Category Archives: Herbs & Plants

Rosemary

Botanical Name: Rosmarinus officinalis
Family: Lamiaceae
Genus: Rosmarinus
Species: R. officinalis
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Lamiales

Common Name: Rosemary

Habitat: Rosemary is native to Mediterranean region. Now it is growing in most places of the world.
Description:
Rosemary, is a woody, perennial herb with fragrant, evergreen, needle-like leaves and white, pink, purple, or blue flowers, native to the Mediterranean region. It is a member of the mint family Lamiaceae, which includes many other herbs. The name “rosemary” derives from the Latin for “dew” (ros) and “sea” (marinus), or “dew of the sea”. The plant is also sometimes called anthos, from the ancient Greek world, meaning “flower”. Rosemary has a fibrous root system.

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Rosemary leaves are similar to hemlock needles. The leaves are used as a flavoring in foods such as stuffings and roast lamb, pork, chicken and turkey. It is native to the Mediterranean and Asia, but is reasonably hardy in cool climates. It can withstand droughts, surviving a severe lack of water for lengthy periods. Forms range from upright to trailing; the upright forms can reach 1.5 m (5 ft) tall, rarely 2 m (6 ft 7 in). The leaves are evergreen, 2–4 cm (0.8–1.6 in) long and 2–5 mm broad, green above, and white below, with dense, short, woolly hair. The plant flowers in spring and summer in temperate climates, but the plants can be in constant bloom in warm climates; flowers are white, pink, purple or deep blue. Rosemary also has a tendency to flower outside its normal flowering season; it has been known to flower as late as early December, and as early as mid-February.

Cultivation:
Since it is attractive and drought-tolerant, rosemary is used as an ornamental plant in gardens and for xeriscape landscaping, especially in regions of Mediterranean climate. It is considered easy to grow and pest-resistant. Rosemary can grow quite large and retain attractiveness for many years, can be pruned into formal shapes and low hedges, and has been used for topiary. It is easily grown in pots. The groundcover cultivars spread widely, with a dense and durable texture.

Rosemary grows on friable loam soil with good drainage in an open, sunny position. It will not withstand waterlogging and some varieties are susceptible to frost. It grows best in neutral to alkaline conditions (pH 7–7.8) with average fertility. It can be propagated from an existing plant by clipping a shoot (from a soft new growth) 10–15 cm (4–6 in) long, stripping a few leaves from the bottom, and planting it directly into soil

Edible Uses:
The leaves are used to flavor various foods, such as stuffings and roast meats. Fresh or dried leaves are used in traditional Italian cuisine. They have a bitter, astringent taste and a characteristic aroma which complements many cooked foods. Herbal tea can be made from the leaves. When roasted with meats or vegetables, the leaves impart a mustard-like aroma with an additional fragrance of charred wood compatible with barbecued foods.

In amounts typically used to flavor foods, such as one teaspoon (1 gram), rosemary provides no nutritional value. Rosemary extract has been shown to improve the shelf life and heat stability of omega 3-rich oils which are prone to rancidity.

Meditional Uses:
Rosemary contains substances that are useful for stimulating the immune system, increasing circulation, and improving digestion. Rosemary also contains anti-inflammatory compounds that may make it useful for reducing the severity of asthma attacks. In addition, rosemary has been shown to increase the blood flow to the head and brain, improving concentration.

Phytochemicals and traditional medicine:
Rosemary contains a number of phytochemicals, including rosmarinic acid, camphor, caffeic acid, ursolic acid, betulinic acid, and the antioxidants carnosic acid and carnosol.

In traditional medicine of India, extracts and essential oil from flowers and leaves are used to treat a variety of disorders.

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Other Uses:
Rosemary is used as a decorative plant in gardens where it may have pest control effects.

Folklore and customs:
In the Middle Ages, rosemary was associated with wedding ceremonies. The bride would wear a rosemary headpiece and the groom and wedding guests would all wear a sprig of rosemary. From this association with weddings, rosemary was thought to be a love charm.

In myths, rosemary has a reputation for improving memory and has been used as a symbol for remembrance during war commemorations and funerals in Europe and Australia. Mourners would throw it into graves as a symbol of remembrance for the dead. In Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Ophelia says, “There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance.” (Hamlet, iv. 5.) In Australia, sprigs of rosemary are worn on ANZAC Day and sometimes Remembrance Day to signify remembrance; the herb grows wild on the Gallipoli Peninsula.

Hungary water was first prepared for the Queen of Hungary Elisabeth of Poland to ” … renovate vitality of paralyzed limbs … ” and to treat gout. It was used externally and prepared by mixing fresh rosemary tops into spirits of wine. Don Quixote (Part One, Chapter XVII) mixes it in his recipe of the miraculous balm of Fierabras.

Mythology:
According to legend, it was draped around the Greek goddess Aphrodite when she rose from the sea, born of Uranus’s semen. The Virgin Mary is said to have spread her blue cloak over a white-blossomed rosemary bush when she was resting, and the flowers turned blue. The shrub then became known as the “Rose of Mary”

Known hazards:
The essential oil of rosemary is potent and should be avoided by pregnant and breastfeeding women. The oil may cause severe adverse effects including seizures when taken internally and may irritate the skin when applied externally.
Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Resources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rosemary
http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=75
http://www.kew.org/science-conservation/plants-fungi/rosmarinus-officinalis-rosemary

Thaumatococcus daniellii

Botanical Name: Thaumatococcus daniellii
Family:    Marantaceae
Genus:    Thaumatococcus
Kingdom:    Plantae
Order: Zingiberales

Synonyms:  Phrynium daniellii

Common names: Miracle fruit (but the unrelated species Synsepalum dulcificum is better known by that name) and miracle berry, Katamfe or Katempfe, Yoruba soft cane, and African serendipity berry.

Habitat: Thaumatococcus daniellii  is  native to the rainforests of western Africa from Sierra Leone to Zaire. It is also an introduced species in Australia and Singapore.

Description:
Thaumatococcus daniellii is a rhizomatous, perennial herb, up to 3-3.5 m high.  It  has large, papery leaves up to 46 centimeters long and 40 cm wide, arise singly from each node of the rhizome. Inflorescences are single or simply branched spikes’ and emerge from the lowest node.  It bears pale purple flowers and a soft fruit containing a few shiny black seeds. In its native range,the fruit is fleshy, trigonal in shape and matures to a dark red/brown colour when fully ripe. At maturity each fruit contains three black, extremely hard seeds. The seeds are enveloped by a sticky thin, pale yellow basal aril, which contains the sweetening protein, thaumatin.
CLICK &  SEE THE PICTURES
Varieties:
Thaumatococcus daniellii var. daniellii – western + central Africa from Sierra Leone to Zaire
Thaumatococcus daniellii var. puberulifolius Dhetchuvi & Diafouka – central Africa (Zaire, Gabon, Congo-Brazzaville, Cameroon, Central African Republic)

Edible Uses:
Fruit: The most popular use of T. daniellii is as sweetener. The aril contains a non-toxic, intensely sweet protein named thaumatin, which is at least 3000 times as sweet as sucrose. In West Africa, the aril is traditionally used for sweetening bread, over-fermented palm-wine and sour food. When the seeds are chewed, for up to an hour afterwards they cause sour materials eaten or drunk to taste very sweet. Since the mid-1990s, thaumatin is used as sweetener and flavour enhancer by the food and confectionary industry. Substituting synthetic sweeteners, it is used as a non-caloric natural sweetener. Thaumatin is not a carbohydrate thus it is an ideal sweetener for diabetics.

The seeds of T. daniellii also produce a jelly that swells to 10 times its own weight and hence provides a substitute for agar.

Medicinal Uses:
Thaumatococcus  daniellii is also used in traditional medicinal uses in the Ivory Coast and Congo. The fruit is used as a laxative and the seed as an emetic and for pulmonary problems.
In traditional medicinal use the leaf sap is used as antidote against venoms, stings and bites. Leaf and root sap are used as sedative and for treating insanity.

