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Stevia rebaudiana

Botanical Name : Stevia rebaudiana
Family: Asteraceae
Tribe: Eupatorieae
Genus: Stevia
Species:S. rebaudiana
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom:Plantae
Order: Asterales

Synonyms : Eupatorium rebaudianum.

Common Names:Stevia, Candyleaf, Sweetleaf, Sweet leaf, or Sugarleaf

Habitat:Stevia rebaudiana is native to South AmericaBrazil, Paraguay. It grows on infertile, sandy acid soils with shallow water tables. This is normally in areas like the edge of mashes and grassland communities.

Description:
Stevia Rebaudiana is a sub-tropical plant and prefers a climate where the mean temperature is 75° F. and is always semi-humid. It thrives where it rains approximately 55″ each year. S. Rebaudiana is a herbaceous perennial shrub native to the highlands of Paraguay and sections of Argentina and Brazil that are situated along the 25th Degree Line, South Latitude.

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In the wild, Stevia grows to 2 feet in height while cultivated varieties grow to three feet. A spindly, many-branched plant with an interesting root system. Fine roots spread out on the surface of the soil, while a thicker part of the root grows deep into the soil. The stems are hairy, wand-like and covered with leaves. Leaves are opposite and toothed, fibrous and dark green. Flowers are white, tubular and bisexual. While the plant itself is not aromatic, the leaves are sweet to the taste and dry leaves are sweeter.

It is frost tender. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects.Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist soil.

Stevia was discovered in 1887 by the South American Natural Scientist, Antonio Bertoni. There are approximately 80 wild species in North America and another 200 species are native to South America. However, only Stevia Rebaudiana (and another species, now extinct) possesses the natural sweetness we look for. Some of the other species, while still very sweet, have a taste reminiscent of a well-known artificial sweetener.
Cultivation:
Prefers a sandy soil, requiring a warm sunny position. It is a short day plant, growing up to 0.6 meters in the wild and flowering from January to March in the southern hemisphere. Flowering under short day conditions should occur 54-104 days following transplanting, depending on the daylength sensitivity of the cultivar. The natural climate is semi-humid subtropical with temperature extremes from 21 to 43 C, averaging 24 C. Stevia grows in areas with up to 1375mm of rain a year. Plants are not very frost resistant, but can be grown as half-hardy annuals in Britain, starting them off in a greenhouse and planting them out after the last expected frosts.

Propagation:
Seed – sow spring in a warm greenhouse and only just cover the seed. Make sure the compost does not dry out. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots and grow them on fast, planting them out after the last expected frosts. It could be worthwhile giving them some protection such as a cloche or cold frame for a few weeks after planting them out until they are growing away well.
Edible Uses:
Used primarily as a sweetener in teas and coffee and contains little, if any, calories. In maney countries, it is used commercially to sweeten sodas and other beverages for the calorie conscious public. Stevia does not break down when heated, so it can be used in baking or cooking without problems. However, it does not crystallize or caramelize like sugar; so meringues and flans are not in the Stevia cooking list. Stevia products currently on the market include: Stevia leaves – whole leaves. Stevia, Cut and Sifted – the leaves are cut into smaller pieces and sifted to ensure that twigs and extraneous matter are not included.

Leaves are eaten -raw or cooked. A very sweet liquorice-like flavour. The leaves contain ‘stevioside’, a substance that is 300 times sweeter than sucrose. Other reports say that they contain ‘estevin’ a substance that, weight for weight, is 150 times sweeter than sugar. The dried leaves can be ground and used as a sweetener or soaked in water and the liquid used in making preserves. The powdered leaves are also added to herb teas. The leaves are sometimes chewed by those wishing to reduce their sugar intake. The leaves can also be cooked and eaten as a vegetable.

Medicinal Uses:
Stevia has been used by the native South Americans to treat diabetes, because of its ability to lower the blood sugar level. They also use it to treat high blood pressure.  Paraguayan Matto Grosso Indian tribes use stevia as an oral contraceptive.  The women drink a daily decoction in water of powdered leaves and stems to achieve this purpose.  This activity of the plant remains a controversial issue.  The suggestion is that the antifertility effect is due to certain flavonoids and their monoglycosides, and not to stevioside.

The Guarani Tribe of Paraguay, the Mestizos and other natives refer to Stevia as Caa-he-e and they have used the herb to sweeten their bitter beverages (mate´ for example) since pre-Columbian times.

