Tag Archives: Pollution

Lactuca triangulata

 

Botanical Name: Lactuca triangulata
Family: Asteraceae
Subfamily: Cichorioideae
Tribe: Cichorieae
Subtribes: Lactucinae
Genus: Lactuca
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Asterales
Species: Lactuca triangulata

Common Names: Lactuca triangulata var. sachalinensis Kitamura; Pterocypsela triangulata (Maximowicz) C. Shih.

Habitat : Lactuca triangulata is native to E. Asia – China, Japan. It grows on grasslands on mountain slopes, mountain forests, forest margins, trailsides; 700-1900 m. Hebei, Heilongjiang, Jilin, Liaoning, Shanxi [Japan, Korea, SE Russia].

Description:
Lactuca triangulata is a biennial or perennial herb growing 1M tall. Roots ramose. Stem solitary, usually purplish red, erect, branched in apical half or third, glabrous. Lower and middle stem leaves ± glabrous, margin with unequal and triangular teeth; basal portion winged petiole-like, 6-13 cm, base broadly auriculately to hastately clasping stem; apical portion triangular, broadly ovate, or broadly ovate-cordate, 8.5-13 × 9-16 cm. Upper stem leaves similar to middle stem leaves or basally shortly cuneate or winged petiole-like and auriculately or sagittately clasping and apically elliptic to rhombic. Uppermost leaves with semiamplexicaul base. Synflorescence rather narrowly paniculiform, with numerous capitula. Capitula with 10-16 florets. Involucre cylindric, 1-1.1 cm at anthesis, to 1.5 × 0.5-0.6 cm in fruit. Outer phyllaries narrowly triangular to lanceolate, longest ca. 7 × 1 mm, apex acute; inner phyllaries 8, usually purplish red, apex acute to obtuse. Florets yellow. Achene 4-6 mm; body blackish, reddish, or dark brown, ellipsoid, compressed, broadly winged, 2-2.5 mm wide, with 1(or 2) prominent rib on either side, apically contracted into an apically pale stout 0.1-0.5 mm beak. Pappus 6-8 mm, caducous. It is in flower during June-July and fruit comes in August- September.

CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES

The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects.Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils and prefers well-drained soil.
Cultivation: Prefers a light sandy loam in a sunny position. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.

Propagation : Seed – sow spring in situ and only just cover the seed. Germination is usually fairly quick.

Edible Uses: Leaves – cooked. They are sometimes eaten.

Medicinal Uses:
Although we have seen no specific reports for this species, most if not all members of the genus have a milky sap that contains the substance ‘lactucarium‘ and can probably be used as the report below details. The whole plant is rich in a milky sap that flows freely from any wounds. This hardens and dries when in contact with the air. The sap contains ‘lactucarium’, which is used in medicine for its anodyne, antispasmodic, digestive, diuretic, hypnotic, narcotic and sedative properties. Lactucarium has the effects of a feeble opium, but without its tendency to cause digestive upsets, nor is it addictive. It is taken internally in the treatment of insomnia, anxiety, neuroses, hyperactivity in children, dry coughs, whooping cough, rheumatic pain etc. Concentrations of lactucarium are low in young plants and most concentrated when the plant comes into flower. It is collected commercially by cutting the heads of the plants and scraping the juice into china vessels several times a day until the plant is exhausted. An infusion of the fresh or dried flowering plant can also be used. The plant should be used with caution, and never without the supervision of a skilled practitioner. Even normal doses can cause drowsiness whilst excess causes restlessness and overdoses can cause death through cardiac paralysis. Some physicians believe that any effects of this medicine are caused by the mind of the patient rather than by the medicine. The sap has also been applied externally in the treatment of warts.

Known Hazards: Although no specific mention of toxicity has been seen for this species, many plants in this genus contain a narcotic principle, this is at its most concentrated when the plant begins to flower. This principle has been almost bred out of the cultivated forms of lettuce but is produced when the plant starts to go to seed.

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://species.wikimedia.org/wiki/Lactuca_triangulata
http://www.efloras.org/florataxon.aspx?flora_id=2&taxon_id=200024121
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Lactuca+triangulata

Advertisements

Dioxins

Definition:
Dioxins  are a group of organic polyhalogenated compounds that are significant because they act as environmental pollutants. They are commonly referred to as dioxins for simplicity in scientific publications because every PCDD molecule contains a dioxin skeletal structure. Typically, the p-dioxin skeleton is at the core of a PCDD molecule, giving the molecule a dibenzo-p-dioxin ring system. Members of the PCDD family have been shown to bioaccumulate in humans and wildlife due to their lipophilic properties, and are known teratogens, mutagens, and confirmed (avered) human carcinogens. They are organic compounds.

