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Mangifera indica (Mango Tree)

Botanical Name: Mangifera indica
Family: Anacardiaceae
Genus: Mangifera
Species: M. indica
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Sapindales

Common Name: Mango

Habitat : Mangifera indica is native to India, Pakisthan, Babgladesh. It is now grown in many tropical countries of the world. The species appears to have been domesticated in India at around 2000 BC. The species was brought to East Asia around 400-500 BCE from India; next, in the 15th century to the Philippines; and then, in the 16th century to Africa and Brazil by the Portuguese. The species was described for science by Linnaeus in 1753.

Description:
Mangifera indica is a large evergreen tree, with a heavy, dome-shaped crown. The mango is the most popular fruit in India. It is capable of a growing to a height and crown width of about 100 feet and trunk circumference of more than twelve feet.

The unripe, fully developed mangoes of pickling varieties contain citric, malic, oxalic, succinic and two unidentified acids. The ripe fruits constitute a rich source of vitamin A; some varieties contain fairly good amounts of vitamin C also. ß-Carotene and xanthophyll are the principal pigments in ripe mango. The leaves contain the glucoside mangiferine. The bark of the mango tree contains tannin (16-20%). Mangiferine has been isolated from the bark.

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Mango is the National fruit of India, Pakistan and the Philippines. The Mango tree is the national tree of Bangladesh. It finds mention in the songs of 4th century CE Sanskrit poet Kalidasa. Prior to that, it is believed to have been tasted by Alexander (4th century BCE) and Chinese pilgrim Hieun Tsang (7th century CE). Later in 16th century Mughal Emperor, Akbar planted 100,000 mango trees in Darbhanga, Bihar at a place now known as Lakhi Bagh.
Chemical Constituents:
Mangiferin (a pharmacologically active hydroxylated xanthone C-glycoside) is extracted from mango at high concentrations from the young leaves (172 g/kg), bark (107 g/kg), and from old leaves (94 g/kg). Allergenic urushiols are present in the fruit peel and can trigger contact dermatitis in sensitised individuals. This reaction is more likely to occur in people who have been exposed to other plants from the Anacardiaceae family, such as poison oak and poison ivy, which are widespread in the United States.

Edible Uses:
Mango fruit is most delicious when ripen. Raw mango is eaten as Jam, Jelly, Chatni and various other forms.

Medicinal Uses:
In ayurveda, it is used in a Rasayana formula (q.v.), clearing digestion and acidity due to pitta (heat), sometimes with other mild sours and shatavari (Asparagus racemosus) and guduchi (Tinospora cordifolia). In this oriental system of traditional medicines, varied medicinal properties are attributed to different parts of the mango tree, both as food and medicine. It is anti-diuretic, anti-diarrheal, anti-emetic and cardiac herb.

The bark is astringent; it is used in diphtheria and rheumatism; it is believed to possess a tonic action on the mucous membrane. It is astringent, anthelmintic, useful in hemoptysis, hemorrhage, nasal catarrh, diarrhea, ulcers, diphtheria, rheumatism and for lumbrici. The leaves are given in the treatment of burns, scalds and diabetes. Mangiferin from the leaves has been reported to possess antiinflammatory, diuretic, chloretic and cardiotonic activities and displays a high antibacterial activity against gram positive bacteria. It has been recommended as a drug in preventing dental plaques. Mangiferin shows antiviral effect against type I herpes simplex virus (HSV-I).

Other Uses:….Wood
The tree is more known for its fruit rather than for its lumber. However, mango trees can be converted to lumber once their fruit bearing lifespan has finished. The wood is susceptible to damage from fungi and insects. The wood is used for musical instruments such as ukuleles, plywood and low-cost furniture. The wood is also known to produce phenolic substances that can cause contact dermatitis.

In culture:
In Theravada Buddhism, mango is said to have used as the tree for achieved enlightenment, or Bodhi by twenty third Lord Buddha called “Sikhi” The plant is known as ?? (Ambha) in Sinhala.

