Tag Archives: Indo-Asian News Service

Tulsi to The Envournmental Rescue

….TULSI->.
Will This Wonderful Herb Save the Taj Mahal From Environmental Pollution?

Tulsi, commonly called “sacred” or “holy basil,” is a principle herb of Ayurveda, India‘s ancient holistic health system. In India, the Tulsi herb has been widely known for its health-promoting properties — for body, mind, and spirit — for over 5,000 years.

What is Tulsi?
In India the Tulsi herb is worshipped as a sacred plant. It is a part of Indian households, typically grown in earthen pots in the family home or garden. It is also an important part of India’s holistic health system and because of its potential health benefits, it has been for centuries.

Tulsi is rich in antioxidants and contains hundreds of beneficial compounds known as phytochemicals. These compounds possess potential adaptogenic properties, which means they may help your body adapt to and resist stress, as well as immune-enhancing properties that may help promote your general health.

It’s because of these numerous and wide-ranging benefits that I now recommend Tulsi tea as a delicious and healthy alternative to coffee. But there was something else that really drew me to one company in particular, Organic India.

This company, which manufactures Original Tulsi Tea Mix and Holy Basil Capsules, is committed to helping preserve and enrich the environment, and their latest endeavor with the Taj Mahal is evidence of that.

How Can Tulsi Help the Taj Mahal?
The Taj Mahal, the 17th century monument that is now revered as the finest example of Muslim art in India, is being constantly bombarded by air pollution. In fact, its white marble walls are now turning yellow, the result of airborne particles that are being deposited there.

Among the main culprits are automobiles and industry, which release high levels of sulfur dioxide emissions. When sulfur dioxide combines with oxygen and moisture, it contributes to a destructive fungus referred to as “marble cancer,” which corrodes the marble.

Now, a joint exercise being undertaken by the Uttar Pradesh Forest Department and Organic India will plant 1 million Tulsi saplings near the Taj Mahal in an effort to protect it from this environmental pollution.

Why Tulsi?
Organic India’s CEO Krishan Gupta explains:
“It is one of the best plants which purifies the environment. Its cleansing action is due to its property to release high amounts of oxygen, which minimizes the adverse impact of industrial and refinery emission.”

Organic India has committed to providing 1 million Tulsi saplings to plant near the Taj Mahal and in the surrounding city, this year.

Already, saplings have been distributed free of charge in the city by forest officials, and local people and schools were encouraged to participate in the plantation drive.

This is just the type of solution I like most: simple and natural, yet extremely effective and powerful.

Forest officials believe Tulsi will be able to absorb harmful gasses from the air and serve to insulate the area from environmental pollution. Plus, because Tulsi has such esteemed religious significance in India, they are confident that people in the area will care for the plants.

You may click to know more about Organic India

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:

Reuters.com May 15, 2007
Unesco.org July 2000
Decan Herald February 4, 2009

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Guduchi (Tinospora cardifolia)

Botanical Name : Tinospora cardifolia
Family Name: Menispermaceae
Vernacular Names: Sans Guruchi; Hind: Amrita
SANSKRIT NAME:Guduchi,Madhuparni,Amrita,Chinnaruha,
Vatsadaani,Tantrika,Kundalini,Chakralakshanika
LOCAL NAMES: (in India) Giloya, Guduchi (Hindi), Gulancha(Bengali),Tippaatigo (Telugu), Shindilakodi (Tamil), Gulavel (Marathi),Galo (Gujarati),Amrita balli(kannada).

Habitat : Found throughout tropical India, ascending to an altitude of 1000 ft

Description:A big climber (glabrous).Climbs on large trees.Stems:-Fleshy.Roots:-long thread like, aerial,arise from branches.

CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES
Bark Thin, greyish or creamy white in colour,When peeled fleshy stem is exposed.
Leaves: Cordate(heart shaped), membranous,juicy. Flowers:- Bloom during summer
Male flower:-Small,yellow or green coloured occur in clusters.
Female flower Occur singly.
Fruits:Pea shaped,fleshy,shiny turn red when boiled.Occur in winter
Seeds:- curved,pea sized. Flowers and fruits . .

