This Simple Addition to Meat May Help Decrease Damage When you Cook It

Cooking meat with an antioxidant-rich spice mix could reduce compounds that have been linked to heart disease and cancer.

Food Navigator reports that:

“Using aF spice mix similar to that used in the East Indian spice blend, researchers … report that hamburgers were subsequently found to contain significantly lower levels of lipid-peroxidation products, claimed to produce off-flavors and linked to promotion of the processes of atherogenesis and carcinogenesis.”

The study that produced this result was funded by spices and seasonings company McCormick and Company, and involved 11 healthy volunteers.

The participants consumed either burgers seasoned with a spice blend or a plain burger. The amount of malondialdehyde (MDA) in the burger, as well as in the urine and blood of the participants, were used to measure lipid oxidation.

MDA was reduced by 71 percent in the spiced burger, resulting in a 49 percent reduction in urine levels of MDA.

Food Navigator April 14, 2010
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition April 8, 2010

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Begonia Picta

Botanical Name  :Begonia picta
Family :
Genus: Begonia
Synonyms :         Begonia echinata – Royle., Begonia erosa – Wallich.
Common Name : In the local Nepali language it is known as makkar-kajay.

:  Range E. Asia – Himalayas .Eastern Himalayas in shaded ledges, along roadsides and among humus filled rock crevices. Shady banks and rock ledges in wetter areas, to 2800 metres. Plants are sometimes found at much higher elevations.


Perennial growing to 0.2m.
A tuberous rooted species growing from rock crevices and mud ledges. dormant in winter. New growth starts from late spring and produces beautifully colour leaves. Flowers throughout summer with clusters of showy deep pink flowers. A form with plain green leaves also exists.
From mid summer till early autumn Begonia picta is found flowering in the Darjeeling Himalayas. A botanical variant of the species has beautifully marked leaves. In winter the leaves and stems die down and the small tubers remain dormant, coming up again in late spring.

It is hardy to zone 0. It is in flower from August to September, and the seeds ripen from September to October. The flowers are monoecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but both sexes can be found on the same plant)
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 can grow in semi-shade (light woodland). It requires moist soil.

Requires a well-drained soil. Plants do not require high light intensities. Prefers a pH between 6 and 7. A tuberous species, it is said to require greenhouse protection in Britain but plants are found at quite high elevations in the Himalayas and these provenances could be hardy in this country.

Seed – surface sow in a greenhouse and keep the compost moist in a light position. The seed can be very slow to germinate, sometimes taking a year or more. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Division Basal cuttings from tubers in spring.

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Leaves.

Leaves – raw or cooked. An acid flavour. The sour tasting leaf stalks and stems are pickled.
The stems and peduncles are succulent and sour and villagers prepare a tongue tingling sour chutney out of these parts of the plant.

Medicinal Actions &  Uses:
Anodyne; Ophthalmic; Poultice; Stomachic.

The juice of the plant is drunk to relieve headaches. The crushed leaves are used as a poultice on sore nipples. The root juice is used as an eyewash to treat conjunctivitis. It is also consumed in the treatment of peptic ulcers.

Other Uses


The juice of the plant is used as a mordant to fix the colours of vegetable dyes.

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

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Summer Cypress (Bassia scoparia)

Botanical Name :Bassia scoparia
Family : Chenopodiaceae
Genus :             Bassia
Synonyms: Chenopodium scoparia – L.,  Kochia scoparia – (L.)Schrad., Kochia trichophila – Stapf.kochia, mock cypress, mirabel, burningbush
Other Names : Mexican fireweed,Caryophyllales > Chenopodiaceae

Habitat : Europe to Western N. America.  Roadsides, ditches and wasteland in western N. America.

Mexican fireweed is an annual weed that grows to 4 ft. (1.2 m) tall. Leaves are gray-green, alternate, entire, 0.25 – 2.5 in. (5-60 mm) long, up to 0.5 in. (10 mm) wide and usually covered with small hairs. The upper leaves are sometimes glabrous. Flowering occurs in July to October. Flowers are apetaloid, sessile, inconspicuous and occur along spikes. The fruits are utricles that contain one flattened, 0.1 in. (2 mm) wide seed. Mexican fireweed is a native of Eurasia and occurs along roadsides, fields, and other disturbed places. In the winter, when the plants senesce, the plant breaks off at the base and tumbles in the wind, effectively spreading its seeds.

click to see the pictures

It is hardy to zone 6 and is frost tender. It is in flower in September, and the seeds ripen in October. The flowers are pollinated by Wind.

The plant prefers light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils. The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It requires moist soil. The plant can tolerates strong winds but not maritime exposure.