Author Pablo Antonio Cuadra, created a narrative of the Mango in Nicaragua; “the mango that arrived in Nicaragua from distant Hindustan.”, a single sapling that was placed on a ship in Hindustan and planted in a garden in Granada. Nicaragua is known for its many mangos.

Rivas, Nicaragua is known as “La Ciudad de Los Mangos”, which translates to the “City of Mangoes
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/Mangifera_indica
http://www.dreddyclinic.com/ayurvedic/herbs/ayurvedicherbs/ayurvedic_herbs_m.htm#Mangifera_indica

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Down With a Cold ?

At some time or another, everyone — even a robust fitness freak — gets felled by the common cold, developing sniffles, sneezing, puffy eyes, fever, body ache and malaise. Children start to develop colds during their first year, the frequency of which may increase to up to six times a year. This leaves the mothers with the feeling that the child is “always ill”. The average adult gets three to four colds a year.

Almost 40 per cent of outpatient medical consultations in a general practice deals with colds and their complications. This is not surprising, as colds are unavoidable infections. They are caused by viruses, 80 per cent of which belong to the rhinovirus family. Not only are there more than a hundred members in this group alone, but the types also mutate at a rapid rate. This makes immunity practically non-existent, or at best short lived. To make matters worse, there is no vaccine available, except for flu or influenza.

Colds are highly contagious. The spread is rapid as the virus, contained in nasal secretions, can be propelled forcefully into the environment by coughing and sneezing. It can also be transferred from the nose to the hands of infected people. Patients can then transfer the virus to door knobs, telephones, banisters, switches and other such objects. The virus can remain dormant but viable for 18 hours or more until it finds a susceptible host. Any person touching the contaminated surface has a 50 per cent chance of picking up the infection.

Infection increases during the rainy season and winter months. People tend to huddle together under umbrellas or shelters. Windows may be kept closed. The close contact and lack of ventilation provide ideal conditions for the spread of the cold virus. Contrary to popular myths, colds are not aggravated by washing the hair at night, eating ice cream or using air-conditioning.

The infection incubates for a day or two before symptoms appear. It may then last a variable period of time, usually 5-14 days. If there is no recovery within two weeks, there may be secondary bacterial infection and complications like sinusitis, ear infection, bronchitis and pneumonia may have set in.

Smokers develop colds more frequently than non-smokers do. Their colds are more severe, take longer to subside and are more likely to be complicated by secondary infection. This is because the cilia — fine protective hairs that line the respiratory passages — are paralysed by nicotine. They, therefore, clear accumulated mucous sluggishly and inefficiently. Also, smokers’ lungs are likely to be scarred, distorted, have a reduced blood supply and function sub-optimally, making elimination of the infection difficult.

Man has reached the moon but a cure for the common cold remains elusive. We still rely on “grandma’s recommendations” of hot drinks like ginger tea, lime juice with honey, rice gruel and chicken soup. These do soothe the irritated throat. Also, resting helps. It reduces the pain in the muscles and bones. Steam inhalations liquefy the secretions and help them to drain, providing relief.

Stuffed and blocked nasal passages can be cleared with saline (not chemical) nose drops. Aspirin and paracetamol reduce fever and pain. Anti histamines reduce itching in the nose and throat and dry up dripping nasal secretions. The older first-generation anti histamines (Avil, Benadryl) are very effective but they cause sedation. The second-generation non-sedating products (loratidine, cetrizine) are less effective.

Many health supplements are advocated to boost immunity and reduce the frequency and severity of attacks. Many are of doubtful efficacy and have not been studied scientifically. Zinc supplements, however, have been proven to be useful. They can be used as lozenges, syrups or tablets. Not more than 10-15 mg a day of elemental zinc should be taken.

Antibiotics do not work and administering them is futile and inappropriate. They do not shorten the course of the infection. Nor do they prevent complications. Antiviral medications used against the influenza and herpes viruses are ineffective against the rhinovirus. If the cold just refuses to go away and there are no bacterial complications, it may not be a cold at all. It may be an idiosyncratic allergic reaction to something inhaled or ingested from the environment. Mosquito coils, liquid repellents, room fresheners and incense sticks are particularly notorious.

The best advice for someone with a cold — “wait it out”.