Cultivation : It grows well in almost all types of soils and under varying climatic conditions.

Chemical Constituents: alkaloid – Berberine and a glucosoid – Giloin.
Sesquiterpene tinocordifolin, Sesquiterpene glucoside tino cordifolioside, tinosponone, tinosrfioside, sordioside furanoid diterpene;

Medicinal Uses : It is useful in burning sensation hyperdipsia, helminthiasis, dyspepsia, flatulence, gout, vomiting, skin diseases, leprosy, erysipelas, anemia, cough, asthma, jaundice, seminal weakness, uropathy and splenopathy.

Studies on induced oedema and arthritis and on human arthritis proved anti-inflammatory potency of the water extract of plant. It also has antipyretic action.This drug relaxes the intestinal and uterine smooth muscles.It is proved effective in prevention of fibrosis and in stimulating regeneration in hepatic tissue

As per Ayurveda:The plant is guru, ushnaveerya, tikta, kasaya, antipyretic, beneficial in burning swnsation, pain, vomiting, dyscrasia, vitiated vata, polyuria, anaemia and vertigo

Parts used: Leaves and stem.

Therapeutic uses :
The stem is bitter, astringent, sweet, thermogenic, antispasmodic, anti inflammatory , antipyretic, digestive, carminative, appetizer, stomachic, cardiotonic, aphrodisiac, rejuvenating, galacto-purifier, useful in vitiated, vata, burning sensation, dyspepsia, flatulence, intermittent fever, inflammations, gout, vomiting, cardiac debility, jaundice, anaemia, seminal weakness, asthma, cough, uropathy, splenopathy, skin diseases and general debility.

Stem-juice is valued in high fever and also given in jaundice either alone or mixed with honey.

Decoction of the stem is used for rheumatic fever and vomiting due to excessive bile secretion; slow fever associated with cough is arrested by the administration of its decoction mixed with Piper longum (fruits) and honey.

Stem, pasted with a little ginger, is prescribed in urticaria.

In combination with the stem of Piper nigrum and honey it is useful to control heart palpitation due to flatulency; stem-juice found beneficial in elephantiasis

A kind of starch, called ‘Palo’, prepared from the aqueous extract of dried stem, is considered to have antacid, antidiarrhoeal and antidysenteric properties.

Leaves of the plant are rich in protein, calcium and phosphorus with no toxic effect and as such prescribed in fever. Aqueous extract of the plant is a fabrifuge.

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.ayurvedakalamandiram.com/herbs.htm#eranda
http://www.ayurhelp.com/plants/guduchi.htm
http://apmab.ap.nic.in/products.php?&start=10

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Detect Blood Cancer, the Calcutta Way

Discovery by Scientists at the Saha Institute of Nuclear Physics :-

 

Ten years ago, when biophysicist Abhijit Chakrabarti started looking at telltale proteins in the red blood cells of children suffering from leukaemia, there weren’t many takers for his research.

Chakrabarti, professor of biophysics at the Saha Institute of Nuclear Physics (SINP) in Calcutta, believed that the intriguing protein signatures might, some day, help doctors identify blood cancer at an early stage and customise cancer therapy for each patient, instead of relying on a one-size-fits-all approach.

“Even experts couldn’t relate to the study of proteins for clinical application,” says Chakrabarti. “Those were the heyday of gene discoveries.” Now things have changed dramatically in favour of proteins, the body’s workhorse molecules. Scientists as well as drug makers have realised the limitations of gene-based data.

A series of publications by Chakrabarti and his team in international journals such as the British Journal of Haematology and the European Journal of Haematology is testimony to how quickly the young field of large-scale analysis of proteins — known as proteomics — is growing. The nascent field of research involves efforts at developing methods for sifting through thousands of different proteins in the blood. The goal is to identify the trace proteins — called markers — that are leaked by tumours into the blood, to be subsequently used for early and more accurate diagnosis of cancer and other diseases.

