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Iceland moss

Botanical Name : Cetraria islandica
Family: Parmeliaceae
Genus:     Cetraria
Species: C. islandica
Kingdom: Fungi
Division: Ascomycota
Class:     Lecanoromycetes
Order:     Lecanorales

Synonyms: Cetraria. Iceland Lichen.

Common Name :  Iceland Moss, Island cetraria lichen, Oriental cetraria lichen

Other names: Iceland Lichen, Eryngo-leaved liverwort

Habitat:Iceland moss grows abundantly in the mountainous regions of northern countries, and it is specially characteristic of the lava slopes and plains of the west and north of Iceland. It is found on the mountains of north Wales, north England, Scotland and south-west Ireland. In North America its range extends through Arctic regions, from Alaska to Newfoundland, and south in the Rocky Mountains to Colorado, and to the Appalachian Mountains of New England.A common plant in northern countries and in the mountainous part of warmer countries.
It grows on damp places, usually on rocks and the bark of trees, especially conifers.

Description:
Iceland Moss is a composite life form (lichen), symbiotic connection between algae and fungus. It has an appearance similar to moss. It is shrub-like plant, with crinkled, gray-green to dark brown forked branches. The upper side is darker; the underside is lighter, whitish. It grows up to 1, 2 meters in height.  The whole plant is tough and springy.
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Cultivation:
There is no known information on the cultivation of this plant. It requires clean air and is very intolerant of atmospheric pollution so cannot be grown in towns. See the plants native habitat above for ideas on how it can be encouraged to grow. This species is a lichen, which is actually a symbiotic association of two different species, one an algae and the other a fungus. It is very slow-growing. This plant is often used in commercially produced disinfectants.

Propagation :
The only way of reproducing this plant is vegetatively. Almost any part of the plant can be used to produce a new plant, simply separate a portion and place it in its new hom.

Edible Uses:
A jelly is made by boiling the whole plant. It is nutritious and medicinal. Rather bitter, it requires leaching, which can be done by changing the cooking water once or twice during the cooking process. The dried and powdered plant can be mixed with wheat and used in making bread. It is very bitter and the process required to leach it is far too time-consuming and tedious to be countenanced

Medicinal Uses:

Parts Used :Lichen

Constituents: It contains about 70 per cent of lichen starch and becomes blue on the addition of iodine. It also contains a little sugar, fumaric acid, oxalic acid, about 3 per cent of cetrarin and 1 per cent of licheno-stearic acid.

Demulcent, tonic, and nutritive when deprived of its bitter principle. Excellent in chronic pulmonary troubles, catarrh, digestive disturbances, dysentery, advanced tuberculosis. Decoction, B.P. 1885, 1 to 4 OZ. Ground, it can be mixed with chocolate or cocoa.

Iceland Moss is strongly antibiotic and expectorant. It soothes irritated tissues, especially mucous membranes and is often used in cough medications. It eases dry cough and helps in case of a sore throat. It has beneficial results in cases of tuberculosis and bronchitis. It also controls vomiting, has excellent effects in treatment of gastroenteritis, loss of appetite and food poisoning. Used externally, the plant is an excellent remedy for vaginal discharge, boils and wounds.

Iceland moss has been used since ancient times as a cough remedy and has also been used in European folk medicine as a cancer treatment. In present day herbalism it is highly prized for its strongly antibiotic and demulcent actions, being used especially to soothe the mucous membranes of the chest, to counter catarrh and calm dry and paroxysmal coughs – it is particularly helpful as a treatment for elderly people. Iceland moss has both a demulcent and a bitter tonic effect within the gut – a combination almost unique amongst medicinal herbs. The whole plant is strongly antibiotic, antiemetic, strongly demulcent, galactogogue, nutritive and tonic. It is excellent when used internally in the treatment of chronic pulmonary problems, catarrh, dysentery, chronic digestive disturbances (including irritable bowel syndrome and food poisoning) and advanced tuberculosis. Externally, it is used in the treatment of boils, vaginal discharges and impetigo. The plant can be harvested as required throughout the year, preferably during dry weather, and can also be dried for later use. Use with caution. The German Commission E Monographs, a therapeutic guide to herbal medicine, approve Cetraria islandica for cough & bronchitis, dyspepsia, inflammation of mouth and pharynx, loss of appetite.
Other Uses:
Disinfectant; Dye.

