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Potentilla hippiana

 

Botanical Name: Potentilla hippiana
Family: Rosaceae
Subfamily: Rosoideae
Genus: Potentilla
Species: P. hippiana
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Rosales

Synonyms: P. effusa. P. leneophylla. P. leucophylla.

Common names : Woolly cinquefoil, Horse cinquefoil, and Hipp’s cinquefoil

Habitat : Potentilla hippiana is native to North America, where it occurs in western Canada and the western United States. It occurs in eastern Canada and the US state of Michigan as an introduced species. It grows on dry soils. Open grassland sagebrush, often on saline soils, to juniper scabland and pine forests of the foothills and lower elevations in the mountains.

Description:
This perennial herb grows up to half a meter tall from a thick caudex and taproot. The leaves are up to 19 centimeters long or more and each is made up of several toothed leaflets. The leaves may be hairless to hairy to woolly. The fruit is a tiny achene. This species hybridizes with several other cinquefoil species, such as beautiful cinquefoil (P. pulcherrima) and elegant cinquefoil (P. concinna).

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It is in flower from Jul to August. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects.The plant is self-fertile.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils and can grow in saline soils.
It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.
Cultivation:
Easily grown in a well-drained loam, preferring a position in full sun but tolerating shade. Prefers an alkaline soil but tolerates a slightly acid soil. Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer.
Propagation:
Seed – sow early spring or autumn in a cold frame. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Division in spring. Larger divisions can be planted out direct into their permanent positions. We have found that it is better to pot up the smaller divisions and grow them on in light shade in a cold frame until they are well established before planting them out in late spring or early summer.
Medicinal Uses:

Oxytoxic; Poultice; Salve.

The whole plant is oxytocic, poultice and salve[155]. An infusion of the plant has been used to expedite childbirth. The plant has been used as a lotion on burns and a poultice of the fresh leaves applied to injury. The plant is dried, powdered and applied to sores.

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/Potentilla_hippiana
http://www.pfaf.org/User/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Potentilla+hippiana

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Prunus americana

Botanical Name: Prunus americana
Family: Rosaceae
Genus: Prunus
Subgenus:Prunus
Section: Prunocerasus
Species: P. americana
Kingdom:Plantae
Order: Rosales

Common Names: American Plum, American Wild Plum, Wild Plum, Large yellow sweet plum

Habitat : Prunus americana is native to North America from Saskatchewan and Idaho south to New Mexico and east to Québec, Maine and Florida.It grows on rich soils in mixed deciduous woodland, by streams, on the borders of swamps and in hedgerows.

Description:
Prunus americana grows as a large shrub or small tree, reaching up to 15 feet (4.6 m). It is adapted to coarse- and medium-textured soils, but not to fine soils. The shrub is winter-hardy, but has little tolerance for shade, drought, or fire. Its growth is most active in spring and summer, and it blooms in midspring. It propagates by seed, but the rate of spread by seed is slow.

The roots are shallow, widely spread, and send up suckers. The numerous stems per plant become scaly with age. The tree has a broad crown. The branches are thorny. The leaves are alternately arranged, with an oval shape. The leaf length is usually 2–4 in (5.1–10.2 cm) long. The upper surface of the leaf is dark green and under side is smooth and pale. The small white flowers with five petals occur singly or in clusters in the leaf axils. The globular fruits are about 1 in (2.5 cm) in diameter.

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It is in flower in April, and the seeds ripen in August. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects.Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.
Cultivation:
Landscape Uses:Border, Espalier, Pest tolerant, Specimen. Thrives in a well-drained moisture-retentive loamy soil, doing well on limestone. Prefers some lime in the soil but is likely to become chlorotic if too much lime is present. Succeeds in sun or partial shade though it fruits better in a sunny position. Trees are probably hardy to as low as -50°c when fully dormant. A fast-growing but short-lived tree in the wild, it is cultivated for its edible fruit in N. America, where there are many named varieties. It flowers well in Britain but rarely fruits well here. Most members of this genus are shallow-rooted and will produce suckers if the roots are damaged. Plants often produce suckers at the roots and form thickets. The branches are brittle. Plants in this genus are notably susceptible to honey fungus. Special Features: North American native, Edible, All or parts of this plant are poisonous, Attracts butterflies, Blooms are very showy.

