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Wood Sorrel (Oxalis acetosella)

Botanical Name: Oxalis acetosella
Family:
Oxalidaceae
Genus:
Oxalis
Species:
O. acetosella
Kingdom
Plantae
Order:
Oxalidales

Common Names:   Wood sorrel, Common wood sorrel or sometimes Miriam

Other Names: Wood Sour. Sour Trefoil. Stickwort. Fairy Bells. Hallelujah

Habitat :Wood Sorrel  is native to  Europe, including Britain, from Iceland south and east to Spain, N. and C. Asia to Japan.  It grows in moist woods, moorland and on shady rocks.

Description:
A perennial, Wood Sorrel is a small plant with leaves in three parts, which often fold up. The flowers are bell-shaped and white with a dash of blue. Despite its name, the plant is not related to Sorrel, but is closely related to the Geranium family.
It is a little plant of a far more delicate, even dainty character, growing abundantly in woods and shady places. From its slender, irregular creeping rootstock covered with red scales, it sends up thin delicate leaves, each composed of three heartshaped leaflets, a beautiful bright green above, but of a purplish hue on their under surface. The long slender leaf-stalks are often reddish towards the base. The leaflets are usually folded somewhat along their middle, and are of a peculiarly sensitive nature. Only in shade are they fully extended: if the direct rays of the sun fall on them they sink at once upon the stem, forming a kind of three-sided pyramid, their under surfaces thus shielding one another and preventing too much evaporation from their pores. At night and in bad weather, the leaflets fold in half along the midrib, and the three are placed nearly side by side to ‘sleep,’ a security against storm and excessive dews.

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It flowers between Easter and Whitsuntide.
By many, the ternate leaf has been considered to be that with which St. Patrick demonstrated the Trinity to the ancient Irish, though a tiny kind of clover is now generally accepted as the ‘true Shamrock.’

The flowers, each set on long stalks, are fragile, in form somewhat like the Crane’sbills, to which they are closely allied, being bell-shaped, the corolla composed of five delicate white petals, veined with purple, enclosed in a five-scalloped cup of sepals and containing ten stamens, and in the centre, five green, thread-like columns, arising from a single five-celled ovary. At the base of the petals, a little honey is stored, but the flower seems to find favour with few insects.

As the flower fades, its stalk bends towards the ground and conceals the seed capsule under the leaves, till ripe, when it straightens again. The case of the capsule is elastic and curls back when the fruit is quite ripe, jerking the seeds out several yards, right over the leaves.

A second kind of flower is also produced. These are hidden among the leaves and are inconspicuous, their undeveloped petals never opening out. The ripening and seed scattering processes of these self-fertilized cleistogamous (or hidden) flowers are the same as with the familiar white-petalled ones. Wood Sorrel droops its blossoms in stormy weather, and also folds its leaves.

Neither the flowers nor any part of the plant has any odour, but the leaves have a pleasantly acid taste, due to the presence of considerable quantities of binoxalate of potash. This, combined with their delicacy, has caused them to be eaten as a spring salad from time immemorial, their sharpness taking the place of vinegar. They were also the basis of a green sauce, that was formerly taken largely with fish. ‘Greene Sauce,’ says Gerard, ‘is good for them that have sicke and feeble stomaches . . . and of all Sauces, Sorrel is the best, not only in virtue, but also in pleasantness of his taste.’

Both botanical names Oxalis and acetosella refer to this acidity, Oxalis being derived from the Greek oxys, meaning sour or acid, and acetosella, meaning vinegar salts. Salts of Lemon, as well as Oxalic acid, can be obtained from the plant: 20 lb. of fresh herb yield about 6 lb. of juice, from which, by crystallization, between 2 and 3 OZ. of Salts of Lemon can be obtained.

Edible Uses :
Edible Parts: Flowers; Leaves.
Edible Uses: Curdling agent.

Leaves – raw or cooked. A delicious lemony flavour, the leaves make a refreshing, thirst-quenching munch and are also added to salads, soups, sauces etc. This leaf should be used in moderation, see the notes above on toxicity. Flowers – raw. A decorative addition to salads. The dried plant can be used as a curdling agent for plant milks.

Cultivation:
Prefers moist shady conditions and a humus rich soil in shade or dappled sunlight. Dislikes very heavy and wet soils. Plants are hardy to about -25°c. A dainty woodland carpeter growing well in a woodland or wild garden. When well sited the plants can run aggressively and also self-sow. The plant flowers in early spring, but does not produce much fertile seed at this time. Most of the fertile seed is produced from cleistogamous flowers during the summer.

Propagation:
Seed – best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and plant them out in late spring or early summer. Division in spring. Very easy, 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.

Part Used Medicinally:–-The leaves, fresh or dried.

