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Female - Herbs and Dysmenorrhea

by Paul Bergner

Medical Herbalism 10-31-97 9(3): 5-15

Mild to severe menstrual discomfort or other disorders of the menstrual cycle are among the most common medical conditions in North America. The normal menstrual cycle can vary from 21-35 days, with a duration of flow from 2-9 days, and a 30-60 ml blood loss (1-2 ounces). Disorders of the cycle can be due to the length of the cycle, length (or lack of) menstrual flow, and the amount of the flow. Medical terms and definitions for abnormal menstruation appear in the accompanying box.

Terminology for menstrual pathologies

Dysmenorrhea: painful menstruation, with cramping.

Menorrhagia: Excessive menstrual bleeding lasting longer than 7 days or blood loss exceeding 80 ml (2 2/3 ounces).

Hypomenorrhea: Scanty menstrual flow (less than 1 ounce)

Metrorrhagia: Irregular uterine bleeding.

Polymenorrhea: Episodes of menstrual bleeding occurring at less than 21 day intervals

Ethnobotanical and folk remedies abound for painful menstruation (dysmenorrhea) and excessive menstrual bleeding (menorrhagia), but treatment for the other conditions listed in the box do not appear in most folk literature. As many as 75% of women experience pain during menstruation at some time in their lives, and 5-6% have incapacitating pain. The conventional treatment is pain-relieving medications, and, sometimes, birth control pills to prevent ovulation. Medical researchers today think that an imbalance of prostaglandins are responsible for menstrual pain. Prostaglandins in the lining of the uterus may be responsible for the cramping of the uterine muscles. Aspirin, acetaminophen, ibuprofen and many other pain-relieving medications inhibit the synthesis of prostaglandins, and this could explain why they also relieve some cases of menstrual cramps. Many herbs traditionally used for painful menstruation contain constituents that also inhibit prostaglandins. Ginger, (Zingiber off.) perhaps the most widely used emmenagogue in folk medicine, contains at least eight such constituents (10-dehydrogingerdione, 10-gingerdione, 6-dehydrogingerdione, 6-gingerdione, 6-gingerol, curcumin, p-coumaric-acid, quercetin [Beckstrom-Sternberg and Duke, 1994]). Other traditional plants for dysmenorrhea, including cinnamon (Cinnamomum verum),basil (Ocimum basilicum), American pennyroyal (Hedeoma pulegioides), yarrow (Achillea millefolium), tansy (Tanacetum vulgare), juniper berry (Juniperus communis), and chamomile (Matricaria chamomile) each contain prostaglandin-inhibiting constituents (Beckstrom-Sternberg and Duke, 1994). Although the plants themselves have not been tested for pain-relieving activity, it is possible that these constituents are responsible for some of the effect observed in folk medicine. If prostaglandin-inhibition is a key action for relieving cramps, other natural therapies that promote prostaglandin balance, such as supplementation with magnesium or essential fatty acids, may be helpful.
 
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A common topic in folk medicine as well as contemporary herbal texts is “delayed menstruation,” often listed hand-in-hand with painful menstruation, and the two pathologies, like the herbs that treat them, may overlap. “Delayed menstruation” in such literature refers to a brief delay of the normal period, within the normal limits above, in a woman who knows that she is not pregnant. Alternative systems of medicine such as Chinese, Ayurvedic, and Arabic consider that menstruation may be painful or slightly delayed due to a condition described in Chinese medicine as “stagnant blood.” An equivalent description in modern physiology would be deficient circulation to the uterine lining. The chief causes of “stagnation” described by traditional systems are lack Of exercise and exposure to cold weather. Spasm of the uterine muscle may also reduce flow, perhaps explaining the common overlap in traditional medicine between herbs for dysmenorrhea and emmenagogues that increase menstrual flow.

Emmenagogues and dysmenorrhea

Each of the herbs described above is described in folkloric or alternative medicine as a treatment for both menstrual cramps and for delayed menstruation (See Table 1). They are warming, spicy herbs that increase peripheral blood flow, causing flushing of the skin, and promoting menstruation. Their antispasmodic constituents may promote menstruation by relieving uterine muscle spasm as well. A computer search of a U.S. Department of Agriculture database of medicinal plants for antispasmodic activity in medicinal plants turns up a number of the traditional emmenagogue herbs. A cluster of antispasmodic plant constituents — borneol, bornyl-acetate, limonene, and caryophyllene — appears in most of the plants in Tables 1 and 2, and each of the plants also contains a number of other antispasmodic constituents (See Table 2, appended at end of footnotes). Although these constituents, when extracted from plants and tested individually, have antispasmodic properties, the plants themselves have not been tested in trials for menstrual cramps. It is possible that the cumulative or synergistic effect of such constituents explains their traditional use for cramps as well as for promoting menstrual flow.

