Newly Identified Adaptogen Monographs

(Formerly Berberis aquifolium)


Common name:
Oregon Grape


Plant family:
Berberidaceae


Part used
Root


Chemical constituents
Berbamine, berberine, canadine, columbamine, corydine, corypalmine, corytuberine,
hydrastine, mahonine, resin, and tannin. (12)


Pharmacy
480 grains in 1 fluid ounce alcohol (50%) Dose: one fluid dram in four ounces water,
teaspoonful every 2, 3, or 4 hours. (11)


History
Mahonia aquifolium is a Native American plant found growing from Colorado to the Pacific
Ocean and from northern Canada to California. The plant produces grape like fruits and is
common in Oregon, hence the name Oregon grape.
Mahonia aquifolium (formerly Berberis aquifolium) is not mentioned in the general medical
literature of the early 19th century. Two notable texts, “American Dispensatory” written by Cox
(1825) and “The Eclectic and General Dispensatory” written by Towar and Hogan (1827) do not
reference the drug. Wooster Beach, founder of the Eclectic movement and the author of the first
Eclectic medical texts, did not mention the plant either. His last book, “Beach?s Family Physician
and Home Guide,” written in 1859 still does not mention the drug. From this one can infer that
as of 1859, Mahonia aquifolium had not made its way into Eclectic medical circles.
The first record of Mahonia aquifolium appears in a publication from Parke, Davis and
Company entitled “New Preparations” published in Detroit in 1877. History reveals that the
Eclectics and the general medical community learned of the drug through the work of a Dr.
Bundy, an Eclectic physician working Colusa, California. Bundy became acquainted with the
plant while living in California. He discovered its medicinal applications and introduced the
plant to the drug company Parke, Davis, and Company, who in turn made the drug available to
the Eclectics and other physicians.


Traditional Eclectic Uses
Actions

Alterative, tonic, stimulant to excretion and secretion, controls secretions of the mucous
membrane, stimulates digestion, absorption, waste and repair, tonic and corrective in disorders
of the liver and skin, stimulates secretion of entire glandular structure of digestive tract,
stomachic, alterative and tonic to mucous membrane, makes bowel movements regular and
normal.


Indications
“Syphilitic dyscrasia, constitutional syphilis, with periosteal or muscular pains; chronic skin affections,
with blood dyscrasia; profusely secreting, tumid mucous tissues; indigestion, with hepatic torpor; yellow
skin, with marked weakness and emaciation.” (7)


General
Syphilis, tuberculosis, tissue destruction through ulceration, tertiary syphilitic symptoms, late
stages of syphilis, conditions based on bad blood, constitutional syphilis and its sequelae (skin
eruptions, gastric perversions, and mucous membrane abnormalities, glandular indurations
and chronic ulceration), chronic malarial conditions, intermittent fevers, phagedenic ulceration
depending upon dyscrasia, ulceration of the mucous membrane, chronic mucous maladies,
atonic conditions of the mucous membrane with profuse secretion.

Digestive
Dyspepsia, dyspeptic conditions, poor gastric function, atonic dyspepsia, gastro?enteritis,
hepatic affections, cirrhosis, cirrhosis with gastro?enteritis, hepatic torpor with dyspepsia,
chronic constipation, impaired digestion with hepatic torpor, stomatitis, gastric and intestinal
catarrh, dyspeptic conditions with lack of appetite, chronic diarrhoea, chronic dysentery,
jaundice when not due to occluded bile ducts, intestinal dyspepsia, apthous sore mouth.


Endocrine ? ?


Genito-urinary
Leucorrhea, bladder disorders, burning and soreness of the genito?urinary tract.


Lymphatic
Ulceration of the lymph nodes, scrofula, enlarged bronchial glands, glandular disorders due to
malaria and intermittent fevers.


Musculoskeletal
Chronic muscular pain, rheumatism, muscular pains attending secondary and tertiary syphilis,
muscular pains attending spinal disease, partial loss of muscle use due to spinal disease,
syphilitic bone loss, inflammation of the periosteum and muscle, severe muscle pains, poor
muscle strength.


Nervous ? ?


Respiratory
Chronic pulmonary affections with profuse purulent expectoration, ulceration of the pulmonic
tissues, phthisis, tuberculosis, purulent bronchitis associated with syphilis, bronchorrhea,
purulent bronchorrhea, pulmonic troubles, catarrh.


