Tag Archives: Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

Salvia Divinorum

Botanical Name : Salvia Divinorum
Family: Lamiaceae
Genus: Salvia
Species:S. divinorum
Order: Lamiales

Common Names: Sage of the diviners, Ska maría pastora, Seer’s sage, Yerba de la pastora and just Salvia

Habitat : Salvia divinorum is endemic to the Sierra Mazateca in the state of Oaxaca in Mexico, growing in the primary or secondary cloud forest and tropical evergreen forest at elevations from 300 to 1,830 metres (980 to 6,000 ft). Its most common habitat is black soil along stream banks where small trees and bushes provide an environment of low light and high humidity.

Salvia divinorum has large green ovate (often also dentate) leaves, with a yellow undertone that reach 10 to 30 cm (4 to 12 in) long. The leaves have no hairs on either surface, and little or no petiole. The plant grows to well over 1 metre (3 ft) in height, on hollow square stems which tend to break or trail on the ground, with the plant rooting quite readily at the nodes and internodes.


The flowers, which bloom only rarely, grow in whorls on a 30-centimetre (12 in) inflorescence, with about six flowers to each whorl. The 3-centimetre (1.2 in) flowers are white, curved and covered with hairs, and held in a small violet calyx that is covered in hairs and glands. When it does bloom in its native habitat, it does so from September to May.

Blooms occur when the day length becomes shorter than 12 hours (beginning in mid-October in some places), necessitating a shade cloth in urban environments with exposure to light pollution (HPS)

Early authors erred in describing the flowers as having blue corollas, based on Epling and Játiva‘s description. The first plant material they received was dried, so they based the flower color on an erroneous description by Hofmann and Wasson, who didn’t realize that their “blue flowers, crowned with a white dome” were in fact violet calyces with unopened white corollas.

Seeds: Salvia seeds are very rare because the plant does not often produce them. This is because salvia wild genetics are scarce. Most of todays salvia divinorum plants are propogated in the wild. This is why over the past few decades they have stopped producing seeds. ..CLICK  & SEE 

Propagation by cuttings:-
Salvia divinorum is usually propagated through vegetative reproduction. Small cuttings, between two and eight inches long, cut off of the mother plant just below a node, will usually root in plain tap water within two or three weeks

Medicinal uses:
Traditional Mazatec healers have used Salvia divinorum to treat medical and psychiatric conditions conceptualized according to their traditional framework. Some of the conditions for which they use the herb are easily recognizable to Western medical practitioners (e.g colds, sore throats, constipation and diarrhea) and some are not, e.g. ‘fat lambs belly’ which is said to be due to a ‘stone’ put in the victims belly by means of evil witchcraft. Some alternative healers and herbalists are exploring possible uses for Salvia. The problems in objectively evaluating such efforts and ‘sorting the wheat from the chaff’ are considerable. There are no accepted uses for Salvia divinorum in standard medical practice at this time. A medical exploration of some possible uses suggested by Mazatec healing practice is in order in such areas as cough suppression (use to treat colds), and treatment of congestive heart failure and ascites (is ‘fat lamb’s belly’ ascites?). Some other areas for exploration include Salvia aided psychotherapy (there is anecdotal material supporting its usefulness in resolving pathological grief), use of salvinorin as a brief acting general or dissociative anesthetic agent, use to provide pain relief, use in easing both the physical and mental suffering of terminal patients as part of hospice care, and a possible antidepressant effect.

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.



Easy Breathing

Breathing is an involuntary action, coordinated by respiratory centres deep in the brain. It is not really possible to die by voluntarily holding one’s breath, as without practice and training, apnoea (not breathing) cannot be sustained for more than 1-2 minutes. This is because “breath holding” results in accumulation of carbon dioxide in the blood and a drop in the blood pH. The respiratory centre in the brain is automatically stimulated. Breathing sets in.

Sleep apnoea (cessation of breathing during sleep) can occur in adults, usually middle-aged overweight males with a thick neck. It can occur in all ages and both sexes, especially if the tonsils or adenoids are enlarged, there is a deviated nasal septum or GERD (gastro esophageal reflux disease). Sleep apnoea can cause high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease, and daytime drowsiness. Academic performance and decision making at work can suffer. There may be daytime lapses in concentration, which can cause accidents.


