Mentha longifolia

Botanical Name : Mentha longifolia
Family: Lamiaceae
Genus: Mentha
Species: M. longifolia
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Lamiales

Synonyms:  M. sylvestris. M. incana.

Common Name :Horsemint

Habitat :Mentha longifolia is native to Central and southern Europe, including Britain, Mediterranean region, Siberia. Grows in waste places and damp roadsides.Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and can grow in heavy clay soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil. The plant can tolerates strong winds but not maritime exposure.

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There are seven subspecies:

1.Mentha longifolia subsp. longifolia. Europe, northwest Africa.
2.Mentha longifolia subsp. capensis (Thunb.) Briq. Southern Africa.
3.Mentha longifolia subsp. grisella (Briq.) Briq. Southeastern Europe.
4.Mentha longifolia subsp. noeana (Briq.) Briq. Turkey east to Iran.
5.Mentha longifolia subsp. polyadena (Briq.) Briq. Southern Africa.
6.Mentha longifolia subsp. typhoides (Briq.) Harley. Northeast Africa, southwest Asia.
7.Mentha longifolia subsp. wissii (Launert) Codd. Southwestern Africa.

It has been widely confused with tomentose variant plants of Mentha spicata; it can be distinguished from these by the hairs being simple unbranched, in contrast to the branched hairs of M. spicata.

Like almost all mints, Mentha longifolia can be invasive. Care needs to be taken when planting it in non-controlled areas.

It is hardy to zone 6 and is not frost tender. It is in flower from Aug to September, and the seeds ripen from Sep to October. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects.It is noted for attracting wildlife.

Cultivation:   
An easily grown plant, it succeeds in most soils and situations so long as the soil is not too dry. Grows well in heavy clay soils. A sunny position is best for production of essential oils, but the plants also succeed in partial shade. There is some confusion over the name of this plant, it appears in the British flora but according to Flora Europaea it is not found in Britain. Sometimes cultivated for its leaves, there are some named varieties. Most mints have fairly aggressive spreading roots and, unless you have the space to let them roam, they need to be restrained by some means such as planting them in containers that are buried in the soil. Hybridizes freely with other members of this genus. The whole plant has a mint-like aroma. The flowers are very attractive to bees and butterflies. A good companion plant for growing near cabbages and tomatoes, helping to keep them free of insect pests. Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer.

Propagation:       
Seed – sow spring in a cold frame. Germination is usually fairly quick. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and plant them out in the summer. Mentha species are very prone to hybridisation and so the seed cannot be relied on to breed true. Even without hybridisation, seedlings will not be uniform and so the content of medicinal oils etc will vary. When growing plants with a particular aroma it is best to propagate them by division. Division can be easily carried out at almost any time of the year, though it is probably best done in the spring or autumn to allow the plant to establish more quickly. Virtually any part of the root is capable of growing into a new plant. Larger divisions can be planted out direct into their permanent positions. However, for maximum increase it is possible to divide the roots up into sections no more than 3cm long and pot these up in light shade in a cold frame. They will quickly become established and can be planted out in the summer

Edible Uses:    
Edible Parts: Leaves.
Edible Uses: Condiment;  Tea.

Leaves – raw or cooked. Peppermint-scented, they are used as a flavouring in salads, chutneys and cooked foods. A herb tea is made from the leaves. An essential oil obtained from the leaves and flowering tops is used as a food flavouring in sweets etc. A peppermint-like taste.

Medicinal Uses:
Antiasthmatic;  Antiseptic;  Antispasmodic;  Carminative;  Stimulant.

Horsemint, like many other members of this genus, is often used as a domestic herbal remedy, being valued especially for its antiseptic properties and its beneficial effect on the digestion. Like other members of the genus, it is best not used by pregnant women because large doses can cause an abortion. The leaves and flowering stems are antiasthmatic, antispasmodic, carminative and stimulant. A tea made from the leaves has traditionally been used in the treatment of fevers, headaches, digestive disorders and various minor ailments. The leaves are harvested as the plant comes into flower and can be dried for later use. The essential oil in the leaves is antiseptic, though it is toxic in large doses.

A popular traditional medicine. It is mainly used for respiratory ailments but many other uses have also been recorded. It is mostly the leaves that are used, usually to make a tea that is drunk for coughs, colds, stomach cramps, asthma, flatulence, indigestion and headaches. Externally, wild mint has been used to treat wounds and swollen glands. The infusion of leaves is taken as a cooling medicine. Dried leaves and flowers tops are carminative and stimulant. It is believed to the best remedy for headaches.  In parts of Africa it is used for opthalmatic diseases.  The leaves are harvested as the plant comes into flower and can be dried for later use.  It will make a soothing drink for coughs and colds.  The essential oil in the leaves is antiseptic, though it is toxic in large doses. Externally it has been used to treat wounds and swollen glands.
 
Other Uses  :
Essential;  Repellent;  Strewing.

The leaves contain about 0.57% essential oil. It is sometimes used as a substitute for peppermint oil in confectionery. Rats and mice intensely dislike the smell of mint. The plant was therefore used in homes as a strewing herb and has also been spread in granaries to keep the rodents off the grain.
Known Hazards:  Although no records of toxicity have been seen for this species, large quantities of some members of this genus, especially when taken in the form of the extracted essential oil, can cause abortions so some caution is advised.

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

Resources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mentha_longifolia
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Mentha+longifolia
http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_LMN.htm

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Mint

Botanical Name : Mentha spp
Family: Lamiaceae
Tribe: Mentheae
Genus: Mentha
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Lamiales

Common Name:Mint

Habitat : Mentha spp has subcosmopolitan distribution across Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia, and North America.While the species that make up the Mentha genus are widely distributed and can be found in many environments, most Mentha grow best in wet environments and moist soils. Mints will grow 10–120 cm tall and can spread over an indeterminate area. Due to their tendency to spread unchecked, mints are considered invasive.