Skin
Scaly skin conditions due to impaired nutrition and waste excretion (blood dyscrasia), skin
conditions due to abnormalities of the blood, scrofulous and syphilitic skin conditions, chronic
erysipelas, general eczematic states, herpes of long standing, acne, irritable inflammatory skin,
changes in skin due to chronic skin disease, saltrheum, chronic saltrheum, pityriasis, cutaneous
affections, long standing phagedenic and herpetic conditions, scrofulous affections, psoriasis,
stubborn psoriasis, scaly, pustular and other skin diseases due to disordered conditions of the
blood, chronic skin diseases due to abnormalities of the blood, persistent acne, non158
inflammatory and inflammatory skin diseases, eczema genitalis, pruritis, scaly eczema, lack of
vigour of hair in scaldhead, chronic dermatitis, stomatitis.


The drug from Selye’s perspective
Alarm Reaction

State of Resistance
The drug was used to raise resistance to syphilis, tuberculosis, malaria, rheumatism, chronic
respiratory disease, and chronic skin disease.


State of Exhaustion
The drug was used when resistance to chronic disease failed and State of Exhaustion set in.
Conditions causing State of Exhaustion, treated with the drug included tertiary syphilis,
terminal malaria, terminal tuberculosis, and terminal rheumatism. Signs of State of Exhaustion,
treated with the drug, included perverted skin and mucous membrane function, cirrhosis of the
liver, chronic diarrhoea/dysentery, tissue destruction due to ulceration, bone destruction,
catabolism, digestive abnormalities, joint disease, and temperature abnormalities.


Adaptation Energy
Again, from Selye’s’ perspective the drug was used to augment the GAS suggesting it increases
adaptation energy. It was used to raise resistance to infection and autoimmune disease and was
used when resistance could no longer be maintained and State of Exhaustion commenced. It
was also used when chronic disease depressed vital energy and thereby depressed
physiological function.


Brekhman’s adaptogen criterion
First Criteria:
The drug is considered innocuous in Eclectic and contemporary literature. (1–12)


Second Criteria:
Clinically, the drug was used to increase resistance to infection and immune disease. (1–11)
Experimentally, compounds found in the drug have been shown to increase resistance to
bacterial infection (cholera, escherichia, gonorrhoea, pneumonia, Salmonella, Shigella,
Staphylococcus, Streptococcus, syphilis, tuberculosis, Chlamydia, Leishmania), viral infection
(flu, herpes), fungal infection (Candida), and parasitic infections including malaria, protista,
trichamonas, worms, and plasmodia. They have also been shown to increase resistance to
cancer, tumours, and free radical damage. (12)


Third Criteria:
Clinically, the drug was used to normalise the physiological abnormalities associated with State
of Exhaustion. (1–11)
Experimentally, compounds found in the drug have been shown to normalise a host of
physiological abnormalities including platelet stickiness, arthritis, histamine abnormalities,
hypertension, inflammation, ischemia, fever, poor liver cell function, immune deficiencies, poor
circulation, diarrhoea/dysentery, excessive secretion, ulcer formation, and digestive insufficiency.
(12)


Eco-availability
The drug is commonly available and readily grown.


Discussion
Mahonia aquifolium was highly effective in conditions marked by perverted physiological
function. When the body lost its normal orderly function, the drug made an impression.
Viewing the Eclectic’s uses of the drug from a contemporary pathophysiological perspective,
one could say the drug was used to normalise immune function. This could be hypo?immunity,
hyper?immunity, or auto?immunity. Contemporary research validates the use of the drug as an
immune modulator and it would be easy to conclude that the drug is a defensible immune
modulator and leave it at that.
However, a careful review of the Eclectic literature reveals that correcting perverted immune
function is only one facet of the drug. In fact, it was used to normalise many of the physiological
abnormalities associated with State of Exhaustion. A supplemental view would be that the drug
was used to treat patients having entered into State of Exhaustion.
Potential clinical applications
The drug may be of use when patients are no longer able to resist chronic disease and State of
Exhaustion sets in.


Future research
• Mahonia aquifolium and its effects on the GAS. The drug should be tested out in the
animal model to determine its specific effects on the GAS.
• Mahonia aquifolium and infections with debilitating sequelae. Clinically, the drug was
used to treat infections with sequelae, conditions like streptococcal infection followed by
rheumatic disease and gonorrhoea followed by Reiter’s syndrome. Experimental data
suggests the drug normalises many of the physiological abnormalities associated with these
two conditions. The drugs’ ability to raise resistance to Reiter’s Syndrome and Rheumatoid
arthritis should be examined.
• Mahonia aquifolium and infection. The drug was used clinically to increase resistance to a
wide collection of infections. Experimentally, it has been shown to offer broad antimicrobial
protection. The drugs’ ability to raise resistance to infection should be examined.
• Mahonia aquifolium and State of Exhaustion. Clinically the drug was used to treat
patients in State of Exhaustion. Its role in raising resistance in that state should be
examined.


