Physical description: The family Onagraceae consists of 17 genera and 675 species of tanniferous herbs abounding with ellagic and gallic acid. The leaves are simple, opposite or alternate and without stipules. The flowers are hermaphrodite, actinomorphic, and often solitary. The calyx is adnate to the ovary, and 4-5-lobed and valvate.The corolla consists of 2-5, free petals which are contorted or imbricate. The andrecium comprises of as many stamens as, or twice as many as, the calyx lobes, and the anthers are 2-locular, and open lengthwise. The gynecium is inferior and 2-6 locular and contains 1 to several ovules attached to axile placentas. The fruits are capsules, berries or nuts containing numerous seeds.
Pharmaceutical potential: A number of plants classified within the genera Fushia and Clarkia are cultivated for ornamental purposes. The fixed oil obtained from the seeds of Oenothera biennis or evening primrose oil is widely marketed as a dietary supplement for cosmetic purposes, and more specifically for the treatment of atopic eczema and premenstrual syndrome. Evening primrose has attracted a great deal of interest on account of its effects on diabetic neuropathy and rheumatoid arthritis. The pharmacological properties of evening primrose oil could be on account of y-linolenic acid which is metabolized in arachi-donic acid, an immediate precursor of some prostaglandins (Fig. 168). Gallic acid and ellagic acid released from hydrolysable tannins are cyto- Fig. 168. Pharmacological basis of evening toxic and are often responsible for the primrose oil: y-linolenic acid is metabolized in antitumoral property of medicinal Ona- arachidonic acid, an immediate precursor of graceae and Rosidae in general. One prostaglandins which regulate uterus (U) coo
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such plant is Epilobium angustifolium
L., which has been traditionally used in Eurasia, which inhibits the growth of prostatic epithelial cell line (PZ-HPV-7) cultured in vitro. Epilobium tanguticum Hausskn., Epilobium angustifolium L., Ludwigia adscendens (L.) Hara, Lud-wigia hyssopifolia (D. Don) Exell. Ludwigia octovalvis (Jacq.) Raven, Ludwigia prostrata Roxb., and Circaea alpina L. are mildly astringent and used in the Asia-Pacific to check bleeding, heal wounds and boils, resolve swelling, stop dysentery, expel intestinal worms, counteract fungal infection, and to treat sprue and syphilis.
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