Review on the Therapeutic Effects of Aloe spp.

Aloe species’ (Xanthorrhoeaceae) leaf pulp has been used in Iranian traditional medicine (ITM) dating back to the eighth century CE. The genus has 446 species, with aloe vera (Aloe vera, Xanthorrhoeaceae) the most commonly used and studied. Aloe spp. grow wild in tropical regions of the world but only a few species have been commercially cultivated. Aloe spp. are grown for health foods, medicines, cosmetics, and decoration. Products include inner leaf gel and a bitter yellow latex (also called aloe juice) from peripheral bundle sheath cells just under the leaf surface.* Aloe leaf pulp is about 98.5% water but also contains at least 75 other compounds. The majority of these are mannose-based polysaccharides, and to a lesser extent, anthraquinones/anthrones, carbohydrates, chromones, phenolics, enzymes, and water- and fat-soluble vitamins, minerals, proteins, and organic acids. Aloe-emodin, an anthraquinone in Aloe latex, has been well studied. Aloin, aloesin, aloenin, and aloeresin are also unique Aloe compounds. The authors explored ITM texts for references to Aloe spp. and compared uses found there with modern pharmacological studies. They do not describe their literature search.

In the 17 ITM texts reviewed, Aloe spp. are described as hot and dry in temperament; and in most, as strong laxatives (for bile, yellow bile, and phlegm), and drying, fattening, soporific, warming, relaxing, resolving, cleansing, and bitter agents. ITM uses are categorized by the organs or physical systems involved. These include liver- and kidney-protective effects, supported for both aloe vera and candelabra aloe (A. arborescens) by pharmacological studies, with most attention paid to the species’ anti-inflammatory, antioxidative, antifibrotic, and lipid-modifying effects. A review of candelabra aloe reported it most active in treating liver diseases, especially cancers. Aloe‘s uses for gastrointestinal (GI) problems are among the most reported in the traditional literature, with preparations prescribed for many stomach ailments and loss of appetite. Powdered Aloe leaf pulp also was mentioned for GI problems. Hemorrhoids, constipation, helminthic infestations, flatulence, and anal fissures were treated with Aloespp. However, Aloe treatment was contraindicated in some cases of hemorrhoids or anal fissures and could cause hemorrhage by relaxing the rectal veins. ITM often used Aloe spp. with other herbs for intestinal diseases to prevent excess dryness. Preclinical studies support the use of aloe vera and its compounds for colitis, intestinal polyps, irritable bowel syndrome, and stomach ulcers, among others. An aqueous extract of bitter aloe (A. ferox) was a potent laxative in vivo.

In the upper respiratory tract, ITM used Aloe spp. especially for asthma, via inhalation of burned leaf smoke. They were also used for mouth, nose, tongue, and gum diseases. Polysaccharides and glycoprotein fractions of Aloe are reported to improve peripheral phagocytosis, supporting the traditional use for asthma. Bioaron C® (Phytopharm Klęka S.A.; Nowe Miasto nad Wartą, Poland), an herbal medicine made with an aqueous extract of candelabra aloe, was effective against influenzas A and B and other viruses in vitro. This product also showed significant antimicrobial and antifungal activity in vitro in another study. It is the only commercial product among the many studies of Aloe spp. these authors cite. In mice, an aloe vera gel extract showed promise in modulating tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum, Solanaceae) smoking-induced changes in pulmonary tissue. Extracts of aloe vera and bitter aloe are reported to act against herpes simplex viruses 1 and/or 2 in vitro, supporting ITM use of Aloe spp. for many genitourinary diseases, particularly genital ulcers and lesions.

Most ITM books investigated report Aloe‘s uses in cleansing the brain of waste humors (yellow bile and phlegm) and warming the brain. It was used for depression, schizophrenia, obsession, and headache; to strengthen mental acuity and for insomnia. Pharmacological studies of Aloe spp. and their extracts report hypnotic, peripheral analgesic, and neuroprotective effects. Improvements in memory, learning, cognitive function, and a potential anti-Parkinson’s disease effect also have been reported. A candelabra aloe extract was “a potent agent” in vitro in an Alzheimer’s disease model. Anticonvulsant activity, mitochondrial protection, and a protective effect against cerebral ischemia have all been reported in vitro or in vivo.

