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Barley (Hordeum vulgare L)

Botanical Name : Hordeum vulgare L
Family: Poaceae
Subfamily: Pooideae
Tribe: Triticeae
Genus: Hordeum

German botanical illustration of barley

German botanical illustration of barley (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Species: H. vulgare
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Poales

Synonyms:
Hordeum vulgare L.

HOAE Hordeum aegiceras Nees ex Royle
HODI2 Hordeum distichon L.
HOHE6 Hordeum hexastichon L.
HOHE3 Hordeum hexastichum L., orth. var.
HOIR Hordeum irregulare Aberg & Wiebe
HOSA4 Hordeum sativum Pers.
HOVUH Hordeum vulgare L. ssp. hexastichon (L.) Bonnier & Layens
HOVUT Hordeum vulgare L. var. trifurcatum (Schltdl.) Alef.

Common Name:  Two-Rowed Barley

Barley  (The Old English word for ‘barley’ was bære, which traces back to Proto-Indo-European and is cognate to the Latin word farina “flour”. The direct ancestor of modern English “barley” in Old English was the derived adjective bærlic, meaning “of barley”. The first citation of the form bærlic in the Oxford English Dictionary dates to around 966 AD, in the compound word bærlic-croft.   The underived word bære survives in the north of Scotland as bere, and refers to a specific strain of six-row barley grown there. The word barn, which originally meant “barley-house”, is also rooted in these words)

Habitat : Probably barley is native to Middle East, from Afghanistan to northern India; now widely cultivated in all temperate regions from Arctic Circle to high mountains in the tropics. The earliest remains so far discovered are from Iran (ca 7900 BC), but we still do not know that it originated there or in Egypt, Etiopia, the Near East or Tibet (Foster, 1981).

Description:
Barley (Hordeum vulgare L.), a member of the grass family.It is an annual herb with stems erect, stout, tufted, 60–120 cm tall; leaves few, alternate, linear-lanceolate, the upper one close to the spike, blades up to 25 cm long, about 1.5 cm broad; sheath smooth, striate; ligules short, membranous; spikes terminal, linear-oblong, compressed, up to 20 cm long, densely flowered; spikelets sessile, arranged in threes on two sides of a flattened rachis, all fertile (6-rowed types), or lateral ones barren and occasionally rudimentary (2-rowed types); glumes 2, narrow, small, short-awned, enclosing 3 spikelets; lemma lanceolate, 5-ribbed, tapering into a long straight or recurved awn; palea slightly smaller than the lemma with margins inflexed; stamens 3; caryopsis ellipsoid, about 0.9 cm long, short-pointed, grooved on inner face, smooth, free or adherent to palea, or both lemma and palea. Seeds 30,870/kg (Reed, 1976).

You may click to see the picture  :—->…...(01)....…..(1)—->(2)—->(3)

Cultivation:
Seed sown broadcast or in shallow furrows about 22 cm apart, dropped through a drill. Depth of sowing 1.3–4.5 cm. Seeding rates vary from 67 to 101 kg/ha. Crop requires very little interculture or weeding. In dry areas 2–3 waterings are required after sowing. In India, seed sown in Oct.–Nov., and harvested by late March or early April. In Punjab, sowing as late as early Jan. Crop may be raised under both rainfall and irrigated conditions. Crop grown pure, or in mixtures with gram, pea, lentil, berseem, rape, mustard, or linseed. Sometimes grown with wheat. Irrigation increases yields, irrigated crops containing less nitrogen. A light harrowing after first irrigation when crop is about 20 cm tall, gives up to 10% higher yields. Barley is usually grown without any Special manuring. However, an application of fertilizers containing nitrogen, phosphorus, or potash, in various combinations, influence yield and quality of grain. Additional nitrogen increases yield of straw and grain, but in larger doses, nitrogen increases the protein content and affects its brewing quality. Phosphate fertilizers lower the protein content considerably and influence formation and ripening of grain. Lodging, when it occurs, causes loss in quality and yield of crop, and may be due to poor root system, disease infection, weak straw, or storm damage.