Cultivation :-
An easily grown plant, it succeeds in ordinary garden soil[1]. Succeeds in any reasonably fertile light well-drained but moisture retentive soil in a sunny position. A frost tender plant, it is grown as a spring-sown annual in Britain. This species is cultivated in Korea for its use as a broom. The subspecies B. scoparia trichophylla. (Schmeiss.)Schinz.&Thell. is the form most often found in cultivation in Britain.

Seed – sow spring in a greenhouse and plant out in May. The seed can also be sown in situ in late April or early May.

Edible Uses
Edible Parts: Leaves; Seed.

Young leaves – cooked. A delicious taste, they are used as a vegetable. A nutritional analysis is available[218]. Some caution is advised, see the notes above on toxicity. Seed – dried and ground into a powder then mixed with cereals when making bread, biscuits etc. Very small and fiddly to use, it is also not a very reliable crop in Britain due to its late season of flowering[K]. On a zero moisture basis, the seed contains 20.4 – 27.5% protein, 8.8 – 16% fat and 3.4 – 9.4% ash.

Figures in grams (g) or miligrams (mg) per 100g of food.

Leaves (Dry weight)
0 Calories per 100g
Water: 0%
Protein: 21.5g; Fat: 2.4g; Carbohydrate: 56.8g; Fibre: 19.7g; Ash: 19.2g;
Minerals – Calcium: 0mg; Phosphorus: 0mg; Iron: 0mg; Magnesium: 0mg; Sodium: 0mg; Potassium: 0mg; Zinc: 0mg;
Vitamins – A: 0mg; Thiamine (B1): 0mg; Riboflavin (B2): 0mg; Niacin: 0mg; B6: 0mg; C: 0mg;
Seed (Dry weight)
0 Calories per 100g
Water: 0%
Protein: 24g; Fat: 12.4g; Carbohydrate: 0g; Fibre: 0g; Ash: 6.4g;
Minerals – Calcium: 0mg; Phosphorus: 0mg; Iron: 0mg; Magnesium: 0mg; Sodium: 0mg; Potassium: 0mg; Zinc: 0mg;
Vitamins – A: 0mg; Thiamine (B1): 0mg; Riboflavin (B2): 0mg; Niacin: 0mg; B6: 0mg; C: 0mg;
Notes: The values here are based on the median figures of those quoted in the report.

Medicinal Actions & Uses
Antibacterial; Antifungal; Antiphlogistic; Astringent; Cardiotonic; Diuretic; Skin.

Antibacterial, antifungal. The leaves and fruits are cardiotonic and diuretic. The stems are used in the treatment of dysentery, diarrhoea and dyspepsia The seed is antiphlogistic, astringent and diuretic. It is used to treat skin infections such as eczema ad scabies, and diseases of the urinary tract. The seed contains harmine, which can have adverse effects upon the gastro-intestinal tract and the central nervous system.

Other Uses
The whole plant is used as a broom. The green form is used.

Known Hazards
:  Plants contain some saponins and should not be eaten in large quantities. Saponins are a toxin found in many of our daily foods such as many beans. They are usually present in quantities too small to be concerned about and are also very poorly absorbed by the body, tending to pass straight through without causing any problems. Saponins are much more toxic to some creatures, such as fish, and hunting tribes have traditionally put large quantities of them in streams, lakes etc in order to stupefy or kill the fish.

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.


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Leptospermum Scoparium

Botanical Name : Leptospermum scoparium
Family: Myrtaceae
Genus: Leptospermum
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Myrtales
Species: L. scoparium
Common Name :  “Tea Tree” is also shared with the related Melaleuca tree of Australia suggesting that both were used to make tea by Captain Cook.
Other Names: Manuka or Tea tree or just Leptospermum
Habitat : Native to New Zealand and southeast Australia. It is found throughout New Zealand but is particularly common on the drier east coasts of the North Island and the South Island, and in Australia in Tasmania, Victoria and New South Wales. Manuka (from Maori ‘manuka’) is the name used in New Zealand, and ‘tea tree’ is a common name in Australia and to a lesser extent also in New Zealand. This name arose because Captain Cook used the leaves to make a ‘tea’ drink.

Description :It is a prolific scrub-type tree and is often one of the first species to regenerate on cleared land. It is typically a shrub growing to 2–5 m tall, but can grow into a moderately sized tree, up to 15 m or so in height. It is evergreen, with dense branching and small leaves 7–20 mm long and 2–6 mm broad, with a short spine tip. The flowers are white, occasionally pink, 8–15 mm (rarely up to 25 mm) diameter, with five petals.


This species is often confused with the closely related species Kanuka – the easiest way to tell the difference between the two species in the field is to feel their foliage – Manuka leaves are prickly while Kanuka leaves are soft. The wood is tough and hard, and was often used for tool handles. Manuka sawdust imparts a delicious flavour when used for smoking meats and fish.

It is hardy to zone 8 and is frost tender. It is in leaf all year, in flower from May to June. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects.