Preparations of Aloe spp. are used in ITM for skin problems from infections to allergies, wounds, malignant lesions, ulcers, bruises, and parasitic skin infestations. Aloe is a moisturizing agent, despite its dry nature, slowing evaporation of the skin’s moisture from sun and wind exposure. Skin protective activity seen in vitro and in vivo includes benefits in healing burn wounds (perhaps the best-known folk use for Aloe species globally); anti-infective and anti-allergic effects; and a significant increase in collagen. Raw mucilaginous gel of A. littoralis was reported to be a potential wound-healing and anti-inflammatory agent. Eyes and hair benefited from ITM applications of Aloespp. and extracts, borne out at least in part by preclinical studies. Socotrine aloe (A. perryi) and aloe vera were used in other in vitro and in vivo studies. ITM used Aloe spp. for arthralgia, gout, and other problems of the joints, muscles, and bones; no modern studies have explored these uses. Oddly, 35 clinical studies of Aloe spp. in conditions affecting several organ systems are relegated to a table and not discussed.

While Aloe spp. are generally considered safe, ITM scientists reported that they could harm the liver if overused, a toxicity reflected in a few modern case reports. These effects could be due to preparations and/or dosages used. Some species have toxic compounds, e.g., Yemen tree aloe (A. sabaea). Additional studies are certainly warranted to explore efficacy and dosage for a range of relevant conditions.

* However, beverages containing “aloe juice” contain only the liquefied gel, sometimes mixed with water or some citrus (Citrus spp., Rutaceae) juice, with the latex removed. Apparent differences in the chemical composition of aloe gel and latex are barely touched upon in this review.

Resource:

Akaberi M, Sobhani Z, Javadi B, Sahebkar A, Emami SA. Therapeutic effects of Aloe spp. in traditional and modern medicine: a review. Biomed Pharmacother. December 2016;84:759-772.

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249 Main Street, Wethersfield, CT, Connecticut 06109, Wethersfield real estate, Wethersfield commercial property

249 Main Street, Wethersfield, CT, Connecticut 06109, Wethersfield real estate, Wethersfield commercial property,, https://www.raveis.com/raveis/G10146946/249mainstreet_wethersfield_ct

heirloom houseSource: 249 Main Street, Wethersfield, CT, Connecticut 06109, Wethersfield real estate, Wethersfield commercial property

Don’t miss your chance to own a piece of history, located directly next door to Historic Comstock Ferre & Co Seed Company & The Heirloom Market in Weathersfield, CT.  Immerse yourself in Old Wethersfield by owning the Simeon Belden House (circa1767). One of the most important seed related houses in America, it is the home place of the original Wethersfield Seed Gardens.  The Belden House features high-style Georgian facade, gambrel roof, scroll pediment front doorway, and raised garden beds in the backyard. The property is adjacent to historic Comstock Ferre & Co, currently operated by the Heirloom Market offering a full selection of Baker Creek Seeds.

The National Heirloom Expo – SEPTEMBER 5-7 2017, Santa Rosa CA

 

Help us get the word out about the Heirloom Expo

Event Info at theheirloomexpo.com

We are in high gear preparing for our 7th annual National Heirloom Exposition onSeptember 5, 6, 7 in Santa Rosa, California.  We are again seeking volunteers to help us spread the word. We need your help especially if you live on the West Coast and would like to distribute brochures to let people know about the Expo, please email us atinfo@theheirloomexpo.com.  Please consider sharing the info with your garden groups, educational organizations, churches, pure food societies, etc.