Harvesting:
Dry warm weather is favorable for grain ripening. Barley is ready for harvest in about 4 months after sowing; some varieties in 60 days. Plants are either pulled out or cut with sickles and sheaves stacked for about a week or more. Grain is threshed out by beating with sticks or trampled by oxen (India). Barley plants are fed green or as hay to livestock. In some areas, stalks are cut 2 or 3 times without marked injury to grain yield. For hay, plants are cut while still green after heads are well formed. Dry stalks and leaves obtained during threshing are also useful as cattle feed. Barley, like wheat, is stored in bulk or in bags or in underground pits in bulk. Straw is used as roughage for livestock and bedding, for making hats and packing and for manufacture of cellulose pulp. Barley fed to stock alone or mixed with other grains, usually crushed or ground to meal and mixed with other foodstuffs, particularly useful for pigs and horses, less so for cattle.

Uses:
Barley is the fourth most important cereal in the United States, but ca 50% is used for livestock fodder, 37% for the brewing industry (80% for beer, 14% distilled alcohol, 6% malt syrup). Beer is no johnny-come-lately; Clay documents at least 8000 years old have depicted barley beer making. Until the sixteenth century, barley flour was used instead of wheat to make bread (Bukantis and Goodman, 1980). Winter barley furnishes nutritive pasturage without seriously reducing yields.It is used as a component of various health foods. It is used in soups and stews, and in barley bread of various cultures. Barley grains are commonly made into malt in a traditional and ancient method of preparation. In India, a cooling drink called sattu is made from barley. Barley flour is produced by milling the grains or as a by-product in pearl barley manufacturing. Flour of good quality obtained by milling pearl barley. Barley flour unsuitable for use alone in bread-making; used with 10–25% wheat flour for various purposes. Ashes of leaves used in Patna (India) in preparation of cooling sherbets. High protein barleys are generally valued for food and feeding, and starchy barley for malting. Two-rowed barley contains more starch than six-rowed types (Reed, 1976).

You may click to see Purity Indian Barley

Barley was one of the first domesticated grains in the Fertile Crescent, an area of relatively abundant water in Western Asia and near the Nile river of northeast Africa. The grain appeared in the same time as einkorn and emmer wheat. Wild barley (H. vulgare ssp. spontaneum) ranges from North Africa and Crete in the west, to Tibet in the east. The earliest evidence of wild barley in an archaeological context comes from the Epipaleolithic at Ohalo II at the southern end of the Sea of Galilee. The remains were dated to about 8500 BC. The earliest domesticated barley occurs at Aceramic Neolithic sites, in the Near East such as the Pre-Pottery Neolithic B layers of Tell Abu Hureyra, in Syria. Barley has been grown in the Korean Peninsula since the Early Mumun Pottery Period (circa 1500–850 BC) along with other crops such as millet, wheat, and legumes.

In the Pulitzer Prize-winning book Guns, Germs, and Steel, Jared Diamond argues that the availability of barley, along with other domesticable crops and animals, in southwestern Eurasia significantly contributed to the broad historical patterns that human history has followed over approximately the last 13,000 years; i.e., why Eurasian civilizations, as a whole, have survived and conquered others.

Barley beer was probably the first drink developed by Neolithic humans.Barley later on was used as currency. Alongside emmer wheat, barley was a staple cereal of ancient Egypt, where it was used to make bread and beer. The general name for barley is jt (hypothetically pronounced “eat”); šma (hypothetically pronounced “SHE-ma”) refers to Upper Egyptian barley and is a symbol of Upper Egypt. The Sumerian term is akiti. According to Deuteronomy 8:8, barley is one of the “Seven Species” of crops that characterize the fertility of the Promised Land of Canaan, and it has a prominent role in the Israelite sacrifices described in the Pentateuch (see e.g. Numbers 5:15). A religious importance extended into the Middle Ages in Europe, and saw barley’s use in justice, via alphitomancy and the corsned.

In ancient Greece, the ritual significance of barley possibly dates back to the earliest stages of the Eleusinian Mysteries. The preparatory kykeon or mixed drink of the initiates, prepared from barley and herbs, referred in the Homeric hymn to Demeter, whose name some scholars believe meant “Barley-mother”. The practice was to dry the barley groats and roast them before preparing the porridge, according to Pliny the Elder’s Natural History (xviii.72). This produces malt that soon ferments and becomes slightly alcoholic.

