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Concept: Traditional medicine


The practice of Ayurveda, the traditional medicine of India, is based on the concept of three major constitutional types (Vata, Pitta and Kapha) defined as “Prakriti”. To the best of our knowledge, no study has convincingly correlated genomic variations with the classification of Prakriti. In the present study, we performed genome-wide SNP (single nucleotide polymorphism) analysis (Affymetrix, 6.0) of 262 well-classified male individuals (after screening 3416 subjects) belonging to three Prakritis. We found 52 SNPs (p ≤ 1 × 10(-5)) were significantly different between Prakritis, without any confounding effect of stratification, after 10(6) permutations. Principal component analysis (PCA) of these SNPs classified 262 individuals into their respective groups (Vata, Pitta and Kapha) irrespective of their ancestry, which represent its power in categorization. We further validated our finding with 297 Indian population samples with known ancestry. Subsequently, we found that PGM1 correlates with phenotype of Pitta as described in the ancient text of Caraka Samhita, suggesting that the phenotypic classification of India’s traditional medicine has a genetic basis; and its Prakriti-based practice in vogue for many centuries resonates with personalized medicine.

Concepts: Genetics, Bioinformatics, Ayurveda, SNP array, Alternative medicine, Traditional medicine, Sanskrit words and phrases, Charaka Samhita


Health economists have largely ignored complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) as an area of research, although both clinical experiences and several empirical studies suggest cost-effectiveness of CAM.

Concepts: Scientific method, Medicine, Ayurveda, Acupuncture, Alternative medicine, Traditional Chinese medicine, Traditional medicine, Edzard Ernst


Swarna Jibanti scientifically known as Coelogyne cristata Lindley (Orchidaceae), an orchid mentioned in Ayurvedic medicine is used to promote healthy life span.

Concepts: Medicine, Ayurveda, Surgery, Alternative medicine, Chronic fatigue syndrome, Traditional medicine, Orchidaceae, Coelogyne


Globally, there has been an increase in the use of herbal remedies including traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). There is a perception that products are natural, safe and effectively regulated, however, regulatory agencies are hampered by a lack of a toolkit to audit ingredient lists, adulterants and constituent active compounds. Here, for the first time, a multidisciplinary approach to assessing the molecular content of 26 TCMs is described. Next generation DNA sequencing is combined with toxicological and heavy metal screening by separation techniques and mass spectrometry (MS) to provide a comprehensive audit. Genetic analysis revealed that 50% of samples contained DNA of undeclared plant or animal taxa, including an endangered species of Panthera (snow leopard). In 50% of the TCMs, an undeclared pharmaceutical agent was detected including warfarin, dexamethasone, diclofenac, cyproheptadine and paracetamol. Mass spectrometry revealed heavy metals including arsenic, lead and cadmium, one with a level of arsenic >10 times the acceptable limit. The study showed 92% of the TCMs examined were found to have some form of contamination and/or substitution. This study demonstrates that a combination of molecular methodologies can provide an effective means by which to audit complementary and alternative medicines.

Concepts: Pharmacology, Medicine, Toxicology, Alternative medicine, Traditional Chinese medicine, Heavy metal music, Heavy metal, Traditional medicine


The aim of this research was to study health-related and sociodemographic determinants of the use of different complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) treatments in Europe and differences in CAM use in various European countries.

