Interesting Case Study
Nature has a number of anti-inflammatory plants in its natural pharmacy. While traditionally the veterinary industry has looked on alternative therapies, in particular herbal products with a degree of skepticism, they still have put in place sophisticated tests to determine whether a horse in particular, has taken herbal remedies during competition. This by inference means that there is some agreement or at least ‘concern’ that constituents in plants actually might work as well as their veterinary counterparts. Herbs and crude extracts cannot be patented making then cheaper than the allopathic drugs since they have not undergone expensive double blind studies. The financial returns on non-patented drugs do not justify the enormous outlays required for patented drugs.
The last century has based much of its modern medicine on Newtonian laws however phyto- medicine has a history of well documented practice and it is reasonable to assume that two thousand years of documented practice should account for credibility and it is debatable whether it requires research except to confirm what is already known. Originally the British Pharmacopoeia, the basis for all modern medicine, consisted mainly of plant material and the active ingredients of some are still used in drugs today.
Back to drug testing for competition.
The fact that these tests are part of equine sports means that the organisation does acknowledge that herbal extracts may indeed be effective after all.
Fifteen years ago a medal winner of the prestigious Three Day Event at Badminton lost her place because the metabolites of salicylic acid were found during a routine test after the event.
The competitor was accused of administering aspirin as a pain killer to her horse prior to the competition, something she denied. What had in fact happened was that her horse had access to a shelterbelt of common willow. Even eating a few branches and leaves will leave traces of salicylic acid in a test. These tests are becoming more and more refined with state of the art equipment leaving no margin of error.
At this point it is worth noting that there are a number of pasture and tree species that have anti-inflammatory properties, many of which share identical secondary phyto-ingredients, as those banned species. As people become more aware of the fact that animals should have a wider range of browsing species than they currently have, more of these ‘environmental contaminants will find their way into what competition horses will eat.
It is worth noting that there are a range of anti-inflammatory plants that can be included in a landscape many of which we can harvest for ourselves as well as pets and livestock. Of note, animals will often self medicate choosing their pharmacy products from the pasture and overhanging trees.
Including Natural Anti-Inflammatories as part Your Planting Plan
As part of the design process the anti-inflammatory plants will be categorised into trees, shrubs, low growing species and pasture species. Some of the ones listed below can be used a cash crop to on-sell to manufacturers. In this case specific areas and zones on your farm need to be set aside for this purpose. The one plant worth looking at as a viable cash crop is white willow bark. There is now a world wide demand for the original ‘aspirin’.
There are well known species that cannot be grown here but may be worthwhile investigating for production in a controlled environment.
Devil’s Claw is regarded as effective as if not more so than Phenylbutazone, often referred to as bute, is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) for the short-term treatment of pain and fever in animals. In the United States and United Kingdom, it is no longer approved for human use, as it can cause severe adverse effects such as suppression of white blood cell production and aplastic anemia. This would not be the case with Devil’s Claw.
Some Anti-inflammatory Plants
For landscape purposes I will categorise the plants into trees, shrubs, low growing species, and pasture species
White willow Salix alba has been used to combat fevers, inflammation and pain for thousands of years. The active extract of the bark, called salicin, after the Latin name Salix, was isolated to its crystalline form in 1828 by Henri Leroux, and Raffaele Piria, who then succeeded in separating out the acid in its pure state to produce aspirin. This tree can be included as part of a mixed shelter for livestock paddocks.
Birch Betula pendula is a natural pain reliever also containing salicylate whichrelieves the inflammation and pain associated with osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, and generalized muscle pain. Salicylate deters the body’s production of certain prostaglandins that are linked to inflammation, pain, and fever. An other reason birch calms arthritis and gout is it’s cleansing diuretic action that eliminates toxins and excess water. This tree is well worth including in a landscape if only for its beauty.
Casimoroa Casimiroa edulis, this beautiful evergreen tree with delicious fruit used by Mexicans to treat arthritis due to active compounds, N-methylhistamine, N,N-dimethylhistamine, zapotin and histamine. Of interest is that eating the fruit has long been known to produce drowsiness. Leaves and seeds also have similar properties.
Rosemary Rosmarinus officinalis, Rosemary contains a number of biologically active compounds, including anti-inflammatories to include carnosic, rosmarinic acid, camphor, caffeic acid, ursolic acid, betulinic acid, rosmaridiphenol and rosmanol. This plant can be trained into a formal hedge separating zones in your land.
Witch Hazel Hamamelis virginiana is a mid sized deciduous shrub that can be included in a shrub border or grown commercially for sports heat rub creams. The raw material for this extract is imported from overseas.
Low Growing species
Licorice Glycyrrhiza glabra forms an extensive root system making it an ideal species to be used on fragile sandy slopes where it can double up as a slope stabilisation plant.
The roots of contain glycyrrhizin, a compound with anti-inflammatory activity. Glycyrrhizin, in addition to having anti-inflammatory actions, may act also as a chemoprotective agent against tumors.
Pasture and Herbal Ley Species
‘Some people think of it as a weed, whereas it reminds others of a childhood spent outside playing in the grass. It has some anti-inflammatory properties as well as addressing potassium sodium balance.
St John’s Wort Hypericum perforatum while traditionally regarded as the herbal Prozac, has interesting pain modulating properties where it acts on a brain neurotransmitter called ‘Substance P’ a neuropeptide, which is responsible for the perception of pain.
Feverfew Tanacetum parthenium inhibits platelet aggregation in the blood stream and is the herb of choice for migraines though it is also used effectively as an anti-inflammatory in the treatment of arthritis, menstrual and muscular pain. Active ingredients responsible for this consist of sesquiterpene lactones, parthenolide, volatile oil, and tannins.
Yarrow Achilla millfolium also has anti-inflammatory properties and may be used as a tide over herb instead of Devil’s Claw for equestrian competition. Yarrow contains many active medicinal compounds in addition to the tannins and volatile oil azulene, borneol, terpineol, camphor, cineole, isoartemesia ketone, lactones, flavonoids, tannins, coumarins, saponins, sterols, a bitter glyco-alkaloid (achilleine), cyanidin. These compounds are anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and help relax blood vessels. Yarrow is an ideal first aid herb for use on injured livestock while you wait for a vet’s arrival and diagnosis.
For further information contact Everdien of Epsilon Environmental Designs by phoning 063450737, emailing firstname.lastname@example.org for a landscape questionnaire, or checking our landscape blog www.hiralabs.co.nz