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Paeonia lactiflora
Panax ginseng
Plantago afra
Platycodon grandiflorum
Piper methysticum
Polygala senega
Prunus africana
Prunus armeniaca
Plantago ovata
Pimpinella anisum
Passiflora incarnata
Psidium guajava
Punica granatum


 

 

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Prunus armeniaca L. (Rosaceae)

Synonyms
Armeniaca vulgaris Lam.

Local names
Abricotier, anzu, apricot, Aprikose, Aprikosenbaum, barqouq, bitter apricot, chuli, cuari, culu, elk mesmas, haeng-in, Himalayan wild apricot, hsing, ku-xinggren, kurbani, maó, michmich, mouchmouch, ó mai, sal-goo, touffah armani, wild apricot, xing ren, zardalou, zardalu

Description
A medium-sized, deciduous tree, with reddish bark and glabrous twigs. Leaves convoluted in bud, blade broadly ovate, 5–7 cm long, 4–5 cm wide, acuminate, crenate-glandular, hairy on the veins of the underside when young, glabrous when mature, except for the axils of the underside veins. Petiole approximately 2.5 cm long, glandular; stipules, lanceolate, glandular on the margins. Flowers appearing before the leaves, bisexual, pinkish to white, solitary or fascicled, pedicels very short; calyx-tube campanulate, puberulent, 5 mm long; surrounding lobes, pubescent, half the length of the tube; petals suborbicular, 7–13 mm long; stamens inserted with the petals at the mouth of the calyx-tube; ovary and base of the style hairy. Fruit a downy or glabrous, yellow-tinged, red drupe with a fleshy outer layer surrounding a hard stone containing the seed

Plant material used
dried ripe seeds

Chemical assays
Contains not less than 3.0% amygdalin determined by titrimetric assay with silver nitrate. A high-performance liquid chromatography method is also available

Major chemical constituents
The major constituent is amygdalin (up to 4.9%), a cyanogenic glycoside (a plant compound that contains sugar and produces cyanide). Other cyanogenic compounds present are prunasin and mandelonitrile. Also present are the amygdalin-hydrolysing enzyme, emulsin, and fatty acids and sitosterols

Medicinal uses
Uses supported by clinical data
None.

Uses described in pharmacopoeias and well established documents
Internally as a decoction, after processing by dipping in boiling water and stir-frying until yellow, for symptomatic treatment of asthma, cough with profuse expectoration and fever. The seed oil is used for treatment of constipation.

Uses described in traditional medicine
Treatment of gynaecological disorders, skin hyperpigmentation, headache and rheumatic pain. The seed oil is used in the form of eardrops for inflammation and tinnitus, and for treatment of skin diseases

Proven pharmacological activity
Animal studies
Analgesic and antipyretic, Antitumour, Antitussive

Human studies
Antitumour

Adverse reactions
The side-effects associated with amygdalin treatment are the same as the symptoms of cyanide poisoning. Cyanide is a neurotoxin that initially causes nausea and vomiting, headache and dizziness, rapidly progressing to cyanosis (bluish discoloration of the skin due to oxygen-deprived haemoglobin in the blood), liver damage, marked hypotension, ptosis (droopy upper eyelid), ataxic neuropathies (difficulty in walking due to damaged nerves), fever, mental confusion, convulsions, coma and death. These side-effects can be potentiated by the concurrent administration of raw almonds or crushed fruit pits, eating fruits and vegetables that contain ß- glucosidase, such as celery, peaches, bean sprouts and carrots, or high doses of vitamin C. Numerous cases of cyanide poisoning from amygdalin have been reported. After ingestion, amygdalin is metabolized in the gastrointestinal tract to produce prunasin and mandelonitrile, which are further broken down to benzaldehyde and hydrocyanic acid, the latter of whi ch is highly toxic. Overdose causes dizziness, nausea, vomiting and headache, which may progress to dyspnoea, spasms, dilated pupils, arrhythmias and coma. A 65-year-old woman with cirrhosis and hepatoma lapsed into deep coma, and developed hypotension and acidosis after ingestion of 3 g of amygdalin. After initial treatment, the patient regained consciousness, but massive hepatic damage led to her death. A 67-yearold woman with lymphoma suffered severe neuromyopathy following amygdalin treatment, with elevated blood and urinary thiocyanate and cyanide levels. Sural nerve biopsy revealed a mixed pattern of demyelination and axonal degeneration, the latter being prominent. Gastrocnemius muscle biopsy showed a mixed pattern of denervation and myopathy with type II atrophy

Contraindications
Semen Armeniacae should not be administered during pregnancy or nursing, or to children.

Warnings
Overdose may cause fatal intoxication. The lethal dose is reported to be 7–10 kernels in children and 50–60 kernels (approximately 30 g) in adults.

Precautions
Carcinogenesis, mutagenesis, impairment of fertility
No effects on fertility were observed in rats fed a diet containing 10% Semen Armeniacae for 5 weeks. An aqueous extract of the seeds was not mutagenic in the Salmonella/microsome assay using S. typhimurium strains TA98 and TA100, or in the Bacillus subtilis H-17 recombinant assay at concentrations of up to 100.0 mg/ml. However, a hot aqueous extract of the seeds was mutagenic in the Salmonella/microsome assay in S. typhimurium strains TA98 and TA100 at a concentration of 12.5 mg/plate.

Pregnancy: teratogenic effects
Intragastric administration of amygdalin (dose not specified) to pregnant hamsters induced skeletal malformations in the offspring, and intravenous administration resulted in embryopathic effects. Oral laetrile increased in situ cyanide concentrations, while intravenous laetrile did not. Thiosulfate administration protected embryos from the teratogenic effects of oral laetrile. The embryopathic effects of oral laetrile appear to be due to cyanide released by bacterial ß-glucosidase activity. A pregnant woman who took laetrile as daily intramuscular injections (dose not specified) during the last trimester gave birth to a live infant at term. There was no laboratory or clinical evidence of elevated cyanide or thiocyanate levels.

Pregnancy: non-teratogenic effects
Offspring of breeding rats fed a high-amygdalin diet (cyanide > 200.0 mg/ 100 g) for 18 weeks had lower 3-day survival indices, lactation indices and weaning weights than those in a low-amygdalin group (cyanide < 50.0 mg/ 100 g). This may indicate that the cyanide present in the milk may not be efficiently detoxified to thiocyanate and excreted by neonates.

Nursing mothers
See Contraindications.

Paediatric use
See Contraindications.

Other precautions
No information available on general precautions or on precautions concerning drug interactions; or drug and laboratory test interactions.

Dosage forms
Processed (see Posology) dried ripe seeds; seed oil. Store in a cool, dry place, protected from moths.

Posology
(Unless otherwise indicated)
Average daily dose: 3.0–9.0 g of dried ripe seeds processed by breaking into pieces, rinsing in boiling water and stir-frying until yellow, then adding to a decoction when nearly finished

 

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