Medicinal virtues: Similar to Sorrels, but is more effectual in hindering the putrefaction of the blood. It quenches the thirst, strengthens a weak stomach, stays vomiting and is excellent in fevers.
Modern uses: The plant is particularly rich in oxalic acid and potassium oxalate, which are not suitable for those with gouty or rheumatic tendencies. It can he injurious if prescribed injudiciously. The leaves are used for their cooling action in fevers. The infusion – i oz (28 g) to i pt (568 rnl) of boiling water – is also given for catarrh and urinary tract inflammation in doses of 2 fl Oz (56 rni). Excessive or prolonged administration is not recommended. The infusion is used as lotion for skin infections. The juice is used as a gargle for mouth ulcers.

General Medicinal Usage:

Excellent in any contagious sickness or pestilential fever.

It has diuretic, antiscorbutic and refrigerant action, and a decoction made from its pleasant acid leaves is given in high fever, both to quench thirst and to allay the fever. The Russians make a cooling drink from an infusion of the leaves, which may be infused with water or boiled in milk. Though it may be administered freely, not only in fevers and catarrhs, but also in haemorrhages and urinary disorders, excess should be guarded against, as the oxalic salts are not suitable to all constitutions, especially those of a gouty and rheumatic tendency.

The old herbalists tell us that Wood Sorrel is more effectual than the true Sorrels as a blood cleanser, and will strengthen a weak stomach, produce an appetite, check vomiting, and remove obstructions of the viscera.

The juice of the leaves turns red when clarified and makes a fine, clear syrup, which was considered as effectual as the infusion. The juice used as a gargle is a remedy for ulcers in the mouth, and is good to heal wounds and to stanch bleeding. Sponges and linen cloths saturated with the juice and applied, were held to be effective in the reduction of swellings and inflammation.

An excellent conserve, Conserva Ligulae, used to be made by beating the fresh leaves up with three times their weight of sugar and orange peel, and this was the basis of the cooling and acid drink that was long a favourite remedy in malignant fevers and scurvy.

In Henry VIII’s time this plant was held in great repute as a pot-herb, but after the introduction of French Sorrel, with its large succulent leaves, it gradually lost its position as a salad and pot-herb.

The herbalist Nicholas Culpeper, writing in England in the 1500’s, reported wood sorrel’s medicinal virtues.  He recommended the plant ?to quench thirst, to strengthen a weak stomach, to stay vomiting, and he noted that it was  excellent in any contagious sickness or pestilential fever.  By the 1800’s this species of sorrel had been introduced into North America.  One herbalist noted that a decoction, or extract, of wood sorrel was being used to treat inflammatory disorders, fevers, and diseases of the kidneys and bladder.  A decoction of the leaves is used in the treatment of fevers, both to quench the thirst and allay the fever. Externally, the leaves are crushed and applied locally to dispel boils and abscesses, they also have an astringent affect on wounds.  The juice of the leaves turns red when clarified and makes a fine, clear syrup, which was considered as effectual as the infusion. The juice used as a gargle is a remedy for ulcers in the mouth, and is good to heal wounds and to stanch bleeding. Sponges and linen cloths saturated with the juice and applied, were held to be effective in the reduction of swellings and inflammation. A conserve, Conserva Ligulae, used to be made by beating the fresh leaves up with three times their weight of sugar and orange peel, and this was the basis of the cooling and acid drink that was a remedy in malignant fevers and scurvy.

Other Uses :
Cleanser……..The juice of the leaves removes iron mould stains from linen. Plants can be grown as a ground cover in woodland or under the shade of shrubs. They should be spaced about 45cm apart each way

Known Hazards:   The leaves contain oxalic acid, which gives them their sharp flavour. Perfectly all right in small quantities, the leaves should not be eaten in large amounts since oxalic acid can bind up the body’s supply of calcium leading to nutritional deficiency. The quantity of oxalic acid will be reduced if the leaves are cooked. People with a tendency to rheumatism, arthritis, gout, kidney stones or hyperacidity should take especial caution if including this plant in their diet since it can aggravate their condition

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/Oxalis_acetosella
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Oxalis+acetosella
www.botanical.com
www.health-topic.com

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

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Ginger (Zingiber officinale)

Botanical Name :Zingiber officinale
Family: Zingiberaceae
Genus: Zingiber
Species: Z. officinale
Kingdom: Plantae
clade: Angiosperms
clade: Monocots
clade: Commelinids
Order: Zingiberales

Common Name :Ginger

Ginger: When fresh it is called “ardraka”, and in the dried form it is referred to as “shunthi”

Habitat :  Ginger is a herb that is indigenous to the South West coast of India. It is also known in the East as a hot or yang herb, and has a long history of traditional usage spanning back over 2,500 years.The characteristic aromatic smell of ginger is familiar to many of us, and its use as a spice in cookery is very well known.