Sources: The Telegraph (Kolkata, India)

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Ingrown Nails

Onychocryptosis, commonly known as ingrown nails (unguis incarnatus) or ingrowing nails, is a common form of nail disease. It is a painful condition in which the nail grows or cuts into one or both sides of the nail bed. While ingrown nails can occur in both the nails of the hand and feet, they occur most commonly with toenails.

Ingrown nail

Causes
Causes include:

  1. poor maintenance, like cutting the nail too short, rounded off at the tip or peeled off at the edges (versus being cut straight across), is likely to cause ingrowth;
  2. ill-fitting shoes, like those that are too narrow or too short, can cause bunching of the toes in the developmental stages of the foot (frequently in the under 21s), causing the nail to curl and dig into the skin;
  3. trauma to the nail plate or toe, such as can occur by stubbing the toenail, dropping things on the toe and ‘going through the end of your shoes’ in sports, can cause the flesh to become injured and the nail to grow irregularly and press into the flesh;
  4. predisposition, like abnormally shaped nail beds, nail deformities caused by diseases, and a genetic susceptibility to nail problems can mean a tendency to ingrowth.

Symptoms:
Symptoms of an ingrown nail include pain along the margins of the nail (caused by hypergranulation that occurs around the aforementioned region), worsening of pain when wearing shoes or other tight articles, and sensitivity to pressure of any kind, even that of light bedding. Bumping of an affected toe with objects can produce sharp, even excruciating, pain as the tissue is punctured further by the ingrown nail. By the very nature of the condition, ingrown nails become easily infected unless special care is taken to treat the condition early on and keep the area as clean as possible. Signs of infection include redness and swelling of the area around the nail, drainage of pus and watery discharge tinged with blood. The main symptom is swelling at the base of the nail on whichever side (if not both sides) the ingrowing nail is forming.
Chronically ingrown toenail (that twice had failed wedge resections on both sides)
Treatment:

Treatment of ingrown nails ranges from soaking the afflicted area to surgery. The appropriate method is dictated by the severity of the condition. In nearly all cases, drainage of blood or watery discharge should mean a trip to the doctor, usually a podiatrist, a specialist trained explicitly to treat these conditions. Most practitioners agree that trying to outwait the condition is nearly always fruitless, as well as agonizing.
Alternative Medication:   Because of the possibility of serious complications, a physician should be consulted for treatment of severe and/or infected ingrown nails. Alternative treatments for treating ingrown nail include:

Ayurveda. Ayurvedic principles state that persons whose constitutions are dominated by vata and kapha have stronger nails and are prone to ingrown nails. Ingrown nails are treated with warm water soaks followed by application of a solution of equal parts tea tree and neem oils under the nails.

Herbal therapy. When an ingrown nail is forming, the toe should be soaked for 15-30 minutes in five drops each of hypericum and calendula tinctures diluted in 1/2 pint of warm water. Afterward, the toe should be wrapped in linen, placing it between the fold and the nail.

Homeopathy. Preparations of Hepar sulph or Silica in 6c potency may be taken every 12 hours for two weeks, to reduce the inflammation around the nail.

Hydrotherapy. To treat ingrown nail, the patient should soak the foot in hot, soapy water for 20 minutes, trim the nail square, wrap the toe in a hot compress, and cover it with a dry cloth overnight. In the morning, the patient should trim the nail into a U shape and place a bit of cotton between the nail and the fold. The cotton should be kept in place until the nail grows out.

Massage. If an ingrown nail is developing the patient should push the skin away from the nail. Repeated massage of the overgrown lateral nail folds can reduce pain and separate the fold away from the nail.

