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Saussurea obvallata

 

Botanical Name : Saussurea obvallata
Family: Asteraceae or Compositae
Tribe: Cynareae
Genus: Saussurea
Species: S. obvallata
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Asterales

Common Names; Local names of this flower are Brahma Kamal, Kon and Kapfu .

Habitat : Saussurea obvallata is native to E. Asia – western Himalayas from Kashmir to Sikkim at elevations of 3,000 – 4,500 metres. It grows on alpine meadows and slopes, rocky slopes
and along the sides of rivers and streams.

Description:
Saussurea obvallata is a perennial plant, growing to 0.3 m (1 ft). The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by insects. Flowers bloom in mid-
monsoon (July– August) amongst the rocks and grasses of the hillside at an altitudinal range of 3000–4800 m. Flower heads are purple,hidden from view in layers of yellowish-green papery
bracts, which provide protection from the cold mountain environment. The flowers can be seen till mid-October, after which the plant perishes, becoming visible again in April. It is the state
flower of Uttarakhand. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects.
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Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist
soil.

In Hindu drawings Brahma is seen sitting on a pink flower that resembles a lotus (Sanskrit: kamal), which is India’s national flower. Hence people claim that the pink flower of Nelumbo
nucifera is the Brahma Kamal. However others claim the flower on which he is sitting, which resembles a lotus is sprouted from the belly button of Lord Vishnu. The flower which Brahma is
holding in one of his four hands, a white flower resembling Saussurea obvallata is the Brahma Kamal. There are people who claim that the flower of Epiphyllum oxypetalum, the orchid
cactus, which blooms at night, is the Brahma Kamal. Some North Indians claim that the flower of Saussurea obvallata is the Brahma Kamal.

Cultivation: 
Succeeds in most soils in a sunny well-drained position.

Propagation :
Seed – we have no information for this species but suggest sowing the seed in a cold frame in the spring. Surface sow, or only just cover the seed, and make sure that the compost does not dry   out. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in the greenhouse or cold frame for their first winter. Plant them out in late spring    after the last expected frosts. Division in spring might be possible.

Medicinal Uses:
Brahma kamal is a medicinal herb. The plant is considered an herb in Tibetan medicine. Its name is Sah-du Goh-ghoo. It has a bitter taste. The entire plant is used. It is found in the region
of the Himalayas. It is also used to cure urogenital disorders. It is used in the treatment of paralysis of the limbs and cerebral ischaemia.

Other Uses:
Uttarakhand formerly Uttaranchal, is a state located in the northern part of India. It is often referred to as the Land of Gods – Dev Bhumi due to the many holy Hindu temples and cities found      throughout the state which are some of Hinduism’s most spiritual and auspicious places of pilgrimage and worship. The shrines of Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath make up     the Char Dham Yatra, four highly sacred destinations of the Hindus. Uttarakhand also known for its natural beauty.

Known Hazards: It is endangered because people are cutting it down for their own use.

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/Thelesperma_megapotamicum
http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_C.htm
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Thelesperma+megapotamicum

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Better Prescription

After open source software, it is now the turn of open source drug research. If this unique process can find a new anti-TB drug, it might well become the future of drug research. G.S. Mudur reports
In the temple town of Thanjavur, Aparna Venkatachalam, a final year engineering student, has turned into a foot soldier in a fresh scientific assault on the microbe that causes tuberculosis. After combing through some 200 research papers and spending dozens of hours searching online biological databases, she has assigned functions — biological tasks — to 60 proteins found in the TB microbe. She picked up a reward for her efforts last week — an Acer Netbook.

Venkatachalam is one of a group of 120 students and researchers scattered across India, Dubai, Japan and Germany, who have put together the most detailed map constructed so far to describe the biochemistry of a living organism. The 18-month science project, spearheaded by India’s Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), is seeking new drugs against the TB microbe in a manner never attempted before.

“When you want to destroy an enemy, it’s good to identify vulnerabilities,” said Samir Brahmachari, director general of the CSIR. “This map will provide us unprecedented insights into the biochemistry of the TB micro-organism.”

The search for new drugs against TB is the first project of the CSIR’s Open Source Drug Discovery (OSDD) programme, a Rs 150 crore effort to solve complex problems by breaking them into smaller “work packets” open to virtually anyone across the scientific community to solve. The challenges are posed on the OSDD website, and researchers wishing to try and tackle them need only to register and join the effort.

An international consortium of scientists had sequenced the genome of the microbe Mycobacterium TB [MTB] nearly 12 years ago. And over the past decade, scientists have identified 3,998 genes, and assigned biological functions to all but nine of them.

