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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: MANAGEMENT OF TEMPERATE FRUIT NUT AND SPECIALTY CROP GENETIC RESOURCES

Location: National Clonal Germplasm Repository (Corvallis, Oregon)

Title: Rubus pharmacology: antiquity to the present

Author
item Hummer, Kim

Submitted to: HortScience
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: September 3, 2010
Publication Date: November 4, 2010
Repository URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10113/48550
Citation: Hummer, K.E. 2010. Rubus Pharmacology: Antiquity to the Present. HortScience. 45:1587-1591.

Interpretive Summary: Blackberries and raspberries are native to six continents. These plant can be commonly referred to as brambles or briers. Brambles were a food and medicinal source for native peoples soon after the ice age. Medicinal uses for brambles were documented in the writings of the Ancient Greeks and Romans. Asian medicinal traditions,Ttraditional Chinese Medicine, and the Ayurvedic tradition of India. Folk traditions of native peoples throughout the world have also applied brambles for multiple medicinal uses. Although in modern times these plants are grown for delicious and vitamin-rich fruit for fresh and processed product consumption, the ancients used the whole plant and its parts. Stems, branches, roots, leaves, and flowers were used in decoctions, infusions, plasters, oil or wine extractions, and condensates. Decoctions of branches were applied to stop diarrhea, dye hair, prevent vaginal discharge, and as an anti-venom for snake bites. Leaves were chewed to strengthen gums and plastered to constrain shingles, head scurf, buldging eyes, and hemorrhoids. Flowers triturated with oil reduced eye inflammations and cooled skin rashes; infusions with water or wine aided stomach ailments. Greeks and Romans recorded female applications, while the Chinese described uses in male disorders. The fruits of an Asian raspberry is combined in a yang tonic, called fu pen zi, "overturned fruit bowl" and prescribed for infertility, impotence, low backache, poor eyesight, and bedwetting or frequent urination. Old English books described use of brambles against dysentery combining ancient medicinal knowledge with pagan superstition and herb lore. Medicinal properties of brambles continue in Renaissance and modern herbals, sanctioning leaf infusions as a gargle for sore mouth, throat cankers, and as a wash for wounds; the bark containing tannin, was a tonic for diarrhea; root extract a cathartic and emetic. Recent research has measured high antioxidant content in blackberry and raspberry fruits. Fruit extracts have long been used as colorants, and are now being tested as anti-carcinogenic, anti-viral, anti-allergenic, and cosmetic moisturizing compounds. From ancient traditions, through conventional folk medicines to the scientific confirmation of health promoting compounds, these berries are associated with health-inducing properties.

Technical Abstract: Aeschylus, Hippocrates, Krataeus, Dioscorides, and Galen; Romans: Cato, Ovid, and Pliny the Elder; Asian medicinal traditions, such as the Unani Tibb, traditional Chinese medicine, and the Ayurvedic tradition of India. Folk traditions of native peoples throughout the world have also applied Rubus for multiple medicinal uses. Although in modern times Rubus is grown for its delicious and vitamin-rich fruit for fresh and processed product consumption, the ancients used the whole plant and its parts. Stems, branches, roots, leaves, and flowers were used in decoctions, infusions, plasters, oil or wine extractions, and condensates. Decoctions of branches were applied to stop diarrhea, dye hair, prevent vaginal discharge, and as an anti-venom for snake bites. Leaves were chewed to strengthen gums and plastered to constrain shingles, head scurf, prolapsed eyes, and hemorrhoids. Flowers triturated with oil reduced eye inflammations and cooled skin rashes; infusions with water or wine aided stomach ailments. Greeks and Romans recorded female applications, while the Chinese described uses in male disorders. The fruits of R. chingii, is combined in a yang tonic, called fu pen zi, "overturned fruit bowl" and prescribed for infertility, impotence, low backache, poor eyesight, and bedwetting or frequent urination. The Leech Book of Bald described use of brambles against dysentery combining ancient medicinal knowledge with pagan superstition and herb lore. Medicinal properties of Rubus continue in Renaissance and modern herbals, sanctioning leaf infusions as a gargle for sore mouth, throat cankers, and as a wash for wounds; the bark containing tannin, was a tonic for diarrhea; root extract a cathartic and emetic. Recent research has measured high ellagic acid, anthocyanin, total phenolics, and total antioxidant content in Rubus fruits. Fruit extracts have long been used as colorants, and are now being tested as anti-carcinogenic, anti-viral, anti-allergenic, and cosmetic moisturizing compounds. From ancient traditions, through conventional folk medicines to the scientific confirmation of health promoting compounds, Rubus is associated with health-inducing properties.

Last Modified: 4/19/2014
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