Pliny also noted barley was a special food of gladiators known as hordearii, “barley-eaters”. However, by Roman times, he added that wheat had replaced barley as a staple.

Tibetan barley has been a staple food in Tibet since the fifth century AD. This grain, along with a cool climate that permitted storage, produced a civilization that was able to raise great armies. It is made into a flour product called tsampa that is still a staple in Tibet.  The flour is roasted and mixed with butter and butter tea to form a stiff dough that is eaten in small balls.

In medieval Europe, bread made from barley and rye was peasant food, while wheat products were consumed by the upper classes.  Potatoes largely replaced barley in Eastern Europe in the 19th century

Constituents: vitamins, minerals, and amino acids: beta-carotene, betaine, biotin, boron, copper, iron, lutein, magnesium, niacin, riboflavin, and thiamine. alpha-linoleic acid, oryzanol, potassium, selenium, zinc, and the tocopherols that make up vitamin e

Medicinal Uses:
Folk Medicine :
According to Hartwell (1967–1971), barley is used in folk remedies for cancer (esp. of stomach and uterus), and tumors (of the abdomen). The seed meal is a folk remedy for cancer of the uterus, inflammatory and sclerotic tumors and gatherings, and parotid gland tumors. The seed flour is used for condylomata of the anus, tumors behind the ears, scirrhus of the testicles and spleen, and whitlows. Cataplasms derived from the seed are also believed to help breast cancers (Hartwell, 1967–1971). Reported to be antilactagogue, demulcent, digestive, diuretic, ecbolic, emollient, expectorant, febrifuge, and stomachic, barley is a folk remedy for bronchitis, burns, cancer, catarrh, chest, chilblains, cholecystosis, cholera, cough, debility, diarrhea, dyspepsia, fever, inflammation, measles, phthisis, puerperium, sores, and urogenital ailments (Duke and Wain, 1981). Other folk medicinal details are presented in Medicinal Plants of the Bible (Duke, 1983a). Barley grain is demulcent and easily assimilable, and used in dietary of invalids and convalescents. Pearl barley is form commonly used. Powdered parched grains used in form of a gruel for painful and atonic dyspepsia. Barley water with honey prescribed for bronchial coughs, and with gum arabic used for soothing irritations of the bladder and urinary passage. Iranians have a saying, “What has disease to do with men who live upon barley-bread and buttermilk?”

Barley grain is an excellent food for convalescence, either in the form of porridge or as a decoction of the seed. It is soothing to the throat and provides easily assimilated nutrients. It can also be taken to clear catarrh. Its demulcent properties soothes inflammation of the gut and urinary tract. It is commonly given to children suffering minor infections or diarrhoea and is particularly recommended as a treatment for feverish states and in catarrhal affections of the respiratory and urinary organs. Made into a poultice, the seed is an effective remedy for soothing and reducing inflammation in sores and swellings. Modern research has shown that barley may be of aid in the treatment of hepatitis, whilst other trials have shown that it may help to control diabetes. Barley bran may have the effect of lowering blood cholesterol levels and preventing bowel cancer.
Other Uses: The stems, after the seed has been harvested, have many uses. They are a source of fibres for making paper, a biomass for fuel etc, they can be shredded and used as a mulch

Known Hazards:
Science 205 (Aug. 24, 1979, p. 768) reported that 70% of 158 European beers analyzed contain 1–68 ppb NDMA (N-nitrosodimethylamine), dark beer containing more than light beer. American beer testing (some foreign, some domestic) showed only 0.7–7 ppb. Both concluded that the NDMA may be an artifact produced in drying or kilning the barley malt. Other chemical details can be found in two fine source books, the Wealth of India (C.S.I.R., 1948–1976) and Hager’s Handbook (List and Horhammer, 1969–1979).

