Tag Archives: Diabetes mellitus

Gestational Diabetes

Definition:
Gestational diabetes (or gestational diabetes mellitus, GDM) is a condition in which women without previously diagnosed diabetes exhibit high blood glucose levels during pregnancy (especially during their third trimester). Gestational diabetes is caused when insulin receptors do not function properly. This is likely due to pregnancy-related factors such as the presence of human placental lactogen that interferes with susceptible insulin receptors. This in turn causes inappropriately elevated blood sugar levels.

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Gestational diabetes generally has few symptoms and it is most commonly diagnosed by screening during pregnancy. Diagnostic tests detect inappropriately high levels of glucose in blood samples. Gestational diabetes affects 3-10% of pregnancies, depending on the population studied.

As with diabetes mellitus in pregnancy in general, babies born to mothers with untreated gestational diabetes are typically at increased risk of problems such as being large for gestational age (which may lead to delivery complications), low blood sugar, and jaundice. If untreated, it can also cause seizures or stillbirth. Gestational diabetes is a treatable condition and women who have adequate control of glucose levels can effectively decrease these risks. The food plan is often the first recommended target for strategic management of GDM.

Clasifications:
There are two subtypes of gestational diabetes:
Type A1: abnormal oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT), but normal blood glucose levels during fasting and two hours after meals; diet modification is sufficient to control glucose levels

Type A2: abnormal OGTT compounded by abnormal glucose levels during fasting and/or after meals; additional therapy with insulin or other medications is required

Approximately 7% of all pregnancies are complicated by GDM, resulting in more than 200,000 cases annually. The prevalence may range from 1 to 14% of all pregnancies, depending on the population studied and the diagnostic tests employed.

Symptoms:
Because gestational diabetes does not cause much symptoms, the patient need to be tested for the condition. This is usually done between the 24th and 28th weeks of pregnancy. It is surprised if your test shows a high blood sugar level and is important for the patient to be tested for gestational diabetes, because high blood sugar can cause problems for both the pregnent woman and the baby.Sometimes, a pregnant woman has been living with diabetes without knowing it. If she has the  symptoms of diabetes  and that may include:

*Increased thirst.
*Increased urination.
*Increased hunger.
*Blurred vision.

Pregnancy causes most women to urinate more often and to feel more hungry, so having these symptoms doesn’t always mean that a woman has diabetes.Doctor should be consulted wheather  these symptoms are for diabetes  and then he can suggest for the test of diabetes.

*Infections:
Since diabetes interferes with the body’s ability to fight infections, the pregnant woman may experience frequent infections in areas such as the bladder, vagina and skin. White blood cells defend the body against bacteria, but these cells aren’t able to function normally when a person has a high blood sugar. A woman with gestational diabetes may also complain of a yeast infection in the vagina or on the skin. Yeast cells are normally present in the vaginal area in small amounts. The vaginal secretions and urine contain more glucose when a woman has gestational diabetes. The yeast cells use the glucose as food, which causes the cells to multiply. With the body’s immune system compromised by the high level of glucose in the blood, this increase in yeast cells turns into a yeast infection.

*High Blood Sugar:
Since a woman may not have any noticeable symptoms of gestational diabetes and symptoms can mimic regular pregnancy symptoms, screening for this condition is part of prenatal care for at-risk women between weeks 24 and 28 of pregnancy. The doctor will initially order a blood test called a glucose challenge test. If the glucose challenge test indicates a high blood sugar level, the doctor may order a glucose tolerance test to confirm the diagnosis of gestational diabetes. Both tests involve drinking a sweet glucose solution and having your blood drawn after a prescribed amount of time.

Causes:
Almost all women have some degree of impaired glucose intolerance as a result of hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy. That means that their blood sugar may be higher than normal, but not high enough to have diabetes. During the later part of pregnancy (the third trimester), these hormonal changes place pregnant woman at risk for gestational diabetes.

During pregnancy, increased levels of certain hormones made in the placenta (the organ that connects the baby by the umbilical cord to the uterus) help shift nutrients from the mother to the developing fetus. Other hormones are produced by the placenta to help prevent the mother from developing low blood sugar.

They work by resisting the actions of insulin.
Over the course of the pregnancy, these hormones lead to progressive impaired glucose intolerance (higher blood sugar levels). To try to decrease blood sugar levels, the body makes more insulin to get glucose into cells to be used for energy.
Usually, the mother’s pancreas is able to produce more insulin (about three times the normal amount) to overcome the effect of the pregnancy hormones on blood sugar levels. If, however, the pancreas cannot produce enough insulin, blood sugar levels will rise, resulting in gestational diabetes.