The National Heirloom Expo features three full days of nationally and internationally acclaimed speakers that include Vandana Shiva, Ronnie Cummins, Jeffrey Smith, Robert Kennedy, Jr., along with much more.  More than 4000 varieties of local produce will by displayed.  Purchase gardening supplies, seeds, sustainable living goods, and so much more from 300 vendors.  The exhibit hall will be home to more than 150 heirloom-related exhibits.

Please email us at info@theheirloomexpo.com and let us know how many brochures you can distribute to let more people know about this exciting event.

SEPTEMBER 5-7 2017, Santa Rosa CA

Source: The National Heirloom Expo – SEPTEMBER 5-7 2017, Santa Rosa CA

Four Power Herbs for Summer – Urban Moonshine

Here are four summer power herbs that are not only in gorgeous bloom, but are also appropriate for the times and can act as everyday medicine.

Source: Four Power Herbs for Summer – Urban Moonshine

Review on the Effectiveness of Aloe Vera for Oral Diseases

The succulent leaves of the aloe vera (Aloe vera, Xanthorrhoeaceae) plant have been used medicinally for hundreds of years. The clear gel, or mucilage, found inside the leaves, is well known for having wound-healing, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antitumor, and analgesic properties. These attributes could potentially help in treating oral ailments. The aim of this systematic review was to accumulate and assess clinical trials evaluating the effectiveness of aloe vera preparations in treating various oral diseases.

Studies on aloe vera were eligible if they were randomized, controlled, single- or double-blind, cross-sectional, or case-controlled trials published as full papers in English. PubMed (Medline), Scopus, Cochrane Database, Embase, and ScienceDirect were searched from July 1998 to December 2015. Search terms included “herbs,” “Ayurveda,” and “oral mucosa.” The Jadad scale (a scale ranging from 0 to 5, where the higher number indicates higher trial quality) was used to assess quality.

In total, 15 articles met the inclusion criteria. Only six trials achieved a Jadad score of 4/5; the rest scored between 0 and 3. Most studies were carried out in hospital clinics in countries such as Iran, Spain, India, the United States, and Saudi Arabia. Study populations ranged from 20 to 110 patients with clinically diagnosed oral mucosal lesions. Five of the 15 studies focused on patients with oral lichen planus (OLP). Two studies examined efficacy on oral submucous fibrosis (OSMF) in patients. The remaining studies investigated the effects of aloe vera on burning mouth syndrome, radiation-induced mucositis, Candida-associated denture stomatitis, xerostomia, and minor recurrent aphthous/stomatitis. All studies demonstrated a low risk of bias using the Cochrane Risk of Bias Tool. Blinding bias was low among all studies except one on Candida-associated denture stomatitis. Randomization sequence bias was high in seven studies.

Most studies showed statistically significant results for efficacy of aloe vera in treatment of oral lesions. There were no withdrawals due to adverse effects of aloe vera in any of the clinical trials. This review found aloe vera was most beneficial in patients with OLP. All five studies in patients with OLP demonstrated a low risk of bias and proved aloe vera effectively reduced lesion-associated pain and burning sensation, leading to partial or complete remission of symptoms. Studies conducted in patients with OSMF showed aloe vera to be effective in all stages of OSMF, particularly mild-stage OSMF clinically and early-stage OSMF histopathologically. Pain and burning sensations were significantly reduced in OSMF studies, and other outcome measures (mouth opening, cheek flexibility, tongue protrusion) were promising. The overall quality of OSMF studies was good with low risk of bias. Four trials in patients with aphthous stomatitis were reviewed, consisting of 319 patients. The overall quality of these studies was good. Lesion healing improved and there was significant remission of pain, erythema, and lesion size. Aloe vera was found to be less beneficial in patients with radiation-induced mucositis, as it was not effective in improving tolerance to head and neck radiotherapy, decreasing mucositis, or decreasing soreness; however, quality-of-life measures were improved in the patients receiving aloe vera. In the single Candida study reviewed, aloe vera had an anticandidal oral effect surpassed by that of Triphala, an Ayurvedic combination remedy.

