Gmelina arborea Roxb.
Action ► Demulcent, expectorant, antiallergic, anti-inflammatory, spasmolytic, mild laxative, antistress, antidepressive, antiulcer, liver protective, estrogenic, em-menagogue, antidiabetic. Used in bronchitis, dry cough, respiratory infections, catarrh, tuberculosis; genitourinary diseases, urinary tract infections; abdominal pain, gastric and duodenal ulcers, inflamed stomach, mouth ulcer. Also used for adrenocorticoid insufficiency.
Key application ► In catarrh of the upper respiratory tract and gastric, duodenal ulcers. (German Commission E, ESCOP, WHO.)
The British Herbal Compendium indicates the use of liquorice for bronchitis, chronic gastritis, peptic ulcer, rheumatism and arthritis, adrenocor-ticoid insufficiency, and to prevent liver toxicity. Indian Herbal Pharmacopoeia recognizes its use as an anti-inflammatory and antiulcer agent.
The main chemical constituent of liquorice is glycyrrhizin (about 29%), a triterpene saponin with low haemolytic index. Glycyrrhetinic (gly-cyrrhetic) acid (0.5-0.9%), the agly-cone of glycyrrhizin is also present in the root. Other active constituents of liquorice include isoflavonoids, chal-cones, coumarins, triterpenoids and sterols, lignans, amino acids, amines, gums and volatile oils.
Hypokalemia is the greatest threat when liquorice preparations high in glycyrrhizin are prescribed for prolonged periods. Liquorice causes fluid retention. Patients should be placed on a high potassium and low sodi um diet. Special precautions should be taken with elderly patients and patients with hypertension or cardiac, renal or hepatic disease.
A special liquorice extract known as DGL (deglycyrrhizinated liquorice) is used in the treatment of peptic ulcer. Oral liquorice preparations, containing glycyrrheti-
nic acid, are used for the treatment of viral infections—viral hepatitis, common cold. Topical preparations, containing glycyrrhetinic acid, are used for herpes, eczema, psoriasis.
In Japan, a preparation of glycyrrhi-zin, cysteine and glycine is used by injection for the treatment of acute and chronic hepatitis.
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