Dioxins are found just about everywhere – they are present in the atmosphere, soil, rivers and the food chain. They occur naturally as a result of incomplete burning of organic materials during natural events such as volcanoes and forest fires.

But they are also produced during many man-made events which involve combustion such as waste incineration and in chemical and fertiliser manufacturing plants. They may, for example, be produced during chlorine-based bleaching processes in paper mills, or during the manufacture of herbicides. They are also found in low levels in cigarette smoke and vehicle exhaust fumes.

The introduction of a new chlorine production technique in 1900 meant that they became more widespread. However, in recent years manufacturing and environmental controls have reduced the production of dioxins, and the main source now is the burning of fossil fuels and incineration processes. But because of their potential toxicity, exposure even at low levels, remains a concern.

In living organisms, toxic chemicals are often taken up and stored by fat. This means they can persist in the food chain through a process called bioaccumulation.

They are mainly found in meat and dairy produce, but are also found in poultry, fish and on unwashed fruit and vegetables:

•Fish accumulate dioxins through exposure to water – dioxins are repelled by the water and attach themselves to the fatty fish.
•Unless – as was the case in Belgium – feed becomes contaminated, animals are usually exposed to dioxins in the air settling on their food. They accumulate in the fatty tissue of animals, and the longer that animal lives, the greater the build up.
•Dioxins in the air also land on fruit and vegetables, but washing can get rid of these – they are not absorbed into the plant itself.

Risk Factors:
Environmental campaign groups describe dioxins as among the most dangerous toxins known. Scientists are working to establish their exact toxicity, but a draft report from the US Environmental Protection Agency indicates dioxins are considered a serious threat to public health.

The health risks depend on several factors, including the level of exposure and the particular form of dioxin. For most people, levels in the general environment are not high enough to cause an immediate reaction but over a longer period, potential risks to health include:

•Damage to the immune and reproductive system (with lowering of the sperm count).
•An increased incidence of diabetes.
•A significant increase in the risk of cancer.
Exposure to high concentrations of especially toxic dioxins can cause an acne-like condition known as chloracne which mainly affects the face and upper body, which may last several years after exposure. Chloracne is difficult to cure and can be disfiguring. Other problems include:

•Discolouration of the skin.
•Rashes and redness.
•Vomiting.
•Diarrhoea.
•Lung infections.
•Damage to the nervous systems.
Most concerns now lie with the potential of dioxins to cause cancer. A peer-reviewed study of the population of Seveso (where an explosion in a chemical manufacturing plant in 1976 liberated large quantities of dioxins into the environment) found that, in the ten years following the accident both men and women more likely to have cancer, especially of the blood and lymph tissue, as well as breast cancer.

In 1997, a World Health Organisation group declared the most toxic dioxin (2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin, or TCDD) a class 1 carcinogen, meaning it causes cancer in humans.

Also of concern is the effect dioxins can have on unborn children and infants, as they can be passed through the placenta or carried in breast milk although the World Health Organisation emphasise that the benefits of breast feeding far outweigh any risks to the baby and child.

While governments and environmental bodies strive to minimise the risk, it’s important to keep in mind that it’s very unlikely that most people in the general population will be exposed to a level of dioxins high enough to cause significant toxic effects.

Resources:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/health/physical_health/conditions/dioxins.shtml
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polychlorinated_dibenzodioxins

Enhanced by Zemanta

Brain Cancer

Animation of an MRI brain scan, starting at th...

Image via Wikipedia

Alternative Names:Glioma, Meningioma

Definition:
Brain cancer is a disease of the brain in which cancer cells (malignant) arise in the brain tissue. Cancer cells grow to form a mass of cancer tissue (tumor) that interferes with brain functions such as muscle control, sensation, memory, and other normal body functions.

 click & see the pictures

There are more than 100 different types of brain tumour, depending on which cells within the brain are involved. The most common (about 50 per cent of brain cancers) is called a glioma, and it is formed not from the nerve cells of the brain but from the glial cells, which support those nerves. The most aggressive form of glioma is known as a glioblastoma multiforme – these tumours form branches like a tree reaching out through the brain and may be impossible to completely remove.

Other tumours include:
*Meningiomas – account for about a quarter of brain cancers and are formed from cells in the membranes, or meninges, that cover the brain

*Pituitary adenomas – tumours of the hormone-producing pituitary gland

*Acoustic neuromas – typically slow-growing tumours of the hearing nerve often found in older people

*Craniopharyngioma and ependymomas – often found in younger people

The treatment and outlook for these different brain tumours varies hugely. Some, such as meningiomas and pituitary tumours, are usually (but not always) benign, which means they don’t spread through the brain or elsewhere in the body. However, they can still cause problems as they expand within the skull, compressing vital parts of the brain. Other types of brain cancer are malignant, spreading through the tissues and returning after treatment.

