Cornu Cervi

Botanical Name :Cornu Cervi Parvum
Family: Orchidaceae
Subfamily: Epidendroideae
Genus: Phalaenopsis
Species: P. cornu-cervi
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Asparagales
Pinyin Mandarin Name: Lu Rong
Synonyms : Phalaenopsis devriesiana
Common English Name:  Velvet of Young Deer Horn
Part of Plant Used: Velvet of the horn
Nature: Warm
Taste : Sweet, salty
Habitat :Cornu Cervi is native to  Burma, Borneo, Java, Moloca, Sumatra, Thailand.
Plants grow on trees trunks in the dense forest in India, Myanamar, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Nicobar Islands, Malaysia, Java, Borneo, Sumatra, and the Philippines at elevations of 1000 meters and below.
Description:
The very rare red form of Phal. cornu-cervi, the form known as fma. chattaladae, awarded a Silver Medal by the Taiwan Orchid Growers’ Association ! This form of the species is distinct in its solid suffusion of red pigment over every segment of the flower, as opposed to many which are actually Phal. cornu-cervi var. rubescens, where the yellow background of the flower is actually visible on the lateral sepals. These plants can flower and re-flower on the same flattened spikes for several years, so don’t remove them until they have turned brown. A fully mature plant can carry over 6 flowering spikes of fragrant flowers at a time, each spike blooming several times during a single year. Very Highly Recommended.
click & see the pictures
Plant flowers in the spring to fall with 9 to 12 flowers. Flowers are fragrant and 3 to 5 cm wide. The chromosome number is 2n = 38.

The plant was first described by Breda as Polychilos cornu-cervi in 1827. The plants were first cultivated in England by Messrs. Low & Co. when Rev. C. S. brought several plant back in living condition in 1864
Meridians Entered: Liver, Kidneys

Medicinal Usages:
This herb is used in formulas to treat anemia after chronic disease, impotence, and weakness of back and knees with cold intolerance; also used to treat children for failure to thrive, mental retardation, learning disabilities, and skeletal deformities (TCM: deficient :Yang, deficient Blood, and deficient Kidney Yang; deficient Essence).
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Traditional Usages and Functions
Tonifies Kidneys and fortifies Yang; tonifies the Governing Channel, benefits Essence and Blood, and strengthens sinews and bones; bolsters the Penetrating and Conception Channels and strengthens the Girdle Channel; tonifies and nourishes Qi and Blood.

Processing is Required for proper use.

Cautions in Use: Do not use this herb when there is a strong Yin deficiency or heat signs caused by Yin deficiency.

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://www.acupuncture-and-chinese-medicine.com/cornu-cervi.html
http://www.phals.net/cornu-cervi/index_e.html

http://www.orchids.com/Phal-cornu-cervi-f-chattaladae-Red-Wan-Chiao-SMTOGA-x–P4208.aspx
http://orchids.wikia.com/wiki/Phalaenopsis_cornu-cervi

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phalaenopsis_cornu-cervi

Esophagitis

Alternative Names: Inflammation – esophagus

Definition:
Esophagitis is a general term for any inflammation, irritation, or swelling of the esophagus, the tube that leads from the back of the mouth to the stomach.

YOU MAY CLICK TO SEE THE PICTURE.……..Eosinophilic esophagitis

Herpes esophagitis

 

Endoscopic image of peptic stricture showing n...

Endoscopic image of peptic stricture showing narrowing of the esophagus near the junction with the stomach due to chronic gastroesophageal reflux in the setting of scleroderma. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Esophagus is  the tube that carries food from the throat to the stomach. If left untreated, this condition can become very uncomfortable, causing problems with swallowing, ulcers and scarring of the esophagus. In rare instances, a condition known as “Barrett’s esophagus” may develop, which is a risk factor for cancer of the esophagus.

Causes:
Esophagitis is frequently caused by the backflow of acid-containing fluid from the stomach to the esophagus (gastroesophageal reflux). You have a higher risk for esophagitis if you have had excessive vomiting, surgery or radiation to the chest (such as in lung cancer), or if you take medications such as aspirin, ibuprofen, potassium, alendronate, and doxycycline.

Persons with weakened immune systems due to HIV and certain medications (such as corticosteroids) may develop infections that lead to esophagitis. Esophageal infection may be due to viruses such as herpes or cytomegalovirus, and fungi or yeast (especially Candida infections).

The infection or irritation may cause the tissues to become inflamed and occasionally form ulcers. You may have difficulty when swallowing and a burning sensation in the esophagus.

Esophagitis is caused by an infection or irritation in the esophagus. An infection can be caused by bacteria, viruses, fungi or diseases that weaken the immune system. Infections that cause esophagitis include:

*  Candida. This is a yeast infection of the esophagus caused by the same fungus that causes vaginal yeast infections. The infection develops in the esophagus when the body’s immune system is weak (such as in people with diabetes or HIV). It is usually very treatable with antifungal drugs.

