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Asplenium rhizohyllum

Botanical Name: Asplenium rhizohyllum
Family: Aspleniaceae
Genus: Asplenium
Species: A. rhizophyllum
Kingdom:Plantae
Division: Pteridophyta
Class: Pteridopsida
Order: Polypodiales

Synonyms: Camptosorus sibiricus, Antigramma rhizophylla (L.) J.Sm., Camptosorus rhizophyllus (L.) Link

Common Name: American Walking Fern

Habitat : Asplenium rhizohyllum is native to North America. It is a close relative of Asplenium ruprechtii which is found in East Asia and also goes by the common name of “walking fern

Description:
Asplenium rhizophyllum is a small fern whose undivided, evergreen leaves and long, narrow leaf tips, sometimes curving back and rooting, give it a highly distinctive appearance. It grows in tufts, often surrounded by child plants formed from the leaf tips. The leaves of younger plants tend to lie flat to the ground, while older plants have leaves more erect or arching.
CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES:

Roots and stipes:
It does not spread and form new plants via the roots. Its rhizomes (underground stems) are upright or nearly so, short, about 1 millimetre (0.04 in) in diameter, and generally unbranched. They bear dark brown or blackish, narrowly triangular or lance-shaped scales which are strongly clathrate (bearing a lattice-like pattern). The scales are 2 to 3 millimetres (0.08 to 0.1 in) long and 0.5 to 1 millimetre (0.02 to 0.04 in) wide (occasionally as narrow as 0.2 millimetres (0.008 in)) with untoothed margins. The stipe (the part of the stem below the leaf blade) is 0.5 to 12 centimetres (0.20 to 4.7 in) long (occasionally up to 15 centimetres (5.9 in) long), and ranges from one-tenth to one and one-half times the length of the blade. The stipe is reddish-brown and sometimes shiny at the base, becoming green above, and narrowly winged. Scales like those of the rhizome are present at the stipe base, changing to tiny club-shaped hairs above.

Leaves:
The leaf blades are not subdivided, as in most other ferns, but are narrowly triangular to linear or lance-shaped. Their shape can be quite variable, even on the same plant. They measure from 1 to 30 centimetres (0.4 to 10 in) long and from 0.5 to 5 centimetres (0.2 to 2 in) across and have a leathery texture with sparse hairs, more abundant below than above. The rachis (leaf axis) is dull green in color and almost devoid of hairs. On the underside of the blade, the veins are difficult to see and anastomose (split and rejoin each other), forming a series of areoles (the small areas enclosed by the veins) near the rachis. Fertile fronds are usually larger than sterile fronds, but their shape is otherwise the same. The base of the blade is typically heart-shaped (with the stipe protruding from the cleft); the bulges on either side of the cleft are frequently enlarged into auricles (rounded lobes), or occasionally into sharply-pointed, tapering lobes. The leaf tips may be rounded but are typically very long and attenuate (drawn out); the attenuate tips are capable of sprouting roots and growing into a new plant when the tip touches a surface suitable for growth. On rare occasions, the auricles at the leaf base will also take on an attenuate shape and form roots at the tip. The ability of the leaf tips to root and form a new plant at some distance from the parent gives the species its common name. The young leaves forming from a bud at the leaf tip are round to pointed at their apex, not yet having developed the long-attenuate shape.

Specimens of A. rhizophyllum with forked blades have been found in Arkansas and Missouri. The fork usually occurs in the tip, perhaps due to growth after insect damage, but one specimen was found forking from the upper part of the stipe.

Sori and spores:
Fertile fronds bear a large number of sori underneath, 1 to 4 millimetres (0.04 to 0.2 in) long, which are not arranged in any particular order. The sori are often fused where veins join, and may curve to follow the vein to which they are attached. The sori are covered by inconspicuous thin, white indusia with untoothed edges. Each sporangium in a sorus carries 64 spores. The diploid sporophyte has a chromosome number of 72.
Cultivation: This fern prefers light to dense shade, moist humid conditions, and thin rocky soil. It requires a sheltered location where there is protection from the wind.
Medicinal Uses:
Used medicinally by the Cherokee Indians. Those that dreamt of snakes drank a decoction of liverwort (Hepatica acutiloba) and walking fern to produce vomiting, after which dreams do not return.

