Roman Wormwood (Ambrosia artemesiifolia )

Botanical Name :Ambrosia artemesiifolia
Family : Compositae
Genus : Ambrosia
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Asterales
Species: A. artemisiifolia

Synonyms: Ambrosia absynthifolia (Michx., 1803), Ambrosia artemisiifolia L. subsp. diversifolia (Piper, 1837), Ambrosia artemisiifolia L. var. jamaicensis (Griseb. 1861), Ambrosia artemisiifolia L. var. octocornis (Kuntze, 1891), Ambrosia artemisiifolia L. var. quadricornis (Kuntze, 1891), Ambrosia artemisiifolia var. artemisiifolia, Ambrosia artemisiifolia var. elatior (Descourt., 1821), Ambrosia artemisiifolia var. elatior f. villosa (Fernald & Griscom, 1935), Ambrosia artemisiifolia var. paniculata (Michx.), Ambrosia diversifolia (Piper), Ambrosia elata (Salisbury, 1796), Ambrosia elatior L., Ambrosia elatior L. var. heterophylla (Muhlenburg ex Willedenow, 1913), Ambrosia glandulosa (Scheele, 1849), Ambrosia heterophylla (Muhlenburg ex Willdenow, 1803), Ambrosia longistylus (Nuttall, 1840), Ambrosia media (Rydberg, 1910), Ambrosia monophylla (Rydberg, 1922), Ambrosia paniculata (Michaux, 1803, Ambrosia simplicifolia (Raeuschel, 1797), Iva monophylla (Walter, 1788)

Common names
: ambroisie à feuille d’armoise (French-France), ambroisie annuelle (French-France), ambroisie élevée (French-France), ambrosia aux feuilles d’armoise (French-France), ambrosia con foglie di atremisia (Italian-Italy), ambrosia de hojas de ajenjo (Spanish), ambrozja bylicolistna (Poland), ambrozja bylicowata (Poland), annual ragweed (English), artemisia del pais (Spanish), Aufrechte Ambrosie (German-Germany), Aufrechtes Traubenkraut (German-Switzerland), bastard wormwood (English-United Kingdom), Beifußambrosie (German-Germany), Beifussblättriges Ambrosie (German-Germany), Beifussblättriges Traubenkraut (German-Germany), beiskambrosia (Norway), bitterweed (English), blackweed (English-Canada), bynke-ambrosie (Danish-Denmark), carrot-weed (English-Canada), common ragweed (English), hay-fever weed (English-Canada), hog-weed (English), Hohes Traubenkraut (German-Germany), kietine ambrozija (Lithuanian-Lithuania), low ragweed (English), malörstambrosia (Sweden), marunatuoksukki (Finland), parlagfu (Hungary), petite herbe à poux (French-Canada), pujulehine ambroosia (Estonia), ragweed (English), roman bitterweed (English-Canada), Roman wormwood (English), römischer Wermut (German-Germany), Shinners ragweed (English-South Korea), short ragweed (English), small ragweed (English), Stalin weed (English-Hungary), stammerweed (English-Canada), stickweed (English-Canada), vadkender (Hungary), vermellapu ambrozija (Latvian-Latvia), wild tansy (English-Canada)


Other Names :
Annual Ragweed, Bitterweed, Blackweed, Carrot Weed, Hay Fever Weed, Roman Wormwood, Stammerwort, Stickweed, Tassel Weed, Wild Tansy, and American Wormwood.

Habitat : N. America – British Columbia to Nova Scotia and Florida. it is invasive in some European countries and Japan, known as butakusa Locally established casual in Britain. Waste places in Western N. America. Found in dry soils, it can become a pernicious weed in cultivated soils.


Description:

Ambrosia artemisiifolia is a summer annual herbaceous plant that is erect, with many branches (AWCNI, undated) and can reach heights between 1-2 metres (NRW, 2007) with a grooved, reddish, hairy stem (Wittenberg, R. (ed.) 2005). The leaves are opposite, compound, and toothed (Wittenberg, R. (ed.) 2005) reaching lengths of 4-10cm long (VTWIG, undated). The tops of the leaves are green and hairy, with white hairs adpressed on the underside of the leaf (Wittenberg, R. (ed.) 2005). Male flowers are green, small, 4-5mm, with bractless flowers arranged in a terminal spike located in the upper portions of the plant (Wittenberg, R. (ed.) 2005), often drooping (AWCNI, undated). The female flowers are located in the axils of the upper leaves, sessile, and inconspicuous in either small clusters or singly (Wittenberg, R. (ed.) 2005). The fruit of the common ragweed is a woody achene, 3-4mm long and 1-2mm wide, with 4-7 spine-like projections, resembling a crown (VTWIG, undated). The leaves are bright green on both sides with whitish nerves. On older plants the lower leaves can be arranged opposite and the upper leaves can be alternately arranged on the stem (C. Bohren., pers.comm., 2007).

 

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It is hardy to zone 0. It is in flower from August to October. The flowers are monoecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but both sexes can be found on the same plant) and are pollinated by Wind. Common Ragweed emerges in the late spring and sets seed in later summer or fall.

Common ragweed is a very competitive weed and can produce yield losses in soybeans as high as 30%. Control with night tillage reduces emergence by around 45%. Small grains in rotation will also suppress common ragweed if they are overseeded with clover. Otherwise, the ragweed will grow and mature and produce seed in the small grain stubble. Several herbicides are effective against common ragweed, although resistant populations are known to exist

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

Cultivation :

We have very little information on this species but suggest growing it in a sunny position in a well-drained soil. It has been suggested for commercial cultivation. Some plants produce mainly sterile heads. The pollen from the flowers of this species is an important cause of hay-fever in N. America.

