Categories
Herbs & Plants

Celery

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Botanical Name :Apium graveolens
Family: Apiaceae
Genus: Apium
Species: A. graveolens
Variety: dulce
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Apiales

Common Names:

English: celery, leaf celery, stalk celery, celeriac, turnip-rooted celery
French: celeri
Portuguese: aipo hortense, salso, aipa nabo

Habitat: Celery occurs wild in Europe, the Mediterranean region and in Asia west of the Himalayas. The ancient Greeks and Egyptians already cultivated celery. It was probably first grown as a medicinal plant, later for the leaves as flavouring. Celery has a long history in China, dating back to at least the 6th century AD. Chinese celery most resembles leaf celery. Cultivated celery was recorded in 1623 in France, where plants with a milder taste were selected from wild plants for use as a vegetable. This was the so-called stalk celery with large, swollen petioles. At the same time celeriac with its large edible tuber was selected, probably in Italy. These two types became most important in Western temperate areas. Various types of celery are now grown all over the world. Celery is reported as being cultivated in several African countries, more commonly in highland regions than in lowlands. In Africa it is occasionally found as an escape or relic of cultivation, e.g. in Eritrea, Ethiopia, Mozambique and Réunion, and more commonly in South Africa.
Description:
Celery is a biennial plant, it grows to 1 m (3.3 ft) tall. The leaves are are pinnate to bipinnate with rhombic leaflets 3–6 cm long and 2–4 cm broad., shiny top, bottom mat. Stems erect, grooved, silnovetvisty. Umbrellas are small, numerous. The flowers are small,, 2–3 mm in diameter, and are produced in dense compound umbels, white or yellowish in color. Fruits are round, small (1.5-2 mm in diameter.), Gray or brownish. In leaf and petioles of celery root system is fibrous, branched, the Root — the root fleshy, round-flat or nearly spherical.

click to see the pictures…...(01).....(1).….….(2)…...(3)…..…………

The seeds are broad ovoid to globose, 1.5–2 mm long and wide. Modern cultivars have been selected for solid petioles, leaf stalks. A celery stalk readily separates into “strings” which are bundles of angular collenchyma cells exterior to the vascular bundles.

Cultivation: 

In North America, commercial production of celery is dominated by a variety called Pascal celery. Gardeners can grow a range of cultivars, many of which differ little from the wild species, mainly in having stouter leaf stems. They are ranged under two classes, white and red; the white cultivars being generally the best flavoured, and the most crisp and tender.

The wild form of celery is known as smallage. It has a furrowed stalk with wedge-shaped leaves, the whole plant having a coarse, rank taste, and a peculiar smell. With cultivation and blanching, the stalks lose their acidic qualities and assume the mild, sweetish, aromatic taste particular to celery as a salad plant.

The plants are raised from seed, sown either in a hot bed or in the open garden according to the season of the year, and after one or two thinnings out and transplantings they are, on attaining a height of 15-20 cm, planted out in deep trenches for convenience of blanching, which is affected by earthing up to exclude light from the stems.

In the past, celery was grown as a vegetable for winter and early spring; because of its antitoxic properties, it was perceived as a cleansing tonic, welcomed after the stagnation of winter.

Trivia
Celery contains androsterone, a hormone released through sweat glands said to attract women.

There is a common belief that celery is so difficult for humans to digest, that it has ‘negative calories‘ because human digestion burns more calories than can be extracted.

Snopes believes this to be true, however at only 6kcal per rib, the effect is negligible. Celery is still valuable in diets, where it provides low-calorie fiber bulk.
The Class B Michigan-Ontario League, a minor league baseball league from the early 20th century, included a team called the Kalamazoo Celery Pickers.
Dr. Brown’s makes a celery-flavored soft drink called Cel-Ray, which is sold mostly in the New York City region.
Some pet rabbits eat a lot of celery. One may wonder if this means rabbits lose a lot of weight. However, a rabbit’s natural flora of bacteria in their appendix includes micro-organisms which break down the cellulose in the celery into a form which the rabbit can absorb.
Exercise-induced anaphylaxis can be exacerbated by eating celery.
In the British science fiction series Doctor Who, the Fifth Doctor‘s costume included a piece of celery on the lapel. The reason for this was that he was allergic to certain gases in praxis range of the spectrum and in the presence of these gases, the celery turned purple. In this case, he ate the celery (for if nothing else he was sure it was good for his teeth).
The closely related Apium bermejoi from the island of Minorca is one of the rarest plants in Europe with only 60 individuals left.
The edible celery stalk is not a plant stem as often claimed. It is a petiole, which is part of a leaf.Foley artists break stalks of celery into a microphone to simulate the sound of breaking bones.
Celery was banned from the Gillingham’s Priestfield Stadium in 1996 after the goalkeeper complained of being struck by celery thrown by spectators.


Some people report that eating raw celery makes their tongues and mouths numb
.
Fans of Chelsea Football Club have been known to sing a saucy song in which they suggest they might use a “lump of celery” in order to tickle a lady’s behind: “Celery, Celery, If she don’t come, we’ll tickle her bum with a lump of celery”
A large amount of celery was tossed in the courtyard of the old trafford arms before the semi final against Blackburn 2007, by a big group standing together.

Uses:
The most common use of celery is for its thick, succulent leaf stalks that are used, often with a part of the leaf blades, in soups, cooked dishes and salads for the Western style kitchen. The type known as Chinese celery has thinner stalks and a stronger flavor. It is rarely consumed raw, but is often added to soups and stir-fries……..CLICK & SEE

Celeriac or turnip-rooted celery is mainly used as a cooked vegetable in stews and soups but is becoming increasingly popular grated as a raw salad. Leaf celery, also called smallage, is chopped and used as garnish and flavouring, either fresh or in dried powdered form.

Celery seeds:Celery Seed is the dried fruit of Apium graviolens, a biennial in the parsley family. This is the same genus and species used for growing table celery, although there are particular varieties that are used for the vegetable. The seeds are very small (about 1/16th of an inch), ovoid and light brown.

In temperate countries, celery is also grown for its seeds, which yield a valuable volatile oil used in the perfume and pharmaceutical industries. Celery seeds can be used as flavouring or spice either as whole seeds or, ground and mixed with salt, as celery salt. Celery salt can also be made from an extract of the roots.

click & see

It is used as a seasoning, cocktails, notably to enhance the flavor of Bloody Mary cocktails, the Chicago-style hot dog, and Old Bay Seasoning. Celery is one of three vegetables considered the holy trinity (along with onions and bell peppers) of Louisiana Creole and Cajun cuisine. It is also one of the three vegetables (together with onions and carrots) that constitute the French mirepoix, which is often used as a base for sauces and soups.

Celery Seed is a traditional diuretic and blood cleanser, well suited for treating rheumatism.1 Its inclusion in arthritic blends is a rather modern tradition, but has repeatedly proven itself in clinical trials. The mechanism of action remains obscure, but it is no longer doubted that the herb contains potent active principles. For example, a famous Chinese study showed that it lowered blood pressure in 14 of 16 human patients with chronic high blood pressure.2 In Europe, Celery Seed is a common medicinal treatment for gout and rheumatism.3

Celery Seed has not been subjected to the same amount of research investigation as many other herbs. Nevertheless, in addition to its diuretic activity, it has been shown to possess other definite medicinal properties, including, a blood pressure lowering property3, antioxidative principle4, and sedative activity.5-6 It has been shown to possess insulin-like activity7, and to suppress adrenaline hyperglycemia.8 These findings, taken together, suggest that this lowly herb, if eaten regularly, can promote a certain degree of health, especially in the vital organs of the body, including the glands, heart and nerves.

