Kentucky coffeetree

Botanical Name :Gymnocladus dioica
Family: Fabaceae
Subfamily: Caesalpinioideae
Genus: Gymnocladus
Species: G. dioicus
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Fabales

Common Name:Kentucky coffeetree

Habitat :Gymnocladus dioica is native to the midwest of North America. The range is limited, occurring from Southern Ontario, Canada and in the United States from Kentucky (where it was first encountered by Europeans) and western Pennsylvania in the east, to Kansas, eastern Nebraska, and southeastern South Dakota in the west, and to northern Louisiana in the south. It was formerly the state tree of Kentucky.

Description:
DescriptionVaries from 18 to 21 meters (60–70 feet) high with a spread of 12–15 meters (40–50 feet) and a trunk up to one meter (3 feet) in diameter. A 10-year-old sapling will stand about 4 meters (13 feet) tall. It usually separates 3 to 4½ meters (10–15 feet) from the ground into three or four divisions which spread slightly and form a narrow pyramidal head; or when crowded by other trees, sending up one tall central branchless shaft to the height of 15–21 m (50–70 ft). Branches stout, pithy, and blunt; roots fibrous.

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The Kentucky Coffeetree is a relatively fast-growing tree and generally grows in parks and along city streets for ornamental purposes. The tree is typically long-lived however often appears dead for the first six months of its growth. This is because the Kentucky Coffeetree sheds its leaves early during the fall and therefore appears bare for up to 6 months. The naked appearance of the tree is reflected through the Kentucky Coffeetrees genus name. (Barnes, Wagner at el. 1977) from Michigan Trees.

Like the Sumac, branches are totally destitute of fine spray; smaller branches are thick, blunt, clumsy and lumpish. While other trees lose their leaves, along their twigs and branchlets are borne the buds, the hope and the promise of the coming year. But the Gymnocladus seems so destitute of these that the French in Canada named it Chicot, the dead tree. Even when spring comes, it gives no apparent recognition of light and warmth until nearly every other tree is in full leaf. The casual observer says it bears no winter buds, but there is a tiny pair, wrapped in down and wool, lying sleeping in the axil of every last year’s leaf.

Among the trees of the eastern United States, there are two others with similarly large leaves: the Honey locust (Gleditsia triacanthos) and the Devil’s Walking-Stick (Aralia spinosa). The expanding leaves are conspicuous because of the varied colors of the leaflets; the youngest are bright pink, while those which are older vary from green to bronze.

The bark is ash-gray and scaly, flaking similarly to black cherry, but more so. The flowers are dioecious, and the fruit is a hard-shelled bean in heavy, woody, thick-walled pods filled with sweet, thick, gooey pulp. The shape of the pods varies somewhat: pod length ranges from about 12.7 to 25.4 cm; unfertilized female trees may bear miniature seedless pods. The beans contain the toxin cytisine.

*Bark: Dark gray, deeply fissured, surface scaly. Branchlets at first coated with short reddish down.  CLICK TO SEE
Wood: Light brown; heavy, strong, coarse-grained; durable in contact with the ground, takes a fine polish. Sp. gr., 0.6934; weight of cu. ft., 43.21 lb (19.60 kg).

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*Winter buds: Minute, depressed in downy cavities of the stem, two in the axil of each leaf, the smaller sterile. Bud scales two, ovate, coated with brown tomentum and growing with the shoot, become orange green, hairy and about one inch long, before they fall.CLICK TO SEE

*Leaves: Alternate, bi-pinnately compound, ten to fourteen pinnate, lowest pinnae reduced to leaflets, the other seven to thirteen foliate. One to three feet long, eighteen to twenty-four inches broad, by the greater development of the upper pairs of pinnae. Leaf stalks and stalks of pinnae, are terete, enlarged at base, smooth when mature, pale green, often purple on the upper side. Leaflets ovate, two to two and one-half inches long, wedge-shaped or irregularly rounded at base, with wavy margin, acute apex. They come out of the bud bright pink, but soon become bronze green, smooth and shining above. When full grown are dark yellow green above, pale green beneath. In autumn turn a bright clear yellow. Stipules leaf-life, lanceolate, serrate, deciduous.

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*Flowers: June. Dioecious by abortion, terminal, greenish white. Staminate flowers in a short racemen-like corymb three to four inches (102 mm) long, pistillate flowers in a raceme ten to twelve inches (305 mm) long.