Risk factors:
Any woman can develop gestational diabetes, but some women are at greater risk. Risk factors for gestational diabetes include:

*Age greater than 25. Women older than age 25 are more likely to develop gestational diabetes.
*Family or personal health history. the risk of developing gestational diabetes increases if the woman has prediabetes — slightly elevated blood sugar that may be a precursor to type 2 diabetes — or if a close family member, such as a parent or sibling, has type 2 diabetes.the woman is also more likely to develop gestational diabetes if she had it during a previous pregnancy, if the woman delivered a baby who weighed more than 9 pounds (4.1 kilograms), or if she had an unexplained stillbirth.
*Excess weight. You’re more likely to develop gestational diabetes if you’re significantly overweight with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher.
*Race factor. For reasons that aren’t clear, women who are black, Hispanic, American Indian or Asian are more likely to develop gestational diabetes.

Complications:
Most women who have gestational diabetes deliver healthy babies. However, gestational diabetes that’s not carefully managed can lead to uncontrolled blood

sugar levels and cause problems for patient and the baby, including an increased likelihood of needing a C-section to deliver.

Complications that may affect the baby are:
1.Excessive birth weight. Extra glucose in your bloodstream crosses the placenta, which triggers your baby’s pancreas to make extra insulin. This can cause the baby to grow too large (macrosomia). Very large babies — those that weigh 9 pounds or more — are more likely to become wedged in the birth canal, sustain birth injuries or require a C-section birth.

2.Early (preterm) birth and respiratory distress syndrome. A mother’s high blood sugar may increase her risk of early labor and delivering her baby before its due date. Or her doctor may recommend early delivery because the baby is large.

3.Babies born early may experience respiratory distress syndrome — a condition that makes breathing difficult. Babies with this syndrome may need help breathing until their lungs mature and become stronger. Babies of mothers with gestational diabetes may experience respiratory distress syndrome even if they’re not born early.

4.Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia). Sometimes babies of mothers with gestational diabetes develop low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) shortly after birth because their own insulin production is high. Severe episodes of hypoglycemia may provoke seizures in the baby. Prompt feedings and sometimes an intravenous glucose solution can return the baby’s blood sugar level to normal.

5.Type 2 diabetes later in life. Babies of mothers who have gestational diabetes have a higher risk of developing obesity and type 2 diabetes later in life.
Untreated gestational diabetes can result in a baby’s death either before or shortly after birth.

Complications that may affect the patient are:
1.High blood pressure and preeclampsia. Gestational diabetes raises your risk of high blood pressure, as well as, preeclampsia — a serious complication of pregnancy that causes high blood pressure and other symptoms that can threaten the lives of both mother and baby.

2.Future diabetes. If the pregnent woman has gestational diabetes, she is more likely to get it again during a future pregnancy and also more likely to develop type 2 diabetes as she gets older. However, making healthy lifestyle choices such as eating healthy foods and exercising can help reduce the risk of future type 2 diabetes.Of those women with a history of gestational diabetes who reach their ideal body weight after delivery, fewer than 1 in 4 eventually develops type 2 diabetes.

Diagnosis:
Gestational diabetes usually starts halfway through the pregnancy. All pregnant women should receive an oral glucose tolerance test between the 24th and 28th week of pregnancy to screen for the condition. Women who have risk factors for gestational diabetes may have this test earlier in the pregnancy.

Once the pregnent woman is diagnosed with gestational diabetes, she can see how well she is doing by testing the glucose level at home. The most common way involves pricking her finger and putting a drop of the blood on a machine that will give her the glucose reading.

Treatment:
The goals of treatment are to keep blood sugar (glucose) levels within normal limits during the pregnancy, and to make sure that the growing baby is healthy.

Watching the baby:
1.The health care provider should closely check both the patient  and the baby throughout the pregnancy. Fetal monitoring will check the size and health of the fetus.

2.A nonstress test is a very simple, painless test for the patient and the baby.

3.A machine that hears and displays the baby’s heartbeat (electronic fetal monitor) is placed on the abdomen.
The health care provider can compare the pattern of the baby’s heartbeat to movements and find out whether the baby  is doing well.

Diet and exercise:
The best way to improve the pregnent woman’s diet is by eating a variety of healthy foods.She should learn how to read food labels, and check them when making food decisions.The doctor or dietitian  should advice the diet chart and that should be strictly followed  during pregnancy.

In general, when the pregnent woman has gestational diabetes the diet should:
*Be moderate in fat and protein.

#Provide  carbohydrates through foods that include fruits, vegetables, and complex carbohydrates (such as bread, cereal, pasta, and rice)
Be low in foods that contain a lot of sugar, such as soft drinks, fruit juices, and pastries.

#If managing the diet does not control blood sugar (glucose) levels, she may be prescribed diabetes medicine by mouth or insulin therapy.
Most women who develop gestational diabetes will not need diabetes medicines or insulin, but some will.

Prevention:
Theoretically, smoking cessation may decrease the risk of gestational diabetes among smokers.Physical exercise has not been found to have a significant effect of primary prevention of gestational diabetes in randomized controlled trials. It may be effective as tertiary prevention for women who have already developed the condition.
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.

