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Gotu kola (Hemidesmus indicus)

Botanical Name : Hemidesmus indicus
Family:Apocynaceae
Subfamily:Asclepiadoideae
Genus:Hemidesmus
Species:H. indicus
Kingdom: Plantae
Order:Gentianales

Synonyms: Hydrocotyle asiatica – L.

Common Names:Gotu Kola,Centella, March Pennywort, Indian Pennywort, Hydrocotyle, Brahmi (Sanskrit), Luei Gong Gen (Chinese)(Note: Gotu kola should not be confused with kola nut.)

In South Asia, other common names of centella include:

Thalkudi in Oriya;  Sarswathi aku in Telugu;  Kudavan, (Muththil), or  Kudangal  in Malayalam;   Thankuni  in Bengali;  Gotu kola  in Sinhala;  Brahmi  in Marathi:  Ondelaga  in Kannada;   Vallaarai  in Tamil; Brahmi booti in Hindi; Perook in Manipuri;   Manimuni  in  Assamese;Timare in Tulu; Tangkuanteh in Paite;   Brahmabuti or  Ghod-tapre  in Nepali; and  Kholcha ghyan  in Newari  Nepal Bhasa.

Habitat :Centella asiatica is native to E. Asia – India, China and Japan. Australia. Grows on Old stone walls and rocky sunny places in lowland hills and especially by the coast in central and southern Japan. Shady, damp and wet places such as paddy fields, and in grass thickets

Description:
Centella asiatica is an evergreen Perennial plant growing to 0.2m by 1m.
It is hardy to zone 8 and is frost tender.

click to see the picture..

The stems are slender, creeping stolons, green to reddish-green in color, connecting plants to each other. It has long-stalked, green, reniform leaves with rounded apices which have smooth texture with palmately netted veins. It is in leaf all year, in flower from July to August, and the seeds ripen from August to September. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects.

The flowers are pinkish to red in color, born in small, rounded bunches (umbels) near the surface of the soil. Each flower is partly enclosed in two green bracts. The hermaphrodite flowers are minute in size (less than 3 mm), with 5-6 corolla lobes per flower. Each flower bears five stamens and two styles. The fruit are densely reticulate, distinguishing it from species of Hydrocotyle which have smooth, ribbed or warty fruit. The plant is self-fertile. The leaves are borne on pericladial petioles, around 2 cm. The rootstock consists of rhizomes, growing vertically down. They are creamish in color and covered with root hairs.

Cultivation:
Prefers a moist to wet soil in sun or partial shade. Plants also grow on walls in the wild and so should tolerate drier conditions[K]. This species is not hardy in the colder areas of the country, it tolerates temperatures down to between -5 and -10°c. It grows and spreads very well outdoors during the summer in most parts of the country and is very easy to increase by division. It can therefore be grown as a summer crop with divisions being taken during the growing season and overwintered in a greenhouse in case the outdoor plants are killed by winter cold.

Propagation:
Seed – sow spring in a greenhouse. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in a greenhouse for their first winter. Plant them out in late spring or early summer of the following year, after the last expected frosts[K]. Division is simple at any time in the growing season, though the spring is probably best[K]. We find that it is best to pot up the divisions until they are rooting away well, though in selected mild gardens it should be possible to plant the divisions out directly into their permanent positions

Edible Uses:
Edible Parts: Leaves.

Leaves – raw or cooked. Used in salads and in curries. Cooked as a vegetable. An aromatic flavour, we have found them to be rather overpowering in salads when used in any but small quantities.

Medicinal Uses:
Adaptogen; Antiinflammatory; Cardiac; Depurative; Diuretic; Febrifuge; Hypotensive; Nervine; Sedative; Skin; Tonic.