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*Calyx: Tubular, hairy, ten-ribbed, five-lobed; lobes valvate in bud, acute, nearly equal.

*Corolla: Petals five, oblong, hairy, spreading or reflexed, imbricate in bud.CLICK & SEE

*Stamens: Ten, five long and five short, free, included; filaments thread-like; antehrs orange colored, introrse; in the pistillate flower small and sterile.  CLICK & SEE

*Pistil: Ovary superior, sessile, hairy, contracted into a short style, with two stigmatic lobes; ovules in two rows.

*Fruit: Legume, six to ten inches (254 mm) long, one and one-half to two inches wide, somewhat curved, with thickened margins, dark reddish brown with slight glaucous bloom, crowned with remnant of the styles. Stalks and inch or two long. Seeds six to nine, surrounded by a thick layer of dark, sweet pulp.  CLICK & SEE

Cultivation:
Kentucky Coffeetree is easy to grow from seed. Filing the seedcoat by hand with a small file, and then soaking the seeds in water for 24 hours will ensure rapid germination. Propagation is also easy from dormant root cuttings.

It forms large clonal colonies, reproducing by shoots sprouting from roots.

Trees prefer bottom lands, and a rich moist soil. Its growth is largely unaffected by heat, cold, drought, insects, disease, road salt, ice, and alkaline soil.

The Kentucky Coffeetree is typically found on “alluvial soils of river and flood plains and nearby terraces” (Barnes, Wagner at el. 1977) from Michigan Trees.

Medicinal Uses:
The pulvarised root bark is used as an effective enema. A tea made from bark is diuretic. It is used in the treatment of cough due to inflamated mucus membranes and also to help speed up a protected  labour.A snuff made from the pulvarised root bark hasbeen used to cause sneezing in comatose patients. A tea made from the leaves and pulp from the pod is laxative and has also been used in the treatment of reflex  troubles.A decoction of the fresh green pulp of an unriped fruit is used in homeopathic practice.The folk remedy of traditional poisning using Kentacy coffee tree seeds, cornsilk,linden flowers and seaweed Irish moss kelp and dulse.

Other Uses:
Horticulture : In pleasure grounds it is not uncommon, since it is often planted because of its unique appearance and interesting character.

The peculiarly late-emerging and early-dropping leaves, coupled with the fact that the large leaves mean few twigs in the winter profile, make it a tree that is ideal for urban shading where winter sunlight is to be maximized (such as in proximity to solar hot-air systems).

Food :The common name “coffeetree” derives from the use of the roasted seeds as a substitute for coffee in times of poverty. They are a very inferior substitute for real coffee, and caution should be used in trying them as they are poisonous in large quantities.
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The pods, preserved like those of the tamarind, are said to be wholesome and slightly aperient.

Woodworking :The wood is used both by cabinetmakers and carpenters. It has very little sapwood

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.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_IJK.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kentucky_coffeetree
http://www.cirrusimage.com/tree_Kentucky_Coffee.htm

http://www.cas.vanderbilt.edu/bioimages/image/g/gydi–frseeds24261.htm

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Khat(Catha edulis)

Botanical Name : Catha edulis
Family: Celastraceae
Genus: Catha
Species: C. edulis
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Celastrales

Common Names :Bushman’s tea (Eng.; Boesmanstee (Afr.); umHlwazi (Zulu); iQgwaka (Xhosa); Khat (Arabic)

Derivation of name and historical aspects:
The generic name Catha is derived from the Arabic common name for this plant khat and the specific name edulis is a Greek word meaning ‘edible’. It is derived from the leaves of this tree being used in teas by the Bushmen, as it contains a habit-forming stimulant.

C. edulis belongs to the Celastraceae family, commonly known as the spike thorn family. The family has about 60 tree species in southern Africa, and thus counts as one of the ten largest tree families in the region. The largest genus of this family in the region is Gymnosporia. Most of the family members have spines, or are armed with spinescent shoots.

Habitat:Khat is found in woodlands and on rocky outcrops. It is scattered in KwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Cape, mostly from the mistbelt, moving inland. It is also found in the Western Cape, Mpumalanga, Swaziland, Mozambique and through to tropical Africa and the Arab countries.