Home care:
In mild cases (not including the severe cases in the photos above), doctors recommend daily soaking of the afflicted digit in a mixture of warm water and Epsom salts and applying an over-the-counter antiseptic. This might allow the nail to grow out so it may be trimmed properly and the flesh to heal. A simple yet extremely painful procedure for mild ingrowth (i.e., where infection is absent) requires small scissors to trim the nail completely along the nail margin down to the lateral base. This hopefully allows the embedded piece of nail to be pushed back and out from the toe tissue. Note that infection may be somewhat difficult to prevent in cleaning and treating ingrown nails owing to the warm, dark, and damp environment in shoes. Peroxide is immediately effective to help clean minor infections but iodine is more effective in the long term as it continues to prevent bacterial growth even after it is dry. [N.B.: Iodine should not be used on deep wounds. In such cases a physician or podiatrist should be consulted.] Also, bandages can help keep out bacteria but one should never apply any of the new types of spray-on bandages to ingrown nails that show any discharge – preventing drainage will likely cause intense swelling and pain.

It is also advisable to walk around barefoot so that air has a chance to circulate. Infections often become more painful when they are not exposed to air because bacteria grows more quickly in warmer conditions eg. when the foot is impacted tightly in a shoe.

These home remedies are, in serious cases, ineffective:
when the flesh is far too swollen and infected, it will not allow for these procedures to work. Thus, these more severe cases, such as when the area around the nail becomes infected or the nail will not grow back properly, must be treated by a professional and the patient should avoid repeated attempts at this type of ‘bathroom surgery.

Phenolisation:
Following injection of a local anaesthetic at the basis of the toenail and perhaps application of a tourniquet, the surgeon will remove (ablate) the edge of the nail growing into the flesh and destroy the matrix area with phenol to permanently and selectively ablate the matrix that is manufacturing the ingrown portion of the nail (i.e., the nail margin). This is known as a partial matrixectomy, phenolisation, phenol avulsion or partial nail avulsion with matrix phenolisation. Also, any infection is surgically drained. After this date, other suggestions on aftercare will be made, such as salt water bathing of the digit in question. The point of the procedure is that the nail does not grow back where the matrix has been cauterized and so the chances of further ingrowth are very low. The nail is slightly (usually one millimeter or so) narrower than prior to the procedure and is barely noticeable one year later. The surgery is advantageous because it can be performed in the doctor’s office under local anesthesia with minimal pain following the intervention. Also, there is no visible scar on the surgery site and a nominal chance of recurrence. The procedure will fail in about 2 to 3 times out of a hundred.

Wedge Resection
Partial removal of the nail or an offending piece of nail. More complex than a complete nail avulsion (removal).

Here, the digit is first injected with a common local anesthetic. When the area is numb, the physician will perform an onychotomy in which the nail along the edge that is growing into the skin is cut away (ablated) and the offending piece of nail is pulled out. Any infection is surgically drained. This process is referred to as a “wedge resection” or simple surgical ablation and is non-permanent (i.e., the nail will re-grow from the matrix). The entire procedure may be performed in a physician’s office and takes approximately thirty to forty-five minutes depending on the extent of the problem. The patient is allowed to go home immediately and the recovery time is anywhere from a few days to a week barring any complications such as infection. As a followup, a physician may prescribe an oral or topical antibiotic or a special soak to be used for approximately a week after the surgery……....click  & see 
A resected wedge from the left side of the left big toe, shown to scale.

It should be noted that some physicians will not perform a complete nail avulsion (removal) under any but the most extreme circumstances. In most cases, these physicians will remove both sides of a toenail (even if one side is not currently ingrown) and coat the nail matrix on both of those sides with a chemical or acid (usually phenol) to prevent re-growth. This leaves the majority of the nail intact, but ensures that the problem of ingrowth will not re-occur.

Disadvantages: If the nail matrix is not coated with the applicable chemical or acid (phenol) and is allowed to re-grow, this method is prone to failure. Also, the underlying condition can still become symptomatic as the nail grows out over the course of up to a year: the nail matrix might be manufacturing a nail that is simply too curved, thick, wide or otherwise irregular to allow for normal growth. Furthermore, the flesh can be injured very easily by concussion, tight socks, quick twisting motions while walking or just the fact the nail is growing wrongly (likely too wide). This hypersensitivity to continued injury can mean chronic ingrowth; the solution is nearly always edge avulsion by the highly successful phenolisation.