Propagation
Seed – we have no details for this species but suggest sowing the seed in situ in April.

Uses:
An essential oil of Ambrosia artemisiifolia acts as an antimicrobial, having antibacterial and antifungal compounds.

Edible Uses
Edible Uses: Oil.

An oil is obtained from the seed. It has been suggested for edible purposes because it contains little linolenic acid. The seed contains up to 19% oil, it has slightly better drying properties than soya bean oil.

Medicinal  Actions & Uses
Antidote; Astringent; Disinfectant; Emetic; Febrifuge; Women’s complaints.

The leaves are very astringent, emetic and febrifuge. They are applied externally to insect bites, rheumatic joints and various skin complaints, internally they are used as a tea in the treatment of fevers, pneumonia, nausea, intestinal cramps, diarrhoea and mucous discharges. Juice from the wilted leaves is disinfectant and is applied to infected toes. A tea made from the roots is used in the treatment of menstrual disorders and stroke. The pollen is harvested commercially and manufactured into pharmaceutical preparations for the treatment of allergies to the plant.

Known Hazards : The pollen of this plant is a major cause of hayfever in N. America. Ingesting or touching the plant can cause allergic reactions in some people.

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.pfaf.org/database/plants.php?Ambrosia+artemesiifolia
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ambrosia_artemisiifolia
http://www.issg.org/database/species/ecology.asp?si=1125&fr=1&sts=
http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=AMAR2&photoID=amar2_1v.jpg

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Scientists in Sleeping Sickness ‘Breakthrough’

Scientists say they have identified a potential treatment for sleeping sickness, a killer disease that infects about 60,000 people in Africa a year.

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British and Canadian experts say drugs could attack an enzyme the parasite causing the illness needs to survive.

They say the orally-administered drug could be ready for human clinical trials in about 18 months.

The disease, spread by the bite of a tsetse fly,(CLICK & SEE) is caused by a parasite attacking the central nervous system.

It has similar symptoms to malaria, making it difficult to diagnose. Left untreated, it moves to the spinal column and brain, resulting in mental confusion and eventual death.

Fatal side effects
The “breakthrough” came at the University of Dundee in Scotland, where scientists were funded to research diseases neglected by major drugs companies.

Professor Paul Wyatt, director of the programme, said: “This is one of the most significant findings made in recent years in terms of drug discovery and development for neglected diseases.”

He said the research, published in the journal Nature, represented “significant strides” in the development of a full blown drug against the disease.

The World Health Organization estimates there are between 50,000 and 70,000 cases of the disease a year, with a further 60 million people at risk of infection.

The research in Dundee was backed by partners at the University of York in England and the Structural Genomics Consortium in Toronto, Canada.

The two drugs currently available to treat sleeping sickness both have associated problems.

One is arsenic-based with side effects that kill one in 20 patients and the other – eflornithine – is costly, only partially effective and requires prolonged hospital treatment, the scientists said.

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Breakthrough in sleeping sickness

Sleeping sickness test ‘promising’

Source: BBC NEWS:March 31st. 2010

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Sleeping Sickness (African trypanosomiasis)

 

Other Names:- Human African trypanosomiasis, sleeping sickness, African lethargy, or Congo trypanosomiasis.

Defenition:
African trypanosomiasis or Sleeping sickness is infection with organisms carried by certain flies. It results in swelling of the brain. It is a parasitic disease of people and animals, caused by protozoa of the species Trypanosoma brucei and transmitted by the tsetse fly.

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The disease is endemic in some regions of Sub-Saharan Africa, covering about 36 countries and 60 million people. It is estimated that 50,000 to 70,000 people are currently infected, the number having declined somewhat in recent years.  Four major epidemics have occurred in recent history, one lasting from 1896–1906 and the other two in 1920 and 1970. In 2008 there was an epidemic in Uganda.

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History
The condition has been present in Africa since at least the 14th century, and probably for thousands of years before that. The causative agent and vector were identified in 1902–1903 by Sir David Bruce, and the differentiation between the subspecies of the protozoa made in 1910. The first effective treatment, Atoxyl, an arsenic-based drug developed by Paul Ehrlich and Kiyoshi Shiga, was introduced in 1910 but blindness was a serious side effect. Numerous drugs designed to treat the disease have been introduced since then.

Symptoms and clinical features:-
Gambienseinfections lead to drowsiness during the day, but insomnia at night. Sleep becomes uncontrollable as the disease gets worse, and eventually leads to coma.

General symptoms include:

*Anxiety
*Drowsiness
*Fever
*Headache
*Increased sleepiness
*Insomnia at night
*Mood changes
*Sweating
*Swollen lymph nodes all over the body
*Swollen, red, painful nodule at site of fly bite
*Uncontrollable urge to sleep

Symptoms begin with fever, headaches, and joint pains. As the parasites enter through both the blood and lymph systems, lymph nodes often swell up to tremendous sizes. Winterbottom’s sign, the tell-tale swollen lymph nodes along the back of the neck, may appear. If untreated, the disease slowly overcomes the defenses of the infected person, and symptoms spread to include anemia, endocrine, cardiac, and kidney diseases and disorders. The disease then enters a neurological phase when the parasite passes through the blood-brain barrier. The symptoms of the second phase give the disease its name; besides confusion and reduced coordination, the sleep cycle is disturbed with bouts of fatigue punctuated with manic periods progressing to daytime slumber and night-time insomnia. Without treatment, the disease is invariably fatal, with progressive mental deterioration leading to coma and death. Damage caused in the neurological phase can be irreversible.