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:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asplenium_rhizophyllum
http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_UZ.htm
http://www.illinoiswildflowers.info/grasses/plants/walking_fern.htm

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Asthma

Definition:   Asthma is a common long term inflammatory disease of the airways of the lungs. It is characterized by variable and recurring symptoms, reversible airflow obstruction, and bronchospasm. Symptoms include episodes of wheezing, coughing, chest tightness, and shortness of breath. These episodes may occur a few times a day or a few times per week. Depending on the person they may become worse at night or with exercise.

Asthma is thought to be caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Environmental factors include exposure to air pollution and allergens. Other potential triggers include medications such as aspirin and beta blockers. Diagnosis is usually based on the pattern of symptoms, response to therapy over time, and spirometry. Asthma is classified according to the frequency of symptoms, forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1), and peak expiratory flow rate. It may also be classified as atopic or non-atopic where atopy refers to a predisposition toward developing a type 1 hypersensitivity reaction…..CLICK & SEE 

There is no cure for asthma. Symptoms can be prevented by avoiding triggers, such as allergens and irritants, and by the use of inhaled corticosteroids. Long-acting beta agonists (LABA) or antileukotriene agents may be used in addition to inhaled corticosteroids if asthma symptoms remain uncontrolled. Treatment of rapidly worsening symptoms is usually with an inhaled short-acting beta-2 agonist such as salbutamol and corticosteroids taken by mouth. In very severe cases, interavenous corticosteroids, magnesium sulfate, and hospitalization may be required.
Symptoms:
Asthma symptoms vary from person to person. One may have infrequent asthma attacks, has symptoms only at certain times — such as when exercising — or have symptoms all the time.

Asthma signs and symptoms include:

*Shortness of breath
*Chest tightness or pain
*Trouble sleeping caused by shortness of breath, coughing or wheezing
*A whistling or wheezing sound when exhaling (wheezing is a common sign of asthma in children)
*Coughing or wheezing attacks that are worsened by a respiratory virus, such as a cold or the flu
Signs that your asthma is probably worsening include:

*Asthma signs and symptoms that are more frequent and bothersome
*Increasing difficulty breathing (measurable with a peak flow meter, a device used to check how well your lungs are working)
*The need to use a quick-relief inhaler more often

For some people, asthma signs and symptoms flare up in certain situations:

*Exercise-induced asthma, which may be worse when the air is cold and dry
*Occupational asthma, triggered by workplace irritants such as chemical fumes, gases or dust
*Allergy-induced asthma, triggered by particular allergens, such as pet dander, cockroaches or pollen.

Causes:
Asthma is caused by a combination of complex and incompletely understood environmental and genetic interactions. These factors influence both its severity and its responsiveness to treatment. It is believed that the recent increased rates of asthma are due to changing epigenetics (heritable factors other than those related to the DNA sequence) and a changing living environment…..CLICK & SEE

Asthma triggers:

Exposure to various irritants and substances that trigger allergies (allergens) can trigger signs and symptoms of asthma. Asthma triggers are different from person to person and can include:

*Airborne allergens, such as pollen, animal dander, mold, cockroaches and dust mites
*Respiratory infections, such as the common cold
*Physical activity (exercise-induced asthma)
*Cold air
*Air pollutants and irritants, such as smoke
*Certain medications, including beta blockers, aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) and naproxen (Aleve)
*Strong emotions and stress
*Sulfites and preservatives added to some types of foods and beverages, including shrimp, dried fruit, processed potatoes, beer and wine
*Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), a condition in which stomach acids back up into your throat.

Diagnosis:
While asthma is a well recognized condition, there is not one universal agreed upon definition. It is defined by the Global Initiative for Asthma as “a chronic inflammatory disorder of the airways in which many cells and cellular elements play a role. The chronic inflammation is associated with airway hyper-responsiveness that leads to recurrent episodes of wheezing, breathlessness, chest tightness and coughing particularly at night or in the early morning. These episodes are usually associated with widespread but variable airflow obstruction within the lung that is often reversible either spontaneously or with treatment”.