References for Mahonia aquifolium
1. Scudder, J. M. The American Eclectic Materia Medica and Therapeutics. Published by
the Author. Cincinatti.1883 P. 500.
2. Watkins, Lyman. An Eclectic Compendium of the Practice of Medicine. John
M.Scudder’s Sons. Cincinnati. 1895. P. 427.
3. Webster, HT. Dynamical Therapeutics—A work devoted to the Theory and Practise of
Specific Medication with special references to the newer remedies. Second Edition. H.T.
Webster. 1898. P. 62, 97, 302, 333, 514, 541.
4. Felter, Harvey Wickes and Lloyd, John Uri. Kings’ American Dispensatory. Volume one
and Volume two. Ohio Valley Company. Cincinnati. 1898. P. 1029.
5. Peterson, FJ. Materia Medica and Clinical Therapeutics. Published by the Author. Los
Olivos, California. 1905. P. 56.
6. Neiderkorn, JS. A Handy Reference Book. Published by the Author. Cincinatti.1905. P.
128.
7. Ellingwood, Finley. A Manual of the Eclectic Treatment of Disease. Volume one.
Chicago Medical Times Publishing Company. Chicago. 1906. P. 454.
8. Fyfe, John William. Pocket Essentials of Modern Materia Medica and Therapeutics. The
Scudder Brothers Company. 1903. P. 63.
9. Ellingwood, Finley. American Materia Medica, Therapeutics, and Pharmacognosy.
Chicago. 1919. P. 369.
10. Lloyd, JU. Drugs and Medicines of North America. Bulletin of Lloyd Library. 1921. P.
31.
11. Lloyd Brothers. Dose Book of Specific Medicine. Lloyd Brothers Company, Cincinnati.
1907. P. 77.
12. Dr. Dukes Phytochemical and Ethnobotanical Databases. Agricultural Research Services.
USDA.

Common name:
White Poplar


Plant family:
Salicaceae


Part used
Fresh bark


Chemical constituents
Significant phytochemicals include populin (populoside/salicin benzoate), tremulin, and
tremulacin. (5)


Pharmacy
8 ounces bark to 1?pint alcohol 76%. Dose dram ss to dram j. (2)


History
This tree represents an ancient North American remedy—bark fibre and leaves of Populus
tremuloides were found in an Ohio cave dating to 790 AD. More recently, the Huron, Illinois,
Illinois?Miami, Cree, Ojibwe, Dene, Penobscot, Malecite, Montagnais, Chippewa, Seneca,
Canadian Delaware, Meskwaki, Potawatami, Mohawk, and Tete de Boule used the tree for both
food and medicine. The leaves and inner pulp were eaten. The bark was used as a remedy for
wounds, cuts, open sores, deep lacerations threatening gangrene, deep lacerations unlikely to
seal up, excessive bleeding during childbirth, female weakness, faintness, hepatic and nephritic
disease, coughs, colds, sore arms and legs, rheumatic and painful joints. Notably, it was used as
a tonic in general debility.
The colonials learned of the drug from the native people and used it for those conditions
previously mentioned. In addition, they used it to treat malaria (ague, intermittent and bilious
fevers), eczema, and cancer. Prior to the Eclectic movement, the drug was seen as an
antiperiodic, tonic, and strengthening medicine. (10)


Traditional Eclectic Uses
Actions

Tonic, stomachic, febrifuge, diuretic, alterative, anthelmintic, increases vital force within the
system.


Indications
“Marked debility with impairment of digestion, tenesmic vesical irritation, tenesmus after urination.” (8)


General
Intermittent fever, chronic or irregular intermittent fever, chronic or irregular intermittent fever
with lesions of the kidney, liver or spleen, epidemic malaria, hematuria associated with malaria,
all diseases associated with malaria, protracted fever, general debility, emaciation, emaciation
with debility, want of appetite, feeble digestion, faintness of stomach, chronic diarrhoea
attended with torpor of the liver and unhealthy biliary secretion, whenever tonics and
alteratives are indicated, errors of physiological metabolism induced by malarial toxin,
conditions of irritation (bladder, stomach, bowels, uterus, prostate,) atonic conditions of these
organs, swamp fever, patients debilitated from protracted fever or from long standing diseases
of the reproductive tract.


Cardiovascular

Digestive
Worms, dyspeptic conditions of the debilitated, especially in nervous or hysterical women,
atonic dyspepsia with marked debility and emaciation, associated with hepatic torpor, impaired
digestion (stomach or intestinal), chronic diarrhoea.