In addition to the bite of the tsetse fly, the disease is contractible in the following ways:

*Mother to child infection: the trypanosome can sometimes cross the placenta and infect the fetus.
*Laboratories: accidental infections, for example, through the handling of blood of an infected person and
*organ transplantation, although this is uncommon.
*Blood transfusion
*Sexual contact (might be possible, but happens rarely)

Causes:
Sleeping sickness is caused by two organisms, Trypanosoma brucei rhodesiense and Trypanosomoa brucei gambiense. The more severe form of the illness is caused by rhodesiense.

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Trypanosoma forms in a blood smear.

Tsetse flies carry the infection. When an infected fly bites you, painful, red swelling occurs at the site of the bite. The infection then spreads through your blood, causing episodes of fever, headache, sweating, and swelling of the lymph nodes.

The flagellate reproduces in the bloodstream, and the symptoms develop gradually as the burden of parasites and their harmful effects increases. It also migrates into the central nervous system, producing the characteristic symptoms.

T. brucei gambiense is the cause of a persistent infection that lasts several years until it finally develops into a coma, from which the patient cannot be woken. Hence the name ‘sleeping sickness’.

If the central nervous system is sufficiently affected, the patient can no longer be cured, and eventually dies, possibly from other infections that may be superimposed on the primary disease.

When the infection spreads to the central nervous system, it causes the symptoms typical of sleeping sickness . When it reaches the brain, behavioral changes such as fear and mood swings occur, followed by headache, fever, and weakness. Inflammation of the heart ( myocarditis) may develop.

Life cycle:-
The tsetse fly is large, brown and stealthy. While taking blood from a mammalian host, an infected tsetse fly (genus Glossina) injects metacyclic trypomastigotes into skin tissue. The parasites enter the lymphatic system and pass into the bloodstream

1.Inside the host, they transform into bloodstream trypomastigotes

2.are carried to other sites throughout the body, reach other blood fluids (e.g., lymph, spinal fluid), and continue the replication by binary fission

3.The entire life cycle of African Trypanosomes is represented by extracellular stages. A tsetse fly becomes infected with bloodstream trypomastigotes when taking a blood meal on an infected mammalian host

4.In the fly’s midgut, the parasites transform into procyclic trypomastigotes,

5.multiply by binary fission,

6.leave the midgut, and

7.transform into epimastigotes

8.The epimastigotes reach the fly’s salivary glands and continue multiplication by binary fission.
The cycle in the fly takes approximately 3 weeks to progress.

Diagnosis:
A physical examination may show signs of meningoencephalitis (inflammation of the brain and its covering, the meninges).

Tests include the following:

*Albumin levels
*Blood smear
*Cerebrospinal fluid tests
*Complete blood count (CBC)
*Globulin levels
*Lymph node aspiration

Most antibody and antigen test are not very helpful because they can’t distinguish between current and previous infection. Specific IgM levels in the cerebrospinal fluid may be helpful, however.

The diagnosis rests upon demonstrating trypanosomes by microscopic examination of chancre fluid, lymph node aspirates, blood, bone marrow, or, in the late stages of infection, cerebrospinal fluid. A wet preparation should be examined for the motile trypanosomes, and in addition a smear should be fixed, stained with Giemsa (or Field), and examined. Concentration techniques can be used prior to microscopic examination. For blood samples, these include centrifugation followed by examination of the buffy coat; mini anion-exchange/centrifugation; and the Quantitative Buffy Coat (QBC) technique. For other samples such as spinal fluid, concentration techniques include centrifugation followed by examination of the sediment. Isolation of the parasite by inoculation of rats or mice is a sensitive method, but its use is limited to T. b. rhodesiense. Antibody detection has sensitivity and specificity that are too variable for clinical decisions. In addition, in infections with T. b. rhodesiense, seroconversion occurs after the onset of clinical symptoms and thus is of limited use.

Three similar serological tests are available for detection of the parasite; the micro-CATT, wb-CATT, and wb-LATEX. The first uses dried blood while the other two use whole blood samples. A 2002 study found the wb-CATT to be the most efficient for diagnosis, while the wb-LATEX is a better exam for situations where greater sensitivity is required.

Possible Complications:-
Complications include injury related to falling asleep while driving or performing other activities, and progressive damage to the nervous system.

Treatment:-
First line, first stage
The current standard treatment for first stage disease is:

*Intravenous or intramuscular pentamidine (for T.b. gambiense); or
*Intravenous suramin (for T.b. rhodesiense)

The drug Eflornithine — previously used only as an alternative treatment for sleeping sickness due to its labour-intensive administration — was found to be safe and effective as a first-line treatment for the disease in 2008, according to the Science and Development Network’s Sub-Saharan Africa news updates. Researchers tracked over 1,000 adults and children at a centre in Ibba, Southern Sudan—the first use of eflornithine on a large scale— and it was highly effective in treating the issue.

According to a treatment study of Trypanosoma gambiense caused human African trypanosomiasis, use of eflornithine (DMFO) resulted in fewer adverse events than treatment with melarsoprol.

All patients should be followed up for two years with lumbar punctures every six months to look for relapse.

First line, second stage:-
The current standard treatment for second stage (later stage) disease is:

Intravenous melarsoprol 2.2 mg/kg daily for 10 consecutive days.
Alternative first line therapies include:

Intravenous melarsoprol 0.6 mg/kg on day 1, 1.2 mg/kg IV melarsoprol on day 2, and 1.2 mg/kg/day IV melarsoprol combined with oral 7.5 mg/kg nifurtimox twice a day on days 3 to 10; or
Intravenous eflornithine 50 mg/kg every six hours for 14 days.
Combination therapy with eflornithine and nifurtimox is safer and easier than treatment with eflornithine alone, and appears to be equally or more effective. It has been recommended as first-line treatment for second stage T. b. gambiensis disease.

