Risks and Benefits (Licorice, Eucalyptus, Ginseng, clove, Ginger and Nutmeg)

Risks and Benefits (Licorice, Eucalyptus, Ginseng, clove, Ginger and Nutmeg)


Licorice is Glycyzrrhiza glabra of family Leguminosae.


Powdered liquorice root (licorice root) or Mulhati is an effective expectorant, and has been used for this purpose since ancient times, especially in Ayurvedic medicine where it is also used in tooth powders.

Risks and Benefits (Licorice, Eucalyptus, Ginseng, clove, Ginger and Nutmeg)

Modern cough syrups often include liquorice extract as an ingredient. Liquorice is a popular and well-known remedy for cough, for chest complaints generally, notably bronchitis, and is an ingredient in almost all popular cough medicines on account of its valuable soothing properties.

Fluid extract of licorice is employed for disguising the taste of nauseous medicines, having a remarkable power of converting the flavour of acrid or bitter drugs. Licorice is useful in treating pain due to stomach ulcers, as it soothes the irritation caused by acids. As an anti-hepatotoxic, licorice is effective in the treatment of chronic hepatitis and cirrhosis.


Licorice may increase the risk of bleeding or potentiate the effects of warfarin therapy. Glycyrrhizic acid and glycyrrhetinic acid, its hydrolytic product, in licorice extracts, and polyphenols, in grapefruit juice, can inhibit betahydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 2, the enzyme that converts cortisol to cortisone.

Heavy licorice (glycyrrhizin) consumption has been associated with shorter gestation. Heavy glycyrrhizin exposure was associated with preterm delivery and may be a novel marker of this condition. Licorice may interfere with either digoxin pharmacodynamically or with digoxin monitoring. Licorice should not to be used by people with high blood pressure or kidney failure or who are taking digitalis, unless directed to do so by their physician


Nutmeg consists of the seeds of the Myristica fragrans and belongs to family Myristicaceae, a tropical, dioeciously evergreen tree.


Commonly known as Jaiphal, is used to flavour many kinds of baked goods, confectionaries, puddings, meats, sausages, sauces, vegetables, and beverages such as eggnog. The spices in their ground form are mainly used in the food processing industry, principally in the seasoning of meat products; they are also used in soups, sauces, baked goods and spice mixes. Nutmeg, in general, tends to be sweeter and more delicate. These products are also used in the perfumes.


But taking too much nutmeg can cause hallucinations. Hallucinations after voluntary ingestion of nutmeg is an unrecognized drug abuse. High doses can cause bizarre behaviour and visual, auditory, and tactile hallucinations along with nausea, gagging, hot/cold sensations, and blurred vision followed by numbness, double, and triple vision, headache, and drowsiness.


Nutmeg contains several compounds with structural similarities to substances with known central nervous system neuromodulatory activity. Seeds of nutmeg are used as spice, but they are also abused because of psychotropic effects described after ingestion of large doses.

Nutmeg poisoning is rare but probably underreported and should be considered in recreational substance users with acute psychotic symptoms as well as central nervous system neuromodulatory signs that may mimic in part an anticholinergic hyperstimulation. It is of low cost but has high risk of accidental nutmeg intoxication. Myristic acid is used in the food industry as a flavour ingredient. It is found widely distributed in fats throughout the plant and animal kingdom, including common human foodstuffs, such as nutmeg.

Myristic acid has been shown to have a low order of acute oral toxicity in rodents. It may be irritating in pure form to skin and eyes under exaggerated exposure conditions, but is not known or predicted to induce sensitization responses. The data and information that are available indicate that at the current level of intake, food flavouring use of myristic acid does not pose a health risk to humans


The botanical name is Zingiber officinale and it belongs to familyZingiberaceae, the ginger family. Ginger is anherb; its rhizome (underground stem) is usedas a spice and also as a medicine. It can beused fresh, dried and powdered, or as a juiceor oil.


Ginger is commonly used to treat various types of “stomach problems,” including motion sickness, morning sickness, colic, upset stomach, gas, diarrhoea, nausea caused by cancer treatment, nausea and vomiting after surgery, as well as loss of appetite. Other uses include pain relief from arthritis or muscle soreness, menstrual pain, upper respiratory tract infections, cough, and bronchitis. Ginger is also sometimes used for chest pain, low back pain, and stomach pain. In foods and beverages, ginger is used as a flavouring agent.


Heartburn or stomach distress can occur if taken in large quantities. Ginger reinforces warfarin action by heterogeneous mechanisms. It should thus not be used in patients on oral anticoagulant and/or antiplatelet therapy. Ginger may increase the risk of bleeding or potentiate the effects of warfarin therapy.

