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Sonchus alpinus

Botanical Name: Sonchus alpinus
Family: Asteraceae
Tribe: Cichorieae
Genus: Cicerbita
Species: C. Alpina
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Asterales

Common Names: Cicerbita alpina, Alpine Sow-thistle or Alpine Blue-sow-thistle, Mountain sow- thistle

Habitat : Sonchus alpinus is native to upland and mountainous parts of Europe.It grows on many mountains of Europe (the Alps, the Pyrenees, the northern Apennines, the Scandinavian Peninsula, Scotland (where it is endangered and found in only four known locations), the Carpathians and the Urals. These plants can be found in alpine woods, besides streams, in rich-soil in hollows and in tall meadows, usually between 1,000 and 1,800 metres (3,300 and 5,900 ft) above sea level.

Description:
Sonchus alpinus on average reaches 80 centimetres (31 in) in height, with a minimum height of 50 cm (20 in) and a maximum height of 150 cm (59 in). The stem is erect and usually unbranched. It has glandular hairs and contains a white milky juice, a kind of latex. The alternate leaves are broad, triangular and clasping the stem, bluish-grey beneath, hairy along the veins and with toothed margins. The inflorescence is a panicle. Each composite flower is about 2.5 cm (1 in) wide and is set within a whorl of bracts. The individual blue-violet florets are tongue-like with a toothed, truncated tip, each having five stamens and a fused carpel. All the florets are ray florets; there are no disc florets. The seeds are clothed in unbranched hairs. The flowering period extends from June to September in the temperate northern hemisphere.

CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES : It is a tall handsome plant with very large blue flowers, but also very rare in the islands.
Edible Uses:Sonchus alpinus has been used as a salad in Lapland, the young shoots being stripped of their skin and eaten raw, but Linnaeus informs us that it is somewhat bitter and unpalatable.

Constituents:
The edible shoots of Cicerbita alpina contain 8-O-Acetyl-15-beta-D-glucopyranosyllactucin, which causes the bitter taste of the vegetable, and caffeic acid derivatives chlorogenic acid, 3,5-dicaffeoylquinic acid, caffeoyltartaric acid, and cichoric acid

Medicinal Uses: Culpepper considers that the Sow-Thistles possess great medicinal virtues, which lie chiefly in the milky juice. He tells us:
‘They are cooling and somewhat binding, and are very fit to cool a hot stomach and ease the pain thereof. . . . The milk that is taken from the stalks when they are broken, given in drink, is very beneficial to those that are short-winded and have a wheezing.’

He goes on to inform us, on the authority of Pliny, that they are efficacious against gravel, and that a decoction of the leaves and stalks is good for nursing mothers; that the juice or distilled water is good ‘for all inflammation, wheals and eruptions, also for haemorrhoids.’ Also that:
‘the juice is useful in deafness, either from accidental stoppage, gout or old age. Four spoonsful of the juice of the leaves, two of salad oil, and one teaspoonful of salt, shake the whole well together and put some on cotton dipped in this composition into the ears and you may reasonably expect a good degree of recovery.’

Again, that:
‘the juice boiled or thoroughly heated in a little oil of bitter almonds in the peel of a pomegranite and dropped into the ears is a sure remedy for deafness.’

Finally, he informs us that the juice ‘is wonderfully efficacious for women to wash their faces with to clear the skin and give it lustre.’

Another old herbalist also says:
‘The leaves are to be used fresh gathered; a strong infusion of them works by urine and opens obstructions. Some eat them in salads, but the infusion has more power.’

The whole plant has stiff spines on the leaf margin, and the seeds and roots are used in homoeopathic medicine.

The milky juice of all the Sow-Thistles is an excellent cosmetic. The leaves are said to cure hares of madness

Other Uses:
In Finland, this plant is known as “bear-hay” because the Eurasian brown bear feeds on it, as do elk and reindeer. People also sometimes make use of it and eat it raw or cooked in reindeer milk.
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://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/s/sowthi71.html
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cicerbita_alpina

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Ammi visnaga

Botanical Name: Ammi visnaga
Family:Apiaceae
Genus:Ammi
Species:A. visnaga
Kingdom: Plantae
Order:Apiales

Synonyms : Ammi dilatatum. Apium visnaga. Carum visnaga. Daucus visnaga.

