among the active chemicals in this herb (Duke 1992). A. annua is used in aqueous infusions to treat malaria in Ghana (Asase et al. 2005).

Cannabaceae
Cannabis sativa and Cannabis indica (Ganja, Marijuana, Weed, Bud, Herb, Da Kine, Sensi, Mota, Pakalolo, Green Cigarette, KB, Hierba, etc.) –
Two notable drugs have been developed from phytochemicals found in C. sativa and are currently being legally prescribed by doctors in Jamaica for patients suffering from glaucoma, asthma, cancer and AIDS/HIV (Mathre 1997, Mitchell & Ahmad 2006). The drugs are marketed under the trade names of Canasol (eye drops prescribed for glaucoma) and Asmasol (prescribed for asthma and the nausea and decreased appetite associated with cancer and AIDS/HIV). Marinol, a Cannabis derived pill, can serve as an anti-emetic and appetite booster, and its immunomodulative effect should be taken into account in the treatment of any compromised immune condition (Cabral and Staab, 2005). Canada recently approved a Cannabis derived patented ‘Sativex’ breath spray designed by GW Pharmaceuticals that has shown success in trials for MS and advanced stages of treatment for cancer patients. There are numerous known methods of Cannabis ingestion, from gases to liquids to solids. Different people report different results when using different Cannabis indica and Cannabis sativa strains for different illnesses. The lack of legal research permits granted by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to scientifically and methodically research the ecological and public health effects of Cannabis has stymied the efforts of many international scientists to validate the efficacy of Cannabis as a medicine and as a plant used in bioremediation.

Euphorbiaceae
Homalanthus nutans (Mamala) –
Native to Samoa, Mamala is used traditionally to treat hepatitis (Cox 2001). Sanders (2004) reports on the historic partnership between ethnobotanist Paul Cox, the Samoan government, and the University of California, Berkeley to develop an anti-AIDS drug called Prostratin from extracts of H. nutans bark and stem. Technology that uses cloned genes from the tree to produce Prostatin may ensure sustainable yields.

Papaveraceae
Papaver somniferum (Opium Poppy) –
The Opium Poppy is an annual plant native to Asia Minor (modern day Turkey) whose potent soporific and analgesic effects have been known for centuries and were documented by history’s great physicians including Dioscorides, Galen, and Paracelsus (Taylor 1965). One of the main active constituents in Poppy is the alkaloid morphine, isolated in 1803 by Wilhelm Sertürner (Taylor 1965). Morphine is one of modern medicine’s greatest assets, providing effective relief from intense pain caused by cancer, surgery, and other disease / trauma (Rossi et al. 1996). Pharmaceutical companies have since developed synthetic versions of morphine including hydrocodone, the active ingredient in Vicodin. Other bioactive alkaloids extracted from Opium Poppy include codeine and papaverine. Heroin is a semi-synthetic substance created by acetylating morphine (Rossi et al. 1996).

Rubiaceae
Cinchona officinalis (Quina, Quina-quina) – The alkaloid quinine is found in the bark of this Peruvian species and is effective against Plasmodium flaccarpum (malaria) when taken as an aqueous infusion (Hoffman 2003).

Scrophulariaceae
Digitalis pupurea (Foxglove) –
The virtues of Foxglove were learned from an unnamed “old lady” who used it in combination with many other species as an effective cardiac tonic (Schiebinger 2004). The cardiac glycoside digitalin was subsequently discovered and specific extraction and standardization methods to produce derivatives including digitoxin and digitalis have been patented, leading to the development of life-saving cardiovascular drugs. This example of gaining medical information from herbalists whom are never given credit nor reciprocated is not unique.

Simaroubiaceae
Quassia amara (Quassia Wood) – Named after a Surinam slave who bought his own freedom by selling his medicinal plant knowledge (Schiebinger 2004), the bark of this South American species has a concentration of quassinoids (Duke 1992), which are highly toxic triterpenes that have shown striking antileukemic and antimalarial activity (Guo et al. 2005).

Taxacaceae
Taxus brevifolia (Pacific Yew) –
The alkaloid Taxol is naturally produced in the stem bark of this Pacific Northwest tree and the FDA has approved the phytochemical for use in clinical trials investigating its value in treating various forms of cancer including ovarian, node-positive breast, non-small cell lung, and AIDS-related Kaposi’s sarcoma (Hoffman 2003). Taxol’s mode of action involves cellular apoptosis, which may be induced by the disruption of microtubule dynamics, thereby inhibiting mitotic division (Foss et al. 2008).