If all goes well, Chakrabarti hopes their work will some day yield simple tests that will allow for early diagnosis of childhood cancers like acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) — diseases that can prove fatal if not detected at early, and more treatable, stages.

“It is very important, both to diagnose childhood leukaemia as early as possible, and to determine what type of leukemia is present so that treatment can be tailored for the best chance of success,” says Dr Debasish Banerjee, haematologist at the Ramakrishna Mission Seba Pratisthan, Calcutta. “At present the therapy is based on genetic changes in leukaemic cells, which helps in classifying patients into specific risk categories. This is known as risk-based stratification therapy,” he adds.

Haematologists usually deploy gene chips or DNA microarrays to gauge the changes. One big problem with the strategy, however, is that the genetic chips offer a ‘global’ view of cancerous changes, not the ‘ground level’ view in the proteins. “Another very important issue is monitoring the response to a therapy of the diseased cells,” says Banerjee. He believes that the current diagnostic tests fail to tackle these problems. “Proteomics can not only take care of both the problems but also diagnose minimal residual disease (MRD) responsible for a relapse after therapy is complete.”

Chakrabarti’s recent foray — presented at an international symposium on Complex Diseases: Approaches to Gene Identification and Therapeutic Management, in Calcutta — is critical in the search for marker proteins among a vast sea of proteins in blood serum. “It’s like looking for a needle in a haystack,” says Sutapa Saha, a co-researcher. “Blood serum is an extraordinarily complex mixture of thousands of proteins,” she adds.

What’s more, any two proteins may exist in concentrations that differ more than a billion-fold from one another. “Systematically searching for the potential candidate proteins from thousands of others is extremely painstaking work,” says Dipankar Bhattacharya, another researcher involved in the project. After years of persistence the SINP team has been able to hunt down 80 such proteins. The study is scheduled for publication in the journal Proteomics – Clinical Application.

To guide their search, the Chakrabarti’s lab uses instruments like mass spectrometers, which can sort mixes of proteins, based on size, weight and electric charge. Since every protein is different, each has an equivalent of a molecular “barcode” to distinguish itself. The goal, Chakrabarti says, is to find proteins that are present only in the blood of people with cancer or are at detectably higher levels in people with cancer than in healthy individuals.

Chakrabarti is pursuing another approach too in finding cancer-specific markers, based on the immune system’s ability to act as a “biosensor” of disease. “It’s well known that the immune system can recognise cancer cells as abnormal and react against proteins made by tumours,” he says. “One of our approaches in finding proteins made by cancer cells is to see what antibodies or immune cells are produced by the immune systems of people with cancer but are not made by healthy systems.”

Despite the stiff challenges the team faces, drug designers have concluded that protein-based diagnostic tests hold greater promise than those exclusively based on genes, which are the DNA blueprints that cells use to make proteins. Proteins are more relevant to the biological functioning of the cell and most drug targets are found in them. Above all, proteomics assays, or protein-based diagnostic measurements, can be applied to readily available biological samples like serum and urine. “ The current dogma is: to understand genes better you need to read the proteins too,” says Chakrabarti.

Sources: The Telegraph (Kolkata, India)

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A Step Forward

The Jaipur foot is now even better, thanks to a dedicated group of students from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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Looking for a project to do in his third undergraduate year, Goutam Reddy was sure he would not do anything “fashionable”. He was studying electrical engineering and computer science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the US. “I wanted something that would find application in the developing world, not the next fast car,” he says.

Reddy grew up in Michigan State, but his parents were of Indian origin. During one of his visits to India, he came to know about the Jaipur foot, which was being fitted to patients by the Bhagwan Mahaveer Viklang Sahayata Samiti in New Delhi. He visited this organisation, trying to understand and improve the technology as part of his project. But he could not find anything to do immediately.