Benefits of eating Clery: Celery is a wonderful low-calorie and low-fat vegetable, consisting of about 95% water. When looking at its nutrients, celery contains adequate amounts of potassium, folate and fiber. One cup of diced celery provides 344.4 milligrams of potassium, 34 micrograms of folate, 2 grams of fiber, 19 calories, and less than 0.16 grams of fat!

Celery is a great guilt-free snack item, especially if you want to lose weight. You get to chew on something that makes you think you are eating a lot, but is actually providing you with more water (which contains no calories) than calories. It is much healthier to munch on celery while watching TV, movies or videos than popcorn or chips. You will feel satisfied because you are not depriving yourself of food, but your waistline will not suffer from eating too much of it. Additionally, because celery has such a high water content, it helps hydrate your body and skin (from the inside out)!

Potassium helps control our nerves and muscles, and aids in the transmission of nerve impulses. It also helps reduce blood pressure and reduces the risk of stroke. Because lack of potassium is rare, there is no RDA for this mineral. However, it is thought that 1,600 to 2,000 milligrams a day is adequate for adults. Some research suggests getting 3,000 milligrams of potassium daily, preferably from food.

Folate is essential for the production and maintenance of new cells. It may help reduce the development of cardiovascular disease and help protect against certain cancers (like colon and rectal). Folate is also recommended for women of childbearing years to reduce the risk of birth defects. The RDA for folate is 400 micrograms a day.

Medicine:
The use of celery seed in pills for relieving pain was described by Aulus Cornelius Celsus ca. 30 AD Celery seed aids in the elimination of uric acid and is often used for the relief of symptoms of arthritis, rheumatism and inflammation of the joints. Its diuretic properties assist in relieving fluid retention. Celery seed also relieves pain. Celery has several applications in traditional medicine, particularly as a diuretic and emmenagogue, and against dengue fever and rheumatism.. Treatment of inflammatory complaints with celery or other Umbelliferae or extracts thereof is regulated under world patent WO 1995 00000157 A1.

The whole plant is gently stimulant, nourishing, and restorative; it can be liquefied, with the juice taken for joint and urinary tract inflammations, such as rheumatoid arthritis, cystitis, or urethritis, for weak conditions, and for nervous exhaustion.

The seeds, harvested after the plant flowers in its second year, are the basis for a homeopathic extract used as a diuretic. The extract is believed to help clear toxins from the system, so are especially good for gout, where uric acid crystals collect in the joints, and arthritis. They are also used as a mild digestive stimulant. The extract can be combined with almond or sunflower oil, and massaged into arthritic joints or for painful gout in the feet or toes.

The root is an effective diuretic and has been taken for urinary stones and gravel. It also acts as a bitter digestive remedy and liver stimulant. A tincture can be used as a diuretic in hypertension and urinary disorders, as a component in arthritic remedies, or as a kidney energy stimulant and cleanser.

Celery roots, fruits (seeds), and aerial parts, are used ethnomedically to treat mild anxiety and agitation, loss of appetite, fatigue, cough, and as a anthelmintics (vermifuge).

Nervous affictions: An abudant use of celery juice combined with carrot juice is beneficial in the treatment of nervous affictions resulting from the protective cover of the nerves.

Arthritis: Celery is useful in the treatment of arthritis due to it’s high sodium content.Its organic sodium tends to prevent and relieve the arthritic joint deposits by keeping lime and magnesia in the solution form.For optimum results , it should be taken in the form fresh extracted juice, using its leave as well as stem.

Rheumatism and gout: Celery is very effective in diseases arising from acidity and toxemia, rheumatism and gout.A fluid extract of the seeds is more powerful than the raw vegetable.

General debility: The power of the dried root extracted from the herb is an effective tonic for general debility or weakness and malnutrition.One teaspoon of this powder mixed with a teaspoon of honey is taken twice daily in such conditions.

Insomnia: Celery is also useful in the treatment of sleeplessness.Celery juice mixed with a table spoon of honey make a delightful drink. The mixture taken at night before sleeping will help one relax into a soothing and restful sleep.

Blood disorders: The herb is valuable in disease related to blood such as anaemia, leukaemia, Hodgkin’s disease, purpura and hemophilia. This plant is very high in magnesium and iron content, a combination which is valuable as a food for blood cells. The juice of celery in combination with carrot juice should be taken in the treatment of blood related diseases.

Respiratory disorders:Celery is known to have antispasmodic properties and is useful in the treatment of asthma,bronchitis, pleurisy and tuberculosis.Its seeds serves the same purpose in such diseases.

Indigestion: The seeds of celery are an effective remedy for indigestion. A teaspoon of the seeds soaked in a glass of butter milk for a night should be ground in the same buttermilk mixture and administered to relieve indigestion.

Kidney and gall stones: Celery is valuable food for those who are prone to stone formation in the gall bladder and kidneys. Its regular use prevents stone formation.

Other Different Uses:

Aroma and Flavour: Celery seeds should be used with discretion as they have a fairly strong, and sometimes rather bitter, flavour. There is no mistaking their distinctive, celery aroma.

Culinary Use: Whole celery seeds can be added to bread dough or when making cheese biscuits, and savoury dishes. A few seeds can be sprinkled over lightly boiled carrots, grilled tomatoes or salads and they are especially complementary to egg and fish dishes. Celery salt and celery pepper are both made by grinding the seeds with either salt or peppercorns in the required proportions. Use these seasonings judiciously as their flavours are strong. Celery salt or pepper is best made when required.

Medicinal and Other Use: The oil from the seeds is used medically to treat asthma, flatulence and bronchitic conditions.

Until the 19th century the essential oils was recommended as a cure for rheumatism.  It is believed to be a tonic for asthma and herbalists use it to treat liver diseases, bronchitis, fever and flatulence. It is also recommended as a diuretic, tranquilizer, sedative and menstruation promoter and as treatment for gout, arthritis, obesity, anxiety and lack of appetite.  Celery seed tea is said to promote rest and sleep.  It is good for nervous disorders and enjoys aphrodisiac qualities.  India’s traditional Ayurvedic physicians have prescribed celery seed as a diuretic and as a treatment for colds, flu, indigestion, arthritis and diseases of the liver and spleen.

Other uses: Celery can alway be eaten raw as salads or in the cooked form.Soup and juice can also be made. It is also used in flavour stews and sauces.

Caution
Cross-section of a Pascal celery stalk.Bergapten in the seeds could increase photosensitivity, so do not apply the essential oil externally in bright sunshine.
Avoid the oil and large doses of the seeds during pregnancy: they can act as a uterine stimulant.

Seeds intended for cultivation are not suitable for eating as they are often treated with fungicides.

Allergic responses
Although many people enjoy foods made with celery, a small minority of people can have severe allergic reactions. For people with celery allergy, exposure can cause potentially fatal anaphylactic shock. The allergen does not appear to be destroyed at cooking temperatures. Celery root – commonly eaten as celeriac, or put into drinks – is known to contain more allergen than the stalk. Celery is amongst a small group of foods (headed by peanuts) that appear to provoke the most severe allergic reactions (anaphylaxis). An allergic reaction also may be triggered by eating foods that have been processed with machines that have previously processed celery, making avoiding such foods difficult. In contrast with peanut allergy being most prevalent in the US, celery allergy is most prevalent in Central Europe.

