Monthly Archives: March 2009

Sirish(Albizia lebbek)

 

Botanical Name : Albizia lebbek
Family:    Fabaceae
Genus:    Albizia
Species:A. lebbeck
Kingdom:Plantae
Order:    Fabales
Synonyms:Mimosajebbeck L; M.sinssa Roxb;
Local Names:Siris;acacia amarilla; East Indian Wal nut
Vernacular Names: Sans, Hind: Sirish. Eng : East Indian walnut.

 English names: lebbeck, lebbek tree, flea tree, frywood, koko and woman’s tongues tree

BENGALI NAME:SIRISH

Habitat: According to the NAS (1980) this is native to tropical Africa, Asia, and northern Australia, widely planted and naturalized throughout the tropics.

Description
Albizia lebbek is a deciduous tree to 30 m tall, with a dense shade-producing crown. Bark smoothish, light whitish or greenish gray. Leaves alternate, twice compound, with 2–4 pairs of pinnate pinnae, each with 4–10 pairs of leaflets, the ultimate leaflets entire, arcuate, oblong. Flowers white, with greenish stamens, in clusters resembling a white powder puff. Pods flat, reddish brown, several seeds, often rattling in the breeze. In Puerto Rico, flowers April to September, fruiting year-round, the fruits more prominent probably in the dry season.

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Cultivation
Immerse seed in boiling water, cool; soak for 24 hours, sowing in loam in wrapped pots 10 x 15 mm. Move seedlings to partial shade, watering and spraying as needed. Harden off for 2–3 months. Outplant at 3 x 3 or 4 x 4 m when at least 30 cm tall, at beginning of rainy season (Fabian, 1981).

Chemical Constituents: According to Roskoski et al (1980), studying Mexican material, the seeds contain 9.47% humidity, 3.57% ash, 33.60% crude protein, 3.13% crude fat, 13.17% crude fiber, 35.30% carbohydrates with a 78.25% in vitro digestibility. The pods contain 6.99% humidity, 5.47% ash, 17.86% crude protein, 2.6% crude fat, 45.08% crude fiber, and 22.00% carbohydrates with a 76.56% in vitro digestibility. The foliage contains 3.57% humidity, 7.06% ash, 28.87% crtide protein, 5.42% crude fat, 31.75% crude fiber, 23.33% carbohydrates, and 83.55% in vitro digestibility. Prohibitive levels of toxic compounds were not detected in any of the plant parts analyzed.

Uses
A fast growings nitrogen-fixing, heavy shade tree, recommended for reforestation and firewood plantations. Often planted as an avenue tree or as shade for coffee and tea. The wood is hard and strong, resembling walnut, and non siliceous. It produces a sawdust that may cause sneezing. Specific gravity 0.61; Air Dry Weight 39 lb/cu ft (ca 630 kg/cu m). The heartwood calorific value is 5,166 cals. Strong and elastic, the wood is used for cabinet wood, furniture and veneer, and serves well as firewood. The burr wood is prized for veneer. Bark has served for tanning. Foliage can be used as fodder. In the Sudan, goats eat fallen leaves and flowers. Bark containing saponin can be used in making soap, and containing tannin, can be used for tanning; used e.g. in Madras to tan fishing nets. It produces a gum which can be sold deceitfully as gum arabic. Host of the lac insect.

Its uses include environmental management, forage, medicine and wood. In India and Pakistan, the tree is used to produce timber. Wood from Albizia lebbeck has a density of 0.55-0.66 g/cm3 or higher.

Even where it is not native, some indigenous herbivores are liable to utilize lebbeck as a food resource. For example, the greater rhea (Rhea americana) has been observed feeding on it in the cerrado of Brazil.

Folk Medicine
According to Hartwell (1967–1971), the tree is used in folk remedies for abdominal tumors, in bolmes, enemas, ghees or powders. Reported to be astringent, pectoral, rejuvenant, and tonic, the siris tree is a folk remedy for boils, cough, eye ailments, flu, and lung ailments. The seed oil is used for leprosy, the powdered seed to scrofulous swellings. Indians use the flowers for spermatorrhea.