Known Hazards : May cause dizziness, headache, flatulence, nausea & muscle pain. Caution with diabetic patients. May increase blood pressure lowering effects of allopathic medicine.
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/Stevia_rebaudiana

http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Stevia+rebaudiana

http://www.n8ture.com/herbs-stevia.html

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

 

 

 

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Medical Palmistry

Medical Assumtions through Palmistry
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Praying Hands  is a famous pen-and-ink drawing by Albrecht Dürer. A close look at the drawing makes several medical assumptions possible.

The person is middle-aged or older.

The hands have been used to manual labour.

The person is diabetic or will shortly become so.

Diabetes produces changes in the structure of the hands so that when they are folded, as in prayer, a small gap is visible between the two little fingers.

As people walk, they unconsciously move their arms. Watch to see the position of the thumb. If it is rotated inwards, the person has a body mass index (BMI) over 29 and is already obese or heading there.

The creases and lines on our palms, formed when the foetus is 12 weeks old, are genetically determined. Normally, three lines are formed. If there are only two lines (single palmar crease), the child must be followed up for Down’s syndrome, or other genetic abnormalities. It is rare for normal people to have a single palmar crease but some do have it only on one palm, a trait shared by many in the family.

Some people are prone to chronic infectious diseases such as tuberculosis. They too tend to have only two lines but their single abnormal line is situated just above the thumb.

Hormone levels in the uterus influence finger length. A person (irrespective of sex) whose index finger is shorter than the ring finger will have had more testosterone (male hormone) in the womb and a person with an index finger longer than the ring finger will have had more estrogen (female hormone). The difference in the lengths can as little as two or three per cent but is important. Professional women and female scientists tend to have higher levels of testosterone relative to their oestrogen level, while the converse is true of men in the fine arts and social sciences.

Marfan’s syndrome is a genetic disease in which the person has abnormally long fingers (arachnodactly), like that of a spider. Congenital hypothyroidism, certain renal diseases and some forms of dwarfism are associated with a tripartiate hand where the index, middle and ring fingers are of the same length. Palmar creases, tripartate hands and archnodactly can be picked up on ultrasound examination after the 12th week.

All of five fingers are essential for the hand to function properly. The thumb is the most important as it helps us to grasp something securely. If there are extra fingers, they need to be surgically removed. They may be associated with internal organ abnormalities, particularly of the kidney.

The tips of the fingers have loops and whorls, some closed and circular, others open ended. No two individuals have identical fingerprints. Strangely, people with mental illnesses have more open loops and fewer whorls.

Smokers have yellowish brown nails. In chronic respiratory ailments or congenital heart disease, nails bulge with a convex parrot beak appearance and are blue in colour.

The skin of the palm may be yellow. Jaundice causes this. It can also occur because of excessive consumption of yellow vegetables and fruits.

Hard labour can make the fingers gnarled and knotted; housework, which involves dealing with harsh detergents, makes the skin rough. Office work makes the hands soft and smooth. Regular manicures keep the hands looking good. The occupation and financial status of a person can be determined by looking at the hands.

Fingers may get fixed in the flex position with sudden painful release, the “trigger finger”. The tissues of the hand may get thickened, causing them to contract. These conditions need to be seen by an orthopaedic surgeon.

Osteoarthritis sets in with age and is commoner in women. The fingers become painful and work becomes difficult. This is a localised condition and other body systems are not affected. Rheumatoid arthritis occurs in younger people. The joint deformities give the fingers a spindle shaped appearance. This disease can affect other organs as well. Treatment is long drawn and includes medication, physiotherapy and regular exercise. Most joint pains, whatever the cause, respond well to immersion in hot salted water and underwater exercises.

Involuntary shaking movements called tremors can be first seen in the hands and may be associated with tingling. Sometimes these are familial and harmless. Tremors can also be the result of too much coffee, medication induced or the manifestation of a neurological disease like Parkinson’s. Tremors need to be evaluated by a physician.

Hands reveal a great deal if observed carefully. No wonder palmistry is a successful profession!

Source :The Telegraph. May 21.2012
Written by Gita Mathai

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Gymnema silvestre

Botanical Name : Gymnema silvestre

Family: Asclepiadaceae
Genus: Gymnema
Species: G. sylvestre
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Gentianales

Common Name :Gurmari, Gurmarbooti, Gurmar, periploca of the woods, meshasring.

Alternative names:
Despite the part used being the leaf, one common name of this species is miracle fruit, a name shared by two other species: Synsepalum dulcificum and Thaumatococcus daniellii. Both species are used to alter the perceived sweetness of foods.

In English the species is also known as gymnema, Cowplant and Australian cowplant.

