The podophyllum is a herbaceous plant belonging to the family Berberidaceae. It is a perennial plant that is grown in North America and eastern Canada, one of America's most important drugs. It arises spontaneously in moist forests of the geographical areas mentioned in siliceous soils rich in humus. The rhizome, cylindrical, is of a dark brown hue, with internodes from 2 to 10 cm. Long, where the roots originate. The stem ends in two large, deeply lobed leaves opposite, among them is a single white flower. The fruit is a berry containing many seeds yellowish.
The podophyllum flowers between the months of May and June, depending on the geographic area where you are. Collection of interest for medicinal purposes the root and rhizome. Is to be collected either in spring or autumn coming and when the air is wilted. It also should increase storage conditions, in order to have high concentrations of active principles that interest us. The drug is usually presented dried and cut into sections of a disk-shaped red-brown hue, distinguishing scars caused by the stem and roots.
Podophyllum resin consists mainly of substances in the group of lignans, including podophyllotoxin. This is a tricyclic compound with three methoxyl groups and a lactone ring and is the basis of the wide use of this plant.
The root of podophyllum was already used by Native Americans due to its properties cathartic, emetic and anthelmintic; also was used as an antidote to some snake venoms. In the eighteenth century were already recognized the properties of antimitotic podophyllin in cases of cutaneous formations cancerous nature. Later it was found the main active principle, podophyllotoxin, and began to look more deeply into the present century, when it showed antimitotic properties of podophyllotoxin against warts and other benign skin diseases. The mechanism of action of this compound is rather complex: it acts at the level of cell replication by a mechanism similar to other known operatives who possess, such as colchicine and derivatives. The problem is that this compound is quite toxic by mouth, which largely limits its potential applications.
The root of podophyllum is no longer used as such for medicinal purposes, but is used properly extracted the active ingredient. To this we must add that it is a compound difficult to manage as it is quite toxic. Therefore it is best to consult specialists about the possible use of this medicine. In retail pharmacies can be found podophyllotoxin. Part of a commercial preparation.
HABITAT: North America and Canada
PART USED: Root and rhizome
CASTILIAN: Manzana de Mayo, mandrake
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