Resistant disease:-
In areas with melarsoprol resistance or in patients who have relapsed after melarsoprol monotherapy, the treatment should be:

*melarsoprol and nifurtimox, or
*eflornithine

Outdated protocols
The following traditional regimens should no longer be used:

*(old “standard” 26-day melarsoprol therapy) Intravenous melarsoprol therapy (3 series of 3.6 mg/kg/day intravenously for 3 days, with 7-day breaks between the series) (this regimen is less convenient and patients are less likely to complete therapy);

*(incremental melarsoprol therapy) 10-day incremental-dose melarsoprol therapy (0.6 mg/kg iv on day 1, 1.2 mg/kg iv on day 2, and 1.8 mg/kg iv on days 3–10) (previously thought to reduce the risk of treatment-induced encephalopathy, but now known to be associated with an increased risk of relapse and a higher incidence of encephalopathy)

History and research:-
Suramin was introduced in 1920 to treat the first stage of the disease. By 1922, Suramin was generally combined with Tryparsamide (another pentavalent organo-arsenic drug) in the treatment of the second stage of the gambiense form. It was used during the grand epidemic in West and Central Africa in millions of people and was the mainstay of therapy until 1969.

Pentamidine, a highly effective drug for the first stage of the disease, has been used since 1939. During the fifties, it was widely used as a prophylactic agent in Western Africa, leading to a sharp decline in infection rates. At the time, it was thought that eradication of the disease was at hand.

The organo-arsenical melarsoprol (Arsobal) was developed in the 1940s, and is effective for patients with second stage sleeping sickness. However, 3 – 10% of those injected have reactive encephalopathy (convulsions, progressive coma, or psychotic reactions), and 10 – 70% of such cases result in death; it can cause brain damage in those who survive the encephalopathy. However, due to its effectiveness, melarsoprol is still used today. Resistance to melarsoprol is increasing, and combination therapy with nifurtimox is currently under research.

Eflornithine (difluoromethylornithine or DFMO), the most modern treatment, was developed in the 1970s by Albert Sjoerdsmanot and underwent clinical trials in the 1980s. The drug was approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration in 1990, but Aventis, the company responsible for its manufacture, halted production in 1999. In 2001, however, Aventis, in association with Médecins Sans Frontières and the World Health Organization, signed a long-term agreement to manufacture and donate the drug.

An international research team working in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Southern Sudan and Angola involving Immtech International and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have completed a Phase IIb clinical trial and commenced a Phase III trial in 2005 testing the efficacy of the first oral treatment for Sleeping Sickness, known at this point as “DB289”.

Trypanosomiasis vaccines are undergoing research.

Drug targets and drug discovery:-
The genome of the parasite has been decoded and several proteins have been identified as potential targets for drug treatment. The decoded DNA also revealed the reason why generating a vaccine for this disease has been so difficult. T. brucei has over 800 genes that manufacture proteins that the organism mixes and matches to evade immune system detection.

Recent findings indicate that the parasite is unable to survive in the bloodstream without its flagellum. This insight gives researchers a new angle with which to attack the parasite.

A new treatment based on a truncated version of the apolipoprotein L-1 of high density lipoprotein and a single domain antibody has recently been found to work in mice, but has not been tested in humans.

The cover story of the August 25, 2006 issue of Cell journal describes an advance; Dr. Lee Soo Hee and colleagues, working at Johns Hopkins, have investigated the pathway by which the organism makes myristate, a 14-carbon length fatty acid. Myristate is a component of the variant surface glycoprotein (VSG), the molecule that makes up the trypanosome’s outer layer. This outer surface coat of VSG is vital to the trypanosome’s avoidance of immunological capture. Dr. Lee and colleagues discovered trypanosomes use a novel fatty acid synthesis pathway involving fatty acid elongases to make myristate and other fatty acids.

Prognosis:
Without treatment, death may occur within 6 months from cardiac failure or from rhodesiense infection itself. Gambiense infection causes the classic “sleeping sickness” disease and gets worse more quickly, often over a few weeks. Both diseases should be treated immediately.

Prevention and control:-
For in depth information on prevention of the disease via tsetse fly control see Tsetse fly control……...click & see

Prevention and control focus on, where it is possible, the eradication of the parasitic host, the tsetse fly. Two alternative strategies have been used in the attempts to reduce the African trypanosomiases. One tactic is primarily medical or veterinary and targets the disease directly using monitoring, prophylaxis, treatment, and surveillance to reduce the number of organisms which carry the disease. The second strategy is generally entomological and intends to disrupt the cycle of transmission by reducing the number of flies. Instances of sleeping sickness are being reduced by the use of the sterile insect technique.

Regular active surveillance, involving case detection and treatment, in addition to tsetse fly control, is the backbone of the strategy for control of sleeping sickness. Systematic screening of communities in identified foci is the best approach as case-by-case screening is not practically possible in highly endemic regions. Systematic screening may be in the form of mobile clinics or fixed screening centres where teams travel daily to the foci. The nature of gambiense disease is such that patients do not seek treatment early enough because the symptoms at that stage are not evident or serious enough to warrant seeking medical attention, considering the remoteness of some affected areas. Also, diagnosis of the disease is difficult and most health workers may not be able to detect it. Systematic screening allows early-stage disease to be detected and treated before the disease progresses, and removes the potential human reservoir. There is a single case report of sexual transmission of West African sleeping sickness, but this is not believed to be an important route of transmission.