There is currently no precise test with the diagnosis typically based on the pattern of symptoms and response to therapy over time. A diagnosis of asthma should be suspected if there is a history of: recurrent wheezing, coughing or difficulty breathing and these symptoms occur or worsen due to exercise, viral infections, allergens or air pollution.
Physical exam:

To rule out other possible conditions — such as a respiratory infection or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) — your doctor will do a physical exam and ask you questions about your signs and symptoms and about any other health problems.

Tests to measure lung function

One may also be given lung (pulmonary) function tests to determine how much air moves in and out as you breathe. These tests may include:

*Spirometry. This test estimates the narrowing of your bronchial tubes by checking how much air you can exhale after a deep breath and how fast you can breathe out.

*Peak flow. A peak flow meter is a simple device that measures how hard you can breathe out. Lower than usual peak flow readings are a sign your lungs may not be working as well and that your asthma may be getting worse. Your doctor will give you instructions on how to track and deal with low peak flow readings.

Lung function tests often are done before and after taking a medication called a bronchodilator (brong-koh-DIE-lay-tur), such as albuterol, to open your airways. If your lung function improves with use of a bronchodilator, it’s likely you have asthma.

Other additional tests:

Other tests to diagnose asthma include:

*Methacholine challenge. Methacholine is a known asthma trigger that, when inhaled, will cause mild constriction of your airways. If you react to the methacholine, you likely have asthma. This test may be used even if your initial lung function test is normal.

*Nitric oxide test. This test, though not widely available, measures the amount of the gas, nitric oxide, that you have in your breath. When your airways are inflamed — a sign of asthma — you may have higher than normal nitric oxide levels.

*Imagingtest:   test:A chest X-ray and high-resolution computerized tomography (CT) scan of your lungs and nose cavities (sinuses) can identify any structural abnormalities or diseases (such as infection) that can cause or aggravate breathing problems.

*Allergy testing. : This can be performed by a skin test or blood test. Allergy tests can identify allergy to pets, dust, mold and pollen. If important allergy triggers are identified, this can lead to a recommendation for allergen immunotherapy.

*Sputum eosinophils. This test looks for certain white blood cells (eosinophils) in the mixture of saliva and mucus (sputum) you discharge during coughing. Eosinophils are present when symptoms develop and become visible when stained with a rose-colored dye (eosin).

*Provocative testing for exercise and cold-induced asthma. In these tests, your doctor measures your airway obstruction before and after you perform vigorous physical activity or take several breaths of cold air.

Risk Factors:
A number of factors are thought to increase your chances of developing asthma. These include:

*Having a blood relative (such as a parent or sibling) with asthma
*Having another allergic condition, such as atopic dermatitis or allergic rhinitis (hay fever)
*Being overweight
*Being a smoker
*Exposure to secondhand smoke
*Exposure to exhaust fumes or other types of pollution
*Exposure to occupational triggers, such as chemicals used in farming, hairdressing and manufacturing

Complications:
Asthma complications include:

*Signs and symptoms that interfere with sleep, work or recreational activities
*Sick days from work or school during asthma flare-ups
*Permanent narrowing of the bronchial tubes (airway remodeling) that affects how well you can breathe
*Emergency room visits and hospitalizations for severe asthma attacks
*Side effects from long-term use of some medications used to stabilize severe asthma
*Proper treatment makes a big difference in preventing both short-term and long-term complications caused by asthma.

Treatment:
While there is no cure for asthma, symptoms can typically be improved. A specific, customized plan for proactively monitoring and managing symptoms should be created. This plan should include the reduction of exposure to allergens, testing to assess the severity of symptoms, and the usage of medications. The treatment plan should be written down and advise adjustments to treatment according to changes in symptoms.

The most effective treatment for asthma is identifying triggers, such as cigarette smoke, pets, or aspirin, and eliminating exposure to them. If trigger avoidance is insufficient, the use of medication is recommended. Pharmaceutical drugs are selected based on, among other things, the severity of illness and the frequency of symptoms. Specific medications for asthma are broadly classified into fast-acting and long-acting categories.