Propagation:
Seed – requires 2 – 3 months cold stratification and is best sown in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe. Sow stored seed in a cold frame as early in the year as possible. Protect the seed from mice etc. The seed can be rather slow, sometimes taking 18 months to germinate. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle. Grow them on in a greenhouse or cold frame for their first winter and plant them out in late spring or early summer of the following year. Cuttings of half-ripe wood with a heel, July/August in a frame. Difficult, if not impossible. Softwood cuttings from strongly growing plants in spring to early summer in a frame. Difficult, it not impossible. Suckers in late winter.
Edible Uses:
Edible Parts: Fruit; Seed.

Fruit – raw, cooked in pies etc or used in preserves. The flesh is succulent and juicy, though it is rather acid with a tough skin. The best forms are pulpy and pleasant tasting. The fruit is best cooked, and it can also be dried for later use. The fruit is about 25mm in diameter and contains one large seed. Seed – raw or cooked. Do not eat the seed if it is too bitter – see the notes above on toxicity.
Medicinal Uses:

Antiasthmatic; Astringent; Disinfectant; Diuretic; Miscellany; Poultice.

A tea made from the scraped inner bark is used as a wash to treat various skin problems and as a mouth wash to treat sores. A poultice of the inner bark is disinfectant and is used as a treatment on cuts and wounds. The bark is astringent, diuretic and pectoral. It has been used to make a cough syrup. An infusion has been used in the treatment of diarrhoea, kidney and bladder complaints. An infusion of the twigs has been used in the treatment of asthma. Although no specific mention has been seen for this species, all members of the genus contain amygdalin and prunasin, substances which break down in water to form hydrocyanic acid (cyanide or prussic acid). In small amounts this exceedingly poisonous compound stimulates respiration, improves digestion and gives a sense of well-being.

 

Other  Uses:Broom; Disinfectant; Dye; Miscellany; Rootstock; Soil stabilization; Wood.

A green dye can be obtained from the leaves. A dark grey to green dye can be obtained from the fruit. A red dye can be obtained from the roots. This species is widely used as a rootstock for cultivated plums in North America. The tough, elastic twigs can be bound into bundles and used as brooms for sweeping the floor. Trees often grow wild along streams, where their roots tend to prevent soil erosion. Wood – heavy, hard, close-grained, strong. It weighs 45lb per cubic foot. Of no commercial value because the trunk is too small.

Known Hazards:
Although no specific mention has been seen for this species, it belongs to a genus where most, if not all members of the genus produce hydrogen cyanide, a poison that gives almonds their characteristic flavour. This toxin is found mainly in the leaves and seed and is readily detected by its bitter taste. It is usually present in too small a quantity to do any harm but any very bitter seed or fruit should not be eaten. In small quantities, hydrogen cyanide has been shown to stimulate respiration and improve digestion, it is also claimed to be of benefit in the treatment of cancer. In excess, however, it can cause respiratory failure and even death.

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/Prunus_americana
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Prunus+americana

Chionanthus virginica

 

Botanical Name :Chionanthus virginica
Family: Oleaceae
Genus:     Chionanthus
Species: C. virginicus
Kingdom: Plantae
Order:     Lamiales

Synonyms:  Old Man’s Beard. Fringe Tree Bark. Chionathus. Snowdrop Tree. Poison Ash.

Common Name:  Grancy Gray Beard, ,Fringe Tree, White fringetree, Old Man’s Beard, Fringe Tree.

Habitat: Chionanthus virginica is a tree native to the eastern United States, from New Jersey south to Florida, and west to Oklahoma and Texas.
It grows on rich moist soils by the edges of streams and in damp woods and scrub.

Description:
Chionanthus virginica is a deciduous shrub or small tree growing to as much as 10 to 11 metres (33 to 36 ft) tall, though ordinarily less. The bark is scaly, brown tinged with red. The shoots are light green, downy at first, later becoming light brown or orange. The buds are light brown, ovate, acute, 3 millimetres (0.12 in) long. The leaves are opposite, simple, ovate or oblong, 7.5 to 20 centimetres (3.0 to 7.9 in) long and 2.5 to 10 centimetres (0.98 to 3.94 in) broad, with a petiole 2 centimetres (0.79 in) long, and an entire margin; they are hairless above, and finely downy below, particularly along the veins, and turn yellow in fall. The richly-scented[4] flowers have a pure white, deeply four-lobed corolla, the lobes thread-like, 1.5 to 2.5 centimetres (0.59 to 0.98 in) long and 3 millimetres (0.12 in) broad; they are produced in drooping axillary panicles 10 to 25 centimetres (3.9 to 9.8 in) long when the leaves are half grown, in mid- to late May in New York City, earlier in the south.
click to see the pictures

It is usually dioecious, though occasional plants bear flowers of both sexes. The fruit is an ovoid dark blue to purple drupe 1.5 to 2 centimetres (0.59 to 0.79 in) long, containing a single seed (rarely two or three), mature in late summer to mid fall.