Common names : Bisnaga, Toothpickweed, and Khella.

Habitat: Ammi visnaga is native to Europe, Asia, and North Africa, but it can be found throughout the world as an introduced species.It grows in fields and sandy places.
Description:
Ammi visnaga is an annual or biennial herb growing from a taproot erect to a maximum height near 80 centimeters. Leaves are up to 20 centimeters long and generally oval to triangular in shape but dissected into many small linear to lance-shaped segments. The inflorescence is a compound umbel of white flowers similar to those of other Apiaceae species. The fruit is a compressed oval-shaped body less than 3 millimeters long. This and other Ammi species are sources of khellin, a diuretic extract.

CLICK  &  SEE THE PICTURES

It is in flower from Jul to September. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects.The plant is self-fertile.

Cultivation:
Prefers a well-drained soil in a sunny position, succeeding in ordinary garden soil. Tolerates a pH in the range 6.8 to 8.3. This species is not fully winter-hardy in the colder areas of Britain, though it should be possible to grow it as a spring-sown annual. This plant is sold as toothpicks in Egyptian markets.

Propagation: Seed – sow spring in situ. ( Sow under cover Feb-March in a seed tray, module or guttering. Sow direct March-May and/or August-September.)
Edible Uses: Leaves are chewed raw for their pleasant aromatic flavour

Chemical constituents:
Khellin, a chemical obtained from Ammi visnaga gives rose red color with KOH (solid) or NaOH & 2-3 drops of water, was used at one time as a smooth muscle relaxant, but its use is limited due to adverse side effects. Amiodarone and cromoglycate are derivates of khellin that are frequently used in modern medicine.

The chemical visnagin, which is found in A. visnaga, has biological activity in animal models as a vasodilator and reduces blood pressure by inhibiting calcium influx into the cell.
Medicinal Uses:
Antiarrhythmic; Antiasthmatic; Antispasmodic; Diuretic; Lithontripic; Vasodilator.

Visnaga is an effective muscle relaxant and has been used for centuries to alleviate the excruciating pain of kidney stones. Modern research has confirmed the validity of this traditional use. Visnagin contains khellin, from which particularly safe pharmaceutical drugs for the treatment of asthma have been made. The seeds are diuretic and lithontripic. They contain a fatty oil that includes the substance ‘khellin’. This has been shown to be of benefit in the treatment of asthma. Taken internally, the seeds have a strongly antispasmodic action on the smaller bronchial muscles, they also dilate the bronchial, urinary and blood vessels without affecting blood pressure. The affect last for about 6 hours and the plant has practically no side effects. The seeds are used in the treatment of asthma, angina, coronary arteriosclerosis and kidney stones. By relaxing the muscles of the urethra, visnaga reduces the pain caused by trapped kidney stones and helps ease the stone down into the bladder. The seeds are harvested in late summer before they have fully ripened and are dried for later use.
In Egypt, a tea made from the fruit of this species has been used as an herbal remedy for kidney stones. Laborarory rat studies show that the extract slows the buildup of calcium oxalate crystals in the kidneys and acts as a diuretic.
This plant and its components have shown effects in dilating the coronary arteries. Its mechanism of action may be very similar to the calcium channel-blocking drugs. The New England Journal of Medicine writes “The high proportion of favorable results, together with the striking degree of improvement frequently observed, has led us to the conclusion that Khellin, properly used, is a safe and effective drug for the treatment of angina pectoris.” As little as 30 milligrams of Khellin per day appear to offer as good a result, with fewer side effects. Rather than use the isolated compound “Khellin,” Khella extracts standardized for khellin content (typically 12 percent) are the preferred form.