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/Barley
http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=HOVU
http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/duke_energy/Hordeum_vulgare.html

http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Hordeum+distichon

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Birthwort

Botanical Name:Aristolochia clematitis
Family: Aristolochiaceae
Genus: Aristolochia
Species: A. clematitis
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Piperales

Synonyms:
Heterotypic
Aristolochia infesta Salisb., Prodr. stirp. Chap. Allerton, 215. 1796, nom. illeg.
Aristolochia longa Georgi, Beschr. russ. Reich vol. 3, 5, 1274. 1800, nom. illeg. (non L.).
Aristolochia rotunda Georgi, Beschr. russ. Reich vol. 3, 5, 1274. 1800, nom. illeg. (non L.).

Common Name:Birthwort

Habitats:  Birthwort  is native to   east  and south east Europe. Naturalized in Britain. It grows in the waste ground, gardens, orchards etc.

Description:   Birthwort is a evergreen and deciduous woody vines and herbaceous perennials plant, growing to 0.7 m (2ft 4in) by 0.5 m (1ft 8in). The smooth stem is erect or somewhat twining. The simple leaves are alternate and cordate, membranous, growing on leaf stalks. There are no stipules.

The flowers grow in the leaf axils. They are inflated and globose at the base, continuing as a long perianth tube, ending in a tongue-shaped, brightly colored lobe. There is no corolla. The calyx is one to three whorled, and three to six toothed. The sepals are united (gamosepalous). There are six to 40 stamens in one whorl. They are united with the style, forming a gynostemium. The ovary is inferior and is four to six locular.

It is in leaf 11-May It is in flower from Jul to September. These flowers have a specialized pollination mechanism. The plants are aromatic and their strong scent attracts insects. The inner part of the perianth tube is covered with hairs, acting as a fly-trap. These hairs then wither to release the fly, covered with pollen.

The fruit is dehiscent capsule with many endospermic seeds.

CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES

The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and requires well-drained soil.The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils..It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade.It requires moist soil.

Cultivation:
Prefers a well-drained loamy soil, rich in organic matter, in sun or semi-shade[1, 134]. Succeeds in ordinary garden soil. The plant has an invasive root system. Most species in this genus have malodorous flowers, often smelling like decaying flesh, that are pollinated by flies. The insects that pollinate this plant become trapped in the hairy throat of the flower. Birthwort was formerly cultivated as a medicinal plant in most of Europe.

Propagation:
Seed – best sown in a greenhouse as soon as it is ripe in the autumn. Pre-soak stored seed for 48 hours in hand-hot water and surface sow in a greenhouse. Germination usually takes place within 1 – 3 months at 20°c. Stored seed germinates better if it is given 3 months cold stratification at 5°c. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for their first winter. Plant out in late spring or early summer after the last expected frosts. Division in autumn. Root cuttings in winter

Medicinal Uses;

AbortifacientAntiinflammatory;  Antispasmodic;  Diaphoretic;  EmmenagogueFebrifuge;  Oxytoxic;  Stimulant.

Birthwort has a very long history of medicinal use, though it has been little researched scientifically and is little used by present-day herbalists. It is an aromatic tonic herb that stimulates the uterus, reduces inflammation, controls bacterial infections and promotes healing. The juice from the stems was used to induce childbirth. The plant contains aristolochic acid which, whilst stimulating white blood cell activity and speeding the healing of wounds, is also carcinogenic and damaging to the kidneys. The flowering herb, with or without the root, is abortifacient, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, diaphoretic, emmenagogue, febrifuge, oxytocic and stimulant. Another report says that the root is used on its own whilst a third says that either the fresh flowering herb or the dried rootstock can be used. The plant should not be used internally without experienced supervision, externally it is used in the treatment of slow-healing cuts, eczema, infected toe and finger nails etc. Use with caution, internal consumption can cause damage to the kidneys and uterine bleeding. It should not be used by pregnant women

Used to treat: abdominal complaints, cancer, cancer (nose), depurative, leg ulcers, menstrual troubles, polyps (nose), tumor, wounds.  Not used much today, birthwort was formerly used to treat wounds, sores, and snake bite.  It has been taken after childbirth to prevent infection and is also a potent menstruation-inducing herbs and a (very dangerous) abortifacient.  A decoction was taken to encourage healing of ulcers.  Birthwort has also been used for asthma and bronchitis.
Chinese research into aristolochic acid has shown it to be an effective wound healer.  Aristolochia species are used in China, but the medicinal use has been banned in Germany because of the toxicity of aristolochic acid.  Chinese herbalists use the fruit when there is lung heat and inflammation, with or without deficiency, but with the presence of phlegm. For these conditions, it stops coughing and wheezing. It is also used internally to treat bleeding hemorrhoids.