Lack of randomization, lack of double-blinding, and a lack of description for withdrawals, dropouts, and methods to generate the sequence of randomization were all prevalent limitations that excluded trials from this review. The studies included demonstrated aloe vera has a wide spectrum of properties and uses and is a promising agent in treating oral lesions. However, based on this review, aloe vera may be better suited to OLP, OSMF, and aphthous stomatitis lesions versus those induced by radiation or Candida. For aloe vera to be more seriously considered for clinical treatment of oral lesions, future clinical trials should strive to meet more rigorous standards.

Resource:

Nair GR, Naidu GS, Jain S, Nagi R, Makkad RS, Jha A. Clinical effectiveness of aloe vera in the management of oral mucosal diseases – A systematic review. J Clin Diagn Res. August 1, 2016;10(8): ZE01-ZE07. doi: 10.7860/JCDR/2016/18142.8222.

 

Artichoke Leaf Extract Shows a Potential Mild Benefit to Those with Metabolic Syndrome

Metabolic syndrome refers to a cluster of abnormalities such as hyperlipidemia, hyperglycemia, and obesity, and may lead to the development of diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. This condition is also associated with excess reactive oxygen species (ROS), and this redox imbalance is thought to correlate with further problems in metabolic syndrome. Artichoke (Cynara scolymus, Asteraceae) is consumed as a food and used medicinally for gastrointestinal problems. Artichoke leaf extract (ALE) has been shown to have beneficial effects for certain aspects of metabolic syndrome and is reported to have elevated antioxidant capacity. This double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized, clinical trial investigated the potential effects of ALE intake on the oxidative stress and diet of patients with metabolic syndrome.

This study took place in Khoy, Iran, from November 2014 to May 2015. Metabolic syndrome was defined for this study as having 3 or more of the following: fasting blood sugar ≥ 100 mg/dL; triglyceride (TG) concentrations ≥ 150 mg/dL; blood pressure ≥ 130/85 mmHg; high-density lipoprotein cholesterol < 40 mg/dL for men or < 50 mg/dL for women; and waist circumference ≥ 95 cm (both men and women). Patients who wished to be in the study and were 20-50 years old were included. Those with systemic diseases such as diabetes, cancer, or Crohn’s disease, or those who, within the past 3 months, were consuming fish oil or antioxidant supplements, were taking pharmaceuticals for lipids or blood pressure or taking corticosteroids, were excluded. Also, those who smoked, were actively trying to lose weight, or had an allergy to artichoke, as well as women who were pregnant, lactating, or menopausal, were excluded.

The primary outcome of the study was any alteration in oxidative stress, with food consumption changes serving as the secondary outcome. The treatment and placebo were provided in tablet form by Dineh Pharmaceutical Company; Qazvin, Iran. ALE was prepared as a water-alcohol extract of leaves, standardized to contain 450 mg of a hydroalcoholic extract of artichoke leaf, with at least 4-5% chlorogenic acid. Placebo tablets contained corn (Zea mays, Poaceae) starch, lactose, and Avicel® (microcrystalline cellulose). Daily dosage was 4 tablets of either ALE (1,800 mg total) or placebo, with 1 tablet taken before breakfast and dinner, and 2 tablets taken before lunch. The total treatment duration was 12 weeks. Unused tablets served as a gauge of compliance. Patients were told not to alter their diet or exercise regimens and to report any adverse side effects.

Physical parameters (body mass index [BMI], weight, and waist circumference) and blood pressure were taken both at baseline and endpoint of the study. Physical activity was measured using the International Physical Activity Questionnaire, with results reported as high, moderate, and low, and dietary information was gathered using the software Nutritionist IV (First DataBank; San Bruno, California). Fasting blood was used for quantifying blood parameters; glutathione peroxidase and superoxide dismutase, both antioxidant enzymes, were measured in red blood cells, while total antioxidant capacity, TG, oxidized low-density lipoprotein (ox-LDL), and malondialdehyde concentrations, the latter both markers of oxidative stress, were measured in serum.