Other Uses:
In West Africa, T. daniellii is mostly cultivated for the leaves. The lamina of the leaves is used for wrapping foods. The petiole is used to weave mats and as tools and building materials. The entire leaf is also used for roofing.
Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Resources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thaumatococcus_daniellii

Synsepalum dulcificum

Botanical Name: Synsepalum dulcificum
Family: Sapotaceae
Genus: Synsepalum
Species: S. dulcificum
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Ericales

Common Names:  Miracle fruit, Miracle berry, Miraculous berry, Sweet berry, and in West Africa, where the species originates, Agbayun, Taami, Asaa, and Ledidi.

Habitat: Synsepalum dulcificum is native to West Africa. When European explorer the Chevalier des Marchais provided an account of its use there. Marchais, who was searching West Africa for many different fruits in a 1725 excursion, noticed that local people picked the berry from shrubs and chewed it before meals.
Description:
Synsepalum dulcificum is a shrub that grows between 6 to 15 feet in height and has dense foliage. Its leaves are 5–10 cm long, 2-3.7 cm wide and glabrous below. They are clustered at the ends of the branchlets. The flowers are brown. It carries red, 2 cm long fruits. Each fruit contains one seed……..CLICK & SEE
The fruit or the berry when eaten, causes sour foods (such as lemons and limes) subsequently consumed to taste sweet. This effect is due to miraculin.

The berry itself has a low sugar content and a mildly sweet tang. It contains a glycoprotein molecule, with some trailing carbohydrate chains, called miraculin. When the fleshy part of the fruit is eaten, this molecule binds to the tongue’s taste buds, causing sour foods to taste sweet. At neutral pH, miraculin binds and blocks the receptors, but at low pH (resulting from ingestion of sour foods) miraculin binds protons and becomes able to activate the sweet receptors, resulting in the perception of sweet taste. This effect lasts until the protein is washed away by saliva (up to about 60 minutes).

The names miracle fruit and miracle berry are shared by Gymnema sylvestre and Thaumatococcus daniellii, which are two other species of plant used to alter the perceived sweetness of foods.
Cultivation:
The plant grows best in soils with a pH as low as 4.5 to 5.8, in an environment free from frost and in partial shade with high humidity. It is tolerant of drought, full sunshine and slopes.[4]
The seeds need 14 to 21 days to germinate. A spacing of 4 m between plants is suggested.
The plants first bear fruit after growing for approximately 3–4 years, and produce two crops per year, after the end of the rainy season. This evergreen plant produces small, red berries, while white flowers are produced for many months of the year.The seeds are about the size of coffee beans.In Africa, leaves are attacked by lepidopterous larvae, and fruits are infested with larvae of fruit-flies. The fungus Rigidoporus microporus has been found on this plant. Miraculin is now being produced by transgenic tomato plants.

Edible Uses:
In tropical West Africa, where this species originates, the fruit pulp is used to sweeten palm wine. Historically, it was also used to improve the flavor of soured cornbread.The Miracle berry has a very unusual effect when the fruit is absorbed over the tongue. It makes food and drinks which normally taste sour or bitter, taste sweet. The sweet taste is similar to that of artificial sweeteners. If you chew the fruit, and then eat a lemon, it will not taste sour at all, it actually tastes like lemonade. Sour2Sweet.com is our preferred Miracle Fruit vendor

Medicinal Uses:
Attempts have been made to create a commercial sweetener from the fruit, with an idea of developing this for patients with diabetes. Fruit cultivators also report a small demand from cancer patients, because the fruit allegedly counteracts a metallic taste in the mouth that may be one of the many side effects of chemotherapy. This claim has not been researched scientifically, though in late 2008, an oncologist at Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami, Florida, began a study, and by March 2009, had filed an investigational new drug application with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

In Japan, miracle fruit is popular among patients with diabetes and dieters.

The shelf life of the fresh fruit is only 2–3 days. Because miraculin is denatured by heating, the pulp must be preserved without heating for commercial use. Freeze-dried pulp is available in granules or in tablets, and has a shelf life of 10 to 18 months.

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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/Synsepalum_dulcificum
http://www.synsepalumdulcificum.net/

Carrot

 

Botanical Name: Daucus carota
Family: Apiaceae
Genus: Daucus
Species: D. carota
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Apiales

Common Name: Carrot

Habitat : Carrot is native to Europe and southwestern Asia. The domestic carrot has been selectively bred for its greatly enlarged and more palatable, less woody-textured edible taproot. The wild ancestors of the carrot are likely to have come from Persia (regions of which are now Iran and Afghanistan), which remain the centre of diversity of Daucus carota, the wild carrot. A naturally occurring subspecies of the wild carrot, Daucus carota subsp. sativus, has been selectively bred over the centuries to reduce bitterness, increase sweetness and minimise the woody core. This has produced the familiar garden vegetable

Description:
Daucus carota is a biennial plant that grows a rosette of leaves in the spring and summer, while building up the stout taproot that stores large amounts of sugars for the plant to flower in the second year….CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES

Soon after germination, carrot seedlings show a distinct demarcation between the taproot and the hypocotyl. The latter is thicker and lacks lateral roots. At the upper end of the hypocotyl is the seed leaf. The first true leaf appears about 10–15 days after germination. Subsequent leaves, produced from the stem nodes, are alternating (with a single leaf attached to a node, and the leaves growing in alternate directions) and compound, and arranged in a spiral. The leaf blades are pinnate. As the plant grows, the bases of the cotyledon are pushed apart. The stem, located just above the ground, is compressed and the internodes are not distinct. When the seed stalk elongates, the tip of the stem narrows and becomes pointed, extends upward, and becomes a highly branched inflorescence. The stems grow to 60–200 cm (20–80 in) tall.

Most of the taproot consists of parenchymatous outer cortex (phloem) and an inner core (xylem). High-quality carrots have a large proportion of cortex compared to core. Although a completely xylem-free carrot is not possible, some cultivars have small and deeply pigmented cores; the taproot can appear to lack a core when the colour of the cortex and core are similar in intensity. Taproots typically have a conical shape, although cylindrical and round cultivars are available. The root diameter can range from 1 cm (0.4 in) to as much as 10 cm (4 in) at the widest part. The root length ranges from 5 to 50 cm (2.0 to 19.7 in), although most are between 10 and 25 cm (4 and 10 in)

Flower development begins when the flat apical meristem changes from producing leaves to an uplifted conical meristem capable of producing stem elongation and an inflorescence. The inflorescence is a compound umbel, and each umbel contains several umbellets. The first (primary) umbel occurs at the end of the main floral stem; smaller secondary umbels grow from the main branch, and these further branch into third, fourth, and even later-flowering umbels. A large primary umbel can contain up to 50 umbellets, each of which may have as many as 50 flowers; subsequent umbels have fewer flowers. Flowers are small and white, sometimes with a light green or yellow tint. They consist of five petals, five stamens, and an entire calyx. The anthers usually dehisce and the stamens fall off before the stigma becomes receptive to receive pollen. The anthers of the brown male sterile flowers degenerate and shrivel before anthesis. In the other type of male sterile flower, the stamens are replaced by petals, and these petals do not fall off. A nectar-containing disc is present on the upper surface of the carpels.

CLICK & SEE CARROT FLOWER

Flower development is protandrous, so the anthers release their pollen before the stigma of the same flower is receptive. The arrangement is centripetal, meaning the oldest flowers are near the edge and the youngest flowers are in the center. Flowers usually first open at the periphery of the primary umbel, followed about a week later on the secondary umbels, and then in subsequent weeks in higher-order umbels. The usual flowering period of individual umbels is 7 to 10 days, so a plant can be in the process of flowering for 30–50 days. The distinctive umbels and floral nectaries attract pollinating insects. After fertilization and as seeds develop, the outer umbellets of an umbel bend inward causing the umbel shape to change from slightly convex or fairly flat to concave, and when cupped it resembles a bird’s nest.

The fruit that develops is a schizocarp consisting of two mericarps; each mericarp is an achene or true seed. The paired mericarps are easily separated when they are dry. Premature separation (shattering) before harvest is undesirable because it can result in seed loss. Mature seeds are flattened on the commissural side that faced the septum of the ovary. The flattened side has five longitudinal ribs. The bristly hairs that protrude from some ribs are usually removed by abrasion during milling and cleaning. Seeds also contain oil ducts and canals. Seeds vary somewhat in size, ranging from less than 500 to more than 1000 seeds per gram.

