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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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PUVA therapy

Description:
PUVA is an acronym. The P stands for psoralen,(Psoralen is a photosensitizing agent found in plants ) the U for ultra, the V for violet, and the A for that portion of the solar spectrum between 320 and 400 nanometers in wavelength. Psoralens are chemicals found in certain plants that have the ability to absorb ultraviolet light in these wavelengths. Once the light energy is absorbed, these chemicals are energized to interact with DNA, ultimately inhibiting cell multiplication, which is their presumed mode of action.

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Certain skin diseases are characterized by cells that are rapidly multiplying. Inhibiting this unrestrained multiplication can be useful in treating these diseases. So PUVA is a combination of an oral drug and subsequent ultraviolet light exposure. The treatment may affect certain blood cells and skin cells so that the skin disease improves.

It is a treatment for eczema, psoriasis, graft-versus-host disease, vitiligo, mycosis fungoides, large-plaque parapsoriasis and cutaneous T-cell lymphoma using the sensitizing effects of the drug psoralen. The psoralen is applied or taken orally to sensitize the skin, then the skin is exposed to UVA.

Photodynamic therapy is the general use of nontoxic light-sensitive compounds that are exposed selectively to light, whereupon they become toxic to targeted malignant and other diseased cells. Still, PUVA therapy is often classified as a separate technique from photodynamic therapy.

Plant sources   from where  we get psoralens:
Ficus carica (fig) is probably the most abundant source of psoralens. They are also found in small quantities in Ammi visnaga (bisnaga), Pastinaca sativa (parsnip), Petroselinum crispum (parsley), Levisticum officinale (lovage), Foeniculum vulgare (fruit, i.e., fennel seeds), Daucus carota (carrot), Psoralea corylifolia (babchi), and Apium graveolens (celery).

Types of PUVA therapy:
The most common form of therapy combines 8-methoxypsoralen taken by mouth followed 45-60 minutes later by exposure of the skin to UVA. Less commonly the drug is applied topically (the medication is occasionally diluted in bathtub water in which the patient is immersed) and then after a few minutes the ultraviolet exposure occurs.

Procedure:
Psoralens are taken systemically or can be applied directly to the skin. The psoralens allow a relatively lower dose of UVA to be used. When they are combined with exposure to UVA in PUVA, they are highly effective at clearing psoriasis and vitiligo. Like UVB light treatments, the reason remains unclear, though investigators speculate there may be similar effects on cell turnover and the skin’s immune response.

Choosing the proper dose for PUVA is similar to the procedure followed with UVB. The physician can choose a dose based on the patient’s skin type. The dose will increase in every treatment until the skin starts to respond.

Some clinics test the skin before the treatments, by exposing a small area of the patient’s skin to UVA, after ingestion of psoralen. The dose of UVA that produces uniform redness 72 hours later, called the minimum phototoxic dose (MPD), becomes the starting dose for treatment.

At the very least for vitiligo, narrowband ultraviolet B (UVB) phototherapy is now used more commonly than PUVA since it does not require the use of the Psoralen. As with PUVA, treatment is carried out twice weekly in a clinic or every day at home, and there is no need to use psoralen.

Narrowband UVB does not cure the legs and hands, compared to the face and neck. To the hands and legs PUVA may be more effective. The reason can be because UVA penetrates deeper in the skin, and the melanocytes in the skin of the hands and legs is deeper in the skin. The Narrowband UVB does not reach the melanocytes.

How maney PUVA  therapy is required:
There ought to be a significant improvement in the patient’s skin disease after about 15 treatments. Treatments are given no sooner than 48 hours apart because the burn induced by PUVA is often delayed for as long as two days (unlike ordinary sunburns). Unless there is a problem, the amount of energy administered to the patient is increased appropriately at each visit depending on the patient’s coloration. After about 30 treatments, a decision is made as to whether to continue treatments. PUVA is not always effective. If there is no improvement after these treatments, it is probably unlikely that continuing this form of treatment is worthwhile. On the other hand, if significant clearing has occurred, it is probably prudent to decrease the frequency of treatments in order to maintain the improvement. Since there is a relationship between the amount of light energy administered and the degree of photo-aging and the induction of skin cancers, it is wise to limit the light exposures as appropriate.