Plants used in folk medicine for both menstrual cramps and delayed menstruation

Plant                Regions of folk use

Ginger                 New England

(Zingiber off.)            Amish

                    New York

                    Indiana

Tansy                Southwest

(Tanacetum vulgare)        New England
 
 
 
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Juniper                Colonial American

(Juniperus communis)         Ancient Egypt

Pennyroyal             Native American

(Hedeoma spp.)             New England

                    Southwest

Chamomile            Colonial American

(Matricaria recutita)        19th century German immigrants

                    Indiana

                    Southwest

Basil                 Southwest

(Ocimum basilicum)        China

Yarrow                Worldwide

(Achillea millefolium)

Cinnamon             Chinese

(Cinnamomum verum)         Eclectics

Sources: Beckstrom-Sternberg and Duke; Felter; Hsu; Janos; Leung; McGrath; Meyer; Moore; Roeder; Tyler
 
 

Cramp bark, Black haw

Two species of the viburnum genus, cramp bark (Viburnum opulus) and black haw (Viburnum prunifolium), have been used in Native American medicine for menstrual pain and other types of spasmodic pain. The Cherokee, Delaware, Fox, and Ojibwa all used cramp bark, with the Delaware employing it specifically for menstrual pain. Both plants were used for menstrual pain or delayed menses in Thompsonian, Physiomedicalist, and Eclectic medicine.

The two species are used interchangeably in contemporary herbalism, but some differentiation may be made between them on the basis of prior medical use as well as on their constituent profile. The Physiomedicalist William Cook wrote in 1868 that V. opulus is primarily an antispasmodic, acting on the nervous system (Cook). V. prunifolium, according to Cook, is more useful as a uterine tonic for uterine weakness, prolapse, leukorrhea, and passive bleeding. Fifty years later, the Eclectic Harvey Felter wrote that both plants may be used as antispasmodics and tonics, but that V. opulus has stronger antispasmodic properties (Felter). Felter considered V. prunifolium to be one of the most important of the uterine tonics, saying that it was used as such “oftener than any other drug.” The Eclectic Finley Ellingwood agrees with Felter and suggests the prunifolium species as the best tonic, and V. opulus as having superior antispasmodic properties (Ellingwood).
 
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The two viburnum root barks have similar constituents, except that catechin and epicatechin are present in V. prunifolium but not in V. opulus. Arbutin, salicin, and salicylic acid have been found in V. prunifolium (Duke, 1992), but not in V. opulus. Both plants contain the antispasmodic constituents esculetin and scopoletin. Both of these are soluble in alcohol, more so in hot alcohol, and insoluble in water. Note: Scopoletin is also present in the traditional Chinese emmenagogue and antispasmodic dang gui (Angelica sinensis), and is sometimes prepared with hot alcohol, i.e. heated after being sprinkled with rice wine. See “Dang gui” below.

The chief therapeutic error made when treating acute severe menstrual cramps is to underdose, both in the size of the dose and its frequency. The German author R.F. Weiss suggests minimum doses of 20-30 drops, and a maximum of a teaspoon (Weiss). Doses may be repeated every several hours. Ellingwood suggests 20 drops every hour.

Raspberry leaf

In contemporary North American and European medical herbalism, raspberry leaf (Rubus ideaus) is probably the most famous of the “women’s” herbs. It is used as a tonic for the uterus, treatment for menstrual cramps, excessive menstrual bleeding, preparation for labor, and for female infertility. The leaf has been used in Europe for nourishment during pregnancy and preparation for delivery since ancient times, and is still mentioned for these purposes today in North America in the folk medicine of the Amish (McGrath, 1985) and of the Hispanic Southwest (Moore, 1990). The Chippewa, Cherokee, Iroquois, Kwakiutl, and Quinalt tribes have all used raspberry leaf or related rubus species as gynecological medicines (See Table 3) (Beckstrom-Sternberg et al, 1995).