This species also goes under many other names such as; Gurmari, Gurmarbooti, Gurmar, periploca of the woods and Meshasringa. The Hindi word Gur-mar (Madhunaashini in Sanskrit, Chakkarakolli in Malayalam,Podapatri in Telugu), literally means sugar destroyer. Meshasringa (Sanskrit) translates as “ram’s horn”, a name given to the plant from the shape of its fruits. Gymnema derives from the Greek words “gymnos”  and “n?ma” (????) meaning “naked” and “thread” respectively, the species epitheton sylvestre means “of the forest” in Latin.

Habitat :  Gymnema silvestre is   native to the tropical forests of southern and central India where it has been used as a natural treatment for diabetes for nearly two millennia.

Description:
Gudmar or Gymnema Sylvestre is Large climbers, rooting at nodes, leaves elliptic, acuminate, base acute to acuminate, glabrous above sparsely or densely tomentose beneath; Flowers small, in axillary and lateral umbel like cymes, pedicels long; Calyx-lobes long, ovate, obtuse, pubescent; Corolla pale yellow campanulate, valvate, corona single, with 5 fleshy scales. Scales adnate to throat of corolla tube between lobes; Anther connective produced into a membranous tip, pollinia 2, erect, carpels 2,unilocular; locules many ovuled; Follicle long, fusiform1.

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Chemical composition:
The major bioactive constituents of Gymnema sylvestris are a group of oleanane type triterpenoid saponins known as gymnemic acids. The latter contain several acylated (tigloyl, methylbutyroyl etc.,) derivatives of deacylgymnemic acid (DAGA) which is 3-O-glucuronide of gymnemagenin (3, 16, 21, 22, 23, 28-hexahydroxy-olean-12-ene)2. The individual gymnemic acids (saponins) include gymnemic acids I-VII, gymnemosides A-F, gymnemasaponins.

G. sylvestre leaves contain triterpene saponins belonging to oleanane and dammarene classes. Oleanane saponins are gymnemic acids and gymnemasaponins, while dammarene saponins are gymnemasides. Besides this, other plant constituents are flavones, anthraquinones, hentri-acontane, pentatriacontane, ? and ?- chlorophylls, phytin, resins, d-quercitol, tartaric acid, formic acid, butyric acid, lupeol, ?-amyrin related glycosides and stigmasterol. The plant extract also tests positive for alkaloids. Leaves of this species yield acidic glycosides and anthroquinones and their derivatives.

Gymnemic acids have antidiabetic, antisweetener and anti-inflammatory activities. The antidiabetic array of molecules has been identified as a group of closely related gymnemic acids after it was successfully isolated and purified from the leaves of Gymnema sylvestre. Later, the phytoconstituents of Gymnema sylvestre were isolated, and their chemistry and structures were studied and elucidated.

Medicinal Uses:
While it is still being studied, and the effects of the herb are not entirely known, the herb has been shown to reduce blood sugar levels when used for an extended period of time. Additionally, Gymnema reduces the taste of sugar when it is placed in the mouth, thus some use it to fight sugar cravings. From extract of the leaves were isolated glycosides known as Gymnemic acids, which exhibit anti-sweet activity.

This effect lasts up to about 2 hours. Some postulate that the herb actually reduces cravings for sugar by blocking sugar receptors in the tongue. This effect was observed in rats in a 2003 study conducted by CH Lemon, et al. It is currently being used in an all natural medication for diabetes with other ingredients such as cinnamon, chromium, zinc, biotin, banaba plant, huckleberry and bitter melon.

The active ingredients are thought to be the family of compounds related to gymnemic acid: purified gymnemic acids are widely used as experimental reagents in taste physiology and have also been shown to affect experimental diabetes, reduce intestinal transport of sugars. and fatty acids. Extracts of Gymnema is not only claimed to curb sweet tooths but also for treatment of as varied problems as hyperglycemia, obesity, high cholesterol levels, anemia and digestion. The leaves were also used for stomach ailments, constipation, water retention, and liver disease; historically these claims are not supported by scientific studies.[8] According to the Sushruta of the Ayurveda it helps to treat Madhumeha ie glycosuria.[citation needed]

In 2005, a study made by King’s College, London, United Kingdom, showed that a water-soluble extract of Gymnema Sylvestre, caused reversible increases in intracellular calcium and insulin secretion in mouse and human ?-cells when used at a concentration (0.125 mg/ml) without compromising cell viability. Hence forth these data suggest that extracts derived from Gymnema Sylvestre may be useful as therapeutic agents for the stimulation of insulin secretion in individuals with Type 2 Diabetes.[9] According to research done by Persaud and colleagues in 1999 the raise in insulin levels may be due to regeneration of the cells in the pancreas.  Gymnema can also help prevent adrenal hormones from stimulating the liver to produce glucose, thereby reducing blood sugar levels  Clinical trials with diabetics in India have used 400 mg per day of water-soluble acidic fraction of the gymnema leaves. However, Gymnema cannot be used in place of insulin to control blood sugar by people with either Type 1 or Type 2 Diabetes.

