Monthly Archives: August 2010

Frog Skin may Help Beat Antibiotic Resistance

Frog skin may be an important source of new antibiotics to treat superbugs say researchers.
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The foothill yellow-legged frog is one potential source of antibiotics, say researchers
.So far, more than 100 potential bacteria-killing substances have been identified from more than 6,000 species of frog.

The team at the United Arab Emirates University are now trying to tweak the substances to make them less toxic and suitable for use as human medicines.

The work was presented at the American Chemical Society meeting.

Drug resistant bacteria, such as MRSA, are becoming an increasing problem worldwide.

Yet there is a lack of new treatments in the pipeline.

Among the substances found by the researchers are a compound from a rare American species that shows promise for killing MRSA.

Another fights a drug-resistant infection seen in soldiers returning from Iraq.

The idea of using chemicals from the skin of frogs to kill bacteria, viruses and other disease-causing agents is not a new one.

But it is not a straightforward process to use these chemicals in humans because they are either destroyed in the bloodstream or are toxic to human cells.

Tweaks:-

After identifying the key chemicals, the researchers have altered their molecular structure to make them less dangerous to human cells while retaining their bacteria-killing properties

They hope their work means some of the substances could be in clinical trials within five years.

They are also investigating how to help the chemicals resist breakdown by the body before they have a chance to act.

Experiments have shown the changes they have made so far do make the antibiotics last longer in the bloodstream.

Study leader Dr Michael Conlon said: “Frog skin is an excellent potential source of such antibiotic agents.

“They’ve been around 300 million years, so they’ve had plenty of time to learn how to defend themselves against disease-causing microbes in the environment.

“Their own environment includes polluted waterways where strong defences against pathogens are a must.”

The work underscored the importance of preserving frog diversity, he added.

“Some frog species, including those that may contain potentially valuable medicinal substances, are in jeopardy worldwide due to loss of habitat, water pollution, and other problems.”

Source: BBC NEWS

Calophyllum inophyllum

Botanical Name : Calophyllum inophyllum
Family: Clusiaceae
Subfamily: Kielmeyeroideae
Genus: Calophyllum
Tribe: Calophylleae
Species: C. inophyllum  
Kingdom:
Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Malpighiales
Common Names:-
In Sanskrit this tree is known as punnaga. In Tamil it is known as pinnai and is often found on coastal Tamil Nadu. In Malayalam, the tree is called as “Punnagam” or “Punna” and the fruit is called as Punnakka. Bats are known to feed on the fruits. In the Maldives it is known as funa, a name derived from Sanskrit. Several of the Maldive Islands are named Funadhoo in reference to this tree.

In English this tree is also often called Ballnut or, confusingly, “Alexandrian Laurel” (it is not a laurel nor native to Alexandria and not to be confused with the small shrub Danae racemosa also known as Alexandrian laurel).

In Tahiti it is called ?ati or tamanu  tree. Several species of the tree grow wild in the tropical climes in the Pacific. In Hawai?i, the tree and nuts are called kamani in Fiji the name is dilo, while it is fetau in both Samoa and Niu?, and in Tonga it is feta?u or tamanu. In Vanuatu, the natives call the oil nambagura.


Habitat :
It is native from East Africa, southern coastal India to Malesia and Australia.


Description:

Calophyllum inophyllum is a large evergreen. Nowadays it is widely cultivated in all tropical regions of the world, including several Pacific Islands. Because of its decorative leaves, fragrant flowers and spreading crown, it is best known as an ornamental plant.

It is a low-branching and slow-growing tree with a broad and irregular crown. It usually reaches 8 to 20 metres (26 to 66 ft) in height. The flower is 25 millimetres (0.98 in) wide and occurs in racemose or paniculate inflorescences consisting of 4 to 15 flowers. Flowering can occur year-round, but usually two distinct flowering periods are observed, in late spring and in late autumn. The fruit (the ballnut) is a round, green drupe reaching 2 to 4 centimetres (0.79 to 1.6 in) in diameter and having a single large seed. When ripe, the fruit is wrinkled and its color varies from yellow to brownish-red.

You may click to see the pictures.(1)……(2).(3)…..(4)

This tree often grows in coastal regions as well as nearby lowland forests. However it has also been cultivated successfully in inland areas at moderate altitudes. It tolerates varied kinds of soil, coastal sand, clay or even degraded soil.

Medicinal Uses:

Common Uses:Calophyllum inophyllum fruit oil is used in  Abrasions/Cuts * Acne * Burns/SunBurn * Deodorants/Perfumes * Eczema * Facial and Skin care * Fungus Infections * Herpes * Insect Bites/Rashes * Neuralgia * Psoriasis * Rheumatoid Arthritis * Scabies *
Properties:  Anti-inflammatory* Deodorant* Emollient* Skin tonic* Vulnerary*

Pacific islanders apply Tamanu nut oil to scrapes, cuts, burns, insect bites and stings, acne and acne scars, psoriasis, diabetic sores, anal fissures, sunburn, dry or scaly skin, blisters, eczema, diaper rash and herpes sores–and even to reduce foot and body odor! It takes 100 kilograms of Tamanu nuts, the amount that one tree produces annually, to yield just 5 kilograms of cold pressed oil, which puts the somewhat the high cost of this spectacular nut oil into perspective.

Tamanu oil fades stretch marks with incredible results. It also works miracles on scar tissue, making scars look less unsightly. Can be used directly on the skin or mixed within formulations.

