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Ginger (Zingiber officinale)

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Botanical Name :Zingiber officinale
Family: Zingiberaceae
Genus: Zingiber
Species: Z. officinale
Kingdom: Plantae
clade: Angiosperms
clade: Monocots
clade: Commelinids
Order: Zingiberales

Common Name :Ginger

Ginger: When fresh it is called “ardraka”, and in the dried form it is referred to as “shunthi”

Habitat :  Ginger is a herb that is indigenous to the South West coast of India. It is also known in the East as a hot or yang herb, and has a long history of traditional usage spanning back over 2,500 years.The characteristic aromatic smell of ginger is familiar to many of us, and its use as a spice in cookery is very well known.

Description:

Zingiber officinale is usually about four feet tall, with long, narrow leaves that measure around seven inches long. When the plant flowers, it produces small yellow-green flowers. The word “zingiber” is a distant relative of the Sanskrit word “shringavera,” which means “shaped like a deer’s antlers” (referring to the shape of the plant’s leaves)..

click to see the pictures…>…...(001)....(01)   .(.1).….….(2).……...(3)………..(4)....

Different Uses:
Ginger used for cooking and medicinal purposes is not the outer part of the ginger plant, but the root. Ginger root is light beige in color and looks a bit like a hand, with many small extensions from a larger main body. Ginger root should be firm and have no growths on the exterior.

Gari (ginger)Ginger produces a hot, fragrant kitchen spice.[5] Young ginger rhizomes are juicy and fleshy with a very mild taste. They are often pickled in vinegar or sherry as a snack or just cooked as an ingredient in many dishes. They can also be steeped in boiling water to make ginger tea, to which honey is often added; sliced orange or lemon fruit may also be added. Ginger can also be made into candy.

Mature ginger roots are fibrous and nearly dry. The juice from old ginger roots is extremely potent[6] and is often used as a spice in Indian recipes, and is a quintessential ingredient of Chinese, Korean, Japanese and many South Asian cuisines for flavoring dishes such as seafood or goat meat and vegetarian cuisine.

Ginger acts as a useful food preservative.

Fresh ginger can be substituted for ground ginger at a ratio of 6 to 1, although the flavors of fresh and dried ginger are somewhat different. Powdered dry ginger root is typically used as a flavoring for recipes such as gingerbread, cookies, crackers and cakes, ginger ale, and ginger beer.

Candied ginger is the root cooked in sugar until soft, and is a type of confectionery.

Fresh ginger may be peeled before eating. For longer-term storage, the ginger can be placed in a plastic bag and refrigerated or frozen.

Culinary Use: The essential oil is used in commercial flavourings. Fresh root ginger is extremely popular in a huge variety of stir-fry or curry dishes. Authentically, fresh root India and oriental countries. It is incorporated by different techniques slices may be added to marinades or in cooking, to be discarded on the side of the plate or bowl as the food is eaten. Grated, chopped or crushed ginger is used in pastes or braised dishes. Finely shredded ginger is added to fried and stir-fried dishes, or it may be used raw in salads. Pickled and preserved types are served as appetizers or used in savoury cooking.

All these methods are employed to flavour fish and seafood, poultry, meat, vegetable and noodle dishes. Ginger is also widely appreciated in new cooking styles, for example with chicken and game in casseroles.

Ginger is all essential in much western baking, for example in traditional gingerbreads, cakes, biscuits (such as ginger snaps), French pain d’ epice and German Pfefferkuchen. The spice is also important in chutneys, pickles, jams and sweet preserves as well as drinks, such as ginger beer, ginger ale and ginger wine.

Most of Bengali Indian cooking giger paste and onion paste is always added to give a good taste and flavour in curry.Drink a cup of hot tea with ginger in it ……. is good for cold.

Aroma and Flavour: The aroma when you cut into a piece of fresh root ginger has a hint of lemon, with a refreshing sharpness. Jamaica ginger is said to have the finest aroma, with the Kenyan spice being of good quality too. Other African and Indian gingers have a darker skin and a biting, less pleasant flavour.

The Benefits of Ginger

Ayurveda considers it to be one of the best herbs which nullify the toxins produced in the body due to improper digestion. Fresh ginger is useful in alleviating cold and cough whereas the dried one has more anti-“vata” effect. Due to its “pitta” aggravating properties, excessive use of ginger is contra-indicated in conditions involving hyperacidity, ulcers and gall stones.