Table 3

Rubus species in Native American gynecological ethnomedicine

Plant            part        preparation        use        tribe

Rubus allegheniensis    root        infusion        miscarriage    Chippewa

Rubus idaeus        leaf        decoction        labor pains    Cherokee

                 unspecified    infusion        menstrual pain    Cherokee

                unspecified    decoction        “period sickness”    Iroquois

Rubus occidentalis    leaf         decoction        labor pains    Cherokee

                unspecified    infusion        menstrual pain    Cherokee

                Root        decoction    “female weakness”    Chippewa
 
 
 
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Rubus odoratus         leaf        decoction        labor pains    Cherokee

                Plant        infusion        miscarriage    Iroquois

                unspecified    infusion        labor pains    Cherokee

Rubus parviflorus    leaf    unspecified            prolonged period    Kwakiutl

Rubus spectabilis        bark        decoction        labor pains    Quinault

                Root        decoction        labor pains    Quinalt

    Source: Beckstrom-Sternberg et al, 1995

A 1941 study in the Lancet medical journal identified antispasmodic and uterine sedative properties in various extracts of raspberry leaf for a variety of animals, but little research has been performed since then (Burn, 1941). The research may seem old, but it was performed by J.H. Burn, M.D., professor of pharmacology at Oxford University, and was published as the lead article in an issue of the prestigious Lancet. The trial was inspired by the traditional use of the plant for female complaints. Researchers used several water-based extracts of the leaves of Rubus ideaus in a variety of animals, including cats, dogs, and rabbits. They conclude: “In the course of this work, we have found that a principle is present which causes relaxation of the muscle of the uterus when this is tonically contracted, and which diminishes the force and frequency of rhythmic contractions [in labor].” Although the authors refer to “a principle” responsible for the uterine sedative effect, they speculate that more than one constituent in the water extract may be responsible. Table 4 shows constituents in raspberry leaf with properties that may account for the observed activities, although these have not been specifically tested in women.

Table 4

Constituents in Rubus ideaus leaf which may confer uterine sedative properties

Antispasmodic

    benzaldehyde

    ethyl-acetate

    farnesol

    magnesium (about 100 mg/ounce)

    potassium (almost 400 mg/ounce)

Muscle relaxant

    gallic acid

Sedative

    benzaldehyde

Source: Beckstrom-Sternberg and Duke, 1994
 
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Contemporary herbals have misinterpreted some of the findings of this trial to indicate that raspberry leaf will relax contracted uterine muscle, but promote tone in a relaxed muscle. This effect was seen only in the rabbit, not in the other animals tested, and only in the isolated rabbit uterus suspended in a water bath. Such conditions hardly resemble the normal human oral consumption of a tea. The researchers noted that the antispasmodic effect is predominant and that it increases with dose, and entitled their article “A principle...which relaxes uterine muscles.” They compared the pharmacological activities of the extract to that of tyramine, nicotine, and hydrastinine. The concentration of magnesium and potassium in raspberry leaf, both of which have antispasmodic properties, is within the range of oral therapeutic doses, an effect that may have been magnified because the extracts were given intravenously. The actions in Table 3, which shows some uses of raspberry leaf in the medicine of Native Americans, could all be attributed to antispasmodic effects.

Contemporary herbalists typically give raspberry leaf throughout pregnancy, or during the last one or two trimesters. Benefits on the uterine muscle may be partly due to long term nutritional tonic effects from calcium, magnesium, and/or potassium. The supposed antispasmodic effects of the plant would appear to contraindicate its use near labor. It is possible, however, that mild antispasmodic effects, relative to the strength of the contractions of labor, may normalize erratic or inefficient contractions. Such effects would be consistent with the traditional Native American use to reduce pain in childbirth.

Table 5 shows some of the minerals contained in an ounce of raspberry leaf. Strong decoctions of the leaf may be the best method to make larger amounts of the water-soluble minerals bioavailable. It is doubtful that small doses of the tincture would contain significant mineral content. The Physiomedicalist recommendation of an ounce of the leaf to a pint of boiling water produces a strong infusion or decoction. (Cook).