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.

Help taken from: en.wikipedia.org and www.hort.purdue.edu and vegweb.com and http://www.hotel-club-thailand.com/thai-cooking/thai-spices.htm

http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_C.htm

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Categories
Herbs & Plants

Castor oil plant & Castor Seeds

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Botanical Name : Ricinus cummunis
Family Name: Euphorbiaceae
Subfamily:Acalyphoideae
Tribe:    Acalypheae
Subtribe:    Ricininae
Genus:    Ricinus
Species:    R. communi
Kingdom:    Plantae
Order:    Malpighiales
Kingdom:    Plantae
Order:    Malpighiales
vernacular Name: Sans: Shweteranda; Hind:Eranda Eng: Castor
The name Ricinus is a Latin word for tick; the seed is so named because it has markings and a bump at the end which resemble certain ticks. The common name “castor oil” likely comes from its use as a replacement for castoreum, a perfume base made from the dried perineal glands of the beaver (castor in Latin)

Habitat :
Although castor is probably indigenous to the southeastern Mediterranean region and Eastern Africa, today it is widespread throughout tropical regions. Castor establishes itself easily as an apparently “native” plant and can often be found on wasteland. It is widely
grown as a crop in, for example, Ethiopia. It is also used extensively as a decorative plant
in parks and other public areas, particularly as a “dot plant” in traditional bedding schemes.

Description:
Ricinus communis can vary greatly in its growth habit and appearance. The variability has been increased by breeders who have selected a range of cultivars for leaf and flower colours, and for oil production. It is a fast-growing, suckering perennial shrub that can reach the size of a small tree (around 12 metres or 39 feet), but it is not cold hardy.

The glossy leaves are 15–45 centimetres (5.9–17.7 in) long, long-stalked, alternate and palmate with 5–12 deep lobes with coarsely toothed segments. In some varieties they start off dark reddish purple or bronze when young, gradually changing to a dark green, sometimes with a reddish tinge, as they mature. The leaves of some other varieties are green practically from the start, whereas in yet others a pigment masks the green colour of all the chlorophyll-bearing parts, leaves, stems and young fruit, so that they remain a dramatic purple-to-reddish-brown throughout the life of the plant. Plants with the dark leaves can be found growing next to those with green leaves, so there is most likely only a single gene controlling the production of the pigment in some varieties.   The stems (and the spherical, spiny seed capsules) also vary in pigmentation. The fruit capsules of some varieties are more showy than the flowers.
click to see the pictures......(01).....(1).……..(2).…....(3)..……..(4)...

The green capsule dries and splits into three sections, forcibly ejecting seeds
The flowers are borne in terminal panicle-like inflorescences of green or, in some varieties, shades of red monoecious flowers without petals. The male flowers are yellowish-green with prominent creamy stamens and are carried in ovoid spikes up to 15 centimetres (5.9 in) long; the female flowers, borne at the tips of the spikes, have prominent red stigmas.

The fruit is a spiny, greenish (to reddish-purple) capsule containing large, oval, shiny, bean-like, highly poisonous seeds with variable brownish mottling. Castor seeds have a warty appendage called the caruncle, which is a type of elaiosome. The caruncle promotes the dispersal of the seed by ants (myrmecochory).

Although the highly toxic nature of castor bean
(Ricinus communis) is well recognized, reports of human toxicity in the English medical literature are scarce. The potentially lethal doses reported for children and adults are three beans and eight beans respectively.

Recent experience with two cases provides added insight into the expected course of
toxicity. In both cases, repeated vomiting, diarrhea, and transiently elevated serum
creatine occurred. Dehydration was much more pronounced in the second case. Both patients recovered uneventfully. Other reported manifestations of castor bean toxicity, such as hepatic necrosis, renal failure, erythrocyte hemolysis, convulsions, and shock, did not occur.

Castor seeds have been found in Egyptian tombs dating back to 4000 BC. Herodotus and other Greek travelers have noted the use of castor seed oil for lighting and body anointments.

Global castor seed production is around 1 million tons per year. Leading producing areas are India, China and Brazil. There are several active breeding programmes.

The stems and the spherical, spiny seed pods also vary in pigmentation. The pods are more showy than the flowers (the male flowers are yellowish-green with prominent creamy stamens and are carried in ovoid spikes up to 15 cm long; the female flowers, borne at the tips of the spikes, have prominent red stigmas).

Selections have been made by breeders for use as ornamental plants: ‘Gibsonii’ has
red-tinged leaves with reddish veins and pinkish-green seed pods; ‘Carmencita Pink’ is
similar, with pinkish-red stems; ‘Carmencita Bright Red’ has red stems, dark purplish leaves and red seed pods; all grow to around 1.5 m tall as annuals. ‘Impala’ is compact (only 1.2 m tall) with reddish foliage and stems, brightest on the young shoots; ‘Red Spire’ is tall (2–3 m) with red stems and bronze foliage; ‘Zanzibarensis’ is also tall (2–3 m), with large, mid-green leaves (50 cm long) with white midribs. (Heights refer to plants grown as
annuals.)

Castor is used as a food plant by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including Giant
Leopard Moth, Hypercompe hambletoni and The Nutmeg. It is a favourite food of the Tambourine Dove, Turtur tympanistria.

Uses
The use of castor seed oil in India has been documented since 2000 BC for use in lamps and in local medicine as a laxative, purgative, and cathartic in UNANI,

Ayurvedic and other ethnomedical systems.
Castor seed and its oil have also been used in China for centuries, mainly prescribed in
local medicine for internal use or use in dressingsCastor oil is a vegetable oil obtained from the castor bean (technically castor seed as the castor plant, Ricinus communis, is not a member of the bean family).

Castor oil has an unusual composition and chemistry, which makes it quite valuable. Ninety percent of fatty acids in castor oil are ricinoleic acid. Ricinoleic acid, a
monounsaturated, 18-carbon fatty acid, has a hydroxyl functional group at the twelfth
carbon, a very uncommon property for a biological fatty acid. This functional group causes
ricinoleic acid (and castor oil) to be unusually polar, and also allows chemical derivatization that is not practical with other biological oils. Since it is a polar dielectric with a relatively high dielectric constant (4.7), highly refined and dried Castor oil is sometimes used as a dielectric fluid within high performance high voltage capacitors.

Castor oil also contains 3-4% of both oleic and linoleic acids.Castor oil maintains its fluidity at both extremely high and low temperatures. Sebacic acid is chemically derived from castor oil. Castor oil and its derivatives have applications in the manufacturing of soaps, lubricants, hydraulic and brake fluids, paints, dyes, coatings, inks, cold resistant plastics, waxes and polishes, nylon, pharmaceuticals and perfumes. In internal combustion engines, castor oil is renowned for its ability to lubricate under extreme conditions and temperatures, such as in air-cooled engines.

The lubricants company Castrol takes its name from castor oil. However, castor oil tends to form gums in a short time, and its use is therefore restricted to engines that are regularly rebuilt, such as motorcycle race engines.

Castor oil is vegetable-based oil because it’s made from Castor plant seeds; thus, it naturally biodegrades quickly and comes from a renewable energy resource (plants). The castor seed contains Ricin, a toxic protein removed by cold pressing and filtering.