The OSDD effort has now generated a map that places about 3,700 MTB genes and their protein products into a network of biochemical pathways. The network, a web of biochemical reactions, shows how these genes and proteins allow MTB to carry out its myriad life-cycle activities — from invading human cells to evading the human immune system to routine housekeeping.

“It’s a very big and a very complex circuit,” said Hiraoki Kitanu, director of the Systems Biology Institute in Japan, who leads a research team that has contributed significantly to the development of a computer-readable format to display models of biological processes, and who has joined the OSDD effort. “This is a new approach for drug discovery,” Kitanu said.

Scientists believe MTB is an appropriate organism to pit innovative ideas against. This killer microbe claims about 1,000 lives across India each day. The four best anti-TB drugs that make up the first line of therapy were developed in the 1950s and 1960s. Secondary drugs are toxic and expensive. There are now drug-resistant versions of MTB, which pose a new challenge. While clinical trials are under way, a new drug is not expected to be ready for use until 2012.

All previous efforts at finding drugs to fight MTB involved a laborious trial-and-error method in which researchers exposed the organism to compounds and picked the ones that appeared most effective in killing bacteria or suppressing their growth. Researchers believe that the map of biochemical pathways will now allow them to choose specific regions of the pathway as targets for future drugs. “Instead of shooting in the dark, we’ll be searching for targets in a rational way,” said Anshu Bharadwaj, a scientist at the Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology, New Delhi, who, among other roles, also assigns work packets to OSDD researchers.

Some 800 researchers — most of them students — joined the effort, but only some 120 who succeeded in assigning functions to at least 40 genes — Venkatachalam among them — were picked to receive the reward. One of them was a homemaker from Dubai who had used her skills in bioinformatics to help build the pathways map. All those who won a reward, however, did not attend the meeting in Delhi — a software engineer from Germany told the OSDD that he doesn’t travel as he is wheelchair bound.

Venkatachalam, a bioinformatics student at SASTRA University in Thanjavur, and her colleague Ahalyaa Subramanian scanned published scientific literature to tell the stories of 60 MTB genes. In all, Brahmachari estimates, the consortium of researchers scanned at least 12,000 research papers on TB and compiled the information in a standardised format to build the map.

Some biologists caution people not to expect a new drug too soon. “I’m very optimistic this is going to have an impact,” said Richard Jefferson, a molecular biologist based in Australia and chief executive officer of Cambia, a non-profit institute seeking to promote innovation. “But it’s important we do not expect too much too soon. It’s going to be a long fight,” Jefferson said at the OSDD meeting last week.

In the drug discovery process, scientists will have to look for “vulnerabilities” in MTB pathways that can be exploited to design a new drug. Researchers say that one of the biggest challenges will be to find compounds that act exclusively on MTB. “We’ll need to find a vulnerability exclusive to MTB that leaves the human system alone,” said Bharadwaj.

Brahmachari himself has ventured to suggest that the effort could lead to a new candidate drug ready for clinical trials within two years. If that happens, said Brahmachari, the OSDD will invite five drug companies to invest four per cent of drug development costs, while the CSIR will provide the remainder 80 per cent. Each company would then get an opportunity to produce inexpensive generic versions of the drug.

If the OSDD does indeed deliver a new and effective drug for TB, it might trigger a paradigm change in drug research.

Source: The Telegraph (Kolkata, India)

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Natural Drugs Set for Major Role

Natural drugs, especially of plant origin, are expected to play a major role in the healthcare programme in the 21st Century, a leading scientist has said.

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“The revival of interest in plant-based drugs and other herbal products is mainly because of the widespread belief that ‘green medicine’ is healthier than the synthetic products,” said veteran scientist P Pushpangadan in a paper titled ‘Health Food and Nutraceuticals – Traditional Wisdom’.

“This is mainly due to the increasing evidences of the health hazards associated with the harmful side effects of many synthetic drugs and the indiscriminate use of modern medicines such as antibiotics, steroids,” said the paper, which will be presented at the ongoing Annam – National Food and Agro-biodiversity festival on Monday.

Pushpangadan is the director general of Amity Institute for Herbal and Biotech Products Development, and has previously served as director of the National Botanical Research Institute till 2006.

The preference for green food and medicine has resulted in the rapid growth of plant-based drugs, pharmaceuticals, nutraceuticals, functional foods and even cosmaceuticals.

The scientist said in the 1980s, this led to the rapid spurt of demand for health products such as herbal tea, ginseng and products of traditional medicine.