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

.Edible Uses
Edible Parts: Manna.

Edible Uses: Tea.

The fresh, pungent leaves are a fragrant and refreshing tea substitute . Of excellent quality, in taste trials this species has often received higher marks than the traditional China tea obtained from Camellia sinensis[K]. It is important to brew the leaves for considerably longer than normal teas to ensure the flavour is released into the water[K]. A sweet manna is sometimes exuded from the stems as a result of insect damage . Another report says that manna is reported to form on the leaves .

Other Uses

Dye; Hedge; Insecticide; Roofing; Wood.

This species can be grown as a hedge in the milder areas of Britain  and is reasonably tolerant of maritime exposure. Plants should not be trimmed back into old wood, however, because they do not regenerate from such treatment. A yellow-green dye is obtained from the flowers, branches and leaves. A greenish-black dye is obtained from the flowers. Source of an insecticide (no further details). Wood – red, strong, elastic. Used for inlay work, cabinet making etc. The bark is used for roofing huts.

Scented Plants
Flowers: Crushed
The flowers, when handled, possess an aromatic fragrance.
Leaves: Crushed
The leaves, when handled, possess an aromatic fragrance.
Cultivation details
Succeed in almost any neutral or acid soil of good or reasonable quality[200], preferring a light sandy loam and full sun. Succeeds in dry soils. Prefers a position sheltered from hot or cold drying winds. We have found the plants to be fairly tolerant of maritime exposure[K]. The plant only succeeds outdoors in the milder areas of Britain. Hardy to about -10°c, succeeding outdoors in most of Southern Britain. A polymorphic species, many forms have been developed for their ornamental value. There are some dwarf varieties that grow very well in pots in cold greenhouses and conservatories. Resents root disturbance. Plants do not regenerate from old wood. The bruised leaves and the flowers are pleasantly aromatic. Plants in this genus are notably resistant to honey fungus.

Seed – sow spring in a greenhouse and only just cover the seed. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant out in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts, and give some protection from the cold for their first winter or two outdoors. The seed remains viable for many years. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, 5 – 8 cm with a heel, early August in a frame. Over-winter in the greenhouse for its first year. Good percentage. Cuttings of almost mature wood, 4 – 5 cm with a heel, October/November in a frame. Good percentage.


A dwarf form with small white flowers.
A dwarf form with small red flowers

Medicinal Uses:
Manuka products have high antibacterial potency for a limited spectrum of bacteria and are widely available in New Zealand. Similar properties led the Maori to use parts of the plant as natural medicine.

Kakariki parakeets (Cyanoramphus) use the leaves and bark of Manuka and Kanuka to rid themselves of parasites. Apart from ingesting the material, they also chew it, mix it with preen gland oil and apply it to their feathers.

Manuka honey, produced when honeybees gather the nectar from its flowers, is distinctively flavoured, darker and richer in taste than clover honey and has strong antibacterial and antifungal properties. The finest quality Manuka honey with the most potent antimicrobial properties is produced from hives placed in wild, uncultivated areas with abundant growth of Manuka bushes. However a very limited number of scientific studies have been performed to verify its efficacy.

The University of Waikato in Hamilton, New Zealand has formed the Waikato Honey Research Unit to study the composition of honey and its antimicrobial activity. The Active Manuka Honey Association (AMHA) is the industry association that promotes and standardizes the production of Manuka honey for medical uses. They have created the Unique Manuka Factor (UMF) standard which grades honey based on its anti-bacterial strength. In January 2008 Professor Thomas Henle, University of Dresden (Germany) identified methylglyoxal as the active compound in Manuka honey. This is now shown on products as MGO Manuka honey. E.g. MGO 100 represents 100 mg of methylglyoxal per kilogram.

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


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Bubble Boy Disease

Other Names: Severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID), or Boy in the Bubble Syndrome, (also known as “Alymphocytosis,” “Glanzmann–Riniker syndrome,” “Severe mixed immunodeficiency syndrome,” and “Thymic alymphoplasia”


It is a genetic disorder in which both “arms” (B cells and T cells) of the adaptive immune system are crippled, due to a defect in one of several possible genes. SCID is a severe form of heritable immunodeficiency. It is also known as the “bubble boy” disease because its victims are extremely vulnerable to infectious diseases and some of them, such as David Vetter, become famous for living in a sterile environment.


David Vetter poses inside of his bubble in his Houston home in this Dec. 17, 1976

The body’s immune system fights against diseases and infections. The SCID syndromes are inherited disorders that result in severe defects in the immune system. White blood cells (which fight infection) are produced in the bone marrow by stem cells. In people with SCID, the bone marrow stem cells are absent or defective. This leaves the affected person open to any and all germs around him because he has no way to fight them off.