A powerful antibiotic can be obtained from the plant and this has become a fundamental ingredient in a wide range of commercially produced disinfectants. A brown dye is obtained from the plant.

Known Hazards: Some herbs could react with certain medication. Therefore, it is advisable to consult your doctor/herbalist before consumption of any herb.   Indigestion and nausea with large doses. Rare liver damage. Herb bitterness possible in breast milk .

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.health-from-nature.net/Iceland_Moss.html
http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/m/mosice52.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iceland_moss

http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Cetraria+islandica

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Lumps and Bumps

PapillomaMost lumps are benign, but it is very important to be sure exactly what they are and find out if they need any  treatment.

Benign vs malignant :……....click & see
Lumps are normally referred to as tumours, and they may be benign or malignant. In a tumour, one particular type of cell (such as a glandular, fat or muscle cell) has escaped the normal controls on growth and started to multiply.

The most important characteristic is whether these tumour cells can invade other adjacent cell types, and spread around the body (i.e. they are malignant tumours) or not (in which case they are benign).

Benign tumours:-
Benign tumours include :

•Cysts: lumps filled with fluid. Common types include sebaceous cysts on the skin, filled with greasy sebum, and ovarian cysts….
Nodules: formed in inflammatory conditions such as arthritis, sarcoid and polyarteritis…….
•Lipomas: lumps of fat cells….
Fibromas and fibroademonas: lumps of fibrous or fibrous and glandular tissue…..
Haematoma: lump formed by blood escaping into the tissues – simply a large bruise…..
Haemangioma: lump formed by extra growth of blood vessels……
•Papilloma: formed from skin or internal membrane cells, for example warts….

Benign tumours do not invade or spread. They can grow quite large without causing problems, although that doesn’t mean they’re totally harmless because their growth may start to damage the other tissues or organs around them.

This is a particular problem with a type of brain tumour called a meningioma, which grows from cells in the membranes that surround the brain (the meninges). Although benign, the pressure within the skull from the growing meningioma can cause severe headaches and may be life threatening if the tumour is not removed.

Benign tumours can cause others problems, from simply looking unsightly to releasing excess hormones.

Malignant tumours:-
Malignant tumours are also known as cancers. They invade the tissues around them and spread to other parts of the body by sending out cancer cells into the lymphatic system or through the blood stream.

These cells are deposited in other areas of the body, particularly the lungs, liver, brain and bones, to start ‘secondary’ tumours (also called metastases) at the new sites. Most malignant tumours are life threatening.

Breast tumours:-
•Benign: mostly happens at younger age. Usually a round smooth lump with a border that feels separate to the rest of the breast. Changes may occur in the lump with the menstrual cycle, being more obvious just before a period. The lump may be tender.
Malignant: mostly happens at older age. Usually a craggy or irregular lump, which may be seen to tether the skin There may be other symptoms such as discharge from the nipple. There may be a family history of breast cancer especially if at a young age.
Women are advised to be on the look out for lumps in their breasts. However, among younger women at least, lumps are far more likely to be benign – in women under 40, more than nine out of ten breast lumps are benign. But these lumps still cause a lot of anxiety until they are sorted out.

The most common benign breast conditions are fibrocystic change, benign breast tumours and breast inflammation. These are common problems, in fact fibrocystic change used to be known as fibrocystic disease but, as it affects more than 50 per cent of women at some point, it was thought it could no longer be considered a disease.

Fibroadenomas (sometimes called breast mice because they can be moved around) are particularly common in women in their 20s or 30s. They are benign and not cancerous.

In most cases these lumps are quite harmless, although now and then they may cause troublesome symptoms such as tenderness (especially as many are influenced by hormone levels and tend to get more swollen and painful along with other menstrual symptoms).

Malignant breast tumours mostly occur in older women, and tend to be accompanied by other symptoms such as discharge from the nipple. The lump may feel craggy or irregular.