The carrot is a diploid species, and has nine relatively short, uniform-length chromosomes (2n=9). The genome size is estimated to be 473 mega base pairs, which is four times larger than Arabidopsis thaliana, one-fifth the size of the maize genome, and about the same size as the rice genome.

Cultivation:
Carrots are grown from seed and take around four months to mature. They grow best in full sun but tolerate some shade. The optimum growth temperature is between 16 and 21 °C (61 and 70 °F).(click & see the seedling germination)  The ideal soil is deep, loose and well-drained, sandy or loamy and with a pH of 6.3 to 6.8. Fertiliser should be applied according to soil type and the crop requires low levels of nitrogen, moderate phosphate and high potash. Rich soils should be avoided, as these will cause the roots to become hairy and misshapen. Irrigation should be applied when needed to keep the soil moist and the crop should be thinned as necessary and kept weed free…..click & see
Edible Uses:
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) reports that world production of carrots and turnips (these plants are combined by the FAO for reporting purposes) for calendar year 2011 was almost 35.658 million tonnes. Almost half were grown in China. Carrots are widely used in many cuisines, especially in the preparation of salads, and carrot salads are a tradition in many regional cuisines.

Carrots can be eaten in a variety of ways. Only 3 percent of the -carotene in raw carrots is released during digestion: this can be improved to 39% by pulping, cooking and adding cooking oil. Alternatively they may be chopped and boiled, fried or steamed, and cooked in soups and stews, as well as baby and pet foods. A well-known dish is carrots julienne. Together with onion and celery, carrots are one of the primary vegetables used in a mirepoix to make various broths.

The greens are edible as a leaf vegetable, but are only occasionally eaten by humans; some sources suggest that the greens contain toxic alkaloids. When used for this purpose, they are harvested young in high-density plantings, before significant root development, and typically used stir-fried, or in salads.

In India carrots are used in a variety of ways, as salads or as vegetables added to spicy rice or dal dishes. A popular variation in north India is the Gajar Ka Halwa carrot dessert, which has carrots grated and cooked in milk until the whole mixture is solid, after which nuts and butter are added. Carrot salads are usually made with grated carrots with a seasoning of mustard seeds and green chillies popped in hot oil. Carrots can also be cut in thin strips and added to rice, can form part of a dish of mixed roast vegetables or can be blended with tamarind to make chutney.

Since the late 1980s, baby carrots or mini-carrots (carrots that have been peeled and cut into uniform cylinders) have been a popular ready-to-eat snack food available in many supermarkets. Carrots are puréed and used as baby food, dehydrated to make chips, flakes, and powder, and thinly sliced and deep-fried, like potato chips.

The sweetness of carrots allows the vegetable to be used in some fruit-like roles. Grated carrots are used in carrot cakes, as well as carrot puddings, an English dish thought to have originated in the early 19th century. Carrots can also be used alone or with fruits in jam and preserves. Carrot juice is also widely marketed, especially as a health drink, either stand-alone or blended with fruits and other vegetables.

Neutricinal Value of Carrot:
The medicine of the future will no longer be remedial, it will be preventive; not based on drugs but on the best diet for health. Always remember carrots nourish they do not heal. If the body has the ability to heal itself, it will use the raw materials found in foods to do its own healing work. Herbs do not heal, they feed. Herbs do not force the body to maintain and repair itself. They simply support the body in these natural functions.

Meditional Uses:
Carrots nourish they do not heal. If the body has the ability to heal itself, it will use the raw materials found in foods to do its own healing work. Herbs do not heal, they feed. Herbs do not force the body to maintain and repair itself. They simply support the body in these natural functions.

Carrots are credited with many medicinal properties; they are said to cleanse the intestines and to be diuretic, remineralizing, antidiarrheal, an overall tonic and antianemic. Carrot is rich in alkaline elements which purify and revitalize the blood. They nourish the entire system and help in the maintenance of acid-alkaline balance in the body. The carrot also has a reputation as a vegetable that helps to maintain good eyesight.

Raw grated carrot can be applied as a compress to burns for a soothing effect. Its highly energizing juice has a particularly beneficial effect on the liver.

An infusion of carrot seeds (1 teaspoon per cup of boiling water) is believed to be diuretic, to stimulate the appetite, reduce colic, aid fluid retention and help alleviate menstrual cramps. The dried flowers are also used as a tea as a remedy for dropsy. Taken in wine, or boiled in wine and taken, the seeds help conception. Strangely enough the seeds made into a tea have been used for centuries as a contraceptive. Applied with honey, the leaves cleanse running sores or ulcers. Carrots are also supposed to help break wind and remove stitches in the side. Chewing a carrot immediately after food kills all the harmful germs in the mouth. It cleans the teeth, removes the food particles lodged in the crevices and prevents bleeding of the gums and tooth decay. Carrot soup is supposed to relieve diarrhoea and help with tonsillitis.

In days gone by they grated raw carrot and gave it to children to expel worms. Pulped carrot is used as a cataplasm for application to ulcers and sores. They were also supposed to improve your memory abilities and relieve nervous tension. An Old English superstition is that the small purple flower in the centre of the Wild Carrot (Queen Annes Lace) was of benefit in curing epilepsy.

Queen Annes Lace (the Wild Carrot) was also considered toxic. The leaves contain furocoumarins that may cause allergic contact dermatitis from the leaves, especially when wet. Later exposure to the sun may cause mild photodermatitis. Wild Carrot seed is also an early abortifacient, historically, sometimes used as a natural “morning after” contraceptive tea. Queen Annes Lace has long been used because of its contraceptive properties. It has since been scientifically proven that the carrot seed extract, if given orally at the correct dosage from day 4 to 6 post-coitum, effectively inhibits implantation.

As the carrot was improved it found its way into medicine chests as well as stew pots. Both Gerard and Culpeper recommend the carrot for numerous ills. Culpeper says that the carrot is influenced by Mercury, the god of wind, and that a tea made from the dried leaves should dispel wind from the bowels and relieve dropsy, kidney stones, and women’s complaints.

Experimentally hypoglycemic, a tea made from Queen Annes Lace was believed to help maintain low blood sugar levels in humans, but it had no effect on diabetes artificially induced in animals. Wild carrot tea has been recommended for bladder and kidney ailment, dropsy, gout, gravel; seeds are recommended for calculus, obstructions of the viscera (internal organs), dropsy, jaundice, scurvy. Carrots of one form or another were once served at every meal for liver derangements; now we learn that they may upset the liver.

Medicinally the Carrot was used as a diuretic, stimulant, in the treatment of dropsy, flatulence, chronic coughs, dysentery, windy colic, chronic renal diseases and a host of other uses.Eating carrots is also good for allergies, aneamia, rheumatism, tonic for the nervous system. Everyone knows they can improve eye health; But it does not stop there the delicious carrot is good for diarrhoea, constipation (very high in fibre), intestinal inflammation, cleansing the blood (a liver tonic), an immune system tonic. Carrot is traditionally recommended to weak, sickly or rickety children, to convalescents or pregnant women, its anti-aneamic properties having been famous for a long time.

Tea made the seeds can promote the onset of menstruation. It is effective on skin problems including broken veins/capillaries, burns, creeping impetigo, wrinkles and sun damage. Carrots also help in stimulating milk flow during lactation. Believe it or not the carrot is also effective against roundworms and dandruff. Pureed carrots are good for babies with diarrhoea, providing essential nutrients and natural sugars.
Uses of carrot in Alternative Medicine:
The alternative medicine believers consider the carrot (the whole plant or its seeds) to have the following properties:

*Anthelmintic (destroying or expelling worms).
*Carminative (expelling flatulence).
*Contraceptive.
*Deobstruent.
*Diuretic (promoting the discharge of urine).
*Emmenagogue (producing oils which stimulate the flow of menstrual blood).
*Galactogogue (promoting the secretion of milk).
*Ophthalmic (pertaining to the eye).
*Stimulant.
*Oedema (water retention).
Known Hazards:
Some people are allergic to carrots. In a 2010 study on the prevalence of food allergies in Europe, 3.6 percent of young adults showed some degree of sensitivity to carrots. Because the major carrot allergen, the protein Dauc c 1.0104, is cross-reactive with homologues in birch pollen (Bet v 1) and mugwort pollen (Art v 1), most carrot allergy sufferers are also allergic to pollen from these plants.

