Monthly Archives: April 2007

Palas(Butea) Or Flame of the forest

Botanical Name : Butea monosperma
English Name : Flame of the forest
Hindi Name
: Palash, Dhak
Sanskrit Name : Palash

Scientific name: Butea monosperma, Butea frondosa
Family: Faboideae / Leguminosae / Papilionaceae
Common names: Flame of the Forest, Dhak, Palas, Bastard Teak, Parrot Tree, Dhak or Palas (Hindi); Porasum (Tamil) ; Khakda (Gujerati).

Other names::Butea monosperma, Butea frondosa, Erythrina monosperma
Flame of the Forest, Dhak, Bastard Teak, Parrot Tree.

Trade names Palasha, Dhak.

Description:
Butea Monosperma is a tree of Fabaceae plant family. This is a small tree. The leaves are three foliate. Leaflets are coriaceous and round. The flowers bloom in February to March. The flowers are in big racemes and bright orange red in color. The petals are silky and hairy.
East Indian tree bearing a profusion of intense vermilion velvet-textured blooms and yielding a yellow dye.

The Flame of the Forest is a medium sized tree, growing from 20 to 4O feet high, and the trunk is usually crooked and twisted with irregular branches and rough, grey bark. It is seen in all its ugliness in December and January when most of the leaves fall: but from January to March it truly becomes a tree of flame, a riot of orange and vermilion flowers covering the entire crown. These flowers, which are scentless, are massed along the ends of the stalks—dark velvety green like the cup-shaped calices—and the brilliance of the stiff, bright flowers is shown off to perfection by this deep, contrasting colour. Each flower consists of five petals comprising one standard, two smaller wings and a very curved beak-shaped keel. It is this keel which gives it the name of Parrot Tree. The back-curving petals are covered with fine, silky hair, which, seen at certain angles, change the deep orange to a silvery salmon-pink. The buds too, have this downy growth and acquire a beautiful mauvish bloom.

CLICK TO SEE THE PICTURES..>..(01)....(1)...(2)..…...(3).….…….

Twisted trunk habit………..PICTURE

The leaves, which appear in April and May, are 10-18″ wide and trifoliate. When fresh they are like soft suede ; thick, velvety and a beautiful pale, bronze green. Old leaves are as firm and tough as leather, smooth above and hairy below. This silky down gives them a silvery appearance from a distance.

The pods, when young, are pale green, are covered with a dense growth of fine hair and sometimes give the effect of a tree in full leaf. They are pendulous and 3 to 4 inches long. When ripe they become yellow-brown and contain flat, brown seeds.

That the flowers contain much nectar is evidenced by the frequent visits of many species of birds; sunbirds, mynahs and babblers are usually to be seen, hurrying from flower to flower, chattering and twittering. With man, also, the tree is very popular, having numerous uses. From an infusion of the flowers a brilliant colouring matter can be obtained, which may be made into water-paint or into a dye. Cotton, prepared with alum, can be dyed a bright yellow or orange.

From the seeds a clear oil is obtained and the gum which exudes from the stems, known as Bengal Kino, is valuable to druggists because of its astringent qualities, and to leather workers because of its tannin. Young roots make a strong fibre which has many uses, the making of rope sandals being one of the most important. Roots, eaten raw, cause giddiness, but, baked, are eaten by Mundari children. The leaves, because of their strength, are sewn together by poor people to make plates and the lovely flowers are popular with all Indian women for adornment of their hair.

The Palas is sacred to the moon and is said to have sprung from the feather of a falcon impregnated with the Soma, the beverage of the Gods, and thus immortalised. It is used in Hindu cremonies for the blessing of calves to ensure their becoming good milkers. When a Brahmin boy becomes a Sadhu, his head is shaved and he is given a Palas leaf to eat—the trifoliate formation representing Vishnu in the middle, Brahma on the left and Shiva on the right.

A rare yellow varity of the Flame of the Forest is sometimes found in India.
Butea Frondosa is named after the Earl of Bute, a patron of Botany and Frondosa, meaning “leafy”. It is a native of India but is not found in the dryest parts, being most common in Central India and the Western Ghats.

Uses:

The Palas is known for much more than its flowers . The powdered flower is used as “gulal” in Holi, the flowers produce a dye which Buddhist monks used to dye their robes, the tree is a host tree for the lac insect and the resinous exudation of the insect gives us shellac/lac with its numerous uses such as polishing and finishing furniture. The most surprising use of lac is as confectioner’s glaze. These glazes are used across the industry including glazing of chocolate covered and sugar coated peanuts & raisins.