* Herpes. Like Candida, this viral infection can develop in the esophagus when the body’s immune system is weak. It is treatable with antiviral drugs.

Irritation causing esophagitis may be caused by any of the following:

* GERD
* Vomiting
* Surgery
* Medications such as aspirin and anti-inflammatories
* Taking a large pill with too little water or just before bedtime
* Swallowing a toxic substance
* Hernias
* Radiation injury (after receiving radiation for cancer treatment)

You may click to see the related topics below:
Gastroesophageal reflux disease
Esophagitis Candida
Esophagitis CMV
Esophagitis herpes
Symptoms:
Symptoms of esophagitis include:

* Difficult and/or painful swallowing
* Heartburn (acid reflux)
* Mouth sores
* A feeling of something of being stuck in the throat
* Nausea
* Vomiting
*Oral lesions (herps)
If you have any of these symptoms, you should contact your health care provider as soon as possible.

Diagnosis:
Once your doctor has performed a thorough physical examination and reviewed your medical history, there are several tests that can be used to diagnose esophagitis. These include:

* Upper endoscopy . A test in which a long, flexible lighted tube, called an endoscope, is used to look at the esophagus.

* Biopsy. During this test, a small sample of the esophageal tissue is removed and then sent to a laboratory to be examined under a microscope.

* Upper GI series (or barium swallow). During this procedure, x-rays are taken of the esophagus after drinking a barium solution. Barium coats the lining of the esophagus and shows up white on an x-ray. This characteristic enables doctors to view certain abnormalities of the esophagus.

Treatment:
Treatment depends on the specific cause. Reflux disease may require medications to reduce acid. Infections will require antibiotics. Possible treatments include:

* Medications that block acid production, like heartburn drugs
* Antibiotics, antifungals or antivirals to treat an infection
* Pain medications that can be gargled or swallowed
* Corticosteroid medication to reduce inflammation
* Intravenous (by vein) nutrition to allow the esophagus to heal, to reduce the likelihood of malnourishment or dehydration
* Endoscopy to remove any lodged pill fragments
* Surgery to remove the damaged part of the esophagus

While being treated for esophagitis, there are certain steps you can take to help limit discomfort.

* Avoid spicy foods such as those with pepper, chili powder, curry and nutmeg.
* Avoid hard foods such as nuts, crackers and raw vegetables.
* Avoid acidic foods and beverages such as tomatoes, oranges, grapefruits and their juices. Instead, try imitation fruit drinks with vitamin C.
* Add more soft foods such as applesauce, cooked cereals, mashed potatoes, custards, puddings and high protein shakes to your diet.
* Take small bites and chew food thoroughly.
* If swallowing becomes increasingly difficult, try tilting your head upward so the food flows to the back of the throat before swallowing.
* Drink liquids through a straw to make swallowing easier.
* Avoid alcohol and tobacco.

Click for Herbal and Alternative Treatment:->.(1).…..(2)…..(3)……(4)

You may click to learn more
Prognosis:-
The disorders that cause esophagitis usually respond to treatment.

Possible Complications :-
If untreated, esophagitis may cause severe discomfort, swallowing difficulty to the extent of causing malnutrition or dehydration, and eventual scarring of the esophagus. This scarring may lead to a stricture of the esophagus, and food or medications may not be able to pass through to the stomach.

A condition called Barrett’s esophagus can develop after years of gastroesophageal reflux. Rarely, Barrett’s esophagus may lead to cancer of the esophagus.

When to Contact a Medical Professional
Call your health care provider if you have symptoms that suggest esophagitis.

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

Resources:
http://www.medicinenet.com/esophagitis/article.htm
http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001153.htm

Do Some Fish Oil Supplements Contain Mercury?

Fish oil supplements are increasingly popular, but it has sometimes been suggested that they could also expose you to the harmful pollutants found in some species of fish.
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However, studies have found that most of the widely available supplements contain little or no mercury, dioxins or PCBs.

Most companies use species of fish that are lower on the food chain, like cod and sardines, that accumulate less mercury. Many companies also distill their oils to help remove contaminants.

A report by ConsumerLab.com, which conducts independent tests of supplements, examined 41 common fish oil products and found none contaminated with mercury or PCBs. Another report, by researchers at Harvard Medical School and at Massachusetts General Hospital, studied five popular brands of fish oil and found that the brands had “negligible amounts of mercury.”

Resources:
New York Times March 23, 2009
Archives of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine Dec 2003;127(12):1603-5 (Free Full Text Article)

Salt May Improve Your Mood

Many people consume too much salt, but new research may have uncovered one reason people crave it — it might lead to a better mood.

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Researchers found that when rats are deficient in sodium chloride (common table salt), they shy away from activities they normally enjoy. A loss of pleasure in normally pleasing actitvities is one of the most important features of psychological depression.

If salt is a natural mood-elevating substance, it could help explain why so many are tempted to over-ingest it, even though it’s known to contribute to high blood pressure, heart disease and other health problems.