Medicinal use of Castor oil
Today, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recognizes Castor oil as
generally safe and effective (GRASE) for over-the-counter use as a laxative , but it is not
a preferred drug to treat constipation. Besides being a laxative, Castor oil is sometimes
used to help women start labor, but in any case with due caution and under medical
supervision. One of Castor oil’s derivatives undecylenic acid is also FDA approved for
over-the-counter use on skin disorders or skin problems. .

Pure cold pressed Castor oil is really tasteless and odorless. When additives are added to
pure cold pressed Castor oil, the oil becomes adulterated and the taste and smell can change according to the additives. Also, pure cold pressed Castor oil is potent and can be an eye irritant similar to pepper spray, so avoid contact with eyes.

Ricinoleic acid is the main component of Castor oil and it exerts anti-inflammatory effects

A study found that castor oil decreased pain more than ultrasound gel or vaseline during
extracorporeal shock wave application.

Therapeutically, modern drugs are rarely given in a pure chemical state, so most active ingredients are combined with excipients or additives.

As per Ayurveda:
It is katu, ushna, beneficial in deranged vata, kapha ,fever, cough and used in the purification of mercury.

Parts Used:
Seeds, leaves and root-bark.

Therapeutic Uses: Seeds:

“Castor oil” derived from the seeds is a well-known purgative ; leaves: anodyne and galactogogue; externally applied to boils and sores in the form of poultice; root-bark: emetic, purgative, beneficial in lumbago and skin diseases.

The root is sweetish, heating; carminative; useful in inflammations, pains, ascites, fever, glands, asthma, eructations, bronchitis, leprosy, diseases of the rectum, and the head.-

The leaves are useful in “vata” and” kapha “, intestinal worms, strangury, night blindness, earache; increase biliousness.-The flowers are useful in glandular tumours, anal troubles, vaginal pain.-

The fruit is heating and an appetiser; ilseful in tumours, pains, “vata “, piles, diseases of the liver and spleen.-The seed is cathartic and aphrodisiac.-

The oil is sweetish; cathartic, aphrodisiac, anthelmintic, alterative; useful in tumours, diseases of the heart, slow fevers, ascites, inflammations, typhoid, pain in the tack, lumbago, leprosy, elephantiasis, convulsions; increases” kapha”; causes biliousness .
The root bark is purgative, alterative; good in skin diseases.

The leaves are galactagogue; good for burns.-

The seeds and the oil from them have a bad taste; purgative; useful in liver troubles, pains in. the body, lumbago, boils, piles, ringworm, paralysis, inflammations, ascites, asthma, rheumatism, dropsy, amenorrhoea

The leaf is applied to the head to relieve headache, and is common1y used as a poultice for boils. the seeds and the oil from the seeds are used as a purgative

The oil is expressed and used medicinally; and a fomentation is made with the leaves to cure wounds. it is used as an ointment for sores, the leaves; are used

for fomentations; they are bound over boils, and are a good cure, the leaves are boiled and used as a febrifuge.

An infusion of the leaf is remedy for stomach-ache.. some apply a paste of the root in toothache,

The bark is used by natives for stitching up wounds, and as a dressing for wounds and sores..

some apply the powdered roasted seeds to sores, boils, etc., in children.

The foliage is considered emmenagogue, the root-bark purgative, and the leaf useful as a local application in rheumatism.

The local application of the leaf to the mammae is said to produce a powerful galactagogic action.

The bruised leaves are used for caries of the teeth and given with water for colic , the leaves are considered lactagogue and are given in infusion or applied to the breasts. the leaves are applied to the breasts to help the secretion of milk.

Soaked in vinegar they are applied to the foreehead in cases of sunstroke. They act as a powerful sudorific

Castor oil in the form of Cremophor EL (polyethoxylated Castor oil: a mixture of ricinoleic acid, polyglycol ester, glycerol polyglycol esters, and polyglycols) is added to many modern drugs such as: Miconazole, anti-fungal; Paclitaxel, anti-cancer ; Sandimmune (cyclosporine injection, USP) ;

Nelfinavir mesylate, HIV protease inhibitor . Saperconazole has Emulphor EL -719P (a castor oil derivative) ; Prograf has HCO-60 (polyoxyl 60 hydrogenated Castor oil); Balsam Peru – Castor oil – and Trypsin Topical contains Castor oil ; Aci-Jel (acetic acid/oxyquinoline/ricinoleic acid – vaginal); Emla (lidocaine, prilocaine and Castor oil).

Traditional or folk medicines:
Cold pressed Castor oil has been used or time-tested for centuries throughout the world for its anti-microbial and anti-bacterial properties long before any government agency was created to regulate medicines.

Medicinal Castor oil was used for skin problems, burns, sunburns, skin disorders, skin cuts, abrasions, etc.

The oil is also used as a rub or pack for various ailments, including abdominal complaints, headaches, muscle pains, inflammatory conditions, skin eruptions, lesions, and sinusitis. A
castor oil pack is made by soaking a piece of flannel in castor oil, then putting it on the
area of complaint and placing a heat source, such as a hot water bottle, on top of it.

Only the oil of the castor bean plant is non-toxic. Castor bean oil has a number of medicinal uses including laxative, purgative, cathartic and demulcent.The seeds of castor bean plant are very poisonous to people, animals and insects – just one milligram of ricin (one of the main toxic proteins in the plant) can kill an adult. It acts by inhibiting protein synthesis. Its property as a protein synthesis inhibitor is the theory behind its trials in cancer therapy.

Industrial Castor oil
Castor oil has over 1000 patented industrial applications and is used in the following   industries: automobile, aviation, cosmetics, electrical, electronics, manufacturing,  pharmaceutical, plastics, and telecommunications. The following is a brief list of Castor oil uses in the above industries: adhesives, brake fluids, caulks, dyes, electrical liquid  dielectrics, humectants, hydraulic fluids, inks, lacquers, leather treatments, lubricating  greases, machining oils, paints, pigments, refrigeration lubricants, rubbers, sealants,  textiles, washing powders, and waxes.

Castor oil’s high lubricity
(reduces friction) is superior to petroleum-based lubricants; for instance, it really clings to metal, especially hot metal, and is used in racing and jet (turbine) engines. In addition, Castor oil is non-toxic and quickly biodegrades; whereas,
petroleum-based oils are potential health hazards, and take a very long time to biodegrade, thus can damage the environment when concentrated .

Castor oil is non-drying oil (slow to oxidize); thus, it remains liquid for a long time. As
a result, it’s naturally a good lubricant, and was a fuel for lamps before alternating
current electricity (AC) was invented.

Castor oil’s value was recognized by the United States Congress in the Agricultural
Materials Act of 1984, and classified as a strategic material.

Lamp fuel
It is said to be the best lamp oil in use in India, giving an excellent white light, vying  in brilliancy with electricity, far superior to petroleum, rape seed, and all other oils,  whether vegetable, animal or mineral.

In Bangladesh, some villagers use castor oil instead of kerosene to fuel lamps.

You may click to learn more about Castor Beans & Castor Oil

Resources:

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

http://www.ayurvedakalamandiram.com/herbs.htm#eranda

http://www.piam.com/mms_garden/plants.html

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Fruits & Vegetables Herbs & Plants

Citrus

Botanical Name :Citrus Limonum
Family: Rutaceae
Subfamily: Aurantioideae
Tribe: Citreae
Genus: Citrus
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Subclass: Rosidae
Order: Sapindales

Common Name:Lemon

Habitat :Citrus is believed to have originated in the part of Southeast Asia bordered by Northeastern India, Myanmar (Burma) and the Yunnan province of China. Citrus fruit has been cultivated in an ever-widening area since ancient times; the best-known examples are the oranges, lemons, grapefruit, and limes.