Description:
Bushman’s tea is a shrub to small tree growing up to 10 m tall. The stem is usually straight and slender, with a narrow crown. The bark is light grey, becoming darker. It is rough and often cracked. The young stems are pinkish in colour. The leaves of this tree are opposite and are hanging. They have a leathery texture and are shiny bright green on the upper surface and paler beneath. The leaf margins are strongly serrated. Leaf stalks are short and pinkish in colour.

 

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Creamy-white to greenish minute flowers are borne in leaf axils in spring. They appear in clusters. In late October, the tree bears reddish brown, three-lobed capsules. They are 10 mm long and in late summer split to release the narrowly winged seeds.

Cultivation:
C edulis can be grown from seeds that are harvested just before the fruits split. The seeds may be sown in early spring, in trays filled with compost or seeding mix. The trays should be kept moist in a well-lit warm area. The seeds can also be sown straight into the prepared ground.

Bushman’s tea also grows quickly from root cuttings. Cuttings of new roots may be taken in the growing season, and planted immediately in pots filled with compost. They may then be covered with wood chippings to preserve heat and moisture. Cuttings should not be watered until the shoots have appeared, to avoid rotting.

Medicinal Uses:
A restorative tea made from the flowers (called flowers of paradise in Yemen ) of the plant is still consumed in Arabia. Mainly used as a social drug, khat is also chewed fresh or taken in an infusion to treat ailments such as malaria. In Africa, it is taken in old age, stimulating and improving mental function.  Khat is used in Germany to counter obesity.  Khat is usually packaged in plastic bags or wrapped in banana leaves to retain its moistness and freshness. It is often sprinkled with water during transport to keep the leaves moist. Khat also may be sold as dried or crushed leaves or in powdered form.  Khat is becoming increasingly available in the US, especially in cities like New York City, LA , Boston, California, Dallas, Detroit and Buffalo. It is commonly sold in restaurants, bars, grocery stores, and smoke shops that cater to East Africans and Yemenis after its importation from Kenya, Egypt, and Arabia. Because Khat in leaf form starts to lose its potency after 48 hours, it is generally shipped to the US on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays for weekend use.

How it works: In humans, it is a stimulant producing a feeling of exaltation, a feeling of being liberated from space and time.  It may produce extreme loquacity, inane laughing, and eventually semicoma. It may also be an euphorient and used chronically can lead to a form of delirium tremens. So, Khat chewing produces a mild cocaine- or amphetamine-like euphoria that is much less potent than either substance with no reports of a rush sensation or paranoia indicated.  Up to 80% of the adult population of Yemen use Khat. Upon first chewing Khat, the initial effects were unpleasant and included dizziness, lassitude, tachycardia, and sometimes epigastric pain. Gradually more pleasant feelings replaced these inaugural symptoms. The subjects had feelings of bliss, clarity of thought, and became euphoric and overly energetic. Sometimes Khat produced depression, sleepiness, and then deep sleep. The chronic user tended to be euphoric continually.  In rare cases the subjects became aggressive and overexcited .  In animals, Khat produces excitation and increased motor activity.  What Khat does: it stimulates brain and spinal cord through synapses resulting in: – Alleviation of fatigue and reduction of depression;  Euphoria , excitation , high activity and mood; Increasing levels of alertness and ability to concentrate; Increasing of confidence, friendliness, contentment and flow of ideas; Increases motor activity; Positive sexual effects ( regarding the desire and duration of sexual intercourse according to the type and source of Khat ); Dispel feeling of hunger;  It promotes communication; Casual users claim Khat lifts spirits, sharpens thinking; Advocates of Khat use claim that it eases symptoms of diabetes, asthma, and stomach/intestinal tract disorders;  Socially, it’s used to meet people, socialize with each others, communication issues and problems solving.

Fresh Khat leaves are typically chewed like tobacco. By filling the mouth to capacity with fresh leaves the user then chews intermittently to release the active components. Chewing Khat leaves produces a strong aroma and generates intense thirst.  Its intake occurs mostly in moderation esp. in a special Yemeni style rooms designed especially for that purpose with the fine famous Yemeni-furnishing style provided with water pipes and these special rooms called ” Diwan ” which are so large and wonderful rooms. It is also prepared as a tea, an infusion of water or milk is made, and then sweetened with honey.