Traditional use: KHASI and GARO : Leaf: in delirium; TRIBES OF PURULIATRIBES OF MA YURBHANJA (Orissa) : Seed: (West Bengal) : Seed: in ascaris; as contraceptive; TRIBES OF SANTAL PARGANAS (Bihar) : Root: in tuberculosis; TRIBES OF VARANASI (Uttar Pradesh) : Leaf: in boils; Seed: as vermifuge; TRIBES OF MIRZAPUR (Uttar Pradesh) : Bark: in dysentery; Gum: in diarrhoea, dysentery; TRIBES OF SIWALIK (Uttar Pradesh) : Gum: as tonic; BHAT: Seed: as abortifacient; BHOXA: Bark: in bone fracture, Gum: in piles, urinary complaints; GARHWALI: Leaf: in boil, inflammation, Flower: in diarrhoea, dysentery, pimples, Seed: as anthelmintic; THARU: Gum: as diuretic, Seed: as cooling agent; FOLKS OF DELHI: Gum: as astringent, Flower: as aphrodisiac, astringent, diuretic, Seed: as anthelmintic;Â Â Â FOLKS OF KURUKSHETRA (Haryana): Flower: in stomachache; DANG: Bark: in diarrhoea; TRIBESOFRATANMAHAL HILLS (Gujarat) : Flower: in eye complaints; KORKU (of Maharashtra): Flower, in dysentery; TRIBES OF KHANDLA (Maharashtra) : Flower: in dog bite, urinary complaints; TRIBES OF CHANDRAPURA (Maharashtra) : Leaf: in skin diseases; TRIBES OF JHABUA (Madhya Pradesh) : Root: in dog bite; TRIBES OF SAGAR (Madhya Pradesh): Leaf: as vermifuge, Flower: in diabetes, diarrhoea, piles; TRIBES OF EAST GODAVARI (Andhra Pradesh) : Gum: in diarrhoea; TRIBES OF NILGIRI (Tamil Nadu) : Bark: as haemostatic, in wounds, Flower: in eye complaints; TRIBES OF KANNANORE (Kerala): Flower: in antifertility.

ATHARVA VEDA
: Extract of stem: beneficial for sperms and helps securing conception; CHARAKA SAMHITA : Stem-extract: useful in leprosy, piles, gastroenteritis and menorrha­gia; SUSHRUTA SAMHITA : useful in diseases caused by vayu (wind), Seed: effective against intestinal worms; A YURVEDA : Bark: useful against snake venom, wounds, indigestion, gastroenteritis, fever, tuberculosis, Gum: astringent, beneficial to children and women, Leaf: astringent, sex stimulant, useful in intestinal worms, dyspepsia, piles, menorrhagia, pimples, wounds in mouth/throat, Flower: diuretic, sex stimulant, helps menstruation, useful in gastroenteritis, Seed: useful against intestinal worms.

SIDDHA : Flower-juice: used in preparation of the medicine Murukkam, Seed and Kernel: in Palac

UNANI: Ingredient of the medicine called ‘Dhak(tesu)’ and ‘Samaghke Dhak’.
Chemical contents: Plant: flavonoids, glucosides, butin, butrin, isobutrin, palastrin; Flower: butrin, coriopsin, monospermoside, sulphurein, chalcones; Seed: palasonin, Seed oil: d-Iactone of n-heneicosanoic acid, monospermine, new phytolectin.
Medicinal Usage:

The gum obtained from the tree is astringent and it is used for diarrhea in addition, dysentery. The extracts from the root is used for treating eye-diseases. The leaves are aphrodisiac. In Ayurveda palas leaves have several medicinal properities and uses for different women manstrual problems.

Modern use: Plant (alcoholic extract: produces persistent vasodepression in cats, shows activity against earthworms; Bark: insecticide against house flies; Alcohol extract of bark : inhibitory against E. coli and Micrococcus pyogenes var. aureus; Gum: solution applied to check conception; Root (bark) : aphrodisiac, analgesic, anthelmintic, useful in elephan­tiasis, applied in sprue, piles, ulcers, tumours and dropsy; EtOH (50%) extract of leaf: spasmogenic; FlolYer: effective in leprosy, gout; Alcoholic extract: antiestrogenic in mice; Aqueous extract: anti-implantation in rats; along with Hygrophila auriculata leaf and root taken with milk to cure leucorrhoea; Seed (freshly powdered) : effective against Ascaris; Extract (in vitro) : anthelmintic against Asacridia galli worms; finely powdered along with Acorus calamus rhizome or mixed with juice of Cyperus rotundus rhizome: cures delirium; Saline extract: agglutinates erythrocytes of animals; Hot alcoholic extract: anti-implantation and anti-ovulatory in animals.

Remarks: An important tree for lac cultivation, but the lac produced on it is of inferior quality. Bark yields fibre, wood yields timber of poor quality; stem-bark used as fish poison by tribes of South Rajasthan. Plates and bowls are made by stitching the leaves by the tribes of Purulia and Saurashtra. Flowers yield a yellow dye of little permanency.

Flowers are eaten as vegetables by tribes of Manbhum and Hazaribagh Districts of Bihar while fruits by Garhwalis.

Tree is sacred to the Hindus and Buddhists. Flower is an essential item of Saraswati Puja.

Click to buy online plants

Click to buy on line seeds

Help taken from:http://www.toptropicals.com/html  and http://www.bsienvis.org/medi.htm#Bauhinia%20vahlii

Why do we perspire?

KnowHow team explains: Sweating is a natural phenomenon that occurs so that our body temperature remains constant. When the heat is on and we perspire, we might feel that all that sweat hardly does any good to us. On the contrary, it does help in reducing our body temperature to a great extent.

why.jpg

The hypothalamus (a small cone-shaped structure in the brain) regulates homeostasis, that is, it regulates the areas for thirst, hunger, body temperature, water balance and blood pressure.