Advantages:
The major advantage to PUVA is that it is an effective therapy that becomes active only at the site of the disease, the skin. It can be used to treat large areas of skin, and the fact that the drug is only activated in the presence of UV light implies that it may be less toxic than other therapies that require systemic administration and whose effects are not localized to just the skin.

PUVA must be administered in a physician’s office under the control of a medical professional so it requires repeated visits to the office. PUVA may not cure psoriasis permanently so treatment can be required indefinitely.

Side effects and complications:
Some patients experience nausea and itching after ingesting the psoralen compound. For these patients PUVA bath therapy may be a good option.

Long term use of PUVA therapy has been associated with higher rates of skin cancer.

The most significant complication of PUVA therapy for psoriasis is squamous cell skin cancer. Two carcinogenic components of the therapy include the nonionizing radiation of UVA light as well as the psoralen intercalation with DNA. Both processes negatively contribute to genome instability.
History  :  Psoralens have been known since ancient Egypt but have only been available in a chemically synthesized form since the 1970s.

Resources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PUVA_therapy
http://www.medicinenet.com/puva_therapy_photochemotherapy/article.htm

So Sweet (Stevia Rebaudiana)

Sugar leaf is not just a great sweetener , it is full of antioxidants too, reports T.V. Jayan

Calcutta researchers have turned a sweet plant even sweeter. Stevia rebaudiana or sugar leaf   as it is locally known in India   has of late become a craze among farmers in different parts of the country. That’s  because powder made from its leaves is a natural sweetener that’s up to 300 times sweeter than table sugar. It is a boon for diabetic patients as it does not spike blood sugar levels. Moreover, being a natural product, it is considered safer than artificial sweeteners such as saccharin and aspartame.
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.Stevia can now graduate from being called a mere sweetener to being known as a nutraceutical or an externally supplied dietary supplement, thanks to a team of scientists at the Indian Institute of Chemical Biology (IICB), Calcutta. The IICB team   led by Sharmila Chattopadhyay   has discovered that stevia leaves also contain considerable quantities of antioxidants, compounds that help the body fight ageing-related cell damage and the formation of free radicals implicated in several diseases such as cancer, atherosclerosis and diabetes.

Our study shows that an extract of stevia contains as many as six or seven flavanoids, in trace to significant quantities,  Chattopadhyay told KnowHow. The study appeared online recently in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry published by the American Chemical Society.

Flavanoids are a class of plant polyphenols that exhibit antioxidant properties. What is most significant about the flavanoid composition of stevia is that it packs in a little of all the major flavanoids that would otherwise be available from eating a broad spectrum of cereals, vegetables and fruits. For instance, antioxidant compounds such as apigenin and luteolin are predominantly found in cereals and aromatic herbs. Similarly, two others such as quercetin and kaempferol    also found in the stevia extract   are more common in vegetables and fruits. However, their percentage could be lower than in the individual vegetables, fruits or cereals, says Chattopadhyay.  Nonetheless, we have been able to establish the health-promoting potential of the plant,    she says.

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Products extracted from stevia are yet to gain popularity in India.   This is because India hasn’t approved its use as a food additive yet,   says Bhupinder Sheth of Herboveda India, a Noida-based firm that supplies stevia powder to pharmaceutical companies in the country.

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Sources:The Telegraph (Kolkata, India)

Alder Buckthorn (Rhamnus frangula)

Botanical Name: Rhamnus frangula
Family:    Rhamnaceae
Genus:    Rhamnus
Species:    R. frangula
Kingdom:    Plantae
Order:    Rosales

Vernacular name(s): alder buckthorn
Scientific family name: Rhamnaceae
Vernacular family name: buckthorn

Other Names: Alder buckthorn, alder dogwood, arrowwood, black alder dogwood, black alder tree, black dogwood, European black alder, European buckthorn, Persian berries.
Plant Category: fruits, shrubs,
Plant Characteristics: decorative berries or fruit, spreading,
Foliage Characteristics: deciduous,
Foliage Color: dark green,
Flower Color: greens,

Habitat : Alder Buckthorn  is native to Europe, northernmost Africa, and western Asia, from Ireland and Great Britain north to 68°N in Scandinavia, east to central Siberia and Xinjiang in western China, and south to northern Morocco, Turkey, and the Alborz and Caucasus Mountains; in the northwest of its range (Ireland, Scotland), it is rare and scattered. It is also introduced and naturalised in eastern North America.   It grows mostly on damp and peaty soil, near bogs, in marshes, damp moorland and open woodland.