Cultivation:
Although native in the southeastern United States, it is hardy in the north and is extensively planted in gardens, where specimens are often grown with multiple trunks. The white flowers are best seen from below. Fall color is a fine, clear yellow, a good contrast with viburnums and evergreens. It prefers a moist soil and a sheltered situation. It may be propagated by grafting on Ash (Fraxinus sp.).

Medicinal Uses:

Part Used:  The dried bark of the root.

Constituents: It is said that both saponin and a glucoside have been found, but neither appears to have been officially confirmed.

Aperient, diuretic. Some authorities regard it as tonic and slightly narcotic. It is used in typhoid, intermittent, or bilious fevers, and externally, as a poultice, for inflammations or wounds. Is useful in liver complaints.

The bark and dried roots have been used in poultices for skin inflammations.  Fringetree bark may be safely used in all liver problems, especially when they have developed into jaundice. Good for the treatment of gall-bladder inflammation and a valuable part of treating gall-stones. It is a remedy that will aid the liver in general and as such it is often used as part of a wider treatment for the whole body. It is also useful as a gentle and effective laxative.  The root bark also appears to strengthen function in the pancreas and spleen.  Anecdotal evidence indicates that it may substantially reduce sugar levels in the urine.  Fringe tree also stimulates the appetite and digestion, and is an excellent remedy for chronic illness, especially where the liver has been affected.  For external use, the crushed bark may be made into a poultice for treating sores and wounds.

Traditional uses:
The dried roots and bark were used by Native Americans to treat skin inflammations. The crushed bark was used in treatment of sores and wounds

Other Uses:
The wood is light brown, sapwood paler brown; heavy, hard, and close-grained.

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.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/f/fringe32.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chionanthus_virginicus

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

http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Chionanthus+virginicus

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Hamartomas

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Definition:-
A benign (noncancerous) tumor-like growth consisting of a disorganized mixture of cells and tissues normally found in the area of the body where the growth occurs. It is focal malformation that resembles a neoplasm in the tissue of its origin. This is not a malignant tumor, and it grows at the same rate as the surrounding tissues. It is composed of tissue elements normally found at that site, but which are growing in a disorganized mass. They occur in many different parts of the body and are most often asymptomatic and undetected unless seen on an image taken for another reason.

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Hamartomas result from an abnormal formation of normal tissue, although the underlying reasons for the abnormality are not fully understood. They grow along with, and at the same rate as, the organ from whose tissue they are made, and, unlike cancerous tumors, only rarely invade or compress surrounding structures significantly. The International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (commonly known by the abbreviation ICD) is a detailed description of known diseases and injuries. … The following codes are used with International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems. … The International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (commonly known by the abbreviation ICD) is a detailed description of known diseases and injuries. … The following is a list of codes for International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems. … Tumor (American English) or tumour (British English) originally means swelling, and is sometimes still used with that meaning.

A hamartoma, while generally benign, can cause problems due to their location. When located on the skin, especially the face or neck, they can be extremely disfiguring, as in the case of a man with a hamartoma the size of a small orange on his eyelid. They may obstruct practically any organ in the body, such as the eye, the colon, etc. They are particularly likely to cause major health issues when located in the hypothalamus, spleen or kidneys.