Resources :
Science Blog March 10, 2009
Physiology & Behavior August 6, 2009; 94(5):709-21

Akebia

Latin Plant Name: Akebiae Caulis; Akebia
Family: Lardizabalaceae
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Ranunculales
Genus: Akebia
Pinyin Mandarin Name: Mu Tong
Common English Name: Akebia; Akebia Stem

Part Used: Stem (caulis)

Nature: Cool
Taste: Bitter

Species & their Habitats:

*Akebia chingshuiensis T. Shimizu, native to Taiwan
*Akebia longeracemosa Matsumura, native to China and Taiwan
*Akebia quinata (Houttuyn) Decaisne – Chocolate Vine or Five-leaf Akebia, native to China, Japan and Korea
*Akebia trifoliata (Thunberg) Koidzumi – Three-leaf Akebia, native to China, Japan and Korea

a) Akebia trifoliate subsp. australis (Diels) T. Shimizu
b)Akebia trifoliata subsp. longisepala H. N. Qin
c)Akebia trifoliata subsp. trifoliata

Invasive plant
Akebia quinata is listed under the National Pest Plant Accord as an “unwanted organism” in New Zealand since it is an invasive plant.
DESCRIPTION: This group consists of hardy, semi-evergreen, climbing plants that are natives of Japan, China, and Korea. They are grown for their pretty flowers and foliage. The flowers of these plants are followed by interesting, sausage-shaped, edible fruits. They are suitable for growing over hedges, low trees, bushes, or stumps. A. quinata (Fiveleaf Akebia) is a large, vigorous climber that grows from 28 to 40 feet high. The leaves consist of five, notched, green leaflets that are flushed with red. In mid-spring, racemes of fragrant, reddish-purple flowers are produced. Male and female flowers are separate, but borne on the same inflorescence; the females at the base and the males at the tip. The dark purple fruits are 2 to 4 inches long; black seeds are embedded in white pulp. A. trifoliata (Threeleaf Akebia) is also a large vine growing up to 28 feet high. The leaves consist of three, shallowly lobed leaflets. The dark purple flowers are produced in racemes, in mid-spring. The light violet fruits grow 3 to 5 inches long, usually in groups of three.

click & see the pictures

POTTING: Akebias will thrive in regular, well-drained soil, in sun or partial shade. They grow better in light rather than heavy soil. These vines need a mild spring to bear flowers and a long, hot summer to produce fruit. In mild climates, these vines may become a little over vigorous and will need to be pruned. Once in a while, excessively long shoots may be trimmed back and in late fall or early spring, they may be thinned a bit.

PROPAGATION: Seeds, layering and cuttings are all methods of propagation. Seeds can be sown as soon as they are ripe in pots or shallow boxes filled with sandy soil, in a greenhouse or cold frame. Cuttings may be inserted in pots of sandy soil in a closed frame for a few weeks until they form roots, or in sandy soil outdoors covered with a bell jar or hand light. Layers may be made by fastening the ends of shoots to the ground with wooden pegs until they form roots.

Medicinal Uses:

A pungent, bitter herb that controls bacterial and fungal infections and stimulates the circulatory and urinary systems and female organs. It is a potent diuretic due to the high content of potassium salts.  Internally for urinary tract infections, rheumatoid arthritis, absence of menstruation, and insufficient lactation.  Taken internally, it controls gram-positive bacterial and fungal infections.
This herb is used to treat symptoms of difficult urination, insomnia, absent menstruation, sore tongue and throat, joint pains, poor circulation, and deficient lactation (TCM: internal damp heat).
Meridians Entered: Heart, Small Intestine, Bladder
Traditional Usages and Functions
Promotes urination and drains heat from the Heart via the Small Intestine; promotes lactation and unblocks blood vessels.

 

Common Formulas Used In
Dianthus; Gentiana.
Pharmacological & Clinical Research
*Oral and Intravenous preparations of Akebia Caulis showed a very marked diuretic effect in rabbits. This effect was not produced by the ash and was therefore not due to the presence of potassium, but to some other active ingredient. Akebia Caulis had a mild antidiuretic effect when injected intravenously into anesthetized dogs, but increased urine output when given to healthy human volunteers.
*Decoctions of Akebia Caulis had an inhibitory effect in nonpregnant and pregnant mouse uterus specimens, but a stimulatory effect in mouse intestine specimens.
Cautions & Contraindications:
*Contraindicated during pregnancy and in the absence of interior damp-heat.

*This herb easily injures the fluids and should be used with extreme caution in patients with any sign of yin deficiency.
Do not overdose: acute renal failure was reported following a dose of 60

Cautions in Use
Do not use during pregnancy. Use with extreme caution where there are deficient-Yin conditions since akebia strongly promotes urination.

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

Resources:
http://www.acupuncture-and-chinese-medicine.com/akebia.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Akebia
http://www.botany.com/akebia.html
http://library.thinkquest.org/25983/4.%20Akebia%20Caulis.htm

http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_AB.htm

How Scratching Curbs the Itch?

Itching brings with it that ever-increasing urge to scratch, which always works wonders, but not much is known about the physiological  mechanisms behind this phenomenon.