Description:
Alder Buckthorn is a deciduous shrub, growing to 3–6 m, occasionally to 7 m tall. It is usually multistemmed, but rarely forms a small tree with a trunk diameter of up to 20 cm. The bark is dark blackish-brown, with bright lemon-yellow inner bark exposed if cut. The shoots are dark brown, the winter buds without bud scales, protected only by the densely hairy outer leaves The leaves are ovate, 3–7 (–11) cm long by 2.5–4 (–6) cm wide, slightly downy on the veins, with an entire margin, 6–10 pairs of prominently grooved veins, and an 8–15 mm petiole; they are arranged alternately on the stems. The flowers are small, 3–5 mm diameter, star-shaped with five greenish-white acute triangular petals, hermaphroditic, and insect pollinated, flowering in May to June in clusters of two to ten in the leaf axils. The fruit is a small black berry 6–10 mm diameter, ripening from green through red in late summer to dark purple or black in early autumn, containing two or three pale brown 5 mm seeds. The seeds are primarily dispersed by frugivorous birds, which readily eat the fruit…….click & see the pictures

Description & Identification: The bark is grey-black, quite smooth with very characteristic vertical white dots and stripes. These white dots and stripes are known as lenticels and are breathing pores. When the bark is scraped, it shows a crimson layer above the yellow- brown bark. The youn branches  and twigs are greenish at first, then turning grey brown and are red-brown to dark violet at the tips. The older bark turns into a dark brownish roughened bark and has an orange inner surface.

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The leaves have stalks and appear alternately left and right on the branches. They are 3-7 cm long, oval shaped with a pointed end. The leaves are feather veined with 6-10 pairs of side-veins, which curve upwards and inwards to form an arched loop with the vein above near the edge. These pairs of side-veins are alternate, rather than opposite, but the space between a pair of veins is markedly smaller than the space between the different pairs. The leaves do not have teeth and have a shiny green surface above. They can be brownish and velvety underneath when still young. In the autumn they turn a warm yellow with shades of red.

The alder buckthorn tree blooms in May and has green-white bisexual flowers. These flowers are very small and appear in small clusters, pairs or solitary at the tips of the branches. They are bell-shaped with a five petalled star-like opening. The calyx is also 5 lobed and there are 5 stamens. The flowers give way to round fleshy fruits, the size of a pea, which turn from green to cherry-red to a black-brown-purple-bluish color in September/October. The flesh is just a thin layer and inside there are 2 or 3 seeds.

Parts Used in medicines: Bark. The dried bark collected from the young trunk and moderately-sized branches in early summer and kept at least one year before being used. It is stripped from the branches and dried either on sunny days, out of doors, in halfshade, or by artificial heat, on shelves or trays, in a warm, well-ventilated room.

Constituents: Antraquinone glycosides, comprising frangulin ‘a’ and ‘b’ (produced during drying and storage), frangula emodin, glucograngulin ‘a’ and ‘b’, chrysophanic acid, and iso-emodin. All these substances play a role in the purgative action of the bark.
Also: Flavonoids, bitter principles, tannins, volatile oil, resins, mucilage.

Medicinal Properties:
Properties: Tonic, laxative, cathartic.
Main Uses: A gentle to medium purgative action, which occurs about 6-12 hours after taking the remedy. It works by stimulating the peristaltic movements of the large intestine.

Cholagogue, which means it increases the amount of bile secreted by the liver. This helps to cleanse the liver, and aids digestive processes, particularly of fats. Bile is also a natural laxative and therefore cleansing to the whole of the digestive system.

