Homeland – North America; in the USSR – alien (in the Caucasus). Cultivated in the Mediterranean, Iran, USA.
Herbaceous perennial with a multi-headed rhizome and a thick taproot. The stems are thick, branched, reddish-green, smooth, up to 2-3 m high. The leaves are alternate, short-petiolate, ovate-elliptical, sharp (similar to belladonna leaves, with which the plant is often confused). The flowers are small, with a simple flower bed within, collected in dense brushes up to 15 cm long, opposite the leaves. Perianth of 5 leaves; they are initially whitish, later reddening. The fruit is juicy, berry-like, violet-black, within 8 mm in diameter, the seeds are black, reniform.
Other species: berry lacquer [Phytolacca acinosa var. esculenta Roxb.].
Harvest the roots in the fall. The aerial parts are cut off, cleaned from the ground and washed in cold water. At the break, the roots are yellowish-white, fibrous. A plant whose root is red inside cannot be used.
Fresh roots are used (Radix Phytolaccae americanae). They contain alkaloids (0.16%), triterpene saponins of the group (3-amirin, essential oil (0.08%), which has a pungent odor, a toxic substance fitschaccotoxin, close to picrotoxin. The nature of the alkaloids has not been established. A tincture is prepared from fresh roots, which is part of more complex liquid mixtures used in the treatment of radiculitis, plexitis and diseases of the vocal apparatus, tonsillitis, pharyngitis.
The plant contains unidentified alkaloids.
Sucrose, starch, fatty and essential oils (0.08%), triterpenoids, steroids, saponins, phytolaccine alkaloid (0.16%), oxidase enzyme, acids (phytolacca and formic) were found in the roots; in the leaves – saponins, flavonoids, vitamin C; in fruits – carbohydrates, vitamins B1 and PP, saponins, alkaloids, anthocyanins; in seeds – triterpenoids, saponins, potassium.
The roots have a laxative, bacteriostatic, wound healing and anti-inflammatory effect.
Several juicy, thick, smooth reddish stems in June are decorated with white, later blushing, as if from timid shame for their beauty, inflorescences collected in dense brushes.
Bees willingly collect nectar from white flowers. Flowering lasts until September. Fruits ripen in August – black or dark purple, purple, very appetizing in appearance, juicy berries.
But don’t be tempted to indulge. Berries used to color wines, eaten in large doses, can cause serious poisoning.
The book collection Murders I’m in Love with, compiled by the famous film director Alfred Hitchcock, includes Mary Barrett’s story Death Out of Line, where a prim old woman commits a sophisticated murder with the help of lakos berries.
Use in homeopathy
In homeopathy, products from the fresh roots of lakonos are used in the treatment of laryngitis, tonsillitis (tonsillitis) and rheumatism, as well as in the treatment of sciatica.
In common medical practice, a tincture of the leaves of the plant was also used. In the United States, the fruits and roots of lakonosa are used as an emetic, laxative, diuretic and antihelminthic, as well as for skin diseases.
It would not be superfluous to recall the inadmissibility of self-treatment with American lakos products. This is the prerogative of an experienced therapist!
In homeopathy, lakonos is also used for swollen tonsils with white speckles; if the pain radiates to the ears and head, and this sensation is accompanied by a feeling of weakness and pain in the back, arms and legs, the condition worsens when moving, but the patient cannot help moving.
Concomitant symptoms and indications for the use of a homeopathic product in babies are an uncontrollable desire to compress the gums (during teething) or teeth; in nursing mothers, very hard mammary glands, hot and painful; the pain radiates to the whole back when the child sucks at the breast.
E. Nash believed that phytolyakka (a homeopathic product from lakonos) is one of the most valuable remedies in the treatment of sore throat.,
The use of a homeopathic product is very effective in follicular pharyngitis, especially when the speakers lose their voice and a burning sensation appears in the throat.
Tincture: 10 g of crushed fresh lakonos roots per 100 ml of 70% alcohol are infused for 14 days, filtered. Take 5 drops 4 times every day for otitis, laryngitis, pharyngitis, tonsillitis, lumbago, sciatica, neuralgia, tonsillitis, all kinds of post-infectious neuralgic complications. The tincture is part of the products Merifit, Anginol, Akovit.
Ointment from the roots of lakonos is used for scaly lichen.
Fresh leaves of laconosa are applied to boils, seals, hemorrhoidal bumps, lichen, growths, etc.
Young shoots, stems and leaves of lakonos boiled in salt water are used for food.
American laconos preparations should be used with great caution: an overdose of them causes severe vomiting, diarrhea, convulsions, dizziness, headache, speech impairment, paralysis of the main nerve centers, makes breathing difficult and changes motor functions, which leads to cardiac arrest and cessation of breathing.
PLANTS CONTAINING ALKALOIDS
Alkaloids are called natural nitrogen-containing compounds of the main nature, formed in plants. Groups of proteinogenic amines (for example, tyramine) and betaines (stakhidrin, trigonelline, etc.) adjoin the alkaloids, which are considered as transitional compounds from the simplest nitrogen-containing compounds (methylamine, trimethylamines, etc.) to the alkaloids proper.