Now scientists have watched spinal nerves transmit that relief signal to the brain in monkeys, a possible step toward finding new treatments for persistent itching in people.
....click & see

Nerve cells play a key role in itching

More than 50 conditions can cause serious itching, including AIDS, Hodgkin’s disease and the side effects of chronic pain treatment, said Glenn Giesler, a neuroscientist at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. Some terminal cancer patients even cut back on pain medication just to reduce the itch, he said.

Scratching can lead to serious skin damage and infections in people with chronic itch, he said. So scientists want to find ways for such people to relieve their distress “without tearing up their skin,” he said.

While medications can relieve some kinds of itch, other cases resist current treatments.

Nobody knows just how scratching relieves itch. But the federally funded monkey study, reported Monday on the website of the journal Nature Neuroscience by Giesler and colleagues, takes a step in unraveling the mystery.

The scientists focused on a kind of spinal nerve that transmits the “itch” signal to the brain. The researchers sedated long-tailed macaques for the experiment and placed recording electrodes on their spinal nerves. They injected a chemical into a leg to produce itching. The nerves fired electrical signals in response. Then the researchers scratched the leg with a hand-held metal device that simulates three monkey fingers. The firing rate dropped — the apparent signature of the “relief” signal. In contrast, when researchers scratched the leg without causing an itch first, the firing rate jumped. So the nerves somehow “know” to react much differently if there’s an itch to be relieved than if there isn’t.

Sources: The Times Of India

Some Health Quaries & Answers

 

Hole in my ear:
Q: I developed a hole in my eardrum and I think it is due to prolonged use of the mobile phone. I cannot manage without my phone.

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A:
The hole (perforation) in the ear drum is unlikely to have been caused by the use of a mobile phone. Usually it develops as a result of an ear infection (otitis media), an injury with a sharp object or a sudden loud sound near the ear. It needs to be evaluated. You should consult an ear, nose and throat (ENT) surgeon.

It may heal and close with antibiotics and the use of ear drops. A long-standing non-healing perforation may require an operation called a tympanoplasty.

In any case, why not use the speaker phones option?

Tingling feet :
Q: My 72 years old father, is a diabetic, whose blood sugar is well controlled by oral medications. He has a lot of discomfort in his lower legs and feet. He had consulted a neurologist and after certain tests was found to have neuropathy. Although he was given vitamin combinations he has had no relief.

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A: Diabetic neuropathy is a nerve disorder that can occur as a complication of diabetes usually if there is poor blood sugar control. It can cause problems with the sensation in the feet. The symptoms are numbness, pain, or tingling in the feet or lower legs. There may be difficulty in walking and balance.

The first step is to bring blood sugar levels under control. You could purchase a glucometer and check the sugar level regularly at home. Make sure he always wears well fitting shoes. Walking regularly, taking warm baths, or using elastic stockings may help relieve leg pain. Analgesics, low doses of antidepressants, and some anticonvulsant medication can be prescribed, in addition to vitamins, in severely affected individuals.

Potty tot
Q: I have a son who is three and half years old. He has been suffering from acute constipation for the last one year. He passes hard stool, with pain. Sometimes small amounts are passed 10-12 times a day. He eats well and his diet includes 1,000ml of milk, which I give in a bottle at night.

A: The quantity of milk that you are giving is far in excess of what he requires. He needs only 400ml of milk a day at the very most. It can be split into two 200ml feeds, in the morning and evening, not at night. At three and a half years he is far beyond the stage of feeding bottles. Encourage bowel movement in the morning by making him sit in the toilet at a fixed time even if he does not feel the urge.

If the constipation persists a further evaluation with a paediatrician can be done to rule out thyroid deficiency or bowel malfunctions.

Worried about AIDs
Q: Does a married couple need to have sex with a condom? I want to prevent HIV infection in myself and my wife. I am worried about AIDS.

A: If either party has had prior sexual encounters, it is better to use a condom until you check for HIV and hepatitis B. It is better to check again after six months when the window period for HIV infection is over. If you go to a Voluntary Counselling and Testing Centre, the tests are free.

Married people need to use condoms as a contraceptive device if they wish to prevent pregnancy, or if one of the parties is HIV or HbAg positive (hepatitis B).

Seeking perfect eyesight :
Q: I want perfect eyesight. What diet should I eat and what can I do?

A: Green leafy vegetables like spinach, beetroot, carrot and drumsticks help eyesight because of their vitamin and antioxidant content. Overcooking destroys heat sensitive labile beneficial vitamins of the B group. Steaming or microwave cooking vegetables or eating them raw is, therefore, better. Eating two raw tomatoes a day will give you all the vitamins you need.

There are eye exercises in yoga which, done regularly, help to maintain and improve your eyesight.

More children
Q: I am 41 and my wife is 35. We have an eight-year-old daughter. We decided to try for a son. Despite our best attempts over the last one year, we failed. Although my wife’s periods are irregular, no tests have been done. We have received all kinds of tablets from various doctors. Now we read that some of them have potentially dangerous side effects.