CO2 Laser surgery

Following injection of a local anaesthetic at the basis of the toe and perhaps application of a small tourniquet, the surgeon will remove (ablate) the edge of the nail growing into the flesh and cauterize the matrix area by laser photocoagulation. This too is known as a partial matrixectomy or partial nail avulsion. Here too, the point of the procedure is that the nail does NOT grow back where the matrix has been cauterized and so the chances of further ingrowth is very low. The nail is slightly (usually one millimeter or so) narrower than prior to the procedure. Disadvantages: sutures are usually necessary, post-operative pain due to the wound and scar.
…………………………….Post-surgery toe with removed nail shard

Nail Avulsion (Removal)

While in some similar cases patients may wish to have the offending nail completely temporarily removed( Avulsion) , this procedure is not recommended by nail experts because the postoperative period is long and painful. Furthermore, complete removal of whole nail does not always prevent recurrences.In case of recurrence in spite of complete removal, and if the patient never feels any pain before inflammation occurs, the condition is more likely to be onychia which is often confused for an ingrown or ingrowing nail (onychocryptosis).

Complete removal of whole nail is a simple procedure. Here, anaesthetic is injected, the nail is removed quickly and painlessly and the patient can leave immediately. The entire procedure can be performed in around 10 minutes and is much less complex than a “wedge resection” as above. Note that the nail will grow back. However, in most cases it will cause further problems as it can become ingrown very easily as the nail grows outward. It can become easily injured by concussion and in some cases grows back too thick, too wide or deformed. This procedure can thus result in chronic ingrown nails and is therefore considered a generally unsuccessful solution, especially considering the pain involved.

Accordingly, in some cases as determined by a doctor, the nail matrix is coated with a chemical (usually phenol) so none of the nail will ever grow back. This is known as a permanent or full nail avulsion , or full matrixectomy, phenolisation, or full phenol avulsion . As can be seen in the images below, the nail-less toe looks much like a normal toe and fake nails or nail varnish can still be applied to the area.


If left untreated:

If an ingrown nail is left untreated, there exists a high risk of dangerous infection. When the skin around the nail gets infected, it begins to swell up and put even more pressure against the nail. Ingrown nails can produce a spear shaped wedge of nail on the lateral side of the toe which will progressively become more embedded into the toe tissue as the nail grows forward. In the worst case, the swelling will begin putting sideways pressure on the nail, causing it to grow at a slant. This will cause both sides of the nail to eventually become ingrown and swollen. Eventually the swollen parts of the skin will begin to harden and fold over the nail. An untreated ingrown toenail will cause a person to walk with a limp, which over a long period of time may cause further pain and injury to the foot, leg and back owing to improper distribution of weight. Other non-direct effects of seriously ingrown nails include lack of exercise, constant and unrelenting pain and pressure, the spread of infection, loss of appetite, inability to move around, and psychological effects (like anxiety, stress and feelings of despair). Amputation of the toe, foot or leg may be the final outcome if the infection is left untreated long enough for gangrene to set in. An untreated infection may also lead to a condition known as osteomyelitis, where the infection spreads to the bone of the infected digit. Once in the bone, the infection is more difficult to remove and may require the intravenous treatment of antibiotics. One should always consult a doctor when infection is present.

Prevention:
The most common place for ingrown nails is in the big toe but ingrowth can occur on any nail. Ingrown nails can be avoided by cutting nails straight across; nails should not be cut along a curve, nor should they be cut too short. Footwear which is too small, either in size or width, or those with too shallow a ‘toe box’ will exacerbate any underlying problem with a toenail.

Ingrown toe nails can be caused by injury, commonly concussion where the flesh is pressed against the nail causing a small cut that swells. Also, injury to the nail can cause it to grow abnormally, making it thicker or wider than normal or even bulged or crooked. Stubbing the toenail, dropping things on the toe and ‘going through the end of your shoes’ in sports are common injuries to the digits. Injuries to the toes can be prevented by wearing shoes most of the time, especially when working or playing.