Our bodies use approximately 2,500 calories of our daily intake to generate energy through a process called oxidation, commonly termed as burning of food. The process generates a considerable amount of heat, which the body cannot tolerate. The hypothalamus initiates the dilation of the blood vessels (vasodilatation) in the skin to release the excess heat. This prompts the release of sweat from the pores on the skin. There are approximately two million sweat glands in our body. Sweat itself is made up of different elements, the most common of them being water and sodium, otherwise known as salt.

Perspiration emerges on the surface of the skin in the form of tiny, microscopic droplets, which quickly evaporate and cool the body to its normal temperature. Sweat evaporates at a slower rate in humid climate than otherwise. With less sweat evaporating from the body surface, it makes it difficult for us to bear the heat.

Hence, although at times embarrassing, sweating has an important role to play in our survival.

Source: The Telegraph (Kolkata,India)

Headaches

I have a headache.” Everyone — from children, teenagers and adults to the elderly — has said this at some time or the other. The statement may be true, or it may simply be an excuse to avoid an unwelcome conversation, person or venture. After all, the pain is in the “head” (no pun intended) and it cannot be objectively verified or measured.

The brain itself is actually devoid of nerves and cannot feel pain. The sensations arise from receptors in the nerves in the surrounding structures such as the eyes, teeth, sinuses, facial muscles, scalp and the meninges (covering of the brain).

Acute pain may be due to an infection in any of these structures. If the headache is chronic and recurrent, it is probably due to tension or migraine, with an overlap between the two conditions.

During such a headache, biochemical analysis of the blood shows a drop in the levels of a neurochemical called serotonin and the trace element magnesium. This, in turn, stimulates the trigeminal nerve (one of the cranial nerves) and results in the release of substances called neuropeptides. Their action is dilatation and inflammation of the blood vessels of the covering of the brain. The result is a throbbing or dull, aching sensation in the head.

Tension headaches may not be confined to the head. There may be pain in the scalp, neck, jaw or shoulder. It may be associated with non-headache symptoms like insomnia, fatigue, irritability, loss of appetite or lack of concentration.

Migraines are the other type of recurrent headaches. They occur in 12 per cent of the population and are three times commoner in women. The headache may be familial, with many members of the family complaining of a similar indisposition. A typical migraine may be preceded for a few days by vague symptoms of drowsiness, irritability, depression, craving for sweets or increased thirst. A few hours before the onset of the headache, there is usually a typical aura with flashing lights, a feeling of lightening bolts in the head, tingling and numbness. (This differentiates migraines from tension headaches, which typically do not have an aura.) The headache that follows is throbbing and unbearable. It may last for a couple of hours or a whole day. It usually subsides with vomiting, leaving a physically and emotionally drained individual who has effectively lost a full working day.

migraine.jpg

Migraine attacks are usually preceded by a typical aura with flashing lights, lightning bolts in the head, numbness, etc.

Devastated by the ailment, most sufferers learn to recognise and avoid triggers which precipitate the headache. Migraine may be due to —

Hormones, especially fluctuating levels of oestrogen and progesterone. This is the reason why migraines are commoner in women. They are also aggravated at the time of hormonal surges and changes like menarche, pregnancy and menopause.

Foods containing monosodium glutamate (an additive in Chinese food) and tryptophan (found in chocolates, oats, bananas, poultry and red meat) and some preservatives. This has lead to the coining of the term “Chinese restaurant headache”.

Stress at home or at work, which can cause the release of chemicals.

Scents and perfumes or even the smell of paint.

Insomnia as well as excessive sleep.

Change in the weather.

Headaches are a source of anxiety, especially if they are severe and recurrent. There may also be the persistent nagging fear of a sinister diagnosis like a brain tumour. If you are worried,

Keep a “headache calendar”, so that when you consult the physician you have precise documentation of the type, frequency and duration of the ailment.

Have an ENT (ear, nose and throat) evaluation to rule out sinusitis and an eye check-up for refractory errors or glaucoma.

If these are normal and the headache is still worrying, you need to consult a physician. You may require further tests like a CT scan or an MRI, especially if the headache is non-typical.

A physician needs to be consulted if —

The onset of the headache is abrupt and severe,

If it is associated with fever, stiff neck, rash, mental confusion, seizures, double vision, weakness, numbness or speaking difficulties,

If it has occurred after a head injury or has suddenly appeared after the age of 50 years.

Most headaches respond well to a simple paracetamol or an NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug) like ibubrufen or tolfenamic acid preceded by an antiemetic like domperidone or stemetil. Lying in a darkened room also helps. Anecdotal evidence suggests that acupuncture or pressure are helpful.

Lifestyle modifications help to reduce the severity and frequency of attacks. Triggers should be avoided. Aerobic exercise for 40 minutes a day like walking, jogging, running or stair climbing releases protective mood-boosting chemicals from the calf muscles in the leg. Regular yoga, Tai-Chi, meditation and relaxation also lessen the levels of tension causing chemicals, thus reducing attacks and improving the quality of life.

Disclaimer: This information is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advise or help. It is always best to consult with a Physician about serious health concerns. This information is in no way intended to diagnose or prescribe remedies.