Consumtion of excessive quantities, carrots can cause the skin to turn yellow; this phenomenon, which is called Carotenemia and caused by the carotene coEating carrots is also good for allergies, aneamia, rheumatism, tonic for the nervous system. Everyone knows they can improve eye health; But it does not stop there the delicious carrot is good for diarrhoea, constipation (very high in fibre), intestinal inflammation, cleansing the blood (a liver tonic), an immune system tonic. Carrot is traditionally recommended to weak, sickly or rickety children, to convalescents or pregnant women, its anti-aneamic properties having been famous for a long time.ntained in carrots, is frequently seen in young children but is not at all dangerous.

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

Resources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carrot
http://www.carrotmuseum.co.uk/nutrition3.html

Parsnip

Botanical Name: Pastinaca sativa
Family:Apiaceae
Genus:Pastinaca
Species:    P. sativa
Kingdom:    Plantae
Order:Apiales

Common Name :Parsnip

Habitat : Parsnip is native to Eurasia. It has been used as a vegetable since antiquity and was cultivated by the Romans, although there is some confusion in the literature of the time between parsnips and carrots. It was used as a sweetener before the arrival in Europe of cane sugar. It was introduced into the United States in the nineteenth century.

Description:
Parsnip is a biennial  plant with a rosette of roughly hairy leaves that has a pungent odor when crushed. The petioles are grooved and have sheathed bases. The leaves are once- or twice-pinnate with broad, ovate, sometimes lobed leaflets with toothed margins; they grow up to 40 cm (16 in) long. The flower stalk develops in the second year, growing to a height of 40 to 200 cm (20 to 80 in). It is hairy, grooved, hollow (except at the nodes), and sparsely branched. It has a few stalkless, single-lobed leaves measuring 5 to 10 cm (2 to 4 in) long that are arranged in opposite pairs. The yellow flowers are in a loose, compound umbel measuring 10 to 20 cm (4 to 8 in) in diameter. There are 6–25 straight pedicels, each measuring 2–5 cm (1–2 in) that support the umbellets (secondary umbels). The umbels and umbellets usually have no upper or lower bracts. The flowers have tiny sepals or lack them entirely, and measure about 3.5 mm. They consist of five yellow petals that are curled inward, five stamens, and one pistil. The fruits, or schizocarps, are oval and flat, with narrow wings and short, spreading styles. They are colored straw to light brown, and measure 4–8 mm long….click & see

Parsnip  is a biennial plant usually grown as an annual. Its long tuberous root has cream-colored skin and flesh and can be left in the ground when mature as it becomes sweeter in flavor after winter frosts. In its first growing season, the plant has a rosette of pinnate, mid-green leaves. If unharvested, it produces its flowering stem, topped by an umbel of small yellow flowers, in its second growing season. By this time the stem is woody and the tuber inedible. The seeds are pale brown, flat and winged.

Parsnips are grown for their fleshy, edible cream-colored taproots. The roots are generally smooth, although lateral roots sometimes form. Most are cylindrical, but some cultivars have a more bulbous shape, which generally tend to be favored by food processors as they are more resistant to breakage. The plant has a apical meristem that produces a rosette of pinnate leaves, each with several pairs of leaflets with toothed margins. The lower leaves have short stems, the upper ones are stemless, and the terminal leaves have three lobes. The highly branched floral stem is hollow and grooved, and can grow to more than 150 cm (60 in) tall.

Cultivation:
The wild parsnip from which the modern cultivated varieties were derived is a plant of dry rough grassland and waste places, particularly on chalk and limestone. Parsnips are biennials but are normally grown as annuals. Sandy and loamy soils are preferable to silt, clay and stony ground as the latter produce short, forked roots.. Parsnip seed significantly deteriorates in viability if stored for long. Seeds are usually planted in early spring, as soon as the ground can be worked to a fine tilth, in the position where the plants are to grow. The growing plants are thinned and kept weed free. Harvesting begins in late fall after the first frost, and continues through winter. The rows can be covered with straw to enable the crop to be lifted during frosty weather. Low soil temperatures cause some of the starches stored in the roots to be converted into sugars, giving them a sweeter taste.

Propagation :   
Seed – sow from late winter to late spring in situ. Seed can be slow to germinate, especially from the earlier sowings, it is best to mark the rows by sowing a few radishes with the parsnips. The seed has a short viability, very few will still be viable 15 months after harvesting

Edible Uses:
The parsnip is usually cooked but can also be eaten raw. It is high in vitamins and minerals, especially potassium. It also contains antioxidants and both soluble and insoluble dietary fiber.

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Parsnips resemble carrots and can be used in similar ways but they have a sweeter taste, especially when cooked. While parsnips can be eaten raw, they are more commonly served cooked. They can be baked, boiled, pureed, roasted, fried or steamed. When used in stews, soups and casseroles they give a rich flavor.  In some cases, the parsnip is boiled and the solid portions are removed from the soup or stew, leaving behind a more subtle flavor than the whole root, and starch to thicken the dish. Roast parsnip is considered an essential part of Christmas dinner in some parts of the English-speaking world and frequently features in the traditional Sunday Roast.  Parsnips can also be fried or thinly sliced and made into crisps. Parsnips can be made into a wine that has a taste similar to Madeira.

In Roman times, parsnips were believed to be an aphrodisiac.  However, parsnips do not typically feature in modern Italian cooking. Instead, they are fed to pigs, particularly those bred to make Parma ham.

Medicinal Uses:
In traditional Chinese medicine, the root of Chinese parsnip is used as a herbal medicine ingredient.

Poultice;  Women’s complaints.

A tea made from the roots has been used in the treatment of women’s complaints. A poultice of the roots has been applied to inflammations and sores. The root contains xanthotoxin, which is used in the treatment of psoriasis and vitiligo. Xanthotoxin is the substance that causes photosensitivity .

Other Uses:
Insecticide;  Repellent.

The leaves and roots are used to make an insect spray. Roughly chop the leaves and roots, put them in a basin with enough water to cover, leave them overnight then strain and use as an insecticide against aphids and red spider mite.

Known Hazards:
While the root of the parsnip is edible, handling the shoots and leaves of the plant requires caution as the sap is toxic.  Like many other members of the family Apiaceae, the parsnip contains furanocoumarin, a photosensitive chemical that causes a condition known as phytophotodermatitis.  The condition is a type of chemical burn rather than an allergic reaction, and is similar to the rash caused by poison ivy. Symptoms include redness, burning, and blisters. Afflicted areas can remain discolored for up to two years.  Although there have been some reports of gardeners experiencing toxic symptoms after coming into contact with foliage,  these have been small in number compared to the number of people that grow the crop. The problem is most likely to occur on a sunny day when gathering foliage or pulling up old plants that have gone to seed. The symptoms have mostly been mild to moderate.  The toxic properties of parsnip extracts are resistant to heating, or a storage period of several months. Toxic symptoms can also affect livestock and poultry in parts of their bodies where their skin is exposed.  Polyacetylenes can be found in Apiaceae vegetables such as parsnip, and they show cytotoxic activities  In sunlight, handling the stems and foliage can cause a skin rash…...click & see

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

Resources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parsnip
http://www.pfaf.org/user/plant.aspx?LatinName=Pastinaca+sativa

Ammi visnaga

Botanical Name: Ammi visnaga
Family:Apiaceae
Genus:Ammi
Species:A. visnaga
Kingdom: Plantae
Order:Apiales

Synonyms : Ammi dilatatum. Apium visnaga. Carum visnaga. Daucus visnaga.

Common names : Bisnaga, Toothpickweed, and Khella.