Other animals:
Trypanosoma of both the rhodesiense and gambiense types can affect other animals such as cattle and wild animals. In animals it is known as nagana (animal African trypanosomiasis)

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://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/African_trypanosomiasis
http://www.netdoctor.co.uk/travel/diseases/sleeping_sickness.htm
http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001362.htm

 

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Dittany Of Crete (Origanum dictamnus )

Botanical Name : Origanum dictamnus
Family: Lamiaceae
Synonyms : Amaracus dictamnus – (L.)Benth.
Other Names :Origanum dictamnus , Dittany of Crete or Cretan  Dittany
Kingdom:
Plantae
Order: Lamiales
Genus: Origanum
Species:
O. dictamnus

Habitat : S. Europe – Crete.  Shady rocks in dry places in high mountains. It grows wild on the mountainsides and gorges of the Greek island of Crete, Greece.

Description:
It  is a tender perennial plant that grows 20–30 cm high. It is a healing, therapeutic and aromatic plant
It is hardy to zone 7. It is in flower from June to August. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees.

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Origanum dictamnus is a many branched plant with discoid to ovate grey-green leaves that are sited in pairs opposite each other. The slender arching stems and lanate leaves are covered in a velvety white down and are 13–25 mm in size.

The flowers are pale pink to purple and have a deep lilac corolla with many deep pink coloured overlapping bracts. The colourful flowers forming a cascade of elongated clusters are in bloom in the summer months. The flowers are hermaphrodite meaning they have both male and female organs and are pollinated by bees attracted to their scent and bright colour.

Said to symbolize love and to be an aphrodisiac, only the most ardent young lovers scrambled on mountainsides and the deep gorges of Crete gathering bunches of the pink blooms to present as love tokens. There are numerous deaths reported throughout the centuries by collectors of this magical herb.

Even in recent times the collection of Dittany of Crete was a very dangerous occupation for the men who risked life and limb to climb precarious rock faces where the plant grows wild in the mountains of Crete. They were named Erondades (love seekers) and were considered very passionate men to go to such dangerous lengths to collect the herb.

Dittany of Crete has always been highly prized and is gathered while in bloom in the summer months and is exported for use in pharmaceuticals, perfumery and to flavour drinks such as vermouth and absinthe.

In Ancient Greece it is believed, that Hippocrates prescribed plant cures to aid all manner of ailments and considered Dittany of Crete useful for stomach aches and complaints of the digestive system and as a poultice for healing wounds.

The Greek philosopher Aristotle in his work The History of Animals (612a4) wrote:

“Wild goats in Crete are said, when wounded by arrow, to go in search of dittany, which is supposed to have the property of ejecting arrows in the body.”

The Greek scholar and philosopher Theophrastus agreed with Aristotle about the healing properties of Dittany of Crete. In his work Enquiry into Plants he notes that Dittany was peculiar to Crete, and that it was:

“Said to be true, that, if goats eat it when they have been shot, it rids them of the arrow” (9.16.1).

Other scholars of Ancient Greece and later have made reference to Dittany but probably referred to Dictamnus albus known as False Dittany or White Dittany.

Today the wild naturally grown Dittany of Crete is classed as “rare” and is protected by European law so that it does not become extinct. The cultivation now centres on Embaros and the surrounding villages, south of Heraklion, Crete and is used to make herbal tea and for use in natural beauty products.

The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and requires well-drained soil. The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils and can grow in very alkaline soil. It cannot grow in the shade. It requires dry or moist soil.

Cultivation :
Requires a rather dry, warm, well-drained soil, but is not fussy as to soil type, thriving on chalk . Prefers slightly alkaline conditions. This species is not fully hardy in Britain according to one report  whilst another says that it is hardy to zone 7, which means that it can succeed outdoors in most parts of the country. It is, however, very susceptible to winter wet and so is more commonly grown under cover in this country. Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer.

Propagation:
Seed – sow early spring in a greenhouse at 10 – 13°c and only just cover the seed. Germination usually takes place within 2 weeks. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and plant them out into their permanent positions in early summer. The seed can also be sown in situ in late spring. Division in March or October. Very easy, larger divisions can be planted out direct into their permanent positions. We have found that it is better to pot up the smaller divisions and grow them on in light shade in a cold frame until they are well established before planting them out in late spring or early summer. Basal cuttings of young barren shoots in June. Very easy. Harvest the shoots with plenty of underground stem when they are about 8 – 10cm above the ground. Pot them up into individual pots and keep them in light shade in a cold frame or greenhouse until they are rooting well. Plant them out in the summer.

Edible Uses:-
Edible Parts: Leaves.

Edible Uses: Condiment; Tea.

The leaves are used for flavouring salads and vermouth. A pleasant aromatic flavour, especially when mixed with parsley, thyme, garlic, salt and pepper. The flowering tops are dried and brewed into a herb tea.

Medicinal Actions & Uses:-
Antirheumatic; Oxytoxic; Stomachic; Vulnerary.

The flowering plant has been used as an antirheumatic, oxytocic, stomachic and vulnerary, though these uses appear to be obsolete in modern herbalism.

As a medicinal plant, the herb has been utilized to heal wounds, soothe pain, and ease childbirth. The root has been used in a salve to treat sciatica, and the juice was consumed in wine to cure snake bite.  In addition, it has been used as a remedy against gastric or stomach ailments and rheumatism.

