Monthly Archives: November 2011

Waltheria indica

Botanical Name : Waltheria indica
Family: Malvaceae
Genus: Waltheria
Species: W. indica
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Malvales

Common Names: Sleepy Morning, Basora Prieta, Hierba de Soldado, Guimauve, Mauve-gris, Moto-branco, Fulutafu, Kafaki, and Uhaloa (Hawaii).

Habitat :  It is most common in dry, disturbed or well-drained, moist habitats. In Puerto Rico, it grows in areas that receive 750–1,800 mm (30–71 in) of annual rainfall and at elevations from sea level to more 400 m (1,300 ft)

Description:
Waltheria indica is a species of flowering plant.It  is a short-lived subshrub or shrub, reaching a height of 2 m (6.6 ft) and a stem diameter of 2 cm (0.79 in). Stems rather rigid, erect to sometimes decumbent, velvety tomentose throughout, the hairs stellate.  Leaves rugose, broadly ovate to oblong-ovate, 2-15.5 cm long, 1-6 cm wide, tomentose with stellate hairs, lower surface paler, apex rounded, sometimes obtuse, base rounded to subcordate, petioles 0.5-4.5 cm long.  Flowers fragrant, in axillary, sessile or pedunculate glomerules, bracts linear; calyx strongly ribbed, ca. 3-5 mm long, villous; petals yellow, spatulate, 4-6 mm long; style bearded.  Capsules obliquely globose, 2.5-3 mm long” (Wagner et al., 1999; p. 1280).
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Medicinal Uses:
It is frequently used to treat asthma and painful coughs, only the Hawaiians are known to use it for sore throats by chewing  the root bark and gargleing the juice.  In Hawaii it  is a very effective treatment for high blood pressure and diabetes. The remedy is made by pounding a bundle of the root bark, stems and leaves with a little lemongrass and ginger for flavoring, then brewing the material into a strong decoction that is consumed over five days.  A traditional plant of the Hawaiian medica, Uhaloa is used for sore throat, common cold, cough, bronchial phlegm or mucous.
In Polynesia the root bark (cortex) is chewed upon for sore throat, while in Hawaii it is used internally for arthritis, neuralgia and chronic cases of asthma.  An infusion of stem and leaves is also used.   Used against the diarrhea, unwanted pregnancy, painful menstruation and fatigue. Also used for dry itchy cough, mucous, chest colds or chest congestion. It is used as a poultice for minor infections.   Root and leaves used as anti-spasmodic, in treating abdominal disorders, as an analgesic in toothache, tonic, in treating joints affections, diarrhea, and ulcers.  The flowers of the ‘uhaloa are considered “good medicine for children” (more than 10 days old).

You may click to read more: http://www.staradvertiser.com/columnists/theurbangardener/20110110_uhaloa_is_a_treasure_of_traditional_medicine.html

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/Waltheria_indica
http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_UZ.htm
http://www.hear.org/starr/images/image/?q=010818-0026&o=plants

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Pistacia terebinthus

Botanical Name : Pistacia terebinthus
Family: Anacardiaceae
Genus: Pistacia
Species: P. terebinthus
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Sapindales

Common Names :Terebinth and Turpentine tree

Habitat : Pistacia terebinthus is native to the Canary Islands, and the Mediterranean region from the western regions of Morocco, and Portugal to Greece and western Turkey. In the eastern shores of the Mediterranean sea – Syria, Lebanon, Kurdistan and Israel – a similar species, Pistacia palaestina, fills the same ecological niche as this species and is also known as terebinth.

Description:
It is a species of flowering plant belonging to the family Anacardiaceae. It is a small deciduous tree or large shrub growing to 10 m tall. The leaves are compound, 10-20 cm long, odd pinnate with five to eleven opposite glossy oval leaflets, the leaflets 2-6 cm long and 1-3 cm broad. The flowers are reddish-purple, appearing with the new leaves in early spring. The fruit consists of small, globular drupes 5-7 mm long, red to black when ripe. All parts of the plant have a strong resinous smell.