A daily dose of such an extract would be 250 to 300 milligrams. Khella appears to work very well with hawthorn extracts. An aromatic herb which dilates the bronchial, urinary and blood vessels without affecting blood pressure.

Visnaga is a traditional Egyptian remedy for kidney stones. By relaxing the muscles of the ureter, visnaga reduces the pain caused by the trapped stone and helps ease the stone down into the bladder. Following research into its antispasmodic properties, visnaga is now given for asthma and is safe even for children to take. Although it does not always relieve acute asthma attacks, it do3es help to prevent their recurrence. It is an effective remedy for various respiratory problems, including bronchitis, emphysema, and whooping cough. In Andalusia in Spain, the largest and best quality visnaga were employed to clean the teeth. Khella is the source of amiodarone one of the key anti-arrhythmia medications. The usual recommendation calls for pouring boiling water over about a quarter-teaspoon of powdered khella fruits. Steep for five minutes and drink the tea after straining.

Its active constituent is khellin, a bronchiodilator and antispasmodic that makes it useful for asthma sufferers It’s best used to prevent asthma rather than to counter an attack and can be taken on a daily basis with no contraindications. Because khella builds up in the blood, its use can be decreased after a period of time. Khella is safer than ma huang (ephedra) for asthma sufferers because it’s nonstimulating and nonenervating. Unlike ma huang, it doesn’t rob the body, especially the adrenals, of energy.

Spasmolytic action of khellin and visnagin (both furanochromones) is indicated for treatment of asthma and coronary arteriosclerosis.
An extract from khella (Ammi visnaga) is so far the only herb found to be useful in vitili. Khellin, the active constituent, appears to work like psoralen drugs?it stimulates repigmentation of the skin by increasing sensitivity of remaining pigment-containing cells (melanocytes) to sunlight. Studies have used 120-160 mg of khellin per day. Khellin must be used with caution, as it can cause side effects such as nausea and insomnia.

Another use is for vitiligo (an extract from ammi visnaga appears to stimulate repigmentation of the skin by increasing sensitivity of remaining pigment containing cells, melanocytes to sunlight)

Other Uses: The fruiting pedicel is used as a toothpick whilst the seeds have been used as a tooth cleaner

Known Hazards : Skin contact with the sap is said to cause photo-sensitivity and/or dermatitis in some people. Avoid during pregnancy and lactation. Avoid if on warfarin or other blood thinning medication. Prolonged use may lead to: constipation, appetite loss, headaches, vertigo, nausea and vomiting.

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/Ammi_visnaga
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Ammi+visnaga
http://www.sarahraven.com/flowers/plants/cut_flower_seedlings/ammi_visnaga.htm

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

Calculator Tells the Bald Future

A pioneering new computer programme that predicts if and when men will go bald is being offered to British men.

…………..CLICK & SEE

The “baldness calculator” — said to be the world’s first reliable tool for predicting hair loss — has been a huge hit with men.

The programme calculates the exact age at which someone will go bald or have lost most of their hair or provides reassurance by predicting that they will still have a full head of hair in old age.

More than half a million German men used it within ten days of it being unveiled there and three million men have tried it out globally so far.

Sixty per cent of users of the calculator to date have been young men aged between 15 and 30. Two thirds of all British men will eventually suffer hair loss, according to recent research.

The programme asks users about their age, marital status, occupation, where they live, what their current hairline is, hair loss in their family and their stress levels.

German scientists devised the programme because half of men in their country suffer from hereditary hair loss.

Adolf Klenk, head of research and development at hair care firm Dr Kurt Wolff, said: “More and more men value full hair but especially younger men.

“They are looking for a partner and are at the peak of their social lives. They are very conscious about their looks and being accepted within their social groups. They get concerned that if they lose their hair, they will cease to be attractive to others whereas older men don’t care so much.”

Klenk said that men with a history of hair loss on either their mother or father’s side of the family are most at risk of going bald.