From 256 patients with metabolic syndrome, 80 were randomly assigned, with 40 patients in each group. In the ALE group, 7 patients were dropped from the study due to hypothyroidism or protocol violations, and 5 were dropped from the placebo group due to stopping the treatment or protocol violations; 33 patients in the ALE group and 35 in the placebo group finished the study. At baseline, no differences were seen between groups in any of the parameters, with 2 exceptions—in the placebo group, BMI was lower (P = 0.051) and diastolic blood pressure was significantly less (P = 0.030). Ox-LDL concentrations decreased significantly in those consuming ALE as compared with baseline (5,647.42 ± 1,031.93 ng/L vs. 5,914.28 ± 965.28 ng/L, P = 0.030). The decrease in ox-LDL across the study in the ALE group was also significantly greater as compared with that in the placebo group (−4.5% vs. −2.3%, P = 0.033). No other changes or differences in oxidative stress markers or enzymes were noted. No adverse side effects were observed.

The consumption of vitamin E and zinc significantly declined at the end of the study in the placebo group (P < 0.05 for both), and the amount of decrease in zinc consumption in the placebo group was significantly greater than that of the ALE group across the study (P = 0.019). In the ALE group, vitamin C consumption decreased, bordering significance (P = 0.061). Also, the percent decrease in TG concentrations was greater at the end of the study in the ALE group as compared with the placebo group (−17.74% vs. −5.02%, P = 0.010). No other parameters, including physical activity, were different from the study.

In conclusion, ALE consumption reduced ox-LDL as well as TG concentrations, indicating a potentially mild benefit to those with metabolic syndrome. As antioxidant status was unaffected in this study, oxidant status may have been acute or the oxidant stress too moderate to be detected. The authors suggest that the bioactivity observed may be due to compounds in ALE. There were some uneven physical parameters at baseline that may have influenced the outcomes reported here. Other discussed limitations include a short study duration and high amount of tablet consumption. Ideally, future studies will investigate the utility of ALE ingestion as an adjuvant for those with metabolic syndrome. The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Resource:

Rezazadeh K, Aliashrafi S, Asghari-Jafarabadi M, Ebrahimi-Mameghani M. Antioxidant response to artichoke leaf extract supplementation in metabolic syndrome: a double-blind placebo-controlled randomized clinical trial. Clin Nutr. March 23, 2017; [epub ahead of print]. pii: S0261-5614(17)30108-5. doi: 10.1016/j.clnu.2017.03.017.

Belladonna

Despite being a very poisonous plant, people have used belladonna in many different ways throughout history.

While it has been used as a poison in the past, scientists today extract chemicals from belladonna for use in medicine. These chemicals, when used under a doctor’s supervision, can treat a range of afflictions, from excessive urination at night to irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

What is belladonna?

Belladonna plant
The belladonna plant may also be called deadly nightshade.

Belladonna (Atropa belladonna) is a poisonous plant, native to parts of Asia and Europe. It is sometimes known as deadly nightshade.

Belladonna produces small, black berries that must not be eaten. Eating the berries or leaves can be deadly. Similar to poison ivy, a person whose skin comes into direct contact with the leaves may develop a rash.

In ancient times, people used belladonna for its toxic properties, as an oral poison or on the tips of arrows.

Some scholars believe that Shakespeare referenced belladonna in his play, “Romeo and Juliet.” It is possible that Belladonna was the poison that Juliet drank to fake her death.

As time progressed, people used belladonna for cosmetic and medicinal purposes. For example, doctors used it as an antiseptic before surgery in medieval Europe.

During the Italian Renaissance, which lasted from the 14th to 16th century, fashionable women drank the juice of belladonna berries to dilate their pupils. Belladonna owes its name to this practice, as it means “beautiful woman” in Italian.

In modern times, optometrists often use belladonna to help dilate pupils when examining a person’s eyes.