As per Ayurveda:
The plant is katu, sheela (sheelaveerya), beneficial in poisoning, derangedvata, scabies, dyscrasia, leprosy, pruritus and other skin diseases. Said to strengthen gums ,applied externally as plaster in leprous ulcers.

Parts used : seeds, leaves, bark

Therapeutic uses: seeds and bark are astringent, tonic, leaves are remedy for night blindness,

The root is used in hemicrania.-
The bark is bitter; cooling, alexiteric, anthelmintic; cures” vata “, diseases of the blood, leucoderma, itching, skin diseases, piles, excessive perspiration, inflammation, erysepelas, bronchitis; good in rat-bite.-

The flowers are given for asthma,

The root is astringent and prescribed for ophthalmia.-

The bark is anthelmintic; relieves toothache, strengthens the gums and the teeth; used in leprosy, deafness, boils, scabies, syphilis, paralysis, weakness.-

The leaves are useful in ophthalmia The leaves are good in night; blindness.-

The flowers are aphrodisiac, emollient, maturant: their smell is useful in hemicrania. The flowers are used as a cooling medicine, and also externally applied in boils, eruptions and swellings

The seeds are aphrodisiac, tonic to the brain; used for gonorrhoea, and tuberculous glands; the oil is applied topically in leucoderma.

The bark and seeds are astringent, given in piles, diarrhoea, etc.

The bark is applied to injuries to the eye..

The seeds form part of an anjan used for ophthalmic diseases.The oil extracted from them is ,considered useful in leprosy.

The powder of root- bark is used to strengthen the gums when they are spongy and ulcerative.

The seeds are considered astringent used in diarrhea, dysentery, piles. The flowers are emollient and applied to boils and carbuncles

Disclaimer:The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Resources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albizia_lebbeck

http://www.ayurvedakalamandiram.com/herbs.htm#sariba
http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/duke_energy/Albizia_lebbek.html

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Sankapushpi(Hemidesmus indicus)

Botanical Name : Hemidesmus indicus
Family Name: Asclepiadaceae
Vernacular Name: Sans-Sariba ,Hind -Anantamula , Eng– Indian sarasaparilla
Parts used –roots, leaves, stem

Habitat :A twining perennial herb, Convolvulus pluricaulis occurs in the plains of Northern Indian and Bihar.

Botanical Description: A prostrate herb, woody in nature.

Branches: 4″-12″ in length and hairy.
Leaves: Linear, lower pairs opposite, 0.5″-1.5″ length
Flower: Light pink or white
Calyx: Hairy

CLICK TO SEE..>.…(01).
The whole plant is one of the most important Medha Rasayana drugs in Ayurveda. Its use impro.ves the balance and vitiation in Kapha-vata-pitta doshas and the herb is astringent and bitter

Constituents:
Chemical studies of whole plant have shown the presence of glycosides, coumarins, flavonoids and alkaloids. Shankha pushpine, (the alkaloid) has been identified as active principle. B. sitosterol glycoside, Hydroxy Cinnamic acid, Octacosanol tetracosane alongwith glucose, sucrose also have been isolated from the plant drugs.
Pharmacological and Clinical Studies
The extract reduced the spontaneous activity of mice, the reduction being more marked in amphetamine treated hyperactive mice. The extract also exhibited potentiation of phenobarbitone hypnosis in mice and morphine analgesia in albino rats. The extract caused reduction on the fighting response of mice and abolished conditioned avoidance response without affecting the escape response. The electrically induced seizures in rats and induced tremors in mice were antagonized by the extract (Sharma et at -1965). Different types of stress including psychological, chemical and traumatic were produced in Rats and Rabbits treated with Shankhapushpi, active principles showed marked reduction in I-131 uptake, Acetylcholine, etc.