One myth is that a V should be cut in the end of the ingrown nail; this myth is untrue. The reasoning of the myth is that if one cuts a V in the nail, the edge of the nail will grow together as the nail grows out. This does not happen – the shape of the nail is determined by the growing area at the base of the toe and not by the end of the nail. {(fACT: http://www.footphysicians.com/footankleinfo/ingrown-toenail.htm DATE: September 21, 2007}}

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://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_g2603/is_0004/ai_2603000454
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ingrown_nail

Beating those bugs(Lice)

Lice infestation is universal. Head lice have co-existed with humans for two thousand years. They have been observed in the sarcophagus of well-preserved Egyptian mummies, in tombs that also contained fine-toothed combs to remove head lice. They do not pay heed to social, economic or geographic boundaries. A millionaire’s  offspring as well as the child of a slum dweller can both be seen scratching their heads. Closer inspection may reveal lice scurrying along hair shafts, or white nits (eggs) closely attached to the hair.

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Infestation is a social stigma. The child is perceived as “dirty” and the parents are seen as negligent caretakers. Neither of these statements, however, is necessarily true. Lice can survive submersion, oiling, shampooing and extremities of temperature.

Head Lice or Pediculus capitis (which literally translates to “lice of the head”) have not changed or evolved much. They are still small, brown insects with a tough outer coat and tapering legs adapted to cling tenaciously on hair shafts. They can survive huge climatic variations and lay dormant for up to 10 days. They cannot fly or jump; they move from one human being to another by crawling along the hair as heads move into close contact, or by walking along walls, floors, furniture and bedding. They are also very fastidious and host specific   they can survive only on the scalps of human beings, and not on other animals.

Head lice themselves do not cause disease
. But they cause intense itching which can interfere with sleep, concentration and efficient functioning. The scratching can cause secondary bacterial infection. This, in turn, can lead to painful enlargement of the lymph nodes in the neck.


In traditional societies, people found a way around this problem. Some families regularly went on pilgrimage. Their houses were cleaned and then locked. Unable to obtain a human blood meal, the lice starved to death within 10 days. And at the pilgrimage site, the whole family was tonsured. Thus, no hair meant no lice!

Bug-busting fine-toothed combs are readily available. They are safe and effective. The hair should be well oiled and all the tangles removed before combing. Most of the lice slip off with this treatment. The action has to be repeated every alternate day for two weeks till no lice are seen.

Chemical lice treatments are also available. They contain pyrethroids, permethrin, lindane or malathion. These compounds may be available as lotions or shampoos. The treatment must be repeated after 10 days.

About 17 per cent of lice are resistant to insecticides. Repeated treatment, using higher-than-recommended doses will not work. In fact, they may even be harmful and signs of toxicity may appear.

A combination of insecticide treatment followed by bug-busting combing is very effective.

Lice reproduce efficiently and explosively. Each couple can produce 100 eggs in a lifetime. Each egg hatches after eight days and the little bug develops into an adult in around 10 days. Unless the eradication treatment is repeated every 10 days, new lice will repopulate the hair.

After some time lice may reappear. This may be due to reinfection from another person or repopulation from lice that survived the original treatment.

If lice have gravitated to the eyebrows and lashes, they should be very carefully manually removed. Chemicals should not be applied.

Natural compounds are advertised for lice treatment. Some are neem-based. There may be others that contain organic pesticides in unregulated and dangerous doses. Before applying them, please read the fine print carefully.

Egg white and motor oil do not have any action on lice. On the contrary, they may cause hair loss.

Kerosene kills lice and nits. But it is also a dangerous, highly inflammable compound and therefore should not be used.

“Lice” is actually a generic term that loosely refers to head lice. Insects from the same family, called Pediculus humanus or body lice, can also be found on the body (not the head), in areas where there is overcrowding, homelessness and poor hygiene. These lice cause itching, particularly around the waist, groin and upper thighs. There may be an allergic reaction that aggravates the itching. The skin may eventually become discoloured. Secondary bacterial or fungal infection may occur.

Unlike head lice, body lice can cause typhus and relapsing fever.

Regular bathing, clean clothes and application of lotions or creams containing pyrethroids, permethrin, lindane or malathion will kill the lice.