Source:The Telegraph (Kolkata,India)

Drugs lead to brain brake failure

CHICAGO: A single dose of morphine was found to lower the inhibitions of rats, even after the drug had left their systems, a finding that may help scientists better understand addiction in humans, US researchers said on Wednesday.

In rats, the painkiller blocked the brain’s ability to strengthen connections, or synapses, that ratchet down reward or pleasure, researchers from Brown University reported in the journal Nature.

“What we have found is that the inhibitory synapses can no longer be strengthened 24 hours after treatment with morphine, which suggests that a natural brake has been removed,” said Julie Kauer, a professor of molecular pharmacology, physiology and biotechnology at Brown.

“This happens 24 hours after the animal had one dose of morphine. There is no morphine left in the brain. It shows that it is a persistent effect of the drug,” she said in a telephone interview.

Kauer said the finding adds to a growing body of evidence suggesting a link between learning and addiction and may help in the development of drugs to treat addiction. “Strengthening synapses, we think, is the beginning of the formation of memory,” she said.

By shutting off the natural ability to strengthen connections that inhibit pleasure, the brain may be learning to crave drugs, she said.

Kauer said the brain has two kinds of neurons — those that excite the nerve connections and those that inhibit or depress them.

“If inhibition is reduced, you get runaway excitability,” she said. This imbalance may boost the firing of neurons that make dopamine, the brain’s “pleasure chemical” activated after rewarding experiences such as eating, sex, and the use of addictive drugs.

Kauer found the changes in a small section of the midbrain that is involved in the reward system. While her study looked at the early response to addictive drugs, she intends to study the effect over time.

Source:The Times Of India

Flying Home

As earthbound beings, humans have always had a fascination with winged creatures of all kinds. The idea of being able to spontaneously lift off from the earth and fly is so compelling to us that we invented airplanes and helicopters and myriad other flying machines in order to provide ourselves with the many gifts of being airborne. Flying high in the sky, we look down on the earth that is our home and see things from an entirely different perspective. We can see more, and we can see farther than we can when we’re on the ground. As if all this weren’t enough, the out-of-this-world feeling of freedom that comes with groundlessness inspires us to want to take flight again and again.

Metaphorically, we take flight whenever we break free of the gravity that holds us to a particular way of thinking or feeling or being. We take flight mentally when we rise above our habitual ways of thinking about things and experience new insights. This is what it means to open our minds. Emotionally, we take flight when the strength of our passion exceeds the strength of our blockages; the floodgates open and we are free to feel fully. Spiritually we take flight when we locate that part of ourselves that is beyond the constraint of linear time and the world of form. It is in this place that we experience the essential boundlessness that defines the experience of flight.

Taking flight is always about freeing ourselves from form, if only temporarily. When we literally fly, in a plane or on a hang glider, we free ourselves from the strength of gravity’s pull. As we open our minds and our hearts, we free ourselves from habitual patterns of thought and emotional blockages. As we remember our true nature, we free ourselves from identification with the temporary state of our physical forms. The more we stretch our wings, the clearer it becomes that taking flight is a state of grace that simply reminds us of who we really are.

Source:Daily Om

Skin wrinkles

Skin wrinkles typically appear as a result of aging processes such as glycation or, temporarily, as the result of prolonged (more than a few minutes) immersion in water. Wrinkling in skin is caused by habitual facial expressions, aging, sun damage, smoking, poor hydration, and various other factors.

Aging wrinkles
Treatments and products (including anti-aging creams) promising to reduce, remove, or prevent age-related wrinkles are big business in many industrialized countries. Despite great demand, most such products and treatments have not been proven to give lasting or major positive effects. Wrinkle reduction with acetyl hexapeptide3. Non surgical face lift . Anti aging -Concept

Stretching the skin via a face lift will many times remove some wrinkles.

Anti-aging creams are cosmetic products marketed with the promise of making the consumer look younger and reducing visible wrinkles on the skin. Despite great demand, most such products and treatments have not been proven to give lasting or major positive effects.

There are a range of cosmetic treatments for the appearance of wrinkles on the skin such as plastic surgery and botox injections. Advertising sometimes presents anti-aging creams as an alternative to these more costly and invasive cosmetic treatments.

Traditionally, anti-aging creams have been marketed towards women, but products specifically targeting men are increasingly common.

Many anti-wrinkle creams contain some form of retinol (for instance, in the form of retinyl palmitate) which in various formulations has been shown to give a “rejuvenating” appearance to the skin, in that it stimulates the renewal of skin cells and reduces dark spots. Alpha hydroxy acids and beta hydroxy acids have a peeling effect when used as chemical peels. However, the effects of these compounds likely depend on their concentration and mode of application, making the effects of the commercial products less certain.

Easy Way to Solve Skin Wrinkle Problem:

A fountain of youth may be as close as your kitchen, new study findings suggest. A diet rich in fruits, vegetables and unsaturated fats may ward off wrinkles by boosting the skin’s natural defenses against sun damage.

In an international study of eating patterns and skin aging, investigators found that dark and fair-skinned people who ate plenty of wholesome foods but passed on butter, red meat and sugary confections were less prone to wrinkling. Some of the skin-smoothing foods included green leafy vegetables, beans, olive oil, nuts and multigrain breads, researchers reported in The Journal of the American College of Nutrition.