Habitat: Ammi visnaga is native to Europe, Asia, and North Africa, but it can be found throughout the world as an introduced species.It grows in fields and sandy places.
Description:
Ammi visnaga is an annual or biennial herb growing from a taproot erect to a maximum height near 80 centimeters. Leaves are up to 20 centimeters long and generally oval to triangular in shape but dissected into many small linear to lance-shaped segments. The inflorescence is a compound umbel of white flowers similar to those of other Apiaceae species. The fruit is a compressed oval-shaped body less than 3 millimeters long. This and other Ammi species are sources of khellin, a diuretic extract.

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It is in flower from Jul to September. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects.The plant is self-fertile.

Cultivation:
Prefers a well-drained soil in a sunny position, succeeding in ordinary garden soil. Tolerates a pH in the range 6.8 to 8.3. This species is not fully winter-hardy in the colder areas of Britain, though it should be possible to grow it as a spring-sown annual. This plant is sold as toothpicks in Egyptian markets.

Propagation: Seed – sow spring in situ. ( Sow under cover Feb-March in a seed tray, module or guttering. Sow direct March-May and/or August-September.)
Edible Uses: Leaves are chewed raw for their pleasant aromatic flavour

Chemical constituents:
Khellin, a chemical obtained from Ammi visnaga gives rose red color with KOH (solid) or NaOH & 2-3 drops of water, was used at one time as a smooth muscle relaxant, but its use is limited due to adverse side effects. Amiodarone and cromoglycate are derivates of khellin that are frequently used in modern medicine.

The chemical visnagin, which is found in A. visnaga, has biological activity in animal models as a vasodilator and reduces blood pressure by inhibiting calcium influx into the cell.
Medicinal Uses:
Antiarrhythmic; Antiasthmatic; Antispasmodic; Diuretic; Lithontripic; Vasodilator.

Visnaga is an effective muscle relaxant and has been used for centuries to alleviate the excruciating pain of kidney stones. Modern research has confirmed the validity of this traditional use. Visnagin contains khellin, from which particularly safe pharmaceutical drugs for the treatment of asthma have been made. The seeds are diuretic and lithontripic. They contain a fatty oil that includes the substance ‘khellin’. This has been shown to be of benefit in the treatment of asthma. Taken internally, the seeds have a strongly antispasmodic action on the smaller bronchial muscles, they also dilate the bronchial, urinary and blood vessels without affecting blood pressure. The affect last for about 6 hours and the plant has practically no side effects. The seeds are used in the treatment of asthma, angina, coronary arteriosclerosis and kidney stones. By relaxing the muscles of the urethra, visnaga reduces the pain caused by trapped kidney stones and helps ease the stone down into the bladder. The seeds are harvested in late summer before they have fully ripened and are dried for later use.
In Egypt, a tea made from the fruit of this species has been used as an herbal remedy for kidney stones. Laborarory rat studies show that the extract slows the buildup of calcium oxalate crystals in the kidneys and acts as a diuretic.

Other Uses: The fruiting pedicel is used as a toothpick whilst the seeds have been used as a tooth cleaner

Known Hazards : Skin contact with the sap is said to cause photo-sensitivity and/or dermatitis in some people. Avoid during pregnancy and lactation. Avoid if on warfarin or other blood thinning medication. Prolonged use may lead to: constipation, appetite loss, headaches, vertigo, nausea and vomiting
Resources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ammi_visnaga
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Ammi+visnaga
http://www.sarahraven.com/flowers/plants/cut_flower_seedlings/ammi_visnaga.htm

Ficus carica

Botanical Name: Ficus carica
Family:    Moraceae
Tribe:    Ficeae
Genus:    Ficus
Subgenus:Ficus
Species:    F. carica
Kingdom:    Plantae
Order:    Rosales

Common Name : Common fig  or simply  Fig

Habitat: Ficus carica is  native to the Middle East and western Asia, it has been sought out and cultivated since ancient times, and is now widely grown throughout the temperate world, both for its fruit and as an ornamental plant.

Description:
Ficus carica is a gynodioecious (functionally dioecious),deciduous tree or large shrub, growing to a height of  10.00 to 20.00 feet and Spread  10.00 to 20.00 feet with smooth white bark. Its fragrant leaves are 12–25 centimetres (4.7–9.8 in) long and 10–18 centimetres (3.9–7.1 in) across, and deeply lobed with three or five lobes. The complex inflorescence consists of a hollow fleshy structure called the syconium, which is lined with numerous unisexual flowers. The flower itself is not visible outwardly, as it blooms inside the infructescence. Although commonly referred to as a fruit, the fig is actually the infructescence or scion of the tree, known as a false fruit or multiple fruit, in which the flowers and seeds are borne. It is a hollow-ended stem containing many flowers. The small orifice (ostiole) visible on the middle of the fruit is a narrow passage, which allows the specialized fig wasp Blastophaga psenes to enter the fruit and pollinate the flower, whereafter the fruit grows seeds.  Fig pollination and fig fruit.

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Bloom Time: Seasonal bloomer
Bloom Description: Green
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Flower: Insignificant
Fruit: Showy, Edible

The edible fruit consists of the mature syconium containing numerous one-seeded fruits (druplets). The fruit is 3–5 centimetres (1.2–2.0 in) long, with a green skin, sometimes ripening towards purple or brown. Ficus carica has milky sap (laticifer). The sap of the fig’s green parts is an irritant to human skin.

Cultivation:
The common fig is grown for its edible fruit throughout the temperate world. It is also grown as an ornamental tree, and the cultivar ‘Brown Turkey’ has gained the Royal Horticultural Society‘s Award of Garden Merit.

Figs can be found in continental climates with hot summers as far north as Hungary and Moravia, and can be harvested up to four times per year. Thousands of cultivars, most named, have been developed as human migration brought the fig to many places outside its natural range.

Two crops of figs are potentially produced each year. The first or breba crop develops in the spring on last year’s shoot growth. In contrast, the main fig crop develops on the current year’s shoot growth and ripens in the late summer or fall. The main crop is generally superior in both quantity and quality to the breba crop. However, some cultivars produce good breba crops (e.g., ‘Black Mission’, ‘Croisic’, and ‘Ventura’).

There are basically three types of edible figs:
*Persistent (or common) figs have all female flowers that do not need pollination for fruiting; the fruit can develop through parthenocarpic means. This is a popular horticulture fig for home gardeners. Dottato (Kadota), Black Mission, Brown Turkey, Brunswick, and Celeste are some representative cultivars.

*Caducous (or Smyrna) figs require cross pollination by the fig wasp with pollen from caprifigs for the fruit to mature. If not pollinated the immature fruits drop. Some cultivars are Smyrne (Lob Incir in Turkey) – (Calimyrna in the Great Central Valley USA), Marabout, Inchàrio, and Zidi.

*Intermediate (or San Pedro) figs set an unpollinated breba crop, but need pollination for the later main crop. Examples are Lampeira, King, and San Pedro.
The fig likes dry sunny sites, the soil dry or drained. Excessive growth has to be limited to promote the fruiting. It thrives in both sandy and rocky soil. As the sun is really important it is better to avoid shades. Some varieties are more adapted to harsh and wet climates.

Propagation:
Figs plants are easy to propagate through several methods. Propagation using seeds is not the preferred method since vegetative methods exist that are quicker and more reliable, that is, they do not yield the inedible caprifigs. However, those desiring to can plant seeds of dried figs with moist sphagnum moss or other media in a zip lock bag and expect germination in a few weeks to several months. The tiny plants can be transplanted out little by little once the leaves open, and despite the tiny initial size can grow to 1 foot (30 cm) or more within one year from planting seeds.

Edible Uses:
Figs can be eaten fresh or dried, and used in jam-making. Most commercial production is in dried or otherwise processed forms, since the ripe fruit does not transport well, and once picked does not keep well. The widely produced fig newton or fig roll is a biscuit (cookie) with a filling made from figs.

Nutrition value and phytochemicals:
Dried figs are a rich source (> 20% of the Daily Value, DV) of dietary fiber and the essential mineral, manganese, while vitamin K and numerous other minerals are in moderate content (USDA, right table).