Table 5

Mineral content of raspberry leaf (Rubus ideaus) (mg/ounce of dry leaf)

Calcium        403    mg

Chromium    0.04

Iron        3.3

Magnesium    106

Manganese    4.8

Potassium        446

Selenium        0.08

                    Source: Pedersen, 1994
 
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Rubus and fertility

The manganese concentration, the amount in an ounce of the herb being about equal to the recommended dietary allowance for women, is unusually high for an herbal source, about twenty times the average of a sampling of fifteen common beverage teas (Pedersen; Beckstrom Steinberg and Duke, 1994), and may at least in part explain the traditional use of raspberry leaf for infertility. Manganese plays a role in so, many enzyme systems that its deficiency symptoms are very diverse. Current nutritional science says that gross manganese deficiency does not generally develop in humans unless it is deliberately withheld from the diet (Groff et al). However, manganese deficiency has been associated with reproductive disorders. Deficiencies have been associated with “compromised reproductive function” in animals (Groff et al), and infertility in cows has been related to insufficient manganese in overgrazed pastures (Hidiroglou; Barnouin et al). Neither manganese supplementation nor treatment with raspberry leaf preparations has been tested for efficacy in infertile humans.

Some contemporary herbals state that a uterotonic alkaloid called fragrine is present in raspberry leaf. No such alkaloid appears in any of the standard chemical references on plant alkaloids, nor in standard references for constituents in raspberry leaf.

Pennyroyal: potential toxicity

Various species of American pennyroyal (Hedeoma spp.) have been used in the treatment of dysmenorrhea, and as emmenagogues and abortifacients, in the ethnomedicine of North American Indians and in the folk medicine of New England, New York, and the Hispanic Southwest (Beckstrom-Sternberg et al.; Janos; Meyer; Moore). No single constituent accounts for its effects — it contains at least five antispasmodic constituents, and six sedatives  Most constituents are present in only small quantities, and may have no clinical effect in simple preparations of the whole plant. By concentration, the constituents pulegone and diosmin are most prominent.

The use of pennyroyal oil as an abortifacient has led to the deaths of several women in the U.S., with at least 18 cases of moderate to severe poisoning appearing in the scientific literature (Anderson et. al.). The presumed constituent responsible is pulegone, the main constituent of the essential oil. Pulegone is transformed into hepatotoxic metabolites in the liver (Mizutani et al; Thomassen et al.).

Anderson et al. reviewed all cases of hepatotoxicty in humans appearing in the scientific literature as of 1996, and concluded that a dose of 10 mL of penny-royal essential oil produced moderate to severe toxicity in humans. Hepatotoxicity may vary according to the size of the liver, the status of its glutathione antioxidant reserves, and the efficiency of the liver in transforming pulegone into the toxic metabolites. The authors did not identify a safe dose range.

There are no reports of toxicity in adults from consumption of pennyroyal tea (as opposed to the oil), the form most appropriate for dysmenorrhea. One scientific report showed a lack of abortifacient effects in a pregnant woman who consumed the tea during pregnancy (Black). Even teas, however, have caused death in infants who were given penny-royal as a treatment for colic (Bakerink et al). Presumably the smaller size or immaturity of the infant liver makes it susceptible to the toxicity of even the small amount of oil found in the tea.
 
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Although the plant has a long traditional use as a emmenagogue and antispasmodic, it is probably not an effective abortifacient, according to personal communications with contemporary professional herbalists. Women taking the oil in attempts to produce an abortion are rarely successful. This “abortifacient myth” associated with pennyroyal oil can produce deadly results if a woman, thinking that a little bit higher dose will produce the desired effect, raises the dose toward the toxic or fatal level. Pennyroyal oil is contraindicated for internal use. Even external use of the concentrated oil may present a hazard. Native Americans used a wash of the plant as an insect repellant, but the concentrated oil applied to the skin may produce fatal results, especially in a child or small pet. Absorption of pulegone through the skin killed a dog who was treated with the oil for fleas (Sedekum et al). Vomiting ensued within two hours and the dog died within forty-eight hours.

Dang gui, dong quai

Dang gui (Angelica sinensis), sometimes marketed as dong quai or tang kwei, is one of the most famous herbs in China, and may be used there more than any other. It appeared in the oldest book of Chinese herbalism, The Divine Husbandman’s Classic of the Materia Medica, around the first century C.E. Dang gui, using terminology from traditional Chinese medicine, builds Blood, and also moves Blood. The condition of stagnant Blood is described above, and dang gui is one of the primary herbs used to treat it in Chinese medicine. Stagnant Blood might include spasmodic pain such as that which accompanies menstrual cramps or arthritis. Dang gui has both analgesic and antispasmodic effects. Table 6 shows some of its constituents that may account for the observed clinical effects.