Click to see :Overview of Aristolochia Clematitis (Arist-c) as a homeopathic remedy. :

Known Hazards:
The root and stem are poisonous. The plant contains aristolochic acid, this has received rather mixed reports on its toxicity. According to one report aristolochic acid stimulates white blood cell activity and speeds the healing of wounds, but is also carcinogenic and damaging to the kidneys. Another report says that it is an active antitumour agent but is too toxic for clinical use. Another report says that aristolochic acid has anti-cancer properties and can be used in conjunction with chemotherapy and radiotherapy and that it also increases the cellular immunity and phagocytosis function of the phagocytic cells

Medicinal problems:
It was formerly used as a medicinal plant (though poisonous) and is now occasionally found established outside of its native range as a relic of cultivation. A recent study suggests that it is the cause for thousands of kidney failures in Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia and Croatia where the plant is unintentionally consumed through flour. This has been discovered after a clinic for obesity in Belgium used Aristolochiaceae as a diuretic, after a few months some of the subjects suffered from kidney carcinoma and kidney failure.

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_AB.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aristolochia_clematitis
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Aristolochia%20clematitis
http://species.wikimedia.org/wiki/Aristolochia_clematitis

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White Wines ‘Bad for the Teeth’

Teeth of a model.

Image via Wikipedia

 

Enjoying a glass of white wine on a frequent basis can damage the teeth, something many wine makers and tasters will know first-hand, experts say.
……………....CLICK & SEE
Pale plonk packs an acidic punch that erodes enamel far more than red wine, Nutrition Research reports.

It is not the wine’s vintage, origin or alcohol that are key but its pH and duration of contact with the teeth.

Eating cheese at the same time could counter the effects, because it is rich in calcium, the German authors say.

It is the calcium in teeth that the wine attacks.

In the lab, adult teeth soaked in white wine for a day had a loss of both calcium and another mineral called phosphorus to depths of up to 60 micrometers in the enamel surface, which the researchers say is significant.

Riesling wines tended to have the greatest impact, having the lowest pH.

A “kinder” tooth choice would be a rich red like a Rioja or a Pinot noir, the Johannes Gutenberg University team found.

Power of saliva
Even if people brush their teeth after a night of drinking, over the years repeated exposure could take its toll, say Brita Willershausen and her colleagues.

Indeed, excessive brushing might make matters worse and lead to further loss of enamel.

But they said: “The tradition of enjoying different cheeses for dessert, or in combination with drinking wine, might have a beneficial effect on preventing dental erosion since cheeses contain calcium in a high concentration.”

This helps neutralise and boost the remineralising power of saliva to halt the acid attack.

But eating strawberries while supping on your vino or mixing sparkling whites with acid fruit juice to make a bucks fizz may spell trouble because this only adds to the acid attack.

Professor Damien Walmsley, of the British Dental Association, said: “The ability of acidic foods and drinks to erode tooth enamel is well understood, and white wine is recognised as being more erosive than red.

“But it’s the way you consume it that’s all important. If you’re going to have a glass of wine do so with your meal and leave a break of at least 30 minutes afterwards before you brush your teeth and go to bed.

“Consuming wine alongside food, rather than on its own, means the saliva you produce as you chew helps to neutralise its acidity and limits its erosive potential.

“If you’re going to have a glass of wine do so with your meal and leave a break of at least 30 minutes afterwards before you brush your teeth and go to bed.”….Says Professor Damien Walmsley of the British Dental Association

“And leaving time before brushing teeth gives the enamel a chance to recover from the acid attack and makes it less susceptible to being brushed away.”

