Action ► Herb—CNS depressant; reduces motor activity; analgesic, anticonvulsant. Leaf used in nervousness, epilepsy, hysteria, asthma, chronic bronchitis. Leaf and fruit—antispasmodic, sedative, emmenagogue.
Berry—used in chronic bronchitis. Taxol—antimitotic; also being tried for the treatment of severe drug-resistant human malaria. (Chem Abstr, 1994, 21, 124674 j.) (The taxol content in Himalayan Yew varied with season and location from 0.045-0.130%.)
The needles contain diterpene esters of taxane-type (mixture is known as taxine 0.6-2.0%). Taxine consists of 11 compounds of which only tax-ine A and B have been characterized. Taxol, the diterpene amide, is found active against ovarian cancer in humans. (clinical results showed 24-30%
response). The ester alkaloids in higher doses are cardiotoxic.
Dried needles contain biflavonoids, including sotetsuflavone, sequoifla-vone, sciadopitysin, ginkgetin, kayafla-vone, amentoflavone, beta-sitosterol, heptacosanol and surcose.
The needles gave several phenolics. Betuloside (rhododendron) exhibited hepatoprotective activity against hepa-totoxins in rats.
The seeds are poisonous and contain taxine.
The aqueous extract of leaves showed a depressant effect on the central nervous system in rats.
The Ayurvedic Pharmacopoeia ofIn-dia attributed antirheumatic, anticatar-rhal, insecticidal and wound-healing properties to the dried needles of Himalayan Yew and indicated the use of the drug in powder form (1-3 g) in disorders due to vitiated blood, tumours, dermatosis and helminthiasis.
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