Of natural pharmacologically active substances, alkaloids are the main group from which modern medicine draws the largest number of highly effective drugs.
According to world literature, by the end of the past decade, the number of alkaloids isolated from the higher plants of the Earth’s flora exceeded 5000. According to modern concepts, alkaloid-bearing plants make up 10% of the entire world flora. The families Equisetaceae, Lycopodiaceae, Ephedraceae, Liliaceae, Amaryllidaceae, Dioscoreaceae, Chenopodiaceae, Nymphaeaceae, Ranunculaceae, Berberidaceae, Menispermaceae, Papaveraceae, Fabaceae, Rutaceae, Cactaceae, Punicaceae contain the largest number of alkaloid-bearing genera and species. Loganiaceae, Apocynaceae, Borraginaceae, Solanaceae, Rubiaceae.
Usually plants that are phylogenetically close contain alkaloids that are very similar in structure, thus forming a natural group of genera. For example, plants of the genera Atropa, Datura, Hyoscyamys, Scopolia, Physochlaina, Duboisia. Mandragora (all from the same Solananeae family) contain a well-defined group of tropane alkaloids. This far-reaching pattern, however, has exceptions that have not yet been explained. So, for example, caffeine is found in plants that are not systematically related to each other: tea (Theaceae), coffee (Rubiaceae), cocoa (Sterculiaceae), mate (Aquifoliaceae), guarana (Sapindaceae), erodium (Geraniaceae). Along with this, there are cases when their 2 very close systematically species, one is rich in alkaloids, and the other either does not contain them at all, or contains alkaloids of a different structure.
Alkaloids can be found throughout the plant, or they can be formed and accumulated only in one or more specific organs. The plant traditionally contains not one, but several alkaloids. In individual plants, there may be 20 or more of them (cinchona, hypnotic poppy, etc.), and they may be similar in structure or belong to different chemical groups. In the sum of alkaloids, 1–3 traditionally predominate quantitatively (the main alkaloids). In plants, alkaloids are dissolved in the cell sap of the main parenchyma, phloem, and other tissues in the form of salts, mainly organic acids (malic, succinic, citric, oxalic, fumaric, quinic, etc.); of mineral acids, phosphoric acid is more often involved.
The quantitative content of alkaloids is, in principle, a species characteristic, and it varies over a very wide range. For example, in black henbane they are only 0.05-0.1%, and up to 15% accumulate in the cinchona bark. In the process of ontogenetic development of plants, their alkaloid content undergoes quantitative and sometimes qualitative changes, and each species has its own regularities.
The content of alkaloids in plants is influenced by their geographical location and various factors (air and soil temperature, precipitation, duration and intensity of sunlight, shading, height above sea level, etc.), as well as human impact in the case of transferring the plant to cultivation or its acclimatization. The largest number of alkaloid-bearing species, moreover, with a high content of alkaloids, is common in subtropical and tropical states with a humid climate. Alkaloids of different structure are confined to certain latitudes, and in connection with this, their pharmacological activity changes.
There is no consensus on the biological role and causes of the formation of alkaloids in plants. The main hypotheses proposed at different times interpret alkaloids as: 1) waste products of the vital activity of a plant organism; 2) spare substances; 3) protective substances; 4) active substances necessary for biosynthesis. The latter hypothesis is currently considered by most scientists to be the most general one, which, however, does not exclude other biological functions of alkaloids.
The exceptional diversity in the structure of alkaloid molecules does not allow us to imagine a single way of their formation in plants. Their biosynthesis proceeds according to specific schemes with the most complex chemical transformations (ring opening and closing, oxidation, deamination, ring condensation, etc.) through many intermediate products. Some alkaloids begin biogenesis from amino acids, others from acetic acid (in other words, from carbohydrates).
The modern classification of alkaloids is based on the nature of the heterocycles included in their molecules, with the release into a separate group of alkaloids with an aliphatic structure and with nitrogen in the side chain.
1. Alkaloids with an aliphatic structure or with nitrogen in the side chain;
2. Pyrrolizidine alkaloids.
3. Piperidine and pyridine alkaloids.
4. Alkaloids with condensed and pyrrolidone and piperidine rings.
5. Quinoline alkaloids.
6. Quinazoline alkaloids.
7. Isoquinoline alkaloids.
8. Indole alkaloids.
9. Alkaloid of the imidazole group.
10. Purine alkaloids.
11. Diterpene alkaloids.
12. Steroid alkaloids (glycoalkaloids).
13. Alkaloids of unknown structure.
In conclusion of this brief review, it should be pointed out that most alkaloids are highly active substances with selective pharmacological action. The selectivity of the action of alkaloids determines their widespread use for medicinal purposes. The main forms are extraction products (tinctures, extracts, novogalenic preparations, etc.) and pure alkaloids isolated from plants, converted into soluble salts of certain inorganic and organic acids.