Resources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gestational_diabetes
http://www.webmd.com/diabetes/guide/gestational-diabetes-symptoms
http://www.ehow.com/list_6080912_signs-symptoms-gestational-diabetes.html
http://www.webmd.com/diabetes/guide/gestational_diabetes
http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/gestational-diabetes/basics/risk-factors/CON-20014854
http://www.nytimes.com/health/guides/disease/gestational-diabetes/overview.html

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Diabetics

Definition:
Diabetes mellitus, or simply diabetes, is a group of metabolic diseases in which a person has high blood sugar, either because the pancreas does not produce enough insulin, or because cells do not respond to the insulin that is produced.  This high blood sugar produces the classical symptoms of polyuria (frequent urination), polydipsia (increased thirst), and polyphagia (increased hunger).

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There are three main types of diabetes mellitus (DM).

*Type 1 DM results from the body’s failure to produce insulin, and currently requires the person to inject insulin or wear an insulin pump. This form was previously referred to as “insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus” (IDDM) or “juvenile diabetes”.

*Type 2 DM results from insulin resistance, a condition in which cells fail to use insulin properly, sometimes combined with an absolute insulin deficiency. This form was previously referred to as non insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM) or “adult-onset diabetes”.

*The third main form, gestational diabetes, occurs when pregnant women without a previous diagnosis of diabetes develop a high blood glucose level. It may precede development of type 2 DM.

Other forms of diabetes mellitus include congenital diabetes, which is due to genetic defects of insulin secretion, cystic fibrosis-related diabetes, steroid diabetes induced by high doses of glucocorticoids, and several forms of monogenic diabetes.
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Diabetes has no age bar. It can appear in a newborn, children, young adults, during pregnancy or in older people. If there are suspicious symptoms, tests should be done.

Some families have a tendency to develop diabetes, with many members being affected. This is because it is a genetic disease that an be inherited from both parents. Type 1 and 2 diabetes are inherited from multiple genes. In type 2 diabetes particularly, the environment and family’s dietary and exercise habits also influence these genes. Families that eat “well” and are sedentary with snacking and excessive TV viewing are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes. Sometimes type 1 diabetes can develop in persons without a family history or genetic predisposition. It may follow viral infections, especially with the mumps and coxsackie group of viruses. The virus attacks and destroys the cells in the pancreas responsible for manufacturing insulin.

There is now a third type of diabetes, where the mutation occurs in a single gene. This gene is dominant, so that if either parent carries it, then half the children (male and female) will be affected. It was called MODY (maturity onset diabetes of youth). The diabetes affecting newborn children is of this type.

Initially, MODY was called type 1.5 diabetes and it was presumed that it was caused by only one type of genetic defect. Recent research has shown that there are 13 defects that lead to MODY.

*It is likely to be present in people who have been diagnosed with diabetes before the age of 30.

*It is present in every generation of the family.

*It can be managed with diet, exercise and tablets. Insulin is usually not required (even in children).

*MODY (depending on the type) can result in the affected woman having small or large babies.

* There may be cysts in the kidney.

* Malabsorption can occur.

* Patients may be infertile.

The incidence of MODY is higher in areas where there is a great deal of consanguinity (marrying a close relative) and when people marry generation after generation from the same community.

It is now possible to test for MODY genes in many centres and identify high-risk individuals and families.

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Symptoms:
The classic symptoms of untreated diabetes are loss of weight, polyuria (frequent urination), polydipsia (increased thirst), and polyphagia (increased hunger). Symptoms may develop rapidly (weeks or months) in type 1 diabetes, while they usually develop much more slowly and may be subtle or absent in type 2 diabetes.

Prolonged high blood glucose can cause glucose absorption in the lens of the eye, which leads to changes in its shape, resulting in vision changes. Blurred vision is a common complaint leading to a diabetes diagnosis. A number of skin rashes that can occur in diabetes are collectively known as diabetic dermadromes.

Causes:
The cause of diabetes depends on the type.

Type 1

Type 1 diabetes is partly inherited, and then triggered by certain infections, with some evidence pointing at Coxsackie B4 virus. A genetic element in individual susceptibility to some of these triggers has been traced to particular HLA genotypes (i.e., the genetic “self” identifiers relied upon by the immune system). However, even in those who have inherited the susceptibility, type 1 DM seems to require an environmental trigger. The onset of type 1 diabetes is unrelated to lifestyle.

Type 2

Type 2 diabetes is due primarily to lifestyle factors and genetics.[16] A number of lifestyle factors are known to be important to the development of type 2 diabetes, including obesity (defined by a body mass index of greater than thirty), lack of physical activity, poor diet, stress, and urbanization.[4] Excess body fat is associated with 30% of cases in those of Chinese and Japanese descent, 60-80% of cases in those of European and African descent, and 100% of Pima Indians and Pacific Islanders. Those who are not obese often have a high waist–hip ratio.