The most commonly quoted figure for the prevalence of SCID is around 1 in 100,000 births, although this is regarded by some to be an underestimate of the true prevalence; and a figure of about 1 in 65,000 live births has been reported for Australia.

Recent studies indicate that one in every 2,500 children in the Navajo population inherit severe combined immunodeficiency. This condition is a significant cause of illness and death among Navajo children. Ongoing research reveals a similar genetic pattern among the related Apache people.

1. X-linked severe combined immunodeficiency:

Most cases of SCID are due to mutations in the gene encoding the common gamma chain (?c), a protein that is shared by the receptors for interleukins IL-2, IL-4, IL-7, IL-9, IL-15 and IL-21. These interleukins and their receptors are involved in the development and differentiation of T and B cells. Because the common gamma chain is shared by many interleukin receptors, mutations that result in a non-functional common gamma chain cause widespread defects in interleukin signalling. The result is a near complete failure of the immune system to develop and function, with low or absent T cells and NK cells and non-functional B cells.
The common gamma chain is encoded by the gene IL-2 receptor gamma, or IL-2R?, which is located on the X-chromosome. Therefore, immunodeficiency caused by mutations in IL-2R? is known as X-linked severe combined immunodeficiency. The condition is inherited in an X-linked recessive pattern.

2.Adenosine deaminase deficiency:-

The second most common form of SCID after X-SCID is caused by a defective enzyme, adenosine deaminase (ADA), necessary for the breakdown of purines. Lack of ADA causes accumulation of dATP. This metabolite will inhibit the activity of ribonucleotide reductase, the enzyme that reduces ribonucleotides to generate deoxyribonucleotides. The effectiveness of the immune system depends upon lymphocyte proliferation and hence dNTP synthesis. Without functional ribonucleotide reductase, lymphocyte proliferation is inhibited and the immune system is compromised.

3. Omenn syndrome:

The manufacture of immunoglobulins requires recombinase enzymes derived from the recombination activating genes RAG-1 and RAG-2. These enzymes are involved in the first stage of V(D)J recombination, the process by which segments of a B cell or T cell’s DNA are rearranged to create a new T cell receptor or B cell receptor (and, in the B cell’s case, the template for antibodies).Certain mutations of the RAG-1 or RAG-2 genes prevent V(D)J recombination, causing SCID.

4.Bare lymphocyte syndrome:-

MHC class II is not expressed on the cell surface of all antigen presenting cells. Autosomal recessive. The MHC-II gene regulatory proteins are what is altered, not the MHC-II protein itself.

5.JAK3 :-  Janus kinase-3 (JAK3) is an enzyme that mediates transduction downstream of the ?c signal. Mutation of its gene also causes SCID.

Mortan Cowan, MD, director of the Pediatric Bone Marrow Transplant Program at the University of California-San Francisco, noted that although researchers have identified about a dozen genes that cause SCID, the Navajo and Apache population has the most severe form of the disorder. This is due to the lack of a gene designated Artemis. Without the gene, children’s bodies are unable to repair DNA or develop disease-fighting cells.


Chronic diarrhea, ear infections, recurrent Pneumocystis jirovecii pneumonia, and profuse oral candidiasis commonly occur. These babies, if untreated, usually die within 1 year due to severe, recurrent infections. However, treatment options are much improved since David Vetter.

You may click to see :

The list of signs and symptoms mentioned in various sources for SCID includes the 35 symptoms listed below:

Click to see :New Genetic Cause Of Boy In The Bubble Syndrome :

New gene mutation found to cause ‘bubble boy disease’ :

How Gene Defects Cause Disease :


Several US states are performing pilot studies to diagnose SCID in newborns through the use of T-cell recombinant excision circles.[citation needed] Wisconsin and Massachusetts (as of February 1, 2009) screen newborns for SCID.

Despite these pilot programs, standard testing for SCID is not currently available in newborns due to the diversity of the genetic defect. Some SCID can be detected by sequencing fetal DNA if a known history of the disease exists. Otherwise, SCID is not diagnosed until about six months of age, usually indicated by recurrent infections. The delay in detection is because newborns carry their mother’s antibodies for the first few weeks of life and SCID babies look normal.

You may click to see :Diagnostic Tests for SCID :

The most common treatment for SCID is bone marrow transplantation, which has been successful using either a matched related or unrelated donor, or a half-matched donor, who would be either parent. The half-matched type of transplant is called haploidentical and was perfected by Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York and also Duke University Medical Center which currently does the highest number of these transplants of any center in the world. David Vetter, the original “bubble boy”, had one of the first transplantations but eventually died because of an unscreened virus, Epstein-Barr (tests were not available at the time), in his newly transplanted bone marrow from his sister. Today, transplants done in the first three months of life have a high success rate. Physicians have also had some success with in utero transplants done before the child is born and also by using cord blood which is rich in stem cells.