Other Uses
Besides being a popular ornamental plant, its wood is hard and strong and has been used in construction or boatbuilding. Traditional Pacific Islanders used Calophyllum wood to construct the keel of their canoes while the boat sides were made from breadfruit (Artocarpus altilis) wood. The seeds yield a thick, dark green oil for medicinal use or hair grease. Active ingredients in the oil are believed to regenerate tissue, so is sought after by cosmetics manufacturers as an ingredient in skin cremes. The nuts should be well dried before cracking, after which the oil-laden kernel should be further dried. The first neoflavone isolated in 1951 from natural sources was calophyllolide from Calophyllum inophyllum seeds.

The fatty acid methyl ester of Calophyllum inophyllum seed oil meets all of the major biodiesel requirements in the United States (ASTM D 6751-02, ASTM PS 121-99), Germany (DIN V 51606) and European Union (EN 14214). The average oil yield is 11.7 kg-oil/tree or 4680 kg-oil/hectare

The tree is regarded as sacred in some Pacific islands because of its excellent growth in sandy soil as shade tree and many uses.

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/Calophyllum_inophyllum

http://www.hear.org/starr/images/species/?q=calophyllum+inophyllum&o=plants

http://www.anniesremedy.com/herb_detail285.php

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Arthritis Patients Benefit from Weight Training

A regular and systematic  weight-training regimen may help treat rheumatoid arthritis patients. A study of 28 patients found that weight training led to improvements in basic physical function, such as   lifting, carrying, walking, climbing stairs.

Weight Training->.

Researchers said such high intensity exercising could play a key role in managing the condition.

BBC News reports:
“RA is mainly a disease affecting the joints, but a less well known symptom is that it also severely reduces muscle mass and strength and this occurs even among patients whose disease is well managed …

They found physical function improved by between 20 percent to 30 percent in the group doing weight training. Strength also increased by nearly 120 percent.”

Sources:
BBC News August 4, 2010
Arthritis and Rheumatism December 2009; 61(12):1726-34.

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Sarsaparilla (Smilax sarsaparilla )

Botanical Name : Smilax sarsaparilla
Family :LILIACEAE Lily Family/ Smilacaceae
Genus: Smilax
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Liliales
Species: S. regelii
Common Names :  Sarsaparilla , zarzaparrilla,  Honduran Sarsaparilla,  Jamaican Sarsaparilla., khao yen, saparna, smilace, smilax, zarzaparilla, jupicanga

Habitat :Smilax sarsaparilla is native to Central America.

Description:
It is a perennial trailing vine with prickly stems that . Common names include It is known in Spanish as zarzaparrilla, which is derived from the words zarza, meaning “shrub,” and parrilla, meaning “little grape vine.”

 

click to see the pictures

Subshrubs or vines ; rhizomes black, knotted, 5-6 × 2 cm, often with white to pinkish stolons. Stems perennial , prostrate to clambering , branching, slender, to 1 m , ± woody, densely woolly-pubescent, usually prickly (especially at base ). Leaves mostly evergreen , ± evenly disposed; petiole 0.05-0.25 cm, often longer on sterile shoots ; blade gray-green, drying to ashy gray-green, obovate to ovate-lanceolate, with 3 prominent veins, 6-10.5 × 5-8 cm, glabrous adaxially, densely puberulent abaxially, base cordate to deeply notched , margins entire, apex bluntly pointed . Umbels 1-7, axillary to leaves, 5-16-flowered, loose , spherical ; peduncle 0.2-0.8 cm, shorter than to 1.5 as long as petiole of subtending leaf. Flowers: perianth yellowish; tepals 3-4 mm; anthers much shorter than filaments ; ovule 1 per locule; pedicel thin, 0.1-0.4 cm. Berries red, ovoid , 5-8 mm, with acute beaks , not glaucous. (source   :Flora of North America)

The red, pointed fruits and densely pubescent herbage of Smilax pumila are distinctive.

The name Smilax humilis Miller, which predates S. pumila by 20 years and recently has been determined to apply also to this species, has been proposed for rejection (J. L. Reveal 2000). If that proposal is not adopted, the correct name will be S. humilis.

Medicinal Uses:
Common Uses: Eczema * Psoriasis * Rheumatoid Arthritis *
Properties:  Depurative* Antibacterial* AntiViral* Tonic* Anti-inflammatory* Appetite Depressant/Obesity* Antiscrofulous*
Parts Used: Root
Constituents: parillin (smilacin), glucoside, sarsapic acid, saponins: sarsasaponin, sarsaparilloside, many flavonioids and starch

For many years, people thought sarsaparilla had testosterone in it, but there is none present, or for that matter in any plant studied so far. The spicy, pleasant smelling root is what gave old fashioned root beer its bite and is the part used medicinally. The exact mechanism of action has not been identified, however it is thought that the phytosterols it contains stimulate hormone-like activity in the body. However most modern herbalists no longer believe that sarsaparilla cures syphilis, build muscles or cure a flagging libido. There is research to substantiate its use. for gout, arthritis, psoriasis, ulcerative colitis and eczema. Certain root phytochemicals, called saponins, have soothed psoriasis, most likely by disabling bacterial components called endotoxins. Endotoxins show up in the bloodstreams of people with psoriasis, arthritis and gout.If you have any of these conditions, and feel the need for an all-around tonic to help you fight stress sarsaparilla could certainly play a beneficial role.

It was thought by Central Americans to have medicinal properties, and was a popular European treatment for syphilis when it was introduced from the New World. From 1820 to 1910, it was registered in the U.S. Pharmacopoeia as a treatment for syphilis. Modern users claim that it is effective for eczema, psoriasis, arthritis, herpes, and leprosy, along with a variety of other complaints. No peer reviewed research is available for these claims. However, there is peer reviewed research suggesting that it has anti-oxidant properties, like many other herbs.