Other Uses:
The wood of Bushman’s tea is also used for a number of purposes. It is hard and fine-grained, and therefore is good for firewood and furniture. The bark is also used as an insect repellent and the stem for fence poles.

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.plantzafrica.com/plantcd/cathedulis.htm
http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_IJK.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khat
http://www.lookfordiagnosis.com/mesh_info.php?term=catha&lang=1

http://toptropicals.com/pics/garden/m1/Aroma/Catha_edulis1403.jpg

http://toptropicals.com/pics/garden/m1/Aroma/Catha_edulis4599.jpg

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Sepsis

 

Alternative Names: Systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS),blood poisoning or septicaemia.

Definition:
Sepsis is a bacterial infection of the blood.It is a severe illness in which the bloodstream is overwhelmed by bacteria.While sepsis can happen to anyone, it’s most common and most dangerous in people who are elderly or who have weakened immune systems.

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Sepsis occurs when chemicals released into the bloodstream to fight the infection trigger inflammation throughout the body. This inflammation creates microscopic blood clots that can block nutrients and oxygen from reaching organs, causing them to fail. If sepsis progresses to septic shock, blood pressure drops dramatically and the person may die.

Early treatment of sepsis, usually with antibiotics and large amounts of intravenous fluids, improves chances for survival.

Symptoms:
In addition to symptoms related to the provoking infection, sepsis is characterized by presence of acute inflammation present throughout the entire body, and is, therefore, frequently associated with fever and elevated white blood cell count (leukocytosis) or low white blood cell count and lower-than-average temperature, and vomiting. The modern concept of sepsis is that the host’s immune response to the infection causes most of the symptoms of sepsis, resulting in hemodynamic consequences and damage to organs. This host response has been termed systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS) and is characterized by an elevated heart rate (above 90 beats per minute), high respiratory rate (above 20 breaths per minute or a partial pressure of carbon dioxide in the blood of less than 32), abnormal white blood cell count (above 12,000, lower than 4,000, or greater than 10% band forms) and elevated or lowered body temperature, i.e. under 36 °C (97 °F) or over 38 °C (100 °F). Sepsis is differentiated from SIRS by the presence of a known or suspected pathogen. For example SIRS and a positive blood culture for a pathogen indicates the presence of sepsis. However, in many cases of sepsis no specific pathogen is identified.

This immunological response causes widespread activation of acute-phase proteins, affecting the complement system and the coagulation pathways, which then cause damage to the vasculature as well as to the organs. Various neuroendocrine counter-regulatory systems are then activated as well, often compounding the problem. Even with immediate and aggressive treatment, this may progress to multiple organ dysfunction syndrome and eventually death.

Causes:
Sepsis is often a complication of another infection, such as of the lungs or kidneys, and occurs when the bacteria escape that part of the body and get into the bloodstream.

This bacteria can also come from burns, infected wounds, boils and tooth abscesses. Sometimes it isn’t obvious how it has got into your blood.

Anyone can develop sepsis. The people most at risk are those with weakened immune systems, because of an existing illness, for example, or medication.

Older people, children and intravenous drug users are also more susceptible.

In children, sepsis may accompany infection of the bone (osteomyelitis). In hospitalized patients, common sites of infection include intravenous lines, surgical wounds, surgical drains, and sites of skin breakdown known as bedsores (decubitus ulcers).

Risk Factors:
Sepsis is more common and more dangerous in people who:

*Are very young or very old
*Have compromised immune systems
*Are already very sick, often in a hospital’s intensive care unit
*Have invasive devices, such as intravenous catheters or breathing tubes

Complication:
As sepsis worsens, blood flow to vital organs, such as your brain, heart and kidneys, becomes impaired. Sepsis can also cause blood clots to form in your organs and in your arms, legs, fingers and toes — leading to varying degrees of organ failure and tissue death (gangrene).

Most people recover from mild sepsis, but the mortality rate for severe sepsis or septic shock is close to 50 percent.

Diagnosis:
The infection is often confirmed by a blood test. However, a blood test may not reveal infection in people who have been receiving antibiotics.

Other tests that may be done include:
•Blood gases
•Kidney function tests
•Platelet count
•White blood cell count
•Blood differential
•Fibrin degradation products
•Peripheral smear

Treatment;
Early, aggressive treatment boosts your chances of surviving sepsis. People with severe sepsis require close monitoring and treatment in a hospital intensive care unit. If one has severe sepsis or septic shock, lifesaving measures may be needed to stabilize breathing and heart function.

