Medical Mucilage Used in Traditional Persian Medicine Practice

Iran J Med Sci. 2016 May;41(3 Suppl):S41.


Background: Mucilage compounds are pharmaceutically important polysaccharides that have an extensive range of applications, including binding agents, thickeners, water retention agents, emulsion stabilizers, suspending agents, disintegrates, film formers, and gelling agents. A historical approach to medical science written by Iranian scholars could help in identifying excellent ideas and provide valuable information in this field for proper application. The aim of the current study was to introduce some mucilage uses derived from traditional Persian medicine (TPM).

Methods: In this literature review, we assessed a few main traditional manuscripts of Iranian medicine, including the books Al Havi, Canon of Medicine, Qarabadine-kabir, Zakhireh-ye Khwarazm shahi, Tuhfat ul-Momineen and Makhzan-ul-Adwiah. The word "loab" in the aforementioned books were searched and all data about mucilage compounds were collected.

Results: The use of medicinal plants containing mucilage in Iran dates back to ancient times. In traditional Persian manuscripts, mucilage is one of the most cited applications of medicinal plants for therapeutic objectives. There are various mucilage-producing plants in TPM such as Malva silvestris, Linum usitissimum, Althaea officinalis, Plantago psyllium, Descureania sophia and Ziziphus vulgaris. They have been used traditionally via oral or topical routes for respiratory, gastrointestinal, urinary, musculoskeletal, and genital systems as well as skin disorders. Certain applications are unique and promising for today's chronic ailments.

Conclusion: A scientific assessment of these valuable manuscripts would provide a better insight into the thoughts of the past sages and applicable for clinical use of the mucilage compounds. This may lead to research opportunities in the future.

Keywords: Medicine; Plant Mucilage; Plants; Polysaccharides; Traditional.