Dietary factors also influence the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks in excess is associated with an increased risk.  The type of fats in the diet is also important, with saturated fats and trans fatty acids increasing the risk and polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fat decreasing the risk.  Eating lots of white rice appears to also play a role in increasing risk.  A lack of exercise is believed to cause 7% of cases.

The following is a comprehensive list of other causes of diabetes:

*Genetic defects of ?-cell function
*Maturity onset diabetes of the young
*Mitochondrial DNA mutations

*Genetic defects in insulin processing or insulin action
*Defects in proinsulin conversion
*Insulin gene mutations
*Insulin receptor mutations

*Exocrine pancreatic defects
*Chronic pancreatitis
*Pancreatectomy
*Pancreatic neoplasia
*Cystic fibrosis
*Hemochromatosis
*Fibrocalculous pancreatopathy

Diabetes has no age bar. It can appear in a newborn, children, young adults, during pregnancy or in older people. If there are suspicious symptoms, tests should be done.

Some families have a tendency to develop diabetes, with many members being affected. This is because it is a genetic disease that an be inherited from both parents. Type 1 and 2 diabetes are inherited from multiple genes. In type 2 diabetes particularly, the environment and family’s dietary and exercise habits also influence these genes. Families that eat “well” and are sedentary with snacking and excessive TV viewing are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes. Sometimes type 1 diabetes can develop in persons without a family history or genetic predisposition. It may follow viral infections, especially with the mumps and coxsackie group of viruses. The virus attacks and destroys the cells in the pancreas responsible for manufacturing insulin.

Diagnosis:
Diabetes is diagnosed with blood tests. Blood sugar count after a 12 hour fast should be less than 100mg/dl and two hours after a full meal less than 140 mg/. Glycosolated haemoglobin (HbA1 c) should be 5.6.

A GTT (glucose tolerance test) can be done in suspect cases. In this the fasting blood glucose level is checked and 75gm glucose given. The blood is checked every 30 to 60 minutes after that. One hour later the blood glucose level should be lower than 180 mg/dL, two hours later less than 155 mg/dL, and three hours later lower than 140 mg/dL.

Complications:
Uncontrolled, untreated, neglected diabetes of all types causes complications with the nervous system, heart, kidneys, eyes and muscles affected.

All forms of diabetes increase the risk of long-term complications. These typically develop after many years (10–20), but may be the first symptom in those who have otherwise not received a diagnosis before that time. The major long-term complications relate to damage to blood vessels. Diabetes doubles the risk of cardiovascular disease. The main “macrovascular” diseases (related to atherosclerosis of larger arteries) are ischemic heart disease (angina and myocardial infarction), stroke, and peripheral vascular disease.

Diabetes also damages the capillaries (causes microangiopathy). Diabetic retinopathy, which affects blood vessel formation in the retina of the eye, can lead to visual symptoms including reduced vision and potentially blindness. Diabetic nephropathy, the impact of diabetes on the kidneys, can lead to scarring changes in the kidney tissue, loss of small or progressively larger amounts of protein in the urine, and eventually chronic kidney disease requiring dialysis.

Another risk is diabetic neuropathy, the impact of diabetes on the nervous system — most commonly causing numbness, tingling, and pain in the feet, and also increasing the risk of skin damage due to altered sensation. Together with vascular disease in the legs, neuropathy contributes to the risk of diabetes-related foot problems (such as diabetic foot ulcers) that can be difficult to treat and occasionally require amputation. Additionally, proximal diabetic neuropathy causes painful muscle wasting and weakness.

Several studies suggest a link between cognitive deficit and diabetes. Compared to those without diabetes, the research showed that those with the disease have a 1.2 to 1.5-fold greater rate of decline in cognitive function, and are at greater risk.

Treatment:
The major goal in treating diabetes is to minimize any elevation of blood sugar (glucose) without causing abnormally low levels of blood sugar. Type 1 diabetes is treated with insulin, exercise, and a diabetic diet. Type 2 diabetes is treated first with weight reduction, a diabetic diet, and exercise. When these measures fail to control the elevated blood sugars, oral medications are used. If oral medications are still insufficient, treatment with insulin is considered.

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A change in lifestyle goes a long way in preventing the onset of diabetes and controlling it after it sets in. These guidelines are particularly important if you have MODY or feel that you or your family members are in danger of developing it.

Prevention:
To prevent development of the disease as an adult, it is our children who need to be targeted for intervention. Lifestyle changes — a healthy diet and regular exercise — should be implemented at the school level.

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.

Resources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diabetes_mellitus
http://www.medicinenet.com/diabetes_treatment/article.htm
http://www.telegraphindia.com/1131118/jsp/knowhow/story_17579340.jsp#.UolfgL4o52Y

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Eyes are Unique Window to Predict Diseases

Looking people straight in the eye may or may not reveal their honesty — but the eyes *can* tell you about cholesterol, liver disease, or diabetes, if you know what to look for.