In 2010, King’s College, London, United Kingdom performed another study on Gymnema Sylvestre. OmSantal Adivasi extract, a high molecular weight extract from the plant Gymnema Sylvestre was found to improve the symptoms of type 2 diabetes mellitus. Glycemic control after OmSantal Adivasi administration was related to increased circulating levels of insulin and/or C-peptide. Experimenting with human islets in vitro, there was a rapid onset response to OmSantal Adivasi exposure, continued for extent of exposure to OmSantal Adivasi, and also a rapid reverse if there was a withdrawal of OmSantal Adivasi. OmSantal Adivasi created a biphasic pattern of glucose-induced insulin secretion. This resulted in enhanced rates of insulin secretion being maintained for length of exposure to OmSantal Adivasi. Other Gymnema Sylvestre extracts induce cell damage to the membrane causing pathological and unregulated release of insulin to BETA-cells. OmSantal Adivasi has a low concentration of saponin, what causes damage to cell membranes, which would be degraded during digestion. OmSantal Adivasi directly stimulates BETA-cells of the islets of Langerhans, reducing fasting and post-prandial blood glucose. OmSantal Adivasi experiments, in vitro, initiated insulin secretion at a sub-stimulatory concentration of glucose. OmSantal Adivasi has been shown to effectively reduce blood glucose and increase plasma insulin and C-peptide levels in humans

Indian physicians first used Gymnema to treat diabetes over 2,000 years ago.  . In the 1920s, preliminary scientific studies found some evidence that Gymnema leaves can reduce blood sugar levels, but nothing much came of this observation for decades.  It is a taste suppressant.  By topical application gymnema has been shown to block the sweet and some of the bitter taste, but not salt and acid taste.  By keeping off the sweet taste it helps to control a craving for sugar.  Responsible for this are considered saponins.  Gymnema has also shown mild hypoglycemic effect.  Topically (applied to the tongue, mainly to the tip or by chewing) it is used to control a craving for sugar, recommended as an aid to a weightloss diet and diabetes.  Internally it is used as an adjuvant (tea, h.p.) for diabetes. Gymnema leaves raise insulin levels, according to research in healthy volunteers. Based on animal studies, this may be due to regeneration of the cells in the pancreas that secrete insulin. Other animal research shows that Gymnema can also improve uptake of glucose into cells and prevent adrenaline from stimulating the liver to produce glucose, thereby reducing blood sugar levels. The leaves are also noted for lowering serum cholesterol and triglycerides.  In the past, powdered Gymnema root was used to treat snake bites, constipation, stomach complaints, water retention, and liver disease.

Gurmar, also known as Gymnema or Gymnema Sylvestre, is often referred to as “sugar destroyer” and has been used in Ayurveda since the 6th century BC. It has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for several centuries as a safe and natural approach to help regulate sugar metabolism. The key component of Gymnema – Gymnemic Acids – mimics glucose molecules, numbing receptor sites on the tongue. Gymnema contains Gymnemic acid, Quercitol, Lupeol, Beta-Amyrin and Stigmasterol, all of which are thought to help the body maintain healthy blood glucose levels.

Benefits of Gymnema Sylvestre (Gurmar)
Gymnema may:

*Help abolish the taste of sugar*
*Help manage sugar cravings and sugar addictions*
*Help support healthy glucose metabolism*
*Help maintain healthy blood sugar levels*
*Support healthy weight*

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://www.herbalprovider.com/gymnema-sylvestre.html?src=ggl&w=gymnema-sylvestre&gclid=CLjflMqo8qoCFQHf4AodDghbPA
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gymnema_sylvestre
http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_FGH.htm

http://www.nutrasanus.com/gymnema-sylvestre.html

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Bigger the Belly, the Bigger the Risk

Although obesity has long been known to be a risk factor for heart disease, several studies have found that a high body mass index is actually associated with a lower risk of dying from heart ailments. However, according to a new analysis, the apparent paradox may be explained by the simple fact that BMI is a very flawed measurement.
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The study revealed that waist size provides a far more accurate way to predict a heart patient’s chances of dying at an early age from a heart attack or other causes.