This suggests that probably the drug affects various glands through neuro-humors particularly acetylcholine (Jour Res. Ind. Med J. 1974). A study on a series of 30 cases of Anxiety status was conducted with the syrup of Shankhapushpi. A significant reduction in symptoms as well as anxiety level was found which established its psychotropic property. A comparative study of barbiturate Hypnosis potentiation effect of Medhya Rasayana drugs Shankhapushpi (Convolvulus pluricaulis) and Mandukaparni (Hydrocotyle asiatica) – (Shukla S.P.). Clinical evaluation of Medhya Rasayana in cases on Non-Depressive Anxiety neurosis significant clinical relief and favorable shift of grade of clinical of Anxiety and Depression scale were also found reduced (Kaushik K. E. Singh R. H. Ancient Science of Life, May 1992).

Medicinal Uses:
Shankpushpi is used traditionally to treat nervous debility, insomnia, fatigue, low energy level.
The whole herb is used medicinally in the form of decoction with cumin and milk in fever, nervous debility, loss of memory.

Shankhapushpi is used as a brain tonic. Is used as a tonic, alterative and febrifuge. It is a sovereign remedy in bowel complaints especially dysentery. The plant is reported to be a prominent memory improving drug. It is used as a psychostimulant and tranquilizer. It is reported to reduce mental tension. The ethanolic extract of the plant reduces total serum cholesterol, triglycerides, phospholipids and nonesterfied fatty-acid.

The roots are bitter, sweet, cooling, aromatic, refrigerant, emollient, depurative, carminative, appetizer, diaphoretic, expectorant.

Useful in vitiated pitta, burning sensation, leucoderma,leprosy, skin diseases, pruritis, asthma, opthalmopathy, hyperdipsia, hemicrania, epileptic fits, dyspepsia, diarrhea, dysentery, haemorrhoids, leucorrhoea, syphilis, abscess, arthralgia, nad general debility.

Leaves are useful in vomiting, wounds, leucoderma  and Latex is good for conjunctivitis.

Stems are bitter, diaphoretic, laxative useful in unflammations, cerebropathy, hepatopathy, nephropathy, syphilis, leucoderma, odontalgia, cough, asthma.

Shankhapushpi or Convolvulus pluricaulis is an indigenous plant commonly mentioned in Ayurveda, an ancient system of Indian medicine, as a rasayana which is mainly advocated for use in mental stimulation and rejuvenation therapy. Little human research has been published in the Western medical literature regarding this plant. One study shows shankhpushpi to have anti-ulcer effects due to augmentation of mucosal defensive factors like mucin secretion and glycoproteins. Another study showed that shankhapushpi may be helpful in improving symptoms of hyperthyroidism by reducing the activity of a liver enzyme

The whole herb is used medicinally in the form of decoction with cumin and milk in fever, nervous debility, loss of memory, also in syphilis, and scrofula. ‘. Shankhapushpi is used as a brain tonic. Is used as a tonic, alterative and febrifuge. It is a sovereign remedy in bowel complaints especially dysentery. The plant is reported to be a prominent memory improving drug. It is used as a psychostimulant and tranquilizer. It is reported to reduce mental tension. The ethanolic extract of the plant reduces total serum cholesterol, triglycerides, phospholipids and nonesterfied fatty-acid.

Disclaimer:The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Reources:
http://www.rubalherbal.com/shop/index.php?act=viewProd&productId=832
http://www.ayurvedakalamandiram.com/herbs.htm#sankapushpi
http://shankhapushpi.com/aboutsankhapushpi.html
http://www.garrysun.com/shankhapushpi.html
http://www.ayurvedas.com/Prajnaforte.htm

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Abdominal Ultrasound

Alternative Names:- Ultrasound – abdomen; Abdominal sonogram

Definition :-
Abdominal ultrasound is an imaging procedure used to examine the internal organs of the abdomen, including the liver, gallbladder, spleen, pancreas, and kidneys. The blood vessels that lead to some of these organs can also be looked at with ultrasound.

.Click to see the pictures

It uses reflected sound waves to produce a picture of the organs and other structures in the upper abdomen. Occasionally a specialized ultrasound is ordered for a detailed evaluation of a specific organ, such as a kidney ultrasound.

An abdominal ultrasound can evaluate the:
*Abdominal aorta, which is the large blood vessel (artery) that passes down the back of the chest and abdomen. The aorta supplies blood to the lower part of the body and the legs.

