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Agropyrum repens

Botanical Name: Agropyrum repens
Family: Poaceae
Genus: Elymus
Species: E. repens
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Poales
Synonyms:  Twitch-grass. Scotch Quelch. Quick-grass. Dog-grass. Triticum repens (Linn.).

Commo  Namen : Couch grass

Other names : Common couch, Twitch, Quick grass, Quitch grass (also just quitch), Dog grass, Quackgrass, Scutch grass, and Witchgrass
Habitat:Agropyrum repens  is  native to most of Europe, Asia, the Arctic biome, and northwest Africa. It has been brought into other mild northern climates for forage or erosion
Description:
Agropyrum repens  or couch grass  is a very common perennial species of grass.  It has creeping rhizomes which enable it to grow rapidly across grassland. It has flat, hairy leaves with upright flower spikes. The stems (‘culms’) grow to 40–150 cm tall; the leaves are linear, 15–40 cm long and 3–10 mm broad at the base of the plant, with leaves higher on the stems 2–8.5 mm broad. The flower spike is 10–30 cm long, with spikelets 1–2 cm long, 5–7 mm broad and 3 mm thick with three to eight florets. The glumes are 7–12 mm long, usually without an awn or with only a short one…..CLICK  & SEE THE PICTURES

It flowers at the end of June through to August in the northern hemisphere.
Part Used in medicine :   The rhizome, or underground stem, collected in the spring and freed from leaves and roots.

Constituents:  Couch-grass rhizome contains about 7 to 8 per cent of Triticin (a carbohydrate resembling Inulin) and yielding levulose on hydrolysis. It appears to occur in the rhizome of other grasses, and possibly is widely diffused in the vegetable kingdom. Sugar, Inosite, Mucilage and acid malates are also constituents of the drug. Lactic acid and mannite may occur in an extract of the rhizome, but are understood to be fermentation products. Starch is not present and no definite active constituent has yet been discovered. The rhizome leaves about 4 1/2 per cent ash on incineration.

Medicinal  Uses:
Diuretic demulcent. Much used in cystitis and thetreatment of catarrhal diseases of the bladder. It palliates irritation of the urinary passages and gives relief in cases of gravel.

It is also recommended in gout and rheumatism. It is supposed to owe its diuretic effect to its sugar, and is best given in the form of an infusion, made from 1 OZ. to a pint of boiling water, which may be freely used taken in wineglassful doses. A decoction is also made by putting 2 to 4 oz. in a quart of water and reducing down to a pint by boiling. Of the liquid extract 1/2 to 2 teaspoonsful are given in water.

Couch-grass is official in the Indian and Colonial Addendum of the British Pharmacopoeia for use in the Australasian, Eastern and North American Colonies, where it is much employed.

The dried rhizomes of couch grass were broken up and used as incense in medieval northern Europe where other resin-based types of incense were unavailable. Elymus repens (Agropyron repens) rhizomes have been used in the traditional Austrian medicine against fever, internally as a tea, syrup, or cold maceration in water, or externally applied as a crude drug.

Other Uses:
The foliage is an important forage grass for many grazing mammals.  The seeds are eaten by several species of grassland birds, particularly buntings and finches. The caterpillars of some Lepidoptera use it as a foodplant, e.g. the Essex Skipper (Thymelicus lineola).

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/Elymus_repens
http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/g/grasse34.html#cou

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Apothecary Rose

Botanical Name:Rosa gallica officinalis
Family: Rosaceae
Subfamily: Rosoideae
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Rosales
Genus: Rosa
Species: R. gallica

Common Names: Gallic Rose, French Rose,  Rose of Provins,Apothecary’s Rose.

Habitat: Native to southern and central Europe eastwards to Turkey and the Caucasus.

Description:
It is a deciduous shrub forming large patches of shrubbery, the stems with prickles and glandular bristles. The leaves are pinnate, with three to seven bluish-green leaflets. The flowers are clustered one to four together, single with five petals, fragrant, deep pink. The hips are globose to ovoid, 10-13 mm diameter, orange to brownish.

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Cultivation
The species is easily cultivated on well drained soil in full sun to semishade; it can survive temperatures down to ?25 °C. It is one of the earliest cultivated species of roses, being cultivated by the Greek and Romans and it was commonly used in Mediaeval gardens. In the 19th century it was the most important species of rose to be cultivated, and most modern European rose cultivars have at least a small contribution from R. gallica in their ancestry.