Other Uses
Sarsaparilla is used as the basis for a soft drink sold for its taste, frequently of the same name, or called Sasparilla. It is also a primary ingredient in old fashioned root beer, in conjunction with Sassafras, more widely available prior to studies of the potential health risks of sassafras.

Sarsaparilla is not readily available in most countries, although many pubs and most major supermarket chains in Malaysia, The United Kingdom and Australia stock sarsaparilla flavored soft drinks. In Malaysia, it is called “Sarsi” amongst many other names. In America, the prevalent brand is Sioux City Sarsaparilla.[citation needed] In Taiwan, HeySong Sarsaparilla soda is also commonly available for purchase from convenience stores and street vendors.

Sarsaparilla was a popular drink in the Old West.

Research:
Sarsaparilla contains steroidal saponins, such as sarsasapogenin, which some researcher claim can duplicate the action of some human hormones. However, this purported property of sarsaparilla remains has not been substantiated by empirical evidence.

Sarsaparilla also contains beta-sitosterol, a phytosterol, which may contribute to the anti-inflammatory property of this herb. A few reports suggest that sarsaparilla has both anti-inflammatory and liver-protecting effects. Similar findings on the effect of sarsaparilla on psoriasis can also be found in European literature.

Click to learn more :

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://www.houseofnutrition.com/sarsaparilla.html
http://zipcodezoo.com/Plants/S/Smilax_pumila/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smilax_regelii
http://www.anniesremedy.com/herb_detail297.php

Black Rice Economical Way to Increase Consumption of Antioxidants

Black rice
Image via Wikipedia

Health conscious consumers who hesitate at the price of fresh blueberries and blackberries, fruits renowned for high levels of healthful antioxidants, now have an economical alternative. It is black rice, one variety of which got the moniker “Forbidden Rice” in ancient China because nobles commandeered every grain for themselves and forbade the common people from eating it.

According to a study presented at the 240th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS), “one spoonful of black rice bran contains more anthocyanin antioxidants than a spoonful of blueberries and better yet, black rice offers more fiber and vitamin E antioxidants, but less sugar.”

Like fruits, “black rice” is rich in anthocyanin antioxidants, substances that show promise for fighting heart disease, cancer, and other diseases. Food manufacturers could potentially use black rice bran or the bran extracts to boost the health value of breakfast cereals, beverages, cakes, cookies, and other foods, Xu and colleagues suggested.

Brown rice is the most widely produced rice variety worldwide. Rice millers remove only the outer husks, or “chaff,” from each rice grain to produce brown rice. If they process the rice further, removing the underlying nutrient rich “bran,” it becomes white rice. Xu noted that many consumers have heard that brown rice is more nutritious than white rice. The reason is that the bran of brown rice contains higher levels of gamma-tocotrienol, one of the vitamin E compounds, and gamma-oryzanol antioxidants, which are lipid-soluble antioxidants. Numerous studies showed that these antioxidants can reduce blood levels of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL) — so called “bad” cholesterol — and may help fight heart disease. Xu and colleagues analyzed samples of black rice bran from rice grown in the southern United States. In addition, the lipid soluble antioxidants they found in black rice bran possess higher level of anthocyanins antioxidants, which are water-soluble antioxidants. Thus, black rice bran may be even healthier than brown rice bran, suggested Dr. Xu.

The scientists also showed that pigments in black rice bran extracts can produce a variety of different colors, ranging from pink to black, and may provide a healthier alternative to artificial food colorants that manufacturers now add to some foods and beverages. Several studies have linked some artificial colorants to cancer, behavioral problems in children, and other health problems.

Black rice is one of several black-colored heirloom plants producing rice variants such as Indonesian Black Rice, Forbidden Rice. High in nutritional value, black rice is rich in iron. Unlike other black rice from Asia, it is not glutinous or rough. This grain is high in fiber and has a deep, nutty taste. Black “forbidden rice” is so named because originally it was considered the Emperor’s rice and was literally forbidden for anyone else to eat it. It is a deep black color and turns deep purple when cooked. Its dark purple color is primarily due to its high anthocyanin content. It has a relatively high mineral content (including iron) and, like most rice, supplies several important amino acids.

In China, noodles made from black rice have recently begun being produced. At least one United States bread company has also begun producing “Chinese Black Rice” bread. It shares the deep tyrian color of cooked black rice.

Black rice is used mainly in Asia for food decoration, noodles, sushi, and pudding. Dr. Xu said that farmers are interested in growing black rice in Louisiana and that he would like to see people in the country embrace its use.

Resources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_rice
Elements4Health

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Shepherd’s Purse (Capsella bursa-pastoris)

Botanical Name : Capsella bursa-pastoris
Family: Brassicaceae
Genus: Capsella
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Brassicales
Species: C. bursa-pastoris
Common Names :  Shepherd’s Purse(because of its triangular, purse-like pods,) , Pickpurse, Casewort

Habitat :
It is native to eastern Europe and Asia minor but is naturalized and considered a common weed in many parts of the world, especially in colder climates, including Britain, where it is regarded as an archaeophyte, North America and China but also in the Mediterranean and North Africa.

Description:
Shepherd’s-purse  is a small (up to 0.5m) annual and ruderal species, and a member of the Brassicaceae or mustard family. Capsella bursa-pastoris is closely related to the model organism Arabidopsis thaliana and is also used as a model organism due to the variety of genes expressed throughout its life cycle that can be compared to genes that are well studied in A. thaliana. Unlike most flowering plants, it flowers almost all year round. Like many other annual ruderals exploiting disturbed ground, C. bursa-pastoris reproduces entirely from seed, has a long soil seed bank, and short generation time and is capable of producing several generations each year.