Other recent uses of belladonna include over-the-counter creams and other herbal supplements. Despite its commercial availability, people are strongly advised to use belladonna with caution and under a doctor’s care.

belladonnaMedicinal uses

When used correctly in appropriate doses, belladonna is safe to use as part of regular medicinal practices.

It is important to note that ingesting even small amounts of the leaves or berries can be deadly. Small children and infants are, particularly at risk. Be sure to use caution when storing medicines that contain belladonna.

Scopolamine and atropine

Belladonna contains chemicals used to treat conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome.

Belladonna contains two chemicals used for medicinal purposes.

The first chemical is scopolamine, which is used primarily for reducing body discharges. It is also helpful in reducing stomach acid, which can help with both nausea and acid reflux.

Scopolamine is also used for controlling the heart rate and relaxing muscles.

The second compound extracted from belladonna is atropine. Similar to scopolamine, atropine can be used to help reduce bodily discharge, but it is not as effective as scopolamine when used as a muscle relaxant and in heart rate control.

Also, atropine can be used to dilate the eyes. In some cases, atropine works as an antidote to insect poison and chemical warfare agents.

Once extracted, one or both chemicals are combined with other medications to help treat some diseases and conditions.

Some of the treatments target:

  • motion sickness
  • irritable bowel syndrome
  • stomach ulcers
  • excessive nighttime urination
  • diverticulitis
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • pink eye

When taken as part of a prescribed medication, belladonna is considered mostly safe. Like all medicines, it can have side effects, and people should consider its use very carefully.

As with any potentially harmful medication, it is best to speak to a doctor before using a product containing belladonna.

Alternative medication

Like many well-known plants and extracts, belladonna is available in some over-the-counter alternative medications and supplements.

Unlike traditional medicines, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate supplements, which means they are often not tested for safety or the effectiveness of their claimed outcomes.

Companies that have made products containing belladonna state that it can improve various conditions. These include:

  • the common cold
  • fever
  • whooping cough
  • hay fever
  • earache
  • asthma
  • motion sickness
  • flu
  • a cough and sore throat
  • joint and back pain
  • arthritis pain
  • spasms, or colic-like pain in the stomach or bile ducts
  • nerve problems
  • gout
  • inflammation
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • hemorrhoids

Belladonna is an ingredient in creams, some liquids, ointments, and, in some cases, suppositories.

There is little research into belladonna’s effectiveness at treating any of the above conditions. It is important to consider the potential side effects before taking belladonna as a supplement.

Risks and side effects

Blurred vision and hallucinations are potential side effects of belladonna.

Belladonna is considered a toxic plant with historical uses as a poison. Despite being sold as an over-the-counter supplement, it is likely not safe to consume. It is also important to be aware that the FDA do not monitor the quality and purity of belladonna supplements.

There are some side effects to consider before using belladonna. These side effects include:

  • dry mouth
  • red, dry skin
  • inability to sweat
  • muscle spasms
  • blurred vision
  • enlarged pupils
  • hallucinations
  • inability to urinate
  • convulsions
  • seizures
  • coma

Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding may be at additional risk, as some of the belladonna’s side effects may appear in the unborn child, and it might dry up milk production.

In addition to the side effects, belladonna may make some conditions worse. These include disorders that some manufacturers claim Belladonna helps.

Conditions that belladonna can make worse include:

  • acid reflux
  • fever
  • rapid heartbeat
  • gastrointestinal (GI) tract infections
  • high blood pressure
  • constipation
  • urination problems

Belladonna has negative interactions with certain medications as well, such as those for allergies and depression. Side effects of the interaction include a rapid heartbeat and rashes.

Outlook

Belladonna can be a safe herbal supplement or part of medication but only when used properly under a doctor’s care and supervision. There are a number of side effects that should be considered before using belladonna as a supplement.

Additional research needs to be conducted to test the effectiveness of belladonna alongside the risks. Individuals should carefully consider their options before trying belladonna as a replacement or supplemental treatment.