Cultivars of the species R. gallica and hybrids close in appearance are best referred to a Cultivar Group as the Gallica Group roses. The ancestry is usually unknown and the influence of other species can not be ruled out.

The Gallica Group roses share the vegetative characters of the species, forming low suckering shrubs. The flowers can be single, but most commonly double or semidouble. The colours range from white (rare) to pink and deep purple. All Gallica Group roses are once flowering. They are easily cultivated.

The semidouble cultivar ‘Officinalis’, the “Red Rose of Lancaster“, is the county flower of Lancashire.

In 2004, a cultivar of the Gallica Group named ‘Cardinal de Richelieu‘ was genetically engineered to produce the first blue rose.


Uses:

In Persia (Iran) Apothecary Rose was described by the Ancient Greek poet Sappho as “ the queen of flowers”, this rose has had many uses over time. The Ancient Romans consumed the petals as food and marinated them in wine to use them as a cure for hangovers. Avicenna, a famous eleventh century Arab physician and philosopher living in Moslem Spain, prepared rose water from the petals that he used in treating his patients for a variety of ailments. Knights returning from the Crusades brought the plant to Europe. It was grown chiefly in monastic gardens for medicinal purposes. In the Middle Ages, the blossoms were used in aroma therapy for the treatment of depression. In the nineteenth century beginning in the time of Napoleon, French pharmacists grew them in pots at the entrances of their shops, hence the origin of the common name Apothecary Rose. The Apothecary Rose became the professional symbol of the pharmaceutical profession much as the balanced scales became the professional symbol of the legal profession. French druggists dispensed preparations made from this rose to treat indigestion, sore throats and skin rashes.

You may click to see:->Articles related to “Apothecary Rose”

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/Rosa_gallica
http://www.piam.com/mms_garden/plants.html

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Of older moms and Down Syndrome

India‘s urban elite has plenty of DINKs (Double Income, No Kids). These people get married later than their rural counterparts, often after they are financially and professionally independent and secure. They can afford the best, as far as pregnancy, antenatal care and delivery are concerned. Eventually, they limit their families to one or maybe two children for whom they wish to provide the best opportunities in life.

Under these circumstances, the birth of a child with Down’s Syndrome (trisomy 21 or mongolism) becomes an unbearable tragedy.

One in 800 children is born with Down’s Syndrome. Such children have a characteristic mongoloid  appearance at birth itself, irrespective of the parents’ ethnic backgrounds. The head may be smaller than normal with a sloping forehead, upward slanting eyes, a small flattened nose, low set ears, short stumpy fingers, a protuberant abdomen and a tongue which sticks out of a small mouth. Also, the palm shows just two lines instead of the usual three.

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Down’s Syndrome usually occurs spontaneously as a result of an anomaly during early embryonic cell proliferation producing an abnormal chromosome 21. During cell division it may have divided abnormally, producing three parts instead of the normal two. Sometimes a piece from the chromosome may have attached (translocated) itself to another chromosome.

These anomalies are more likely with increased maternal age at the time of the pregnancy. Many doctors and researchers consider the age 35 as the cut off.

The child shows all the typical features of Down’s Syndrome if all the cells contain the abnormal chromosomes. Sometimes the person may be a mosaic, with a mixture of normal and abnormal cells. The appearance may then be atypical.

The risk of recurrence is greater if the condition has arisen as a result of translocation. This is because one of the parents is then likely to be a carrier. The risk is around 3 per cent if the father is the carrier, and 12 per cent if the mother carries the abnormal gene. Also, a mother with a Down’s Syndrome child has a one per cent chance of producing another similarly affected child.

Life is difficult for children suffering from Down’s Syndrome as they often have subnormal intelligence. They may also have abnormalities in other organs like the heart. There may be blocks or malfunction of the gastrointestinal tract with constipation and intestinal bloating. Hearing loss or visual defects may also occur. The chromosomal abnormality causes a decreased immune response, causing frequent infections as the children grow. The incidence of leukaemia is 20 times greater than in the general population. Dementia too sets in during early adult life (around 40). All this means a lifetime of nurturing and extra care.