Health improvement and disease preventive strategies in treatment, prevalent in oriental systems, especially Indian (Ayurveda, Siddha, Unani and Amchi) and the Chinese systems of medicine are finding increasing acceptance all over the world.

“Because of this sweeping ‘green wave’ a large number of herbal drugs and plant-derived herbal products are sold in the health food shops all over the developed countries. According to some healthcare experts, there will be more dieticians rather than physicians in coming years,” Pushpangadan said.

Sources: The Times Of India

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India To Boost Tribal ‘Folk Medicine’

India will document, validate and popularise folk medicine practices of tribals across the country and even start institutes for their study to save these traditions from extinction.

“Folk medicine is different from ayurveda, homeopathy or unani. These are local medicinal procedures practised by tribals across India. We are trying to document, digitise and scientifically validate them,” said Verghese Samuel, joint secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

“Due to modern systems of medicine, this health heritage is losing its popularity. We are trying to save these good practices through the initiative,” Samuel said.

Sanjeev K. Chadha, director, department of AYUSH (Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Sidha and Homeopathy) in the ministry, said: “Because of folk medicine practices, tribals in India have a very good immune system. If they are getting benefits out of these practices then there must be something good about these practices.

“These age-old traditions should not be lost in the wilderness. We will do research on these practices and record them. All the good practices would also be considered from patenting.”

There are over 130 tribal groups in India, many from north eastern states.

Chadha said the health ministry had decided to establish a North Eastern Institute of Folk Medicine at Pasighat, Arunachal Pradesh. The state government has already given over 40 acres of land for the purpose and the institute will come up at a cost of nearly 330 million.

“The institute will dedicate itself to the cause. Research and scientific validations will also be done there. The institute may soon have branches in states like Orissa, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh among others.”

Talking about the institute’s location, he said north eastern states were full of folk medicinal practices. “From malaria, to diarrhoea to wounds, people in this region use folk medicines and it’s better to start from there.”

Chadha said folk medicine was “a pool of knowledge” that had to be tapped.

“The practices are very utilitarian. We as a nation with diverse culture can’t allow a body of knowledge to perish. Like manuscripts, here is a pool of knowledge that needs to be tapped for a greater cause, for betterment of millions of people.

“Who knows it may give India a different pedestal in the health community of the world.”

Sources: The Times Of India

Hydrophilia

Botanical Name: Hydrophilia spinosa
Family: Acanthaceae
Genus: Hygrophila
Species: Spinosa
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Angiospermae
Order: Personales

Synonym: Asteracantha Longifolia.
Parts Used: Root, seeds, dried herb.
Habitat: India, widely distributed in the sub-tropical regions of the world.

commonly known as: Marsh barbel Bengali: KULEKHARA, shulamardan  Hindi: gokula kanta, kantakalia  Kannada: kalavankabija, kolavalike, kolavanke  Konkani: kalaso Malayalam: culli, voyal-chullai   Marathi: kolisa, kolshinda, talimkhana  Sanskrit: kokilaksha, shrinkhali Tamil: nirmulli Telugu: kokilaksakamu, niti gobbi

Description:
perennial herb, 1-2 m high … erect unbranched stems, hairy near swollen nodes … flowers in 4 pairs at each node … the 3 cm long purple-blue flowers are 2-lipped – the upper lip is 2-lobed and the lower one 3-lobed with lengthwise folds … flowers bloom in opposite pairs.

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The name is derived from the Greek, and refers to the medical doctrine of fluids in the body. It has tapering roots, a number of rootlets, and upright square stems; leaves and branches opposite, nodes swollen near them; the stem and leaves have three- to five-celled stiff hairs. Flowers, four pairs awl-shaped and like leaves in shape. Corolla glabrous on lower lip. Fruit has four to eight flattened brownish seeds, which contain a quantity of strong mucilage. The drug has no special odour or taste.

Constituents: Chiefly mucilage, fixed oil, phytosterol, and a trace of an alkaloidal substance, properties similar to Couchgrass.

Medicinal Action and Uses:
Demulcent and a diuretic for catarrh of the urinary organs; the dried herb and root, or rhizome, has long been used in India for dropsy, especially when accompanied by hepatic obstruction. It is a popular aphrodisiac. In Southern India the root is the commercial part, but in Bombay the seeds are mostly used.

Preparation: Decoction, 2 oz. of root to 3 pints of water boiled down to 1 pint. Dose, 1/2 to 2 fluid ounces. Official in India and the Eastern Colonies.

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://botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/h/hydphi47.html
Hygrophila auriculata (Schumach.) Heine

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3249917/

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