Monday, March 19, 2012

Nerium Oleander

By Minnie W. Shuler, MS

A member of the dogbane family, Oleander is a familiar landscaping shrub especially in Florida.  It is of the genius Apocynaceae and is toxic in all of its parts being one of the most poisonous of commonly grown garden plants.  It is so widely cultivated worldwide that it’s specific region of origin is not identified but it is most often assigned to southwest Asia.  Oleander is potentially deadly to most mammals, and is a particular threat to livestock.  It is, however, not without virtue.  Aside from its beauty, oleander has proven medicinal uses.  It should not be used by an amateur because it is so dangerous but has been used for many years in homeopathic and many herbal systems of medicine.  Topical use shows little if any toxic effect.  During research on the plant an accidental discovery was made.  The plant provided an extract (NAE-8) that helped reduce the effects of aging on the skin.  (Nerium Biotechnology, Inc.)  “We had a eureka moment in our research labs when we stumbled upon what Nerium oleander could do for skin” Dennis Knocke.

Among the toxic compounds of oleander are two cardiac glycosides: oleandrin and oleandrigenin which can be therapeutic but also toxic when ingested in the wrong amounts.  Studies are being made to measure safe levels of dosage of the toxins.  These pre-clinical studies, which also include oral dosing of oleandrin, were conducted in preparation for an investigational drug submission to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to allow for administration of the oleander extract to patients with cancer.[18] 

The "cardiac glycosides", are known to increase cardiac contractility and have been traditionally used for treatment of congestive heart failure in China. In correct dosages, they are also used as anti-arrhythmic agents to control atrial fibrillation. Additionally, recent research has determined that small quantities of these glycosides are responsible for stimulating effects on the immune system in cancer patients.[16]

Despite their potential for what could be serious side-effects, application of Nerium oleander cardiac glycosides applied intramuscularly (IM) and orally to combat cancers is now being investigated.[18][19][25] The National Cancer Institute has defined oleandrin, one of the principal glycosides in Nerium oleander as "A lipid soluble cardiac glycoside with potential antineoplastic activity."

After evaluating all safety and toxicity data, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration determined that a defined Nerium oleander extract is safe enough to be administered to humans by mouth, and a defined Nerium oleander extract is now being used to treat cancer patients under an FDA-approved Investigational New Drug application.[18] At this time the Nerium oleander extract has been administered to over 100 people by injection or mouth at total IM doses of from 0.5 mL to 2.25 mL and oral doses of 0.6 to 10.2 mg/day, for treatment of cancer, with no substantial negative side effects.[18][19]

Historically, Nerium oleander has been reported in ancient texts and folklore for more than 1500 years. Used traditionally by herbalists as a folk remedy for a wide variety of maladies and conditions, including dermatitis, abscesses, eczema, psoriasis, sores, warts, corns, ringworm, scabies, herpes, skin cancer, asthma, dysmenorrheal, epilepsy, malaria, abortifacients, emetics, heart tonics, and tumors. It has been used extensively for medicinal purposes in Mediterranean and Central and Southern Asian countries, although these applications also have their basis in folk medicine and efficacy has not been documented by clinical research. Macerated leaves of oleander have been applied topically for treatment of dermatitis, loss of hair, superficial tumors and syphilis.[24] A decoction of oleander leaves has been used for the treatment of gingivitis and as a nose drop for children.  One of the more interesting current uses is for venomous snake bite.

Reactions to this plant are as follows: Ingestion can cause both gastrointestinal and cardiac effects. The gastrointestinal effects can consist of nausea and vomiting, excess salivation, abdominal pain, diarrhea that may or may not contain blood, and especially in horses, colic.[5] Cardiac reactions consist of irregular heart rate, sometimes characterized by a racing heart at first that then slows to below normal further along in the reaction. The heart may also beat erratically with no sign of a specific rhythm. Extremities may become pale and cold due to poor or irregular circulation. Reactions to poisonings from this plant can also affect the central nervous system. These symptoms can include drowsiness, tremors or shaking of the muscles, seizures, collapse, and even coma that can lead to death. Oleander sap can cause skin irritations, severe eye inflammation and irritation, and allergic reactions characterized by dermatitis.[26]

People have been poisoned by using the woody stems of oleander as skewers to barbeque foods.  If you have small children who like to pick flowers or pets or livestock that might eat the plant, it is not a good choice for your yard.  It is, however, classified as a low flammable and suitable to plant next to the house for fire resistance.