Genito-urinary
Gonorrhoea, gleet, strangury, diseases of the urinary organs, prostatic hypertrophy,
recuperation of kidney when undergoing granular degeneration, tenesmic vesical irritation,
tenesmus after urination, stubborn uterine congestion.
• Lymphatic
• Musculoskeletal
• Nervous
• Respiratory
• Skin


The drug from Selye’s perspective
Alarm Reaction
State of Resistance

The drug was used to raise resistance to swamp fever, gonorrhoea, malaria (regular, irregular,
and epidemic), protracted fever, irritation (bladder, stomach, bowels, and uterus, prostate),
granular degeneration of kidney, and debility.


State of Exhaustion
The drug was used when State of Exhaustion set in. Signs of State of Exhaustion, remedied with
this drug, included general debility, temperature abnormalities, degeneration of the kidney,
liver or spleen, bleeding abnormalities, anorexia, weight loss, digestive abnormalities, debility
with anorexia, emaciation, poor appetite, feeble digestion, chronic diarrhoea, and dyspepsia.


Adaptation Energy
The drug was used to augment the GAS, suggesting it increases adaptation energy. The drug
was used to raise resistance to infectious disease and was used to remedy State of Exhaustion.
The Eclectics said the drug increased the vital force within the system. In addition, the drug was
used to inspire healing in wounds and old ulcers.


Brekhman’s adaptogen criterion
First Criteria

The drug is reported to be innocuous in the Eclectic literature. (1–8)


Second Criteria
Clinically the drug was used to increase resistance to acute and chronic infection. (1–8)


Third Criteria
Clinically, the drug was used to normalise the physiological perversions associated with State
of Exhaustion including chronic inflammation, abnormal temperature, anorexia, weight loss,
diarrhoea, dyspepsia, and capillary abnormalities.
Experimentally, Populin has been determined to be antipodragra. Tremulacin has been
determined to be analgesic and anti?inflammatory. (9)


Eco-availability
The drug is abundantly available in the wild and is easily grown.


Discussion
Significantly, Populus tremuloides came to the fore during the early colonial days. The colonials
were a stressed population, resisting temperature extremes, poor sanitation, hard labour, and
starvation. They were so stressed, in fact, that they had little resistance to the infectious disease
in there midst. Malaria was rampant and many died from the first acute attack. The colonials
learned that the drug could be used to raise resistance to this and other life threatening
infections.
Though the Eclectics did not contribute greatly to the collective knowledge of the applications
of this drug, they did confirm earlier findings. They found Populus tremuloides raised
resistance to malaria and other infections. They also determined the drugs utility when
resistance to malaria could no longer be maintained and State of Exhaustion occurred. They
concluded it normalised many of the physiological abnormalities associated with constitutional
collapse caused by chronic disease.


Potential clinical applications
The drug was used to treat acute and chronic malaria and there is evidence that its compounds
offer an anti?periodic effect. The drug may have a role in the treatment of malaria.


Future research
• Full chemical screen of the Populus tremuloides. The drug has not been fully examined
for chemical constituents.
• Populus tremuloides and the GAS. The drug should be tested in the animal model to
determine its specific effects on the GAS.
• Populus tremuloides and Malaria. Clearly, its role in malaria should be examined.


References for Populus tremuloides
1. King, John. The American Eclectic Dispensatory. Moore, Wilstach, and Keys.
Cincinnati. 1854. P. 762.
2. Scudder, J. M. Specific Medication and Specific Medicines. Revised. Fifth Edition.
Wilstach, Baldwin and Company. Cincinnati. 1874. P. 208.
3. Scudder, J. M. The American Eclectic Materia Medica and Therapeutics. Published by
the Author. Cincinnati. 1883. P. 444.
4. Scudder, J. M. The Eclectic Family Physician. Twenty first edition, fifth revision. Two
volumes in one, with appendix. John K. Scudder. Cincinnati. 1887.
5. Felter, Harvey Wickes and Lloyd, John Uri. Kings’ American Dispensatory. Volume one
and Volume two. Ohio Valley Company. Cincinnati. 1898. P. 1538.
6. Webster, HT. Dynamical Therapeutics—A work devoted to the Theory and Practice of
Specific Medication with special references to the newer remedies. Webster Medical
Publishing Company. Oakland. Second Edition. 1898. P. 377, 451, 494.
7. Felter, Harvey. Syllabus of Eclectic Materia Medica and Therapeutics. Compiled from
notes taken from the lectures of F.J.Locke. Edited with pharmacological additions by
H.W.Felter. Second edition, with appendix. Scudder Brothers Company.
Cincinnati.1901. P. 182.
8. Ellingwood, Finley. American Materia Medica, Therapeutics, and Pharmacognosy.
Ellingwood’s Therapeutist. Chicago. 1919. P. 17.
9. Dr. Dukes Phytochemical and Ethnobotanical Databases. Agricultural Research Service.
USDA.
10. Erichson?Brown, Charlotte. Medicinal and Other uses of North American Plants. Dover
Publications. New York. 1979. P. 99.