Source: BBC News:Oct.20.’09

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Star Anise

Japanese star aniseImage via Wikipedia

Botanical Name: Illicium verum
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Austrobaileyales
Family: Illiciaceae/Magnoliaceae
Genus: Illicium
syn: I. anisatum
Other Names:-Anise Stars, Badain, Badiana, Chinese Anise
French: anis de la Chine, anise étoilé, badiane
German: Sternanis
Italian: anice stellato
Spanish: anis estrllado,badian
Chinese: ba chio, ba(ht) g(h)ok, bart gok, pa-chiao, pak kok, peh kah
India:Chakra Phool
Indonesian: bunga lawang

Habitat: Native to China and Vietnam, star anise is today grown almost exclusively in southern China, Indo-China, and Japan. It was first introduced into Europe in the seventeenth century.

Plant Description and Cultivation:
A small to medium evergreen tree of the magnolia family, reaching up to 8m (26ft). The leaves are lanceolate and the axillary flowers are yellow. The tree is propagated by seed and mainly cultivated in China and Japan for export and home markets. the fruits are harvested before they ripen, then sun dried.

..CLICK & SEE

Spice Description:
Star anise is the unusual fruit of a small oriental tree. It is, as the name suggests, star shaped, radiating between five and ten pointed boat-shaped sections, about eight on average. These hard sections are seed pods. Tough skinned and rust coloured, they measure up to 3cm (1-1/4”) long. The fruit is picked before it can ripen, and dried. The stars are available whole, or ground to a red-brown powder....CLICK & SEE
Bouquet: Powerful and liquorice-like, more pungent and stronger than anise.
Flavour: Evocative of a bitter aniseed, of which flavour star anise is a harsher version. Nervertheless, the use of star anise ensures an authentic touch in the preparation of certain Chinese dishes.

Star anise is a spice that closely resembles anise in flavor, obtained from the star-shaped pericarp of Illicium verum, a small native evergreen tree of southwest China. The star shaped fruits are harvested just before ripening. It is widely used in Chinese cuisine, in Indian cuisine where it is a major component of garam masala, and in Malay/Indonesian cuisine. It is widely grown for commercial use in China, India, and most other countries in Asia. Star anise is an ingredient of the traditional five-spice powder of Chinese cooking. It is also one of the ingredients used to make the broth for the Vietnamese noodle soup called ph?. It is used as a spice in preparation of Biryani in Andhra Pradesh, a south Indian State.

Medicinal Properties:
Like anise, star anise has carminative, stomachic, stimulant and diuretic properties. In the East it is used to combat colic and rheumatism. It is a common flavouring for medicinal teas, cough mixtures and pastilles.

Medicinal uses:
Star anise has been used in a tea as a remedy for colic and rheumatism, and the seeds are sometimes chewed after meals to aid digestion.

Shikimic acid, a primary feedstock used to create the anti-flu drug Tamiflu, is produced by most autotrophic organisms, but star anise is the industrial source. In 2005, there was a temporary shortage of star anise due to its use in making Tamiflu. Late in that year, a way was found of making shikimic acid artificially. A drug company named Roche now derives some of the raw material it needs from fermenting E. coli bacteria. There is no longer any shortage of star anise and it is readily available and is relatively cheap.

Star anise is grown in four provinces in China and harvested between March and May. The shikimic acid is extracted from the seeds in a ten-stage manufacturing process which takes a year. Reports say 90% of the harvest is already used by the Swiss pharmaceutical manufacturer Roche in making Tamiflu, but other reports say there is an abundance of the spice in the main regions – Fujian, Guangdong, Guangxi and Yunnan.

Japanese star anise (Illicium anisatum), a similar tree, is not edible because it is highly toxic; instead, it has been burned as incense in Japan. Cases of illness, including “serious neurological effects, such as seizures”, reported after using star anise tea may be a result of using this species. Japanese star anise contains anisatin, which causes severe inflammation of the kidneys, urinary tract and digestive organs.

Culinary Uses:
Star anise is used in the East as aniseed is in the West. Apart from its use in sweetmeats and confectionery, where sweeteners must be added, it contributes to meat and poultry dishes, combining especially well with pork and duck. In Chinese red cooking, where the ingredients are simmered for a lengthy period in dark soy sauce, star anise is nearly always added to beef and chicken dishes. Chinese stocks and soups very often contain the spice.. It flavours marbled eggs, a decorative Chinese hors d’oeuvre or snack. Mandarins with jaded palates chew the whole dried fruit habitually as a post-prandial digestant and breath sweetener – an oriental comfit. In the West, star anise is added in fruit compotes and jams, and in the manufacture of anise-flavoured liqueurs, the best known being anisette. It is an ingredient of the mixture known as “Chinese Five Spices”.