Medications
A number of different types of medications are used in treating sepsis. They include:

*Antibiotics. Treatment with antibiotics begins immediately — even before the infectious agent is identified. Initially you’ll receive broad-spectrum antibiotics, which are effective against a variety of bacteria. The antibiotics are administered intravenously (IV). After learning the results of blood tests, your doctor may switch to a different antibiotic that’s more appropriate against the particular bacteria causing the infection.

*Vasopressors. If your blood pressure remains too low even after receiving intravenous fluids, you may be given a vasopressor medication, which constricts blood vessels and helps to increase blood pressure.

*Others. Other medications you may receive include low doses of corticosteroids, insulin to help maintain stable blood sugar levels, drugs that modify the immune system responses, and painkillers or sedatives.Therapy

People with severe sepsis usually receive supportive care including oxygen and large amounts of intravenous fluids. Depending on your condition, you may need to have a machine help you breathe or dialysis for kidney failure.

Surgery
Surgery may be needed to remove sources of infection, such as collections of pus (abscesses).

Prognosis:
This section requires expansion.

Prognosis can be estimated with the Mortality in Emergency Department Sepsis (MEDS) score.  Approximately 20–35% of patients with severe sepsis and 40–60% of patients with septic shock die within 30 days. Others die within the ensuing 6 months. Late deaths often result from poorly controlled infection, immunosuppression, complications of intensive care, failure of multiple organs, or the patient’s underlying disease.

Prognostic stratification systems such as APACHE II indicate that factoring in the patient’s age, underlying condition, and various physiologic variables can yield estimates of the risk of dying of severe sepsis. Of the individual covariates, the severity of underlying disease most strongly influences the risk of death. Septic shock is also a strong predictor of short- and long-term mortality. Case-fatality rates are similar for culture-positive and culture-negative severe sepsis.

Some patients may experience severe long-term cognitive decline following an episode of severe sepsis, but the absence of baseline neuropsychological data in most sepsis patients makes the incidence of this difficult to quantify or to study. A preliminary study of nine patients with septic shock showed abnormalities in seven patients by MRI.

Disclaimer: This information is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advise or help. It is always best to consult with a Physician about serious health concerns. This information is in no way intended to diagnose or prescribe remedies.This is purely for educational purpose.
Resources:
http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/sepsis/DS01004
http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000666.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sepsis
http://www.bbc.co.uk/health/physical_health/conditions/sepsis.shtml
http://www.humenhealth.com/sepsis/sepsis.asp
http://images.emedicinehealth.com/images/4453/4453-4482-12996-21147.jpg

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Cymbalaria muralis

Botanical Name : Cymbalaria muralis
Family: Scrophulariaceae
Genus: Cymbalaria
Species: C. muralis
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Lamiales

SynonymsLinaria cymbalaria.

Common Name :Ivy-leaved toadflax or Kenilworth Ivy

Habitat :Cymbalaria muralis is native to Mediterranean Europe and widely naturalised elsewhere.

Description:
Cymbalaria muralis is a PERENNIAL plant. It is hardy to zone 3 and is not frost tender. It spreads quickly, growing up to 5 cm (2.0 in) tall—it commonly grows in rock and wall crevices, and along footpaths. The leaves are evergreen, rounded to heart-shaped, 2.5 to 5 cm (0.98 to 2.0 in) long and wide, three-seven lobed, alternating on thin stems. The flowers are very small, similar in shape to snapdragon flowers.It is in flower from May to September, and the seeds ripen from Jul to October. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees, self.The plant is self-fertile.
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This plant has an unusual method of propagation. The flower stalk is initially positively phototropic and moves towards the light—after fertilization it becomes negatively phototropic and moves away from the light. This results in seed being pushed into dark crevices of rock walls, where it is more likely to germinate and where it prefers to grow.

Cultivation :
Prefers a moderately good soil and some shade. Plants usually self-sow freely[188] and can be invasive, especially when grown on old walls[200]. They succeed both on dry-stone walls and on old mortared walls.