Description:
Mints are aromatic, almost exclusively perennial, rarely annual, herbs. They have wide-spreading underground and overground stolons and erect, square, branched stems. The leaves are arranged in opposite pairs, from oblong to lanceolate, often downy, and with a serrate margin. Leaf colors range from dark green and gray-green to purple, blue, and sometimes pale yellow.  The flowers are white to purple and produced in false whorls called verticillasters. The corolla is two-lipped with four subequal lobes, the upper lobe usually the largest. The fruit is a small, dry capsule containing one to four seeds.

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You may click to see different species of Mint

Cultivation :
Mentha x gracilis and M. rotundifolia. The steel ring is to control the spread of the plant.All mints prefer, and thrive in, cool, moist spots in partial shade. In general, mints tolerate a wide range of conditions, and can also be grown in full sun.

They are fast growing, extending their reach along surfaces through a network of runners. Due to their speedy growth, one plant of each desired mint, along with a little care, will provide more than enough mint for home use. Some mint species are more invasive than others. Even with the less invasive mints, care should be taken when mixing any mint with any other plants, lest the mint take over. To control mints in an open environment, mints should be planted in deep, bottomless containers sunk in the ground, or planted above ground in tubs and barrels.

Some mints can be propagated by seed. Growth from seed can be an unreliable method for raising mint for two reasons: mint seeds are highly variable – one might not end up with what one presupposed was planted; and some mint varieties are sterile. It is more effective to take and plant cuttings from the runners of healthy mints.

The most common and popular mints for cultivation are peppermint (Mentha × piperita), spearmint (Mentha spicata), and (more recently) apple mint (Mentha suaveolens).

Mints are supposed to make good companion plants, repelling pest insects and attracting beneficial ones. Mints are susceptible to whitefly and aphids.

Harvesting of mint leaves can be done at any time. Fresh mint leaves should be used immediately or stored up to a couple of days in plastic bags within a refrigerator. Optionally, mint can be frozen in ice cube trays. Dried mint leaves should be stored in an airtight container placed in a cool, dark, dry area.

Edible Uses:
The leaf, fresh or dried, is the culinary source of mint. Fresh mint is usually preferred over dried mint when storage of the mint is not a problem. The leaves have a warm, fresh, aromatic, sweet flavor with a cool aftertaste. Mint leaves are used in teas, beverages, jellies, syrups, candies, and ice creams. In Middle Eastern cuisine, mint is used on lamb dishes, while in British cuisine and American cuisine, mint sauce and mint jelly are used, respectively.

Mint is a necessary ingredient in Touareg tea, a popular tea in northern African and Arab countries.

Alcoholic drinks sometimes feature mint for flavor or garnish, such as the mint julep and the mojito. Crème de menthe is a mint-flavored liqueur used in drinks such as the grasshopper.

Mint essential oil and menthol are extensively used as flavorings in breath fresheners, drinks, antiseptic mouth rinses, toothpaste, chewing gum, desserts, and candies; see mint (candy) and mint chocolate. The substances that give the mints their characteristic aromas and flavors are menthol (the main aroma of Peppermint and Japanese Peppermint) and pulegone (in Pennyroyal and Corsican Mint). The compound primarily responsible for the aroma and flavor of spearmint is R-carvone.

Medicinal Uses:
Ayurvedic physicians have used mint for centuries as a tonic and digestive aid and as a treatment for colds, cough, and fever.  Medieval German abbess/herbalist Hildegard of Bingen recommended mint for digestion and gout.  Shortly after Culpeper wrote about the benefits of mint, peppermint and spearmint were differentiated, and herbalists decided the former was the better digestive aid, cough remedy, and treatment for colds and fever.  Spearmint cannot replace peppermint in combined bile and liver or nerve herbal teas even though it is used as a stomachic and carminative.

The Chinese use bo he ( M. arvensis) as a cooling remedy for head colds and influenza and also for some types of headaches, sore throats, and eye inflammations.  As a liver stimulant, it is added to remedies for digestive disorders or liver qi (energy) stagnation).  Disperses wind-heat: for patterns of wind-heat with fever, headache and cough.  Clears the head and eyes and benefits the throat: for patterns of wind-heat with sore throat, red eyes, and headache.  Vents rashes: used in the early stages of rashes such as measles to induce the rash to come to the surface and thereby speed recovery.

Peppermint also contains antioxidants that help prevent cancer, heart disease and other diseases associated with aging.  From Jim Duke’s “Green Pharmacy” comes a Stone Tea for gallstone attach:  brew a mint tea from as many mints as possible especially spearmint and peppermint and add some cardamom, the richest source of borneol, another compound that is helpful.
The oil of peppermint has been shown to be antimicrobial and antiviral against Newcastle disease, herpes simplex, vaccinia, Semliki Forest and West Nile viruses.

Menthol is an allergic sensitizer that may cause hives.  The menthol in oil of peppermint is an effective local anesthetic.  It increases the sensitivity of the receptors in the skin that perceive the sensation of coolness and reduces the sensitivity of the receptors that perceive pain and itching.  Menthol is also a counterirritant, an agent that causes the small blood vessels under the skin to dilate, increasing the flow of blood to the area and making the skin feel warm.  When you apply a skin lotion made with menthol, your skin feels cool for a minutes, then warm.  Menthol’s anesthetic properties also make it useful in sprays and lozenges for sore throats.

Other Uses:
Used asinsecticide :  Mint oil is  used as an environmentally-friendly insecticide for its ability to kill some common pests like wasps, hornets, ants and cockroaches.

Used as Room Scent and Aromatherapy:  Known in Greek Mythology as the herb of hospitality, one of the first known uses for mint in Europe was as a room deodorizer. The herb was strewn across floors to cover the smell of the hard-packed soil. Stepping on the mint helped to spread its scent through the room. Today, it is more commonly used for aromatherapy through the use of essential oils

Mints are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including Buff Ermine.