Table 6

Some activities of constituents in dang gui (Angelica sinensis)

Muscle relexant activity

    scopoletin

Uterine sedative activity

    ferulic acid

    scopoletin

Antispasmodic activity

    bergapten

    carvacrol

    ferulic-acid

    ligustilide

    scopoletin

    umbelliferone

Analgesic activity

    falcarindiol
 
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    falcarinol

    ferulic-acid

    p-cymene

    scopoletin

According to Foster and Chongxi, volatile constituents of dang gui relax smooth muscle, including the uterus. Non-volatile water soluble constituents stimulate uterine muscle. In China, dang gui is prepared in various ways that alter its properties by selecting these constituent fractions. Decoction removes the volatile constituents. Infusions on the other hand retain them. Sometimes sliced roots are sprinkled with alcohol (one part rice wine to ten parts of the root) and gently roasted. This may effectively extract the antispasmodic constituent scopoletin, which is soluble in hot alcohol, but not water. Scopoletin is also present in the antispasmodic Western Viburnum opulus and Viburnum prunifolium.

Angelica archangelica, or Western angelica, has traditionally been used as an emmenagogue, but it contains almost no constituents in common with A. sinensis. It does not contain ferulic acid, butyldenaphthalide, or butylphthalide considered by Chinese researchers to be key antispasmodic constituents in A. sinensis (the other key constituent being ligustilide) (Foster and Chongxi). Of the four, A. archangelica contains only ligustilide. The Western plant lovage (Levisticum officinale), which has been used in (China as a dang gui substitute (Foster and Chongxi), contains ligustilide, butyldenaphthalide, and butylphthalide. Levisticum also contains five volatile antispasmodic constituents in common with A. archangelica. The blood-building properties of dang gui may be due to the presence of folic acid, Vitamin B12, and other B-vitamins.

Dang gui is frequently combined with peony root (Paeonia lactiflora) (see below) and other herbs when treating menstrual cramps. The most famous women’ s tonic in China is the “four things decoction,” which combines equal parts of dang gui. peony root (Paeonia lactiflora), rehmannia (Rehmannia glutinosa), and ligusticum (Ligusticum sinensis). Peony root is described in detail below. Dang gui is a heating herb, and is not well-tolerated by individuals with signs of Heat in traditional Chinese terminology.

Peony root

Peony root (Paeonia lactiflora) is an important’ s women’s tonic in Chinese medicine. It is a primary treatment for menstrual cramps, and is often used in place of dang gui (see above) when heat signs are present and dang gui is contraindicated. It is also sometimes combined with dang gui to supplement and modify its activity. The chief constituent in peony root under investigation for pharmacological effects is paeoniflorin, which has been shown to have analgesic, muscle relaxant, antispasmodic, uterine sedative, and anti-inflammatory properties. {Picture 8}

A simple combination of peony and licorice (Glycyrrhiza spp.), a traditional Chinese formula, is approved for general use by physicians as an antispasmodic in Japan. The combination is best suited to spasms that accompanies an exhausted, deficient constitution, although it is used in Kampo medicine (contemporary Japanese medical herbalism) for Deficiency, Excess, Heat, and Cold conformations when severe spasm is present. Its antispasmodic effects are powerful enough that Chinese and Japanese physicians prescribe it not only for menstrual and digestive cramps but for such severe spasms as those that accompany gallstone and kidney stone attacks.
 
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Chinese and Japanese researchers have conducted dozens of trials, mostly in laboratory and animal trials, into the pharmacological properties of the suspected active constituents in the combination, paeoniflorin, glycyrrhizin, and glycyrrhetic acid. See for example Harada, 1969; Kimura et al, 1984; Kimura et al, 1985; Kobayashi et al, 1990; Takeuchi et al, 1989 and 1990; Tamaya et al, 1986; and Sugishita, 1984. The combination may lower testosterone levels via action on the ovary.

Chinese peony root, the form used clinically for cramps in Asia, has the root bark removed, and is white with a pinkish cast to it. This form is generally not available through Western herb sources, and should be obtained through Chinese herb trade suppliers.

References

Anderson IB, Mullen WH, Meeker JE, Khojasteh-BakhtSC, et al. Pennyroyal toxicity: measurement of toxic metabolite levels in two cases and review of the literature. Ann Intern Med 1996 Apr 15;124(8):726-734

Anonymous. Personal communications, 1978-1997.