Brain tumours are also graded in terms of how aggressive, abnormal or fast-growing the cells are. Exactly where the tumour forms is also critical, as some areas of the brain are much easier to operate on than others, where important structures are packed closely together.

Causes:
The cause of brain cancer  remains a mystery, but some risk factors are known. These include:

*Age – different tumours tend to occur at different ages. About 300 children are diagnosed with brain tumours every year, and these are often a type called primitive neuroectodermal tumours (PNETs), which form from very basic cells left behind by the developing embryo. PNETs usually develop at the back of the brain in the cerebellum

*Genetics – as many as five per cent of brain tumours occur as part of an inherited condition, such as neurofibromatosis

*Exposure to ionising radiation – such as radiotherapy treatment at a young age

*Altered immunity – a weakened immunity has been linked to a type of tumour called a lymphoma, while autoimmune disease and allergy seem to slightly reduce the risk of brain tumours

*Environmental pollutants – many people worry that chemicals in the environment (such as from rubber, petrol and many manufacturing industries) can increase the risk of brain cancers, but research has so far failed to prove a link with any degree of certainty. Neither is there clear and irrefutable evidence for risk from mobile phones, electricity power lines or viral infections, although research is ongoing.

Symptoms:
The symptoms and signs of a brain tumour fall into two categories.

Those caused by damage or disruption of particular nerves or areas of the brain. Symptoms will depend on the location of the tumour and may include:

*Weakness or tremor of certain parts of the body

*Difficulty writing, drawing or walking

*Changes in vision or other senses

*Changes in mood, behaviour or mental abilities

Those caused by increased pressure within the skull – these are general to many types of tumour and may include:

*Headache (typically occurring on waking or getting up)

*Irritability

*Nausea and vomiting

*Seizures

*Drowsiness

*Coma

*Changes in your ability to talk, hear or see

*Problems with balance or walking

*Problems with thinking or memory

*Muscle jerking or twitching

*Numbness or tingling in arms or legs

Diagnosis:
The initial test is an interview that includes a medical history and physical examination of the person by a health-care provider.If he or she  suspects a brain tumour, you should be referred to a specialist within two weeks. Tests are likely to include blood tests and the most frequently used test to detect brain cancer is a CT scan (computerized tomography). This test resembles a series of X-rays and is not painful, although sometimes a dye needs to be injected into a vein for better images of some internal brain structures.

click & see

Another test that is gaining popularity because of its high sensitivity for detecting anatomic changes in the brain is MRI (magnetic resonance imaging). This test also resembles a series of X-rays and shows the brain structures in detail better than CT. MRI is not as widely available as CT scanning. If the tests show evidence (tumors or abnormalities in the brain tissue) of brain cancer, then other doctors such as neurosurgeons and neurologists that specialize in treating brain ailments will be consulted to help determine what should be done to treat the patient. Occasionally, a tissue sample (biopsy) may be obtained by surgery or insertion of a needle to help determine the diagnosis. Other tests (white blood cell counts, electrolytes, or examination of cerebrospinal fluid to detect abnormal cells or increased intracranial pressure) may be ordered by the health-care practitioner to help determine the patient’s state of health or to detect other health problems.

Treatment:
The type of treatment offered and the likely response depends on the type, grade and location of the tumour. Unlike many other organs, it’s very difficult to remove parts of the brain without causing massive disruption to the control of body functions, so a cancer near a vital part of the brain may be particularly difficult to remove.

The main treatments for brain tumours include:

*Surgery – to remove all or part of the tumour, or to reduce pressure within the skull

*Radiotherapy – some brain cancers are sensitive to radiotherapy. Newer treatments (stereotactic radiotherapy and radiosurgery) carefully target maximum doses to small areas of the tumour, avoiding healthy brain tissue.

*Chemotherapy – these treatments are limited by the fact that many drugs cannot pass from the bloodstream into brain tissue because of the ‘blood-brain barrier’, but may be useful when tumours are difficult to operate on, or have advanced or returned.

*Biological’ therapies – for example, drugs that block the chemicals that stimulate growth of tumour cells

*Steroids – can help to reduce swelling of the brain and decrease pressure in the skull
Often a combination of treatments will be recommended.

While, as a general rule, brain tumours are difficult to treat and tend to have a limited response, it can be very misleading to give overall survival figures because some brain cancers are easily removed with little long term damage, while others are rapidly progressive and respond poorly to any treatment.

While only about 14 per cent of people diagnosed with a brain tumour are still alive more than five years later, this sombre statistic could be unnecessarily worrying for a person with a small benign brain tumour. What a person diagnosed with brain cancer needs to know will be the outlook for their individual situation, which only their own doctor can tell them.