Taxonomy:
Mentha is a member of the tribe Mentheae in the subfamily Nepetoideae. The tribe contains about 65 genera and relationships within it remain obscure. Different authors have disagreed on the circumscription of Mentha. Some authors have excluded Mentha cervina from the genus. Mentha cunninghamii has also been excluded by some authors, even in some recent treatments of the genus. In 2004, a molecular phylogenetic study indicated that both of these species should be included in Mentha.

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_LMN.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mentha

Montia perfoliata

Botanical Name :Montia perfoliata
Family: Portulacaceae
Genus: Claytonia
Species: C. perfoliata
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Caryophyllales

Synonims:Claytonia perfoliata

Common Names:Miner’s lettuce, Winter Purslane, or Indian lettuce

Habitat:Montia perfoliata is  native to the western mountain and coastal regions of North America from southernmost Alaska and central British Columbia south to Central America, but most common in California in the Sacramento and northern San Joaquin valleys.It is widely naturalized in western Europe, where it was introduced in 1749.

Description:
Montia perfoliata is a trailing plant, growing to a maximum of 40 cm in length, but mature plants can be as small as 1 cm. The cotyledons are usually bright green (rarely purplish or brownish-green), succulent, long and narrow. The first true leaves form a rosette at the base of the plant, and are 0.5-4 cm long, with an often long petiole (exceptionally up to 20 cm long).
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The small pink or white flowers have five petals 2-6 mm long; they appear from February to May or June, and are grouped 5-40 together above a pair of leaves that are united together around the stem to appear as one circular leaf. Mature plants have numerous erect to spreading stems that branch from the base.

It is common in the spring, and it prefers cool, damp conditions. It first appears in sunlit areas after the first heavy rains. Though, the best stands are found in shaded areas, especially in the uplands, into the early summer. As the days get hotter, the leaves turn a deep red color as they dry out.

Edible Uses;
It can be eaten as a leaf vegetable. Most commonly it is eaten raw in salads, but it is not quite as delicate as other lettuce. Sometimes it is boiled like spinach, which it resembles in taste.

Medicinal Uses:
Apart from its value as a nourishing vegetable, miner’s lettuce, like its relative purslane, may be taken as a spring tonic and an effective diuretic.Montia perfoliata  used by California Gold Rush miners who ate it to get their vitamin C to prevent scurvy.

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/Claytonia_perfoliata
http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_LMN.htm

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SOME HEALTHY TIPS

HEALTH BENEFITS OF APPLE CIDER VINEGER….
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In India, Ayurvedic physicians prescribe apple cider vinegar in combination with the herb Gotu Kola to help in the revitalizing of the skin. Indians have been known to consume apple cider vinegar in combination with honey to improve digestion.
It contributes greatly to the breaking down of food in the body and also prevents harmful bacteria from multiplying. Even respiratory infections can be kept at bay, sore throats improve, and nasal discharges decrease.

The benefits of apple cider vinegar have been proclaimed by the ancient Egyptians and have been traditionally used by them to treat ailments of all kinds. In fact they believed apple cider acted as a tonic improving the circulation and flow of blood.

Apples are allowed to ferment and this fermented fruit acid, which is loaded with pectin and minerals like potassium, chlorine, magnesium, sodium and calcium, seems to be a panacea. In addition it contains vitamins and beta-carotene. In fact experiments have proved that it contains carbolic acids, aldehydes, ketones, alcohols and acetates also.

It is no wonder than that the health benefits of apple cider vinegar are infinite. Pectin in the apples is a fiber, which attaches itself to cholesterol globules, and when combined with the herb centella aids in getting rid of bad cholesterol and helps in regulating blood pressure.  This fruit acid is often used by some as a final hair-rinse.

A look at how the minerals contribute to the overall health of a person is very fascinating. The potassium present in apple cider vinegar is vital because it helps to remove the excess water and also the toxic waste. The excess of sodium is also drawn out and it helps to regulate blood pressure.
Calcium, which is important for the bones and for combating osteoporosis, is an important constituent of apple cider vinegar. The beta carotene actually is supposed to help people to retain their youth longer as it counters effectively the damage made by free radicals..

The virtues of apple cider vinegar seem to extend itself beyond normal peripheries. Every constituent seems to play an important role. The malic acid and acetic acid present help to combat fungal and bacterial infections and relieves painful joints. The malic acid dissolves the deposits of uric acid, which form around the joints, and slowly pushes the acid deposits out of the body. It seems to even have some effect on viruses.

The amino acids present in apple cider vinegar act as an antibiotic and an antiseptic. It has been known to drastically reduce the toxicity in the body. This is because the acetic acid is able to form acetate compounds, which are not so toxic. This property makes it very useful while treating insect bites and skin allergies.

Arthritis has plagued people for centuries and apple cider combined with centella actually relieves pain due to arthritis. By Strengthening arteries and assisting in healing of wounds, improving skin lesions and reducing the effects of varicose veins, apple cider vinegar has been elevated to the status of a total health benefit product. It reduces stress and tension and revitalizes the body. The health benefits of  apple cider vinegar just cannot be ignored.

Apple cider vinegar speeds up metabolism especially when taken regularly before meals and if used in conjunction with a sensible diet and exercise program it can be a powerful aid in keeping your weight under control.. Apple cider vinegar has less salt, less sugar and less fat, helps in digestion and helps in the metabolism of food. If the metabolic activity increases, then more food is used to get energy and less of it is stored as fat. So if you want to lose weight, use apple cider vinegar.

Possibly what contributes to the all round potency of apple cider vinegar is the number of enzymes and organic acids produced during the 2 fermentations.  apple cider vinegar is claimed to be a  natural multi vitamin and mineral treasure house. Even Hippocrates—the father of medicine acknowledged the wonderful healing properties of apple cider vinegar.  ~ author Lata Batra..