Tonic. The above properties enhanced by the bitter components (which stimulate digestive secretions and tone the gastro-intestinal tract) give the bark a toning, cleansing action which can help to rejuvenate and enliven the whole system.

Anti-parasitic. Externally used for lice infestations. Also used as a rinse to kill germs in a sore throat or elsewhere in the mouth.

Preparation & Dosages:
Decoction: Use 1 teaspoon bark with 1/2 cup cold water. Bring to a boil. Drink before going to bed. Use no more than 1/2 oz. of bark per day.
Cold Extract: Use 1 tsp. bark with 1/2 cup cold water. Let stand for 12 hours. Drink in the evening.
Tincture: A dose is from 5 to 20 drops.

Alder buckthorn may turn the urine dark yellow or red, but this is harmless. Women who are pregnant or breast-feeding and children under the age of 12 should not use alder buckthorn without the advice of a physician. Those with an intestinal obstruction, Crohn’s disease or any other acute inflammatory problem in the intestines, diarrhea, appendicitis, or abdominal pain should not use this herb. Use or abuse of alder buckthorn for more than ten days consecutively may cause a loss of electrolytes (especially the mineral potassium) or may weaken the colon. Long-term use can also cause kidney damage.

The berries and the fresh bark are poisonous to people.

General symptoms of poisoning:
*abdominal pains
*collapse
*convulsions
*diarrhea
*gastroenteritis
*hemorrhage
*vomiting

Notes on poisoning:

Children who ingest the plant material usually experience mild symptoms of poisoning such as transient abdominal pains, vomiting, and diarrhea. If 20 or more berries are ingested, symptoms may include gastrointestinal symptoms, fluid depletion, kidney damage, muscular convulsions, and hemorrhage. In severe cases, difficult breathing and collapse may occur. Severe poisoning is rare because of induced vomiting. Treatment should replace lost fluids and induce vomiting if it has not occurred (Cooper and Johnson 1984, Fuller and McClintock 1985).

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:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rhamnus_frangula

http://www.indianspringherbs.com/Alder_Buckthorn.htm

http://www.backyardgardener.com/plantname/pd_b67f.html

http://www.cookiebabyinc.com/poisonousplants/alderbuckthorn.html

Back Pain Prevention Through Chiropratic

What is back pain?
Back problems can be caused by an extraordinarily wide range of problems – some of them originating elsewhere in the body, but with pain being transmitted (referred) to areas of the back by the nervous system. Back pain is one of the most common reasons people seek medical attention. It is the symptom that prompts most patients who get chiropractic care. The majority of backache sufferers complain of pain in the lower back; the second most common site of discomfort is the base of the neck..click & see

Who suffers from back pain?
Virtually all human beings are subject to back problems. The fact that humans walk upright, on two legs, puts great pressure on the spine and muscles that support it. Over time, back pain is all but inevitable. Normal wear and tear, accidents, disease, and such bad “back habits” as unnecessary strain from overexertion at play or work (especially lifting, pushing, pulling, and reaching for things improperly), and poor standing and sitting posture result in both immediate and long-term back problems.

What can chiropractic do?
Chiropractors successfully treat subluxation (a complex of functional and/or structural changes in joints, which can interfere with nerve transmission, disturb other organ systems and undermine general health). Spinal subluxations may have symptoms localized in some part of the back or may radiate down to the buttocks, thighs and legs. Chiropractors also treat tension that can show up as backaches and/or headaches or pains elsewhere in the body….click & see

Doctors of chiropractic draw upon a wealth of knowledge and experience with treating and preventing back pain and back injuries. Soothing and pain-reducing spinal adjustments have been developed over the last century, during which chiropractors have practiced, improved and refined their techniques.

The chiropractic approach is similar to the clinical practice guidelines of the U.S. Agency for Health Care Policy and Research. That is, doctors of chiropractic not only treat the pain, they try to keep patients engaging in their normal activities rather than resting immobile in bed, which can actually cause further debilitation. And, of course, chiropractors do not rely on surgery, hospitalization and medication that can be both dangerous and needlessly costly for patients and their insurance providers.

Source:ChiroFind.com