....
Shepherd’s-purse plants grow from a rosette of lobed leaves at the base. From the base emerges a stem about 0.2 to 0.5 meters tall, which bears a few pointed leaves which partly grasp the stem. The flowers are white and small, in loose racemes, and produce seed pods which are heart-shaped.

Like a number of other plants in several plant families, its seeds contain a substance known as mucilage, a condition known as myxospermy. The adaptive value of myxospermy is unknown, although the fact that mucilage becomes sticky when wet has led some to propose that C. bursa-pastoris traps insects which then provide nutrients to the seedling, which would make it protocarnivorous.

Constituents: choline, acetylcholine and tyramine, saponins, mustard oil, flavonoids

Fumaric acid is one active substance that has been isolated.. Although Fumaric acid and its derivatives are used with success in many conditions there is no direct evidence that plant extract has been used with similar success.

Parasites
*Capsella bursa-pastoris
*Traditional Chinese

Medicinal Uses:
Common Uses: Abrasions/Cuts * Bladder Infection (UTI) Cystitis * Childbirth * Heart Tonics/Cordials * Menorrhagia *
Properties:  Antiscorbutic* Diuretic* Styptic* Astringent* Febrifuge* Refrigerant*
Parts Used: whole herb.

Shepherd’s purse is one of the important herbs to stop bleeding an effect due to the tyramine and other amines it contains. This property leads to its use is a number of condidtions such as heavy menstrual bleeding, nosebleeds, and as a post-partum herb. The herb is both a vasodilator, and also hastens coagulation and constrict blood vessels.

Shepherd’s purse contains a protein that acts in the same way in the body as the hormone oxytocin, constricting the smooth muscles that support and surround blood vessels, especially those in the uterus. Other chemicals in the herb may accelerate clotting. Still other compounds in the herb help the uterus contact, explaining the long-time use of the herb to help the womb return to normal size after childbirth. Mountain Rose Herbs (2008-07-09)

Herbally, it is primarily used to stop vaginal bleeding, an action which may be attributable to the common parasitic fungus found with it, which is related to the vasoconstrictor ergot.

Other Uses
Shepherd’s-purse is gathered from the wild or grown for food to supplement animal feed, for cosmetics, and for medicinal purposes. It is commonly used as food in Shanghai and the surrounding Jiangnan region as food, where they are stir-fried with rice cakes and other ingredients or as part of the filling in wontons. It is one of the ingredients of the symbolic dish consumed in the Japanese spring-time festival, Nanakusa-no-sekku.

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/Capsella_bursa-pastoris

http://www.anniesremedy.com/herb_detail112.php

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Questions & Answers on Egg Safety


Q.How should eggs be refrigerated?
A.
Refrigerate raw shell eggs in their cartons on the middle or lower inside shelf, not on the door, and away from any meat that might drip juices or any raw produce that might contact eggshells. Cover or wrap well any egg mixtures or leftover cooked egg dishes. For all perishable foods, including eggs and dishes containing eggs, allow no more than 2 hours at room temperature for preparation and serving, 30 minutes to 1 hour when it’s 85°F or hotter without refrigeration.

Q.How long are eggs that have been refrigerated, safe to eat?
A.
Raw eggs maintain their freshness for 4-5 weeks after purchase if kept refrigerated continuously.

Q.How long are hard cooked eggs that have been refrigerated, safe to eat?
A.
A hard cooked egg, if keep in its shell, can be safely refrigerated for up to one week.

Q.I just realized I left the egg carton on the kitchen counter overnight. Are the eggs safe to use?
A.
A hard cooked egg, if keep in its shell, can be safely refrigerated for up to one week.

Q.What should you consider when purchasing eggs?

A.Always buy eggs from a refrigerated case. Choose eggs with clean, uncracked shells. Don’t buy out of date eggs. The USDA grade shield on the carton means that the eggs were graded for quality and checked for weight under the supervision of a trained USDA grader. State agencies monitor compliance for egg packers who do not use the USDA grading service.

Q.What does the date on the egg carton mean?

A.Egg cartons with the USDA grademark must display a “Julian date”*, the date the eggs were packed. Although not required, they may also carry an expiration date beyond which the eggs should not be sold, but are still safe to eat. On cartons with the USDA grademark, this date cannot exceed 30 days after the eggs were packed in the carton. Depending on the retailer, the expiration date may be less than 30 days. Eggs packed in cartons without the USDA grademark are governed by the laws of their states.

*Julian date: usually on the short side of the carton, represents the consecutive days of the year with the number 001 as January 1 and December 31 as 365.

Q.How long are eggs safe to eat after purchase?

A.Fresh shell eggs can be stored in their cartons in the refrigerator for four to five weeks beyond the carton’s Julian date with minor loss of quality. Once an egg begins to age, it loses moisture through its porous shell and begins to dry. The membranes that hold the egg structure begin to loosen and the yolk may not be anchored in the center of the white once the egg is broken. An older egg would be most appropriate for a mixed dish, a batter or a hard cooked egg which should be easier to peel than a freshly laid egg.

Q.What is an adequate temperature to cook an egg?

A.Egg white coagulates between 144 and 149°F, egg yolk coagulates between 149 and 158°F and whole eggs between 144 and 158°F. Plain whole eggs without added ingredients are pasteurized but not cooked by bringing them to 140°F and maintaining that temperature for 3 and 1/2 minutes. According to the FDA Food Code, eggs for immediate consumption can be cooked to 145°F for 15 seconds.