Treatments do continue to improve – for example, survival rates for young children have doubled over the past few decades, and many new developments are being tested.

Other treatments may include hyperthermia (heat treatments), immunotherapy (immune cells directed to kill certain cancer cell types), or steroids to reduce inflammation and brain swelling. These may be added on to other treatment plans.

Clinical trials (treatment plans designed by scientists to try new chemicals or treatment methods on patients) can be another way for patients to obtain treatment specifically for their cancer cell type. Clinical trials are part of the research efforts to produce better treatments for all disease types. The best treatment for brain cancer is designed by the team of cancer specialists in conjunction with the wishes of the patient.

Prognosis:
Survival of treated brain cancer varies with the cancer type, location, and overall age and general health of the patient. In general, most treatment plans seldom result in a cure. Reports of survival greater that five years (which is considered to be long-term survival), vary from less than 10% to a high of 32%, no matter what treatment plan is used.

So, why use any treatment plan? Without treatment, brain cancers are usually aggressive and result in death within a short time span. Treatment plans can prolong survival and can improve the patient’s quality of life for some time. Again, the patient and caregivers should discuss the prognosis when deciding on treatment plans.

Living with Brain Cancer:
Discuss your concerns openly with your doctors and family members. It is common for brain cancer patients to be concerned about how they can continue to lead their lives as normally as possible; it is also common for them to become anxious, depressed, and angry. Most people cope better when they discuss their concerns and feelings. Although some patients can do this with friends and relatives, others find solace in support groups (people who have brain cancer and are willing to discuss their experiences with other patients) composed of people who have experienced similar situations and feelings. The patient’s treatment team of doctors should be able to connect patients with support groups. In addition, information about local support groups is available from the American Cancer Society at http://www.cancer.org/docroot/home/index.asp.

Prevention:
Although there is no way to prevent brain cancers, early diagnosis and treatment of tumors that tend to metastasize to the brain may reduce the risk of metastatic brain tumors. The following factors have been suggested as possible risk factors for primary brain tumors: radiation to the head, HIV infection, and environmental toxins. However, no one knows the exact causes that initiate brain cancer, especially primary brain cancer, so specific preventive measures are not known. Although Web sites and popular press articles suggest that macrobiotic diets, not using cell phones, and other methods will help prevent brain cancer, there is no reliable data to support these claims.

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://www.medicinenet.com/brain_cancer/page5.htm
http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/braincancer.html
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:MRI_head_side.jpg

The Bitter Side of Artificial Sweeteners

Sucralose

Image via Wikipedia

Sewage treatment plants fail to remove artificial sweeteners completely from waste water. These pollutants contaminate waters downstream, and may still be present in your drinking water.

A new, robust analytical method, which simultaneously extracts and analyzes seven commonly used artificial sweeteners, demonstrated the presence of several artificial sweeteners in waste water.

Until now, only sucralose has been detected in aquatic environments. Through the use of the new method, researchers were able to show for the first time that four artificial sweeteners — acesulfame, saccharin, cyclamate, and sucralose — are present in the waters from sewage treatment plants, indicating incomplete elimination during waste water treatment.

You may also click to see:->Cancer study into artificial sweetener

Sources:
Eurekalert June 17, 2009
Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry July 2009; 394(6):1585-94

 

Nutrition: Fish Oil for Mom May Benefit Her Child

Women who take fish oil supplements while pregnant may improve the hand-eye coordination of their children, according to a small Australian study.

In a trial published online Dec. 21 in The Archives of Disease in Childhood: Fetal and Neonatal Edition, scientists divided 98 women into two groups. Beginning at 20 weeks of pregnancy and continuing until the women gave birth, the first group took a daily dose of four grams of fish oil, while the second group took four grams of olive oil each day. Neither the mothers nor the researchers knew which supplement the women had received until the study ended.

The researchers examined 72 children born to women who completed the study when the children were 2½ years old. In tests of locomotor ability, speech and hearing, vocabulary and practical reasoning, the children whose mothers were given fish oil during pregnancy scored slightly higher, but the differences were not statistically significant. However, after controlling for maternal age, birth weight, breast-feeding and other factors, the children of the women who took fish oil were significantly better at hand-eye coordination than those of the women who took the olive oil supplement.

The authors acknowledged that their sample was small, and that they could not exclude the possibility that the result was due to chance. Still, children who received prenatal fish oil did consistently perform better on all measures of development.

“These preliminary data indicate that supplementation with a relatively high-dose fish oil during the last 20 weeks of pregnancy is not only safe,” the authors concluded, “but also seems to have potential beneficial effects that need to be explored further.”

Source:The New York Times