*Liver, which is a large dome-shaped organ that lies under the rib cage on the right side of the abdomen. The liver produces bile (a substance that helps digest fat), stores sugars, and breaks down many of the body’s waste products.

*Gallbladder, which is a saclike organ beneath the liver. The gallbladder stores bile. When food is eaten, the gallbladder contracts, sending bile into the intestines to help in digesting food and absorbing fat-soluble vitamins.

*Spleen, which is the soft, round organ that helps fight infection and filters old red blood cells. The spleen is located to the left of the stomach, just behind the lower left ribs.

*Pancreas, which is the gland located in the upper abdomen that produces enzymes that help digest food. The digestive enzymes are then released into the intestines. The pancreas also releases insulin into the bloodstream; insulin helps the body utilize sugars for energy.
*Kidneys, which are the pair of bean-shaped organs located behind the upper abdominal cavity. The kidneys remove wastes from the blood and produce urine.

A pelvic ultrasound evaluates the structures and organs in the lower abdominal area (pelvis).

Why It Is Required to be Done:-
The specific reason for the test will depend on your symptoms. Abdominal ultrasound is mostly  done to:

*Determine the cause of abdominal pain.

*Detect, measure, or monitor an aneurysm in the aorta. An aneurysm may cause a large, pulsing lump in the abdomen.

*Evaluate the size, shape, and position of the liver. An ultrasound may be done to evaluate jaundice and other problems of the liver, including liver masses, cirrhosis, fat deposits in the liver (called fatty liver), or abnormal liver function tests.

*Detect gallstones, inflammation of the gallbladder (cholecystitis), or blocked bile ducts. See an illustration of a gallstone.

*Detect kidney stones.

*Determine the size of an enlarged spleen and look for damage or disease.

*Detect problems with the pancreas, such as pancreatitis or pancreatic cancer.

*Determine the cause of blocked urine flow in a kidney. A kidney ultrasound may also be done to determine the size of the kidneys, detect kidney masses, detect fluid surrounding the kidneys, investigate causes for recurring urinary tract infections, or evaluate the condition of transplanted kidneys.

*Determine whether a mass in any of the abdominal organs (such as the liver) is a solid tumor or a simple fluid-filled cyst.

*Determine the condition of the abdominal organs after an accident or abdominal injury and look for blood in the abdominal cavity. However, computed tomography (CT) scanning is more commonly used for this purpose because it is more precise than abdominal ultrasound.

*Guide the placement of a needle or other instrument during a biopsy.

*Detect fluid buildup in the abdominal cavity (ascites). An ultrasound also may be done to guide the needle during a procedure to remove fluid from the abdominal cavity (paracentesis).
How the Test is Performed :-
This test is done by a doctor who specializes in performing and interpreting imaging tests (radiologist) or by an ultrasound technologist (sonographer) who is supervised by a radiologist. It is done in an ultrasound room in a hospital or doctor’s office.

You will need to remove any jewelry that might interfere with the ultrasound scan. You will need to take off all or most of your clothes, depending on which area is examined (you may be allowed to keep on your underwear if it does not interfere with the test). You will be given a cloth or paper covering to use during the test.

An ultrasound machine creates images that allow various organs in the body to be examined. The machine sends out high-frequency sound waves, which reflect off body structures to create a picture. A computer receives these reflected waves and uses them to create a picture. Unlike with x-rays or CT scans, there is no ionizing radiation exposure with this test.

You will be lying down for the procedure. A clear, water-based conducting gel is applied to the skin over the abdomen. This helps with the transmission of the sound waves. A handheld probe called a transducer is then moved over the abdomen.

You may be asked to change position so that the health care provider can examine different areas. You may also be asked to hold your breath for short periods of time during the examination.

Abdominal ultrasound usually takes 30 to 60 minutes. You may be asked to wait until the radiologist has reviewed the information. The radiologist may want to do additional ultrasound views of some areas of your abdomen.

How To Prepare For the Test:-
Tell your doctor if you have had a barium enema or a series of upper GI (gastrointestinal) tests within the past 2 days. Barium that remains in the intestines can interfere with the ultrasound test.