If the eggs are to be used in a recipe with other food items, dilute the eggs with liquid or other ingredients, such as milk, or sugar (at least ¼ cup liquid or sugar per egg as in custard) and cook the egg mixture to 160°F, which will destroy harmful bacteria in a few seconds. Adequate cooking brings eggs and other foods to a temperature high enough to destroy bacteria that might be present.

Q.How safe are eggs?

A.The risk of getting a foodborne illness from eggs is very low. However, the nutrients that make eggs a high-quality food for humans are also a good growth medium for bacteria. In addition to food, bacteria also need moisture, a favorable temperature and time in order to multiply and increase the risk of illness. In the rare event that an egg contains bacteria, you can reduce the risk by proper chilling and eliminate it by proper cooking. When you handle eggs with care, they pose no greater food-safety risk than any other perishable food.

The inside of an egg was once considered almost sterile. But, over recent years, the bacterium Salmonella enteritidis (Se) has been found inside a small number of eggs. Scientists estimate that, on average across the U.S., only 1 of every 20,000 eggs might contain the bacteria. So, the likelihood that an egg might contain Se is extremely small – 0.005% (five one-thousandths of one percent). At this rate, if you’re an average consumer, you might encounter a contaminated egg once every 84 years.

Other types of microorganisms could be deposited along with dirt on the outside of an egg. In the U.S., eggshells are washed and sanitized to remove possible hazards. You can further protect yourself and your family by discarding eggs that are unclean, cracked, broken or leaking and making sure you and your family members use good hygiene practices, including properly washing your hands and keeping them clean.

Q.Is the appearance of an egg related to food safety?

A.Variation in egg color is due to many factors. A cloudy white is a sign that the egg is very fresh. A clear egg white is an indication that the egg is aging. Pink or iridescent egg white indicates spoilage and should not be consumed. A rupture of one or more small blood vessels in the yolk may cause blood spots at the time of ovulation. It does not indicate the egg is unsafe to eat. The color of the yolk varies in shades of yellow depending upon the diet of the hen. If she eats plenty of yellow/orange plants the yolk with be a darker yellow than if she eats white cornmeal, a colorless diet. A green ring on a hard cooked yolk is result of overcooking and is caused by sulfur and iron compounds in the egg reacting on the yolk’s surface. The green color can also be caused by a high amount of iron in the cooking water. Scrambled eggs held too long on a steam table or at too high a temperature can also develop a green tint. The green color is safe to eat.

Q.Does a blood spot mean an egg is contaminated?

A.No. You can’t see bacteria with the naked eye. Blood or meat spots are occasionally found on an egg yolk and are merely an error on the part of the hen. They’re caused by the rupture of a blood vessel on the yolk surface when it’s being formed or by a similar accident in the wall of the oviduct. Most eggs with blood spots are detected by electronic spotters and never reach the market. But, even with mass scanners, it’s impossible to catch them all. Both chemically and nutritionally, eggs with blood spots are fit to eat. You can remove the spot with the tip of a knife, if you wish.

Q.Are the twisted, ropey strands of egg white safe?

A.Yes. These strands are the chalazae which anchor the yolk in the center of the thick white. They’re composed of nutritious egg albumen and do not indicate contamination. In fact, the more prominent the chalazae, the fresher the egg. These natural parts of the egg don’t interfere with cooking or beating of the white and you don’t need to remove them, although some cooks like to strain them from stirred custard.

Q.What does it mean when an egg floats in water?

A.An egg can float in water when its air cell has enlarged significantly to keep it buoyant. This means the egg is old, but it may be perfectly safe to use. Crack the egg into a bowl and examine it for an off-odor or unusual appearance before deciding to use or discard it. A spoiled egg will have an unpleasant odor when you break open the shell, either when raw or cooked. How is the egg industry working to promote egg safety? Egg industry programs start by keeping breeder flocks Salmonella free. The National Poultry Improvement Plan, a joint program between the industry and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is a model program for preventing breeder stock infection.

.Ongoing research projects are dedicated to discovering how Salmonella gets into flocks and how it might be blocked.

A number of farm level programs such as the United Egg Producer’s 5 Star program, apply quality control measures and sanitation procedures all through the production, processing and preparation phases, including testing chicks to confirm their cleanliness and Salmonella free status. By holding eggs at cool temperatures (45°F) during production and transportation stages, producers help to ensure that any Salmonella present will not multiply and less bacteria will be available to spread or risk infecting the consumer.

Q.What is foodborne illness?

A.The way food is processed and prepared is important because all foods have the ability to carry microorganisms (like bacteria and viruses) or toxins that can cause illness. If microorganisms or toxins are introduced to food or if bacteria are allowed to grow in or on food without being killed (usually by heat) before eating, foodborne illness can result. Common symptoms of foodborne illness include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, cramps and headache.

Q.How can I protect myself and my family from foodborne illness?

A. Along with other food and food-related organizations as well as government food and education agencies, American Egg Board is a founding member of the Partnership for Food Safety Education. This unique industry and government coalition has the aim of informing consumers about safe food-handling practices through the Fight BAC!™campaign. By following the Fight BAC!™ recommendations to clean, separate, cook and chill, you can help prevent BAC from causing foodborne illness.

Q.How does Salmonella infect eggs?