Gotu kola is an outstandingly important medicinal herb that is widely used in the Orient and is becoming increasingly popular in the West. Its Indian name is ‘Brahmi’ which means ‘bringing knowledge of the Supreme Reality’ and it has long been used there medicinally and as an aid to meditation. It is a useful tonic and cleansing herb for skin problems and digestive disorders. In India it is chiefly valued as a revitalizing herb that strengthens nervous function and memory. The whole plant is alterative, cardio-depressant, hypotensive, weakly sedative and tonic. It is a rejuvenating diuretic herb that clears toxins, reduces inflammations and fevers, improves healing and immunity, improves the memory and has a balancing effect on the nervous system. It has been suggested that regular use of the herb can rejuvenate the nervous system and it therefore deserves attention as a possible cure for a wide range of nervous disorders including multiple sclerosis[K]. Recent research has shown that gotu kola reduces scarring, improves circulatory problems in the lower limbs and speeds the healing process. It is used internally in the treatment of wounds, chronic skin conditions (including leprosy), venereal diseases, malaria, varicose veins, ulcers, nervous disorders and senility. Caution should be observed since excess doses cause headaches and transient unconsciousness. Externally, the herb is applied to wounds, haemorrhoids and rheumatic joints. The plant can be harvested at any time of the year and is used fresh or dried. Another report says that the dried herb quickly loses its medicinal properties and so is best used fresh.

Medicinal Uses and Indications

Treatment :

Wound Healing and Skin Lesions
Gotu kola contains triterpenoids, compounds that have been shown to aid in wound healing. For example, animal studies indicate that triterpenoids strengthen the skin, increase the concentration of antioxidants in wounds, and restore inflamed tissues by increasing blood supply. Because of these properties, gotu kola has been used externally for burns, psoriasis, prevention of scar formation following surgery, recovery from an episiotomy following vaginal delivery of a newborn, and treatment of external fistulas (a tear at or near the anus).

Venous Insufficiency and Varicose Veins
When blood vessels lose their elasticity, blood pools in the legs and fluid leaks out of the blood vessels, causing the legs to swell (venous insufficiency). In a study of 94 people with venous insufficiency, those who took gotu kola reported a significant improvement in symptoms compared to those who took placebo. In another study of people with varicose veins, ultrasound examination revealed improvements in the vascular tone of those who took gotu cola.

High Blood Pressure

In a study of people with heart disease and high blood pressure, those who took abana (an Ayurvedic herbal mixture containing gotu kola) experienced a significant reduction in diastolic blood pressure (pressure on blood vessels when the heart is at rest) compared to those who took placebo. Further studies are needed to determine whether gotu kola alone, some other herb in the Ayurvedic mixture, or the particular combination of all the herbs in the remedy is responsible for the beneficial effect.
Anxiety
Triterpenoids (active compounds in gotu kola) have been shown to soothe anxiety and boost mental function in mice. A recent study found that people who took gotu kola were less likely to be startled by a novel noise (a potential indicator of anxiety) than those who took placebo. Although the results of this study are somewhat promising, the dose used in this study was extremely high, making it difficult to draw any conclusions about how gotu kola might be used by people with anxiety.

Scleroderma
One study involving 13 females with scleroderma found that gotu kola decreased joint pain, skin hardening, and improved finger movement.

Insomnia

Because of sedative effects demonstrated in animals, gotu kola has been used to help people with insomnia.

Dosage and Administration :

Gotu kola is available in teas, as dried herbs, tinctures, capsules, tablets, and ointments. It should be stored in a cool, dry play and used before the expiration date on the label.

Pediatric :
There is currently no information in the scientific literature about the use of gotu kola for children. Therefore, it is not recommended for those under 18 years old.

Adult
The adult dosage of gotu kola may vary depending on the condition being treated. An appropriately trained and certified herbalist, such as a naturopath, can provide the necessary guidance.

The standard dose of gotu kola varies depending on the form:

Dried herb  to make tea, add ¼ to ½ tsp dried herb to a cup of boiling water (150 mL) for 10 minutes, 3 times a day
Powdered herb (available in capsules)  1,000 to 4,000 mg, 3 times a day
Tincture (1:2, 30% alcohol) 30 to 60 drops (equivalent to 1.5 to 3 mL – there are 5 mL in a teaspoon), 3 times a day
Standardized extract—60 to 120 mg per day; standardized extracts should contain 40% asiaticoside, 29% to 30% asiatic acid, 29% to 30% madecassic acid, and 1% to 2% madecassoside; doses used in studies mentioned in the treatment section range from 20 mg (for scleroderma) up to 180 mg (in one study for venous insufficiency; although, most of the studies for this latter condition were conducted using 90 mg to 120 mg per day).
The recommended dosage for people with insomnia is ½ tsp of dried herb in a cup of water taken for no more than 4 to 6 weeks.