Preparation for the procedure depends on the nature of the problem and your age. Usually patients are asked to not eat or drink for several hours before the examination. Your health care provider will advise you about specific preparation.

For ultrasound of the liver, gallbladder, spleen, and pancreas, you may be asked to eat a fat-free meal on the evening before the test and then to avoid eating for 8 to 12 hours before the test.

For ultrasound of the kidneys, you may not need any special preparation. You may be asked to drink 4 to 6 glasses of liquid (usually juice or water) about an hour before the test to fill your bladder. You may be asked to avoid eating for 8 to 12 hours before the test to avoid gas buildup in the intestines. This could interfere with the evaluation of the kidneys, which lay behind the stomach and intestines.

For ultrasound of the aorta, you may need to avoid eating for 8 to 12 hours before the test.

How It Feels:-
There is little discomfort. The conducting gel may feel slightly cold and wet when it is applied to your stomach unless it is first warmed to body temperature. You will feel light pressure from the transducer as it passes over your abdomen. The ultrasound usually is not uncomfortable. However, if the test is being done to assess damage from a recent injury, the slight pressure of the transducer may be somewhat painful. You will not hear or feel the sound waves.

Risks Factors:
There is no documented risk. No ionizing radiation exposure is involved.

Results:-
An abdominal ultrasound uses reflected sound waves to produce a picture of the organs and other structures in the abdomen.

Abdominal ultrasound  Normal:
The size and shape of the abdominal organs appear normal. The liver, spleen, and pancreas appear normal in size and texture. No abnormal growths are seen. No fluid is found in the abdomen.

The diameter of the aorta is normal and no aneurysms are seen.

The thickness of the gallbladder wall is normal. The size of the bile ducts between the gallbladder and the small intestine is normal. No gallstones are seen.

The kidneys appear as sharply outlined bean-shaped organs. No kidney stones are seen. No blockage to the system draining the kidneys is present.

Abdominal ultrasound Abnormal:
An organ may appear abnormal because of inflammation, infection, or other diseases. An organ may be smaller than normal because of an old injury or past inflammation. An organ may be pushed out of its normal location because of an abnormal growth pressing against it. An abnormal growth (such as a tumor) may be seen in an organ. Fluid in the abdominal cavity (ascites) may be seen.

The aorta is enlarged, or an aneurysm is seen.

The liver may appear abnormal, which may indicate liver disease (such as cirrhosis or cancer).

The walls of the gallbladder may be thickened, or fluid may be present around the gallbladder, which may indicate inflammation. The bile ducts may be enlarged because of blockage (from a gallstone or an abnormal growth in the pancreas). Gallstones may be seen inside the gallbladder.

The kidneys may be enlarged because of urine that is not draining properly through the ureters. Kidney stones are seen within the kidneys (not all stones can be seen with ultrasound).

An area of infection (abscess) or a fluid-filled cyst may appear as a round, hollow structure inside an organ. The spleen may be ruptured (if an injury to the abdomen has occurred).

Resources:
http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003777.htm
http://health.yahoo.com/digestive-diagnosis/abdominal-ultrasound/healthwise–hw1430.html

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“Eczema”- That Irritating Itch!

Eczema is a strange disease. If you have it, the frustrating itching and scratching starts and then just never seems to go away. The number of people with eczema is increasing. One in five now develops it in childhood. Many factors, such as early weaning, chemicals (preservatives and pesticides) in the human diet, perfumes and pollution, have been blamed. The fact is no one really knows the cause of eczema, but we do know that exclusively breast-fed infants are less prone to it.

You may click to see the pictures…...……Eczema

Eczema vaccinatum infant.

Eczema on face

Eczema on back

Eczema appears as red, itchy, dry and flaky skin, with or without small pustules. A few months of constant itching may make the skin permanently rough, thick and hyperpigmented.

The classification of eczema is not very clear. It can be due to atopy (tendency to develop allergy), allergic contact, infantile seborrhoea (dandruff-like condition of the head that occurs in infants) or varicose veins.

Atopic eczema is the commonest form. It usually occurs in childhood as an itchy rash distributed on the head and scalp, neck, inside of elbows, behind the knees and on the buttocks. It has a hereditary component and runs in families.