HEALTH BENEFITS OF FLAXSEED OIL……..
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Flaxseed oil contains lignans, which can be used to counter hormone related problems and ward off the ill effects of certain, bacteria and fungi. Studies, which have been conducted show that the health benefits of flaxseed oil are extensive. It controls high blood pressure, helps to lower cholesterol and guards against heart disease. Flaxseed oil also protects against angina and could prevent a second heart attack. The health benefits of flaxseed oil also extend to combating inflammation due to gout, lupus and also inflammation in the joints and kidneys. Flaxseed oil reduces the intensity of joint pain and also reduces joint swelling. The omega 3 acids present in flaxseed oil helps to absorb the iodine and this is very useful in treating conditions where this element is present in small amounts.

Surprisingly, flaxseed oil is also useful in controlling constipation. The dietary fiber content in the oil is considerable and helps to ease bowel movements. As it has been known to combat inflammation, it is useful in repairing any intestinal tract damage. It has been known to keep those gallstones at bay and sometimes dissolve existing stones.

Problems associated with the skin have a ready remedy in flaxseed oil. The EFAs target the sites of inflammation and brings about an overall soothing. Acne, eczema, psoriasis, sunburn and rosacea have all been known to respond favorably to flaxseed oil. The omega 3 acids ensure healthy hair and nails and it also helps to revitalize skin and prevents nails from cracking and breaking.

Flaxseed oil helps to reduce the severity of nerve damage and also aids in the triggering of nerve impulses. As it nourishes the nerve, it may possibly be of some use in the treating of Parkinson’s disease. It helps to combat the effects of aging and the lignans present in the oil guard against cancer. Sprains and bruises heal faster on the application of flaxseed oil. Another important area where it is of great help is the brain. The omega 3 fatty acids help retain emotional health of a person, helping to tackle depression and possibly Alzheimer’s disease. Used externally, it can soften dry skin. The gel of flaxseed has been used as a poultice on injured areas in many Indian homes.. In fact, rural India  has been advocating the use of flaxseed oil for quite a long time.

The oil is used in cooking and is ingested in the capsule form for various other disorders. 2-3 grams of flaxseed oil is good although no side effects have been detected with people who consume more. Flaxseeds themselves can be crushed and used along with beverages, bread and other baked products. The oil should however be kept away from heat and light. In the light of so many advantages, it actually seems worthwhile to do away with vegetable oils and replace it with flaxseed oil. The health benefits afforded by flaxseed oil almost makes it out to be a miracle oil.

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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HEALTH ALERT

SOME CAUSES OF BRAIN DAMAGE…………………
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1.           No Breakfast  People who do not take breakfast are going to have a lower blood sugar level. This leads to an insufficient supply of nutrients to the brain causing brain degeneration.

      
2.           Overeating:   It causes hardening of the brain arteries, leading to a decrease in mental power.

3.           Smoking :   It causes multiple brain shrinkage and may lead to Alzheimer disease.

4.           High Sugar consumption:   Too much sugar will interrupt the absorption of proteins and nutrients causing malnutrition and may interfere with brain development.

5.           Air Pollution  The brain is the largest oxygen consumer in our 20 body. Inhaling polluted air decreases the supply of oxygen to the brain, bringing about a decrease in brain efficiency.

6.           Sleep Deprivation :   Sleep allows our brain to rest… Long term deprivation from sleep will accelerate the death of brain cells…

7.           Head covered while sleeping :   Sleeping with the head covered increases the concentration of carbon dioxide and decrease concentration of oxygen that may lead to brain damaging effects.

8.           Working your brain during illness :   Working hard or studying with sickness may lead to a decrease in effectiveness of the brain as well as damage the brain.

9.           Lacking in stimulating thoughts:   Thinking is the best way to train our brain, lacking in brain stimulation thoughts may cause brain shrinkage.

10.       Talking Rarely :   Intellectual conversations will promote the efficiency of the brain.

 

SOME CAUSES OF LIVER DAMAGE
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1.           Sleeping too late and waking up too late are main cause.
   
2.           Not urinating in the morning.
   
3.           Too much eating.
   
4.           Skipping breakfast.
   
5.           Consuming too much medication.
   
6.           Consuming too much preservatives, additives, food colouring, and artificial sweetener.
 
7.           Consuming unhealthycooking oil. As much as possible reduce cooking oil when frying, which includes even the best cooking oils like olive oil. Do not consume fried foods when you are tired, except if the body is very fit.

8.           Consuming raw (overly done) foods also add to the burden of liver. Veggies should be eaten raw or cooked 3-5 parts. Fried veggies should be finished in one sitting, do not store.

We should prevent this without necessarily spending more. We just have to adopt a good daily lifestyle and eating habits. Maintaining good eating habits and time condition are very important for our bodies to absorb and get rid of unnecessary chemicals according to ‘schedule.’

TOP FIVE CANCER CAUSING FOODS
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1.     Hot Dogs.……
Because they are high in nitrates, the Cancer Prevention Coalition advises that children eat no more than 12 hot dogs a month. If you can’t live without hot dogs, buy those made withoutsodium nitrate.

2.     Processed meats and Bacon……
Also high in the same sodium nitrates found inhot dogs, bacon, and other processed meats raise the risk of heart disease. The saturated fat in bacon also contributes to cancer.

3.     Doughnuts……..
Doughnuts are cancer-causing double trouble. First, they are made with white flour, sugar, andhydrogenated oils, then fried at high temperatures. Doughnuts may be the worst food you can possibly eat to raise your risk of cancer.

4.     French fries……
Like doughnuts, French fries are made withhydrogenated oils and then fried at high temperatures. They also contain cancer- causing acryl amides which occur during the frying process. They should be called cancer fries, not French fries.

5.     Chips, crackers, and cookies………….
All are usually made with white flour and sugar. Even the ones whose labels claim to be free of trans-fats generally contain small amounts of trans-fats.