Concepts: Medicine, Ayurveda, Europe, Acupuncture, Alternative medicine, Traditional Chinese medicine, Traditional medicine, Edzard Ernst


ETHNOPHARMACOLOGICAL RELEVANCE: While scorpionism is not a serious public health problem in Spain, traditional Spanish knowledge has retained a large number of plant-based and animal-based remedies for scorpion stings. Additionally, this arthropod plays an important role in the treatment of its own sting and has become a significant therapeutic resource in the treatment of several human pathologies. These remedies are distributed across a large number of references. MATERIALS AND METHODS: A thorough review of Spanish literature has been conducted in the fields of folklore, ethnography, ethnomedicine, ethnobotany, ethnozoology, social anthropology and medical anthropology from the early twentieth century to the present. Automated searches in national and international databases have been performed. RESULTS: The results include more than 110 traditional remedies for scorpion stings. Forty- eight remedies are based on the use of 29 vascular plants in 19 different botanical families. This listing of useful plants is broader than that provided by other researchers studying neighboring areas. Seventeen remedies based on the use of nine animal species, including humans, are also reported. Remedies have also been documented involving mud and water, while other remedies indicate the use of scorpions (crushed and applied directly). Many remedies emphasize the topical use of “scorpion oil” (i.e., oil from fried scorpions). Two remedies are based on the maceration of scorpions in alcohol. In most cases, topical remedies are applied locally on the affected area. There is also some use of magical remedies as well. The scorpion has also been used as a major component in 22 Spanish remedies and healing rituals associated with 17 human pathologies. CONCLUSIONS: The present study demonstrates the importance of the scorpion in Spanish folk medicine. In general, the remedies evaluated mix magic and empiricism. The data we obtained may represent relevant background knowledge for studies aimed at developing and applying new therapeutic remedies for scorpion stings and other human pathologies. The data also invites further research to determine the validity of these folk remedies.

Concepts: Medicine, Arthropod, Anthropology, 20th century, Cultural anthropology, Scorpion, Traditional medicine, Social anthropology


Introduction: Berberine, a protoberberine alkaloid, and its derivatives exhibit a wide spectrum of pharmacological activities. It has been used in traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurvedic medicine and current research evidences support its use for various therapeutic areas. Areas covered: This review covers the patents on therapeutic activities of berberine and its derivatives in the years between 2009 and 2012. An extensive search was done to collect the patent information using European Patent Office database and SciFinder. The therapeutic areas covered include cancer, inflammation, infectious diseases, cardiovascular, metabolic disorders, and miscellaneous areas such as polycystic ovary syndrome, allergic diseases, and so on. Expert opinion: Berberine along with its derivatives or in combination with other pharmaceutically active compounds or in the form of formulations has applications in various therapeutic areas such as cancer, inflammation, diabetes, depression, hypertension, and various infectious areas. Berberine has demonstrated wide physiological functions and has great potential to give a multipotent drug if some inherent problems on poor bioavailability and solubility are taken care of. Additionally, polyherbal formulations with berberine-containing plants as major ingredients can be successfully developed.

Concepts: Medicine, Infectious disease, The Canon of Medicine, Allergy, Patent, Traditional medicine, United States Patent and Trademark Office, European Patent Organisation