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Your eyes are a unique window into health. Yahoo Health has assembled a list of 14 things your eyes can tell you about your entire body.
Some of them are mentioned below:-

*Disappearing eyebrows : When the outer third of your eyebrow starts to disappear on its own, this is a common sign of thyroid disease.

*A stye that won’t go away : If it doesn’t clear up in three months, or keeps recurring in the same location, it could be a rare cancer called sebaceous gland carcinoma.

*Burning eyes, blurry vision while using a computer : This is the result of “computer vision syndrome” (CVS). The eyestrain is partly caused by the lack of contrast on a computer screen, and the extra work involved in focusing on pixels.

*A small blind spot in your vision, with shimmering lights or a wavy line : A migraine aura produces this disturbed vision. It may or may not be accompanied by a headache.

*Whites of the eye turned yellowish : This is known as jaundice. It appears in either newborns with immature liver function, or adults with problems of the liver, gallbladder, or bile ducts.

*Eyes that seem to bulge : The most common cause of protruding eyes is hyperthyroidism, which is overactivity of the thyroid gland.

*Sudden double vision, dim vision, or loss of vision : These are the visual warning signs of stroke.

*Blurred vision in a diabetic : Diabetics are at increased risk for several eye problems, but the most common is diabetic retinopathy, in which diabetes affects the circulatory system of the eye. It’s the leading cause of blindness in American adults.

For the rest of the list, click on the link below.

Sources: Yahoo Health February 3, 2011

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Cajanus cajan (Pegion pea)

Botanical Name :Cajanus cajan (Linn) Millsp.
Other scientific names:  Cystisus cajan, Cystisus pseudo-cajan  ,Cajan inodorum  ,Cajanus bicolor,Cajanus indicus
Family :Fabaceae

Genus: Cajanus
Species: C. cajan
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Fabales

Synonyms:Cajanus indicus Spreng. (Valder 1895) and Cytisus cajan (Crawfurd 1852)

Common Names :Arhar, Red gram, Pigeon pea, Gablos (Tag.) ,Kadios (Mang., Tag., P. Bis.) ,Kagyos (Tag.) ,Kaldis (Ig., Ilk.)   Kagyas (Tag.) ,Kalios (Tag.) , Kardis (Ibn., Ilk., Ig.) ,Kidis (Ilk., Bon.) ,Kusia (Ig., If.) , Tabios (Bik., C. Bis.) ,Guandu (Brazil) .Pigeon pea (Engl.),toor dal or arhar dal (India), Congo pea or gungo pea (in Jamaica), Pois Congo (in Haiti), gandul (in Puerto Rico), gunga pea, or no-eye pea.   arhar dal  in Bengali


Habitat :
Probably native to India, pigeon pea was brought millennia ago to Africa where different strains developed. These were brought to the new world in post-Columbian times. Truly wild Cajanus has never been found; they exist mostly as remnants of cultivations. In several places Cajanus persists in the forest. The closest wild relative, Atylosia cajanifolia Haines, has been found in some localities in East India. Most other Atylosias are found scattered throughout India, while in North Australia a group of endemic Atylosia species grow. In Africa Cajanus kerstingii grows in the drier belts of Senegal, Ghana, Togo, and Nigeria. Pigeon peas occur throughout the tropical and subtropical regions, as well as the warmer temperate regions (as North Carolina) from 30°N to 30°S (Duke, 1981a). In settled areas throughout the Philippines: cultivated, semicultivated, and in some places, spontaneous.

Description:

It is  is a perennial herb.An erect, branched, hairy shrub, 1-2 meters high. Leaves are oblong-lanceolate to oblanceolate with three leaflets. Flowers are yellow, in sparse peduncled racemes, about 1.5 cm long. Pod is hairy, 4-7 cm long, 1 cm wide, containing 2-7 seeds.

 

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Cultivation:
The cultivation of the pigeon pea goes back at least 3000 years. The centre of origin is most likely Asia, from where it traveled to East Africa and by means of the slave trade to the American continent. Today pigeon peas are widely cultivated in all tropical and semi-tropical regions of both the Old and the New World. Pigeon peas can be of a perennial variety, in which the crop can last 3–5 years (although the seed yield drops considerably after the first two years), or an annual variety more suitable for seed production.

Pigeon peas are an important legume crop of rainfed agriculture in the semi-arid tropics. The Indian subcontinent, Eastern Africa and Central America, in that order, are the world’s three main pigeon pea producing regions. Pigeon peas are cultivated in more than 25 tropical and sub-tropical countries, either as a sole crop or intermixed with cereals such as sorghum (Sorchum bicolor), pearl millet (Pennisetium glaucum), or maize (Zea mays), or with other legumes, such as peanuts (Arachis hypogaea). Being a legume, the pigeon pea enriches soil through symbiotic nitrogen fixation.