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Asclepias physocarpa

Botanical Name: Asclepias physocarpa
Family: Apocynaceae
Subfamily: Asclepiadoideae
Genus: Asclepias
Species: A. physocarpa
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Gentianales

Common Name:Balloonplant, Balloon cotton-bush or Swan plant or South African Milkweed

Habitat : Asclepias physocarpa is native to southeast Africa, but it has been widely naturalized.

Description:
Asclepias physocarpa is an undershrub perennial herb, that can grow to over six feet. The plant blooms in warm months. It grows on roadside banks, at elevations of 2800 to 5000 feet above sea level. The plant prefers moderate moisture, as well as sandy and well-drained soil and full sun.

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The flowers are small, with white hoods and about 1 cm across. The capsule is a pale green, and in shape an inflated sphere. It is covered with rough hairs. It reaches three inches in diameter. The leaves are light green, linear to lanceolate and 3 to 4 inches long, 1.2 cm broad. The seeds have silky tufts.

This plant will readily hybridize with Asclepias fruticosa creating intermediate forms

Medicinal Uses:
Asclepias physocarpa is used for intestinal troubles in children or as a remedy for colds.  The powdered leaves were dried for snuff.

Other Usees:
Asclepias physocarpa plant  is often used as an ornamental plant. The name “balloonplant” is an allusion to the swelling bladder-like pods which are full of seeds.

The plant is a food source for the caterpillars of Danaus butterflies, and is a specific Monarch butterfly food and habitat plant. It is also popular in traditional medicine to cure various ailments.

All of the milkweeds are named for a milky sap in the plant’s stem and leaves. After the Monarch caterpillar has metamorphosed into a butterfly, the alkaloids from the sap they ingested from the plant are retained in the butterfly, making it unpalatable to predators

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_LMN.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asclepias_physocarpa

http://www.jardineiro.net/plantas/flor-borboleta-asclepias-physocarpa.html

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Asclepias syriaca

Botanical Name : Asclepias syriaca
Family: Apocynaceae
Subfamily: Asclepiadoideae
Genus: Asclepias
Species: A. syriaca
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Gentianales

Common Names:Common Milkweed, Butterfly flower, Silkweed, Silky Swallow-wort, Virginia Silkweed

Habitat :Asclepias syriaca is native to most of North America east of the Rocky Mountains, excluding the drier parts of the Prairies. It grows in sandy soils and appreciates lots of sunlight. It was one of the earliest North American species described in Cornut’s 1635 Canadensium plantarum historia. The specific name was reused by Linnaeus due to Cornut’s confusion with a species from Asia Minor.

It grows in thickets, roadsides, dry fields and waste places

Description:
Asclepias syriaca is a herbaceous perennial plant growing to 1–2 m tall from a rhizome. The stem and all parts of the plants produce a white latex when broken. The leaves are opposite, simple broad ovate-lanceolate, 7–25 cm long and 3–12 cm broad, usually with an undulate margin and a red-colored main vein. They have a very short petiole and a velvety underside.
CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES.
The flowers are grouped in several spherical umbels with numerous flowers in each umbel. The individual flowers are small, 1–2 cm diameter, perfumed, with five cornate hoods. The seeds are attached to long, white flossy hairs and encased in large follicles.

It is hardy to zone 3. It is in flower from Jul to August, and the seeds ripen from Aug to October. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees, insects, lepidoptera.It is noted for attracting wildlife.

Cultivation:
Succeeds in any good soil. Prefers a well-drained light rich or peaty soil. Requires a moist peaty soil and a sunny position. Plants are hardy to about -25°c. A very ornamental plant, though it can be invasive by means of its spreading root system. The flowers diffuse a delicious scent into the garden. This scent attracts bees, who obtain copious supplies of nectar from the plants, though unfortunately the plants do not always flower in Britain. The flower of many members of this genus can trap insects between its anther cells, the struggles of the insect in escaping ensure the pollination of the plant. This plant has a very wide range of uses and merits attention as a food, fibre and rubber crop. It was possibly cultivated at one time by the North American Indians for its many uses. It is considered by some to be the greatest underachiever among plants. Its potential appears great, yet until now it has never been continuously processed for commercial purposes. Many members of this genus seem to be particularly prone to damage by slugs. The young growth in spring is especially vulnerable, but older growth is also attacked and even well-established plants have been destroyed in wet years. Plants resent root disturbance and are best planted into their final positions whilst small.

Propagation:      
Seed – best sown in a greenhouse as soon as it is ripe in the autumn or in late winter. We have also had good results from sowing the seed in the greenhouse in early spring, though stored seed might need 2 – 3 weeks cold stratification. Germination usually takes place in 1 – 3 months at 18°c. As soon as the seedlings are large enough to handle, prick them out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for their first winter. Plant out when they are in active growth in late spring or early summer and give them some protection from slugs until they are growing away strongly. Division in spring. With great care since the plant resents root disturbance. Pot the divisions up and place them in a lightly shaded position in the greenhouse until they are growing away strongly, then plant them out in the summer, giving them some protection from slugs until they are established.. Basal cuttings in late spring. Use shoots about 10cm long with as much of their white underground stem as possible. Pot them up individually and place them in a lightly shaded position in a greenhouse until they are rooting and growing actively. If the plants grow sufficiently, they can be put into their permanent positions in the summer, otherwise keep them in the greenhouse until the following spring and when they are in active growth plant them out into their permanent positions. Give them some protection from slugs until they are established.

Edible Uses     
Edible Parts: Flowers;  Leaves;  Oil;  Oil;  Seed;  Seedpod.
Edible Uses: Gum;  Oil;  Oil;  Sweetener.