A: All medicines have some side effects even if they are aryuvedic, homeopathic or herbal. The tablets used to induce ovulation can be dangerous if given for too many cycles in improper doses.

Before proceeding consider the following:

• You already have a healthy daughter.

• Do you really want another child?

•Test yourself — do a semen analysis

• Do an ultrasound for your wife to see why the periods are irregular.

Sources: The Telegraph (Kolkata, India)

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Susni (Marsilea quadrifolia)

Botanical Name:Marsilea quadrifolia
Family:Marsileaceae
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Pteridophyta
Class: Pteridopsida
Order: Salviniales
Genus: Marsilea
Species: M. quadrifolia
Common names:Four Leaf Clover';Water shamrock, European waterclover (USA); Sushni in parts of India
English: European pepperwort, European waterclover
French: fougere d’eau
Japanese: denjiso
Spanish: aigret, viola

Bengali: Susni Sak

Habitat:Grows in shallow water of lakes, ponds, or quiet sections of rivers and streams and on wet shores. It is found in central and southern Europe, Caucasia, western Siberia, Afghanistan, sw India, China, Japan and North America. Considered a weed in some parts of the United States where it has been well established in the north eastern States for over 100 years.

It is native to Europe; it was introduced to America in 1862. It is considered to be potentially invasive in New England, as it may crowd out native wetland plants by forming dense stands. More on this topic from Invasive Plant Atlas of New England.

Description:
Water shamrock, despite its common name, is not related to shamrocks (or clover or pepper) — it is a fern.It is a deciduous plant and grows random.

CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES
Aquatic fern bearing 4 parted leaf resembling ‘4-leaf clover’ (Trifolium). Leaves floating in deep water or erect in shallow water or on land. Leaflets obdeltoid, to 3/4″ long, glaucous, petioles to 8″ long; sporocarps ellipsoid, to 3/16″ long, dark brown, on stalks to 3/4″ long, attached to base of petioles.Stipe (leaf stalk) are green, slender and flexible.

Cultivation
The plant prefers light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils. The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It requires moist or wet soil and can grow in water.

Marsilea quadrifolia can be grown as a potted plant, either just with soil kept wet, or semi-submerged, with fronds emergent from the water, or fully-submerged, with the fronds floating on the surface of the water.

In the aquarium, water clover is grown fully submerged, usually in the foreground where it spreads by means of runners. It normally seems to be unfussy as to light and water conditions, and doesn’t need a rich substrate.

Marsileas are very easy to germinate from their sporocarps. However, the sporocarps must be abraded, cracked, or have an edge sliced off before submerging them in water so that the water can penetrate to swell the tissues, and germination is infrared-light dependent. Full sunlight is fine for this purpose.

Propagation:  Spores and possibly by birds or dispersal by flowing water (Johnson, 1986; pp. 35-39). “Vegetatively by means of creeping rhizomes or following dispersal and establishment of rhizome fragments”

Uses
A juice made from the leaves is diuretic and febrifuge. It is also used to treat snakebite and applied to abscesses etc. The plant is anti-inflammatory, diuretic, depurative, febrifuge and refrigerant.

Disclaimer:The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.
Resources:
http://www.ct-botanical-society.org/ferns/marsileaquad.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marsilea_quadrifolia
http://www.hear.org/pier/species/marsilea_quadrifolia.htm

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Barium Swallow (Upper Gastrointestinal Series or “Upper GI Series”)

Schematic of patterns of disease in Crohn's di...
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Definition:A barium swallow, or upper GI series, is an x-ray test used to examine the upper digestive tract (the esophagus, stomach, and small intestine). Because these organs are normally not visible on x-rays, you need to swallow barium, a liquid that does show up on x-rays. The barium temporarily coats the lining of the esophagus, stomach, and intestine, making the outline of these organs visible on the xray pictures. This test is useful for diagnosing cancers, ulcers, problems that cause narrowing of the esophagus, some causes of inflammation in the intestine, and some swallowing problems.

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An upper gastrointestinal (UGI) series looks at the upper and middle sections of the gastrointestinal tract. The test uses barium contrast material, fluoroscopy, and X-ray. Before the test, you drink a mix of barium (barium contrast material) and water. The barium is often combined with gas-making crystals. Your doctor watches the movement of the barium through your esophagus, stomach, and the first part of the small intestine (duodenum) on a video screen. Several X-ray pictures are taken at different times and from different views.

A small bowel follow-through may be done immediately after a UGI to look at the rest of the small intestine. If just the throat and esophagus are looked at, it is called an esophagram (or barium swallow).

Upper endoscopy is done instead of a UGI in certain cases. Endoscopy uses a thin, flexible tube (endoscope) to look at the lining of the esophagus, stomach, and upper small intestine (duodenum).

Why It Is Done:-
An upper gastrointestinal (UGI) series is done to:

1.Find the cause of gastrointestinal symptoms, such as difficulty swallowing, vomiting, burping up food, belly pain (including a burning or gnawing pain in the center of the stomach), or indigestion. These may be caused by conditions such as hiatal hernia.