Mild cases of sleep apnoea respond to weight loss and exercise. Severe cases may require CPAP (Continuous Positive Airways Pressure), or surgery.

Reactive Airways Disease or name bronchial asthma is a condition where the smaller airways in the lungs constrict when exposed to many triggers. These may be a viral or bacterial infection, pollen, food, or odours in the air. As the breathing pipes become smaller, the outflow of air is obstructed and there is whistling sound with each breath. The person may start coughing vigorously or panic as they feel the air supply is being cut off.

This can be tackled with nebulisers, inhalers and rotahalers. These devices deliver dilating medication directly to the breathing pipes. The effect is almost instantaneous and there are practically no side effects.

Our airways are designed to filter out dust and other harmful particles. Unfortunately our inbuilt air purification system can only filter out particles of 2·5 µm (PM2 ) in diameter. The smaller – found around us both indoors and out – can enter the lungs. Indoor pollution comes from the use of solid fuels, such as coal, wood, or charcoal (even when it is only used to heat water), burning rubbish and waste, particularly plastic. Cigarette smoke harms the smoker and the polluting particles secondarily affect others in the environment. Agarbattis release many polluting chemicals as do mosquito repelling coils, mats and liquids.

Industrialisation and urbanisation have? resulted in fossil fuels being used in factories and for transport. Smoke from factories is sent high into the sky through industrial chimneys, but that just means that the particles spread over a wider area. The petrol and diesel vehicles on the road also emit particulate material and harmful gases. Seven million deaths occur annually because of air pollution alone. Pregnant women and children are particularly vulnerable. Constant exposure to a polluted environment affects long-term growth and cognitive ability in children. If we keep polluting the environment like this, our IQ levels will be affected.
Eventually, constant exposure to pollutants over many years can also result in COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) with breathlessness with the slightest activity. This too is treated with nebulisers and inhalers.

• We all breathe but this does not mean we breathe correctly. Lungs need regular breathing exercises and correction of faulty breathing techniques. Yoga corrects the technique.

• Exercise early in morning when pollution is less or indoors in a gym.

• Keep indoor plants in your home. They reduce particulate matter and pollutants.

Source: The Telegraph (India, Kolkata)

Help, I Can’t Breathe…

More and more people today are complaining thus, be it summer, monsoon or winter. And it’s not surprising ; the global incidence of asthma is steadily rising. In India, between 5 and 25 per cent of the population is affected. The wide variation is because statistics are difficult to come by. There is very little unbiased documentation about the true incidence of asthma using instruments and lung function tests...…...click & see
click & see
Asthma — now called reactive airways disease — tends to run in families prone to allergy. Some members wheeze, some sneeze while others may have itchy, red skin lesions. Wheezing may be present all the year round with varying degrees of severity. Attacks may also come and go, precipitated by cigarette smoke, chemicals in the air (mosquito repellents, room fresheners), infections (particularly viral), medication (aspirin, ibubrufen) or food additives (dyes, preservatives), with symptom-free intervals…..click & see

Air enters the body through the main air vessels — the bronchi, which branch out into the lungs as bronchioles. If they are irritated, they secrete mucous which narrows them. In normal people, the bronchioles relax when this occurs so a slight cough expels the obstructing plugs of mucous. In allergic people, the bronchioles constrict further, trapping the mucous and causing a feeling of suffocation…..click & see

Symptoms usually start with a tight feeling around the chest and a cough. But there is no sputum, the cough is ineffective and fails to relieve the feeling of breathlessness and suffocation. More severe, hacking and ineffective cough then sets in.

Doctors do not like to tell a patient or a parent that there is “wheezing” — the latter tend to equate it with asthma and fear chronic lifetime debility. Others confuse it with tuberculosis or primary complex. Neither is true. Wheezing is treatable and the person can lead a normal life.

The mainstay of treatment is bronchodilators, which open up the narrowed bronchi. If a direct delivery system is used, the drug goes straight into the lungs. Nebulisers, inhalers and rotahalors are freely available and efficient. Nebulisers require electricity to work and are not portable. Inhalers and rotahalors can be carried around. Inhalers, unlike rotahalors, require a certain amount of breathing co-ordination to be affective. In young children and the elderly, they become efficient only when combined with a spacer and facemask.