Precautions
The use of gotu kola for more than 6 weeks is not recommended. People taking the herb for an extended period of time (up to 6 weeks) should take a 2-week break before taking the herb again.

Asiaticoside, a major component of gotu kola, has also been associated with tumor growth in mice. Though more studies are needed, it is wise for anyone with a history of precancerous or cancerous skin lesions   such as squamous cell, basal cell skin cancer, or melanoma  to refrain from taking this herb.

Side Effects
Side effects are rare but may include skin allergy and burning sensations (with external use), headache, stomach upset, nausea, dizziness, and extreme drowsiness. These side effects tend to occur with high doses of gotu kola.

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
Pregnant women should not take gotu kola because it may cause spontaneous abortion. There is little or no information regarding the safety of this herb during breastfeeding, so nursing mothers should refrain from taking this herb.

Geriatric Use
People older than 65 years should take gotu kola at a lower than standard dose. The strength of the dosage can be increased slowly over time to reduce symptoms. This is best accomplished under the guidance of an appropriately trained and certified herbalist such as a naturopathic doctor.

Interactions and Depletions
There have been no reports documenting negative interactions between gotu kola and medications to date. Since high doses of gotu kola can cause sedation, individuals should refrain from taking this herb with medications that promote sleep or reduce anxiety.

Disclaimer:
The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Resources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Centella_asiatica

http://digedibles.com/database/plants.php?Centella+asiatica

www.umm.edu/altmed/ConsHerbs

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The Amazing Nutrient that Lowers Your Blood Pressure

Research has recently found that vitamin D has a protective effect against arterial stiffness and impaired blood vessel relaxation.

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Study participants with reduced levels of vitamin D had increased arterial stiffness and vascular function impairment. However, among those whose vitamin D levels were normalized over a six month period, vascular health improved and blood pressure measurements declined.

Science Newsline Reports:

“The results add to evidence that lack of vitamin D can lead to impaired vascular health, contributing to high blood pressure and the risk of cardiovascular disease.”

In related news, researchers have also found that high level of vitamin D could be protective against the development of early age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a leading cause of vision loss in adults.

In women younger than 75, those who had 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentrations lower than 38 nanomoles per liter were more likely to have age-related macular degeneration than women with concentrations greater than 38 nanomoles per liter.

Resources:
*Science Newsline April 4, 2011
*Archives of Ophthalmology April 2011; 129(4): 481-489
*MSNBC April 27, 2011
*Science Daily March 21, 2011
*Journal of General Internal Medicine April 21, 2011 [Epub ahead of print]
*Diabetes Care May 2011;34(5):1133-8
*Journal of General Internal Medicine March 15, 2011 [Epub ahead of print]

Posted By Dr. Mercola | April 30 2011

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Some Health Quaries & Answers

Paranoid uncle:

Q: My uncle has started to suspect that everyone is against him. It started with his job where he felt he was being victimised. He then decided that the rest of his family (wife and children) is poisoning him. He has also become involved with a woman in his office, who encourages his beliefs and wants to cut all of us out of his life.

………………....CLICK & SEE

A: It sounds like your uncle is slowly becoming paranoid, suffering from delusions and maybe becoming schizophrenic as well. This is very difficult to treat as he will suspect that the medication is poison as well.

The “other woman” may be mildly schizophrenic herself. People with these illnesses tend to gravitate together. She may have an ulterior motive for encouraging your uncle’s beliefs. You could try to speak to him and try to encourage him to see a psychiatrist.

Preventing pimples
Q: I have pimples on the back below the neck. It looks ugly when I wear low-necked outfits. I have tried prickly heat powder to no avail.
…………………
A: Pimples or acne on the back of the neck can be itchy and leave disfiguring dark scars. It is aggravated by dandruff. Anti dandruff shampoos will help. Also, do not use powder. Talc blocks the pores and makes the pimples worse. Try to use soap with the correct TFC (total fat content) and TCC (tricholorohexidine) like Neko. If applied using a loofah, it kills the skin bacteria that aggravate acne.

Relief from arthritis
Q: I have arthritis and I have been prescribed capsules containing chondroitin sulphate. Will it help?

………………….