Figs contain diverse phytochemicals, including polyphenols such as gallic acid, chlorogenic acid, syringic acid, (+)-catechin, (?)-epicatechin and rutin

Medicinal Uses:
Ficus carica L. (Moraceae), its wide variety of chemical constituents, its use in traditional medicine as remedies for many health problems, and its biological activities. The plant has been used traditionally to treat various ailments such as gastric problems, inflammation, and cancer. Phytochemical studies on the leaves and fruits of the plant have shown that they are rich in phenolics, organic acids, and volatile compounds. However, there is little information on the phytochemicals present in the stem and root. Reports on the biological activities of the plant are mainly on its crude extracts which have been proven to possess many biological activities. Some of the most interesting therapeutic effects include anticancer, hepatoprotective, hypoglycemic, hypolipidemic, and antimicrobial activities. Thus, studies related to identification of the bioactive compounds and correlating them to their biological activities are very useful for further research to explore the potential of F. carica as a source of therapeutic agents.

Figs are used for their mild, laxative action, and are employed in the preparation of laxative confections and syrups, usually with senna and carminatives. It is considered that the laxative property resides in the saccharine juice of the fresh fruit and in the dried fruit is probably due to the indigestible seeds and skin. The three preparations of Fig of the British Pharmacopoeia are Syrup of Figs, a mild laxative, suitable for administration to children; Aromatie Syrup of Figs, Elixir of Figs, or Sweet Essence of Figs, an excellent laxative for children and delicate persons, is compounded of compound tincture of rhubarb, liquid extract of senna, compound spirit of orange, liquid extract of cascara and Syrup of Figs. The Compound Syrup of Figs is a stronger preparation, composed of liquid extract of senna, syrup of rhubarb and Syrup of Figs, and is more suitable for adults.

Figs are demulcent as well as nutritive. Demulcent decoctions are prepared from them and employed in the treatment of catarrhal affections of the nose and throat.

Roasted and split into two portions, the soft pulpy interior of Figs may be applied as emolient poultices to gumboils, dental abscesses and other circumscribed maturating tumours. They were used by Hezekiah as a remedy for boils 2,400 years ago (Isaiah xxxviii. 21).

The milky juice of the freshly-broken stalk of a Fig has been found to remove warts on the body. When applied, a slightly inflamed area appears round the wart, which then shrivels and falls off. The milky juice of the stems and leaves is very acrid and has been used in some countries for raising blisters.

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

Resources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_fig
http://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/PlantFinder/PlantFinderDetails.aspx?kempercode=c944
http://www.hindawi.com/journals/ecam/2013/974256/
http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/f/figcom12.html

Black Cohos

Botanical Name : Actaea racemosa
Family: Ranunculaceae
Genus: Actaea
Species: A. racemosa
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Ranunculales

Common Names: Black cohosh, Black bugbane, Black snakeroot, Fairy candle
Other Names: Actaea macrotys, Actaea racemosa, Actée à Grappes, Actée à Grappes Noires, Actée Noire, Aristolochiaceae Noire, Baie d’actée, Baneberry, Black Aristolochiaceae, Black Snakeroot, Bugbane, Bugwort, Cimicaire à Grappes, Cimicifuga

Habitat :Black cohosh  is native to eastern North America from the extreme south of Ontario to central Georgia, and west to Missouri and Arkansas. It grows in a variety of woodland habitats, and is often found in small woodland openings.

Description:
Black cohosh is a smooth (glabrous) herbaceous perennial plant that produces large, compound leaves from an underground rhizome, reaching a height of 25–60 centimetres (9.8–23.6 in). The basal leaves are up to 1 metre (3 ft 3 in) long and broad, forming repeated sets of three leaflets (tripinnately compound) having a coarsely toothed (serrated) margin. The flowers are produced in late spring and early summer on a tall stem, 75–250 centimetres (30–98 in) tall, forming racemes up to 50 centimetres (20 in) long. The flowers have no petals or sepals, and consist of tight clusters of 55-110 white, 5–10 mm long stamens surrounding a white stigma. The flowers have a distinctly sweet, fetid smell that attracts flies, gnats, and beetles. The fruit is a dry follicle 5–10 mm long, with one carpel, containing several seeds……..click & see the pictures of black cohos:

Do not confuse black cohosh with blue cohosh or white cohosh. These are unrelated plants. The blue and white cohosh plants do not have the same effects as black cohosh, and may not be safe.

Cultivation:
Black cohosh grows in dependably moist, fairly heavy soil. It bears tall tapering racemes of white midsummer flowers on wiry black-purple stems, whose mildly unpleasant, medicinal smell at close range gives it the common name “Bugbane”. The drying seed heads stay handsome in the garden for many weeks. Its deeply cut leaves, burgundy colored in the variety “atropurpurea”, add interest to gardens, wherever summer heat and drought do not make it die back, which make it a popular garden perennial. It has gained the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit

Edible Uses:
Black cohosh is used today mainly as a dietary supplement marketed to women as remedies for the symptoms of premenstrual tension, menopause and other gynecological problems. Recent meta-analysis of contemporary evidence supports these claims.  Study design and dosage of black cohosh preparations play a role in clinical outcome,  and recent investigations with pure compounds found in black cohosh have identified some beneficial effects of these compounds on physiological pathways underlying age-related disorders like osteoporosis.

Medicinal Uses:
The root of black cohosh is used for medicinal purposes. Black cohosh root contains several chemicals that might have effects in the body. Some of these chemicals work on the immune system and might affect the body’s defenses against diseases. Some might help the body to reduce inflammation. Other chemicals in black cohosh root might work in nerves and in the brain. These chemicals might work similar to another chemical in the brain called serotonin. Scientists call this type of chemical a neurotransmitter because it helps the brain send messages to other parts of the body.

Black cohosh root also seems to have some effects similar to the female hormone, estrogen. In some parts of the body, black cohosh might increase the effects of estrogen. In other parts of the body, black cohosh might decrease the effects of estrogen. Estrogen itself has various effects in different parts of the body. Estrogen also has different effects in people at different stages of life. Black cohosh should not be thought of as an “herbal estrogen” or a substitute for estrogen. It is more accurate to think of it as an herb that acts similar to estrogen in some people.

Native Americans used black cohosh to treat gynecological and other disorders, including sore throats, kidney problems, and depression.   Following the arrival of European settlers in the U.S. who continued the medicinal usage of black cohosh, the plant appeared in the U.S. Pharmacopoeia in 1830 under the name “black snakeroot”. In 1844 A. racemosa gained popularity when Dr. John King, an eclectic physician, used it to treat rheumatism and nervous disorders. Other eclectic physicians of the mid-nineteenth century used black cohosh for a variety of maladies, including endometritis, amenorrhea, dysmenorrhea, menorrhagia, sterility, severe after-birth pains, and for increased breast milk production.

Side effects:
According to Cancer Research UK: “Doctors are worried that using black cohosh long term may cause thickening of the womb lining. This could lead to an increased risk of womb cancer.” They also caution that people with liver problems should not take it as it can damage the liver, although a 2011 meta-analysis of research evidence suggested this concern may be unfounded.

Studies on human subjects who were administered two commercially available black cohosh preparations did not detect estrogenic effects on the breast.

No studies exist on long-term safety of black cohosh use in humans.  In a transgenic mouse model of cancer, black cohosh did not increase incidence of primary breast cancer, but increased metastasis of pre-existing breast cancer to the lungs.

Liver damage has been reported in a few individuals using black cohosh,  but many women have taken the herb without reporting adverse health effects,  and a meta-analysis of several well-controlled clinical trials found no evidence that black cohosh preparations have any adverse effect on liver function.  Although evidence for a link between black cohosh and liver damage is not conclusive, Australia has added a warning to the label of all black cohosh-containing products, stating that it may cause harm to the liver in some individuals and should not be used without medical supervision.  Other studies conclude that liver damage from use of black cohosh is unlikely,  and that the main concern over its safe use is lack of proper authentication of plant materials and adulteration of commercial preparations with other plant species.

Reported direct side-effects also include dizziness, headaches, and seizures; diarrhea; nausea and vomiting; sweating; constipation; low blood pressure and slow heartbeats; and weight problems.

Because the vast majority of black cohosh materials are harvested from plants growing in the wild,  a recurring concern regarding the safety of black cohosh-containing dietary supplements is mis-identification of plants causing unintentional mixing-in (adulteration) of potentially harmful materials from other plant sources.