More recently gene therapy has been attempted as an alternative to the bone marrow transplant. Transduction of the missing gene to hematopoietic stem cells using viral vectors is being tested in ADA SCID and X-linked SCID. In 1990, 12-year-old Ashanthi DeSilva became the first patient to undergo successful gene therapy. Researchers collected samples of Ashanthi’s blood, isolated some of her white blood peripheral T cells, and incorporated into them a virus engineered to contain a healthy immune system enzyme: adenosine deaminase (ADA) gene. These cells were then injected back into her body. She is now given a weekly shot of ADA that without would have her destined for a life of isolation. In 2000, the first gene therapy “success” resulted in SCID patients with a functional immune system. These trials were stopped when it was discovered that two of ten patients in one trial had developed leukemia resulting from the insertion of the gene-carrying retrovirus near an oncogene. In 2007, four of the ten patients have developed leukemias [11]. Work is now focusing on correcting the gene without triggering an oncogene. No leukemia cases have yet been seen in trials of ADA-SCID, which does not involve the gamma c gene that may be oncogenic when expressed by a retrovirus.

Trial treatments of SCID have been gene therapy’s only success; since 1999, gene therapy has restored the immune systems of at least 17 children with two forms (ADA-SCID and X-SCID) of the disorder.

You may click to see :
Drugs and Medications used to treat SCID:
A new hope for gene therapy

Breakthrough for “Bubble Boy” Disease

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.


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‘Green’ Exercise Quickly ‘Boosts Mental Health’

Just five minutes of exercise in a “green space” such as a park can boost mental health, researchers claim.

There is growing evidence that combining activities such as walking or cycling with nature boosts well-being.

In the latest analysis, UK researchers looked at evidence from 1,250 people in 10 studies and found fast improvements in mood and self-esteem.

The study in the Environmental Science and Technology journal suggested the strongest impact was on young people.

The research looked at many different outdoor activities including walking, gardening, cycling, fishing, boating, horse-riding and farming in locations such as a park, garden or nature trail.

The biggest effect was seen within just five minutes.

With longer periods of time exercising in a green environment, the positive effects were clearly apparent but were of a smaller magnitude, the study found.

Looking at men and women of different ages, the researchers found the health changes – physical and mental – were particularly strong in the young and the mentally-ill.

Green and blue

A bigger effect was seen with exercise in an area that also contained water – such as a lake or river.

Study leader Jules Pretty, a researcher at the University of Essex, said those who were generally inactive, or stressed, or with mental illness would probably benefit the most from “green exercise”.

“We would like to see all doctors considering exercise as a treatment where appropriate”… says
Paul Farmer, Mind.

“Employers, for example, could encourage staff in stressful workplaces to take a short walk at lunchtime in the nearest park to improve mental health.”

He also said exercise programmes outdoors could benefit youth offenders.

“A challenge for policy makers is that policy recommendations on physical activity are easily stated but rarely adopted widely.”

Paul Farmer, chief executive of mental health charity Mind, said the research is yet further evidence that even a short period of green exercise can provide a low cost and drug-free therapy to help improve mental wellbeing.

“It’s important that people experiencing depression can be given the option of a range of treatments, and we would like to see all doctors considering exercise as a treatment where appropriate.”

Mind runs a grant scheme for local environmental projects to help people with mental illness get involved in outdoor activities.

You may click to see :->
Green spaces ‘improve health’
Green spaces ‘reduce health gap’
Tree-lined streets ‘cut asthma’
Putting a spring in your step
Urban planning needs green rethink

BBC NEWS: May 1st. 2010

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Some Health Quaries & Answers

No saccharin, please :
Q: I am diabetic and use a branded sugar substitute in coffee, milk and juices. I am breast feeding and want to know if it is safe for my baby.

Any medication or chemicals that you consume crosses over into the breast milk and reaches the baby. Common artificial sweeteners such as saccharin and aspartame are classified by the US Food and Drug Administration as class “C”. This means they should not be used during pregnancy or lactation unless they are absolutely essential to the health and survival of the mother. This is not the case with artificial sweeteners. Human beings are very adaptable. You may try unsweetened coffee, tea and juice. That is healthier for you as well as the baby.

Thyroid pill
Q: I was not conceiving and then was diagnosed as having hypothyroidism. Once I started taking Eltroxin, I became pregnant. Do I need to continue the medicine?

A: Eltroxin needs to be continued all your life as your thyroid gland is not producing enough eltroxin for your own needs. The blood hormonal levels need to be monitored during pregnancy. Eltroxin can cross the placenta to the baby. Too little will affect you adversely and too much will be harmful to the baby. Your baby needs to have a thyroid test soon after birth. The eltroxin you are taking will not affect the baby’s test results.

My feet burn :-

Q: The soles of my feet burn every night. I leave them uncovered but that does not help much. My sleep is disturbed and I am left feeling irritable all day.