A: Chondroitin sulphate is a natural ingredient found in joint cartilage. The question of whether it actually reaches damaged cartilage and repairs it is not proven. Many people who take it feel that it does reduce the symptoms of arthritis. It has to be taken for 3-6 months before its effects are seen. It needs to be taken 2-3 times a day or as recommended. It is relatively expensive. It is often combined with NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) and physiotherapy. It is difficult to say exactly which of these three ingredients plays the maximum role in reducing the arthritis.

[

Pop a pill daily
Q: I have mild hypertension and have been prescribed 2.5 mg of amlodipin once a day. I check my BP myself with an electronic machine. Whenever I find it is normal I stop the tablet. I take it again only if I have a headache or the reading is high. Is this all right?

2.5 mg of amlodipin>.…..

A:
Once hypertension has been diagnosed and the treatment started, you have to take the medication every day at the same time, as this particular drug acts for 24 hours. Once you start the treatment the blood pressure will get controlled. Even if you stop the tablets the BP (blood pressure) will remain under control for 2-3 days before it starts to rise again. Therefore, you can’t start and stop medication based on headaches and BP readings. Unlike diabetes where the sugars are controlled on a day-to-day basis, in BP the control is usually monthly. Take the tablets regularly as prescribed to prevent unnoticed elevations in the BP.

Try surgery :
Q: I have an umbilical hernia and the doctor told me that as it is small I can leave it alone. I am 47 years old.

………………..

A: Umbilical hernia is a generic term and can be used for a defect exactly at the umbilicus, or above (paraumbilical). Intestines or other contents from the abdomen can pass through the defect. As long as the contents pass freely there is no problem. However the contents can get stuck as they pass outwards. This compromises the blood supply to that area and it can even be fatal.You are young and healthy. It is probably better to have surgery while there are no risk factors.

Brittle-boned babe :
Q: My daughter who is 18 years old has weak bones and cannot do any work or lift weights. What can I do?

……………………

A: An 18 year old should not have weak bones unless there is an underlying kidney, intestinal, blood or bone disease. You need to get the diagnosis sorted out first. Remove the cause and the disease will be cured.

Sources: The Telegraph (Kolkata, India)

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Pseudogout

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Definition:
Pseudogout is a form of arthritis that occurs when a particular type of calcium crystal accumulates in the joints. As more of these crystals are deposited in the affected joint, they can cause a reaction that leads to severe pain and swelling. The swelling can be either short-term or long-term and occurs most frequently in the knee, although it can also affect the wrist, shoulder, ankle, elbow, or hand. The pain caused by pseudogout is sometimes so excruciating that it can incapacitate someone for days.

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It is a type of arthritis that, as the name implies, can cause symptoms similar to gout, but in reaction to a different type of crystal deposit.

As its name suggests, the symptoms of pseudogout are similar to those of gout (see “Gout“). Pseudogout can also resemble osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis. A correct diagnosis is vital, as untreated pseudogout can lead to joint degeneration and osteoarthritis. Pseudogout is most common in the elderly, occurring in about 3% of people in their 60s and as many as half of people in their 90s.

Causes:
The cause of this condition is unknown. Because risk increases significantly with age, it is possible that the physical and chemical changes that accompany aging increase susceptibility to pseudogout.

Pseudogout develops when deposits of calcium pyrophosphate crystals accumulate in a joint. Crystals deposit first in the cartilage and can damage the cartilage. The crystals also can cause a reaction with inflammation that leads to joint pain and swelling. In most cases it is not known why the crystals form, although crystal deposits clearly increase with age. Because the condition sometimes runs in families, genetic factors are suspected of contributing to the disorder as can a severely underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism), excess iron storage (hemochromatosis), low magnesium levels in blood, an overactive parathyroid gland, and other causes of excessive calcium in the blood (hypercalcemia).

CLICK TO SEE THE PICTURES.>..(1).…...(2).……....(3).……….

Pseudogout also can be triggered by joint injury, such as joint surgery or a sprain, or the stress of a medical illness. If the underlying condition causing pseudogout can be identified and treated, it may be possible to prevent future attacks. Frequently, however, there is no identifiable trigger; in those cases there is no way to prevent pseudogout from recurring.