For an acute attack, salbutamol is usually sufficient. If there are repeated attacks, interfering with sleep at night, long-term treatment is needed. There are long-acting medications like salmeterol. When delivered to the lungs, it opens up the airways. This must be combined with a steroid like fluticosone. It prevents the local inflammatory reaction, decreases mucous secretion and helps keep the airways open.

Tablets and syrups do work eventually to control wheezing. They need to reach the stomach, get absorbed, reach the blood and eventually the lungs. They are more likely to produce side effects like nausea, vomiting and tremors. The onset of action is also slow.

Some lifestyle modifications may help to control the disease. Obesity contributes to the severity and frequency of attacks. The “pot belly” reduces the capacity of the lungs, as it tends to push them upwards. The BMI (body mass index) — weight divided by the height in metre squared — must be as close to 23 as possible.

Aerobic exercises like fast walking, jogging, swimming, skipping or stair climbing improve lung function and capacity.

Avoid known allergens that are likely to precipitate attacks. It may be airborne chemicals, like those in mosquito mats, coils and liquids. These should not be used anywhere in the house, as the smoke tends to permeate easily. Some allergens may be present in food or medication. If an attack seems to be precipitated by ingestion of a particular substance, it’s better to avoid it than search for a cure. Desensitisation is offered in some clinics but it’s a laborious and expensive process.

Stop smoking and as far as possible stay away from smokers.

People with reactive airways have poor breathing technique. This can be improved with exercises taught by physiotherapists and yoga teachers. Videos are available on the Internet. Proper breathing techniques go a long way towards improving lung capacity and reducing the duration, frequency and severity of attacks.

Hand-held devices called spirometers are available to measure the amount of air you breathe in and out. These are inexpensive. By documenting the readings daily, it is possible to anticipate an attack and take prophylactic action.

Always use the nebuliser, inhaler or rotahalor as directed. Sometimes a single dose at night may prevent lung damage and keep the lung capacity at a satisfactory level.

Source:The Telegraph ( Kolkata, India)

Lung Taste Receptors Discovery May Improve Asthma Treatment

Researchers have discovered that bitter taste receptors are not just located in the mouth but also in human lungs. What they learned about the role of the receptors could revolutionize the treatment of asthma and other obstructive lung diseases.

You may click to see :Sensory Transducers :

The ability to taste isn’t limited to the mouth, and researchers say that discovery might one day lead to better treatments for diseases such as asthma.

“The detection of functioning taste receptors on smooth muscle of the bronchus in the lungs was so unexpected that we were at first quite skeptical ourselves,” says the study’s senior author, Stephen B. Liggett.

Dr. Liggett, a pulmonologist, says his team found the taste receptors by accident, during an earlier, unrelated study of human lung muscle receptors that regulate airway contraction and relaxation. The airways are the pathways that move air in and out of the lungs, one of several critical steps in the process of delivering oxygen to cells throughout the body. In asthma, the smooth muscle airways contract or tighten, impeding the flow of air, causing wheezing and shortness of breath.

The taste receptors in the lungs are the same as those on the tongue. The tongue’s receptors are clustered in taste buds, which send signals to the brain. The researchers say that in the lung, the taste receptors are not clustered in buds and do not send signals to the brain, yet they respond to substances that have a bitter taste.

For the current study, Dr. Liggett’s team exposed bitter-tasting compounds to human and mouse airways, individual airway smooth muscle cells, and to mice with asthma. The findings are published online in Nature Medicine.

Most plant-based poisons are bitter, so the researchers thought the purpose of the lung’s taste receptors was similar to those in the tongue – to warn against poisons. “I initially thought the bitter-taste receptors in the lungs would prompt a ‘fight or flight’ response to a noxious inhalant, causing chest tightness and coughing so you would leave the toxic environment, but that’s not what we found,” says Dr. Liggett.

There are thousands of compounds that activate the body’s bitter taste receptors but are not toxic in appropriate doses. Many are synthetic agents, developed for different purposes, and others come from natural origins, such as certain vegetables, flowers, berries and trees.