.Cowden syndrome
Cowden Syndrome or Cowden Disease is a serious genetic disorder characterized by multiple hamartomas. Usually skin hamartomas exist, and commonly (about 66% of cases) hamartoma of the thyroid gland exists. Additional growths can form in many parts of the body, especially in mucosa, the GI tract, bones, CNS, the eyes, and the genourinary tract. The hamartomas themselves may cause symptoms or even death, but morbidity is more often associated with increased occurrence of malignancies, usually in the breast or thyroid. Cowden syndrome is an inherited disorder characterized by multiple tumor-like growths called hamartomas, and an increased risk of certain cancers. …

Types:-

Lung
The most common hamartomas occur in the lungs. (Click to see different pictures of hamartomas in the lungs) About 5-8% of all solitary lung tumors, about 75% of all benign lung tumors, are hamartomas. They almost always arise from connective tissue and are generally formed of cartilage, fat, and connective tissue cells, although they may include many other types of cells. The great majority of them form in the connective tissue on the outside of the lungs, although about 10% form deep in the linings of the bronchii. They can be worrisome, especially if situated deep in the lung, as it is important and sometimes difficult to distinguish them from malignancies. An X-ray will often not provide definitive diagnosis, and even a CT scan may be insufficient if the hamartoma atypically lacks cartilage and fat cells. Lung hamartomas are more common in men than in women, and may present additional difficulties in smokers.

Some lung hamartomas can compress surrounding lung tissue to a degree, but this is generally not debilitative or even noticed by the patient, especially for the more common peripheral growths. They are treated, if at all, by surgical resection, with an excellent prognosis: generally, the only real danger is the inherent possibility of surgical complications.

Heart.
Cardiac rhabdomyomas are hamartomas comprised of altered cardiac myocytes that contain large vacuoles and glycogen. They are the most common tumor of the heart in children and infants. There is a strong association between cardiac rhabdomyomas and tuberous sclerosis (characterized by hamartomas of the central nervous system, kidneys and skin, as well as pancreatic cysts; 25-50% of patients with cardiac rhabdomyomas will have tuberous sclerosis, and up to 100% of patients with tuberous sclerosis will have cardiac masses by echocardiography. Symptoms depend on the size of the tumor, its location relative to the conduction system, and whether it obstructs blood flow. Symptoms are usually from congestive heart failure; in utero heart failure may occur. If patients survive infancy, their tumors may regress spontaneously; resection in symptomatic patients has good results.

Hypothalamus
One of the most troublesome hamartomas occurs on the hypothalamus. Unlike most such growths, a hypothalamic hamartoma is symptomatic; it most often causes gelastic seizures, and can cause visual problems, other seizures, rage disorders associated with hypothalamic diseases, and early onset of puberty. The symptoms typically begin in early infancy and are progressive, often into general cognitive and/or functional disability. Moreover, resection is usually difficult, as the growths are generally adjacent to, or even intertwined with, the optic nerve; however, the symptoms are resistant to medical control. Luckily, surgical techniques are improving and can result in immense improvement of prognosis.

...Click for Hypothalamic Hamartoma Treatment

Kidneys, spleen, and other vascular organs
One general danger of hamartoma is that they may impinge into blood vessels,(click to see different pictures of Kidneys, spleen, and other vascular organs Hamartoma). resulting in a risk of serious bleeding. Because hamartoma typically lacks elastic tissue, it may lead to the formation of aneurysms and thus possible hemorrhage. Where a hamartoma impinges into a major blood vessel, such as the renal artery, hemorrhage must be considered life-threatening.

Hamartomas of the spleen are uncommon, but can be dangerous. About 50% of such cases manifest abdominal pain and they are often associated with hematologic abnormalities and spontaneous rupture.

Angiomyolipoma of the kidney was previously considered to be a hamartoma or choristoma, but is now known to be neoplastic.

General danger of hamartoma is that they may impinge into blood vessels, resulting in a risk of serious bleeding. Because hamartoma typically lacks elastic tissue, it may lead to the formation of aneurysms and thus possible hemorrhage. Where a hamartoma impinges into a major blood vessel, such as the renal artery, hemorrhage must be considered life-threatening. Image File history File links Spleen. …

Hamartoma of the kidney is also called angiomyolipoma and can be associated with tuberous sclerosis. It is one of the more frequently seen hamartomas. The condition is more prevalent in women than men, and generally occurs in the right kidney. Hamartomas of the spleen are uncommon, but can be dangerous. About 50% of such cases manifest abdominal pain and they are often associated with hematologic abnormalities and spontaneous rupture. Angiomyolipoma is a benign renal lesion. … Tuberous sclerosis, (meaning hard potatoes), is a rare genetic disorder primarily characterized by a triad of seizures, mental retardation, and skin lesions (called adenoma sebaceum). …

Angiomyolipoma is not a hamartoma by definition, because fat and smooth muscles are not normal constituents of renal parenchyma. It is a Choristoma (microscopically normal cells or tissues in abnormal locations).