Bakerink JA, Gospe SM Jr, Dimand RJ, Eldridge MW. Multiple organ failure after ingestion of pennyroyal oil from herbal tea in two infants. Pediatrics 1996 Nov;98(5):944-947

Barnouin J, Paccard P, Fayet JC, Brochart M, Bouvier A. Continuous ecopathological survey. 2. Typology of dairy cattle farms with high and low fertility. [Article in French] Ann Rech Vet 1983;14(3):253-264

Beckstrom-Sternberg, Stephen M., and James A. Duke. “The Phytochemical Database.” http://probe.nalusda.gov:8300/cgi-bin/browse/phytochemdb. (ACEDB version 4.3 - data version July 1994).

Beckstrom-Sternberg, Stephen M., Daniel E. Moerman, and James A. Duke. “The Medicinal Plants of Native America Database.” http://probe.nalusda.gov:8300/cgi-bin/browse/mpnadb. (ACEDB version 4.3 - data version June 1995).

Black DR. Pregnancy unaffected by pennyroyal usage. J Am Osteopath Assoc 1985 May;85(5):282

Burn JH and Withell ER. A principle in raspberry leaves which relaxes uterine muscles. Lancet 1941;2(6149):1-3

Cook, William H. The Physio-Medicalist Dispensatory. Cincinnati, Ohio: 1869

Duke, James A. 1992. Handbook of phytochemical constituents of GRAS herbs and other economic plants. Boca Raton, florida: CRC Press.

Ellingwood, Finley. American Materia, Therapeutics and Pharmacology. Portland, Oregon: Eclectic Medical Publications, 1919

Felter, Harvey. The Eclectic Materia Medica, Pharmacology, and Therapeutics. Portland, Oregon: Eclectic Medical Publications, 1922
 
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Foster, Steven, and Chongxi, Yue. Herbal Emissaries: Bringing Chinese Herbs to the West. Rochester, Vermont: Healing Arts Press, 1992

Groff, J, Gropper S, Hunt S., Advanced Nutrition and Human Metabolism, Second Edition. Minneapolis/St Paul, Minnesota: West Publishing, 1995

Harada M. Pharmacological studies on herb paeony root. IV. Analysis of therapeutic effects of paeony-and licorice-containing frequent prescriptions in Chinese medicine and comparison with effects of experimental pharmacological tests. Yakugaku Zasshi 1969 Jul;89(7):899-908

Hidiroglou M. Trace element deficiencies and fertility in ruminants: a review. J Dairy Sci 1979 Aug;62(8):1195-1206

Hsu, Hong-Yen. Oriental Materia Medica: A Concise Guide. New Canaan, Connecticut: Keats Publishing, 1986

Janos, Elisabeth. Country Folk Remedies: Tales of Skunk Oil, Sassafras Tea and Other Old-Time Remedies Gathered by Elisabeth Janos. New York: Galahad Books, 1990

Kimura M, Kimura I, Takahashi K, Muroi M, Yoshizaki M, Kanaoka M, Kitagawa I. Blocking effects of blended paeoniflorin or its related compounds with glycyrrhizin on neuromuscular junctions in frog and mouse. Jpn J Pharmacol 1984 Nov;36(3):275-282

Kimura M, Kimura I, Nojima H. Depolarizing neuromuscular blocking action induced by electropharmacological coupling in the combined effect of paeoniflorin and glycyrrhizin. Jpn J Pharmacol 1985 Apr;37(4):395-399

Kobayashi M, Ueda C, Aoki S, Tajima K, Tanaka N, Yamahara J. Anticholinergic action of Paeony root and its active constituents. Yakugaku Zasshi 1990 Dec;110(12):964-968

Leung, Albert Y. Chinese Herbal Remedies. New York: Phaidon Universe, 1984.