Unopened flower buds – cooked. They taste somewhat like peas. They are used like broccoli. Flowers and young flower buds – cooked. They have a mucilaginous texture and a pleasant flavour, they can be used as a flavouring and a thickener in soups etc. The flower clusters can be boiled down to make a sugary syrup. The flowers are harvested in the early morning with the dew still on them. When boiled up they make a brown sugar. Young shoots – cooked. An asparagus substitute. They should be used when less than 20cm tall. A slightly bitter taste. Tips of older shoots are cooked like spinach. Young seed pods, 3 – 4 cm long, cooked. They are very appetizing. Best used when about 2 – 4cm long and before the seed floss forms, on older pods remove any seed floss before cooking them. If picked at the right time, the pods resemble okra. The sprouted seeds can be eaten. An edible oil is obtained from the seed. The latex in the stems is a suitable replacement for chicle and can be made into a chewing gum. It is not really suitable for use in tyres. The latex is found mainly in the leaves and is destroyed by frost. Yields are higher on dry soils.

 
Medicinal Uses:
Anodyne;  Contraceptive;  Diaphoretic;  Diuretic;  Emetic;  Expectorant;  Homeopathy;  Purgative;  Warts.

The root is anodyne, diaphoretic, diuretic, emetic, expectorant and purgative. It has been used in the treatment of asthma, kidney stones, venereal disease etc. Caution is advised, see the notes above on toxicity. An infusion of the pounded roots has been used by the women of some native North American Indian tribes to promote temporary sterility. The leaves and/or the latex are used in folk remedies for treating cancer and tumours. The milky latex from the stems and leaves is used in the treatment of warts. The latex needs to be applied at least daily over a period of up to a few weeks to be effective. The stems can be cooked and applied as a poultice on rheumatic joints. One reported Mohawk antifertility concoction contained milkweed and jack-in-the-pulpit, both considered contraceptive. Dried and pulverized, a fistful of milkweed and three Arisaema rhizomes were infused in a pint of water for 20 minutes. The infusion was drunk, a cupful an hour, to induce temporary sterility. The rhizome is used in homeopathy as an antioedemic and emmenagogue in the treatment of dropsy and dysmenorrhoea.

A root decoction (either fresh or dried) strengthens the heart in a different way from digitalis, and without the foxglove derivative’s toxicity.  It also soothes the nerves and is listed as an emetic, anthelmintic (kills worms) and stomach tonic.  It helps relieve edema probably by strengthening the heart.  It’s also a diaphoretic and expectorant.  It’s used for coughs, colds, arthritis aggravated by the cold, threatened inflammation of the lungs, asthma, bronchitis, female disorders, diarrhea and gastric mucus.  The milky sap is used topically, fresh or dried, to reduce warts.

The root is emetic and cathartic in large doses.  In average doses it is considered diuretic, expectorant and diaphoretic.  It is said to produce temporary sterility if taken as a tea.
HOMEOPATHIC: Used for afflictions of the nerves and the urinary tract and for pressing

Other Uses:
Adhesive;  Fibre;  Gum;  Latex;  Oil;    Pollution;  Stuffing;  Wick.

A good quality fibre is obtained from the inner bark of the stems. It is long and quite strong, but brittle. It can be used in making twine, cloth, paper etc. The fibre is of poor quality in wet seasons. It is easily harvested in late autumn after the plant has died down by simply pulling the fibres off the dried stems. It is estimated that yields of 1,356 kilos per hectare could be obtained from wild plants. The seed floss is used to stuff pillows etc or is mixed with other fibres to make cloth. It is a Kapok substitute, used in Life Jackets or as a stuffing material. Very water repellent, it can yield up to 550 kilos per hectare. The floss absorbs oil whilst repelling water and so has also been used to mop up oil spills at sea. Candlewicks can be made from the seed floss. In cultivation, only 1 – 3% of the flowers produce mature pods. It is estimated that yields of 1,368 kilos per hectare could be obtained from wild plants. Rubber can be made from latex contained in the leaves and the stems. It is found mainly in the leaves and is destroyed by frost. Yields of 197 kilos per hectare can be expected from wild plants, it is estimated that by selection these yields could be increased to 897 kilos. Yields are higher on dry soils. The latex can also be used as a glue for fixing precious stones into necklaces, earrings etc. The latex contains 0.1 – 1.5% caoutchouc, 16 – 17% dry matter, and 1.23% ash. It also contains the digitalis-like mixture of a- and b-asclepiadin, the antitumor b-sitosterol, and a- and b-amyrin and its acetate, dextrose and wax. Pods contain an oil and a wax which are of potential importance. The seed contains up to 20% of an edible semi-drying oil. It is also used in making liquid soap.

Known Hazards :  Although no specific reports have been seen for this species, many, if not all, members of this genus contain toxic resinoids, alkaloids and cardiac glycosides. They are usually avoided by grazing animals. The older leaves are poisonous if eaten in large quantities. The plant contains cardioactive compounds and is potentially 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/Asclepias_syriaca
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Asclepias+syriaca
http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_LMN.htm
http://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/gardens-gardening/your-garden/plant-finder/plant-details/kc/b480/asclepias-syriaca.aspx

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Tagetes filifolia

 

Botanical Name : Tagetes filifolia
Family: Asteraceae
Genus: Tagetes
Species: filifolia

Common Name : Irish Lace

Habitat :Tagetes filifolia is native to Central and South AmericaMexico to Costa Rica . It best grown  on cultivated bed.

Description:
Tagetes filifolia is an annual plant growing to 12-18 in. (30-45 cm).
It is hardy to zone 9. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects.
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Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in heavy clay soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers dry or moist soil.

Cultivation:  
Requires a well-drained moderately fertile soil in a sunny position. Grows well in heavy clay soils and in sandy soils. Grows well with tomatoes. Removing dead flowers before the seed is formed will extend the flowering season. Plants are prone to slugs, snails and botrytis.

Propagation:  
Seed – sow March in a greenhouse. Only just cover the seed. Germination usually takes place within 2 weeks. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out after the last expected frosts.

Edible Uses :    
Edible Parts:
Edible Uses: Condiment.