Propagation:
Seed – surface sow March to June in a cold frame and do not exclude light. The seed usually germinates in 2 – 4 weeks at 18°c[164]. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out into their permanent positions in the summer. Division in late spring. Very easy, larger clumps can be replanted direct into their permanent positions, though it is best to pot up smaller clumps and grow them on in a cold frame until they are rooting well. Plant them out in the spring.

Edible Uses :
Leaves  are  raw. The leaves have been used in salads, being acrid and pungent like cress. We find them rather bitter and not very pleasant, though they are available all year round and so might be useful in the winter.

Medicinal Uses:
Antiscorbutic;  Vulnerary.
The herb is antiscorbutic and vulnerary. It is used externally as a poultice on fresh wounds to stop the bleeding. There are reports that it has been used with success in India for the treatment of diabetes.

Other Uses : A clear yellow dye is obtained from the flowers, though it is not very permanent.

Known Hazards :  The plant might be slightly toxic

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

Resources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cymbalaria_muralis
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Cymbalaria+muralis
http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_IJK.htm

Kapok

Botanical Name :Ceiba pentandra
Family: Malvaceae
Genus: Ceiba
Species: C. pentandra
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Malvales

Common Name :Kapok,Silk Cotton Tree, Simal, Red Cotton Tree

Habitat :Ceiba pentandra is native to Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean, northern South America, and (as the variety C. pentandra var. guineensis) to tropical west Africa.

Description:
The tree grows to 60-70 m (200-230 ft) tall and has a very substantial trunk up to 3 m (10 ft) in diameter with buttresses. The trunk and many of the larger branches are often (but not always) crowded with very large, robust simple thorns. The leaves are compound of 5 to 9 leaflets, each up to 20 cm (8 in) and palm like. Adult trees produce several hundred 15 cm (6 in) seed pods. The pods contain seeds surrounded by a fluffy, yellowish fibre that is a mix of lignin and cellulose.

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Medicinal Uses;
The seed, leaves, bark and resin havebeen used to treat dysentery,asthma and kidney disease. Internally it also used for abnormal utrine bleeding,diarrhea in children(gum),bronchial cong (bark,leaves) Externally in bath  , for fevers and headaches (bark,leaves) and wounds(bark). The claim by  Nigerian tradional herbal medicine practiones that the silk cotton tree, barks has antibiotic  properities was investigated. Diabetes mellitus was induced with  streptozotocin and graded dose of the aqueous bark extract caused a statically significant reduction in plasma glucose level in streptozotocin induced diabetic rats.The extract appeared non toxic as evidance by normal serum levels at AST,ALT andbilirubin. The data appear to support the hypoglycemic effects of C. pentandra.
Ceiba pentandra bark decoction has been used as a diuretic, aphrodisiac, and to treat headache, as well as type II diabetes.

Ceiba pentandra is used as an additive to some versions of the hallucinogenic drink Ayahuasca.

Other Uses:
The fibre is light, very buoyant, resilient and resistant to water. The process of harvesting and separating the fibre is labour-intensive and manual. It is difficult to spin but is used as an alternative to down as filling in mattresses, pillows, upholstery, zafus, and stuffed toys such as teddy bears, and for insulation. It was previously much used in life jackets and similar devices until synthetic materials largely replaced the fibre. The seeds produce an oil used locally in soap and that can be used as fertilizer.

Native tribes along the Amazon River harvest the kapok fibre to wrap around their blowgun darts. The fibres create a seal that allows the pressure to force the dart through the tube.

The commercial tree is most heavily cultivated in the rainforests of Asia, notably in Java (hence its nicknames), Philippines, Malaysia, Hainan Island in China as well as in South America.

The flowers are an important source of nectar and pollen for honeybees.

This tree is the official national tree of Puerto Rico and Guatemala.

Ceiba pentandra is used as an additive to some versions of the hallucinogenic drink Ayahuasca.

Kapok seed oil
A pressed seed oil can be derived from from the seeds of the kapok tree. The oil has a yellow color and a pleasant, mild odor and taste.[1]. It has similar characteristics to cottonseed oil. It becomes rancid quickly when exposed to air. Kapok oil is produced in India, Indonesia and Malaysia. It has an iodine value of 85-100, which makes it a nondrying oil. This means that it does not dry out significantly when exposed to the air.[1]. Kapok oil has some potential as a biofuel and in paint preparation.

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

Resources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ceiba_pentandra
http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_IJK.htm

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