Many of the skin-protecting foods the study turned up are rich in antioxidant vitamins, which may fend off environmental damage. More than 400 adults, aged 70 and older, who ate more of the foods that are universally recommended for good health had smoother skin.

The study authors speculate that certain foods offered skin protection due to their high levels of antioxidants such as vitamins A, C, and E. Monosaturated fats such as olive oil may offer beneficial protection through the same mechanism. Fatty acids are present in the skin, and monosaturated fats resist oxidative damage.

How do you know what fruits and vegetables have high levels of antioxidants? Ask your doctor of chiropractic, or ask that your local grocer post nutritional information about the products that you choose, if they don’t already. For additional information on senior health issues, visit http://www.chiroweb.com/tyh/senior.html

Ayurvedic Anti Wrinkle & Skin Care
Herbal Remedies for dry skin and wrinkles

Disclaimer: This information is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advise or help. It is always best to consult with a Physician about serious health concerns. This information is in no way intended to diagnose or prescribe remedies.

Source:chirofind.com and en.wikipedia.org

Mace or Indian Javatri

Other Names:
French: macis
German: Muskatlute
Italian: mace, macis
Spanish: macía
Indian: jaffatry, javatri, jawatrie

Mace is the aril (the bright red, lacy covering) of the nutmeg seed shell. The mace is removed from the shell and its broken parts are known as blades.

Click to see the picture
The history of mace is closely tied to the history of nutmeg for obvious reasons, though the two items have been treated seperately . Because the yield of mace is much less than nutmeg’s it has had greater value. A pile of fruit large enough to make one hundred pounds of nutmeg produces a single pound of mace. When the Dutch controlled the Moluccas (the Spice Islands), one colonial administator sent orders that the colonists should plant fewer nutmeg trees and more mace trees.

Spice Description:
In its natural state, mace is a bright crimson lace up to 35 mm (1-1/2 in) long, encasing the brown nutmeg in irregular, fleshy lobes. As it is dried, it develops its charcteristic aroma but loses its bright red colour. Mace from the West Indies is a yellowish brown colour and with fewer holes than mace from East Indian nutmegs which are more orange when dried. The mace from either locale can become brittle and horny, though the best quality mace will retain some pliability and release a little oil when squeezed. It is flattened and sometimes roughly broken into ‘blades’. It is also sold ground and sometimes still enclosing the nutmeg.
Bouquet: sweet and fragrant, similar to nutmeg, but stronger.
Flavour: warm. sharp and aromatic, more intense and slightly sweeter than nutmeg
Hotness Scale: 1

The nutmegs Myristica are a genus of evergreen trees indigenous to tropical southeast Asia and Australasia. They are important for two spices derived from the fruit, nutmeg and mace.

click to see the picture

Mace within nutmeg fruitNutmeg is the actual seed of the tree, roughly egg-shaped and about 20–30 mm long and 15–18 mm wide, and weighing between 5 and 10 grams dried, while mace is the dried “lacy” reddish covering or arillus of the seed.

click to see the picture

Several other commercial products are also produced from the trees, including essential oils, extracted oleoresins, and nutmeg butter (see below).

click to see the picture

The pericarp (fruit/pod) is used in Grenada to make a jam called Morne Delice. In Indonesia, the fruit is sliced finely, cooked and crystallised to make a fragrant candy called manisan pala (“nutmeg sweets”).

click to see the picture

The most important species commercially is the Common or Fragrant Nutmeg Myristica fragrans, native to the Banda Islands of Indonesia; it is also grown in the Caribbean, especially in Grenada. Other species include Papuan Nutmeg M. argentea from New Guinea, and Bombay Nutmeg M. malabarica from India; both are used as adulterants of M. fragrans products.

Culinary Uses
Mace and nutmeg are very similar, though mace is somewhat more powerful. Mace is a lighter colour and can be used in light-coloured dishes where the darker flecks of nutmeg would be undesirable. A small amount will enchance many recipes, adding fragrance without imposing too much flavour. Mace works especially well with milk dishes like custards and cream sauces. It contributes to flavouring light-coloured cakes and pastries, especially donuts. It can enhance clear and creamed soups and casseroles, chicken pies and sauces. Adding some to mashed potatoes or sweet potatoes creates a more interesting side dish. Some beverages improve with a little mace, especially chocolate drinks and tropical punches.

In Indian cuisine, nutmeg is used almost exclusively in sweets. It is known as jaiphal in most parts of India. It is also used in small quantities in garam masala.

In other European cuisine, nutmeg and mace are used especially in potato dishes and in processed meat products; they are also used in soups, sauces and baked goods.

Japanese varieties of curry powder include nutmeg as an ingredient.

Nutmeg is a traditional ingredient in mulled cider, mulled wine, and eggnog.

Other uses:

Essential oils:

The essential oil is obtained by the steam distillation of ground nutmeg and is used heavily in the perfumery and pharmaceutical industries. The oil is colourless or light yellow and smells and tastes of nutmeg. It contains numerous components of interest to the oleochemical industry, and is used as a natural food flavouring in baked goods, syrups (e.g. Coca Cola), beverages, sweets etc. It replaces ground nutmeg as it leaves no particles in the food. The essential oil is also used in the cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries for instance in tooth paste and as major ingredient in some cough syrups. In traditional medicine nutmeg and nutmeg oil were used for illnesses related to the nervous and digestive systems. Myristicin and elemicin are believed to be the chemical constituents responsible for the subtle hallucinogenic properties of nutmeg oil. Other known chemical ingredients of the oil are α-pinene, sabinene, γ-terpinene and safrole.