CNN reports:
“As in previous studies, a high BMI was associated with a lower risk of death. But researchers found that heart patients with a high ratio of waist-to-hip circumference or a large waist size — greater than 35 inches for women, or 40 inches for men — were 70 percent more likely to die during the study period than those with smaller waists. The combination of a large waist and a high BMI upped the risk of death even more.”

Resources:
*CNN May 2, 2011

*Wall Street Journal May 3 2011 *

*Journal of the American College of Cardiology May 10, 2011; 57(19):1877-86

Posted By Dr. Mercola | May 20 2011

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Lower Your BP, Live Longer

In western countries, the number of people affected by high blood pressure (BP) or hypertension is decreasing. In India, however, the figure is creeping up, albeit marginally (2-3 per cent). This is worrying because, untreated, hypertension may result in complications like a heart attack, heart or kidney failure, tearing of the blood vessels and loss of vision. It can also cause subtle loss of memory and the ability to think clearly.
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BP indicates the force with which the heart pumps blood against the blood vessel. It has two values — an upper or systolic and a lower or diastolic. Values of 120/80 are normal, while 139/89 indicates pre-hypertension and 140/90 or above hypertension. With age, the blood vessels tend to harden, decreasing their pliability. This causes a peculiar type of hypertension where only the upper value is high. About 70 per cent of the population over the age of 60 has this type of systolic hypertension. BP should be measured every two years after the age of 20 and yearly after 40.

Normal BP:->..
The risk of hypertension increases with age, obesity, a family history of high BP, kidney diseases, diabetes, endocrine diseases, smoking, alcohol consumption, medications like corticosteroids, birth control pills or those for losing weight. Narrow abnormally placed blood vessels present from birth can also lead to high BP. If no cause can be detected, it’s called “essential hypertension” and requires medication to prevent complications. Even isolated systolic hypertension requires treatment.

BP is linked to salt intake. A high salt intake results in elevated BP. The effect is even more pronounced in people (around 20 per cent of the population) who are “salt sensitive”.

The recommended salt intake for a normal person is 5gm or 1 teaspoon a day. But the “hidden salt” must also be considered. All food and even drinking water contains varying amounts of natural salt. Sodium (a component of salt) is added to food products in the form of monosodium glutamate, sodium nitrite, sodium saccharin, baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) or sodium benzoate. These are ingredients in condiments and seasonings like tomato sauce, soy sauce and pickles. Processed meats such as bacon, sausage and ham, and fast foods like burgers and pizzas are high in sodium content.

Medications belonging to groups such as diuretics, alpha blockers, angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors, angiotensin receptor blockers, beta blockers, calcium channel blockers and rennin inhibitors are available to control blood pressure. The pharmaceutical industry also introduces “new and improved” drugs in the market with monotonous regularity. Control remains unsatisfactory in many patients who are then dosed with two or more anti hypertensives. The older, long-acting diuretics, surprisingly, remain one of the most effective medications, either as an adjuvant to existing medicine or alone.

Better control of BP with lower doses of medication can often be achieved if the person is willing to make certain lifestyle changes. Weight needs to be ideal. As weight increases, so does the pressure on your artery walls. To calculate your ideal body weight, multiply your height in meter squared by 23.

Inactive people have a faster heart rate, forcing the heart to work harder for longer periods of time. Aerobic exercise like walking, jogging, swimming or running needs to be done daily. It should be started at the age of around six with 20 minutes of running. Gradually this should be increased to an hour by the age of 18 years.

Smoking (even second-hand smoke), using snuff or chewing tobacco releases chemicals into the body which damage the blood vessels, making them narrow and thus increasing the BP.

Salt makes the body retain fluid, which in turn increases the BP. Limit your intake to 5gm a day. Sodium can be balanced by potassium found in fresh fruits and vegetables. Eat four to six helpings of this a day.

Vitamin D obtained through the diet and by exposure to sunlight affects the levels of a BP-regulating enzyme in the kidneys. Inadequate levels can indirectly elevate the BP.

Heavy drinking can cause permanent heart damage. Even two or three drinks in a single sitting can cause the release of chemicals that temporarily elevate the BP.

Stress can elevate the BP. It needs to tackled with meditation and yoga. Chronic diseases like diabetes, high cholesterol, kidney disease and sleep apnoea need to be controlled as they contribute to the risk of high BP.

Children too are at risk from as early as six or eight years if they are obese, inactive and eat high sodium snacks. These lifestyle changes, therefore, need to be initiated from a young age.

You may click to see :10 Ways to Lower Your Blood Pressure Without Medication

Source: The Telegraph (Kolkata, India)

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