Description:
Citrus limon  plants are large shrubs or small trees, reaching 5–15 m tall, with spiny shoots and alternately arranged evergreen leaves with an entire margin. The flowers are solitary or in small corymbs, each flower 2–4 cm diameter, with five (rarely four) white petals and numerous stamens; they are often very strongly scented. The fruit is a hesperidium, a specialised berry, globose to elongated, 4–30 cm long and 4–20 cm diameter, with a leathery rind or “peel” called a pericarp. The outermost layer of the pericarp is an “exocarp” called the flavedo, commonly referred to as the zest. The middle layer of the pericarp is the mesocarp, which in citrus fruits consists of the white, spongy “albedo”, or “pith”. The innermost layer of the pericarp is the endocarp. The segments are also called “liths”, and the space inside each lith is a locule filled with juice vesicles, or “pulp”. From the endocarp, string-like “hairs” extend into the locules, which provide nourishment to the fruit as it develops.
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Citrus fruits are notable for their fragrance, partly due to flavonoids and limonoids (which in turn are terpenes) contained in the rind, and most are juice-laden. The juice contains a high quantity of citric acid giving them their characteristic sharp flavour. The genus is commercially important as many species are cultivated for their fruit, which is eaten fresh, pressed for juice, or preserved in marmalades and pickles.

They are also good sources of vitamin C and flavonoids. The flavonoids include various flavanones and flavones

Citrus fruits are notable for their fragrance, partly due to flavonoids and limonoids (which in turn are terpenes) contained in the rind, and most are juice-laden. The juice contains a high quantity of citric acid giving them their characteristic sharp flavour. They are also good sources of vitamin C and flavonoids.

The taxonomy of the genus is complex and the precise number of natural species is unclear, as many of the named species are clonally-propagated hybrids, and there is genetic evidence that even the wild, true-breeding species are of hybrid origin. Cultivated Citrus may be derived from as few as four ancestral species. Numerous natural and cultivated origin hybrids include commercially important fruit such as the orange, grapefruit, lemon, some limes, and some tangerines. Recent research has suggested that the closely related genus Fortunella, and perhaps also Poncirus and the Australian genera Microcitrus and Eremocitrus, should be included in Citrus. In fact, most botanists now classify Microcitrus and Eremocitrus as part of the genus Citrus.

Cultivation

As citrus trees hybridise very readily (e.g., seeds grown from Persian limes can produce fruit similar to grapefruit), all commercial citrus cultivation uses trees produced by grafting the desired fruiting cultivars onto rootstocks selected for disease resistance and hardiness.

The color of citrus fruits only develops in climates with a (diurnal) cool winter. In tropical regions with no winter, citrus fruits remain green until maturity, hence the tropical “green orange”. The lime plant in particular is extremely sensitive to cool conditions, thus it is usually never exposed to cool enough conditions to develop a color. If they are left in a cool place over winter, the fruits will actually change to a yellow color. Many citrus fruits are picked while still green, and ripened while in transit to supermarkets.

Citrus fruitsCitrus trees are not generally frost hardy. Citrus reticulata tends to be the hardiest of the common Citrus species and can withstand short periods down to as cold as −10 °C, but realistically temperatures not falling below −2 °C are required for successful cultivation. A few hardy hybrids can withstand temperatures well below freezing, but do not produce quality fruit. A related plant, the Trifoliate orange (Poncirus trifoliata) can survive below −20 °C; its fruit are astringent and inedible unless cooked.

The trees do best in a consistently sunny, humid environment with fertile soil and adequate rainfall or irrigation. (Older ‘abandoned’ Citrus in low valleyland may suffer, yet survive, the dry summer of Central California Inner Coast Ranges. Any age Citrus grows well with infrequent irrigation in partial/understory shade, but the fruit crop is smaller.) Though broadleaved, they are evergreen and do not drop leaves except when stressed. The trees flower (sweet-scented at 2 to 20 meters) in the spring, and fruit is set shortly afterward. Fruit begins to ripen in fall or early winter months, depending on cultivar, and develops increasing sweetness afterward. Some cultivars of tangerines ripen by winter. Some, such as the grapefruit, may take up to eighteen months to ripen.

Limes in a grocery store.Major commercial citrus growing areas include southern China and most part of Asia, the Mediterranean Basin (including Southern Spain), South Africa, Australia, the southernmost United States, and parts of South America. In the U.S., Florida, Texas, and California are major producers, while smaller plantings are present in other Sun Belt states.

Common Uses
Lemonade or limeade are popular beverages prepared by diluting the juices of these fruits and adding sugar. Lemons and limes are also used as garnishes or in cooked dishes. Their juice is used as an ingredient in a variety of dishes, it can commonly be found in salad dressings and squeezed over cooked meat or vegetables. A variety of flavours can be derived from different parts and treatments of citrus fruits. The rind and oil of the fruit is generally very bitter, especially when cooked. The fruit pulp can vary from sweet and tart to extremely sour. Marmalade, a condiment derived from cooked orange and lemon, can be especially bitter. Lemon or lime is commonly used as a garnish for water, soft drinks, or cocktails. Citrus juices, rinds, or slices are used in a variety of mixed drinks. The skin of some citrus fruits, known as zest, is used as a spice in cooking. The zest of a lemon can also be soaked in water in a coffee filter, and drank.Lemon-Tea is a very good and testful drink for many Asians.

Kaffir Lime Leaves:
Aroma and Flavour: The haunting bouquet is unmistakably citrus and scented. The full citrus flavour is imparted when the leaves are torn or shredded.

Culinary Use: Apart from the leaves of the bush , only the fruit rind is used, finely grated, in Thai and Indonesian dishes. The leaves are torn or finely shredded and used in soups and curries – they also give a distinctive flaour to fish and chicken dishes.

Medical Uses:

The citrus juice used to be included in Thai ointments and shampoo, and in tonics in Malaysia.
Citrus juice also has medical uses – the lemon juice is used to relieve the pain of bee stings. The orange is also used in Vitamin C pills, which prevents scurvy. Scurvy is caused by Vitamin C deficiency, and can be prevented by having 10 milligrams of Vitamin C a day. An early sign of scurvy is fatigue. If ignored, later symptoms are bleeding and brusing easily.

A native from Asia, probably from India, it is now widely cultivated in Italy, California and Australia. Lemon was unknown to the ancient Greeks arriving in Europe probably brought by Roman soldiers returning from Asia Minor. It is one of the most important and versatile natural medicines for home use. A familiar food as well as a remedy, it has a high vitamin C content that helps improve resistance to infection, making it valuable for colds and flu. It is taken as a preventative for many conditions, including stomach infections, circulatory problems and arteriosclerosis. Lemon juice and oil are effective in killing germs. It decreases inflammation and improves digestion.