A. Salmonella bacteria are found in the intestinal tracts of animals, birds, reptiles, insects and humans. Salmonella may be found on the outside of the egg shell before the egg is washed or it may be found inside the egg if the hen was infected. It is estimated that one egg in 20,000 eggs may contain Salmonella which is a 0.005% contamination rate. Eggs contain natural antimicrobial substances in the egg white, and all eggs are washed and sanitized before they are packed. Egg recipes properly prepared in individual servings and promptly eaten are rarely a problem. Inadequate refrigeration, improper handling and insufficient cooking are all factors that have contributed to disease outbreaks. Salmonella is destroyed by heat. Eggs that have been handled and cooked properly should not cause human illness.

Q.What will happen if I eat an egg containing Salmonella?

A.If an egg containing Salmonella has been kept refrigerated and someone who uses good hygiene practices serves it to you immediately after proper cooking, you’ll simply have a nutritious meal. If the egg has been improperly handled, though, you might experience the foodborne illness called salmonellosis. You could have symptoms of abdominal cramps, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, chills, fever and/or headache within 6 to 72 hours after eating. The symptoms usually last only a day or two in healthy people but can lead to serious complications for the very young, pregnant women, the elderly, the ill and those with immune system disorders. Anyone who has had salmonellosis may pass along the bacteria for several weeks after recovering, but salmonellosis is seldom fatal. While the risk of getting salmonellosis is very small, there’s no need to take chances because cooking kills Salmonella.

Q.What usually causes salmonellosis?


A
.Salmonellosis outbreaks are most often associated with animal foods, including chicken, eggs, pork and cheese, but have also been reported related to cantaloupe, tomatoes, alfalfa sprouts, orange juice and cereal among other foods. Human carriers play a big role in transmitting some types of salmonellosis. Salmonella bacteria can easily spread from one food to another, too.

The majority of reported salmonellosis outbreaks involving eggs or egg-containing foods have occurred in food service kitchens and were the result of inadequate refrigeration, improper handling and insufficient cooking. If not properly handled, Salmonella bacteria can double every 20 minutes and a single bacterium can multiply into more than a million in six hours. Properly prepared egg recipes served in individual portions and promptly eaten are rarely a problem. You can ensure that your eggs will maintain their high quality and safety by using good hygiene, cooking, refrigeration and handling practices.

Q.Doesn’t the eggshell protect an egg from bacteria?

A. Yes and no. The egg has many natural, built-in barriers to help prevent bacteria from entering and growing. These protect the egg on its way from the hen to your home. Although it does help, the porous shell itself is not a foolproof bacterial barrier. For further safety, government regulations require that eggs be carefully washed with special detergent and sanitized. Then, the hen’s original protective shell coating is generally replaced by a thin spray coating of a tasteless, odorless, harmless, natural mineral oil. A shiny shell indicates oiling, rather than an unsafe or old egg.

Q.Are eggs the only source of Salmonella bacteria?

A. No. Salmonella bacteria are widely found in nature and easily spread. The bacteria can be found in the intestinal tracts of animals, birds, reptiles, insects and people. While the egg itself may not be contaminated when you buy it, it can become contaminated from various sources, such as hands, pets, other foods and kitchen equipment, too.

Composition of an Egg :-
Other protective barriers include the shell and yolk membranes and layers of the white which fight bacteria in several ways. The structure of the shell membranes helps prevent the passage of bacteria. The shell membranes also contain lysozyme, a substance that helps prevent bacterial infection. The yolk membrane separates the nutrient-rich yolk from the white.

In addition to containing antibacterial compounds such as lysozyme, layers of the white discourage bacterial growth because they are alkaline, bind nutrients bacteria need and/or don’t provide nutrients in a form that bacteria can use. The thick white discourages the movement of bacteria. The last layer of white is composed of thick ropey strands which have little of the water that bacteria need but a high concentration of the white’s protective materials. This layer holds the yolk centered in the egg where it receives the maximum protection from all the other layers.


Q.Are Salmonella bacteria most likely to be found in the egg’s white or yolk?

A.Bacteria, if they are present at all, are most likely to be in the white and will be unable to grow, mostly due to lack of nutrients. As the egg ages, however, the white thins and the yolk membrane weakens. This makes it possible for bacteria to reach the nutrient-dense yolk where they can grow over time if the egg is kept at warm temperatures. In a clean, uncracked, fresh shell egg, internal contamination rarely occurs.

Q.What is being done about Salmonella in eggs?

A.The egg industry, the public health community and government agencies have been working diligently to deal with Salmonella enteritidis.

Egg industry programs start by keeping breeder flocks free of Salmonella. Ongoing research is dedicated to discovering how Se gets into flocks and how it might be blocked. The industry also uses strict quality-control practices and sanitation procedures all through production, processing and preparation. This includes testing chicks to be sure they’re free of Salmonella, bio-security (such as washing and sanitizing not only the eggs, but facilities, too) and other measures. To block Se from multiplying in the egg in the rare event it’s present, eggs are held at cool temperatures following packing and throughout transportation. Important, too, are industry education programs which encourage food preparers to use safe food-handling practices.

Along with state representatives, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are developing new national standards with the aim of reducing and eventually eliminating egg-related salmonellosis. The strategies will include a scientific, risk-based, farm-to-table plan covering production, processing, transport, storage, retail handling and delivery. The plan will also include education on the responsibilities of consumers, inspectors and food handlers at all levels.

Q.What is pooling and why is it not recommended?

A.The pooling of eggs, which is a common practice where eggs are broken out of their shell, mixing egg white and yolk, then held together in large quantities. This practice removes the egg’s natural barriers and creates a nutrient rich medium that is ideal for bacterial growth. Lack of washing hands and cutting boards with warm soapy water is another contributing factor in approximately one third of the U.S. food borne illness outbreaks reported by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Q.Can shell eggs be pasteurized or irradiated to destroy Salmonella?