Anyone who sees the Jaipur foot being fitted to patients will never forget the experience. It was no different for Reddy. The Jaipur foot, developed in the 1970s by the late P.K. Sethi, an orthopaedic surgeon, and artisan Ram Chandra, is the one of the best options in the world if you lose your leg. It is lightweight and strong, made of easily available materials like rubber, and costs only $28. An artificial foot in the US would cost a few thousand dollars at least. It was popular among soldiers in war-ravaged countries like Afghanistan. Soldiers who lost their legs came to Jaipur to be fitted with this low-cost miracle. At least 250,000 of these have been fitted to poor people who have lost their legs.

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The Jaipur foot (above) gave Sudha Chandran(a great dancer) a new lease of life after she lost a leg in a 1981 accident.

Yet the Jaipur foot is far from perfect. Reddy realised that the manufacturing methods needed improvement. Several devices used in the Jaipur foot could be improved as well. This was expected, because they were still using techniques developed 30 years ago. If the knee is also amputated, as often happens, the patient will not be able to bend his or her leg — in this case, the artificial foot. This is a common problem with most low-cost artificial legs. Although he could not develop a project immediately, Reddy realised that he could improve the Jaipur foot sometime in the future. The fitting process, in particular, seemed in need of betterment.

The traditional way of fitting was to use plaster of paris moulds. A year and a half ago, the Centre for International Rehabilitation in Chicago developed a new process. This consisted of making the amputees put their leg inside sand and then applying a vacuum. The vacuum made the sand rock solid, and the resulting impression a perfect mould. The vacuum is created using an air compressor, and this necessitated the use of a generator. Reddy, along with other MIT students, found a way to eliminate this generator. They also gave a new name to the Samiti: the Jaipur Foot Organisation (JFO).

After Reddy finished his master’s degree at MIT, he set up a non-profit organisation called Developing World Prosthetics. Other MIT students also joined him. These students were also studying engineering at MIT, and they chose improving the Jaipur foot as their undergraduate project. Some of them travelled to India — using a grant from MIT’s public Service Centre and a $7,500 prize from a competition — to work on this. Finally, they developed a method using a cycle pump and human power to generate a vacuum in the fitting process. The students returned with a better perspective of the developing world. “I want to work on developing world prosthetic projects,” says Philip Garcia, one of the students.

Meanwhile, Reddy has initiated a course at MIT on wheelchair design in developing countries. He remains deeply interested in robotic prosthetics, and in improving the Jaipur foot farther. Members of the JFO rarely get the time to improve the original invention. “Our primary aim is to make and fit the foot,” says Sanjeev Kumar, manager of the Delhi branch of the JFO. Reddy and his organisation will now attempt this task.

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The dancer enthralls her audience in the hugely popular TV show Jhalak dikhla ja

For example, they are trying to improve the sand-casting system for adoption in rural areas. Another project is to improve the flexibility of the device. If the Jaipur foot is fitted above the knee, the patient has to walk with a straight leg — they can bend the “knee” only when they want to sit. The MIT students and Developing World Prosthetics are now working on this problem. The spring session at MIT has a course on developing world prosthetics, and solving the straight knee problem will be one of their primary tasks.

SourcesL : The Telegraph (Kolkata, India)

Chip That Detects Flu Within 2 hrs

Europe‘s top semiconductor maker, STMicroelectronics, said it has developed a portable chip to detect influenza viruses including bird flu in humans.

CLICK & SEE

 

The device, which functions as a mini laboratory on a chip, can screen and identify multiple classes of pathogens and genes in a single test within two hours, unlike other tests available on the market that can detect only one strain at a time and require days or weeks to obtain results.

The chip can differentiate human strains of the Influenza A and B viruses, drug-resistant strains and mutated variants, including the Avian Flu or H5N1 strain. There have been 236 human deaths globally from the H5N1 strain, according to the World Health Organisation, though it remains mainly a bird virus.

“ST sees new high growth opportunities in the healthcare market, especially in areas like patient care,” said Francois Guibert, STMicro‘s Asia Pacific chief executive in Singapore on Monday marking the commercial launch.

It allows users to process and analyze patient samples — comprising human blood, serum or respiratory swabs — on a single disposable microchip.

Sources: The Times Of India