Nutmeg butter
Nutmeg butter is obtained from the nut by expression. It is semi solid and reddish brown in colour and tastes and smells of nutmeg. Approximately 75% (by weight) of nutmeg butter is trimyristin which can be turned into myristic acid, a 14-carbon fatty acid which can be used as replacement for cocoa butter, can be mixed with other fats like cottonseed oil or palm oil, and has applications as an industrial lubricant.

Medical Use
Externally, the oil is used for rheumatic pain and, like clove oil, can be applied as an emergency treatment to dull toothache. Put 1–2 drops on a cotton swab, and apply to the gums around an aching tooth until dental treatment can be obtained. In France, it is given in drop doses in honey for digestive upsets and used for bad breath. Use 3–5 drops on a sugar lump or in a teaspoon of honey for nausea, gastroenteritis, chronic diarrhea, and indigestion.

Alternatively a massage oil can be created by diluting 10 drops in 10 ml almond oil. This can be used for muscular pains associated with rheumatism or overexertion. It can also be combined with thyme or rosemary essential oils. To prepare for childbirth, massaging the abdomen daily in the three weeks before the baby is due with a mixture of 5 drops nutmeg oil and no more than 5 drops sage oil in 25 ml almond oil has been suggested.

History of nutmeg as a medicinal agent:
In Arabian medicine:

Arab physicians seem to have used nutmeg as a drug from the first centuries A.D., although just how they used it is not known. Warburg wrote that Myristica was recommended for a variety of disorders in this early period but was taken mainly for diseases of “the digestive organs, from the mouth to the stomach to the intestines, to the liver and spleen, as well as for freckles and skin blotches “.

Later Arab physicians referred nutmeg to the class of “warm and dry drugs” and elaborated on its applications. By the 11th century, for instance, the spice was praised for its effect on the kidneys, was used to combat pain, vomiting, and lymphatic ailments, and was even considered aphrodisiac . According to Ainslie , Vol. I, though, the Arabs were using nutmeg almost solely as a hepatic and tonic by the 19th century. Oddly enough, physicians of the Near East took little notice of mace until the early 1800s when they began to prescribe it as an aphrodisiac and carminative .

At the present time, nutmeg is still important in this part of the world. A pharmacologist at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem writes :

“The nutmeg is used by Arabs of Israel and people of its oriental Jewish communities, especially Yemenites, as a drug of their folk medicine, as well as a spice and as an important ingredient in love-potions. It is used against vomiting and to regulate the movements of the bowels; it is good for the liver and for the spleen. It is used in the treatment of tuberculosis, against colds, fever, and, in general, respiratory ailments. It is said to be an antihelminthic and is used for that purpose. It is used against skin diseases like eczema and scabies. It is said to be effective for removing blotches from the face. To increase potentia virilis it is pounded well and added to various foods.”

In Indian medicine
Frequent references in the Vedas to nutmeg indicate that the ancient Hindus knew of the spice from early times. They described it as warmth-producing, stimulating, and good for digestion and also used it in their medicinal preparations. Martius [9] said that Hindu physicians prescribed it for headache, nerve fevers, cold fevers, foul breath, and intestinal weakness.

In his Materia Indica of 1826, Ainslie wrote that nutmeg “is considered by the natives of India as one of their most valuable medicines ….” Dymock, in 1883, noted that the Moslems of western India used nutmeg as an aphrodisiac. Burkill, in 1935, stressed nutmeg’s importance in Indian tonics for dysentery. According to an adviser in the Indian Ministry of Health, nutmeg is still used medicinally in India :

“It is prescribed as an analgesic in neuritic pains, as a sedative in highly tense nervous states, and as a sedative and anti-spasmodic in asthma. In view of its reaction resembling opium, it is used to give relief in the cough and hemoptysis of tuberculosis. In traditional Indian folk and domestic medicine, nutmeg is used in small quantities to induce hypnotic effect in irritable children. It is also administered as an hypnotic and sedative in epileptic convulsions.”

In Western medicine
Medieval European physicians followed exactly the precepts of Arabian medicine. Consequently, they called nutmeg a warm, dry drug and recommended it for all the maladies listed earlier. Warburg wrote :

“The importance of nutmeg as a medicine grew hand in hand with the increase in Indian trade during the middle ages; its use spread from the Arabian Empire over Greece and Italy and soon reached central Europe. Nutmeg gradually became a genuine folk remedy, although it was most important as a major ingredient in medicines prepared according to guild rules.”

During the 16th and 17th centuries, Western physicians compiled the writings of earlier authorities on nutmeg. This was the great period of the herbalists, and nearly every herbal contained a summary of nutmeg’s virtues .

