Sunday, November 29, 2015

Oshá: Nature’s Ways

Weather: Snow was promised this week as a subtropical plume rode into the area on top of a cold front, only the moist air went east instead. We got two days of wintry-looking clouds, and what I call nuisance rain. On Thursday big drops started to come down when I went out to work, continued the whole time I was out, and stopped when I went in the house. Not quite Joe Btfsplk, but not enough fell in an hour to get me or the ground wet. Last snow 11/17.

What’s still green: Juniper, arborvitae, other evergreens; leaves on privet, fernbush, yuccas, grape hyacinth, columbine, catmint, vinca, hollyhock, winecup mallow, pink evening primrose, Saint John’s wort, Jupiter’s beard, snapdragon, coral beardtongue, tansy, yarrow, anthemis, coreopsis, purple and golden hairy asters; rose stems, June and cheat grasses.

What’s blue-green or gray: Leaves on Apache plume, four-winged saltbush, snow-in-summer, flax, pinks.

What’s blooming inside: Zonal geraniums.

Animal sightings: Rabbit, goldfinches.

Weekly update: Shawn Sigstedt heard legends from Navajo around Crystal, New Mexico that bears had taught them how to use oshá. Their tales made him wonder if real live four-foot members of the Ursus genus could use plants medicinally.

He went to a zoo to give oshá to two brown bears. The male and female quarreled over the root, and the female went away with it. She chewed it, rubbed the paste on her fur with her paws, shook her head to disburse the liquid left in her mouth, then rubbed her back against a rock.

He threw another piece of root to the male. He gave it to the female, who repeated her actions. When she finished, she returned to nuzzle him.

Later, Sigstedt installed cameras above a wild patch to record any activity in its area. A black bear came in, broke off two stems, walked off camera, returned, walked behind a tree, came back, and rubbed his back against the tree.

At first, Sigstedt thought they were rubbing the liquid into their fur to kill parasites. Later, he was told the female brown bear was severely arthritic. Both were plausible explanations.

Ligusticum porteri contains a number of chemicals with medicinal properties, so many in fact, that when it’s broken, their gases escape and telegraph their presence. Any animal or person who broke a stem, crushed a leaf, or dug a root would be alerted to possibilities.

As discussed in the post for 1 November 2015, the exploitation of the possibilities varied by culture. Some applications spread from group to group, or were discovered multiple times. Others were limited to a small group, became obsolete, or were replaced when new problems arose.

The plant itself contains the possibilities. One team of scientists that included Robert Bye and Rachel Mata tested its effects on stomach ulcers. They found its diligustilide prevented "significantly the gastric injuries" and hypothesized ways it worked utilitzing "endogenous non-protein -SH groups and prostaglandins."

Many stomach infections are caused by bacteria. Recently, a team led by Sergio Andrade-Ochoa tested the essential oil against a variety of species, and found it most effective against Enterococcus faecalis, Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus, and Staphylococcus epidermidis. The second and third are associated with food poisoning. The other two are mainly found in hospital environments.

Staphylococcus aureus is particularly troublesome because it can lead to upper respiratory infections like pneumonia. Many strains have developed immunities against drugs. Another team, this one lead by Pascale Cégiéla-Carlioz, found forty-two compounds in the essential oils. The distilled oil doubled the effects of an antibiotic agent against the bacterium; the solvent extraction quadrupled its effects. The chemicals common to both were (Z)-ligustilide and Sabinyl acetate.

Mata was involved with two experiments that tested the plant’s chemicals’ effects in reducing pain. In 2005, her team established that an extract had "an antinociceptive effect." In 2014, a larger team tried to isolate the specific chemicals. They found Z-ligustilide, Z-3-butylidenephthalide and diligustilide were each effective, but worked in slightly different ways.

Bye had heard the Tarahumara were now using it to treat diabetes and tuberculosis. In 2010, he, Mata, and others isolated five chemicals from a root extract. Of those, 3-(Z)-butylidenephthalide was the most effective in reducing blood sugar levels in diabetic mice.