The fruit is an excellent source of vitamin C and has cooling properties.  Lemon juice is a traditional remedy for sunburn, and it was once taken cold to relieve feverish conditions including malaria.   Today, hot lemon juice and honey is still a favorite home remedy for colds and its astringency is useful for sore throats. In the home, lemon juice may be used to descale kettles and acts as a mild bleach.  Lemons are an excellent preventative medicine and have a wide range of uses in the domestic medicine chest. The fruit is rich in vitamin C which helps the body to fight off infections and also to prevent or treat scurvy. It was at one time a legal requirement that sailors should be given an ounce of lemon each day in order to prevent scurvy. Applied locally, the juice is a good astringent and is used as a gargle for sore throats etc. Lemon juice is also a very effective bactericide. It is also a good antiperiodic and has been used as a substitute for quinine in treating malaria and other fevers.  Although the fruit is very acid, once eaten it has an alkalizing effect upon the body. This makes it useful in the treatment of rheumatic conditions.  The skin of the ripe fruit is carminative and stomachic. The essential oil from the skin of the fruit is strongly rubefacient and when taken internally in small doses has stimulating and carminative properties.  The stembark is bitter, stomachic and tonic.  Some of the plants more recent applications are as sources of anti-oxidants and chemical exfoliants in specialized cosmetics.  The bioflavonoids in the fruit help to strengthen the inner lining of blood vessels, especially veins and capillaries, and help counter varicose veins and easy bruising.

MAIN PROPERTIES: Antiseptic, anti-rheumatic, antibacterial, antioxidant, reduces fever.
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/Citrus

http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_LMN.htm

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Herbs & Plants

Wood Sorrel (Oxalis acetosella)

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Botanical Name: Oxalis acetosella
Family:
Oxalidaceae
Genus:
Oxalis
Species:
O. acetosella
Kingdom
Plantae
Order:
Oxalidales

Common Names:   Wood sorrel, Common wood sorrel or sometimes Miriam

Other Names: Wood Sour. Sour Trefoil. Stickwort. Fairy Bells. Hallelujah

Habitat :Wood Sorrel  is native to  Europe, including Britain, from Iceland south and east to Spain, N. and C. Asia to Japan.  It grows in moist woods, moorland and on shady rocks.

Description:
A perennial, Wood Sorrel is a small plant with leaves in three parts, which often fold up. The flowers are bell-shaped and white with a dash of blue. Despite its name, the plant is not related to Sorrel, but is closely related to the Geranium family.
It is a little plant of a far more delicate, even dainty character, growing abundantly in woods and shady places. From its slender, irregular creeping rootstock covered with red scales, it sends up thin delicate leaves, each composed of three heartshaped leaflets, a beautiful bright green above, but of a purplish hue on their under surface. The long slender leaf-stalks are often reddish towards the base. The leaflets are usually folded somewhat along their middle, and are of a peculiarly sensitive nature. Only in shade are they fully extended: if the direct rays of the sun fall on them they sink at once upon the stem, forming a kind of three-sided pyramid, their under surfaces thus shielding one another and preventing too much evaporation from their pores. At night and in bad weather, the leaflets fold in half along the midrib, and the three are placed nearly side by side to ‘sleep,’ a security against storm and excessive dews.

CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES

It flowers between Easter and Whitsuntide.
By many, the ternate leaf has been considered to be that with which St. Patrick demonstrated the Trinity to the ancient Irish, though a tiny kind of clover is now generally accepted as the ‘true Shamrock.’

The flowers, each set on long stalks, are fragile, in form somewhat like the Crane’sbills, to which they are closely allied, being bell-shaped, the corolla composed of five delicate white petals, veined with purple, enclosed in a five-scalloped cup of sepals and containing ten stamens, and in the centre, five green, thread-like columns, arising from a single five-celled ovary. At the base of the petals, a little honey is stored, but the flower seems to find favour with few insects.

As the flower fades, its stalk bends towards the ground and conceals the seed capsule under the leaves, till ripe, when it straightens again. The case of the capsule is elastic and curls back when the fruit is quite ripe, jerking the seeds out several yards, right over the leaves.

A second kind of flower is also produced. These are hidden among the leaves and are inconspicuous, their undeveloped petals never opening out. The ripening and seed scattering processes of these self-fertilized cleistogamous (or hidden) flowers are the same as with the familiar white-petalled ones. Wood Sorrel droops its blossoms in stormy weather, and also folds its leaves.

Neither the flowers nor any part of the plant has any odour, but the leaves have a pleasantly acid taste, due to the presence of considerable quantities of binoxalate of potash. This, combined with their delicacy, has caused them to be eaten as a spring salad from time immemorial, their sharpness taking the place of vinegar. They were also the basis of a green sauce, that was formerly taken largely with fish. ‘Greene Sauce,’ says Gerard, ‘is good for them that have sicke and feeble stomaches . . . and of all Sauces, Sorrel is the best, not only in virtue, but also in pleasantness of his taste.’

Both botanical names Oxalis and acetosella refer to this acidity, Oxalis being derived from the Greek oxys, meaning sour or acid, and acetosella, meaning vinegar salts. Salts of Lemon, as well as Oxalic acid, can be obtained from the plant: 20 lb. of fresh herb yield about 6 lb. of juice, from which, by crystallization, between 2 and 3 OZ. of Salts of Lemon can be obtained.

Edible Uses :
Edible Parts: Flowers; Leaves.
Edible Uses: Curdling agent.

Leaves – raw or cooked. A delicious lemony flavour, the leaves make a refreshing, thirst-quenching munch and are also added to salads, soups, sauces etc. This leaf should be used in moderation, see the notes above on toxicity. Flowers – raw. A decorative addition to salads. The dried plant can be used as a curdling agent for plant milks.

Cultivation:
Prefers moist shady conditions and a humus rich soil in shade or dappled sunlight. Dislikes very heavy and wet soils. Plants are hardy to about -25°c. A dainty woodland carpeter growing well in a woodland or wild garden. When well sited the plants can run aggressively and also self-sow. The plant flowers in early spring, but does not produce much fertile seed at this time. Most of the fertile seed is produced from cleistogamous flowers during the summer.

Propagation:
Seed – best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and plant them out in late spring or early summer. Division in spring. Very easy, larger divisions can be planted out direct into their permanent positions. We have found that it is better to pot up the smaller divisions and grow them on in light shade in a cold frame until they are well established before planting them out in late spring or early summer.

Part Used Medicinally:–-The leaves, fresh or dried.

Medicinal virtues: Similar to Sorrels, but is more effectual in hindering the putrefaction of the blood. It quenches the thirst, strengthens a weak stomach, stays vomiting and is excellent in fevers.
Modern uses: The plant is particularly rich in oxalic acid and potassium oxalate, which are not suitable for those with gouty or rheumatic tendencies. It can he injurious if prescribed injudiciously. The leaves are used for their cooling action in fevers. The infusion – i oz (28 g) to i pt (568 rnl) of boiling water – is also given for catarrh and urinary tract inflammation in doses of 2 fl Oz (56 rni). Excessive or prolonged administration is not recommended. The infusion is used as lotion for skin infections. The juice is used as a gargle for mouth ulcers.

General Medicinal Usage:

Excellent in any contagious sickness or pestilential fever.

It has diuretic, antiscorbutic and refrigerant action, and a decoction made from its pleasant acid leaves is given in high fever, both to quench thirst and to allay the fever. The Russians make a cooling drink from an infusion of the leaves, which may be infused with water or boiled in milk. Though it may be administered freely, not only in fevers and catarrhs, but also in haemorrhages and urinary disorders, excess should be guarded against, as the oxalic salts are not suitable to all constitutions, especially those of a gouty and rheumatic tendency.

The old herbalists tell us that Wood Sorrel is more effectual than the true Sorrels as a blood cleanser, and will strengthen a weak stomach, produce an appetite, check vomiting, and remove obstructions of the viscera.