The crop is cultivated on marginal land by resource-poor farmers, who commonly grow traditional medium- and long-duration (5–11 months) landraces. Short-duration pigeon peas (3–4 months) suitable for multiple cropping have recently been developed. Traditionally, the use of such input as fertilizers, weeding, irrigation, and pesticides is minimal, so present yield levels are low (average = 700 kg/ha). Greater attention is now being given to managing the crop because it is in high demand at remunerative prices.

Pigeon peas are very drought resistant and can be grown in areas with less than 650 mm annual rainfall.

World production of pigeon peas is estimated at 46,000 km2. About 82% of this is grown in India. These days it is the most essential ingredient of animal feed used in West Africa, most especially in Nigeria where it is also grown

Edible Uses: Vegetable food crop ( seeds and pods) in South-East Asia.Pigeon peas are both a food crop (dried peas, flour, or green vegetable peas) and a forage/cover crop. They contain high levels of protein and the important amino acids methionine, lysine, and tryptophan.  In combination with cereals, pigeon peas make a well-balanced human food. The dried peas may be sprouted briefly, then cooked, for a flavor different from the green or dried peas. Sprouting also enhances the digestibility of dried pigeon peas via the reduction of indigestible sugars that would otherwise remain in the cooked dried peas.

In India, split pigeon peas (toor dal) are one of the most popular pulses, being an important source of protein in a mostly vegetarian diet. In regions where it grows, fresh young pods are eaten as vegetable in dishes such as sambhar.

In Ethiopia, not only the pods but the young shoots and leaves are cooked and eaten.

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In some places, such as the Dominican Republic and Hawaii, pigeon peas are grown for canning and consumption. A dish made of rice and green pigeon peas (called “Moro de Guandules”) is a traditional food in Dominican Republic. Pigeon peas are also made as a stew, with plantain balls. In Puerto Rico, arroz con gandules is made with rice and pigeon peas and is a typical dish.

In Thailand, pigeon peas are grown as a host for scale insects which produce lac.

Pigeon peas are in some areas an important crop for green manure, providing up to 40 kg nitrogen per hectare. The woody stems of pigeon peas can also be used as firewood, fencing and thatch.

Nutrition
Used mainly for its edible young pods and seeds.

Chemical constituents :
Roots are considered antihelminthic, expectorant, febrifuge, sedative, vulnerary.
Seeds are rich in carbohydrates (58%) and proteins (19%).
Fair source of calcium and iron; good source of vitamin B.
Chemical studies reveal: 2′-2’methylcajanone, 2′-hydroxygenistein, isoflavones, cajanin, cahanones, among many others.

Analysis of dhal (without husk) gave the following values: moisture, 15.2; protein, 22.3; fat (ether extract), 1.7; mineral matter, 3.6; carbohydrate, 57.2; Ca, 9.1; and P, 0.26%; carotene evaluated as vitamin A, 220 IU and vitamin B1, 150 IU per 100 g. Sun-dried seeds of Cajanus cajan are reported to contain (per 100 g) 345 calories, 9.9% moisture, 19.5 g protein, 1.3 g fat, 65.5 g carbohydrate, 1.3 g fiber, 3.8 g ash, 161 mg Ca, 285 mg P, 15.0 mg Fe, 55 mg b-carotene equivalent, 0.72 mg thiamine, 0.14 mg riboflavin, and 2.9 mg niacin. Immature seeds of Cajanus cajan are reported to contain per 100 g, 117 calories, 69.5% moisture, 7.2 g protein, 0.6 g fat, 21.3 g total carbohydrate, 3.3 g fiber, 1.4 g ash, 29 mg Ca, 135 mg P, 1.3 mg Fe, 5 mg Na, 563 mg K, 145 mg b-carotene equivalent, 0.40 mg thiamine, 0.25 mg riboflavin, 2.4 mg niacin, and 26 mg ascorbic acid/100 g. Of the total amino acids, 6.7% is arginine, 1.2% cystine, 3.4% histidine, 3.8% isoleucine, 7.6% leucine, 7.0% lysine, 1.5% methionine, 8.7% phenylalanine, 3.4% threonine, 2.2% tyrosine, 5.0% valine, 9.8 aspartic acid, 19.2% glutamic acid, 6.4% alanine, 3.6% glycine, 4.4% proline, 5.0% serine with 0 values for canavanine, citrulline and homoserine. Methionine, cystine, and tryptophane are the main limiting amino acids. However, in combination with cereals, as pigeon peas are always eaten, this legume contributes to a nutritionally balanced human food. The oil of the seeds contains 5.7% linolenic acid, 51.4% linoleic, 6.3% oleic, and 36.6% saturated fatty acids. Seeds are reported to contain trypsin inhibitors and chymotrypsin inhibitors. Fresh green forage contains 70.4% moisture, 7.1 crude protein, 10.7 crude fiber, 7.9 N-free extract, 1.6 fat, 2.3 ash. The whole plant, dried and ground contains 1,1.2% moisture, 14.8 crude protein, 28.9 crude fiber, 39.9 N-free extract, 1.7 fat, and 3.5 ash. (Duke, 1981a)

Medicinal Uses:
Parts used
Leaves, roots.