A. A processor can pasteurize shell eggs if FDA has approved the process. Pasteurized shell eggs are available in some areas in the U.S. Shell eggs have recently been approved for irradiation by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration but are not yet available.

Q.Are egg products pasteurized?……

A. All egg products are required by law to be pasteurized. Approximately one third of all eggs produced in the U.S. today are broken and further processed to make egg products that are sold as retail or food service items or ingredients for commercial food manufacturers. These may be whole liquid egg, egg whites, or egg yolks, and may be liquid, frozen or dried. The safety of egg products is regulated by the Food Safety Inspection Service of the USDA and is ensured by mandatory pasteurization to destroy potentially harmful pathogens. Egg products are readily available for food service facilities to use and offer a convenient alternative to using raw shell eggs when large quantities are needed.

Source: Egg Safety Center

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Schisandra (Schisandra chinensis)

Botanical Name Schisandra chinensis
Family: Schisandraceae
Genus: Schisandra
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Austrobaileyales
Parts Used: fruit

Common Name : Schisandra , Magnolia vine, wu-wei-zi, Schizandra

Habitat:It is native to East Asia.  Northern China and the Russian Far East. It is hardy in USDA Zone 4.

Etymology:
Its Chinese name comes from the fact that its berries possess all five basic flavors: salty, sweet, sour, pungent (spicy), and bitter. Sometimes it is more specifically called b?i w? wèi zi ((Chinese); literally “northern five flavor berry”) to distinguish it from another traditionally medicinal schisandraceous plant Kadsura japonica that grows only in subtropical areas.

Description:
Schisandra (Magnolia Vine) is a genus of shrub commonly grown in gardens. It is a hardy deciduous climber which thrives in virtually any soil; its preferred position is on a sheltered shady wall. It may be propagated by taking cuttings of half-matured shoots in August. Species include S. chinensis, S. glaucescens, S. rubriflora and S. rubrifolia.
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The species itself is dioecious, thus flowers on a female plant will only produce fruit when fertilized with pollen from a male plant. However, there is a hybrid selection titled “Eastern Prince” which has perfect flowers and is self-fertile.

Over 19 species of the genus are said to be used in Chinese medicine, mostly as sedatives and tonic agents.

Cultivation:-
The plant likes some shade with moist, well-drained soil.  Gardeners should beware that seedlings of “Eastern Prince” are sometimes sold under the same name but are typically single-sex plants..

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Constituents
:- lignans: schizandrin, deoxyschizandrin, gomisins, and pregomisin

Uses
General uses
:-
Its berries are used in traditional Chinese medicine, where it is considered one of the 50 fundamental herbs. They are most often used in dried form, and boiled to make a tea. Medicinally it is used as a tonic and restorative adaptogen with notable clinically documented liver protecting effects. The primary hepatoprotective (liver protecting) and immuno-modulating constituents are the lignans schizandrin, deoxyschizandrin, gomisins, and pregomisin, which are found in the seeds of the fruit. It should not be used by pregnant women.

China
In China, a wine is made from the berries….

Korea

In Korean the berries are known as omija (hangul: ), and the tea made from the berries is called omija cha (hangul:); see Korean tea…

Japan

In Japanese, they are called gomishi (Japanese:).

Russia
In 1998, Russia released a postage stamp depicting S. chinensis.photo (Russian: )


Medicinal Uses:

Common Uses: Chronic Fatigue * Cough * General Health Tonics * Liver *

Properties:
Adaptogens* Antitussive* Hypoglycemic* Vasodilator* Antibacterial*

Its dried fruit is used medicinally. The berries of S. chinensis are given the name wu wei zi in Chinese ( pinyin: w? wèi zi), which translates as “five flavor fruit” because they possess all five basic flavors in Chinese herbal medicine: salty, sweet, sour, pungent (spicy), and bitter. In traditional Chinese medicine it is used as a remedy for many ailments: to resist infections, increase skin health, and combat insomnia, coughing, and thirst.

Schisandra may also aid in the treatment of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) when combined with wormwood, ginger, buplerum, and Codonopsis pilosula. However, there is insufficient evidence to support this claim at this time.

Primary traditional uses of Schisandra include the treatment of nervous conditions, coughs, and liver conditions. Laboratory experiments and clinical experience suggests that Schisandra may help to improve brain efficiency, increase work capacity, and build strength…Schisandra is believed to have an adaptongenic function, increases non-resistant immune response, reduces tiredness and sleeplessness, and may help enhance vision.

Modern Chinese research suggests that schisandra and other lignans have a protective effect on the liver and an immunomodulating effect. Two human trials in China (one double-blind and the other preliminary) have shown that schisandra may help people with chronic viral hepatitis reports Liu KT from Studies on fructus Schizandre cinensis. Schisandra lignans appear to protect the liver by activating the enzymes that produce glutathione.

Recently, the extract of S. rubriflora, a native of the Yunnan province, was found to contain complex and highly oxygenated nortriterpenoids. The discoverers named those molecules Rubriflorins A-C.

Use in traditional Chinese medicine
In traditional Chinese medicine, Schisandra chinensis (known as wu wei zi (Chinese:)) is believed to:

1.Astringe Lung Qi and nourish the Kidneys
2.Restrain the essence and stop Diarrhea–astringent Kidneys
3.Arrest excessive sweating from Yin or Yang deficiency
4.Calm the Spirit by tonification of Heart and Kidney
5.Generate body fluids and alleviate thirst

Side Effects
:Schisandra’s side effects are very uncommon, but may include decreased appetite, skin rash, and abdominal upset.