The juice of the leaves turns red when clarified and makes a fine, clear syrup, which was considered as effectual as the infusion. The juice used as a gargle is a remedy for ulcers in the mouth, and is good to heal wounds and to stanch bleeding. Sponges and linen cloths saturated with the juice and applied, were held to be effective in the reduction of swellings and inflammation.

An excellent conserve, Conserva Ligulae, used to be made by beating the fresh leaves up with three times their weight of sugar and orange peel, and this was the basis of the cooling and acid drink that was long a favourite remedy in malignant fevers and scurvy.

In Henry VIII’s time this plant was held in great repute as a pot-herb, but after the introduction of French Sorrel, with its large succulent leaves, it gradually lost its position as a salad and pot-herb.

The herbalist Nicholas Culpeper, writing in England in the 1500’s, reported wood sorrel’s medicinal virtues.  He recommended the plant ?to quench thirst, to strengthen a weak stomach, to stay vomiting, and he noted that it was  excellent in any contagious sickness or pestilential fever.  By the 1800’s this species of sorrel had been introduced into North America.  One herbalist noted that a decoction, or extract, of wood sorrel was being used to treat inflammatory disorders, fevers, and diseases of the kidneys and bladder.  A decoction of the leaves is used in the treatment of fevers, both to quench the thirst and allay the fever. Externally, the leaves are crushed and applied locally to dispel boils and abscesses, they also have an astringent affect on wounds.  The juice of the leaves turns red when clarified and makes a fine, clear syrup, which was considered as effectual as the infusion. The juice used as a gargle is a remedy for ulcers in the mouth, and is good to heal wounds and to stanch bleeding. Sponges and linen cloths saturated with the juice and applied, were held to be effective in the reduction of swellings and inflammation. A conserve, Conserva Ligulae, used to be made by beating the fresh leaves up with three times their weight of sugar and orange peel, and this was the basis of the cooling and acid drink that was a remedy in malignant fevers and scurvy.

Other Uses :
Cleanser……..The juice of the leaves removes iron mould stains from linen. Plants can be grown as a ground cover in woodland or under the shade of shrubs. They should be spaced about 45cm apart each way

Known Hazards:   The leaves contain oxalic acid, which gives them their sharp flavour. Perfectly all right in small quantities, the leaves should not be eaten in large amounts since oxalic acid can bind up the body’s supply of calcium leading to nutritional deficiency. The quantity of oxalic acid will be reduced if the leaves are cooked. People with a tendency to rheumatism, arthritis, gout, kidney stones or hyperacidity should take especial caution if including this plant in their diet since it can aggravate their condition

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/Oxalis_acetosella
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Oxalis+acetosella
www.botanical.com
www.health-topic.com

http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_UZ.htm

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Herbs & Plants

Calamus

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Botanical Name : Acorus calamus
Family: Sweet Flag (Acoraceae)
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Acorales
Genus: Acorus
Species: A. calamus

Synonyms:-Sedge, Sweet, Sweet Flag. Sweet Root. Sweet Rush. Sweet Cane. Gladdon. Sweet Myrtle. Myrtle Grass. Myrtle Sedge. Cinnamon Sedge.

Common names: Beewort, Bitter pepper root, Calamus root, Flag root, Gladdon, Myrtle flag, Myrtle grass, Myrtle root, Myrtle sedge, Pine root, Rat root, Sea sedge, Sweet cane, Sweet cinnamon, Sweet grass, Sweet myrtle, Sweet root, Sweet rush, and Sweet sedge.

Common names in Asia include: “Shoubu,” in Japanese, “vacha”; “Bacch” (Unani); “Bajai,” “Gora-bach,” “Vasa bach” (Hindi); “Vekhand” (Marathi); “Vasambu” (Tamil); “Vadaja,” “Vasa” (Telugu); “Baje” (Kannada); “Vayambu” (Malayalam); Haimavati, “Bhutanashini,” “jatila” (Sanskrit). “Bojho” Nepali.

Part Used: –Root.

Habitat: —Found in all European countries except Spain. Southern Russia, northern Asia Minor, southern Siberia, China, Japan, northern United States of America, Hungary, Burma, Ceylon and India.

Description:— Calamus OR the Sweet Sedge is a perennial herb, in habit somewhat resemblingthe Iris, with a long, indefinite, branched, cylindrical rhizome immersed in the mud, usually smaller than that of the Iris, about the thickness of a finger and emitting numerous roots. The erect leaves are yellowish-green, 2 to 3 feet in length, few, all radical, sheathing at their bases (which are pink), swordshaped, narrow and flat, tapering into a long, acute point, the edges entire, but wavy or crimped. The leaves are much like those of Iris, but may readily be distinguished from these and from all others by the peculiar crimped edges and their aromatic odour when bruised.

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The scape or flower-stem arises from the axils of the outer leaves, which it much resembles, but is longer and solid and triangular. From one side, near the middle of its length, projecting upwards at an angle, from the stem, it sends out a solid, cylindrical, blunt spike or spadix, tapering at each end, from 2 to 4 inches in length, often somewhat curved and densely crowded with very small greenish-yellow flowers. Each tiny flower contains six stamens enclosed in a perianth with six divisions and surrounding a threecelled, oblong ovary with a sessile stigma. The flowers are sweet-scented and so formed that cross-pollination is ensured, but the plant is not usually fertile in the British Isles, as it is in Asia, the proper insects being absent here. The fruit, which does not ripen inEurope, is a berry, being full of mucus, which falls when ripe into the water or to the ground, and is thus dispersed, but it fruits sparingly everywhere and propagates itself mainly by the rapid growth of its spreading rhizome.

It is easily distinguished from all other British plants by its peculiar spadix, which appears in June and July, and by the fragrance of its roots, stems and leaves.

In most localities the flowers are not very abundantly produced:
it never flowers unless actually growing in water.

Calamus is a vigorous, reed-like, aquatic plant, flourishing in ditches, by the margins of lakes and streams and in marshy places generally, associated with reeds, bullrushes and bur-reed. Its erect, sword-shaped leaves bear considerable resemblance to those of the Yellow Flag, hence its equally common popular name of ‘Sweet Flag,’ though it is not related botanically to the Iris, being a member of the Arum order, Araceae. All parts
of the plant have a peculiar, agreeable fragrance.

Formerly, on account of its pleasant odour, it was freely strewn on the floors of churches at festivals and often in private houses, instead of rushes. The specific name, calamus, is derived from the Greek calamos (a reed).

The floors of Norwich Cathedral until quite recently were always strewn with calamus at great festivals. As the Sweet Sedge did not grow near London, but had to be fetched at considerable expense from Norfolk and Suffolk, one of the charges of extravagance brought against Cardinal Wolsey was his habit of strewing his floors with fresh rushes.

Most species of this order give out a considerable amount of heat within the spathe at the time of flowering, so that the temperature rises noticeably above that of the external air. Many of the varieties also have lurid colouring and a fetid odour.

The generic name, Acorus, is from Acoron, the Greek name of the plant used by Dioscorides and said to be derived from Coreon (the pupil of the eye), diseases of which the Ancients used this plant to cure.

The rhizomes are an important commercial commodity and of considerable medicinal value. Though now common throughout Europe, there is little doubt that the Sweet Flag is a native of eastern countries, being indigenous to the marshes of the mountains of India.

Calamus was largely grown from time immemorial for its rhizomes in the East and the Indian rhizomes were imported extensively long after it was common in Europe. The Indian rhizome is said to have a stronger and more agreeable flavour than that obtained in Europe or the United States.