*Find narrow spots (strictures) in the upper intestinal tract, ulcers, tumors, polyps, or pyloric stenosis.

*Find inflamed areas of the intestine, malabsorption syndrome, or problems with the squeezing motion that moves food through the intestines (motility disorders).

*Find swallowed objects.

Generally, a UGI series is not used if you do not have symptoms of a gastrointestinal problem. A UGI series is done most often for people who have:

1.A hard time swallowing.
2.A history of Crohn’s disease.
3.A possible blocked intestine (obstruction).
4.Belly pain that is relieved or gets worse while eating.
5.Severe heartburn or heartburn that occurs often.

How To Prepare for the Test:-
Tell your doctor and the x-ray technicians if you :

1.Are taking any medicine.

2.Are allergic to any medicines, barium, or any other X-ray contrast material.

3.Are or might be pregnant. This test is not done during pregnancy because of the risk of radiation to the developing baby (fetus).

4.You may be asked to eat a low-fiber diet for 2 or 3 days before the test. You may also be asked to stop eating for 12 hours before the test. Your doctor will tell you if you need to stop taking certain medicines before the test.

The evening before the test, you may be asked to take a laxative to help clean out your intestines. If your stomach cannot empty well on its own, you may have a special tube put through your nose and down into your stomach just before the test begins. A gentle suction on the tube will drain the stomach contents.

If you are having the small bowel follow-through after the UGI series, you will need to wait between X-rays. The entire small bowel follow-through exam takes up to 6 hours, so bring along a book to read or some other quiet activity.

You may be asked to sign a consent form. Talk to your doctor about any concerns you have regarding the need for the test, its risks, how it will be done, or what the results will mean. To help you understand the importance of this test, fill out the medical test information form (What is a PDF document?) .
How It Is Done
A UGI series is usually done in your doctor’s office, clinic, or X-ray department of a hospital. You do not need to stay overnight in the hospital. The test is done by a radiologist and a radiology technologist.

You will need to take off your clothes and put on a hospital gown. You will need to take out any dentures and take off any jewelry. You may not smoke or chew gum during the test, since the stomach will respond by making more gastric juices and this will slow the movement of the barium through the intestines.

You might also be asked to swallow some tablets that “fizz,” causing air-bubbles to be released in your stomach. This might make you feel like burping, but try not to. You will get better pictures if you can keep yourself from burping.

The x-ray technician may ask you to stand or lie in different positions over the next few minutes, to help spread around the liquid you have swallowed. Most often, the x-ray pictures are taken while you lie on your back on a table. The x-ray machine or the table is moved a few times so it can take pictures of all of the internal structures. You are asked to hold your breath for each picture so that your breathing movement does not blur the image.

You will lie on your back on an X-ray table. The table is tilted to bring you to an upright position with the X-ray machine in front of you. Straps may be used to keep you safely on the table. The technologist will make sure you are comfortable during changes in table position.

You will have one X-ray taken before you drink the barium mix. Then you will take small swallows repeatedly during the series of X-rays that follow. The radiologist will tell you when and how much to drink. By the end of the test, you may have swallowed 1cup to 2.5cups of the barium mixture. See a picture of a barium swallow test.

The radiologist watches the barium pass through your gastrointestinal tract using fluoroscopy and X-ray pictures. The table is tilted at different positions and you may change positions to help spread the barium. Some gentle pressure is put on your belly with a belt or by the technologist’s gloved hand. You may be asked to cough so that the radiologist can see how that changes the barium flow. See an image of a barium swallow.

If you are having an air-contrast study, you will sip the barium liquid through a straw with a hole in it or take pills that make gas in your stomach. The air or gas that you take in helps show the lining of the stomach and intestines in greater detail.

If you are also having a small bowel study, the radiologist watches as the barium passes through your small intestine into your large intestine. X-ray pictures are taken every 30 minutes.

The UGI series 30 to 40 minutes. The UGI series with a small bowel study takes 2 to 6 hours. In some cases, you may be asked to return after 24 hours to have more X-ray pictures taken.

When the UGI series is done, you may eat and drink whatever you like, unless your doctor tells you not to.

You may be given a laxative or enema to flush the barium out of your intestines after the test to prevent constipation. Drink a lot of fluids for a few days to flush out the barium.

How It Feels
The barium liquid is thick and chalky, and some people find it hard to swallow. A sweet flavor, like chocolate or strawberry, is used to make it easier to drink. Some people do not like it when the X-ray table tilts. You may find that pressure on your belly is uncomfortable. After the test, many people feel bloated and a little nauseated.

For 1 to 3 days after the test, your stool (feces) will look white from the barium. Call your doctor if you are not able to have a bowel movement in 2 to 3 days after the test. If the barium stays in your intestine, it can harden and cause a blockage. If you become constipated, you may need to use a laxative to pass a stool.

Risk Factors:
There are no significant risks.