Research :
Studies regarding the properties and use of schisandra have mainly concentrated on lignans that have a distinct liver protection (anti-hepatotoxic) exploits. So far, as many as 30 various kinds of lignans have been recognized in schisandra that produce such results. Scientific investigations since 1972 have revealed that schisandra is very useful while treating liver disorders and one research has shown that remedies containing the herb are highly successful, as high as 76 percent, in healing hepatitis. And the best part of it is that the herb has no adverse actions on the human system. The herb is also proved to be an excellent remedy for arousing the nervous system. It is found to have an active role in enhancing nervous reactions as well as perking up cerebral lucidity. Berries containing lignans are also beneficial in healing gloominess and help to overcome bad temper, depression, and lack of memory. In addition, schisandra is also useful for women as it kindles the uterus and reinforces periodic tightening. According to studies, like ginseng, schisandra is also beneficial for the body to be accustomed to pressure and tension as it has adaptogenic properties.

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/Schisandra_chinensis
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schisandra
http://www.anniesremedy.com/herb_detail314.php
http://www.herbs2000.com/herbs/herbs_schisandra.htm

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Top Eight Cancer Signs Pinpointed

The eight unexplained symptoms most closely linked to cancer have been highlighted by researchers.

The Keele University team also points to the age at which patients should be most concerned by the symptoms, which include blood in urine and anaemia.

The other symptoms are: rectal blood, coughing up blood, breast lump or mass, difficulty swallowing, post-menopausal bleeding and abnormal prostate tests.

Eight signs of cancer:-
*Anaemia
*Blood in urine
*Coughing up blood
*Difficulty swallowing
*Breast lump or mass
*Post-menopausal bleeding
*Abnormal prostate test
*Rectal blood

There are more than 200 different types of cancer, which cause many different symptoms.

Cancer Research UK said unusual changes in a person’s health should be checked as early as possible.


Source
: BBC NEWS: 26th. Aug.2010

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Winter Savory


Botanical Name  :Satureja montana
Family
: Lamiaceae
Genus: Satureja
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Lamiales
Species: S. montana
Syn. S. hortensis
Common Names:   Winter   Savory , Summer


Habitat
:Native to warm temperate regions of southern Europe

Description:
Winter savory (Satureja montana) is a perennial herb.

...

It is a semi-evergreen, semi-woody subshrub growing to over 230 cm (7.5 ft) tall. The leaves are opposite, oval-lanceolate, 1-2 cm long and 5 mm broad. The flowers are white.

Cultivation and uses:-
Easy to grow, it makes an attractive border plant for any culinary herb garden. It requires six hours of sun a day in soil that drains well.

Winter savory is now little used, but for hundreds of years both it and Summer savory have been grown and used, virtually side by side. Both have strong spicy flavour.

Culinary Uses:-
In cooking, winter savory has a reputation for going very well with both beans and meats, very often lighter meats such as chicken or turkey, and can be used in stuffing. It has a strong flavour while uncooked but loses much of its flavour under prolonged cooking. It may also be used medicinally, it is a stimulant, and is also a known aphrodisiac.

Medicinal Uses:-
Antiseptic; Aromatic; Carminative; Digestive; Expectorant; Stings; Stomachic.

“Winter savory is most often used as a culinary herb, but it also has marked medicinal benefits, especially upon the whole digestive system. The plant has a stronger action than the closely related summer savory, S. hortensis.

According to Plants for a Future, the whole herb, and especially the flowering shoots, is mildly antiseptic, aromatic, carminative, digestive, mildly expectorant and stomachic. Taken internally, it is said to be a remedy for colic and a cure for flatulence, whilst it is also used to treat gastro-enteritis, cystitis, nausea, diarrhoea, bronchial congestion, sore throat and menstrual disorders. It should not be prescribed for pregnant women.[citation needed] A sprig of the plant, rubbed onto bee or wasp stings, brings instant relief.[citation needed]

Therapeautic grade oil has been determined to inhibit growth of Candida albicans according to Oberg K, Rolling L, Oberg C. in The Journal of the Utah Academy of Sciences, Arts, and Letters. 2005;82:60-72..

The plant is harvested in the summer when in flower and can be used fresh or dried. The essential oil forms an ingredient in lotions for the scalp in cases of incipient baldness. An ointment made from the plant is used externally to relieve arthritic joints.

Chemical Constituents: Carvacrol (30 – 75%), thymol (1.0 – 5.0%), p-cymene (10 – 20%), gamma-terpineol (2.0 – 10%), 1,8-cineole (3.8%), borneol (12.5%), a-terpineol (2.5%).

Winter savory, and its annual cousin summer savory, Satureja hortensis, and known mainly as culinary herbs, though they do possess medicinal properties. Savory is a carminative herb recommend for gas and digestive upsets, including colic, diarrhea and indigestion. Its antiseptic and astringent properties make it a good treatment for sore throats. A poultice of the leaves gives quick relief to insect bites.

Winter savory has a stronger, more resinous flavor than the milder annual summer savory, both impart a peppery bite to foods and blend well with thyme, marjoram and basil. Both are used to marinate meats, add flavor to beans and vegetables. Savory are known especially as “bean herbs”, because of the added flavor as well a reduction in flatulence and gas.

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/Winter_Savory

http://www.mountainvalleygrowers.com/satmontana.htm

http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/hort/consumer/factsheets/herbs/satureja_montana.html

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