Bronchodilators are recommended for short-term relief of symptoms. In those with occasional attacks, no other medication is needed. If mild persistent disease is present (more than two attacks a week), low-dose inhaled corticosteroids or alternatively, an oral leukotriene antagonist or a mast cell stabilizer is recommended. For those who have daily attacks, a higher dose of inhaled corticosteroids is used. In a moderate or severe exacerbation, oral corticosteroids are added to these treatments.

Lifestyle modification:
Avoidance of triggers is a key component of improving control and preventing attacks. The most common triggers include allergens, smoke (tobacco and other), air pollution, non selective beta-blockers, and sulfite-containing foods. Cigarette smoking and second-hand smoke (passive smoke) may reduce the effectiveness of medications such as corticosteroids. Laws that limit smoking decrease the number of people hospitalized for asthma. Dust mite control measures, including air filtration, chemicals to kill mites, vacuuming, mattress covers and others methods had no effect on asthma symptoms.[48] Overall, exercise is beneficial in people with stable asthma.

Medications:
Medications used to treat asthma are divided into two general classes: quick-relief medications used to treat acute symptoms; and long-term control medications used to prevent further exacerbation.

*Short-acting beta2-adrenoceptor agonists (SABA), such as salbutamol (albuterol USAN) are the first line treatment for asthma symptoms. They are recommended before exercise in those with exercise induced symptoms.

*Anticholinergic medications, such as ipratropium bromide, provide additional benefit when used in combination with SABA in those with moderate or severe symptoms. Anticholinergic bronchodilators can also be used if a person cannot tolerate a SABA. If a child requires admission to hospital additional ipratropium does not appear to help over a SABA.

*Older, less selective adrenergic agonists, such as inhaled epinephrine, have similar efficacy to SABAs.[130] They are however not recommended due to concerns regarding excessive cardiac stimulation.

Long–term control:

Fluticasone propionate metered dose inhaler commonly used for long-term control.

*Corticosteroids are generally considered the most effective treatment available for long-term control. Inhaled forms such as beclomethasone are usually used except in the case of severe persistent disease, in which oral corticosteroids may be needed. It is usually recommended that inhaled formulations be used once or twice daily, depending on the severity of symptoms.

*Long-acting beta-adrenoceptor agonists (LABA) such as salmeterol and formoterol can improve asthma control, at least in adults, when given in combination with inhaled corticosteroids. In children this benefit is uncertain. When used without steroids they increase the risk of severe side-effects  and even with corticosteroids they may slightly increase the risk.

*Leukotriene receptor antagonists (such as montelukast and zafirlukast) may be used in addition to inhaled corticosteroids, typically also in conjunction with a LABA. Evidence is insufficient to support use in acute exacerbations. In children they appear to be of little benefit when added to inhaled steroids, and the same applies in adolescents and adults. They are useful by themselves. In those under five years of age, they were the preferred add-on therapy after inhaled corticosteroids by the British Thoracic Society in 2009. A similar class of drugs, 5-LOX inhibitors, may be used as an alternative in the chronic treatment of mild to moderate asthma among older children and adults. As of 2013 there is one medication in this family known as zileuton.

*Mast cell stabilizers (such as cromolyn sodium) are another non-preferred alternative to corticosteroids.

Alternative medicine:
Many people with asthma, like those with other chronic disorders, use alternative treatments; surveys show that roughly 50% use some form of unconventional therapy. There is little data to support the effectiveness of most of these therapies. Evidence is insufficient to support the usage of Vitamin C. There is tentative support for its use in exercise induced brochospasm.

Acupuncture is not recommended for the treatment as there is insufficient evidence to support its use. Air ionisers show no evidence that they improve asthma symptoms or benefit lung function; this applied equally to positive and negative ion generators.