The Calamus aromaticus of the Ancients is thought by some to be a plant belonging to the Gentian family, though the description of the plant ‘Acoron,’ a native of Colchis, Galatia, Pontus and Crete, given by Dioscorides and Pliny, seems to refer to the Sweet Flag.

It is now found wild on the margins of ponds and rivers in most of the English counties, and is in some parts abundant, especially in the Fen districts. In Scotland it is scarce. It is found in all European countries except Spain, and becomes more abundant eastward and in southern Russia, northern Asia Minor and southern Siberia, China and Japan. It is also found in the northern United States of America, where it appears to be indigenous.

It is cultivated to a small extent in Hungary, Burma and Ceylon, and is common in gardens in India. In northern China another species is cultivated as an ornamental greenhouse plant, but the wild plant is that generally collected for use, especially in Russia, on the shores of the Black Sea. In 1724, Berlu (Treasury of Drugs) states that it was ‘brought in quantities from Germany,’ hence it may be inferred it was not collected in England until a later period, when the London market was supplied from the rivers and marshes of Norfolk, where it was cultivated in the Fen districts, and from the banks of the Thames, as much as L.40 having been obtained for the year’s crop of a single acre of the riverside land on which it naturally grows. But for many years now the native source has been neglected and the rhizomes for medicinal and commercial use are imported. In dry summers, large quantities are collected in the ditches in Germany, but the greater proportion of the imported drug is derived from southern Russia, via Germany.

Cultivation-
:–The plants can be propagated very readily by the division of the clumps or of the rhizomes in early spring, or at the commencement of autumn, portions of the rhizome being planted in damp, muddy spots, in marshes or on the margins of water, set 1 foot apart and well covered. It will succeed very well in a garden if the ground is moist, but a rich,moist soil is essential, or it has to be frequently watered.

The rhizomes are gathered when large enough, generally after two or three years, and before they lose their firmness and become hollow. Late autumn or early spring is the time chosen for collection.

Constituents:—The properties of Calamus are almost entirely due to its volatile oil, obtained by steam distillation. The oil is contained in all parts of the plant, though in greatest quantity in the rhizome, the leaves yielding to distillation 0.2 per cent, the fresh root 1.5 to 3.5 per cent, the dried German root 0.8 per cent, and the Japan root as much as 5 per cent.

The oil is strong and fragrant, its taste warm, bitterish, pungent and aromatic. Its active principles are taken up by boiling water. It is a thick, pale yellow liquid. Little is known of its chemistry, though it possibly contains pinene and the chief aromatic constituent is asaryl aldehyde.

The root stock or rhizome also contains alkaloidal matter, mainly Choline (formerly thought to be a specific alkaloid, Calamine); soft resin, gum, starch and the bitter glucoside, Acorin, which is amorphous, semi-fluid, resinous, of neutral reaction, aromatic odour and bitter aromatic taste.

Medicinal Uses:
It is called a Sacred Medicinal Plant of the Native Cree.
The Cree Indians of Northern Alberta use Calamus for a number of medicinal reasons including: as an analgesic for the relief of toothache or headache, for oral hygiene to cleanse and disinfect the teeth, the fight the effects of exhaustion or fatigue, and to help cure/prevent a hangover.

Other Native tribes used it to treat a cough, made a decoction as a carminative and as an infusion for cholic.

The Dakotas use calamus to treat diabetes, and there are several reported cases where of the root had cured people who had been given up by Western medicine. When calamus root was chewed regularly by the Indians, they would be miraculously cured of this disease within a matter of months.

The Sioux used the whole plant, making aromatic garlands from the leaves and using the root as a tea for bowel pains, or rubbed the chewed root on the skin for a general illness cure.

It is the root-stock or rhizome that is used for medicinal purposes, a digestive medicine being made from it which is official in the United States Pharmacopceia and in several others.

The root stock or rhizome is an aromatic stimulant, bitter tonic and expectorant.It relieves flatulence,counteract spasmodic disorders and induces vomiting.It regulates manstrual periods. It is also a laxative, diuretic and aphrodisiac.

It is used in the treatment of instinal worm,dirrhoea,asthma, mouth ulcers, common cold and in vavious other infant’s ailments.

Calamus was formerly much esteemed as an aromatic stimulant and mild tonic. A fluid extract is an official preparation in the

United States and some othebal medicine as anr Pharmacopceias, but it is not now official in the British Pharmacopceia, though it is much used in her aromatic bitter.

On account of the volatile oil which is present, it also acts as a carminative, removing the discomfort caused by flatulence and checking the growth of the bacteria which give rise to it.

It is used to increase the appetite and benefit digestion, given as fluid extract, infusion or tincture. Tincture of Calamus, obtained by macerating the finely-cut rhizome in alcohol for seven days and filtering, is used as a stomachic and flavouring agent. It has a brownish-yellow colour and a pungent, spicy taste.

The essential oil is used as an addition to inhalations.

The dried root may be chewed ad libitum to relieve dyspepsia or an infusion of 1 OZ. to 1 pint of boiling water may be taken freely in doses of a teacupful. The dried root is also chewed to clear the voice.
Fluid extract, U.S.P., 15 to 60 drops.

Calamus has been found useful in ague and low fever, and was once greatly used by country people in Norfolk, either in infusion, or powdered, as a remedy against the fever prevalent in the Fens. Its use has been attended with great success where Peruvian bark has failed. It is also beneficial as a mild stimulant in typhoid cases.

The tonic medicine called Stockton Bitters, formerly in much esteem in some parts of England, is made from the root of this plant and that of Gentiana campestris.

Waller’s British Herbal says:
‘It is of great service in all nervous complaints, vertigoes, headaches and hypochondriacal affections. Also commended in dysentry and chronic catarrhs. The powdered root may be given, 12 grs. to 1/2 drachm. In an infusion of 2 drachms to a pint of water or of white wine, it is an agreeable stomachic, even to persons in health, to take a glass about an hour before dinner. When the root is candied with sugar, it is convenient to dyspeptic patients, who may carry it in a small box, in the pocket, and take it as they find occasion.’
On the Continent the candied rhizome is widely employed. The Turks use the candied rhizome as a preventive against contagion.
The rhizome is largely used in native Oriental medicines for dyspepsia and bronchitis and chewed as a cough lozenge, and from the earliest times has been one of the most popular remedies of the native practitioners of India. The candied root is sold as a favourite medicine in every Indian bazaar.

The powdered root is also esteemed in Ceylon and India as a vermifuge and an insecticide, especially in relation to fleas. Sprinkled round a tree attacked by white ants in Malay (Perak) it was found to destroy those that were near the surface and prevented others from attacking the tree.

In powder, Calamus root on account of its spicy flavour serves as a substitute for cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger. It is said also to be used by snuff manufacturers and to scent hair-powders and in tooth-powders, in the same way as orris.

The highly aromatic volatile oil is largely used in perfumery.

The oil is used by rectifiers to improve the flavour of gin and to give a peculiar taste and fragrance to certain varieties of beer.

In the United States, Calamus was also formerly used by country people as an ingredient in making wine bitters.

In Lithuania, the root is preserved with sugar-like angelica.

The young and tender inflorescence is often eaten by children for its sweetness. In Holland, children use the rhizomes as chewing-gum and also make pop-gun projectiles of them.

The aroma that makes the leaves attractive to us, renders them distasteful to cattle, who do not touch the plant.

On line availability of Calamus Root

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.

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