Folkloric:-
*Decoction or infusionn of leaves for coughs, diarrhea, abdominal pains.
*Tender leaves are chewed for aphthous stomatitis and spongy gums.
*Pulped or poulticed leaves used for sores.
*In Peru, leaves are used as an infusion for anemial, hepatitis, diabetes, urinary infections and yellow fever.
*In Argentina, leaves used for genital and skin problems; flowers used for bronchitis, cough and pneumonia.
*In China, as vermifuge, vulnerary; for tumors.
*In Panama, used for treatment of diabetes (See study below).
*In Indian folk medicine, used for a variety of liver disorders.



Other Uses:

As forage or hay.
Branches and stems for basket and fuel. (Source)

Often grown as a shade crop for tree crops or vanilla, a cover crop, or occasionally as a windbreak hedge. In Thailand and N. Bengal, pigeon pea serves as host for the scale insect which produces lac or sticklac. In Malagasy the leaves are used as food for the silkworm. Dried stalks serve for fuel, thatch and basketry. (Duke, 1981a).

Studies:-
RBC Sickling Inhibition: StudyClinical studies have reported seed extracts to inhibit red blood cell sickling and potential benefit for people with sickle cell anemia.

• Antiplasmodial constituents of Cajanus cajan: Study isolated two stilbenes, longistylin A and C and betulinic acid from the roots and leaves of CC and showed moderately high in vitro activity against Plasmodium falcifarum strain.

• Stilbenes / Neuroprotective / Alzheimer’s Disease: Study of stilbenes containing extract-fraction from C cajan showed significant amelioration of cognitive deficits and neuron apoptosis. Findings suggest sECC has a potential in the development of therapeutic agent to manage cognitive impairment associated with Alzheimer’s disease through increase choline acetyltransferase activity and anti-oxidative mechanism.

• Hypocholesterolemic Effect: Study on the stilbenes containing extract-fraction of CC showed a hypocholesterolemic effect possibly through enhancement of hepatic LDL-receptor and cholesterol 7-alpha-hydroxylase expression levels and bile acid synthesis.

Hyperglycemic Effect: Evaluation of traditional medicine: effects of Cajanus cajan L. and of Cassia fistula L. on carbohydrate metabolism in mice: Contradicting its traditional use for diabetes, CC did not have a hypoglycemic effect on sugar, instead at higher doses, it produced a hyperglycemic effect.

Antimicrobial: Study shows the organic solvent extracts to inhibit E coli, S aureus and S typhi and the aqueous extract were inhibitory to E coli and S aureus.

• Antimicrobial / Antifungal: Nigerian study on the antimicrobial effects of the ethanol and aqueous extracts of locally available plants, including C cajan, showerd inhibition against S aureus, P aeruginosa, E coli and C albicans. The extracts of C cajam produced wider zones of inhibition against C albicans.

• Hyperglycemic Effect: Study of the aqueous extract of C cajan leaves showed a hyperglycemic effect, suggesting a usefulness incontrolling hypoglycemia that may be due to excess of insulin or other hypoglycemic drugs.

• Hepatoprotective: (1) Study of the methanol-aqueous fraction of C cajan leaf extract showed it could prevent the chronically treated alcohol induced rat liver damage and presents a promise as a non-toxic herb for therapeutic use in alcohol-induced liver dysfunction. (2) Study in mice with carbon tetrachloride-induced liver damage showed the methanol extracts of B orellana, C cajan, G pentaphylla and C equisetifolia showed significant decrease in levels of serum markers, indicating the protection of hepatic cells in a dose-dependent manner.

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:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pigeon_pea
http://www.stuartxchange.com/Kadios.html
http://vaniindia.org.whbus12.onlyfordemo.com/herbal/plantdir.asp

http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/duke_energy/Cajanus_cajun.html

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Asteracantha longifolia Nees (Bengali Name : Kuliakhara)

Botanical Name : Asteracantha longifolia Nees

Family: Acanthaceae
Genus: Astercantha
Species: A. longifolia
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Lamiales
Syn. / Hygrophila spinosa T. Anders. /Asteracantha longifolia (Linn.) Nees. (Acanthaceae).
English Name : Hygrophila
Sanskrit Names : Kokilaksha, Ikshura, Ikshuraka, Chulli
Hindi Name:Talimakhana
Bengali Name : Kuliakhara

Habitat : It grows throughout India.Throughout the Philippines in stagnant streams, fresh-water swamps, and  ponds.