Cowden syndrome
Cowden syndrome is a serious genetic disorder characterized by multiple hamartomas. Usually skin hamartomas exist, and commonly (about 66% of cases) hamartoma of the thyroid gland exists. Additional growths can form in many parts of the body, especially in mucosa, the GI tract, bones, CNS, the eyes, and the genitourinary tract. The hamartomas themselves may cause symptoms or even death, but morbidity is more often associated with increased occurrence of malignancies, usually in the breast or thyroid.

Causes
Hamartomas result from an abnormal formation of normal tissue, although the underlying reasons for the abnormality are not fully understood. They grow along with, and at the same rate as, the organ from whose tissue they are made, and, unlike cancerous tumors, only rarely invade or compress surrounding structures significantly.

Prognosis
Hamartomas, while generally benign, can cause problems due to their location. When located on the skin, especially the face or neck, they can be extremely disfiguring, as in the case of a man with a hamartoma the size of a small orange on his eyelid. They may obstruct practically any organ in the body, such as the eye, the colon, etc. They are particularly likely to cause major health issues when located in the hypothalamus, spleen or kidneys.

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/Hamartomas
http://www.nationmaster.com/encyclopedia/Hamartoma

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Kombucha


 

Kombucha tea is a popular health beverage .Kombucha is the Western name for sweetened tea or tisane that has been fermented using a macroscopic solid mass of microorganisms called a “kombucha colony,” usually consisting principally of Acetobacter-species and yeast cultures. It has gained much popular support within many communities, mentioned by talk show hosts and celebrities. The increase in popularity can be seen by the many commercial brands coming onto the retail market

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Biology of kombucha
The culture contains a symbiosis of Acetobacter (acetic acid bacteria) and yeast, mostly Brettanomyces bruxellensis, Candida stellata, Schizosaccharomyces pombe, Torulaspora delbrueckii and Zygosaccharomyces bailii. The culture itself looks somewhat like a large pancake, and though often called a mushroom, or by the acronym SCOBY (for “Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast“), it is clinically known as a fungus.

The Kombucha Culture, sometimes mistakenly referred to as a mushroom, is a symbiotic, probiotic colony of yeast and bacteria (the friendly type). Kombucha Tea is made by combining the culture, with a mixture of black tea, and sugar. The ingredients are allowed to “ferment“, usually from 7-10 days. The resulting beverage contains dozens of elements, many of which are known to promote healing for a variety of conditions.

History
The recorded history of this drink dates back to the Qin Dynasty in China (around 250 BC). The Chinese called it the “Immortal Health Elixir,” because they believed Kombucha balanced the Middle Qi (Spleen and Stomach) and aided in digestion, allowing the body to focus on healing. Knowledge of kombucha eventually reached Russia and then Eastern Europe around the Early Modern Age, when tea first became affordable by the populace

Traditionally, Kombucha use has spread (for over 2000 years) by the passing of Kombucha Cultures from family to family, and friend to friend.

Russian “tea mushroom”
The process of brewing kombucha was introduced in Russia and Ukraine at the end of the 1800s, and became popular in the early 1900s. The kombucha culture is known locally as chayniy grib, (?????? ???? – ‘tea mushroom’), and the drink itself is referred to as grib (???? – ‘mushroom’), “tea kvass” or simply “kvass”, although it differs from regular “kvass” which is not made from tea and is generally fermented only with yeast and not the other bacteria which ferment tea to form kombucha.

Components:
Kombucha contains many different cultures along with several organic acids, active enzymes, amino acids, and polyphenols.For the home brewer, there is no way to know the amounts of the components unless a sample is sent to a laboratory. The US Food and Drug Administration has no findings on the effects of kombucha. Final kombucha may contain some of the following components depending on the source of the culture: Acetic acid, which provides much anti-microbial activity; butyric acid, gluconic acid, glucuronic acid, lactic acid, malic acid, oxalic acid, usnic acid, as well as some B-vitamins.

Health effects:
A review of the published literature on the safety of kombucha suggests no specific oral toxicity in rats, although other reports suggest that care should be taken when taking medical drugs or hormone replacement therapy while regularly drinking kombucha. It may also cause allergic reactions. It is common for urinary samples to obtain a chemical like scent due to the fermenting process of kombucha which releases into the liver. If this is the case, take another urine sample. If it continues to smell, consult a local physician to be checked for liver complications.