Manual therapies, including osteopathic, chiropractic, physiotherapeutic and respiratory therapeutic maneuvers, have insufficient evidence to support their use in treating asthma. The Buteyko breathing technique for controlling hyperventilation may result in a reduction in medication use; however, the technique does not have any effect on lung function. Thus an expert panel felt that evidence was insufficient to support its use.

But regular Yoga with Pranayama (the breathing exercise) under the guideline of an expart shows lot of improvement among most asthma patients.

Some home remedies:

*Express the juice from garlic. Mix 10 to 15 drops in warm water and take internally for asthma relief.Mix, onion juice ¼ cup, honey 1 tablespoon and black pepper 1/8 tablespoon.Mix licorice and ginger together. Take ½ tablespoon in 1 cup of water for relief from asthma.

*Drink a glass of 2/3 carrot juice, 1/3 spinach juice, 3 times a day .

*Add 30-40 leaves of Basil in a liter of water, strain the leaves and drink the water throughout the day effective for asthma.

Prevention:

The evidence for the effectiveness of measures to prevent the development of asthma is weak. Some show promise including: limiting smoke exposure both in utero and after delivery, breastfeeding, and increased exposure to daycare or large families but none are well supported enough to be recommended for this indication. Early pet exposure may be useful. Results from exposure to pets at other times are inconclusive and it is only recommended that pets be removed from the home if a person has allergic symptoms to said pet. Dietary restrictions during pregnancy or when breast feeding have not been found to be effective and thus are not recommended. Reducing or eliminating compounds known to sensitive people from the work place may be effective. It is not clear if annual influenza vaccinations effects the risk of exacerbations. Immunization; however, is recommended by the World Health Organization. Smoking bans are effective in decreasing exacerbations of asthma

Progonosis:
The prognosis for asthma is generally good, especially for children with mild disease. Mortality has decreased over the last few decades due to better recognition and improvement in care. Globally it causes moderate or severe disability in 19.4 million people as of 2004 (16 million of which are in low and middle income countries). Of asthma diagnosed during childhood, half of cases will no longer carry the diagnosis after a decade. Airway remodeling is observed, but it is unknown whether these represent harmful or beneficial changes. Early treatment with corticosteroids seems to prevent or ameliorates a decline in lung function.
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:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asthma
http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/asthma

Lavandula angustifolia

Botanical Name : Lavandula angustifolia
Family: Lamiaceae
Genus: Lavandula
Species: L. angustifolia
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Lamiales

Synonyms: L. officinale. L. spica. pro parte. L. vera. (not of gardens)

Common Names: Lavender or English lavender, Common lavender, True lavender, Narrow-leaved lavender

Habitat :Lavandula angustifolia is native to Europe – Mediterranean. It grows in dry grassy slopes amongst rocks, in exposed, usually parched, hot rocky situations often on calcareous soils.

Description:
Lavandula angustifolia is a strongly aromatic shrub growing as high as 1 to 2 metres (3.3 to 6.6 ft) tall. The leaves are evergreen, 2–6 centimetres (0.79–2.36 in) long, and 4–6 millimetres (0.16–0.24 in) broad. The flowers are pinkish-purple (lavender-coloured), produced on spikes 2–8 cm (0.79–3.15 in) long at the top of slender, leafless stems 10–30 cm (3.9–11.8 in) long. It is in leaf 12-Jan It is in flower from Jul to September, and the seeds ripen from Aug to October. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees, lepidoptera.It is noted for attracting wildlife…….CLICK &  SEE THE PICTUR

Cultivation:
Landscape Uses:Alpine garden, Border, Container, Ground cover, Massing, Rock garden, Seashore, Specimen. Succeeds in almost any soil so long as it is well-drained and not too acid. Prefers a sunny position in a neutral to alkaline soil. Prefers a light warm dry soil. When grown in rich soils the plants tend to produce more leaves but less essential oils. Established plants are drought tolerant. Plants are very tolerant of salt wind exposure. When growing for maximum essential oil content, the plant must be given a very warm sunny position and will do best in a light sandy soil, the fragrance being especially pronounced in a chalky soil. Plants are hardy to between -10 and -15°c. Lavender is a very ornamental plant that is often grown in the herb garden and is also grown commercially for its essential oil. There are several named varieties. Not a very long-lived plant, it can be trimmed to keep it tidy but is probably best replaced every 10 years. Any trimming is best done in spring and should not be done in the autumn since this can encourage new growth that will not be very cold-hardy. A good bee plant, also attracting butterflies and moths. Lavender makes a good companion for most plants, growing especially well with cabbages. Special Features: Attractive foliage, Fragrant foliage, Not North American native, Attracts butterflies, Suitable for cut flowers, Suitable for dried flowers, Fragrant flowers, Attractive flowers or blooms.