Women who have a family history of breast cancer, especially breast cancer at a young age, have an increased risk of malignant tumours.

Is it cancerous?
Sometimes it’s fairly clear that a lump is either benign or malignant, but further tests may be required, including x-rays, ultrasound or biopsy. Often the best way to get an answer is to remove the whole lump and send it to the laboratory for analysis.

Benign lumps may not need to be removed but this is usually the most effective way to reassure someone because, whatever the problem, it’s gone

If you find a lump
•Get a doctor’s opinion – no one minds checking hundreds of harmless lumps if it means that one malignant or cancerous lump is caught early.
•Don’t hide a lump or fret silently about it – if it does prove to be malignant the sooner it’s dealt with the greater the chance of cure.
•Bear in mind that most lumps, especially in younger people, are benign or relatively harmless.

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

Source:BBC Health

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An Abundance of Remedies but Little Relief

CLICK & SEE

Allergies are a worldwide problem. Skin testing is sometimes helpful as part of a treatment plan.

In Brief:

*Despite dozens of over-the-counter and prescription remedies, millions of allergy sufferers seek better relief.

*Allergies are often overlooked by doctors and patients but can lead to serious health problems, including asthma in children.

*Rush immunotherapy regimens offer a fast response — and hold out hope for long-term relief — but require close monitoring.

*Under-the-tongue remedies offer an alternative for the needle shy but aren’t yet F.D.A.-approved.

*With more than 35 over-the-counter remedies and 28 prescription medications crowding the market, you’d think it would be easy for hay fever sufferers to find relief.

Think again.

Most of the estimated 50 million Americans who suffer the runny noses, raw and itchy eyes, clogged sinuses and hammering headaches of allergic rhinitis, as hay fever is medically known, aren’t getting the relief they seek. According to a 2005 survey conducted by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, more than half say they’re “very interested” in finding a new medication. One in four reports “constantly trying different medications to find one that works for me.”

Why is it so hard to find an effective treatment?

One problem, experts say, is that allergic rhinitis isn’t taken seriously enough, by doctors or allergy sufferers. “Allergic rhinitis is typically a doorknob complaint,” said Dr. Bradley Marple, professor of otolaryngology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas. “Patients wait until they’re almost out the door before they say, ’Oh, and by the way, my allergies have been acting up.’” Too many doctors quickly write a prescription or recommend an over-the-counter antihistamine but fail to follow up to see if it worked.

Four out of five allergy sufferers never even make it to the doctor’s office, relying instead on over-the-counter remedies, according to the A.A.F.A. survey. “Unfortunately, that usually means there’s no treatment plan in place,” said Dr. Marple. “A patient may try one antihistamine and if it doesn’t work try another, when what they really need is a decongestant, or a drug that targets another part of the allergic reaction, or a corticosteroid nasal spray.”

That’s too bad, and not only because it means needless suffering. Allergies can lead to sleep problems and set sufferers up for more serious respiratory problems. Children with allergic rhinitis are three times more likely than their non-sniffling counterparts to develop asthma. Kids and adults alike are more likely to develop sinus and ear infections, especially if their allergies go untreated.

The strongest argument for taking allergies seriously comes from results of an ongoing experiment called the Preventive Allergy Treatment Study in Denmark. Seven years after completing a course of allergy shots aimed at quieting an overcharged immune response to harmless substances such as pollen, children in the study were more than four times less likely to develop asthma.

“Those results are really remarkable,” said Dr. Harold Nelson, an allergist at the National Jewish Medical and Research Center in Denver. Along with other evidence, he explained, they show that immunotherapy doesn’t just alleviate symptoms but actually changes the immune system of people with allergies, restoring it to normal.

Unfortunately, few studies have been done to compare one course of allergy treatment with another. Instead, physicians must rely not on evidence-based research but what’s referred to as “expert opinion.” And as Dr. Marple said, “experts can disagree.”

Still, a consensus on the basic plan of attack is emerging.

For mild to moderate allergic rhinitis, over-the-counter remedies are a reasonable first step. Decongestants work by constricting tiny blood vessels and shrinking swollen and inflamed tissue in the lining of the sinuses. Antihistamines block one of the biochemical steps of the allergic process.