Doctors continued for some time to prescribe Myristica for intestinal illnesses, but by 1800 they realized that any of its effects were the same as those of other aromatics. Then, as modern pharmacy developed, older remedies, nutmeg among them, were relegated to positions of lower and lower priority. In summarizing the medicinal uses of the spice in 1897, Warburg wrote :

“Today the employment of nutmeg and mace in medicine is relatively minor. Nutmeg is now used as a stomachic, stimulant, and carminative, especially in

cases of dyspepsia, intestinal catarrh and colic, and as an appetite stimulant, as well as for its ability to control flatulence….”

There is an important omission in the above catalogue of nutmeg uses: sometime later in its history-perhaps as late as the 19th century––nutmeg became known as an emmenagogue and abortifacient. This use has persisted among women into the present century; in fact, Green in 1959 reported the case of 28-year-old Virginia woman who ate “18.3 g of finely ground nutmeg in an attempt to induce the menses, which had been delayed two days”. Some of the older uses of the drug may also be alive in contemporary European and American folk beliefs: McCord [15] , for example, cited a 1962 incident in which a 41-year-old South Carolina man, on the advice of a friend, took two whole nutmegs to relieve a skin infection.

Myristica remained official in the United States Pharmacopeia through U. S. P. XIII (1947). Myristica oil was kept on for several more editions, principally as a flavouring agent, but was finally dropped from U. S. P. XVII (1965).

The relevance of medicinal uses of nutmeg to the present discussion of nutmeg as a narcotic is that the toxic properties of Myristica must first have been noticed when patients accidentally took overdoses.

Pharmacology of nutmeg:
Early studies
The first pharmacological experiments on nutmeg were performed by van Leeuwenhoek, the Dutch microscopist, around 1676.

As late as 1900, little was known about the action of Myristica, largely because researchers could not agree on which component of the seed contained the active principle.

Reviewing the findings of earlier workers, Shulgin in 1963 [22] wrote that the myristicin fraction of nutmeg oil “is strongly suspect of representing the effective toxic factor for cats …. “but that it appears “ineffective in duplicating the psychological effects of total nutmeg in man “. He then speculated on possible pharmacological activity of other components of the oil:

“The minor aromatic ethers, eugenol and safrol, have been suggested as possible active components. This seems unlikely, as the amounts ingested from a 5 g nutmeg (0.001 g and 0.003 g respectively) are much below the usual therapeutic levels of these substances (3.0 ml and 0.5 ml respectively). The only component, aside from the myristicin fraction, of the volatile oil from nutmeg that deserves serious consideration as an active agent is the pinenedipentene fraction. Many descriptions of the toxic syndromes of representative terpene medicines parallel the common toxic manifestations of nutmeg (i.e., nausea, cyanosis, stupor, cold extremities, often delirium). [However] actual toxic dosages of oils that are of make-up similar to the hydrocarbon fraction of nutmeg (such as oil of turpentine) are as a rule 20 to 60 times higher than that which would be encountered in nutmeg intoxication.”

Shulgin’s conclusion is the best summary of our present knowledge of Myristica; “As yet, no known pharmacology of any known component of oil of nutmeg can explain the syndrome of the whole nutmeg.”

Risks and toxicity:
In low doses, nutmeg produces no noticeable physiological or neurological response. Large doses of 30 g or more are dangerous, potentially inducing convulsions, palpitations, nausea, eventual dehydration, and generalized body pain. In amounts of 5–20 g it is a mild to medium hallucinogen, producing visual distortions and a mild euphoria. It is a common misconception that nutmeg contains monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs). This is untrue; nutmeg should not be taken in combination with MAOIs but it does not contain them . A test was carried out on the substance which showed that, when ingested in large amounts, nutmeg takes on a similar chemical make-up to MDMA (ecstasy). However, use of nutmeg as a recreational drug is unpopular due to its unpleasant taste and its side effects, including dizziness, flushes, dry mouth, accelerated heartbeat, temporary constipation, difficulty in urination, nausea, and panic. A user will not experience a peak until approximately six hours after ingestion, and effects can linger for up to three days afterwards.

A risk in any large-quantity (over 25 g) ingestion of nutmeg is the onset of ‘nutmeg poisoning’, an acute psychiatric disorder marked by thought disorder, a sense of impending death, and agitation. Some cases have resulted in hospitalization.

The use of nutmeg as a psychotropic agent:
Since all aromatic spices contain volatile compounds that affect the central nervous system, these alleged properties of familar substances are plausible. It is interesting that the narcotics-user believes different spices capable of providing different experiences- nutmeg can be “horrible” or ginger “dangerously potent “. Pharmacologists agree that psychological expectations largely determine the form of a narcotic intoxication. Consequently, a person expecting horrible effects from nutmeg may well experience them. This may explain why women poisoned accidentally by nutmeg merely become stuporous, while prisoners have predominantly pleasant times under Myristica; prisoners take the spice to escape reality, and they expect it to be much like Cannabis.

A growing problem in the United States is the use of hallucinogenic drugs like LSD and marihuana by young persons, especially students in secondary schools and universities . There is some evidence that these people also try self-experiments with nutmeg.

Callaway maintains that jazz musicians “have known about nutmeg for some time but will not discuss it except with friends “. Most bohemians, addicts and students who try the spice probably are equally secretive.

Experimentation with nutmeg may be widespread on American university campuses. In the summer 1964 issue of a University of Mississippi student magazine, an article titled “Nutmeg Jag” described a nutmeg party attended by eight persons.