A: Diabetes can cause burning feet. So can a disease in the blood vessels, kidney or liver failure, vitamin deficiency or alcoholism. Remove your shoes and socks as soon as you return from work and soak your feet in tepid water. Take calcium and vitamin supplements. If there is no improvement in a week, consult a physician.

Hearing loss

Q: I feel that my son is becoming deaf. He does not respond when he is called. He seems to live in a world of his own. The problem started after we bought him a new mobile phone.

A: The new mobile phone may have an MP3 player which might be the reason your son is glued to it. If he has been using “in-ear” earphones at a high volume for long periods of time, it is possible he has developed some hearing loss. The condition can be evaluated.

Your son may become socially withdrawn as he has his music and SMS friends. This is now an international social problem. Encourage him to be more physically active. Also, you can consider spending more time talking to him and listening to what he has to say.

Obstetric care :-
Q: My wife is pregnant with our first child and I am at a loss as to how to deal with things. I want a good hospital so that the mother and child are safe.

A: Before choosing a hospital (and an obstetrician) you need to scout a few places to see where you are likely to receive the best care. Preferably, there should be several duty doctors following a “shift” system. A single doctor, however good, cannot be “on call” night and day. If he or she is tired or busy, you might wind up with an unnecessary Caesarian section. Also check if the hospital has a paediatrician.

Ear block

Q: My left ear gets blocked whenever I swim. I have had the ear checked and there is no wax blocking it.

A: After getting out of the pool, tilt your head to the left and hop on the left leg a few times. This usually does the trick. If that doesn’t work, hold your nose, close your mouth and breathe out through the nose.

Fractured collar bone:-

Q: My four-year-old grandson fell down a couple of stairs and fractured his collar bone. The doctor says it will heal and gave him just a cloth sling. Is this enough?

A: Collar bone fractures are common in babies, children and adolescents. The only treatment is rest, a figure-of-eight bandage, a sling and analgesics for the pain. Healing usually takes around 12 weeks but a painless bump may persist for many months.

Active brain :-
Q: Is there any way I can keep my brain active? I am scared of dementia.

A: Several studies show that memory games, memorising poetry and regularly doing Sudoku puzzles keep the mind active and prevent deterioration of the grey matter. Most newspapers regularly feature puzzles. You can also access them on the Internet.

Source: The Telegraph (Kolkata, India)

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Indian Spinach (Basella alba)

Botanical Name :Basella alba
Family : Basellaceae
Genus : Basella
Synonyms :   Basella rubra – L.

Common Names:   Malabar spinach, white stem Malabar spinach, Ceylon spinach, Indian spinach, white vine spinach, vine spinach, Malabar nightshade, country spinach, bertalha vermelha, Malabarspinat, basela branca, bertalha branca, basela vermelha, melao de soldado, sabao de soldado.
Vernacular Names:
Malabar-, Malabar climbing-, Ceylon-, Indian-, East-Indian-, Surinam-, Chinese-, Vietnamese- or buffalo spinach (although it is not closely related to spinach), as well as Malabar nightshade or broad bologi.
Bengali: Pui shak
Oriya: Poi saaga
Konkani: Valchi bhaji
Kannada: Basale soppu
Telugu: Bachhali
Tamil: Kodip pasaLi .
Marathi: Mayalu
Filipino: Alugbati
Vietnamese: Mong toi
Poi baagi, calaloo, alugbati

Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Caryophyllales
Species: B. alba

Habitat :
Range E. Asia. Africa.   Moist places in hedges to elevations of about 500 metres in Nepal .Cultivated Beds;


A coarse, trailing or twining vine with short-petioled, cordate, and succulent leaves. It has black berries. USES Boiled as a green vegetable. The berries are dried, the pulp ground and used as food coloring.It is a  Short-lived fast-growing, soft-stemmed  Perennial  vine , reaching 10 m in length. Its thick, semi-succulent, heart-shaped leaves have a mild flavour and mucilaginous texture. The stem of the cultivar Basella alba ‘Rubra’ is reddish-purple. it is widely used as a leaf vegetable. Harvest period 55-180 days after transplanting.

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It is hardy to zone 10 and is frost tender. It is in flower from May to September, and the seeds ripen from July to October. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs)

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 acid soil. It cannot grow in the shade. It requires moist soil.

Cultivation :
Requires a well-drained moisture-retentive soil rich in organic matter and a warm sunny sheltered position. Prefers a sandy loam. Tolerates fairly poor soils but does much better in rich soils. Tolerates high rainfall. Tolerates a pH in the range 4.3 to 7. A frost-tender perennial, it is not hardy outdoors in Britain but can be grown as a spring-sown annual.   A fast growing plant, capable of producing a crop within 70 days from seed in a warm climate, though it requires a minimum daytime temperature of 15°c if it is to keep growing vigorously so it seldom does well outdoors in Britain. It does tolerate low light levels plus night temperatures occasionally falling below 10°c, and so can do well in a cold greenhouse. Plants do not flower if the length of daylight is more than 13 hours per day.   Widely cultivated for its edible leaves in the tropics, there are some named varieties. It is an excellent hot weather substitute for spinach. Some authorities recognize three different species, B. alba, B. rubra and B. cordifolia, they are all treated here as being part of one species.