Description:

Zingiber officinale is usually about four feet tall, with long, narrow leaves that measure around seven inches long. When the plant flowers, it produces small yellow-green flowers. The word “zingiber” is a distant relative of the Sanskrit word “shringavera,” which means “shaped like a deer’s antlers” (referring to the shape of the plant’s leaves)..

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Different Uses:
Ginger used for cooking and medicinal purposes is not the outer part of the ginger plant, but the root. Ginger root is light beige in color and looks a bit like a hand, with many small extensions from a larger main body. Ginger root should be firm and have no growths on the exterior.

Gari (ginger)Ginger produces a hot, fragrant kitchen spice.[5] Young ginger rhizomes are juicy and fleshy with a very mild taste. They are often pickled in vinegar or sherry as a snack or just cooked as an ingredient in many dishes. They can also be steeped in boiling water to make ginger tea, to which honey is often added; sliced orange or lemon fruit may also be added. Ginger can also be made into candy.

Mature ginger roots are fibrous and nearly dry. The juice from old ginger roots is extremely potent[6] and is often used as a spice in Indian recipes, and is a quintessential ingredient of Chinese, Korean, Japanese and many South Asian cuisines for flavoring dishes such as seafood or goat meat and vegetarian cuisine.

Ginger acts as a useful food preservative.

Fresh ginger can be substituted for ground ginger at a ratio of 6 to 1, although the flavors of fresh and dried ginger are somewhat different. Powdered dry ginger root is typically used as a flavoring for recipes such as gingerbread, cookies, crackers and cakes, ginger ale, and ginger beer.

Candied ginger is the root cooked in sugar until soft, and is a type of confectionery.

Fresh ginger may be peeled before eating. For longer-term storage, the ginger can be placed in a plastic bag and refrigerated or frozen.

Culinary Use: The essential oil is used in commercial flavourings. Fresh root ginger is extremely popular in a huge variety of stir-fry or curry dishes. Authentically, fresh root India and oriental countries. It is incorporated by different techniques slices may be added to marinades or in cooking, to be discarded on the side of the plate or bowl as the food is eaten. Grated, chopped or crushed ginger is used in pastes or braised dishes. Finely shredded ginger is added to fried and stir-fried dishes, or it may be used raw in salads. Pickled and preserved types are served as appetizers or used in savoury cooking.

All these methods are employed to flavour fish and seafood, poultry, meat, vegetable and noodle dishes. Ginger is also widely appreciated in new cooking styles, for example with chicken and game in casseroles.

Ginger is all essential in much western baking, for example in traditional gingerbreads, cakes, biscuits (such as ginger snaps), French pain d’ epice and German Pfefferkuchen. The spice is also important in chutneys, pickles, jams and sweet preserves as well as drinks, such as ginger beer, ginger ale and ginger wine.

Most of Bengali Indian cooking giger paste and onion paste is always added to give a good taste and flavour in curry.Drink a cup of hot tea with ginger in it ……. is good for cold.

Aroma and Flavour: The aroma when you cut into a piece of fresh root ginger has a hint of lemon, with a refreshing sharpness. Jamaica ginger is said to have the finest aroma, with the Kenyan spice being of good quality too. Other African and Indian gingers have a darker skin and a biting, less pleasant flavour.

The Benefits of Ginger

Ayurveda considers it to be one of the best herbs which nullify the toxins produced in the body due to improper digestion. Fresh ginger is useful in alleviating cold and cough whereas the dried one has more anti-“vata” effect. Due to its “pitta” aggravating properties, excessive use of ginger is contra-indicated in conditions involving hyperacidity, ulcers and gall stones.

Nausea – it is often used to ease nausea caused by travelling or pregnancy as well as that due to other causes.
Digestion – it has the ability to calm the stomach, promote the flow of bile, and improve the appetite.
Stomach Cramps caused by wind – it can relieve these, often quicker than any other herbal medicine.
Circulation – it helps to support a healthy cardiovascular system by making platelets less sticky and therefore reducing he likelihood of aggregation (a major factor in atherosclerosis) Much recent work has focused on the use of ginger in circulatory disorders such as Raynauds disease, which is characterised by blue fingers and toes. Ginger appears to promote blood flow to these areas, which eases the problem.
Rheumatoid arthritis – it has traditionally been used to help inflammatory joint diseases such as arthritis. It is also valued for its analgesic action, which may help arthritic conditions.
Cholesterol – studies have suggested that ginger may be useful in keeping cholesterol levels under control, although how this works is not yet understood.
Respiratory infections – it is well known for its warming expectorant action on the upper respiratory tract, and this is why Chinese herbalists have traditionally used ginger to treat colds and influenza.