Star anise contains anethole, the same ingredient which gives the unrelated anise its flavor. Recently, star anise has come into use in the West as a less expensive substitute for anise in baking as well as in liquor production, most distinctively in the production of the liquor Galliano. It is also used in the production of Sambuca, pastis, and many types of absinthe.

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.theepicentre.com/Spices/staranis.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Star_anise

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Breathing (Yoga Exercise)

Breathing Exercise perhaps the best form of exercise which keeps our body & mind free from several ailments.Some techniques are mentioned below which may be learned and practiced at home without the help of an expert.

QUIET BREATHING TECHNIQUE:
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All the inside activities of the body are due to the ever going process of combustion or oxidation in the body. And this process of combustion works with the help of the respiration and the blood circulation. Therefore, the moment there is internal or external movement of the body, it affects the process of blood circulation and respiration. As a result of this increasing the speed of the breathing provides the needed oxygen for the concerned movements. The speed of the breathing is increased in accompaniment to the speed of the movements of the body. Therefore it is noticed that the breathing is smooth or quiet, when there is no bodily movement or when it is in its normal or relaxed state. Such breathing is called Quiet Breathing. No control of any sort is kept on this breathing. Normally after taking up the final position of any Asana and then stabilizing, this position for some time, the quiet breathing of this type becomes natural. And in order to have this type of breathing one should relax the body as much as possible during the period of the stabilized Asana position.
DEEP BREATHING TECHNIQUE:

Since we want to control the breathing after studying the process or system of respiration, it is better to try deep breathing as the first state in that direction. We do not control the process of quiet breathing. But the control is to be exercised while practicing deep breathing. For this, two things are to be considered chiefly:First, the movements concerned with inhaling and exhaling are to be controlled in order to further slow down the breathing, at the same time the need of oxygen for the body is to be lessened, so that the speed of breathing can further, slowdown. The constitution of the body is such that if the need or use of oxygen is not reduced, it becomes difficult or rather impossible to control the process of breathing. The easy way to reduce the need of oxygen is to stop the movements of the body and try to relax all the muscles. Obviously, while practicing deep breathing, it is necessary to keep the body in the stable and relaxed position. And this is possible in any sitting position of meditation. However, Padmasana is the best Asana position. The other preferable Asanas in sitting position are Vajrasana and Swastikasana. But once the Asana is taken up, it should be blissfully stabilized until the study of breathing is over. Any strain anywhere will cause distraction in breathing. Therefore the Asana position should be stable and pleasant, while doing meditation. The hands should be in Dhyana Mudra. The straight upright position of the neck, the spine and closed eyes help in attaining concentration without making any movements. Relax the muscles and concentrate fully on breathing. This will slow down the breathing and bring it to a particular point of speed and will get stabilized at that point. This is the ideal state of smooth breathing. This is free from any control. No movement is seen on the chest. It is confined to the movement of the muscles of the abdomen and the lungs. After having such smooth breathing for some time, the movements of the abdomen and the lungs should be brought under the control of the mind, and the movement should further be slowed.