Monday, March 12, 2012

South Carolina Yellow Jasmine

by Mary V. Kern, RN and Minnie W. Shuler, MS

Yellow Jessamine is a twinging vine with shinny leaves and yellow flowers that look like trumpets with five rounded petals.  It blooms around here about the middle of February.  It can be found in dry or wet woods and thickets.

 Years ago, root preparations were used to depress the central nervous system (CNS).  It deadened pain and decreased spasms.  It was also used externally as a folk treatment for skin cancer.

 HOWEVER!!!!  THE PLANT IS DEADLY POISON.  Eating a single flower could kill a child or small person.  Decrease of feeling would start in your legs and go up.  It kills nerve cells, including the ones that make your heart beat and the ones that allow you to breathe.

 My mother told me once that they placed the vines around the outside edges of the rooms in their house to kill mice at night.  In the morning they would pick up the dead mice and throw them outside. 

If you can’t tell the difference between Carolina Yellow Jessamine and Japanese Honeysuckle…use someone else’s brain.  It is a pretty plant but I wouldn’t use that plant for anything except to look at early in the spring.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Cilantro or Coriander

Click on the link below to view a video about Coriander also called Cilantro; there are several videos at this location about Coriander.
<iframe width="420" height="315" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe> The following is the script of the YouTube Video provided by the writers:
Coriander (Coriandrum sativum) Cilantro, is of the plant family Apiaceae, also known as the Chinese parsley. Coriander seeds were found in the Egyptian tomb of King Rameses II. In Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine, the Ancient Greek physicians all used coriander for its healing and medicinal properties .

The Ancient Greeks & Indians used coriander to assist in weight loss. In Ayurvedic medicine, coriander is used as a digestive aid; Apart as a garnish and a flavourer in curries, soups, casseroles, chutneys and salads
it is used to treat such conditions as nausea, toothache, hernias, measles, dysentery and piles. Traditionally, coriander has been used as an infusion in the healing of digestive conditions, flatulence, anorexia, gripe and colic pains & children's diarrhoea.

Coriander is an aromatic, annual herb and used as an Essential Oil, to eliminate toxins, stimulate circulation, ease migraine and treat rheumatism and arthritis.

Coriander essential oil has properties of being analgesic, a stimulant, anti-bacterial, anti-infectious and sedating. it mixes well with essential oils such as fennel, grapefruit, mandarin, ginger and other spice and citrus oils.
Whole coriander is soaked overnight in water and drunk whole, without chewing to loose weight.
Coriander is also know to remove heavy metals from the body such as amalgam.
Dr. Omura noticed that mercury levels in the urine increased after one consumed a healthy serving of Vietnamese soup. The soup contained Chinese parsley, or as it is better known in this country, cilantro.
Coriander leaves, act as a reducing agent changing the charge on the intracellular mercury to a neutral state, allowing mercury to diffuse. The next step is removing the mercury from the connective tissue. Mercury is preferentially attracted to the cell wall of the unicellular organism chlorella. It can also be bound to sulfhydryl groups in garlic or to sulphur in the form of MSM. To get the mercury out, thus cleansing the liver, intestines, kidneys and lymph system The clinical goal is to convert mercury into a state, enabling it to be removed from the cells and be eliminated from the brain, connective tissues, lymph system, liver, gastrointestinal tract, and kidneys.
This plant is used in cases of Metal toxicity, such as mercury amalgam, immune disorders, premature aging, cardiovascular disease, allergies, Alzheimer's, gastrointestinal disorders, psychological disorders, asthma, cancer, chronic fatigue, endocrine disorders and gingivitis.
All this action by a simple plant, known as Chinese parsley, Cilantro, Dhania and Coriander.
Nelson Brunton.

The reduction of heavy metals in the body has been verified by Dr. Williams in the United States. The following link is to a video on YouTube for detoxifying heavy metals with cilantro also called coriander.
 <iframe width="560" height="315" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Piper Nigrum - Black Pepper Part 1  by Minnie W.  Shuler