Propagation :
Seed – sow spring in a greenhouse and only just cover the seed. It usually germinates in 1 – 3 months at 15°c. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse or cold frame for their first winter, planting them out in late spring after the last expected frosts. Cuttings of half-ripe wood 7 – 10cm with a heel, July/August in a frame. Usually very east, a high percentage will root within a few weeks. Grow them on in the greenhouse for their first winter and plant them out in late spring after the last expected frosts. Cuttings 7cm with a heel succeed at almost any time of the year. Layering.

.
Edible Uses:
Edible Uses: Condiment; Tea.

Leaves, petals and flowering tips – raw. Used as a condiment in salads, soups, stews etc[2, 15, 183]. They provide a very aromatic flavour[7] and are too strong to be used in any quantity[K]. The fresh or dried flowers are used as a tea[183]. The fresh flowers are also crystallized or added to jams, ice-creams, vinegars etc as a flavouring[238]. An essential oil from the flowers is used as a food flavouring

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Medicinal Uses:
Antianxiety; Antihalitosis; Antiseptic; Antispasmodic; Appetizer; Aromatherapy; Aromatic; Carminative; Cholagogue; Diuretic; Nervine;   Sedative; Stimulant; Stomachic; Tonic.

Lavender is a commonly used household herb, though it is better known for its sweet-scented aroma than for its medicinal qualities. However, it is an important relaxing herb, having a soothing and relaxing affect upon the nervous system. The flowering spikes can be dried and used internally in a tincture, though the extracted essential oil is more commonly used. The essential oil is much more gentle in its action than most other essential oils and can be safely applied direct to the skin as an antiseptic to help heal wounds, burns etc. An essential oil obtained from the flowers is antihalitosis, powerfully antiseptic, antispasmodic, aromatic, carminative, cholagogue, diuretic, nervine, sedative, stimulant, stomachic and tonic. It is not often used internally, though it is a useful carminative and nervine. It is mainly used externally where it is an excellent restorative and tonic – when rubbed into the temples, for example, it can cure a nervous headache, and it is a delightful addition to the bath-water. Its powerful antiseptic properties are able to kill many of the common bacteria such as typhoid, diphtheria, streptococcus and Pneumococcus, as well as being a powerful antidote to some snake venoms. It is very useful in the treatment of burns, sunburn, scalds, bites, vaginal discharge, anal fissure etc, where it also soothes the affected part of the body and can prevent the formation of permanent scar tissue. The essential oil is used in aromatherapy. Its keyword is ‘Immune system’. The German Commission E Monographs, a therapeutic guide to herbal medicine, approve Lavandula angustifolia for loss of appetite, nervousness and insomnia, circulatory disorders, dyspeptic complaints .The oil is strongly antiseptic and used to heal wounds.

Other Uses:

Essential; Hedge; Incense; Pot-pourri; Repellent.

The essential oil that is obtained from the flowers is exquisitely scented and has a very wide range of applications, both in the home and commercially. It is commonly used in soap making, in making high quality perfumes (it is also used in ‘Eau de Cologne’), it is also used as a detergent and cleaning agent, a food flavouring etc and as an insect repellent. When growing the plant for its essential oil content, it is best to harvest the flowering stems as soon as the flowers have faded. Yields of 0.8 – 1% of the oil are obtained. The aromatic leaves and flowers are used in pot-pourri and as an insect repellent in the linen cupboard etc. They have been used in the past as a strewing herb in order to impart a sweet smell to rooms and to deter insects. The leaves are also added to bath water for their fragrance and therapeutic properties. They are also said to repel mice. The flowering stems, once the flowers have been removed for use in pot-pourri etc, can be tied in small bundles and burnt as incense sticks. Lavender can be grown as a low hedge, responding well to trimming. There are several varieties, such as ‘Hidcote Variety’, ‘Loddon Pink’ and ‘Folgate Blue’ that are suitable for using as dwarf hedges 30 – 50cm tall.