The practice of deep breathing begins after deliberately having inhaling and exhaling at ease. Initially one should practice prolonged inhaling and prolonged exhaling. The constant practice enables the person in having repetition of such prolonged inhaling and exhaling. After some time it becomes difficult to have more repetitions of prolonged inhaling and exhaling. At such point one should come to natural smooth breathing. After some rest, deep breathing should begin again. Practicing deep breathing in this way for some days, attempt should be made to bring time limit to the period of inhaling and exhaling. Initially one should practice prolonged inhaling and prolonged exhaling. The constant practice enables the person in having repetitions of such prolonged inhaling and exhaling. After some time it becomes difficult to have more repetitions of prolonged inhaling and exhaling. At such point one should come to natural smooth breathing; after some rest, deep breathing should begin again. Practicing deep breathing in this way for some days, attempt should be made to bring time limit to the period of inhaling and exhaling. Initially equal time should be allotted for inhaling and exhaling. That is, the time given to inhaling, the same amount of time is given to exhaling. This is called deep breathing, with equal time and speed: “Samakal, Samagati, Deergh Shwasan”. While practicing deep breathing, the numbers should be counted mentally. For instance, if inhaling takes four counts, the same period should be taken for exhaling. On such occasion normally it is noticed that exhaling completes at the second or the third point. So one should be alert regarding the speed of exhaling right from the beginning and try to maintain the balance. Of course after a few days’ practice one successfully adapts this system. To maintain the time record, one can use the second system in a watch. The study of deep breathing with equal time and speed should continue for 10 to 15 minutes without pause. Apparently this system seems easy, but that is not so. One finds oneself out of breathing. But as said earlier constant practice helps in acquiring this system successfully.

After practicing deep breathing with equal time and speed successfully, one should start studying it by increasing the time for exhaling. If inhaling (Puraka) is in four seconds, then exhaling (Rechaka) shall take 5 to 6 seconds instead of four. This needs special efforts. When a person succeeds in doing inhaling and exhaling at the ratio of 1: 1 for 10 to 15 minutes, he should double the time for exhalation. The ideal ratio for inhaling-exhaling is 1: 2. Many times or Pranayama also the same ratio is stated. If the period for inhaling goes up to four seconds, then exhaling should be lengthened up to eight seconds. But both the operations should have the equal speed. That is, the speed of inhaling from the first second to the fourth one and the speed of exhaling from the first second to the eighth one should be the same. Of course it is not possible until one acquires control over the breathing system. One should practice deep breathing in the aforementioned way for 10 to 5 minutes at a stretch. In deep breathing one can further progress by increasing the period of inhaling and proportionately that of exhaling. That is the period of inhaling can be increased gradually from five to fifteen seconds and naturally that of exhaling from ten to thirty seconds. Observing this system carefully one can have as many repetitions as one can. In this system holding of breath is not included and hence this operational system is written as 1:0:2. The practice of deep breathing not only strengthens the lungs but also greatly helps in increasing the concentration of the mind. Then, there is a tremendous increase in zeal in day-to-day work owing to the good breathing and nice blood circulations, the twin gifts of deep breathing. Besides one starts acquiring control over the process of breathing.

FAST BREATHING TECHNIQUE:
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When the speed of quiet breathing is deliberately reduced, the result is deep breathing; on the contrary, if that speed is willfully increased, then the result is fast breathing. However, here the short timed inhaling-exhaling is not implied. It is expected that one should increase the speed of breathing by inhaling and exhaling fully. One has to practice to continue the cycle of quick breathing with constant practice. This sort of breathing is easy to understand & easy to practice. Naturally, its benefits are also limited. The fast breathing clears the nasal passage and gives a good exercise to the parts involved in the breathing system. At times while practicing quick breathing, one feels whirling sensation in the head. But one should not bother about it. On such occasions, stop fast breathing and begin quiet breathing. There occurs no problem, once there is sufficient practice and habit of this type of breathing. This breathing is also practiced in Padmasana or Vajrasana. Before actually beginning the study of deep breathing, one should practice quick breathing for 2-3 minutes in order to get the nasal passage cleared, fast breathing need not be done for a longer period.

After examining and understanding these basic systems of breathing, let us turn to the supplementary types of breathing: The breathing passage in the nasal cavity is divided into two owing to the mid partition between two nasal cavities, viz. the left and the right.

In Yoga, the left nasal cavity is called “Chandra Nadi” (The moon passage) or “Ida Nadi” and the right nasal cavity is known is “Suryanadi” (The sun passage) or “Pingala Nadi”. Inhaling (Puraka) and Exhaling (Rechaka) can be done either through one of these nasal cavities or with both of them. The supplementary types of breathing are based upon these two nasal cavities. In this system of breathing one nasal cavity is kept closed, while the other one open. For this purpose the fingers of the right palm are arranged in a special manner. This special position of the fingers is called “Pranava Mudra”, i.e., the position of Pranayama.

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