Who gets pseudogou

The calcium crystal deposits seen in pseudogout affect about 3 percent of people in their 60s and as many as 50 percent of people in their 90s. Any kind of insult to the joint can trigger the release of the calcium crystals, inducing a painful inflammatory response. Attacks of pseudogout also can develop following joint surgery or other surgery. However, not everyone will experience severe attacks.

Symptoms:
* pain, swelling, and stiffness around a single joint
* occasionally, more then one joint affected at a time
* fever, usually low-grade

Diagnosis:

It may be difficult to diagnose pseudogout because it shares so many symptoms with gout, infection, and other causes of joint inflammation. In fact, pseudogout often occurs in people with other joint problems, such as osteoarthritis. Therefore, even when pseudogout is correctly identified, it is important to investigate whether there are other conditions present as well.

Diagnosis is to be done on the basis of symptoms and medical tests. The physician will use a needle to take fluid from a swollen or painful joint to determine whether calcium pyrophosphate crystals are present.This is done with a needle, after applying a numbing medication to the joint.This joint fluid is then analyzed for evidence of calcium crystals, inflammation, or infection. Your doctor may also order tests for other conditions that can trigger pseudogout, including tests of calcium and thyroid function.

An X-ray of the joint may be taken to determine whether calcium-containing deposits are present, creating a condition known as chondrocalcinosis. Other potential causes of symptoms, such as gout, rheumatoid arthritis, or infection, must be ruled out. Pseudogout often is present in people who have osteoarthritis.

Treatment:
To combat joint pain and swelling, your doctor may prescribe NSAIDs such as indomethacin and naproxen, or may give you glucocorticoid injections to keep the swelling down (see “Corticosteroid injections”). Your doctor may also remove fluid from the inflamed joint, a procedure called aspiration, as this may help to ease the pressure and inflammation.

The combination of joint aspiration and medication usually eliminates symptoms within a few days, although the doctor may also recommend treatment with oral corticosteroids over a short period of time. Daily use of a low-dose NSAID or colchicine, a medicine that is also used in the treatment of gout, may help to prevent further attacks. Unfortunately, there is no treatment available that can dissolve the calcium crystal deposits, although the joint degeneration that often goes along with pseudogout may be slowed by treatments that decrease joint swelling. Occasionally, people with recurrent or chronic pseudogout may develop osteoarthritis. In this case, surgery (such as joint replacement) may be the only effective treatment.


Prevention:

It is not known how to prevent pseudogout. If the condition has developed because of some other medical conditions, such as hemochromatosis (too much iron stored in the body), or parathyroid problems, treatment of that condition may prevent progression of other features of that potentially dangerous illness and may, in some cases, slow the development of pseudogout.

You may click to see:->Pseudogout – 10 Things You Should Know

Points to Remember:
When a patient complains of joint pain, physicians often do not consider pseudogout because it can be confused with gout and other types of arthritis. Diagnosis is confirmed by microscopic identification of calcium pyrophosphate crystals. Anti-inflammatory agents can help lessen symptoms but there is currently no way to eliminate the crystals themselves.
The rheumatologist’s role in the treatment of pseudogout

Rheumatologists are actively engaged in research into the causes of pseudogout to better prevent and treat this form of arthritis. Because people with pseudogout tend to be older and more susceptible to side effects from anti-inflammatory medications, they benefit from seeing rheumatologists, who offer valuable expertise in using such drugs.

Rheumatologists are experts at diagnosing pseudogout and direct a team approach to the chronic, degenerative consequences of crystal deposits. This is important because the patient may need advice about surgery or may require additional information and support from physical and occupational therapists and nurses.
To find a rheumatologist

For a listing of rheumatologists in your area, click here.
For more information

The American College of Rheumatology has compiled this list to give you a starting point for your own additional research. The ACR does not endorse or maintain these Web sites, and is not responsible for any information or claims provided on them. It is always best to talk with your rheumatologist for more information and before making any decisions about your care.

The Arthritis Foundation
www.arthritis.org

National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases Information Clearinghouse
www.niams.nih.gov

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://www.rheumatology.org/public/factsheets/pseudogout_new.asp
http://www.everydayhealth.com/publicsite/index.aspx?puid=a2579e6f-f790-4eed-ad5e-e59719b4bff6&p=2

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