click to see the pictures.
It is a dioecious tree, ie exist as male and female specimens. For a viable population should have copies of both genders. His oblong leafs are bright green, leathery, with 10 cm long or more with 3-9 leaflets. Leafs alternate, leathery and compound paripinnate (no terminal leaflet) with 3 or 6 deep green leaflets. They are generally larger and rounder than the leaves of the mastic, reminding the leaves of carob tree. The flowers range from purple to green, the fruit is having the size of a pea and turns from red to brown, depending on the degree of maturation. The whole plant emits a strong smell of bitter, resinous or medication. In the vegetative period they develop “galls” in a goat’s horn shaped (of what the plant gets its common name cornicabra, the common spanish name), that occur in the leaves and leaflets after the bite of insects. The species is multiplied by seeds and shoots. Although marred by the presence of galls, is a very strong and resistant tree which survives in degraded areas where other species have been eliminated. Pistacia terebinthus is a plant related to Pistacia lentiscus, with which hybridizes frequently in contact zones. The cornicabra is more abundant in the mountains and inland and the mastic is usually found more frequently in areas where the Mediterranean influence of the sea moderates the clima. Mastic tree does not reach the size of the Pistacia terebinthus, but the hybrids are very difficult to distinguish. The mastic presented winged stalks of the leaflets, ie, they are flattened and side fins. These stems in Cornicabra are simple. In the Eastern Mediterranean Coast, Syria, Lebanon and Israel, a similar species,pistacia Palaestina , fills the same ecological niche of this species and is also known as turpentine. On the west coast of the Mediterranean, Canary Islands and Middle East, Pistacia terebinthus can be confused with Pistacia atlantica .

Medicinal Uses:
The resin is taken internally in the treatment of chronic bronchial infections, streptococcal, urinary and renal infections, hemorrhage, gallstones, tapeworm and rheumatism. Externally, it is used to treat arthritis, gout, sciatica, scabies and lice. It has also been used in the treatment of cancer. It is a stimulant to kidney function and was sometimes used in mild doses as a diuretic; in larger doses, it is dangerous to the kidneys.  It was also used as a carminative, and was considered one of the most valuable remedies in cases of flatulent colic.  Terebinth was also used to treat chronic diarrhea and dysentery, typhoid fever, purpureal fever and bleeding, helminthiasis, leucorrhea, and amenorrhea.Turpentine baths, arranged in such a way that the vapors were not inhaled by the patient, were given in cases of chronic rheumatism.  It was also administered in enema form to treat intractable constipation.  Applied externally as a liniment or ointment, it has been used in rheumatic ailments such as lumbago, arthritis, and neuralgias.  It was also used as a local application to treat and promote the healing of burns and to heal parasitic skin diseases. The gall-like bodies found on the Turpentine Tree are the result of the stings of a hemipterous insect. They have been used for treatment of asthma attacks. For this purpose they are coarsely pulverized and burned in the bowl of a pipe, or in a dish, using a small funnel attached to a rubber tube for inhaling the fumes. Preparations should be made beforehand, so that the smoke may be inhaled at the commencement of the attack. They appear to act by exciting free secretion, probably through the turpentine with which they are saturated. They are said to be useful in chronic bronchitis. The use of Chian turpentine by Paracelsus as a cancer remedy was revived in 1880 by Mr. Clay, of England, who strongly recommended it for uterine cancer, others, however, declared it wholly inefficient. It is yellowish, greenish, or bluish-green, translucent, viscid, and thick like molasses. Its odor is rather pleasant and suggestive of fennel, and its taste less acrid than most of the turpentines. It gradually hardens by age, and is often adulterated with the cheaper turpentines.

Other Uses:
It is used as a source for turpentine, possibly the earliest known source. The turpentine of the terebinth is now called Chian, Scio, or Cyprian turpentine.
The fruits are used in Cyprus for baking of a specialty village bread. In Crete, where the plant is called tsikoudia, it is used to flavor the local variety of pomace brandy, also called tsikoudia. In the Northern Sporades the shoots are used as a vegetable (called tsitsírava).The plant is rich in tannin and resinous substances and was used for its aromatic and medicinal properties in classical Greece. A mild sweet scented gum can be produced from the bark, and galls often found on the plant are used for tanning leather. Recently an anti-inflammatory triterpene has been extracted from these galls. In Turkey, where it is known as menengiç or b?tt?m, a coffee-like beverage known as menengiç kahvesi is made from the roasted fruit and a soap is made from the oil. Terebinth resin was used as a wine presevative in the acient Near East.

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/Pistacia_terebinthus
http://luirig.altervista.org/schedenam/fnam.php?taxon=Pistacia+terebinthus
http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_RST.htm

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Lobaria pulmonaria

Botanical Name : Lobaria pulmonaria
Family: Lobariaceae
Genus: Lobaria
Species: L. pulmonaria
Kingdom: Fungi
Division: Ascomycota
Class: Lecanoromycetes
Order: Peltigerales

Synonyms:  Jerusalem Cowslip. Oak Lungs. Lung Moss.