Like prisoners, students who use marihuana may often turn to nutmeg when cut off from supplies of Cannabis. But it would seem that marihuana is obtainable with minimum difficulty around most US universities today, and there is no doubt students (like prisoners) prefer Cannabis to Myristica.

As a final word on the uses of nutmeg, there is the report that the practice of taking this spice to produce “a syndrome comparable to alcoholic inebriety” is “not uncommon among alcoholics who are deprived of alcohol.

Help taken from: www.erowid.org/plants and www.en.wikipedia.org

Enhanced by Zemanta

Migraine in men linked to higher risk of heart attacks

WASHINGTON: Men who suffer migraine headaches have a higher risk of heart disease, particularly heart attacks, according to a study published on Monday.

The researchers found a 24% increased risk for overall cardiovascular disease in men who experienced migraines compared to those who did not, including a 42% increased risk for heart attacks. The study, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, follows similar findings among women.

Tobias Kurth of Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and colleagues tracked 20,084 men aged 40 to 84 who had no history of heart disease from the early 1980s through 2005. About 7% of the men reported having migraines.

Kurth said it is unclear what it is about migraines that is increasing the risk. “The honest answer is: it’s unknown,” Kurth said. But he noted that people who have migraines tend to have more cardiovascular risk factors such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

“At this point, it’s far too early to really say that migraine directly is causing cardiovascular disease,” Kurth said in a telephone interview.

Migraines, a particularly painful kind of recurring headache, often are marked by dizziness, nausea, vomiting or extreme sensitivity to light and sound. Women are three times more likely than men to get migraines.

This study focused on men with migraines. The same researchers last year published a study tracking nearly 28,000 women that showed those who had migraines were more likely to develop cardiovascular disease as well.

Kurth said that, relatively speaking, migraines are associated with perhaps a moderate increase in risk for cardiovascular disease, particularly compared to traditional factors like high blood pressure, smoking, obesity and elevated cholesterol.

People who get migraines should be mindful of these risk factors, he said.

Obesity linked to moms’ early puberty

NEW DELHI: Children born to mothers who reached puberty before 11 years of age are five times more likely to be obese as adults.

In a first of its kind study, a team from the British Medical Research Council and University of Cambridge have found that children of women whose periods started early grew rapidly during infancy (0-2 years of age), but then became overweight and short.

An inherited growth pattern like this, researchers said, confers an increased risk of childhood and adult obesity. Girls born to such mothers have an added problem — they, too, are likely to start their periods before 11. This transgenerational link has emerged from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (Alspac), announced in the PLoS Medicine Journal on Tuesday.

The researchers measured the growth and fat mass of 6,009 children from infancy to 9 years of age. They then looked for any associations between the mother’s age at menarche (start of menstruation), mother’s adult body size and the child’s growth and obesity risk.

The researchers found that in mothers, earlier menarche was associated with shorter adult height and increased weight and BMI. Children born of mothers with earlier menarche were taller and heavier in the first two years of life.

Reacting to the study, gynaecologist Dr Sharmila Lal said, ‘‘It is known that childhood obesity is making girls reach puberty as early as 9 years of age. However, what makes the Alspac study significant is that it shows how early menarche affects the next generation also. The study may also explain why some children have a rapid tempo of growth, reaching their adult height sooner.” According to lead researcher Dr Ken Ong from UKMRC, both factors — mothers reaching menarche earlier and maternal obesity — can now be used to indicate which infants might require closer early growth monitoring.

‘‘Understanding the genetic, epigenetic or behavioural factors that underlie this phenomenon will identify processes that regulate both the timing of puberty and the risk of childhood-onset obesity,’’ Dr Ong said.

Source:The Times Of India

The Breath Of The Universe

The Wind breath.jpg
We can connect ourselves with a basic force of nature by focusing on the essential element of air during a wind meditation. We begin by centering ourselves on our breath. We inhale the life-giving force, feeling it fill us, and then releasing it into the world to let our breath mingle with the breath of nature. If we cannot feel the wind right now, we can recall times when the wind has sent us gifts of caresses on bare skin, ruffling our clothes and playing with our hair. We can evoke sounds carried on the wind, maybe laughter or song, or perhaps just the wind’s own whispers through the trees or across the landscape of our ears. We may summon up an image of falling flowers or leaves from above, vivid colors set free with the wind’s encouragement. We may envision birds drifting on unseen currents with wings unbent, or flags and banners unfurled in the breeze. The scent of a sea breeze may come to mind, or the aromas of freshly baked treats or fragrant blooms that reach us fro! m a distance.

As these memories enliven our senses, we are feeling the vital force that surrounds and animates us. We can look to the trees to sway in time with nature’s rhythm. Just as we can be soothed by the wind, we know that nature has great power. In a rush it can block out all sound, leaving us with only the beating of our hearts.

Wind can even make the inanimate dance and whirl gracefully. With a gentle sigh, the wind has carried sailors to faraway lands and balloons to great heights above. We can entrust the wind to carry our voices and best wishes out into the world, knowing it will be carried to its perfect destination. Releasing these precious offerings to its care, we remember that nature’s power is as close as our breath, and we breathe deeply once again before returning to the world around us.

Source:Daily Om