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Scutellaria baicalensis Georgi Lamiaceae. Baikal skullcap. Distribution: China. There are several hundred species of Scutellaria, also known as skull caps, so correct identification is important - in particular from Scutellaria lateriflora an American species known as Blue skullcap. The latter is used as an abortifacient and to expel placenta by the Cherokee and for cleaning the throat by the Iroquois (Austin, 2004). Much vaunted as a treatment for rabies with unlikely statistics (1,400 cases cured by one doctor alone). Also as ‘antispasmodic, nervine, [for] chorea, convulsions, tetanus, tremors, delirium tremens, [and as a] diaphoretic and diuretic'. Toxicity symptoms include mental confusion, stupor, headache, vertigo, photophobia, dilated pupils, difficulty in micturition, bradycardia, tremulousness and languor, followed by wakefulness and restlessness (Milspaugh, 1974). Hutchens (1991) reported that it reduces sexual desire and was used for almost every nervous illness. Scutellaria baicalensis contains baicalin, baicalein and wogonin (European Medicines Agency, September 2010). It is used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for treating inflammation, cancer, bacterial and viral infections of the lungs and gut and is one of the '50 Chinese herbs' in the lists of some authors. Scutellaria lateriflora (combined with Verbena officinalis, Passiflora incarnata and the seed of Avena sativa (oats) is licensed for use in Britain as a herbal medicine for temporary relief of mild symptoms of stress such as mild anxiety and to aid sleep, based upon traditional use only. Scutellaria baicalensis is not licensed for use in the UK (UK Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA)). Photographed in the Medicinal Garden of the Royal College of Physicians, London.
- Dr Henry Oakeley
The way to health, long life, and happiness, or, a discourse of temperance and the particular nature of all things requisit [sic] for the life of man, as all sorts of meats, drink, air, exercise, etc. ... Shewing ... whence most diseases proceed, and how to prevent them. To which is added, a treatise of most sorts of English herbs ... by Philotheos Physiologus [i.e. T. Tryon]
- Tryon, Thomas, 1634-1703.
Camassia leichtlinii (Baker)S.Watson Hyacinthaceae. Great Camas, Quamash. The species was named for Maximillian Leichtlin (1831-1910 of Baden , Germany, bulb enthusiast who corresponded with J.G. Baker at Kew. Bulbous herb. Distribution: North America. The bulbs of Camassia species were eaten by the Native Americans, the Nez Perce, after cooking by steaming for a day - which suggests they may be poisonous raw. They gave them to the American explorers, Meriwether Lewis and William Clerk, on their expedition (1804-1806) when they ran out of food. The bulbs of the similar looking 'Death camus', Toxicoscordion venenosum have been fatal when ingested by mistake (RBG Kew on-line). Steroidal saponins, which are precursors in the manufacture of steroids and cytotoxic activity has been detected in the sap of the bulbs. Photographed in the Medicinal Garden of the Royal College of Physicians, London.
- Dr Henry Oakeley
The new family herbal : comprising a description, and the medical virtues of British and foreign plants, founded on the works of eminent modern English and American writers on the medical properties of herbs: to which is added, the botanic family physician; valuable medical receipts; and important directions regarding diet, clothing, bathing, air, exercise, &c., &c
- Robinson, Matthew.
Echinacea purpurea (L.) Moench Asteraceae. Coneflower. Distribution: North America. Austin (2004) records that the roots were chewed, or used as a tincture for coughs by the Choctaw. Combined with Rhus typhina to treat venereal disease by the Delaware. Very little record of this being used by Native Americans, who used E. angustifolia very widely - Regarded as a panacea and magical herb. This and E. pallida were used to treat snakebite, spider bite, cancer, toothache, burns, sores, wounds, flu and colds. E. purpurea in modern times has been used as an ‘immunostimulant’, but is known to cause a fall in white cell count, and to be purely a placebo. Licensed for use as a Traditional Herbal Medicine, which does not require proof of efficacy, in the UK. Photographed in the Medicinal Garden of the Royal College of Physicians, London.
- Dr Henry Oakeley
The Indian vegetable family instructer: : containing the names and descriptions of all the most useful herbs and plants that grow in this country, with their medicinal qualities annexed; also, a treatise on many of the lingering diseases to which mankind are subject, ... with a large list of recipes, which have been carefully selected from Indian prescriptions ... Designed for the use of families in the United States.
- Bowker, Pierpont F.
Hypericum olympicum L. Clusiaceae. Mount Olympus St John's wort. Deciduous perennial herb. Distribution Greece, Asia minor. This is not the plant used for mood disturbances in herbal medicine which is Hypericum perforatum. However, all the 370 species of Hypericum are called 'St John's Wort' so a potential for confusion exists. It shares some of the chemicals thought to be active in Hypericum perforatum. Photographed in the Medicinal Garden of the Royal College of Physicians, London.
- Dr Henry Oakeley