So does this mean that women should sacrifice education and professional careers for early marriage and childbirth?

Not really, as advances in medical science have made it possible to diagnose Down’s Syndrome during the antenatal period itself.

Ultrasound examination during the first trimester has a detection rate of approximately 95 per cent of all Down’s Syndrome cases. The measurement of nuchal translucency — the size of a collection of fluid at the base of the foetal neck  correlates with the risk of Downs Syndrome. Other markers like the size of the head, the nose, the presence or absence of heart and intestinal defects can be evaluated with a scan. The presence of several abnormal markers may be an indication of Down’s Syndrome.

Moreover, certain blood tests performed on the mother can show abnormal results if the foetus is affected. Of these, the one commonly available in India is the alpha-fetoprotein level which tends to be less than normal in Down’s Syndrome.

To confirm the diagnosis, the chromosomes of the foetus can be examined. This can be done with amniocentesis (an examination of the cells in the amniotic fluid that surrounds the baby in the uterus). The diagnosis takes two weeks.

The cells of the placenta can be also tested during the 10th and 12th weeks of pregnancy by Chorionic Villus Sampling (CVS). If a rapid diagnosis is required, Percutaneous Umbilical Blood Sampling (PUBS) can be done after 18 weeks of gestation. Each of these three tests is 98 to 99 per cent accurate in diagnosing Down’s Syndrome. However, all these tests carry a risk of miscarriage.

After birth, Down’s Syndrome is suspected because of the typical appearance of the baby. It is confirmed by karyotyping or checking the baby’s chromosomes to demonstrate the extra chromosome in the cells.

Unfortunately, much of this high-tech diagnosis is out of reach for the average Indian woman. Financial constraints, poor education and lack of facilities are major drawbacks to good antenatal care and prenatal diagnosis.
Source:Thr Telegraph (Kolkata,India)

Lung cancer runs in the family

LONDON: While smoking is far and away the biggest risk factor for lung cancer, having a close relative who has been diagnosed with the disease nearly doubles your risk of developing the deadly disease…..CLICK & SEE

A new study in Chest found that people with a first-degree relative   that means mother, father or sibling’s  ”who had lung cancer had a 95% higher risk of developing the disease.

“Our long-term follow-up of a largescale, population-based cohort identified a significant increase in the risk of lung cancer associated with a family history of lung cancer in a first-degree relative in a Japanese population,”the study authors wrote.

Jay Brooks, chairman of hematology and oncology at the Ochsner Clinic Health System said this study confirms what’s already known about family history and the risk of lung cancer, and that “it’s an important thing for physicians to realise”.

“As a clinician, when I have someone with lung cancer, I ask the family members, ‘Who smokes cigarettes?’ Then I explain that they have a two- to three-fold higher risk of lung cancer because of their family history, and this is just another reason to quit smoking because they have a genetic susceptibility to the carcinogens in tobacco,”explained Brooks.

The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that more than 180,000 new cases of lung cancer are diagnosed each year in the United States, and nearly 170,000 Americans die from the disease annually.

It’s the second leading cause of death for men and the third leading cause of death for women, according to the CDC. Cigarette smoking is the most common cause of the disease, according to the National Institutes of Health, though not everyone who gets lung cancer is a smoker or former smoker.

The study followed more than 102,000 middle-aged and older Japanese adults for as long as 13 years; there were more women (53,421) than men (48,834).

During the study period, 791 cases of lung cancer were diagnosed. The researchers found that having a first-degree relative with lung cancer nearly doubled the odds of developing lung cancer.

The association was even stronger for women. Women who had a first-degree relative with lung cancer almost had triple the risk of lung cancer, while men with a first-degree relative with lung cancer had about a 70% higher risk.

Additionally, people who had never smoked had a higher risk of developing lung cancer themselves if they had a first-degree relative with the disease than did smokers with close family members with lung cancer. Family history was also more strongly associated with a particular type of lung cancer — squamous cell carcinoma..

Brooks and Ann G. Schwartz, who wrote an accompanying editorial in the same issue of the journal, both said it wasn’t clear why family history would confer a greater risk for women than for men.

Schwartz said one possibility is that women are more familiar with their family histories and may just be reporting family history more accurately.

Brooks also pointed out that this finding might only apply to Japanese women and not other populations.

(As published in The Times Of India)