Kombucha is also low in calories, and thus a good alternative to other (fermented and non fermented) beverages such as beer, lemonade, and fruit juice . Because of this, home production of kombucha is increasing in popularity.

Claims:
Advocates believe that kombucha helps by competing with endogenous microbes without toxic constituents, when it is cultivated carefully. Increased glucuronic acid conjugates in the urine after kombucha consumption may support this hypothesis.

Early chemical analysis of kombucha brew suggested that glucuronic acid was a key component of it, perhaps assisting the liver by supplying more of the substance during detoxification. But more recent analysis of kombucha offer a different explanation, as outlined in the book in Analysis of Kombucha Ferments by Michael Roussin. Roussin reports on an extensive chemical analysis of a variety of commercial and homebrew versions of kombucha, and finds no evidence of glucuronic acid at any concentration.

But Roussin suggests that another component may have health benefits:
D – glucaro -1,4 lactone, also known as glucaric acid. It serves as an inhibitor of the beta-glucuronidase enzyme, a bacterial product from the gut microbiota that can cleave the glucuronic acid conjugates and send bodily wastes back into circulation, thus increasing the exposure time before the waste is ultimately excreted. Therefore, the active component of kombucha likely exerts its effect by preventing bacterial disruption of glucuronic acid conjugates and increasing the detoxification efficiency of the liver. Glucaric acid is being explored independently as a cancer preventive agent.

Reports of adverse reactions may be related to unsanitary fermentation conditions, leaching of compounds from the fermentation vessels, or “sickly” kombucha cultures that cannot acidify the brew. Cleanliness is important during preparation, and in most cases, the acidity of the fermented drink prevents growth of unwanted contaminants. If a culture becomes contaminated, it will most likely be seen as common mold, green or brown in color.

Safety and contamination
As with all foods, care must be taken during preparation and storage to prevent contamination. Keeping the kombucha brew safe and contamination-free is a concern to many home brewers. Key components of food safety when brewing kombucha include clean environment, proper temperature, and low pH.

In every step of the preparation process, it is important that hands and utensils (anything that is going to come into contact with the culture) are dish soap clean so as not to contaminate the kombucha. For safety reasons, Kombucha should be brewed in food-grade glass containers only. Kombucha should not be brewed in lead crystal, ceramic, plastic, painted, or metallic containers including stainless steel, as the acidic solution can leach by-products into the finished product.  Keeping cultures covered and in a clean environment also reduces the risk of introducing contaminants and bacteria.

Mold contamination on the culture surface.Maintaining a correct pH is an important factor in a home-brew. Acidic conditions are favorable for the growth of the kombucha culture, and inhibit the growth of molds and bacteria. The pH of the kombucha batch should be between 2.5 and 4.5. A pH of less than 2.5 makes the drink too acidic for human consumption, while a pH greater than 4.5 increases the risk of contamination. Use of fresh “starter tea” and/or vinegar can be used to control pH. Some brewers test the pH at the beginning and the end of the brewing cycle to ensure that the correct pH is achieved.

If mold does grow on the surface of the kombucha pellicle, or “mushroom,” it is best to throw out the batch and start over.

Click to see->Unexplained Severe Illness Possibly Associated with Consumption of Kombucha Tea

Probable gastrointestinal toxicity of Kombucha tea

Kombucha–toxicity alert.:

Additional observed effects
Aside from any possible health benefits, it can be intoxicating. It is generally characterized by mild euphoria, relaxation, and an overall sense of physical and mental well-being. Kombucha contains variable amounts of alcohol and caffeine, though the effects felt in drinking the beverage are disproportionately profound in comparison with the amount ingested, suggesting something more at work. Alcohol amounts vary from 0.5% to 1.5%, depending on anaerobic brewing time and proportions of microbe. Pasteur said that alkaline fermentation increases alcohol content. Commercial preparations are typically 0.5% for distribution and safety reasons.

Another possible cause of these effects is the psychoactive amino acid L-theanine, which is naturally present in tea. Stimulation of the circulatory and immune systems, and associated glandular releases, may also account for some of these effects. Some reports of more intense effects could be explained by toxins resulting from contamination of the culture

Resources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kombucha
http://www.kombucha.org/
http://altmedicine.about.com/od/kombuchakombuchatea/Kombucha_Kombucha_Tea.htm

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