If over-the-counter medicines don’t work, it’s time to talk to a doctor or allergist. Many prescribe corticosteroid nasal sprays, which suppress the allergic process at the heart of the problem.

Typically, immunotherapy is the last resort. The treatment involves identifying the specific culprit that’s causing the problem through a series of skin tests or, in some cases, a blood test. Tiny doses of allergen are then injected under the skin in a weekly series of allergy shots to desensitize the immune system.

Some doctors now offer an accelerated protocol called rush or cluster immunotherapy, in which patients receive several shots a day, spaced half an hour apart. “Instead of the six to eight months it usually takes with standard immunotherapy, we can get to maintenance levels in four weeks,” said Dr. Nelson. Because this rush procedure can lead to serious immune reactions, including shock, it must be closely monitored. A ragweed vaccine given over six weeks is also currently in testing.

For the needle-shy, another advance is making immunotherapy more attractive: the use of allergens that dissolve under the tongue. Although widely used in Europe, sublingual allergens haven’t yet won F.D.A. approval in the United States. Allergists are free to prescribe them, but insurance companies won’t cover the cost. Another drawback is that sublingual allergens are only about half as effective as injections in desensitizing the immune system. But patients can take them at home, rather than having to make an office visit for each treatment – an important advantage.

For his part, Dr. Nelson thinks more patients should consider immunotherapy, especially those with severe and persistent allergic rhinitis. “Medications work only as long as you keep taking them,” he said. “Immunotherapy is the only treatment we have that alters the immune system, restoring the same response to allergens like ragweed that we see in normal nonallergic people.”

Unlike pills and nasal sprays, in other words, immunotherapy holds out the possibility of something far better: a cure.

Sources:The New York Times: June 10 ’08

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Breast Milk ‘May Be Allergy Key’

A study may have discovered why breastfeeding might help protect children against allergies such as asthma, scientists say.The French research, published in Nature Medicine, shows female mice exposed to allergens can pass them directly to their offspring in milk.

This allows the newborns to become “tolerant” of the substance.

However, in humans, the link between breastfeeding and reduced asthma risk remains unproven, say experts.

…………………………..click & see
…………...The government advises exclusive breastfeeding for first six months

There is some research evidence that being breastfed lowers the risk of becoming asthmatic but other studies have failed to find this.

More than 300 million people worldwide have allergic asthma and some scientists believe exposure to allergens, or a lack of exposure, at a very young age may be important in its development.

Asthma happens when the body’s own immune system recognises as “foreign” a common and harmless substance found in the environment, such as dust mite faeces.

When this substance is inhaled, the immune reaction can cause inflammation in the airways, narrowing them and making it harder to breathe.

For many sufferers, this can mean a lifetime of drugs, both to damp down the immune reaction and to re-open their constricted airways during an attack.

The researchers, from the INSERM institute in France, used an allergen called ovalbumin – a protein found in egg whites.

They allowed the mothers of newborn mice to breathe in the protein but not their offspring.

Tests confirmed the allergen was then transferred to the baby mice via breast milk and that the baby mice developed an immune system tolerance to it.

This effect happened independently of the mother’s own immune system.

“This study may pave the way for the design of new strategies to prevent the development of allergic diseases “
Study researchers

Current advice

The researchers wrote: “This study may pave the way for the design of new strategies to prevent the development of allergic diseases.”

Sally Rose, an asthma nurse specialist at Asthma UK, said: ‘While some research does suggest that breastfeeding may help reduce the chance of babies developing allergic conditions such as asthma, there are other studies that contradict this.

“Because breastfeeding provides many proven benefits for babies, current advice from the Department of Health, which Asthma UK supports, is that, where possible, babies should be exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life.”

Dr Charles McSharry, an immunologist from Glasgow University, said the research did offer a theory as to why breastfeeding might be beneficial in humans.

However, he said comparing the immune reactions of mice and humans was difficult.

“It is far more difficult to induce the kind of immune tolerance they have achieved in mice in humans, which is a key difference,” he said.

Sources: BBC NEWS: 28TH. JAN,2008