The researchers tested a few standard bitter substances known to activate these receptors. “It turns out that the bitter compounds worked the opposite way from what we thought,” says Dr. Liggett. “They all opened the airway more profoundly than any known drug that we have for treatment of asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).” Dr. Liggett says this observation could have implications for new therapies.

Dr. Liggett cautions that eating bitter tasting foods or compounds would not help in the treatment of asthma.

Another paradoxical aspect of their discovery is the unexpected role that the mineral calcium plays when the lung’s taste receptors are activated. The study’s principal author, Deepak A. Deshpande, is an expert in how calcium controls muscles. “We always assumed that increased calcium in the smooth muscle cell caused it to contract, but we found that bitter compounds increase calcium and cause relaxation of airway muscle in a unique way,” says Dr. Deshpande. “It appears that these taste receptors are wired to a special pool of calcium that is right at the edge of these cells,” he says.




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Natural Product Derived From Periwinkle Plant Reduces Inflammation

A widely and safely used plant extract acts as a novel anti-inflammatory agent that may one day be used for the treatment of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, as well as other inflammatory conditions. There is an urgent need for new therapies for the treatment of chronic inflammatory diseases, such as COPD, otitis media (ear infection), and atherosclerosis (chronic inflammation in the walls of arteries), because the most effective and commonly used agents – steroids – often cause serious side effects, such as liver damage, which prevent long-term use.


Researchers at the University of Rochester Medical Center were the first to find that vinpocetine, a natural product derived from the periwinkle plant, acts as a potent anti-inflammatory agent when tested in a mouse model of lung inflammation, as well as several other types of human cells. Results of the study show that vinpocetine greatly reduces inflammation, and, unlike steroids, does not cause severe side effects.

“What is extremely exciting and promising about these findings is vinpocetine’s excellent safety profile,” said Chen Yan, a senior author of the study. “Previously, most drugs tested in this area have failed, not because of a lack of efficacy, but because of safety issues. We’re very encouraged by these results and believe vinpocetine has great potential for the treatment of COPD and other inflammatory diseases.”

Vinpocetine is a well-known natural product that was originally discovered nearly 30 years ago and is currently used as a dietary supplement for the prevention and treatment of cognitive disorders, such as stroke and memory loss, in Europe, Japan and China. The therapy has no evidence of toxicity or noticeable side effects in human patients. Scientists at the University of Rochester hope to reposition this compound as an anti-inflammatory agent for the treatment of COPD, and potentially other inflammatory conditions, such as asthma, otitis media, rheumatoid arthritis, atherosclerosis and psoriasis in the future.

While steroids successfully combat inflammation, patients often pay a high price when it comes to side effects. Steroids can cause liver damage, and can also suppress the immune system, increasing the likelihood of infections. With such a high risk profile, steroids are usually only used for a short period of time, which is problematic when treating chronic diseases.

“In managing chronic conditions such as COPD, it is crucial to have a therapy that can be used safely over the long term,” said Jian-Dong Li, a senior author of the study. “There is a great need for a drug like vinpocetine, because patients currently have no good options when it comes to long-term care.”

Vinpocetine decreases inflammation by targeting the activity of a specific enzyme, known as IKK. IKK is responsible for regulating inflammation, and does so through the activation of a key protein, nuclear-factor kappaB (NF-?B). By directly inhibiting IKK, vinpocetine is able to switch off NF-?B, which normally produces pro-inflammatory molecules that cause inflammation. Halting the activity of NF-?B ultimately reduces inflammation.

“Inflammation is a hallmark of a wide range of human diseases, so there is great potential for vinpocetine to be used for several indications,” said Bradford C. Berk, co-author of the study. “Given vinpocetine’s efficacy and solid safety profile, we believe there is great potential to bring this drug to market.”

Repositioning a therapy – taking a known compound that has been used safely in humans and testing it for a new application – can be an effective way to bring new therapies to market more quickly than starting the discovery process from scratch.

Inflammatory diseases are a major cause of illness worldwide. For example, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States. In people with COPD, airflow is blocked due to chronic bronchitis or emphysema, making it increasingly difficult to breathe. Most COPD is caused by long-term smoking, although genetics may play a role as well. Approximately 13.5 million people in the United States are diagnosed with COPD each year, and in 2004 the annual cost of the disease was $37.2 billion.

Source: Elements4Health

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