Black pepper is that familiar spice that sits with his companion on the kitchen table and most other tables, salt (one of the notorious three white killers - salt, white sugar and white flour); But that unassuming little guy gets to wear a white hat and is by far designated 'KING' of the spices accounting for about one fourth of all the spice trade worldwide .  Origninating along the Malabar Coast of India, black and long peppers have been a tasty delicacy since about 2000 BCE or earlier.  It's desirability in the kitchen has caused wars, brave new exporations at sea to find new routes to the West Indies (Bartholomeu Diaz, 1488, first sailed the raging water around Africa's Cape of Good Hope to reach India, Vasco de Gama, 1498, who sailed around South Africa to reach the Far East  and Christopher Columbus,1492, who sought the spices of the West Indies by sailing around the world are three who are known about), let it serve as money (traded ounce for ounce for gold); and as many other kitchen herbs used as medicine and/or magic. It comes from the fruit or drupes on a vine that grows wild but is now cultivaated not only in India but wherever conditions permit.  In 2008 Vietnam had cornered about 34% of the world trade in black pepper. It is hard to tell in some of the historical references if they refer to black pepper or long pepper which also grew in the same area and was used along with the piper nigrum.  Black pepper is a member of the Piperaceae family of about 1200 species. 

Southern Root Doctors used pepper for Enemy Tricks and Protection in formulas like Goofer Dust, Crossing Powder and Hot Foot Powder all designed to get rid of enemies.  Did such magic spells work? Don't know, but most everyone knows pepper makes you sneeze and who can dispute the effects of 'pepper spray' in geting rid of an enemy? 

No real studies have been conducted to see why pepper makes you sneeze, it is believed it is from the active ingredient peperine that also makes it so spicy.  So, what is pepper good for and why does it work?  It has ben used to make hundreds of food products and recipes taste better including perhaps the most notorious 'Coca Cola'. I don't know about 'Dr. Pepper' but it does sound suspicious.  There are many cures listed in the history of herbal medicine attributed to pepper, some may be authentic but most evidence is emperical.  Let's face it, if a  Western pharmacuitical company must spend fifty million dollars develping a new drug why would they tell you to pick up the pepper shaker? The pepper in the shaker cannot be patented. There have been some nice foreign studies and many of the uses verified. Pepper contains alkaloids.  Alkaloids are often toxic to other organisms and often have pharmacologidcal effects and therefore commonly used as medications, as recreational drugs or in entheogenic rituals.  Most plants that are chosen by the pharmcuetical companies to use in drugs are alkaloids because they cause the most action in the body.  Pepper, in large quantities, is toxic.  It would take much more than the amount usually eaten in food to poison you and it is not recommended for children, pregnant or lactating women.  It is an irritant both to the skin and digestive tract and is not recommended for individuals needing a bland diet.  Black Pepper is used in the three medicinal systems practiced in India: Ayurveda, Sidha and Unami, in China, in Aroma Theraphy, in Massage Theraphy and is one of the few medicines Monks are allowed to carry with them.

For a complete breakdown of the phytochemicals of black pepper and the 742 specific medicinal actions of the chemicals visit Dr.Jame Duke's site but bring your pharmacy degree with you.   The primary constituent of pepper is piperine, which is identical in composition to morphia, volatile oil, a resin called Chavicin.  Its medicinal activities depends mainly on its pungent resin and volatile oil which is colourles, turning yellow with age, with strong colour, and not so acrid a taste as the peppercorn; it also contains starch, cellulose and colouring.  Parts used:fruit (dried as peppercorns), seeds (ground as white pepper), and root (cordial tonic and stimulant)  Dosage: Black Pepper 5-15 grains in powder.  Piperine, 1 to 8 grains.  ( another source 50 mg/kg body wt).

There are many medicinal uses of black pepper and it deserves a search by you on the web.   It is antioxidant, antifungal, antimicrobial, anti-infalmmatory, analgesic, antiipyretic, antiseptic, diuretic, insecticidal, tonic (alterative), improves the boiavailability of some nutrients, expectorant, anthelminitic, carminative, aphrodisiac, emmenagogue (stimulates normal mentral flow), stimulant, digestive, produces endorphins,  and anti-diabetic.  It has been used historically to treat constipation, earache, gangrene, heart disease, hernia, indigestion, diabetes insomnia, insict bites, hoarseness, coughs, colds, joint pain, liver problems, lung diseases, sunburn, mouth abscesses, skin eruptions, boils, diarrhea, hemorrhoids, obesity, underweight, plegm, worms, epilepsey, nasal congestion, pain, arthritis, muscle aches, asthema pain, exhaustion, fever, to imprive circulation, cancer, as an insecticide, flatulence (gas), increase lactation, stammering, food poisoning (not proven effective), food preservative ( unproven) and ...I'm sure I've left a few out.  If you have a heath question please ask a professional, remember I am just a columnist. I have picked out two properties to look at more closely and tht is black pepper's antimicrobial properties and its ability to improve the biovailability of some nutrients in part two.