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Hollyhocks (Alcea Roses)

Botanical Name: Alcea rosea
Family: Malvaceae
Genus: Alcea
Kingdom: Plantae
Order:     Malvales

The scientific name for Hollyhocks is Alcea rosea but used to go by the scientific name Althaea and is still seen that way in garden catalogs on occasion.

Common Name:Hollyhocks

Habitats: Holyhock is native to Eurasia.It grows in Woodland Garden; Sunny Edge; Dappled Shade; and in  Cultivated Beds.Hollyhocks prefer rich, well-drained soil and full sun. Light shade is tolerated but wet winter soil is not….click & see

Description:
Holyhock  is a biennial or short-lived perennial plant about 4-8′ tall. The stout central stem is unbranched or sparingly branched; it is light green, terete, and more or less hairy. The blades of the alternate leaves are up to 8″ long and across; they are palmately lobed (with 3-7 blunt lobes each) and crenate along their margins. Each leaf blade is orbicular or oval in outline and indented at the base where the petiole joins the blade. The upper surface of each leaf blade is medium green, slightly pubescent to hairless, and wrinkled from fine veins; the lower surface is light green and pubescent. The petioles of the leaves are as long or a little longer than their blades; they are light green and hairy..
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The central stem terminates in a spike-like raceme of flowers; axillary flowers are produced from the axils of the upper leaves as well. These flowers occur individually or in small clusters along the central stem; they nod sideways from short hairy pedicels. Each flower spans about 3-5″ when it is fully open; it has 5 petals, 5 sepals, 6-9 sepal-like bracts, and a columnar structure in the center with the reproductive organs (stamens toward the tip, thread-like stigmas below). The overlapping petals provide the flower with a funnelform shape; they are usually some shade of white, pink, or purplish red. The sepals are light green, ovate, and much smaller than the petals. The bracts of each flower are located underneath the sepals; they are light green, hairy, ovate, and joined together at the base. The blooming period occurs from mid-summer into the fall; a colony of plants will bloom for about 2 months. Each flower is replaced by a fruit containing a ring of 15-20 seeds (technically, a schizocarp). These seeds are oval, flattened, and notched on one side. The root system consists of a taproot. This plant spreads by reseeding itself.

Species: There are about 60 species of Alcea, including:

Alcea acaulis
Alcea biennis (syn. A. pallida)
Alcea calvertii
Alcea ficifolia — Antwerp hollyhock
Alcea flavovirens
Alcea grossheimii — Grossheim’s alcea
Alcea heldreichii
Alcea kurdica
Alcea lavateriflora
Alcea litwinowii
Alcea longipedicellata
Alcea nudiflora
Alcea pallida
Alcea rhyticarpa
Alcea rosea — common hollyhock
Alcea rugosa
Alcea setosa — bristly hollyhock
Alcea sosnovskyi
Alcea striata
Alcea sulphurea

Hardiness Zones: Hollyhocks are hardy in zones 2-10.

Uses in the Garden: Perfect for planting in the back of borders, for old cottage gardens, cut flower gardens, humming bird beds or fence borders.

Cultivation details:
Succeeds in most soils. Poor soils should be enriched with organic matter. Prefers a heavy rich soil and a sheltered sunny position.Plants are hardy to about -15°c.A very ornamental plant, it is usually grown as a biennial due to its susceptibility to the fungal disease ‘rust’. There are many named varieties.Young plants, and also the young growth in spring, are very attractive to slugs. The preference is full to partial sun, moist to mesic conditions, and a fertile loamy soil. Lower leaves will wither away during hot dry weather. Hollyhock is vulnerable to foliar disease, including rust.

Propagation:
Seed – sow April/May or August/September in pots or in situ[200, 238]. Easily grown from seed, which usually germinates in about 2 – 3 weeks at 20°c[133, 268]. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out in the summer.Division after flowering. Only use rust-free specimens.Root cuttings in December.Basal cuttings at almost any time of year

Medicinal Uses:
Antiinflammatory; Astringent; Demulcent; Diuretic; Emollient; Febrifuge.

Hollyhock is stated to be an emollient and laxative. It is used to control inflammation, to stop bed-wetting and as a mouthwash in cases of bleeding gums .

The flowers are demulcent, diuretic and emollient. They are useful in the treatment of chest complaints, and a decoction is used to improve blood circulation, for the treatment of constipation, dysmenorrhoea, haemorrhage etc. The flowers are harvested when they are open and are dried for later use.
The shoots are used to ease a difficult labour. The root is astringent and demulcent. It is crushed and applied as a poultice to ulcers. Internally, it is used in the treatment of dysentery. The roots and the flowers are used in Tibetan medicine, where they are said to have a sweet, acrid taste and a neutral potency. They are used in the treatment of inflammations of the kidneys/womb, vaginal/seminal discharge, and the roots on their own are used to treat loss of appetite.
The seed is demulcent, diuretic and febrifuge.The flowers are used in the treatment of repiratory and inflammatory ailments and the root extracts to produce marshmallow sweets.

