Scientific Name(s): Gelsemium sempervirens (L.) Ait.
Common Name(s): Evening trumpet flower, Gelsemium, Wild, Woodbine, Yellow or Carolina jasmine, Yellow or Carolina jessamine
Gelsemium is a climbing, woody evergreen vine characterized by very fragrant, bright yellow flowers. Although native to the southwest United States, it also grows in Mexico and parts of Central America where it is widely cultivated as an ornamental.1 Synonymous with G. nitidum Michx. and Bignonia sempervirens L. Family: Loganiaceaea or Spigeliaceae. Not to be confused with true jasmine (Jasminum grandiflorum L.)
Gelsemium has been used as an ingredient in some analgesic and homeopathic products, but its use has been limited due to its toxicity. At the turn of the century, it was a popular ingredient in asthma and respiratory remedies.2 Related species have been used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat neuralgia and various painful conditions. It is the state flower of South Carolina.
The active components of gelsemium are the alkaloids, which are present in a concentration of about 0.5%. These consist primarily of gelsemine, with lesser amounts of related compounds (gelsemicine, gelsedine, etc).1 Other compounds found in the plant include scopoletin (also called gelsemic acid), a small amount of volatile oil, fatty acid and tannins.1
Uses and Pharmacology
Gelsemium and its principle alkaloid gelsemine have been reported to exert central stimulant and analgesic effects, being able to potentiate the effects of aspirin and phenacetin.1 The plant has been investigated for its anticancer properties.
Research reveals no clinical data regarding the use of gelsemium for stimulant or analgesic effects.
There are no recent clinical studies of gelsemium to provide a basis for dosage recommendations. Classical use of this herb indicated 30 mg of the rhizome. Current use is primarily homeopathic.
Pregnancy / Lactation
Documented adverse effects. Avoid use.
None well documented.
Research reveals little or no information regarding adverse reactions with the use of this product.
All parts of the plant contain toxic alkaloids that can cause paralysis and death, and should never be ingested. Gelsemium alkaloids are highly toxic. Ingestion of as little as 4 ml of a fluid extract has been reported to be fatal. Toxic symptoms include giddiness, weakness, ptosis, dilated pupils and respiratory depression. Gelsemicine is more toxic than gelsemine.3
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