ETHNOPHARMACOLOGICAL RELEVANCE: The stem-barks of Hintonia latiflora and H. standleyana, locally known as “copalchi”, are used for treating several maladies such as diabetes and gastrointestinal complaints, including gastric ulcers. Although the antidiabetic properties have been demonstrated, the gastroprotective action remains unexplored. AIM OF THE STUDY: The main goals of this study were to establish the potential acute toxicity and the gastroprotective activity of aqueous extracts and compounds from H. latiflora and H. standleyana in order to demonstrate their preclinical efficacy for the treatment of gastric ulcers in Mexican folk medicine. MATERIALS AND METHODS: The aqueous extracts from the stem-barks (HLSB and HSSB) and leaves (HLL and HSL) from H. latiflora and H standleyana were prepared by infusion. Investigation of the acute toxicity was accomplished by the Lorke method. The gastroprotective effect was assessed by means of a conventional ethanol-induced gastric injury model in rats using carbenoxolone as positive control. 5-O-[β-D-apiofuranosyl-(1→6)-β-D-glucopyranosyl]-7-methoxy-3',4'-dihydroxy-4-phenylcoumarin (1) and chlorogenic acid (2) were also assayed. Preliminary mechanism of action of the tested compounds was analyzed using the same pharmacological models but pretreating the animals with N(G)-nitro-L-arginine methyl ester (L-NAME), N-ethylmaleimide (NEM) and indomethacin. RESULTS: Investigation of the acute toxicity revealed that infusions of the leaves and stem-barks of both Hintonia species were not toxic to mice (LD(50)>5000mg/kg in all cases). HLSB, HSSB, HLL and HSL provoked a significant gastroprotective effect [80.5±3.35% (ED(50)=184.7mg/kg), 80.26±3.96%, 75.1±7.26% % (ED(50)=109.1mg/kg), 76.85±3.17% (ED(50)=149.7mg/kg) of gastroprotection respectively]. Compounds 1 and 2, present in all the extracts, were also active [68.85±8.4% (ED(50)=15mg/kg), 74.04±4.4% (ED(50)=26mg/kg) of gastroprotection respectively] and their mode of action involved non-protein sulfhydryl endogenous (NP-SH) compounds, since only pretreatment with NEM inhibited their gastroprotective action. CONCLUSIONS: The present investigation tends to support the ethnomedical use of HLSB, HSSB for treating gastric ulceration. Since HLL and HSL were also active, the leaves could be use alternatively, which in terms of natural resources conservation is an outstanding finding, considering that the plant populations of both Hintonia are scarce and in danger of extinction. Mainly two compounds (1 and 2) are important active principles of the plants.

Concepts: Present, Toxicology, Ester, Helicobacter pylori, Acute accent, Acute toxicity, Traditional medicine, Hintonia latiflora


Herbal medicine which involves the use of plants for their medicinal value, dates as far back as the origin of mankind and demonstrates an array of applications including cardiovascular protection and anti-cancer activities, via antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and metabolic activities. Even today the popularity of medicinal herbs is still growing like in traditional medicines such as the Indian medicine, Ayurveda. One of the Ayurvedic medicinal plants is Withania somnifera Dunal, of which the important constituents are the withanolides. Among them, Withaferin A is one of the most bioactive compounds, exerting anti-inflammatory, pro-apoptotic but also anti-invasive and anti-angiogenic effects. In the context of modern pharmacology, a better insight in the underlying mechanism of the broad range of bioactivities exerted by Withaferin A is compulsory. Therefore, a lot of effort was made to explore the intracellular effects of Withaferin A and to characterize its target proteins. This review provides a decisive insight on the molecular basis of the health-promoting potential of Withaferin A.

Concepts: Pharmacology, Medicine, Metabolism, Ayurveda, Alternative medicine, Herbalism, Withania somnifera, Traditional medicine


Choisya ternata Kunth (Rutaceae) is a plant species used in Mexican folk medicine for its antispasmodic and simulative properties. Recently, we identified a new alkaloid, isopropyl N-methylanthranilate, and a related one, methyl N-methylanthranilate, from the essential oil of this species and have proven them to possess antinociceptive activity even at 0.3 mg/kg. In the present study, anxiolytic and antidepressant effects of the two compounds have been studied in open field, horizontal wire, light/dark, forced swimming and tail suspension tests, as well as the effect on the onset and duration of diazepam-induced sleep in BALB/c mice. The volatile alkaloids (50-200 mg/kg, administered intraperitoneally), without having a muscle relaxant effect, caused a significant increase in the time the animals spent in an unsecured and putatively dangerous area when compared with the control group but had no effect on the number of crossings between the light/dark compartments. In addition to this anxiolytic activity, a significantly antidepressant-like effect was apparent at all tested doses, which was not due to an increase in locomotive activity. The anthranilates administered on their own did not induce sleep in mice but significantly prolonged the diazepam-induced sleep, in a dose-dependent way, suggesting an interaction with the gamma-aminobutyric acid receptor complex. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Concepts: Effect, Antidepressant, John Wiley & Sons, Cocaine, The Onset, Traditional medicine, Rutaceae, Choisya