Infants can develop an eczema variant called cradle cap — with a greasy, itchy flaky scalp. This can extend to the eyebrows, face and the trunk. Although the condition is self limiting and harmless, the physical appearance can be distressing to the family.

Irritant contact eczema can be distinguished from the atopic form by the typical distribution and family history. It occurs as an immediate or delayed reaction to contact with an allergen. It may be nickel in the safety pins used on clothes, fashion jewellery containing unacceptable metals or colouring, plants in the garden or chemicals in the workplace. Makeup or face powder can cause an idiosyncratic reaction. Sometimes the contact eczema may be photosensitive and flare up only when the skin is exposed to sunlight. Eczema caused by a specific chemical or disease process can be cured if the underlying factor is removed.

Bacterial, viral or fungal infection of the skin, or infestations with skin parasites like scabies or body lice can cause secondary itching and eczema. Poor blood circulation to the legs as a result of varicose veins can lead to itching and discolouration, particularly near the ankles. These forms are totally curable and tend to disappear forever when the infection is treated or the blood circulation is improved.

Unfortunately most varieties of eczema do not fall into the curable category. They recur time and again, and sometimes become self perpetuating as scratching and picking the skin becomes a habit.

Dry skin aggravates eczema. Therefore it pays to keep the skin moist and oiled. Coconut oil can be applied to the skin half an hour before a bath. A teaspoon can also be added to the bath water. Mild and non-perfumed soaps should be used. The body should not be scrubbed with a loofah. The skin should be patted dry, and not wiped. After the bath a non-greasy oil or lotion can be applied.

There are several baby oils, aloe vera preparations, ceramide (a natural oil in the skin) and vaseline-based creams available in the market. If it says “non greasy” it means that it is unlikely to stain your clothes.
Traditional oils, like coconut, stain the clothes and that is why they need to be applied before a bath.

Salt water reduces eczema. People who immerse themselves regularly in the sea improve gradually over a period of time.

Detergents are widely used to wash clothes. Most contain chemicals like sodium lauryl sulphate, which remain behind in the clothes in small quantities. They can penetrate the skin when sweating occurs, aggravating eczema. Commercially available “hypoallergic” or “doctor tested and recommended” detergents have unsubstantiated claims and have not been proven safer. Since clothes have to be washed and kept clean, it is preferable to use non-allergic soaps made from neem oil. They are marketed in India by the government run chain of khadi stores.

Eczema disappears when steroid creams are applied. These should be used under medical supervision for a short period, till the symptoms subside. After that antihistamines (to control itching) and moisturisers should be continued. Patients, unfortunately, purchase and apply the ointments themselves. Prolonged use of topical corticosteroids causes side effects like thinning of the skin and secondary bacterial or fungal infection. Small quantities of the more potent steroid creams can become absorbed in the body through the skin. If they are inadvertently applied to the eye, cataracts and glaucoma can result.

Specific pinprick allergy testing can be done to identify allergens. Without this, drastic potentially harmful changes should not be made to the diet (particularly a child’s) presuming that the eczema is precipitated by allergies to milk, fish or certain vegetables.

Sources: The Telegraph (Kolkata, India)

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Vegetables Aren’t as Good for You as They Used to Be

According to new research, produce in the U.S. not only tastes worse than it did in your grandparents’ days, but also contains fewer nutrients. In fact, the average vegetable found in today’s supermarket is anywhere from 5 percent to 40 percent lower in minerals such as magnesium, iron, calcium and zinc than those harvested just 50 years ago.
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Today’s vegetables are larger, but do not contain more nutrients. Jumbo-sized produce actually contains more “dry matter” than anything else, which dilutes mineral concentrations.

An additional problem is the “genetic dilution effect,” in which selective breeding to increase crop yield has led to declines in protein, amino acids, and minerals. Breeders select for high yield, effectively selecting mostly for high carbohydrate content.

And finally, as a result of the growing rise of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, modern crops are being harvested faster than ever before, meaning that produce has less time to absorb nutrients either from synthesis or the soil.

Sources:
Time February 17, 2009
The Journal of HortScience February 1, 2009

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