Common Names :Tree lungwort, Lung lichen, lung moss, Lungwort lichen, Oak lungs or Oak lungwort,  Sticta pulmonaria

Habitat :It has a wide distribution in Europe, Asia, North America and Africa, preferring damp habitats with high rainfall, especially coastal areas. It is the most widely distributed and most common Lobaria species in North America. Associated with old-growth forests, its presence and abundance may be used as an indicator of forest age, at least in the Interior Cedar-Hemlock biogeoclimatic zone in eastern British Columbia. It is also found in pasture-woodlands. It usually grows on the bark of broad-leaved trees such as oak, beech and maple but will also grow on rocks. In the laboratory, L. pulmonaria has been grown on nylon microfilaments. Various environmental factors are thought to affect the distribution of L. pulmonaria, such as temperature, moisture (average humidity, rapidity and frequency of wet-dry cycles), sunlight exposure, and levels of air pollution. Attempts to quantitatively evaluate the contribution of these factors to lichen growth is difficult because differences in the original environment from which the lichen thalli are collected will greatly affect heat and desiccation tolerances.

Due to declining population, L. pulmonaria is considered to be rare or threatened in many parts of the world, especially in lowland areas of Europe. The decline has been attributed to industrial forestry and air pollution, particularly acid rain. L. pulmonaria, like other lichens containing a blue-green algal component, are particularly susceptible to the effects of acid rain, because the subsequent decrease in pH reduces nitrogen fixation through inhibition of the algal nitrogenase enzyme

Description:
It is a foliose lichen and its leaf-like thallus is green, leathery and lobed with a pattern of ridges and depressions on the upper surface. Bright green under moist conditions, it becomes brownish and papery when dry. This species often has a fine layers of hairs, a tomentum, on its lower surface. The cortex, the outer protective layer on the thallus surface, is roughly comparable to the epidermis of a green plant. The thallus is typically 5–15 centimetres (2.0–5.9 in) in diameter, with individual lobes 1–3 centimetres (0.39–1.2 in) wide and up to 7 cm long. The asexual reproductive structures soredia and isidia are present on the thallus surface. Minute (0.5–1.5 mm in diameter) cephalodia—pockets of cyanobacteria—are often present on the lower surface of the thallus; these spots are conspicuously darker than the green surface of the thallus. Like other foliose lichens, the thallus is only loosely attached to the surface on which it grows.

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Photobionts:
The thallus contains internal structures known as cephalodia, characteristic of three-membered lichen symbioses involving two photobionts (the photosynthetic symbionts in the fungal-algal lichen relationship). These internal cephalodia, found between the “ribs” of the thallus surface, arise when blue-green algae (from the genus Nostoc) on the thallus surface are enveloped during mycobiont growth.[6] Structurally, cephalodia consist of dense aggregates of Nostoc cells surrounded by thin-walled hyphae—this delimits them from the rest of the thallus which contains a loose structure of thick-walled hyphae.[7] Blue-green cyanobacteria can fix atmospheric nitrogen, enhancing nutrient availability for the lichen. The other photobiont of L. pulmonaria is the green algae Dictyochloropsis reticulata

Reproduction:
L. pulmonaria has the ability to form both vegetative propagation and sexual propagules[9] at an age of about 25 years. In sexual reproduction, the species produces small reddish-brown discs known as apothecia containing asci, from which spores are forcibly released into the air (like ballistospores). Based on studies of ascospore germination, it has been suggested that L. pulmonaria spores use some mechanism to inhibit germination—the inhibition is lifted when the spores are grown in a synthetic growth medium containing an adsorbent like bovine serum albumin or ?-cyclodextrin.

Dispersal by vegetative propagules (via soredia or isidia) has been determined as the predominant mode of reproduction in L. pulmonaria. In this method, the protruding propagules become dry and brittle during the regular wet/dry cycles of the lichen, and can easily crumble off the thallus. These fragments may develop into new thalli, either at the same locale or at a new site after dispersal by wind or rain. A number of steps are required for the development of the vegetative propagules, including the degeneration of the thallus cortex, replication of green algal cells, and entanglement of fungal hyphae with the green algal cells. This steps lead to an increase in internal pressure which eventually breaks through the cortex. Continued growth leads to these granules being pushed upwards and out of the thallus surface.