Source:The Daily Telegraph

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Vaccinated Kids Protect Whole Family

Kids are known for spreading germs.
When it comes to the flu, kids are 10 to 100 times more infectious than adults, experts say.

What if your child could be vaccinated at school with a simple nasal spray that would protect not only your child but your whole family?

According to a new study published in this week’s New England Journal of Medicine, flu vaccines for elementary school children can help reduce flu for the whole family.

In this study, children from 24 public elementary schools in the United States were assigned to get either a nasal-spray flu vaccine or no vaccine.

Families of those children who got the the flu vaccine had fewer flulike symptoms, visited doctors less frequently, and used less medication than families whose kid did not receive the flu vaccine, researchers say.

“Our study showed that not only did we protect the child by the flu vaccine — by doing a school-based vaccination program    we protected their families and probably the community as well,” said Dr. James King, lead author of the study and chief of general pediatrics at University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore.

Another study published in the same issue of the journal indicated that flu vaccines offered good protection even when the vaccine was not a direct match to whatever virus was circulating in the environment.

This offers more support to the idea of vaccinating children to better protect families and communities against the flu.

Flu Vaccine Safe for Kids
The risks of giving kids flu vaccines are small, experts say.

“There are essentially no downsides to immunizing school kids,” said Dr. Gregory Poland, director of Mayo Vaccine Research Group in Rochester, Minn. “These data are important because they provide confirmatory data useful in constructing public health policy.”

“The risks of vaccination with available influenza virus vaccines are so minimal, while the likelihood of illness, even hospitalization and rarely death from influenza, are major and real,” said Dr. Samuel Katz, professor and chairman emeritus of pediatrics at Duke University Medical School in Durham, N.C.

Flu  Mist   a live, weakened type of flu vaccine used in this study   is not a shot but a spray delivered into the nostrils. This may make both parents and kids happy.

“No child got a needle. We were able to do this without disrupting activities,” King said.

Kids are biologically more infectious than adults and are infectious for longer periods of time, according to experts.

Some believe that by vaccinating kids, we are able to better protect our most vulnerable population    the elderly.
If kids are never infected, they can’t spread the flu to other people.

“Children are tremendous amplifiers of the flu,” King said. “A child is able to infect the family and the whole community much more effectively than an adult. By vaccinating kids, we can protect the elderly.”

“The benefits [of vaccinating children] are enormous,” said Dr. Robert Jacobson, chairman of the department of pediatric and adolescent medicine at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. “The elderly do not respond as well to the vaccine as young people. We can break the cycle and spread by vaccinating the younger people.”

Breaking the cycle, so to speak, would be a great step for public health.

Roughly 36,000 people die annually from the flu, experts estimate, even though it is a preventable disease. This study could even help shape vaccination priority policies in case of a pandemic influenza.

“Kids might be vaccinated first,” Poland said.
Because vaccinating kids appears to help protect the whole family, a flu vaccine sounds like the thing to do. But how hard is it to have your child vaccinated by the pediatrician?

“It will be very hard for private practitioners to vaccinate all the children in the fall,” King said.
“School-based flu shots will become a public health tool that we can use to vaccinate large numbers of children. In reality, this will help parents not miss any workdays to get their kids vaccinated,” King said.

Given the many advantages of vaccinating kids, experts say that school-based flu vaccination deserves nationwide consideration.

In fact, a number of school districts in California, Florida, Philadelphia and Tennessee have already adopted school-based vaccination program for kids.

The momentum is “increasing annually for a universal influenza virus vaccine recommendation for everyone,” Katz said.

“Public health officials and physicians should consider continuing to broaden flu vaccine recommendations. We should consider whether we as a country should move to universal flu vaccination of all schoolchildren,” Jacobson said.

School-based vaccination “represents sound, cost-effective public health practice designed to reduce illness, reduce hospitalization, and save lives in the community,” said Dr. John Modlin, chair of the department of pediatrics at Dartmouth Medical School in Lebanon, N.H

For additional information on the Influenza Vaccine check out: www.uptodate.com

Source:ABC News.