For more than 5,000 years Ginger has been used for the relief of the occasional upset stomach. Ginger, a warming energizer, is traditionally known to support the digestive and immune systems. In ancient Sanskrit, Ginger was called Vishwabhesaj, which means the universal medicine. Ayurvedic practitioners use Ginger to activate Agni, the body’s fire element. Agni burns up Ama, naturally occurring toxins and undigested food in the body. When you decrease Ama, the body gains strength, balance and harmony.

Medicinal and Other Use: Henry VIII is said to have used ginger as a medicine for its qualities, as outlined by Culpeper, the herbalist, 150 years later: Ginger helps digestion, warms the stomach, clear the sight, and is profitable for old men; it heats the joints and is therefore useful against gout’. Ginger has an impressive record in treating all kinds of ailments: it is said to help poor circulation, and to cure flatulence and indigestion; it is taken as a drink for coughs, nausea and influenza. In the East ginger is chewed to ward off evil spirits. it is considered to be a cure for travel sickness. The essential oil is used in perfumery.

Click & see :How to use ginger for better health  

One medical research study had results indicating that ginger might be an effective treatment for nausea caused by motion sickness or other illness, The study however, failed to show a significant difference between ginger and a placebo. There are several proposed mechanisms of action for the anti-emetic properties of ginger but there is not yet conclusive support for any particular model.

Modern research on nausea and motion sickness used approximately 1 gram of ginger powder daily. Though there are claims for efficacy in all causes of nausea, the PDR recommends against taking ginger root for morning sickness commonly associated with pregnancy due to possible mutagenic effects. Nevertheless, Chinese women traditionally have taken ginger root during pregnancy to combat morning sickness. The Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database (compiled by health professionals and pharmacists), states that ginger is likely safe for use in pregnancy when used orally in amounts found in foods. Ginger ale and ginger beer have been recommended as “stomach settlers” for generations in countries where the beverages are made. Ginger water was commonly used to avoid heat cramps in the United States in the past.

In Western-hemisphere nations, powdered dried ginger root is made into capsules and sold in pharmacies for medicinal use. In the US, ginger is not approved by the FDA for the treatment or cure of any disease. Ginger is instead sold as an unregulated dietary supplement. In India, ginger is applied as a paste to the temples to relieve headache. In Myanmar, ginger and local sweet (Htan nyat) which is made from palm tree juice are boiled together and taken to prevent the Flu. A hot ginger drink (made with sliced ginger cooked in sweetened water or a Coca-Cola-like drink) has been reported as a folk medicine for common cold.

Ginger has also historically been used in folk medicine to treat inflammation, although medical studies as to the efficacy of ginger in decreasing inflammation have shown mixed results. There are several studies that demonstrate a decrease in joint pain from arthritis after taking ginger, though the results have not been consistent from study to study. It may also have blood thinning and cholesterol lowering properties, making it theoretically effective in treating heart disease; while early studies have shown some efficacy, it is too early to determine whether further research will bear this out.

The medical form of ginger historically was called “Jamaica ginger”; it was classified as a stimulant and carminative, being much used for dyspepsia and colic. It was also frequently employed to disguise the taste of nauseous medicines. The tea brewed from this root was an old-fashioned remedy for colds.

The characteristic odor and flavor of ginger root is caused by a mixture of zingerone, shoagoles and gingerols, volatile oils that compose about 1%–3% by weight of fresh ginger. The gingerols have analgesic, sedative, antipyretic, antibacterial, and GI tract motility effects.

Ginger is on the GRAS list from FDA. However, like other herbs, ginger may be harmful because it may interact with other medications, such as warfarin; hence, a physician or pharmacist should be consulted before taking the herb. Ginger is also contraindicated in people suffering from gallstones, because the herb promotes the release of bile from the gallbladder.

You may click to  see   : “Ginger may help researchers win the fight against cancer”
Properties
Pungent oleoresins – these have been identified as the phenylalkylketones, known as gingerols, shogaols and zingerone. The dried root of ginger has been shown to be more potent than the fresh root with regard to shogaol, which is thought to be the most potent of the constituents of ginger.

Contra-indications/Precautions
Anyone with a history of gallstones should consult a medical practitioner prior to use. Short-term use of low levels during the first three months of pregnancy appears to have no adverse side effects. Anyone using anticoagulants should not use ginger.

Ginger allergies
Some people are allergic to ginger. Generally, this is reported as having a gaseous component. This may take the form of flatulence, or it may take the form of an extreme constriction or tightening in the throat necessitating uncontrollable burping to relieve the pressure .

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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:   (Extracted from: http://www.healthreaction.com/web/articles/ginger.htm and http://www.good-earth.com/yogi-tea—ginger-tea.html and http://www.hotel-club-thailand.com/thai-cooking/thai-spices.htm), http://www.ehow.com/facts_5541828_description-ginger-plant.html

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