Chemical compositions:
L. pulmonaria is known to contain a variety of acids common to lichens, such as stictic acid, desmethyl stictic acid, gyrophoric acid, tenuiorin, constictic acid, norstictic acid, peristictic acid, and methylnorstictic acid. These compounds, collectively known as depsidones, are known to be involved in defense against grazing herbivores like lichen-feeding molluscs. It also contains the sugar alcohols D-arabitol, volemitol, in addition to several carotenoids (total content > 10 mg/kg), such as alpha carotene, beta carotene, and beta cryptoxanthin. The upper cortex of the lichen contains melanins that screen UV and PAR radiation from the photobiont. The synthesis of melanin pigments in the lichen increases in response to greater solar irradiation,  and shade-adapted thalli are greenish-grey in the air-dry state, while sun-exposed thalli can be dark brown in color. This adaptation helps protect the photosymbiont D. reticulata, known to be relatively intolerant to high light levels.

Also known to be present are various steroids, namely ergosterol, episterol, fecosterol and lichesterol.

Medicinal  Uses:
Its shape somewhat resembles the tissue inside lungs and therefore it is thought to be a remedy for lung diseases based on the doctrine of signatures. The lichen’s common English names are derived from this association. Gerard’s book The Herball or General Historie of plants (1597) recommends L. pulmonaria as medicinally valuable. It is still used for asthma, urinary incontinence and lack of appetite. In India it is used as a traditional medicine to treat hemorrhages and eczema, and it is used as a remedy for coughing up blood by the Hesquiaht in British Columbia, Canada. An ethnophytotherapeutical survey of the high Molise region in central-southern Italy revealed that L. pulmonaria is used as an antiseptic, and is rubbed on wounds.

A hot-water extract prepared using this species has been shown to have anti-inflammatory and ulcer-preventing activities. Also, methanol extracts were shown to have a protective effect on the gastrointestinal system of rats, possibly by reducing oxidative stress and reducing the inflammatory effects of neutrophils. Furthermore, methanol extracts also have potent antioxidative activity and reducing power, probably due to the presence of phenolic compounds.

Tree lungwort has expectorant and tonic properties. This helps to clear congested mucus and at the same time increases appetite.In a decoction sweetened with honey, it is appropriate for all conditions that are marked by chronic respiratory mucus, especially coughs and bronchitis.  The plant also treats asthma, pleurisy, and emphysema.  Being astringent and demulcent, tree lungwort makes a useful treatment for pulmonary ulcers as well as for a variety of gastrointestinal problems.  It is a highly suitable herb for treating ailments in children.

Other uses:
L. pulmonaria has also been used to produce an orange dye for wool, in the tanning of leather, in the manufacture of perfumes and as an ingredient in brewing

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/Lobaria_pulmonaria
http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_RST.htm

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Some Health Quaries & Answers

Touch the Grass


Q: I am 23 years old and have been reading a lot about exercising bare foot. I want to give it a try.

A: Barefoot running has really caught on. In fact, there is even a special barefoot shoe, which is similar to a glove. If you plan to run or walk long distances barefoot, make sure you do it on grass or soft soil. Tarred and cement roads or tracks with stones will hurt your feet. Also, make sure you acclimatise and harden your soles by doing short runs or walks at first. Running barefoot on the treadmill or skipping rope without shoes is, however, not a good idea.

Pee pain

Q: My 9-month-old son strains to pass urine. His face turns red and he cries every time.

A: Check to see if his foreskin balloons out when he urinates. If that happens it means that the skin around the meatus (hole through which the urine comes out) is tight. You need to consult a paediatric surgeon. They can dilate it. Otherwise they might suggest a small operation called a circumcision.

Sometimes children may strain to urinate owing to posterior valves in the urinary bladder, which obstruct the free flow of urine. Both the conditions need evaluation, diagnosis and surgical correction. So consult your doctor immediately.

Acne farewell

Q: I am being treated for acne and want to know if I can continue with the treatment after marriage.

A: Stop the treatment if you think that you might become pregnant soon after the marriage. Small quantities of products you apply on the skin can get absorbed and affect the foetus. Many common over-the-counter acne treatments contain benzoyl peroxide retinoids, minocycline and tetracyclines, all of which can potentially cause birth defects and need to be avoided during pregnancy.

Here are some safe, non medical ways to control acne:-

Wash your face using a wash cloth 3-4 times a day.

Do not apply talcum powder or greasy make up.

Shampoo your hair regularly.

Keep hair off the face.

Avoid picking and scratching acne

Bow legs


Q: My daughter is three years old and bow-legged. It looks awkward and we are worried that the deformity will persist and cause problems when she is an adult.