The plants are used as a food flavouring.

Medicinal Uses:
The tea is said to be drunk as a refreshing beverage and to relieve minor ills.  Bolivians drink the decoction as a digestive.  Venezuelans employ it as an emollient and treatment for syphilis.  In Costa Rica, it is taken as a carminative to relieve colic and as a diuretic. Also used for prostate problems and difficulties associated with urination

Other Uses :
Insecticide;  Repellent.

Although no specific mention of the following use has been seen for this species, most if not all members of this genus probably have a similar effect to a greater or lesser degree. Secretions from the roots of growing plants have an insecticidal effect on the soil, effective against nematodes and to some extent against keeled slugs. These secretions are produced about 3 – 4 months after sowing. The growing plant is also said to repel insects and can be grown amongst crops such as potatoes and tomatoes.

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/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Tagetes+filifolia
http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_LMN.htm
http://davesgarden.com/guides/pf/go/185096/
http://www.conabio.gob.mx/malezasdemexico/asteraceae/tagetes-filifolia/fichas/ficha.htm
http://www.conabio.gob.mx/malezasdemexico/asteraceae/tagetes-filifolia/imagenes/habito.jpg

 

Acer circinatum

Botanical Name ; Acer circinatum
Family: Sapindaceae
Genus: Acer
Species: A. circinatum
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Sapindales

Common Name :Vine Maple

Habitat :Acer circinatum is native to  western N. America – British Columbia to California.It grows in forests, along banks of streams and in rich alluvial soils of bottomlands up to 1200 metres

Description:
Acer circinatum is a deciduous Tree. It is most commonly grows as a large shrub growing to around 5-8 m tall, but it will occasionally form a small to medium-sized tree, exceptionally to 18 m tall. The shoots are slender and hairless. It typically grows in the understory below much taller forest trees, but can sometimes be found in open ground, and occurs at altitudes from sea level up to 1,500 m.

You may click to see the pictures of  Acer circinatum
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The leaves are opposite, and palmately lobed with 7-11 lobes, almost circular in outline, 3-14 cm long and broad, and thinly hairy on the underside; the lobes are pointed and with coarsely toothed margins. The leaves turn bright yellow to orange-red in fall. The flowers are small, 6–9 mm diameter, with a dark red calyx and five short greenish-yellow petals; they are produced in open corymbs of 4-20 together in spring. The fruit is a two-seeded samara, each seed 8-10 mm diameter, with a spreading wing 2–4 cm long.

Vine Maple trees can bend over easily. Sometimes, this can cause the top of the tree to grow into the ground and send out a new root system, creating a natural arch.

It is occasionally cultivated outside its native range as an ornamental tree, from Juneau, Alaska   and Ottawa, Ontario  to Huntsville, Alabama, and also in northwestern Europe.

Cultivation:   
Of easy cultivation, it succeeds in most good soils, preferring a good moist well-drained soil on the acid side. Prefers a sunny position but tolerates some shade. Grows well in heavy clay soils. Plants are hardy to about -20°c. Chlorosis can sometimes develop as a result of iron deficiency when the plants are grown in alkaline soils, but in general maples are not fussy as to soil pH. A very ornamental tree, a number of varieties are in cultivation. The branches tend to coil around other trees in much the same way as vines. (A strange report because vines do not coil but climb by means of tendrils formed in the leaf axils.) The tree sends out long slender arching branches in the wild. These form roots when they touch the ground and the plant thereby forms large impenetrable thickets often several hectares in extent. Most maples are bad companion plants, inhibiting the growth of nearby plants.

Propagation:          
Seed is usually of good quality when produced in gardens. It is best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame, it usually germinates in the following spring. Pre-soak stored seed for 24 hours and then stratify for 2 – 4 months at 1 – 8°c. It can be slow or very poor to germinate, especially if it has been dried. The seed can be harvested ‘green’ (when it has fully developed but before it has dried and produced any germination inhibitors) and sown immediately. It should germinate in late winter. If the seed is harvested too soon it will produce very weak plants or no plants at all. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on until they are 20cm or more tall before planting them out in their permanent positions. This tree often self-layers and can be propagated by this means. Cuttings of young shoots in June or July. The cuttings should have 2 – 3 pairs of leaves, plus one pair of buds at the base. Remove a very thin slice of bark at the base of the cutting, rooting is improved if a rooting hormone is used. The rooted cuttings must show new growth during the summer before being potted up otherwise they are unlikely to survive the winter. Cultivars of this species can be grafted onto A. palmatum, which makes a better rootstock than this species.

Edible Uses:   
Edible Parts: Sap.
Edible Uses: Sweetener.

The sap contains a certain amount of sugar and can either be used as a drink, or can be concentrated into a syrup by boiling off the water. The syrup is used as a sweetener on many foods. The concentration of sugar is considerably lower than in the sugar maples (A. saccharum). The tree trunk is tapped in the early spring, the sap flowing better on warm sunny days following a frost. The best sap production comes from cold-winter areas with continental climates.

Medicinal Uses:
Astringent.

The wood was burnt to charcoal and mixed with water and brown sugar then used in the treatment of dysentery and polio.
Coastal Aboriginal peoples have boiled the bark of the roots to make a tea for colds

Other Uses  :
Basketry;  Fuel;  Paint;  Preservative;  Wood.

The leaves are packed around apples, rootcrops etc to help preserve them. The young shoots are quite pliable and are used in basket making. Straight shoots can be used to make open-work baskets. A charcoal made from the wood can be mixed with oil and used as a black paint. Wood – hard, heavy, durable, close-grained, strong according to some reports, but not strong according to others. Too small to be commercially important, the wood is used for cart shafts, tool handles, small boxes etc. One report says that the wood is quite pliable and was used for making bows, snowshoe frames etc, whilst young saplings could be used as swings for baby cradles. The wood is almost impossible to burn when green and has served as a cauldron hook over the fire.