Lavare is the Latin verb “to wash”. The Romans used the fragrance of the blossoms in their bath water hence the origin of the name lavendula. In the Middle Ages, it was used alone or in combination with other herbs to treat insomnia, anxiety states, migraine headaches and depression. The fragrance is relaxing hence the dry blossoms were stuffed in pillows and given to agitated patients to produce sedation.

Known Hazards : The volatile oil may rarely cause sensitization

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:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lavandula_angustifolia
http://www.piam.com/mms_garden/plants.html
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Lavandula+angustifolia

Sphaeralcea coccinea

Botanical Name : Sphaeralcea coccinea
Family: Malvaceae
Subfamily: Malvoideae
Genus: Sphaeralcea
Species: S. coccinea
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Malvales

Synonyms: Malvastrum coccineum

Common Names; Scarlet Globemallow, Alkali Heath, red false globemallow, copper mallow

Habitat : Sphaeralcea coccinea is native to grasslands and prairies of the Great Plains and western regions of northern North America.

Description;
Sphaeralcea coccinea is a perennial plant growing 10–30 cm tall from spreading rhizomes with a low habit. They have grayish stems with dense, star-shaped hairs and alternately arranged leaves. The leaf blades are 2–5 cm long, palmately shaped, and deeply cut, with 3–5 main wedge-shaped segments. The undersides of the leaves have gray hairs. The 2-cm-wide flowers are reddish-orange and saucer-shaped, with 5 notched, broad petals, in small terminal clusters. Plants flower from May to October.Fruits are cheese-shaped capsules composed of 10 or  more 1-seeded carpels. Each carpel about 3 mm long, densely hairy on the back, net-veined on about 90% of the sides.

CLICK  &  SEE  THE PICTURES

Medicinal Uses:
This plant’s Navajo name came from the sticky mixture that occurs when the roots and leaves are pounded and soaked in water.  The resulting sticky infusion is put on sores to stop bleeding and is used as a lotion for skin disease.  The dried powdered plant is used as dusting powder.  It is one of the life medicines and is used as a tonic to improve the appetite, and to cure colds, coughs and flu.  The roots were used to stop bleeding, and they were also chewed to reduce hunger when food was scarce. The leaves are slimy and mucilaginous when crushed, and they were chewed or mashed and used as poultices or plasters on inflamed skin, sores, wounds and sore or blistered feet. Leaves were also used in lotions to relieve skin diseases, or they were dried, ground and dusted on sores.  Fresh leaves and flowers were chewed to relieve hoarse or sore throats and upset stomachs. Whole plants were used to make a sweet-tasting tea that made distasteful medicines more palatable. It was also said to reduce swellings, improve appetite, relieve upset stomachs, and strengthen voices. The Dakota heyoka chewed the plants to a paste and rubbed it on their skin as protection from scalding.  The tea is very effective for a raspy, dry, sore throat; and, like its relative Malva, it will soothe the urinary tract when urination is painful.  The tea is used for bathing infants to prevent or retard thrush, and to soothe chafing.  It is soothing to almost any skin rash in adults and children.  Strong decoction, 4-6 fluid ounces up to 4 times a day for internal use, as needed externally.

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/Sphaeralcea_coccinea
http://montana.plant-life.org/species/sphaer_cocc.htm
http://www.conps.org/slide%20shows/foothills%20wildflowers%20in%20the%20metro-denver%20chapter%20area/pages/sphaeralcea%20coccinea.htm
http://www.wildflower.org/plants/result.php?id_plant=SPCO
http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_AB.htm

http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/plants/forb/sphcoc/all.html

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Learn Music, Get Smart

Training in music while still young effects changes in the brain that enhance one’s speech and sound abilities.
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Practitioners of music therapy, like most members of the listening public, vouch for the healing qualities of music. Music soothes a stressed mind, elevates the soul, and helps cope with illnesses. What if it also improves intelligence? Can we say that learning the violin or piano would make you smarter? We could debate the meaning of “intelligence”, but many neuroscientists and psychologists are now beginning to answer the question in the affirmative.