Description:
It is a robust, erect, annual herb. The stems are sub-quadrangular with thickened nodes; the leaves are oblanceolate, with a yellow spine in its axil; the flowers pale, purple blue, densely clustered in  axils; the fruits are oblong, glabrous capsules, 4-8 seeded.
click to see the picture

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A smooth, widely spreading vine, with the stems trailing on mud or floating on water. Leaves are oblong-ovatem 7-14 cm long, with a pointed tip and heart- or arrow-shaped base, long petioled, the margins entire or angular, and sublobed.
The pedcuncles are erect, 2.5 to 5 cm long, with 1 or 2 flowers in the axils of the leaves. Sepals are green, oblong, about 8 mm. The corolla is narrowly bell-shaped, about 5 mm long, and purplish with the tube deeper purple inside.


Principal Constituents:
The seeds contain large amount of tenacious mucilage and potassium salts.

Medicinal Uses:
The roots, leaves and seeds have been used in Indian systems of medicine as diuretics and also employed to cure jaundice, dropsy, rheumatism, anasarca and diseases of the urinogenital tract.
The plant contains abundant mucilage and potassium salts, which ultimately increases blood circulation in the body. The whole plant possesses tonic and diuretic properties. The seeds are given for gonorrhoea. The root, in decoction, is administered in dropsical cases and gravel; The leaves are also used as a diuretic after being boiled in vinegar. The ashes of the dried plants are considered

Click to see :
Kuliakhara herb Asteracantha longifolia plant for liver health and sexual enhancement :
Revista Brasileira de Farmacognosia  :
Asteracantha longifolia plant health benefit  :

Folkloric
Tops are mildly laxative.
The purplish variety used for diabetes because of assumed insulin-like principle it contains.
Juice used as emetic.
Dried latex is purgative.
Poultice of buds used for ringworm.
In Ayurveda, exgtracts of leaves are used for jaundice and nervous debility.
Juice used as emetic in opium and arsenic poisoning.
In Sri Lanka, used for liver disease, eye problems, constipation.

Studies :
• Hypoglycemic / Anti-Diabetic: (1) Study showed the boiled whole extract of I. aquatica to exert an oral hypoglycemic effect in healthy, male, Wistar rats after a glucose challenge. (2) An aqueous extract of the green leafy vegetable Ipomoea aquatica is as effective as the oral hypoglycaemic drug tolbutamide in reducing the blood sugar levels of Wistar rats.(3) Inhibitory effect of Ipomoea aquatica extracts on glucose absorption using a perfused rat intestinal preparation: Study showed a significant inhibitory effect on glucose absorption. Furthermore, results suggest the inhibition of glucose absorption is not due to the acceleration of intestinal transit. (3) Study showed the consumption of shredded, fresh, edible portion of IA for one week, effectively reduced the fasting blood sugar of Streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats.

• Antioxidant / Antiproliferative: Antioxidant and antiproliferative activities of water spinach (Ipomoea aquatica Forsk) constituents: Study showed the water extract of stems had the highest antiproliferative activity. The ethanol extract of the stems had the highest total phenolic compounds. The ethanol extract of leafves had the highest amount of flavonoids.

Diuretic: Study on the diuretic activity of the methanol extract of Ipomoea aquatica in Swiss albino mice showed good diuretic activty. In all cases, the excretion of electrolytes and urine volue increase was higher than the standard diuretic, furosemide.

• Antioxidant: Study of a methanol extract yielded a compound ( 7-O-B-D-glucopyronosyl-dihydromquercetin-3-O-a-D-glucopyranoside) that exhibited antioxidant activity with an EC50 value of 83 and showed very strong lipid peroxidation-inhibitory activirty in a liposome model system.

• Antimicrobial: Study investigating the antimicrobial efficacy of the leaf extract of three herbs – A longifolia, I aquatica and E fluctuans – on four pathogenic bacterial strains (E coli, P aeruginosa, S aureus and M luteus). Ipomoea aquatica exerted the higher amount of antimicrobial activity against the bacterial strains, better than the two other herb extracts.

• Antiulcerogenic: Study in an aspirin-induced ulcer model in rats found Ipomoea aquatica to possess potent anti-ulcerogenic and ulcer-healing properties and can act as a potent therapeutic agent against peptic ulcer disease.

• Cytotoxicity: Study isolated a purified bioactive compound from the leaf of Ipomoea aquatica – 7-O-B-D-glucopyranosyl-dihydroquercetin-3-O-a-D-glucopyranoside (DHQG). Results showed DHQG showed cytotoxicity towards cancer cell lines tested.

• Nootropic / Memory Enhancing Potential: Study suggests that MEIA markedly improves brain Ach level. MEIA treatment may be of value in reinforcing depressed cholinergic transmission in certain age related memory disorders and to improve memory and learning in normal individuals.

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.la-medicca.com/raw-herbs-asteracantha-longifolia.html
http://www.stuartxchange.com/Kangkong.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Astercantha_longifolia

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