Crabs or pubic lice (Pythiriasis pubis) are usually spread through sexual contact. They can also spread through infected bedding. These lice cause intense intolerable itching in the genital area. They also respond to the lotions and shampoos containing pyrethroids, permethrin, lindane or malathion.

It is possible to get rid of all types of lice provided the cycle of reinfestation is broken and good personal hygiene maintained.

Source:The Telegraph (Kolkata,India)

Black Cohosh: An Effective Natural Remedy for Menopausal Symtpoms

Black cohosh, Black bugbane or Black snakeroot; syn. Actaea racemosa and Cimicifuga racemosa is a member of the family Ranunculaceae, native to eastern North America from the extreme south of Ontario south to central Georgia, and west to Missouri and Arkansas.

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It is a glabrous herbaceous perennial plant, growing 0.75-2.5 m tall. The basal leaves are up to 1 m long and broad, tripinnately compound, the leaflets with a coarsely toothed margin. The flowers are produced in late spring and early summer on a tall stem in racemes up to 50 cm long; they have no petals or sepals, only a tight cluster of 55-110 white stamens 5-10 mm long surrounding the white stigma. The flowers have a distinctly sweet smell. The fruit is a dry follicle 5-10 mm long containing several seeds.

Although Blue Cohosh (Caulophyllum thalictroides) is similarly named, it is actually a plant in a separate genus.

click to see the pictures.>.…(1).……..(2)……..(3)..…...(4)……..(5)..……
Uses:
Black cohosh has been included in herbal compounds or dietary supplements marketed to women as remedies for the symptoms of premenstrual tension, menopause and other gynecological problems. However, a recent study published in Annals of Medicine (December 19, 2006)casts serious doubt on its efficacy. The researchers actually found black cohosh slightly less effective than a placebo and concluded that the herb “shows little potential as an important therapy for relief of vasomotor symptoms.” However, that study used a product that contained 5 mgs of the active component a day whereas the current daily recommended dose of the long-used standard Remifemin contains 2 mgs. The American Botanical Council discusses that study.

It was thought that black cohosh contained estrogen-like chemicals, but recent research suggests that it works by binding to serotonin receptors. Native Americans used black cohosh to treat gynecological disorders and other disorders as well, including sore throats, kidney problems, and even depression.

Black cohosh has been used as an abortifacient.

History and Claims
This herbal goes by many names. These include: Black Cohosh, Cimicifuga Racemosa, Squaw Root, Rattle Snake Root and Black Snake Root. It does NOT go by the name Snake Root, this is an unrelated herbal–Aristolochia Serpentaria. If a woman chooses to use it, she will most likely buy it under its brand name of Remifemin. This comes in drops or tablets.

Black Cohosh has been used by Native Americans, Europeans, and Chinese for centuries.

Native Americans used it for a wide variety of female problems. They used it to restore normal menstrual function, to return a woman to her pre-pregnancy state after birth, and for menopause. It has been described as “hormone-like” and a mild euphoric by some. It has scientific evidence to support its effect on improving blood pressure. In addition, it has many claims that were not investigated for the purposes of this article. These claims include: its use as an astringent, an anti-diarrheal, a water pill, and a cough suppressant/expectorant. It is also believed to improve heart rate, increase sweating, and be an antidote to rattlesnake poison.

Garden use:
Cimicifuga racemosa grows in dependably moist, fairly heavy soil. It bears tall tapering racemes of white midsummer flowers on wiry black-purple stems, whose mildly unpleasant, medicinal smell at close range gives it the common name ‘Bugbane’. The drying seed heads stay handsome in the garden for many weeks. Its burgundy, deeply cut leaves add interest to American gardens, wherever summer heat and drought do not make it die back, which make it a popular garden perennial.
Chemistry and Pharmacology of Black Cohosh (Cimicifuga Racemosa or Reminfemin):
It is classified as a phytoestrogen. It is from the plant family N.O. Ranunculaceae. The active components of the natural form include: acetin, cimicifugioside, acetylacteal, 27-deoxyactin, cimigenol, deoxyacetylateal. The processed forms also include isoterulic and salicylic acid (the main ingredient is aspirin).