A: Children are normally born bow-legged. It may be more obvious in some than in others. It usually gets corrected by the age of 5-6. If the legs are curved more than normal, it may be due to rickets (a consequence of vitamin D deficiency), or Blount’s disease. It is better to have your paediatrician evaluate the child.

Prostrate trouble


Q: My father gets up several times in the night to go to the loo, where he spends a lot of time as he says the urine does not flow freely.

A: Your father needs to be evaluated for an enlarged prostrate. It seems the likely diagnosis as he is complaining of “an obstructed feeling”. Benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH) or prostatic growth begins at approximately 30. Around 50 per cent of men have evidence of BPH by age 50 and 75 per cent by 80. It can usually be tackled with medication. However, you need to do scans and a blood test called PSA (prostate specific antigen) to rule out cancer. Appropriate treatment can be provided by a urologist.

Leg ache


Q: I develop a shooting pain down the back of my leg when I move suddenly. The doctor said it is sciatica and that I need surgery.

A: Sciatica is a generic term that describes a set of symptoms like tingling, pain or numbness in one leg. It is due to compression of one or more of the nerves coming out of the spinal cord. This may be due to the collapse of the lumbar vertebrae or herniation of the discs in between the bones. It needs to be evaluated with a CT scan or an MRI. If the symptoms are mild and there is no actual muscle wasting, traction and exercise can be tried. If the herniation is severe, surgery may be required.

Milk allergy


Q: My 6-month-old son had such a bad bout of diarrhoea that he lost a kilo. The paediatrician said he is allergic to cow’s milk and asked me to give him soya milk. I tried but my son does not like the taste. Can I use Nan or Lactogen instead? I have no milk so he has been on cow’s milk since birth.

A: Nan, Lactogen and other baby formulae are made by processing cow’s milk. So if your son is allergic to cow’s milk, he will be allergic to these tinned products also. Since your son is six months old, in addition to soya milk, you can start giving him solid food. You can give khichdi, potatoes, carrots, idlies and bananas. The ready-to-serve weaning foods available in packets and tins often contain milk powder so they are better avoided. If you want to use them, check the packaging label.

Source : The Telegraph ( Kolkata, India)

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Trillium sessile

Botanical Name : Trillium sessile
Family: Melanthiaceae
Genus: Trillium
Species: T. sessile
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Liliales

Common Names:Toadshade or Sessile-flowered wake-robin

Habitat : Trillium sessile is  native to the central part of the eastern United States and the Ozarks.

Description:
Trillium sessile is a small trillium (rarely over 9 cm tall). Toadshade can be distinguished from other trilliums by its single foul smelling, stalkless, flower nestled in the middle of its three leaves. The three maroon petals, maintain a “closed” posture throughout its presence, the petals are occasionally pale green. The leaves are sometimes, but not always mottled with shades of light and dark green. Its species name comes from the Latin word sessilis which means low sitting, and refers to its stalkless flower.

Trillium sessile is most common in rich moist woods but also can be found in rich forests, limestone woods, flood plains, along fence rows. It is persistent under light pasturing. The foul smelling flowers attract its primary pollinators, flies and beetles. The flowers are present from April-June. This plant is clump forming from a thick rhizome. The above ground parts of the plant die back by mid-summer, but may persist longer in areas that do not completely dry out.


Edible Uses:
Though some accounts indicate that the cooked greens of this plant may be edible as an emergency food, however the entire plant, and especially the root is known to induce vomiting.

Medicinal Uses:
Trillium sessile has been used medicinally to treat tumors.It is sometimes cited as having been used as a poultice for boils and as a panacea-like decoction, but this is doubtful as it is attributed to Native American tribes (the Yuki and Wailaki) of California, where this plant is not known to occur.

A poultice of the bruised leaves and crushed roots has been applied as a treatment for boils.  A decoction of the plant has been used to treat any kind of sickness.  American Indians used this plant as an effective eye medicine. They either squeezed the juice directly onto their eyes or soaked the root and made an eye wash out of it.  Indians also used the roots to ease the pain of childbirth

Other Uses:
This plant is sometimes used in woodland wildflower gardens. Like many trilliums, T. sessile often does not transplant successfully from the wild.

Known Hazards:The fruits are considered a suspected poison.Toadshade is listed as state threatened in Michigan and state endangered in New York; both states are on the northern edge of its range.

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/Trillium_sessile
http://www.agreengarden.com/plants/trillium-sessile.asp
http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_RST.htm

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