Barium does not move into the blood, so allergic reactions are very rare.

Some people gag while drinking the barium fluid. In rare cases, a person may choke and inhale (aspirate) some of the liquid into the lungs.

There is a small chance that the barium will block the intestine or leak into the belly through a perforated ulcer. A special type of contrast material (Gastrografin) can be used if you have a blockage or an ulcer.

There is always a small chance of damage to cells or tissue from being exposed to any radiation, even the low level of radioactive tracer used for this test.


How long is it before the result of the test is known?

It takes the x-ray department 30 minutes to an hour to develop the pictures from your barium swallow, and it will take additional time for a doctor to examine the x-rays and to decide how they look. Typically you can get the results within a day or two.

Must you do anything special after the test is over
After the test, you can eat normally and do your normal activities. You should drink more water than usual to help clear out the barium and to prevent constipation, which might be a side effect of the test. Your stool may appear light in color for a couple of days.

Results:-
An upper gastrointestinal (UGI) series looks at the upper and middle sections of the gastrointestinal tract. Results are usually ready in 1 to 3 days.

Upper gastrointestinal (UGI) series  Normal: The esophagus, stomach, and small intestine all look normal.

Abnormal: A narrowing (stricture), inflammation, a mass, a hiatal hernia, or enlarged veins (varices) may be seen. Spasms of the esophagus or a backward flow (reflux) of barium from the stomach may occur.

The UGI series may show a stomach (gastric) or intestinal (duodenal) ulcer, a tumor, or something pushing on the intestines from outside the gastrointestinal tract. Narrowing of the opening between the stomach and the small intestine (pyloric stenosis) may be seen.

The small bowel follow-through may show inflammation or changes in the lining that may explain poor absorption of food. This may be caused by Crohn’s disease or celiac disease.

What Affects the Test
Reasons you may not be able to have the test or why the results may not be helpful include:

*Eating before or during the test.
*Too much air in the small intestine.

ABOUT THE TEST:
*A gastrointestinal (GI) motility study may be done if the squeezing motions of the small intestine are not normal during the UGI series and small bowel follow-through. The movement of the barium through the lower intestinal tract is recorded every few hours for up to 24 hours. A barium enema or colonoscopy may be needed to confirm the diagnosis.

*Upper endoscopy is done instead of a UGI test in certain cases. Endoscopy uses a thin, flexible tube (endoscope) to look at the lining of the esophagus, stomach, and upper small intestine (duodenum). For more information, see the medical test Upper Gastrointestinal Endoscopy.

*The UGI series test:

*Cannot show irritation of the stomach lining (gastritis) or esophagus (esophagitis) or ulcers that are smaller than about 0.25in. in diameter.

*Cannot show an infection with the bacteria Helicobacter pylori, which may be a cause of stomach ulcers.

*A biopsy cannot be done during the UGI if a problem is found.

Sources:
http://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/upper-gastrointestinal-ugi-series?page=4
https://www.health.harvard.edu/fhg/diagnostics/barium-swallow.shtml

Dhundhul (Luffa cylindrical)

Botanical Name : Luffa cylindrical
Family :Cucurbitaceae
Indian Name :Dhundhul
Common Name :Lufa
Habitat:Luffa plants are tropical in origin, believed to have originated in southern Asia.  They need a long hot growing season. Places like the US Gulf Coast are plenty hot.  Starting the plants indoors may be needed for cooler climates.

Description:
Ridged luffa is a tropical running annual vine with rounded leaves and yellow flowers. The plant is diecious, having both male and female flowers. The rather large male flowers are bright yellow and occur in clusters. The female flowers are solitary and have the tiny slender ovary attached. The leaves are covered with short hairs and the fruits are ribbed and cylindrical shaped. It has ten longitudinal angular ridges and a tapered neck. Ridged luffa is very similar to L. Cylindrica which lacks the ridge. The young fruit is used as a cooked vegetable; although some gardeners grow Chinese okra for the fibrows interior. The fibrows netting is an excellent sponge but there are also industrial applications such as waterfilters. In Suriname‘s traditional medicine, a tea of the leaves is used as a diuretic, while juice of the fruit is used against internal hemorrhage. The seeds have laxative properties. Propagation: By seeds.

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Loofah or Luffa, common name for a climbing plant of the cucumber family and for the vegetable sponge derived from the plant. There are six species of loofah plant, all of which are native to the Tropics and subtropics of Asia and Africa. The common name loofah and the scientific name Luffa are derived from the Arabic common name for this plant, lûfa. The most commonly used species, Luffa aegyptiaca, is an annual, monoecious vine (where male and female flowers appear on different parts of the plant), with deep yellow flowers. The female flowers are borne singly and the male flowers are in clusters.