In a review paper published last week in Nature, Nina Kraus and Bharath Chandrasekaran, both of the School of Communication at Northwestern University near Chicago, claim that training in music changes the brain significantly. And that these changes would help specifically in skills like speech processing, and generally in many areas that involve the processing of sound. Musicians get better at remembering things, have better motor skills, and can also pay attention better in a sea of noise. “Music training improves auditory skills that are not exclusively related to music,” write the authors.

Music is a sophisticated art form that invokes several skills even to listen. From an auditory point of view, it has three aspects: pitch, timing and timbre. Timing is at the heart of rhythm, and timbre is involved in the quality of sound. At a deeper level, it involves a complex organisation of sound. Great musicians and highly sophisticated listeners, particularly of classical music, would often point to deep cultural facets as well.

Learning music would call into play basic skills as well higher cognitive abilities. Musical training is a complex task that involves several brain areas. At a basic level, it requires the ability to identify pitch, the frequency of a note. Even the most basic learner needs to tune the instrument first. This isn’t easy, and many people simply can’t identify the pitch of a note easily, no matter how hard they try. Good musicians need to have a great sense of timing. They also need to distinguish timbre, which actually conveys the richness of sound (while pitch is the basic frequency, timbre is the fine structure of a note). The ability to identify these three basic features needs considerable training.

A long history of training in music shows up in the brain structure. The brains of musicians show more grey matter in areas that are important for playing a specific instrument. In physiological terms, this change results in increased activation of neurons (brain cells) when exposed to sound. For example, the strength of activation when exposed to the sound of an instrument depends on the length of training on that instrument. What this shows, and Kraus and Chandrasekaran argue, is that the changes were acquired through training and are not innate differences in the brain.

Areas in the brain that get developed through musical training are involved in at least three faculties: sound processing, visual processing and motor control. This is why learning to perform music is different from listening, no matter how deep. “Listening to music does not involve motor control,” says Vinod Menon, professor at the department of psychiatry and behavioural sciences, Stanford University. Menon’s lab studies, among other things, show the brain processes music and also the similarities and differences between music and speech processing in the brain.

Language and music seem to be two different subjects, but there are many similarities between them. At a fundamental level, both involve the processing of sound. Some of the finer skills that musicians have are transferred easily to the processing of speech, which also uses attributes like pitch and timbre to convey information. “Musicians would be able to detect easily fine distinctions in speech like irony or sarcasm,” says T.S. Sridhar, professor of molecular medicine at St Johns Medical College, Bangalore. Sridhar has experience of working in auditory physiology.

This skill could translate to being able to identify emotions in speech much better than in the case of non-musicians. Musical training uses a high working memory, an ability that is extremely useful in language. It also involves paying close attention to sound, which also translates to a skill in language: the ability to listen carefully to a stream of sound amidst a sea of noise. Many experiments have shown that neurons in the brains of musicians indeed show a higher response when exposed to the sound of language when compared to non-musicians.

Since the strength of such response is dependent on the length of training, it always helps to start early. Kraus and Chandrasekaran argue that seven years is the best age to start. This in turn raises another question: can one get the benefits of musical training — in terms of translatable skills — when training in later life? Says Kraus, who is Hugh Knowles Professor of communication sciences, neurobiology and physiology and otolaryngology at Northwestern University, “There is evidence that the nervous system, and in particular the auditory system, continues to change throughout the life times of human and non-human animals. An important area for future research is to determine specifically the effects of musical experience — begun later in life — on the nervous system.”

So performers, play on, be it for your brain or your heart. As a commentary on the Nature article argues, music could be taught and learned for its own sake and not merely to improve the brain.

Source The Telegraph (Kolkata, India)

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