Bioactive compounds:
Like most plants, black cohosh tissues and organs contain many organic compounds with biological activity.  Estrogen-like compounds had originally been implicated in effects of black cohosh extracts on vasomotor symptoms in menopausal women. Several other studies, however, have indicated absence of estrogenic effects  and compounds  in black cohosh-containing materials. Recent findings suggest that some of the clinically relevant physiological effects of black cohosh may be due to compounds that bind and activate serotonin receptors,  and a derivative of serotonin with high affinity to serotonin receptors, N?-methylserotonin, has been identified in black cohosh. Complex biological molecules, such as triterpene glycosides (e.g. cycloartanes), have been shown to reduce cytokine-induced bone loss (osteoporosis) by blocking osteoclastogenesis in in vitro and in vivo models. 23-O-acetylshengmanol-3-O-?-d-xylopyranoside, a cycloartane glycoside from Actaea racemosa, has been identified as a novel efficacious modulator of GABAA receptors with sedative activity in mice

Click & see:..> Fact sheet of Black Cohos

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

Resources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Actaea_racemosa
http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-857-black%20cohosh.aspx?activeingredientid=857&activeingredientname=black%20cohosh

Chamomile

Botanical Name: Matricaria chamomilla
Family: Asteraceae
Tribe: Anthemideae
Genus: Matricaria
Species: M. chamomilla
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Asterales

Synonym: Matricaria recutita

Common Names:Chamomile, German chamomile, Hungarian chamomile (kamilla), wild chamomile or scented mayweed,

Habitat:Chamomile is native to southern and eastern Europe. It is also grown in Germany, Hungary, France, Russia, Yugoslavia, and Brazil. It was introduced to India during the Mughal period, now it is grown in Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, and Jammu and Kashmir. The plants can be found in North Africa, Asia, North and South America, Australia, and New Zealand. Hungary is the main producer of the plant biomass. In Hungary, it also grows abundantly in poor soils and it is a source of income to poor inhabitants of these areas. Flowers are exported to Germany in bulk for distillation of the oil. It often grows near roads, around landfills, and in cultivated fields as a weed, because the seeds require open soil to survive.

Description:
Chamomile is an annual plant with thin spindle-shaped roots only penetrating flatly into the soil. The branched stem is erect, heavily ramified, and grows to a height of 10–80 cm. The long and narrow leaves are bi- to tripinnate. The flower heads are placed separately, they have a diameter of 10–30 mm, and they are pedunculate and heterogamous. The golden yellow tubular florets with 5 teeth are 1.5–2.5 mm long, ending always in a glandulous tube. The flowers bloom in early to midsummer, and have a strong, aromatic smell. The flowers are 6–11 mm long, 3.5 mm wide, and arranged concentrically. The receptacle is 6–8 mm wide, flat in the beginning and conical, cone-shaped later, hollow—the latter being a very important distinctive characteristic of Matricaria—and without paleae. The fruit is a yellowish brown achene.

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Cultivation:
German chamomile can be grown on any type of soil, but growing the crop on rich, heavy, and damp soils should be avoided. It can also withstand cold weather with temperature ranging from 2°C to 20°C. The crop has been grown very successfully on the poor soils (loamy sand) at the farm of the Regional Research Laboratory, Jammu. At Banthra farm of the National Botanical Research Institute, Lucknow, the crop has been grown successfully on soil with a pH of 9. Soils with pH 9–9.2 are reported to support its growth. In Hungary, it grows extensively on clayey lime soils, which are barren lands and considered to be too poor for any other crop. Temperature and light conditions (sunshine hours) have greater effect on essential oils and azulene content, than soil type. Chamomile possesses a high degree of tolerance to soil alkalinity. The plants accumulate fairly large quantity of sodium (66 mg/100 gm of dry material), which helps in reducing the salt concentration in the top soil.[43] No substantial differences were found in the characteristics of the plants grown 1500 km apart (Hungary–Finland). Under cooler conditions in Finland, the quantity of the oxide type in the essential oil was lower than in Hungary.

Propagation:
The plant is propagated by seeds. The seeds of the crop are very minute in size; a thousand seeds weigh 0.088–0.153 gm. About 0.3–0.5 kg of clean seed with a high germination percentage sown in an area of 200–250 m2 gives enough seedlings for stocking a hectare of land. The crop can be grown by two methods i.e. direct sowing of the seed and transplanting. Moisture conditions in the field for direct sowing of seeds must be very good otherwise a patchy and poor germination is obtained. As direct sowing of seeds usually results in poor germination, the transplanting method is generally followed. The mortality of the seedlings is almost negligible in transplanting.

Medicinal Uses:
Chamomile is used in herbal medicine for a sore stomach, irritable bowel syndrome, and as a gentle sleep aid. It is also used as a mild laxative and is anti-inflammatory and bactericidal. It can be taken as an herbal tea, two teaspoons of dried flower per cup of tea, which should be steeped for 10 to 15 minutes while covered to avoid evaporation of the volatile oils. The marc should be pressed because of the formation of a new active principle inside the cells, which can then be released by rupturing the cell walls, though this substance only forms very close to boiling point. For a sore stomach, some recommend taking a cup every morning without food for two to three months. It has been studied as a mouthwash against oral mucositis ]and may have acaricidal properties against certain mites, such as Psoroptes cuniculi.

One of the active ingredients of its essential oil is the terpene bisabolol. Other active ingredients include farnesene, chamazulene, flavonoids (including apigenin, quercetin, patuletin and luteolin) and coumarin.

Dried chamomile has a reputation (among herbalists) for being incorrectly prepared because it is dried at a temperature above the boiling point of the volatile components of the plant.

Chamomile is used topically in skin and mucous membrane inflammations and skin diseases. It can be inhaled for respiratory tract inflammations or irritations; used in baths as irrigation for anogenital inflammation; and used internally for GI spasms and inflammatory diseases. However, clinical trials supporting any use of chamomile are limited.

Possible Side Effects:
Chamomile, a relative of ragweed, can cause allergy symptoms and can cross-react with ragweed pollen in individuals with ragweed allergies. It also contains coumarin, so care should be taken to avoid potential drug interactions, e.g. with blood thinners.

While extremely rare, very large doses of chamomile may cause nausea and vomiting. Even more rarely, rashes may occur. A type-IV allergic reaction with severe anaphylaxis has been reported in a 38-year old man who drank chamomile tea.

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

Resources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matricaria_chamomilla
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3210003/
http://www.drugs.com/npp/chamomile.html

Gotu kola (Hemidesmus indicus)

Botanical Name : Hemidesmus indicus
Family:Apocynaceae
Subfamily:Asclepiadoideae
Genus:Hemidesmus
Species:H. indicus
Kingdom: Plantae
Order:Gentianales

Synonyms: Hydrocotyle asiatica – L.

Common Names:Gotu Kola,Centella, March Pennywort, Indian Pennywort, Hydrocotyle, Brahmi (Sanskrit), Luei Gong Gen (Chinese)(Note: Gotu kola should not be confused with kola nut.)

In South Asia, other common names of centella include:

Thalkudi in Oriya;  Sarswathi aku in Telugu;  Kudavan, (Muththil), or  Kudangal  in Malayalam;   Thankuni  in Bengali;  Gotu kola  in Sinhala;  Brahmi  in Marathi:  Ondelaga  in Kannada;   Vallaarai  in Tamil; Brahmi booti in Hindi; Perook in Manipuri;   Manimuni  in  Assamese;Timare in Tulu; Tangkuanteh in Paite;   Brahmabuti or  Ghod-tapre  in Nepali; and  Kholcha ghyan  in Newari  Nepal Bhasa.

Habitat :Centella asiatica is native to E. Asia – India, China and Japan. Australia. Grows on Old stone walls and rocky sunny places in lowland hills and especially by the coast in central and southern Japan. Shady, damp and wet places such as paddy fields, and in grass thickets

Description:
Centella asiatica is an evergreen Perennial plant growing to 0.2m by 1m.
It is hardy to zone 8 and is frost tender.