*Species classifications according to Mabberley (1989)

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Plants* used to Treat Cancer in Africa
Compiled by Summer Austin

The information provided here is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, cure, prevent, or treat any illness or disease; neither is it the intention of Surfing Medicine International to prescribe any course of treatment or therapy.

This list represents selected species only and is not exhaustive.
Daniel Abbiw (1990) lists several species of plants used in Ghana to treat various forms of cancer:

Anacardiaceae
Spondias mombin (Hog Plum, Ashanti Plum) – aqueous extract of bark for uterine cancer

Annonaceae
Xylopia aethipica (Spice Tree, Ethiopian Pepper, Hwenetia) – nose cancer; also shown to have alkaloids with anti-malarial activity (Mabberley 1989)

Apocynaceae
Rauvolfia vomitoria (Kakapenpen) – general cancer
Voacanga africana (Ofuruma) – general cancer

Celastraceae
Maytensus buchananii, senegalensis (Mabberley 1989) – contain alkaloids including maytansine that are useful in treating pancreatic cancer

Cucurbitaceae
Momordica charantia (African Cucumber) – in combination with an unspecified part of Hilleria latifolia for breast cancer

Fabaceae
Abrus precatorius (Prayer Beads) – poultice of ground beans pods and water for external application to treat epithelioma

Lamiaceae
Ocimum basilicum (Eme) – stem twigs used to treat unspecified cancer

Moraceae
Ficus asperifolia (Sandpaper Tree) – breast cancer

Nyctaginaceae
Boerhavia diffusa (Hogweed) – breast cancer

Passifloraceae
Adenia rumicifolia var. miegei, lobata (Peteha) – used in combination with pepper, Guinea grains, and leaf of Musa paradisiaca (Plantain) for nose cancer

Plumbaginaceae
Plumbago zeylanica (Ceylon Leadwort, Opapohwea) – combined with Ricinus communis (Castor Oil plant) in an oil infusion for stomach cancer

Rutaceae
Zanthoxylum xanthoxyloides (Candle Wood), Z. gilletii (Okua) – unspecified parts to treat unspecified cancer

*Species classifications according to Mabberley (1989)

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Plants* used to Treat Cancer in the Caribbean
Compiled by Summer Austin

The information provided here is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, cure, prevent, or treat any illness or disease; neither is it the intention of Surfing Medicine International to prescribe any course of treatment or therapy.

This list represents selected species only and is not exhaustive.

Edward Ayensu (1981) lists several species used in the West Indies and Jamaica (respectively) for cancer treatment:

Amaryllidaceae
Hymenocallis tubiflora (Loyon Dill) – contains the alkaloid lycorin, known to have antineoplastic, antimalarial, and antibacterial activities (Ayensu 1981)

Asteraceae
Bidens pilosa (Spanish needle) – used in combination with other species for cancer (Ayensu 1981)

Bignoniaceae
Jacaranda coerulea (Cancer Bush) – parch leaves and prepare an aqueous infusion to bathe areas afflicted with skin cancer (Ayensu 1981)

*Species classifications according to Mabberley (1989)

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Coastal Species* useful for first aid: “Surfing Medicine
Written by Summer Austin

The information provided here is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, cure, prevent, or treat any illness or disease; neither is it the intention of Surfing Medicine International to prescribe any course of treatment or therapy.

This list represents selected species only and is not exhaustive.

 

Surfers, fisherman, and anyone who enjoys cruising the oceans and beaches will find this list of plants useful. It is a common belief that remedies are often found growing close to the cause of the ailment (Bennett 2007). So next time you drag yourself to shore with a fresh reef cut, sunburn, or jelly fish sting, you may find immediate relief right on the beach!

Aloeaceae
Aloe vera (Aloe, Single Bible) – sap from the leaves can be applied topically to soothe sunburn and other types of minor dermatitis

Araceae
Cocos nucifera (Coconut tree, Niu) – drink the water from the green fruits for rehydration; the meat or jelly can be eaten as an excellent source of sodium, potassium, protein, and fat (Robertson 1982)

Bignoniaceae
Spathodea campanulata (African tulip tree)- grows from coast to summits in some areas of Hawaii, and other tropical ecosystems. The leaf and bark are used in West Africa to treat Gonorrhea, Dysentery, Proctitis, Ulcers, Leprosy, and Syphilis (Githens 1949).