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.pfaf.org/database/plants.php?Origanum+dictamnus
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Origanum_dictamnus
http://www.desert-tropicals.com/Plants/Lamiaceae/Origanum_dictamnus.html
http://www.arkive.org/dittany-of-crete/origanum-dictamnus/image-G18858.html

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

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Build Strength and Balance

This exercise is designed to build strength and balance in your core and leg muscles. In the beginning, to help with balance, use a yoga block under your hands. With time and practice, you’ll be able to let go, moving your arms out to the sides.

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Position a yoga block in front of you, and start by standing upright with your feet together. With straight legs, hinge forward at the hips, rest your hands on the block and raise your left leg behind you. Make sure your left knee is straight, knee and toes facing the floor. Pull your abdominals inward to support the spine. Focus your eyes at one spot on the floor for better balance. Hold this position for 10 to 20 seconds.

 

While maintaining your balance, slowly raise your hands off the block and move them straight out to the sides until they’re at shoulder level. Continue to keep both knees straight and your abdominals pulled in toward the spine. To come out of the pose, lower your hands to the block and your leg to the floor. Stand up slowly and repeat on the other side. Note: This is a difficult pose, so be patient and focus on your breath if you start feeling frustrated.

Source:
Los   Angeles Times

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Tulipa Edulis

Botanical Name : Tulipa edulis
Family  : Liliaceae
Genus   : Tulipa
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Liliales
Species: T. edulis

Synonyms : Amana edulis – (Miq.)Honda.,Amana graminifolia – (Baker. ex S.Moore.)A.D.Hall.,Tulipa graminifolia – Baker. ex S.Moore.
Common names: lao ya ban

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Habitat :
E. Asia – E. China, S. Japan, Korea, Manchuria  Moist places in meadows in lowlands, near rivers and on wooded hillsides. Grassy slopes and hillsides from near sea level to 1700 metres in China.

Description:
Bulb growing to 0.15m at a slow rate.
It is hardy to zone 7 and is not frost tender. It is in flower from March to April, and the seeds ripen from May to June. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs).

CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES

The plant prefers light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils and requires well-drained soil. The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It requires moist soil.

Cultivation
Easily grown in a well-drained soil in a sunny position[1, 90]. This species is not fully hardy in Britain, the plants come into growth in the winter and need protection from severe weather and so are best grown in a bulb frame[1]. Plants are dormant in summer but do not require protection from rain[90]. Bulbs can be harvested in June after they have died down and then stored in a cool dry place, being planted out again in October.

Propagation
Seed – best sown in a shady part of the cold frame as soon as it is ripe in early summer, or in the early autumn. A spring sowing of stored seed in the greenhouse also succeeds. Sow the seed thinly so that the seedlings can be grown on without disturbance for their first growing season – apply liquid feeds to the pot if necessary. Divide the bulbs once the plants have become dormant, putting 3 – 4 bulbs in each pot. Grow the on in the greenhouse for at least the next year, planting them out when dormant. Division of offsets in July. Larger bulbs can be planted out straight into their permanent positions, or can be stored in a cool place and then be planted out in late autumn. It is best to pot up smaller bulbs and grow them on in a cold frame for a year before planting them out when they are dormant in late summer to the middle of autumn.

Edible Uses
Edible Parts: Leaves; Root.

Bulb – cooked. A source of starch.  The bulb can be up to 4cm in diameter. Leaves – cooked. Unless you have more plants than you need this practise is not recommended since it will greatly weaken the plant.

Medicinal Actions & Uses
Antidote; Antipyretic; Cancer; Depurative; Expectorant; Febrifuge; Laxative.

The inner portion of the bulb is antidote, antipyretic, depurative, expectorant, febrifuge and laxative. It is used, mainly as a poultice, in the treatment of ulcers and abscesses. The plant has been used in the treatment of cancer. The leaves are applied externally to abscesses, buboes and breast diseases. The flowers are used in the treatment of dysuria.

Known Hazards: Although no records of toxicity have been seen for this species, the bulbs and the flowers of at least one member of this genus have been known to cause dermatitis in sensitive people, though up to 5 bulbs a day of that species can be eaten without ill-effect.

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.pfaf.org/database/plants.php?Tulipa+edulis
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tulipa_edulis
http://www.ars-grin.gov/cgi-bin/npgs/html/taxon.pl?423574

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Sweet Alyssum (Lobularia maritima )

Lobularia
Image via Wikipedia

Botanical Name: Lobularia maritima
Family   : Cruciferae
Genus : Lobularia
Synonyms : Alyssum maritimum – (L.)Lam., Clypeola maritima – L.
Common Name:  Sweet alyssum
Habitat : Europe – Mediterranean. Naturalized in Britain.  Dry sunny places in the Mediterranean. Grows by the coast in Britain. Cultivated Beds; South Wall In; West Wall In;

Description:
Annual/Perennial growing to 0.15m by 0.25m at a fast rate.
It is hardy to zone 7. It is in leaf from April to October, in flower from June to October,Flower Color: Purple, red, white  and the seeds ripen from July to October. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects. The plant is not self-fertile. It is noted for attracting wildlife.

click & see the pictures

The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and requires well-drained soil. The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It requires dry or moist soil. The plant can tolerate maritime exposure.

Cultivation :
Succeeds in an ordinary garden soil in a sunny position. Succeeds in sandy soils. Grows well on dry walls. Tolerates maritime conditions. Although a short-lived perennial, it soon loses its compact habit if grown for more than one year and so is usually grown as an annual plant in gardens. A very ornamental plant, there are several named forms developed for their ornamental value. This species usually self-sows in the garden if growing in a good position. A fast-growing plant, it makes a good edging to a plant bed. The forms of this species with white flowers have the refreshing scent of new-mown hay – flowers of other colours having little or no scent. A good bee and butterfly plant.