Seed – sow March or April in a warm greenhouse. The seed requires a minimum temperature of 18 – 21°c in order to germinate, it germinates within 10 – 21 days at 20°c, pre-soaking the seed for 24 hours in warm water shortens the germination time. As soon as they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots of fairly rich compost and grow them on fast, planting them out after the last expected frosts. Stem cuttings.  These can be taken in the late summer, overwintered in a greenhouse and then be planted out in late spring or early summer.

Producing a crop in 55 – 60 days in warm areas, this is a very early cultivar producing small and compact plants that can be planted close together. The leaves are thick and medium to deep green in colour.   Yields very well under warm humid conditions.
The leaves, stems and flowers are tinged with red. The colour is lost when the plant is cooked and so it is best used in salads.

Edible Uses
Edible Parts: Leaves.

Edible Uses: Colouring; Tea.

Leaves and stem tips – raw or cooked. A pleasant mild spinach flavour, the leaves can be used as a spinach or added to salads. Do not overcook the leaves or they will become slimy. The mucilaginous qualities of the plant make it an excellent thickening agent in soups, stews etc where it can be used as a substitute for okra, Abelmoschatus esculentus. A nutritional analysis of the leaves is available. An infusion of the leaves is a tea substitute. The purplish sap from the fruit is used as a food colouring in pastries and sweets. The colour is enhanced by adding some lemon juice.

Typical of leaf vegetables, Malabar spinach is high in vitamin A, vitamin C, iron, and calcium. It is low in calories by volume, but high in protein per calorie. The succulent mucilage is a particularly rich source of soluble fiber. Among many other possibilities, Malabar spinach may be used to thicken soups or stir-fries with garlic and chili peppers.

In Bangladesh it is widely used to cook with Hilsa fish.

The vegetable is used in Chinese cuisine. Its many names include flowing water vegetable.

In Vietnam, particularly the north, it is cooked with crab meat, luffa and jute to make soup.

In Orissa, India, it is used to make Curries and Saaga (Any type of dish made from green leafy vegetables is called as Saaga in Orissa). In Maharashtra, India, it is used to make bhaji.

In Africa, the mucilaginous cooked shoots are most commonly used.

Malabar spinach can be found at many Chinese/Vietnamese/Korean/Indian grocery stores, as well as farmers’ markets

Figures in grams (g) or miligrams (mg) per 100g of food.

Leaves (Dry weight)
275 Calories per 100g
Water: 0%
Protein: 20g; Fat: 3.5g; Carbohydrate: 54g; Fibre: 9g; Ash: 19g;
Minerals – Calcium: 3000mg; Phosphorus: 0mg; Iron: 0mg; Magnesium: 0mg; Sodium: 0mg; Potassium: 0mg; Zinc: 0mg;
Vitamins – A: 50mg; Thiamine (B1): 0.7mg; Riboflavin (B2): 1.8mg; Niacin: 7.5mg; B6: 0mg; C: 1200mg;
Medicinal Actions &  Uses

Antidote; Aperient; Astringent; Demulcent; Diuretic; Febrifuge; Laxative; Rubefacient.

Astringent – the cooked roots are used in the treatment of diarrhoea. Laxative – the cooked leaves and stems are used. The flowers are used as an antidote to poisons . A paste of the root is applied to swellings and is also used as a rubefacient. The plant is febrifuge, its juice is a safe aperient for pregnant women and a decoction has been used to alleviate labour. The leaf juice is a demulcent, used in cases of dysentery. It is also diuretic, febrifuge and laxative. The leaf juice is used in Nepal to treat catarrh. A paste of the leaves is applied externally to treat boils.

Other Uses

A red dye is obtained from the juice of the fruits. It has been used as a rouge and also as a dye for official seals.

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



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Hair-Raising Tale

Scientists have discovered that activating a gene can trigger hair growth.
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This must be music to the ears of the millions of men and women who fret day in and day out about hair loss. The findings of a team of researchers from Sweden’s Umeå University that appeared recently in the journal PLoS Genetics offers a strand of hope for balding people in the not-so-distant future. The team found that activating a gene called Lhx2 can lead to increased hair growth.

“I think that our study can have practical implications in the future since we know a way of inducing hair growth,” Leif Carlsson, the Umeå molecular medicine scientist who led the study,  .