Two of the chemicals, Z-Ligustilide and Z-6,6',7,3'-alpha-diligustilide, have been identified as worthy for commercial development. Another team organized by Mata and Bye tested samples from this country and Mexico in 2012. It found the quantities "varied significantly among the samples."

Two years later, Guy Cullin’s laboratory introduced "new commercial formulations to analyze these essential oils further." He purchased his raw materials from a supplier in Oregon. The assays detected chemicals found in both oshá and in Ligusticum grayi. One of his reviewers suggested "this observation could be due to a mixture of plant material from the commercial supplier."

Conservationists have become concerned that publicity surrounding oshá has threatened its survival. The US Forest Service imposed a three-year moratorium on harvesting for personal or commercial use in 1999. Since, Mata and others have been working to find a ways to mass produce roots that meet pharmaceutical standards for purity and quality and that do not exploit the wild. Their efforts were discussed in the post for 8 November 2015.

Notes: In those projects that involved Mata and Bye, the name that follows theirs is the lead author. Information on bacteria is from Wikipedia. Brown bears are Ursus arctos, black are Ursus americanus.

Andrade-Ochoa, Sergio, Karen Giselle Chavez Villareal, Blanca Estela Rivera Chavira, Guadalupe Virginia Nevárez Moorillón. "Antimicrobial Activity of Essential Oil of Ligusticum porteri, Biotecnología y Bioingeniería, 2013 national congress.

Cégiéla-Carlioz, Pascale, Jean-Marie Bessière, Bruno David, Anne-Marie Mariotte, Simon Gibbons and Marie-Geneviève Dijoux-Franca. "Modulation of Multi-Drug Resistance (MDR) in Staphylococcus aureus by Osha (Ligusticum porteri L., Apiaceae) Essential Oil Compounds," Flavour and Fragrance Journal 20:671-675:2005.

Collin, Guy, Hélène Gagnon, Alexis St-Gelais, and Maxim Turcotte. "Composition of the Essential Oil and the Hydrosol of the Roots of Ligusticum porteri," American Journal of Essential Oils and Natural Products 1:4-10:2014.

Mata, Rachel, Robert Bye, Fernando Brindis, Rogelio Rodríguez-Sotres, Martin Gonzalez-Andrade, "(Z)-3-Butylidenephthalide from Ligusticum porteri, an á-Glucosidase Inhibitor á," Journal of Natural Products 74:314-320:2010.

_____, _____, Krutzkaya Juárez-Reyes, Guadalupe E. Ángeles-López, and Isabel Rivero-Cruz. "Antinociceptive Activity of Ligusticum porteri Preparations and Compounds," Pharmaceutical Biology 52:14-20:2014.

_____, _____, I. Rivero, K Juárez, and M. Zuluaga. "Quantitative HPLC Method for Determining Two of the Major Active Phthalides from Ligusticum porteri Roots," Association of Official Analytical Chemists, Journal of AOAC International 95:84-91:2012.

_____, _____, Josué A. Velázquez-Moyado, Alejandro Martínez-González, Edelmira Linares, and Andrés Navarrete. "Gastroprotective Effect of Diligustilide Isolated from Roots of Ligusticum porteri Coulter and Rose (Apiaceae) on Ethanol-induced Lesions in Rats," Journal of Ethnopharmacology, in press, 2015, available on line. Has comments on contemporary Tarahumara uses

_____, M. Deciga-Campos, E. González-Trujano, and A. Navarrete. "Antinociceptive Effect of Selected Mexican Traditional Medicinal Species," Western Pharmacology Society, Proceedings 48:70-72:2005.

Sigstedt, Shawn. "How Wild Black Bears Are Using Oshá,Ligusticum porteri, for Medicine and Helping Restore a Healthy Global Ecosystem," the Society for Economic Botany, annual meeting, 2013, up loaded to You Tube, 2 July 2013. He was in the zoo with permission to conduct his experiments.

Photographs: Oshá, purchased at local farmers market on 24 August 2015; photographed 1 November 2015. Root in first picture still has some bark, the second does not.

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