This study investigated the effect of ginger, a common morning sickness remedy, on foetal development. Pregnant Sprague-Dawley rats were administered, from gestation day 6 to 15; 20 g/L or 50 g/L ginger tea via their drinking water and then sacrificed. No maternal toxicity was observed, however embryonic loss in the treatment groups was double that of the controls (P greater than 0.05). No gross morphologic malformations were seen in the treated foetuses.

Foetuses exposed to ginger tea were found to be significantly heavier than controls, an effect that was greater in female foetuses and was not correlated with increased placental size. Treated foetuses also had more advanced skeletal development as determined by measurement of sternal and metacarpal ossification centres. The results of this study suggested that in utero exposure to ginger tea results in increased early embryo loss with increased growth in surviving foetuses. Ginger may help to lessen nausea due to chemotherapy drugs and anaesthesia.


The botanical source of ginseng is dried root of Panax ginseng belonging to family Araliaceae.


Ginseng root is cleared of the rootlets and sliced for medicinal use. Its leaves, flowers, fibrous rootlets and seeds all can be used as herbs. Ginseng is used to cure sexual dysfunction in men, also in hair tonics and cosmetic preparations.


The word ginseng is said to be the wonder of the world, but many adverse effects are also reported. Reports include reactions such as headache, insomnia, anxiety and breast soreness or tenderness. It is also possible that skin rashes may develop as well as asthma attacks, increased blood pressure, diarrhoea, euphoria, nervousness, skin eruptions, heart palpitations, or postmenopausal uterine bleeding.

Stop using ginseng and consult your pharmacist or doctor if you suffer any side-effects. Vitamin C can interfere with or increase the absorption of ginseng. Since ginseng is considered to be a stimulant, caution should be exercised if one ingests caffeine or products containing pseudoephedrine or other stimulants. Use ginseng only under the direction of an herbalist or a licensed healthcare professional if one is having any of the conditions like pregnancy, insomnia, hay fever, fibrocystic breasts, asthma, emphysema, high blood pressure, blood-clotting problems, heart disorders, hypoglycemia or diabetes.

The review on ginseng uses advises for not using ginseng in pregnant women in the first trimester because of possible birth defects. Ginseng reinforces warfarin action by heterogeneous mechanisms. It should thus not be used in patients on oral anticoagulant and/or antiplatelet therapy. Ginseng has been associated with documented reports of potential interactions with warfarin.


Eucalyptus belongs to family Myrtaceae and it is used as Stimulant, antiseptic and aromatic. There are a large number of species of Eucalyptus trees yielding essential oils, the foliage of some being more odorous than that of others, and the oils from the various species differing widely in character.


Eucalyptus Oil is used as a stimulant and antiseptic gargle. It impairs sensibility of skin on local application, and known to increase cardiac action. An emulsion made by shaking equal parts of the oil and powdered gum- Arabic with water has been used as a urethral injection, and has also been given internally in drachms doses in pulmonary tuberculosis and other microbial diseases of the lungs and bronchitis. In croup and spasmodic throat troubles, the oil may be freely applied externally. The oil is an ingredient of ‘catheder oil,’ used for steriliz ing and lubricating urethral catheters.



But Eucalyptus oil is reported to cause dermatological side-effects, which deserves further systematic investigation, as eucalyptus oil is used widely in dermatological preparations. Eucalyptus can cause depression of conscious state, drowsiness, unconsciousness, vomiting or ataxia.

Accidental ingestion of eucalyptus oil by a three year old boy caused profound central nervous system depression within thirty minutes, but he recovered rapidly after gastric lavage. The extreme toxicity of eucalyptus oil is emphasised in literature


Clove is the dried flower bud of Eugenia caryophyllus belonging to family Myrtaceae. Clove oil is 60 to 90% eugenol.


Cloves fights germs, viruses and bacteria, and it encourages the loosening of phlegm from the respiratory system. It also promotes sweating with fevers, colds, and flu, which is very healing. It is often used in herbal remedies for whooping cough. Clove oil is the active ingredient of several mouthwashes and a number of over-the counter toothache pain-relief preparations.

Clove is also reported to relax the smooth muscle lining of the digestive tract. A few drops of the oil in water will stop vomiting, and clove tea will relieve from diarrhoea, gas, bloating, intestinal spasms and nausea. Dentists use clove oil as an oral anaesthetic. They also use it to disinfect root canals. Clove oil has been used to stop pain of toothache when dropped into cavity.


Clove may increase the risk of bleeding or potentiate the effects of warfarin therapy 4. The smoking of clove cigarettes has been associated with twelve cases of serious illness in the United States, including hemorrhagic pulmonary edema, pneumonia, bronchitis, and hemoptysis.

About one thousand patients were clinically investigated for occupational skin disease, and five were found with occupational allergic contact dermatitis from spices like clove. The patients were chefs, or kitchen, coffee room, and restaurant workers. All patients had hand or finger dermatitis










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