It is not known exactly how it works. But studies on animals and women have shown that its various components act on the hormonal system in at various levels. Some do bind to estrogen receptors in the body. It causes LH, but not FSH suppression. (Estrogens cause both to be suppresed, when they both rise they are signs of menopause) . Some studies have found it to cause an increase in vaginal epithelium that is superior to estrogen replacment.

The Scientific Evidence For Black Cohosh (Cimicifuga Racemosa or Reminfemin) For Menopausal Symptom Relief:
Most of the studies done used the Remifemin version of the herb. Many of the studies were done by the manufacturer of Remifemin.

Studies compared Black Cohosh to Estrogen Replacement (for physical and psychological symptoms) and valium (for psychological only), and to women not taking anything. In more than one study, black cohosh has been found to improve a myriad of physical and mood symptoms in the menopausal women who took it. Women who took it did as well as those who took estrogen or valium, and better than those who took nothing.

Black Cohosh was not found to cause any of the side effects commonly associated with hormone replacement. While it is reported that nausea and vomiting can be due to overdose, no evidence of discontinuation due to side effects was found. Over 93% of women in one study reported no side effects.

Black Cohosh is not associated with increased breast cancer rates, nor dysfunctional uterine bleeding. It is not habit-forming. It does not interact with other medications. It is considered non-toxic.
Side effects:
Black cohosh should not be used during pregnancy or lactation. There is a case report of neurological complications in a postterm baby after labor induction with a mixture of black cohosh and blue cohosh (Caullophylum thalictroides) during a home birth. Other cases of adverse outcomes experienced by neonates born to women who reportedly used blue cohosh to induce labor have been published in peer-reviewed journals.

Black cohosh produces endometrial stimulation. Since black cohosh increases blood flow to the pelvic area, its use is not recommended during menses as it may increase or prolong bleeding. Because of the possible estrogenic action, it should be used with caution after six months. Additionally, black cohosh contains tannin, which inhibits iron absorption. This, considered with possible effects of enhancing menstrual bleeding, gives good cause to monitor iron stores when taking black cohosh.

No studies have been published on long-term safety in humans. However concerns arise that, in humans, because of its estrogen-like effects, long-term use may promote metastasis of estrogen-sensitive cancer tissue via stimulation of cells in the endometrium or breast. Black cohosh increased metastasis of cancer to the lungs (but did not cause an increased incidence of breast cancer) in an experiment done on mice (which was never published and the lung tumors were never biopsied, just observed.)

The liver damage reported in a few individuals using black cohosh has been severe, but large numbers of women have taken the herb for years without reporting adverse health effects. See the NIH link above for thorough discussion of the liver issue. While studies of black cohosh have not proven that the herb causes liver damage, Australia has added a warning to the label of all products containing black cohosh, stating that it may cause harm to the liver of some individuals and should not be used without medical supervision.

Aside from pregnancy complications, increased menstrual bleeding, anemia, and rare but serious hepatic dysfunction, reported direct side-effects also include dizziness, diarrhea, nausea, and occasional gastric discomfort. Additional possible side effects include headaches, seizures, vomiting, sweating, constipation, low blood pressure, slow heartbeats, weight gain, and loss of bone mass (leading to osteoporosis).

Using Black Cohosh (Cimicifuga Racemosa or Reminfemin) For Menopausal Symptom Relief:
As mentioned Remifemin is the processed and packaged version and the one most studied. It comes in liquid (take 40 drops, two times a day) or tablets (take 2 tablets twice a day). Other regimens include: the fluid extract U.S.P — 15 to 30 drops, the fluid extract B.P. — 5 to 30 drops, tincture U.S.P. — 1 drachm, tincture B.P. — 15 to 60 drops, Cimicifugin — 1 to 6 grains, and powdered extract, U.S.P. — 4 grains.

Results have been found in as little as four weeks of use, but six to eight was more common. Twelve weeks is the point were a woman might discontinue the herb if it hasn’t worked by that time. While there is no documentation of adverse effects with long-term use, this practice has not been closely studied. Therefore, some have suggested a 6 month limit on its usage.

Help taken from :www.estronaut.com and en.wikipedia.org

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