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/Acer_circinatum
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Acer+circinatum
http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_LMN.htm
http://www.nsci.plu.edu/~jmain/Herbarium/images/acer_circinatum_habitat.jpg

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Trigger finger

Alternative Name : Stenosing tenosynovitis, trigger thumb, or trigger digit,

Definition:
Trigger finger is a common disorder of later adulthood characterized by catching, snapping or locking of the involved finger flexor tendon, associated with dysfunction and pain. A disparity in size between the flexor tendon and the surrounding retinacular pulley system, most commonly at the level of the first annular (A1) pulley, results in difficulty flexing or extending the finger and the “triggering” phenomenon. The label of trigger finger is used because when the finger unlocks, it pops back suddenly, as if releasing a trigger on a gun.
.Click to see the picture..>..(0)...(1)…...(2).

One of your fingers or your thumb gets stuck in a bent position and then straightens with a snap — like a trigger being pulled and released. If trigger finger is severe, the finger may become locked in a bent position.

Often painful, trigger finger is caused by a narrowing of the sheath that surrounds the tendon in the affected finger. People whose work or hobbies require repetitive gripping actions are more susceptible. Trigger finger is also more common in women and in anyone with diabetes.

Symptoms:
Signs and symptoms of trigger finger may get progressed from mild to severe and include:

*Finger stiffness, particularly in the morning

*A popping or clicking sensation as you move your finger

*Tenderness or a bump (nodule) at the base of the affected finger

*Finger catching or locking in a bent position, which suddenly pops straight

*Finger locked in a bent position, which you are unable to straighten

Trigger finger more commonly occurs in your dominant hand, and most often affects your thumb or your middle or ring finger. More than one finger may be affected at a time, and both hands might be involved. Triggering is usually more pronounced in the morning, while firmly grasping an object or when straightening your finger.

Trigger finger is not the same as Dupuytren’s contracture — a condition that causes thickening and shortening of the connective tissue in the palm of the hand — though it may occur in conjunction with this disorder.

Causes:
The cause of trigger finger is a narrowing of the sheath that surrounds the tendon in the affected finger. Tendons are fibrous cords that attach muscle to bone. Each tendon is surrounded by a protective sheath — which, in turn, is lined with a substance called tenosynovium. The tenosynovium releases lubricating fluid that allows the tendon to glide smoothly within its protective sheath as you bend and straighten your finger — like a cord through a lubricated pipe.

But if the tenosynovium becomes inflamed frequently or for long periods, the space within the tendon sheath can become narrow and constricting. The tendon can’t glide through the sheath easily, at times catching the finger in a bent position before popping straight. With each catch, the tendon itself becomes more irritated and inflamed, worsening the problem. With prolonged inflammation, scarring and thickening (fibrosis) can occur and bumps (nodules) can form.

More than one potential causes have been described but the etiology remains idiopathic. It has also been called stenosing tenosynovitis (specifically digital tenovaginitis stenosans), but this may be a misnomer, as inflammation is not a predominant feature.

It has been speculated that repetitive forceful use of a digit leads to narrowing of the fibrous digital sheath in which it runs, but there is little scientific data to support this theory. The relationship of trigger finger to work activities is debatable and scientific evidence for and against hand use as a cause exist.

Risk Factors:
Risk Factors  developing trigger finger include:

Repeated gripping. If one routinely grips an item — such as a power tool or musical instrument — for extended periods of time, one may be more prone to developing a trigger finger.

Certain health problems. One is also at greater risk if he or she has certain medical conditions, including rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, hypothyroidism, amyloidosis and certain infections, such as tuberculosis.Your sex. Trigger finger is more common in women.

Diagnosis:
Diagnosis is made almost exclusively by history and physical examination alone. More than one finger may be affected at a time, though it usually affects the thumb, middle, or ring finger. The triggering is usually more pronounced in the morning, or while gripping an object firmly.

Treatment:
Injection of the tendon sheath with a corticosteroid is effective over weeks to months in more than half of patients.

 

When corticosteroid injection fails, the problem is predictably resolved by a relatively simple surgical procedure (usually outpatient, under local anesthesia). The surgeon will cut the sheath that is restricting the tendon.

One recent study in the Journal of Hand Surgery suggests that the most cost-effective treatment is two trials of corticosteroid injection, followed by open release of the first annular pulley.  Choosing surgery immediately is the most expensive option and is often not necessary for resolution of symptoms.  More recently, a randomized controlled trial comparing corticosteroid injection with needle release and open release of the A1 pulley reported that only 57% of patients responded to corticosteroid injection (defined as being free of triggering symptoms for greater than 6 months). This is compared to a percutaneous needle release (100% success rate) and open release (100% success rate).  This is somewhat consistent with the most recent Cochrane Systematic Review of corticosteroid injection for trigger finger which found only 2 pseudo-randomized controlled trials for a total pooled success rate of only 37%.  However, this systematic review has not been updated since 2009.

There is a theoretical greater risk of nerve damage associated with the percutaneous needle release as the technique is performed without seeing the A1 pulley.

Investigative treatment options with limited scientific support include: non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs; occupational or physical therapy; steroid iontophoresis treatment; splinting; therapeutic ultrasound, phonophoresis (ultrasound with an anti-inflammatory dexamethasone cream); and Acupuncture.

Prognosis:
The natural history of disease for trigger finger remains uncertain.

There is some evidence that idiopathic trigger finger behaves differently in people with diabetes.

Recurrent triggering is unusual after successful injection and rare after successful surgery.

While difficulty extending the proximal interphalangeal joint may persist for months, it benefits from exercises to stretch the finger straighter.

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/Trigger_finger
http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/trigger-finger/DS00155
http://assets.sbnation.com/imported_assets/71765/trigger_finger_2.jpg
http://www.trigger-finger.com/
http://www.drmomeni.com/hand/trigger.html

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