Tuesday, 29 September 2015

An ethnopharmacological and historical analysis of "Dictamnus", a European traditional herbal medicine.

2015 Sep 17. pii: S0378-8741(15)30136-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2015.09.011. [Epub ahead of print


ETHNOPHARMACOLOGICAL RELEVANCE AND BACKGROUND: "Dictamnus" was a popular name for a group of medicinal herbaceous plant species of the Rutaceae and Lamiaceae, which since the 4th century have been used for gynaecological problems and other illnesses BCE and still appear in numerous ethnobotanical records.


This research has as four overarching aims: Determining the historical evolution of medical preparations labelled "Dictamnus" and the different factors affecting this long-standing herbal tradition. Deciphering and differentiating those medicinal uses of "Dictamnus" which strictly correspond to Dictamnus (Rutaceae), from those of Origanum dictamnus and other Lamiaceae species. Quantitatively assessing the dependence from herbal books, and pharmaceutical tradition, of modern Dictamnus ethnobotanical records. Determining whether differences between Western and Eastern Europe exist with regards to the Dictamnus albus uses in ethnopharmacology and ethnomedicine.


An exhaustive review of herbals, classical pharmacopoeias, ethnobotanical and ethnopharmacological literature was conducted. Systematic analysis of uses reported which were standardized according to International Classification of Diseases - 10 and multivariate analysis using factorial, hierarchical and neighbour joining methods was undertaken.


The popular concept "Dictamnus" includes Origanum dictamnus L., Ballota pseudodictamnus (L.) Benth. and B. acetabulosa (L.) Benth. (Lamiaceae), as well as Dictamnus albus L. and D. hispanicus Webb ex Willk. (Rutaceae), with 86 different types of uses. Between 1000 and 1700 CE numerous complex preparations with "Dictamnus" were used in the treatment of 35 different pathologies. On biogeographical grounds the widespread Dictamnus albus is a far more likely prototypical "Dictamnus" than the Cretan endemic Origanum dictamnus. However both form integral parts of the "Dictamnus" complex. Evidence exists for a sufficiently long and coherent tradition for Dictamnus albus and, D. hispanicus, use to treat 47 different categories of diseases.


This approach is a model for understanding the cultural history of plants and their role as resources for health care. "Dictamnus" shows how transmission of traditional knowledge about materia medica, over 26 centuries, represents remarkable levels of development and innovation. All this lead us to call attention to Dictamnus albus and Dictamnus hispanicus which are highly promising as potential herbal drug leads. The next steps of research should be to systematically analyse phytochemical, pharmacological and clinical evidence and to develop safety, pharmacology and toxicology profiles of the traditional preparations.
Copyright © 2015. Published by Elsevier Ireland Ltd.


Dictamnus; Ethnobotany; Ethnomedicine; European herbal medicine; History of pharmacy; Western Mediterranean