Mannliche, Lise An Ancient Egyptian Herbal. Austin, Texas: University of Texas Press, 1989

McGrath, William R. Amish Folk Remedies for Plain and Fancy Ailments. Burr Oak, Michigan: W. R. McGrath, 1985

Meyer, Clarence. American Folk Medicine. New York: New American Library, 1973

Mizutani T, Nomura H, Nakanishi K, Fujita S. Effects of drug metabolism modifiers on pulegone-induced hepatotoxicity in mice. Res Commun Chem Pathol Pharmacol 1987 Oct;58(1):75-83

Moore, Michael. Los Remedios: Traditional Herbal Remedies. Santa Fe, New Mexico: Red Crane Books, 1990

Pedersen, Mark. Nutritional Herbology: A Reference Guide to Herbs. Warsaw, Indiana: Wendell W. Whitman Company, 1994

Roeder, Beatrice A. Chicano Folk Medicine from Los Angeles, California. Berkeley, California: University of California Press, 1988

Sudekum M, Poppenga RH, Raju N, Braselton WE Jr. Pennyroyal oil toxicosis in a dog. J Am Vet Med Assoc 1992 Mar 15;200(6):817-818

Sugishita E, Amagaya S, Ogihara Y. Studies on the combination of Glycyrrhizae Radix in Shakuyakukanzo-To. J Pharmacobiodyn 1984 Jul;7(7):427-435
 
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Takeuchi T, Nishii O, Okamura T, Yaginuma T. Effect of traditional herbal medicine, shakuyaku-kanzo-to on total and free serum testosterone levels. Am J Chin Med 1989;17(1-2):35-44

Takeuchi T, Nishii O, Okamura T, Yaginuma T. Effect of paeoniflorin, glycyrrhizin and glycyrrhetic acid on ovarian androgen production. Am J Chin Med 1991;19(1):73-78

Tamaya T, Sato S, Okada HH. Possible mechanism of steroid action of the plant herb extracts glycyrrhizin, glycyrrhetinic acid, and paeoniflorin: inhibition by plant herb extracts of steroid protein binding in the rabbit. Am J Obstet Gynecol 1986 Nov;155(5):1134-1139

Thomassen D, Slattery JT, Nelson SD. Menthofuran-dependent and independent aspects of pulegone hepatotoxicity: roles of glutathione. J Pharmacol Exp Ther 1990 May;253(2):567-572

Tyler, Varro. The Honest Herbal: A Sensible Guide to the Use of Herbs and Related Remedies. Third Edition. New York: Haworth Press, 1993

Weiss, Rudolf Fritz. Herbal Medicine. Beaconsfield, England: Beaconfield Publishers, 1988 [Translated from the German Lerhbuch der Phytotherapie, Sixth Edition. Stuttgart: Hippokrates Verlag, 1985]

Table 2:

Some antispasmodic contsituents in traditional herbs used for menstrual cramps
 
 

Ginger

(Zingiber officinale)

bornyl-acetate

caffeic-acid

camphor

caryophyllene

curcumin

ethyl-acetate

farnesol

ferulic-acid

geraniol

limonene

linalol
 
 

Cinnamon

(Cimmanomum verum)

benzaldehyde

benzyl-benzoate

borneol

bornyl-acetate

camphor

caryophyllene

cinnamaldehyde

eugenol

farnesol
 
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geraniol

limonene

linalol

linalyl-acetate

mannitol

myrcene
 
 

Tansy

(Tanacetum vulgare)

apigenin

borneol

bornyl-acetate

caffeic-acid

camphor

caryophyllene

jaceidin

parthenolide

santamarine
 
 

Juniper berries

(Juniperus communis)

bornyl-acetate

camphor

caryophyllene

limonene

menthol

myrcene
 
 

Chamomile

(Chamomilla recutita)

alpha-bisabolol

apigenin

borneol

bornyl-acetate

caffeic-acid

chamazulene

chrysosplenol

farnesol

geraniol

isorhamnetin

jaceidin

luteolin

patuletin

thujone
 
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umbelliferone
 
 
 
 

Basil

(Ocimum basilicum)

alpha-bisabolol

anethole

apigenin

borneol

caffeic-acid

camphor

caryophyllene

eugenol

farnesol

geraniol

limonene

linalol

linalyl-acetate

luteolin

menthol

menthone

myrcene

thymol

valeric-acid
 
 

Pennyroyal

(Hedeoma pulegioides)

caryophyllene

limonene

linalyl-acetate

menthol

myrcene
 
 
 
 

Yarrow

(Achillea millefolium)

apigenin

borneol

bornyl-acetate

caffeic-acid

camphor

caryophyllene

chamazulene

eugenol
 
Copyright 2001 Paul Bergner    52

 

    Medical Herbalism: Clinical Articles and Case Studies    

isorhamnetin

limonene

luteolin
 
 

mannitol

menthol

myrcene

thujone
 
Copyright 2001 Paul Bergner    53