Propagation:
Seed – it can be sown in situ during mid to late spring and should germinate within 2 weeks[200]. Seedlings can be transplanted. In order to obtain an earlier display of the flowers, the seed can be sown in a greenhouse in late winter. When large enough to handle, the seedlings are pricked out into individual pots and are then planted out in late spring.

Edible Uses
Edible Uses: Condiment.

The young leaves, stems and flowers are sometimes used as a flavouring in salads and other dishes where pungency is required.

Medicinal Actions & Uses:
Antiscorbutic; Astringent; Diuretic.

The plant is commonly used in Spain as an antiscorbutic and diuretic . It is also highly esteemed there as an astringent in the treatment of gonorrhoea.

Scented Plants
Flowers: Fresh
The forms of this species with white flowers have the refreshing scent of new-mown hay.

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.pfaf.org/database/plants.php?Lobularia+maritima
http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/hort/consumer/factsheets/annuals/lobularia_maritima.html
http://www.desert-tropicals.com/Plants/Brassicaceae/Lobularia_maritima.html

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Sweet Danger

“I cannot have diabetes,” exclaimed the middle-aged gentleman. “The laboratory results are wrong. My parents did not have diabetes, I am a vegetarian, and I do not even eat sweets.”

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Well, this man is living in a soap bubble that is about to burst. None of the reasons cited protects from the onset of diabetes. As far as family history is concerned, awareness and routine laboratory tests for metabolic diseases are a relatively new phenomenon. His parents may have had diabetes and may have died quietly of an undiagnosed complication like a heart attack.

India has 30 million known diabetics, the largest number in the world. The figure is mounting daily and is slated to escalate by 200 per cent. Most of the affected will be in the economically productive age group of 30-60. We have to find out ways to combat this epidemic, halt it and prevent our children from falling prey to it.
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Studies have shown that the possibility of developing diabetes depends on one’s genes, which are inherited from both parents, and the nurturing environment provided first in the womb and later by the mother.

To begin with, women should have the correct BMI (body mass index — weight divided by height in metre squared) of 23 before they become pregnant. Some women are undernourished and eat poorly. Their calorie intake is only 70 per cent of the required amount (2,000-2,200 calories for an active adult female). The protein content may be less than the recommended 075-1gm/kg. Both these situations result in poor foetal growth and an SFD (small for dates) baby.

Compensatory mechanisms come into play in SFD babies and they develop relative insulin resistance so as to maintain normal blood glucose concentrations. Vital organs like the brain and heart receive sufficient nutrition, but it is diverted away from the muscles.

These small babies exhibit a phenomenon called “catch up growth”. If fed adequately after birth, they attain normal weight for age and height within three years. In the process, they can develop impaired glucose tolerance as early as seven years of age.

Today’s teens have a different story. They are becoming obese on a diet of fast food and “time pass” television. Many girls are overweight when they get married. Pregnancy and well meaning advice to “rest and eat for two” do not help matters. Those who are obese (BMI more than 29) or diabetic during pregnancy can produce large babies (LFD or large for dates). These babies are exposed to excess nutrition in the womb. They secrete excess insulin, can develop insulin resistance and eventually diabetes. The problem is compounded if they are growing up in a family with faulty eating habits and little or no regular exercise.

Since we now know that the majority of us carries a gene which predisposes us to develop diabetes, it makes sense to thwart the march to disease.

Check your blood sugars once a year after the age of 25, even if you are asymptomatic, to be sure you don’t fall in the “prediabetic” category. Those who are prediabetic have a fasting blood sugar between 100 and 126mg/dl and a two-hour post prandial or oral glucose tolerance test value between 140 and 200mg/dl. Abnormal values may occur 15 years before the onset of overt diabetes. Without active intervention eventually 35 per cent go on to develop the disease. With effort and a change in lifestyle, 45 per cent can revert to normal.

Medical complications — which cause heart disease, stroke, peripheral vascular diseases, and eye and kidney problems – begin to set in during the prediabetic stage. Early identification and treatment can reduce the damage.

The BMI should be maintained at 23. This can be done by keeping the caloric intake between 1,500-2,000 calories a day. The diet should be low in fat, and contain four to six helpings of fruit and vegetables. But dieting alone will not help, as weight loss through starvation cannot be sustained. Food restriction should be combined with physical activity for 60 minutes every day. A brisk walk (five kilometres), or one hour of swimming or cycling will do the trick.

Blood pressure should be maintained at 130/80 or less. Salt restriction and weight loss alone may be sufficient to achieve this. If not, medication may be needed.

Lipid levels also need to be monitored in prediabetes as dyslpidaemia and altered glucose tolerance go hand in hand. Elevated lipid levels predispose to a stroke and heart attack. LDL should be below 100 mg/dl, HDL above 40mg/dl (above 50 mg/dl for women), and triglycerides below 150mg/dl. Reducing the total oil intake to 500 ml a month, checking labels for hidden fats in processed foods, and eating more soluble fibre (beans and oats) will help. If levels remain high the statin group of medications can be started.

If parents adopt a healthy lifestyle, children will soon follow suit. Perhaps this way we can reduce the impact of this devastating disease in the next generation.