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The stems are slender, creeping stolons, green to reddish-green in color, connecting plants to each other. It has long-stalked, green, reniform leaves with rounded apices which have smooth texture with palmately netted veins. It is in leaf all year, in flower from July to August, and the seeds ripen from August to September. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects.

The flowers are pinkish to red in color, born in small, rounded bunches (umbels) near the surface of the soil. Each flower is partly enclosed in two green bracts. The hermaphrodite flowers are minute in size (less than 3 mm), with 5-6 corolla lobes per flower. Each flower bears five stamens and two styles. The fruit are densely reticulate, distinguishing it from species of Hydrocotyle which have smooth, ribbed or warty fruit. The plant is self-fertile. The leaves are borne on pericladial petioles, around 2 cm. The rootstock consists of rhizomes, growing vertically down. They are creamish in color and covered with root hairs.

Cultivation:
Prefers a moist to wet soil in sun or partial shade. Plants also grow on walls in the wild and so should tolerate drier conditions[K]. This species is not hardy in the colder areas of the country, it tolerates temperatures down to between -5 and -10°c. It grows and spreads very well outdoors during the summer in most parts of the country and is very easy to increase by division. It can therefore be grown as a summer crop with divisions being taken during the growing season and overwintered in a greenhouse in case the outdoor plants are killed by winter cold.

Propagation:
Seed – sow spring in a greenhouse. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in a greenhouse for their first winter. Plant them out in late spring or early summer of the following year, after the last expected frosts[K]. Division is simple at any time in the growing season, though the spring is probably best[K]. We find that it is best to pot up the divisions until they are rooting away well, though in selected mild gardens it should be possible to plant the divisions out directly into their permanent positions

Edible Uses:
Edible Parts: Leaves.

Leaves – raw or cooked. Used in salads and in curries. Cooked as a vegetable. An aromatic flavour, we have found them to be rather overpowering in salads when used in any but small quantities.

Medicinal Uses:
Adaptogen; Antiinflammatory; Cardiac; Depurative; Diuretic; Febrifuge; Hypotensive; Nervine; Sedative; Skin; Tonic.

Gotu kola is an outstandingly important medicinal herb that is widely used in the Orient and is becoming increasingly popular in the West. Its Indian name is ‘Brahmi’ which means ‘bringing knowledge of the Supreme Reality’ and it has long been used there medicinally and as an aid to meditation. It is a useful tonic and cleansing herb for skin problems and digestive disorders. In India it is chiefly valued as a revitalizing herb that strengthens nervous function and memory. The whole plant is alterative, cardio-depressant, hypotensive, weakly sedative and tonic. It is a rejuvenating diuretic herb that clears toxins, reduces inflammations and fevers, improves healing and immunity, improves the memory and has a balancing effect on the nervous system. It has been suggested that regular use of the herb can rejuvenate the nervous system and it therefore deserves attention as a possible cure for a wide range of nervous disorders including multiple sclerosis[K]. Recent research has shown that gotu kola reduces scarring, improves circulatory problems in the lower limbs and speeds the healing process. It is used internally in the treatment of wounds, chronic skin conditions (including leprosy), venereal diseases, malaria, varicose veins, ulcers, nervous disorders and senility. Caution should be observed since excess doses cause headaches and transient unconsciousness. Externally, the herb is applied to wounds, haemorrhoids and rheumatic joints. The plant can be harvested at any time of the year and is used fresh or dried. Another report says that the dried herb quickly loses its medicinal properties and so is best used fresh.

Medicinal Uses and Indications

Treatment :

Wound Healing and Skin Lesions
Gotu kola contains triterpenoids, compounds that have been shown to aid in wound healing. For example, animal studies indicate that triterpenoids strengthen the skin, increase the concentration of antioxidants in wounds, and restore inflamed tissues by increasing blood supply. Because of these properties, gotu kola has been used externally for burns, psoriasis, prevention of scar formation following surgery, recovery from an episiotomy following vaginal delivery of a newborn, and treatment of external fistulas (a tear at or near the anus).

Venous Insufficiency and Varicose Veins
When blood vessels lose their elasticity, blood pools in the legs and fluid leaks out of the blood vessels, causing the legs to swell (venous insufficiency). In a study of 94 people with venous insufficiency, those who took gotu kola reported a significant improvement in symptoms compared to those who took placebo. In another study of people with varicose veins, ultrasound examination revealed improvements in the vascular tone of those who took gotu cola.

High Blood Pressure

In a study of people with heart disease and high blood pressure, those who took abana (an Ayurvedic herbal mixture containing gotu kola) experienced a significant reduction in diastolic blood pressure (pressure on blood vessels when the heart is at rest) compared to those who took placebo. Further studies are needed to determine whether gotu kola alone, some other herb in the Ayurvedic mixture, or the particular combination of all the herbs in the remedy is responsible for the beneficial effect.
Anxiety
Triterpenoids (active compounds in gotu kola) have been shown to soothe anxiety and boost mental function in mice. A recent study found that people who took gotu kola were less likely to be startled by a novel noise (a potential indicator of anxiety) than those who took placebo. Although the results of this study are somewhat promising, the dose used in this study was extremely high, making it difficult to draw any conclusions about how gotu kola might be used by people with anxiety.

Scleroderma
One study involving 13 females with scleroderma found that gotu kola decreased joint pain, skin hardening, and improved finger movement.

Insomnia

Because of sedative effects demonstrated in animals, gotu kola has been used to help people with insomnia.

Dosage and Administration :

Gotu kola is available in teas, as dried herbs, tinctures, capsules, tablets, and ointments. It should be stored in a cool, dry play and used before the expiration date on the label.

Pediatric :
There is currently no information in the scientific literature about the use of gotu kola for children. Therefore, it is not recommended for those under 18 years old.

Adult
The adult dosage of gotu kola may vary depending on the condition being treated. An appropriately trained and certified herbalist, such as a naturopath, can provide the necessary guidance.

The standard dose of gotu kola varies depending on the form:

Dried herb  to make tea, add ¼ to ½ tsp dried herb to a cup of boiling water (150 mL) for 10 minutes, 3 times a day
Powdered herb (available in capsules)  1,000 to 4,000 mg, 3 times a day
Tincture (1:2, 30% alcohol) 30 to 60 drops (equivalent to 1.5 to 3 mL – there are 5 mL in a teaspoon), 3 times a day
Standardized extract—60 to 120 mg per day; standardized extracts should contain 40% asiaticoside, 29% to 30% asiatic acid, 29% to 30% madecassic acid, and 1% to 2% madecassoside; doses used in studies mentioned in the treatment section range from 20 mg (for scleroderma) up to 180 mg (in one study for venous insufficiency; although, most of the studies for this latter condition were conducted using 90 mg to 120 mg per day).
The recommended dosage for people with insomnia is ½ tsp of dried herb in a cup of water taken for no more than 4 to 6 weeks.

Precautions
The use of gotu kola for more than 6 weeks is not recommended. People taking the herb for an extended period of time (up to 6 weeks) should take a 2-week break before taking the herb again.

Asiaticoside, a major component of gotu kola, has also been associated with tumor growth in mice. Though more studies are needed, it is wise for anyone with a history of precancerous or cancerous skin lesions   such as squamous cell, basal cell skin cancer, or melanoma  to refrain from taking this herb.

Side Effects
Side effects are rare but may include skin allergy and burning sensations (with external use), headache, stomach upset, nausea, dizziness, and extreme drowsiness. These side effects tend to occur with high doses of gotu kola.

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
Pregnant women should not take gotu kola because it may cause spontaneous abortion. There is little or no information regarding the safety of this herb during breastfeeding, so nursing mothers should refrain from taking this herb.

Geriatric Use
People older than 65 years should take gotu kola at a lower than standard dose. The strength of the dosage can be increased slowly over time to reduce symptoms. This is best accomplished under the guidance of an appropriately trained and certified herbalist such as a naturopathic doctor.

Interactions and Depletions
There have been no reports documenting negative interactions between gotu kola and medications to date. Since high doses of gotu kola can cause sedation, individuals should refrain from taking this herb with medications that promote sleep or reduce anxiety.

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/Centella_asiatica

http://digedibles.com/database/plants.php?Centella+asiatica

www.umm.edu/altmed/ConsHerbs

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