Caricaceae
Carica papaya (Papaya, Pawpaw) – rub the skin of the green fruit onto infectious wounds (Robertson 1982)

Rubiaceae
Morinda citrifolia (Noni) – for skin infections, place a leaf over an open flame or hot electric burner until the leaf is soft or withered and place over affected area; juice or pulp from the ripe fruit can also be used for skin infections by rubbing on affected area (Kaiahua 1997). In Tropical Africa, the root is used to treat fever, malaria, and yellow fever (Githens 1949).

*Species classifications according to Mabberley (1989)

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References

Abbiw, D.K. 1990. Useful Plants of Ghana West African Uses of Wild and Cultivated Plants. Intermediate Technology Publications Ltd., London, UK.

Asase, A., A.A. Oteng-Yeboaha, G.T. Odamttena, and M.S.J. Simmonds. 2005. Ethnobotanical Study of some Ghanaian anti-malarial plants. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 99:273-279.

Austin, S.M. and M.B. Thomas (eds.). 2004. Common Medicinal Plants of Portland, Jamaica. Centre for International Ethnomedicinal Education and Research, Gainesville, FL.

Ayensu, E.S. 1981. Medicinal Plants of the West Indies. Reference Publications, Inc., Algonac, MI.

Bennett, B.C. 2007. Doctrine of Signatures: An Explanation of Medicinal Plant Discovery or Dissemination of Knowledge? Economic Botany 61(3):246-255.

Cabral GA, Staab A (2005). “Effects on the immune system”. Handb Exp Pharmacol (168): 385–423.

Cox, P.A. 2001. Ensuring Equitable Benefits: The Falealupo Covenant and the Isolation of Anti-Viral Drug Prostratin from a Samoan Medicinal Plant. Pharmaceutical Biology 39(Supplement): 33-40.

Duke, J.A. 1992. Handbook of Phytochemical Constituents of GRAS herbs and other economic plants. CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL.

Foss, M., B.W.L. Wilcox, G.B. Alsop, D. Zhang. 2008. Taxol Crystals Can Masquerade as Stabilized Microtubules. PLoS ONE 3(1):e1476.

Githens, Thomas S. M.D. 1949. Drug Plants of Africa. University of Pennsylvania Press, The University Museum, Philadelphia, PA.

Guo, Z., S. Vangapandu, R.W. Sindelar, L.A. Walker, and R.D. Sindelar. 2005. Biologically Active Quassinoids and Their Chemistry: Potential Leads for Drug Design. Current Medicinal Chemistry 12:173-190.

Hoffman, D. 2003. Medical Herabalism The Science and Practice of Herbal Medicine. Healing Arts Press, Rochester, VT.

Kaiahua, K. 1997. Hawaiian Healing Herbs a Book of Recipes. Ka`imi Pono Press a division of Blue-Green Delta, Ltd., Honolulu, HI.

Lewis, W.H. and M.P.F. Elvin-Lewis. 1977. Medical Botany Plants Affecting Man’s Health. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New York, NY.

Mabberley, D. J. 1989. The Plant Book. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK.

Mathre, M.L. 1997. Cannabis in Medical Practice A Legal, Historical and Pharmacological Overview of the Therapeutic Use of Marijuana. McFarland & Company, Inc., Jefferson, NC.

Mitchell, S.M., M.H. Ahmad. 2006. A Review of Medicinal Plant Research at the University of the West Indies, Jamaica, 1948-2001. West Indian Medical Journal 55(4):243-269.

Robertson, D. 1982. Jamaican Herbs Nutritional & Medicinal Values. Jamaican Herbs Limited, Kingston, Jamaica.

Rossi, G.C., G.P. Brown, L. Leventhal, K. Yang, and G.W. Pasternal. Novel Receptor Mechanisms for Heroin and morphine-6?-glucuronide analgesia. Neuroscience Letters 216(1):1-4.

Sanders, M. 2003. Interview with Michael F. Brown, Author of Who Owns Native Culture?. The Journal of High Technology Law. http://www.law.suffolk.edu/highlights/stuorgs/jhtl/book_reviews/2003_2004/index.html

Sanders, R. 2004. Landmark agreement between Samoa and UC Berkeley could help search for AIDS cure. UC Berkeley Web Feature. www.berkeley.edu/news/media/releases/2004/09/29_samoa.shtm.

Schiebinger, L. 2004. Plants and Empire Colonial Bioprospecting in the Atlantic World. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, UK.

Taylor, N. 1965. Plant Drugs that Changed the World. George Allen & Unwin LTD., London, UK.

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