Source
:The Telegraph (Kolkata, India)

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Shortawn Foxtail(Alopecurus aequalis)

BotanicalName: Alopecurus aequalis
Family : Gramineae
Subfamily: Pooideae
Genus : Alopecurus
Synonyms : Alopecurus fulvus – Sm.
Common names: Short Awned Foxtail, Sonoma Alopecurus, Water Foxtail, short awn foxtail, shortawn foxtail
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Poales
Species: A. aequalis

Habitat :  It is native to much of the temperate Northern Hemisphere from Eurasia to North America, where it can be found in many types of habitat.   Much of Europe, including Britain, to N. Asia. Wet meadows and the edges of ponds and ditches .Meadow; Bog Garden;


Description:

Alopecurus aequalis, a monocot, is a perennial herb . It produces bunches of erect stems between 10 and about 70 centimeters in height. The leaves are short, rarely exceeding 10 centimeters long. The cylindrical inflorescence is a few centimeters long and blooms with white to yellow to bright orange anthers.
CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES
It is hardy to zone 0. It is in flower from May to June. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Wind.
The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) 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.

Cultivation :
See the plants native habitat for ideas on its cultivation needs. This species is a weed of cultivated cereals and can harbour pests common to cultivated crops.

Propagation:
Seed – we have no details for this species but suggest sowing the seed in situ in April and only just covering it.

Edible Uses
Edible Parts: Seed.

Seed – cooked. It can be used whole like millet, but is more usually ground into a flour and used with other cereals in making bread etc. The seed is small and fiddly, it is very much a famine food.

Medicinal Actions &  Uses
Antiphlogistic; Depurative; Diuretic.

The whole plant is antiphlogistic, depurative and diuretic. It is used in the treatment of oedema, chickenpox and snakebites.

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.pfaf.org/database/plants.php?Alopecurus+aequalis
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alopecurus_aequalis
http://swbiodiversity.org/seinet/taxa/index.php?taxon=1800
http://www.calflora.org/cgi-bin/species_query.cgi?where-calrecnum=256

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Allium drummondii

Botanical Name:Allium drummondii
Family : Alliaceae
Genus :Allium
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Asparagales
Species:
A. drummondii

Synonyms :  Allium nuttallii – S.Watson.

Common Names: Prairie Onion, Drummond’s onion, Wild garlic .

Habitat :Native to  N. AmericaTexas to New Mexico, north to Nebraska. It grows on the  Ssndy or gravelly, often limestone soils on dry prairies and hills .

Description:
It is perennial plant. Bulb growing to 0.25m.  Drummond Onion is an upright to somewhat sprawling plant reaching 4-12 inches in height. Flowering stems and leaves form clusters of small bulbs, which are covered with fine mesh like netting. Flower color ranges from white to purple-red. This plant grows in calcareous or limestone soils of plains, prairies, and along hills and slopes. Drummond Onion is considered edible and good tasting. .

YOU MAY CLICK TO SEE THE PICTURE.………Allium Drummondii……..Drummond’s onion

It is hardy to zone 7. The lovely white flowers come into bloom April through May coming in a variety of colors ranging from white to pink. Seemingly a rather nice flowering species, Allium drummondii is quite an invasive fellow. Seemingly a rather nice flowering species, Allium drummondii is quite an invasive fellow. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees, insects.
The plant prefers light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils and requires well-drained soil. The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It requires moist soil.

Cultivation :
Prefers a sunny position in a light well-drained soil. Succeeds in the rock garden, though in cold wet areas it is best grown in a bulb frame or cold greenhouse. The bulbs should be planted fairly deeply. Most members of this genus are intolerant of competition from other growing plants. The plants are much liked by grazing animals and have become rare or absent on pasture land. Grows well with most plants, especially roses, carrots, beet and chamomile, but it inhibits the growth of legumes. This plant is a bad companion for alfalfa, each species negatively affecting the other. Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer.

Propagation:
Seed – sow spring in a cold frame. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle – if you want to produce clumps more quickly then put three plants in each pot. Grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter and plant them out into their permanent positions in spring once they are growing vigorously and are large enough. Division in spring. The plants divide successfully at any time in the growing season, pot up the divisions in a cold frame or greenhouse until they are growing well and then plant them out into their permanent positions.


Edible Uses:

Edible Parts: Flowers; Leaves; Root.

Bulb – raw or cooked. Used mainly as a condiment, the bulb is also eaten as a vegetable. The bulb is rather small, up to 25mm tall and 15mm in diameter. Leaves – raw or cooked. Flowers – raw. Used as a garnish on salads.

This species of Allium is gathered by Natives for its small edible bulbs. Drummond’s Onion contains a considerable amount of inulin, a non-reducing sugar that humans cannot digest. Because of this, these onions must be heated for a long period of time in order to convert the inulin into digestible sugars. Tribes of the Texas and New Mexico area used the onion as an addition to meat dishes, whereas some tribes in California often used it as a main dish.

Medicinal Uses:

Although no specific mention of medicinal uses has been seen for this species, members of this genus are in general very healthy additions to the diet. They contain sulphur compounds (which give them their onion flavour) and when added to the diet on a regular basis they help reduce blood cholesterol levels, act as a tonic to the digestive system and also tonify the circulatory system.

Other Uses
Repellent.

The juice of the plant is used as a moth repellent. The whole plant is said to repel insects and moles.
Known Hazards: Although no individual reports regarding this species have been seen, there have been cases of poisoning caused by the consumption, in large quantities and by some mammals, of certain members of this genus. Dogs seem to be particularly susceptible.

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.pfaf.org/database/plants.php?Allium+drummondii
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allium_drummondii
http://uvalde.tamu.edu/herbarium/aldr.htm

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