Hair is formed in hair follicles — complex mini organs in the skin that specialise in the task of hair formation. The follicles normally form when the child is in the mother’s womb. To ensure the continuous generation of hair, each hair follicle goes through three cyclical phases: recession, rest and growth. The length of the growth phase determines the length of the hair. For instance, the growth phase for scalp hair lasts for a number of years, while that for eyebrows lasts for only a few months.

Hair formation ceases after the growth phase. This is the recession phase when the rate of growth of hair reduces, finally entering a period of rest. After the rest period, a new growth period begins and the old hair is ejected from the body and lost. The reason for this complex system has still not been understood, but it has also been seen that hair growth adjusts itself to seasons.

In the present study, Carlsson’s team found that protein expressed by the gene Lhx2 plays an important role in regulating hair formation. The Lhx2 gene is active only during the growth phase and is turned off during the rest period. The studies, conducted on mice, showed that when the Lhx2 gene was switched off, the hair follicles could not produce hair. They also demonstrated that once the gene was switched on, the growth phase was activated and this, in turn, triggered the formation of hair.

Another significant, and perhaps more useful, finding from the studies was that the expression of the Lhx2 gene can be manipulated even after birth, and that it is sufficient to activate the growth phase and stimulate hair growth.

To be sure, this is not the first time that scientists have busted the myth that hair follicles can be formed only during the development of an embryo. Scientists led by dermatologist George Cotsarelis, at the Pennsylvania University School of Medicine in the US, had put to rest that half-a-century-old belief by making mice, with deep cuts in the their skin, grow hair. Their study, which was reported in the journal Nature in 2007, showed that new hair follicles are formed in a mouse when it is wounded deep enough (nearly five millimetres).

But, importantly, the new follicles were slightly different from the ones that develop during the embryo stage. In embryos, follicles are produced by skin stem cells, which had very little to do with follicular development in the wounded mouse. Instead, the epidermal cells — that give rise to the outermost layer of the skin — were reprogrammed to make hair follicles. The instructions for this, they found, came from a class of proteins called “wnts”. The wnts proteins are known to play a role in hair follicle development in an embryo.

Regarding the latest study Carlsson said, “We have to find clinically acceptable ways to turn this gene on. But finding such drugs may take many years. Our next goal is to systematically screen for compounds that will do this trick.”

That trick will be a blessing for the estimated half the world population which experiences hair thinning by the age of 50.

Source: The Telegraph (Kolkata, India)

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Wild Indigo (Baptisia lactea)

Botanical Name : Baptisia lactea
Family :               Leguminosae
Genus : Baptisia
Synonyms : Baptisia alba macrophylla – (Larisey.)Isely., Baptisia leucanthaTorr.&A.Gray.

Habitat: Range South-eastern N. America .   Sandy pine woods, prairies and river banks.

It is a Perennial  upright bushy plant with attractive foliage. White blossoms are arranged in long erect plumes. Seed heads turn a deep indigo color providing winter interest.

Upright bushy plants with attractive foliage. White blossoms are arranged in long erect plumes. Seed heads turn a deep indigo color providing winter interest.

Height: 2-4′

Color: Flowers white with purple splotches

Flowering Time: June

Habitat: Moderate light. Mesic to moist soils.

Rate of Spread: Slow Propagation:

Seed: Collect Sept.-Oct. Clean seeds to avoid insect damage. 3-month stratification, scarification increases germination. Darker seeds germinate better than yellow seeds. Plant spring.

Vegetative: Division in fall, but difficult. Transplant seedlings at two years in spring.


Miscellaneous: Formerly Baptisia leucantha
It is hardy to zone 5. It is in flower in May. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs)It can fix Nitrogen.
The plant prefers light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils and requires well-drained soil. The plant prefers acid and neutral soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It requires moist soil.

Cultivation :
Prefers a deep, well-drained neutral to slightly acid soil in full sun[188, 200]. Grows freely in a loamy soil[1]. Plants are hardy to about -20°c. Some modern works treat this species as a variety of B. alba, naming it Baptisia alba macrophylla. Somewhat shy flowering in British gardens. Plants have a very deep root system and dislike root disturbance, they should be left alone once they are established. This species has a symbiotic relationship with certain soil bacteria, these bacteria form nodules on the roots and fix atmospheric nitrogen. Some of this nitrogen is utilized by the growing plant but some can also be used by other plants growing nearby.


Seed – best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame. Stored seed should be pre-soaked for 24 hours in warm water and then sown in a cold frame in late winter or early spring. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots as soon as they are large enough to handle and plant them out into their permanent positions in the summer or following spring. Division in spring[188]. Larger divisions can be planted straight into their permanent positions whilst smaller clumps are best potted up and kept in a cold frame until they are growing away well.

Medicinal Actions &  Uses
Cathartic; Emetic; Laxative.

Known Hazards : The plant is potentially toxic.

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.


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