Other Uses
Compost; Dye; Litmus; Oil; Paper.
A fibre obtained from the stems is used in papermaking. The fibres are about 1.9mm long. The stems are harvested in late summer, the leaves are removed and the stems are steamed until the fibres can be removed. The fibres are cooked with lye for 2 hours and then ball milled for 3 hours or pounded with mallets. The paper is light tan in colour.

The flowers are an alternative ingredient of ‘Quick Return’ herbal compost activator. This is a dried and powdered mixture of several herbs that can be added to a compost heap in order to speed up bacterial activity and thus shorten the time needed to make the compost.The seed contains 12% of a drying oil.The red anthocyanin constituent of the flowers is used as a litmus.A brown dye is obtained from the petals.
Hollyhocks are tolerant of black walnut toxins and, like Polemonium plants, can be planted near and around black walnut trees where other plants will not grow.

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.ibiblio.org/pfaf/cgi-bin/arr_html?Alcea+rosea
http://plantsbulbs.suite101.com/article.cfm/hollyhock_alcea_plant_profile
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alcea
http://www.illinoiswildflowers.info/weeds/plants/hollyhock.htm

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Graying of Hair

Have you ever watched someone try to cover up gray hair by dyeing it? Or maybe you wonder why your granddad has a full head of silver hair when in old pictures it used to be dark brown? Getting gray, silver, or white hair is a natural part of growing older, and here’s why.

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Each hair on our heads is made up of two parts:
a shaft :- the colored part we see growing out of our heads
a root : – the bottom part, which keeps the hair anchored under the scalp .

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The root of every strand of hair is surrounded by a tube of tissue under the skin that is called the hair follicle (say: fah-lih-kul). Each hair follicle contains a certain number of pigment cells. These pigment cells continuously produce a chemical called melanin (say: meh-luh-nin) that gives the growing shaft of hair its color of brown, blonde, red, and anything in between.

Melanin is the same stuff that makes our skin’s color fair or darker. It also helps determine whether a person will burn or tan in the sun. The dark or light color of someone’s hair depends on how much melanin each hair contains.

As we get older, the pigment cells in our hair follicles gradually die. When there are fewer pigment cells in a hair follicle, that strand of hair will no longer contain as much melanin and will become a more transparent color – like gray, silver, or white – as it grows. As people continue to get older, fewer pigment cells will be around to produce melanin. Eventually, the hair will look completely gray.

People can get gray hair at any age. Some people go gray at a young age – as early as when they are in high school or college – whereas others may be in their 30s or 40s before they see that first gray hair. How early we get gray hair is determined by our genes. This means that most of us will start having gray hairs around the same age that our parents or grandparents first did.

Gray hair is more noticeable in people with darker hair because it stands out, but people with naturally lighter hair are just as likely to go gray. From the time a person notices a few gray hairs, it may take more than 10 years for all of that person’s hair to turn gray.

The other big reason for graying hair is the environment. A recent study
indicates that smokers are 4 times more likely to become prematurely gray (or
bald). The mechanism is not clear but may have to do with vessel constriction
caused from the chemical (such as nicotine) absorption . In youngters, vitamin
B-12 deficiency, thyroid imbalance, anemia or viruses can cause gray hair to
appear as well. There is a phenomenon of “going gray” due to a shock or
fright but is not well documented and is hard to explain physiologically.

According to Ayurveda excessive passion, anger and phychic strain results in graying of hair .Persons suffering from chronic cold and sinusitis and those who use warm water for washing there hair are more likely to be victims of this condition.

Ayurvedic Treatments:

Bhringraja and amalaki are popularly used for the treatment of this condition .Medicated oil prepared by boiling these two drugs, viz ,Mahabhringraj taila is used extremely for massaging the head, The powder of these two drugs is also used internally in a dose of one teaspoonful three times daily with milk. The oil prepared from the seeds of the Neem tree is used for inhalation twice a day for about a month. along with this ,the patient should be advised to take only milk as his diet.

Healing Options

Ayurvedic Suppliments: 1. Mahabhringaraj oil 2.Bhringarajsava 3.Amalaki Rasayan Lauha Rasayan

Diet : These therapies will be effective only when the patient observes diet restrictions. As far as possible, he should take only milk and sugar. Salt should be avoided. Sour things like yogurt are not useful. Pungent, hot and spicy food should be avoided.

Lifestyle: The patient should not remain awake for along time at night and should be kept free from worry, anxiety and passion. If suffering from cold and sinusitis, prompt and careful treatment should be given. Hot water should never be used for washing the hair. Cold water should always be used for bathing.

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.

Help taken from: www.kidshealth.org and Allayurveda.com