The leaves are hairless, lobed, and triangular in outline. Tendrils arise from the stems near the leaves and the numerous branches are long and slender. The cylindrical or club-shaped fruit can be up to 30-40 cm (12-16 in) long and hangs down from the stems owing to its weight. The skin of the fruit is ridged and green, becoming straw-coloured at maturity. The small, brown or black seeds are wrinkled on the surface and look like watermelon seeds. They are released when the lid-like apex of the fruit breaks off. It is the dried and bleached vascular system of the mature fruit that is used as a sponge or dishcloth in many parts of the world. The young fruits of Luffa aegyptiaca and Luffa acutangula are also eaten as vegetables in some countries.

General Uses:
When mature,the fruits become a tough mass of cellulose fiber that makes a great scrubbing sponge.  These natural cellulose fiber sponge wonders of the vegetable world have many uses. They’ll make your skin squeaky clean or shine up your dirty dishes. Luffa are most excellent in the bath or shower.  The exfoliating action leaves your skin feeling the cleanest and tightest it could possibly be.  Scrubbing your back with a luffa sponge in the bath or shower is an incredibly pleasurable experience.  Home artisan craft soap makers include slices of luffa in their creations to add an extra cleaning boost to their soaps. Shredded or powdered luffa can be also be mixed into soap.

Luffa sponges are great for washing items like large pots and other containers like Tupperware®.  We use them for cleaning almost everything, including cars, boats, plastic buckets, and anything that needs scrubbed but can’t withstand steel wool.  Non stick cookware is one example.

A large loofa or a smaller piece on a handle or rope makes a great back scratcher.  They can be cut into many shapes for scrubbing pads, padding, and other craft uses.  Cut the sponges lengthwise and remove the core to make sheets of sponge material. These sheets of luffa material can be sewn into items like table hot pads, sandals, bath mats, hats, or anything else you can imagine.

The luffa flowers and fruits are soft and edible when young and are sometimes cooked and eaten like squash or okra. Loofah has been an important food source in many Asian cultures. The leaves and vines should not be eaten.  When crushed, they produce a bitter compound and smell that seems to repel insects and animals. It is similar to the bitterness sometimes found in cucumbers, a close plant relative also in the Cucurbitaceae family. We don’t know what this stuff is, maybe some bright botanist or biochemist can fill us in and we’ll post it here. According to some sources a fellow named Wehmer identified a substance known as luffeine for the bitterness of Luffa acutangula, a related species grown commonly for food.

Small luffa fruits often are eaten but disclaim any legal responsibility for any bad reactions anyone might have from consuming luffa. Unknown allergy potential. Eat at your own risk. Some luffa varieties may produce fruits that are too bitter to eat. Peeling the skin off removes some of the bitterness. If it tastes bad, don’t eat it. The half dozen varieties we’ve grown have all tasted good to us.  Edible luffa can be found sometimes in markets with Asian style vegetables. We like them sliced in a stir fry or just sauteed in a little olive oil. Seasoning with a dash of soy sauce and cayenne pepper makes a tasty appetizer. The flowers have a crunchy green flavor similar to celery or cucumber. They make a colorful salad. The edible size fruits taste something like a cross between a zucchini and a cucumber.

Medicinal Uses:
Powdered luffa fibers have also been used as an ingredient in Chinese herbal medicine. Some compounds in the plant and seeds have been studied and used for medicinal properties.

Parts used :   Leaves, fruit.

Folkloric:
· Decoction of leaves for amenorrhea.
· Poultice of leaves for hemorrhoids.
· Juice of fresh leaves for conjunctivitis.
· Juice of leaves also used externally for sores and various animal bites.
· Seed oil used for dermatitis.
· Infusion of seeds as purgative and emetic.
• In Russia, roots is used as a purge.
• In India, roots is used for dropsy and as laxative; leaf and fruit juice used to treat jaundice.
• In Java, leaf decoction used for uremia and amenorrhea.
• In Bangladesh, pounded leaves used for hemorrhoids, splenitis, leprosy. Juice of leaces used for conjunctivitis in children.
• In West Africa, leaf extract of ridged gourd applied to sores caused by guinea worms; leaf sap used as eyewash in conjunctivitis; fruits and seeds used in herbal preparations for treatment of venereal diseases.
In Mauritius, seeds eaten to expel intestinal worms; leaf juice applied to eczema.
• Seed used as insecticidal.
Others
· Fibrous nature of the mature fruit, devoid of pulp, is used as a bath brush or sponge.
• In China, has been used as a pesticide.
• Fibers sometimes used for making hats.

Studies
• Trypsin Inhibitors: Study isolated two trypsin inhibitors, LA-1 and LA-2, both consisting of 28-29 amino acid residues, respectively. Both strongly inhibit trypsin by forming enzyme-inhibitor complexes.
• Constituents: Study isolated seven oleanane-type triterpene saponins, acutosides A-G.
• Antioxidants : An antioxidant-guided assay yielded eight compounds. Results showed consumption of sponge gourds can supply some antioxidant constituents to the human body.

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://toptropicals.com/catalog/uid/luffa_acutangula.htm
http://www.filipinoherbshealingwonders.filipinovegetarianrecipe.com/patola.htm
http://www.luffa.info/

http://www.stuartxchange.com/Patola.html

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