Nausea – it is often used to ease nausea caused by travelling or pregnancy as well as that due to other causes.
Digestion – it has the ability to calm the stomach, promote the flow of bile, and improve the appetite.
Stomach Cramps caused by wind – it can relieve these, often quicker than any other herbal medicine.
Circulation – it helps to support a healthy cardiovascular system by making platelets less sticky and therefore reducing he likelihood of aggregation (a major factor in atherosclerosis) Much recent work has focused on the use of ginger in circulatory disorders such as Raynauds disease, which is characterised by blue fingers and toes. Ginger appears to promote blood flow to these areas, which eases the problem.
Rheumatoid arthritis – it has traditionally been used to help inflammatory joint diseases such as arthritis. It is also valued for its analgesic action, which may help arthritic conditions.
Cholesterol – studies have suggested that ginger may be useful in keeping cholesterol levels under control, although how this works is not yet understood.
Respiratory infections – it is well known for its warming expectorant action on the upper respiratory tract, and this is why Chinese herbalists have traditionally used ginger to treat colds and influenza.

For more than 5,000 years Ginger has been used for the relief of the occasional upset stomach. Ginger, a warming energizer, is traditionally known to support the digestive and immune systems. In ancient Sanskrit, Ginger was called Vishwabhesaj, which means the universal medicine. Ayurvedic practitioners use Ginger to activate Agni, the body’s fire element. Agni burns up Ama, naturally occurring toxins and undigested food in the body. When you decrease Ama, the body gains strength, balance and harmony.

Medicinal and Other Use: Henry VIII is said to have used ginger as a medicine for its qualities, as outlined by Culpeper, the herbalist, 150 years later: Ginger helps digestion, warms the stomach, clear the sight, and is profitable for old men; it heats the joints and is therefore useful against gout’. Ginger has an impressive record in treating all kinds of ailments: it is said to help poor circulation, and to cure flatulence and indigestion; it is taken as a drink for coughs, nausea and influenza. In the East ginger is chewed to ward off evil spirits. it is considered to be a cure for travel sickness. The essential oil is used in perfumery.

Click & see :How to use ginger for better health  

One medical research study had results indicating that ginger might be an effective treatment for nausea caused by motion sickness or other illness, The study however, failed to show a significant difference between ginger and a placebo. There are several proposed mechanisms of action for the anti-emetic properties of ginger but there is not yet conclusive support for any particular model.

Modern research on nausea and motion sickness used approximately 1 gram of ginger powder daily. Though there are claims for efficacy in all causes of nausea, the PDR recommends against taking ginger root for morning sickness commonly associated with pregnancy due to possible mutagenic effects. Nevertheless, Chinese women traditionally have taken ginger root during pregnancy to combat morning sickness. The Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database (compiled by health professionals and pharmacists), states that ginger is likely safe for use in pregnancy when used orally in amounts found in foods. Ginger ale and ginger beer have been recommended as “stomach settlers” for generations in countries where the beverages are made. Ginger water was commonly used to avoid heat cramps in the United States in the past.

In Western-hemisphere nations, powdered dried ginger root is made into capsules and sold in pharmacies for medicinal use. In the US, ginger is not approved by the FDA for the treatment or cure of any disease. Ginger is instead sold as an unregulated dietary supplement. In India, ginger is applied as a paste to the temples to relieve headache. In Myanmar, ginger and local sweet (Htan nyat) which is made from palm tree juice are boiled together and taken to prevent the Flu. A hot ginger drink (made with sliced ginger cooked in sweetened water or a Coca-Cola-like drink) has been reported as a folk medicine for common cold.

Ginger has also historically been used in folk medicine to treat inflammation, although medical studies as to the efficacy of ginger in decreasing inflammation have shown mixed results. There are several studies that demonstrate a decrease in joint pain from arthritis after taking ginger, though the results have not been consistent from study to study. It may also have blood thinning and cholesterol lowering properties, making it theoretically effective in treating heart disease; while early studies have shown some efficacy, it is too early to determine whether further research will bear this out.

The medical form of ginger historically was called “Jamaica ginger”; it was classified as a stimulant and carminative, being much used for dyspepsia and colic. It was also frequently employed to disguise the taste of nauseous medicines. The tea brewed from this root was an old-fashioned remedy for colds.

The characteristic odor and flavor of ginger root is caused by a mixture of zingerone, shoagoles and gingerols, volatile oils that compose about 1%–3% by weight of fresh ginger. The gingerols have analgesic, sedative, antipyretic, antibacterial, and GI tract motility effects.

Ginger is on the GRAS list from FDA. However, like other herbs, ginger may be harmful because it may interact with other medications, such as warfarin; hence, a physician or pharmacist should be consulted before taking the herb. Ginger is also contraindicated in people suffering from gallstones, because the herb promotes the release of bile from the gallbladder.

You may click to  see   : “Ginger may help researchers win the fight against cancer”
Properties
Pungent oleoresins – these have been identified as the phenylalkylketones, known as gingerols, shogaols and zingerone. The dried root of ginger has been shown to be more potent than the fresh root with regard to shogaol, which is thought to be the most potent of the constituents of ginger.

Contra-indications/Precautions
Anyone with a history of gallstones should consult a medical practitioner prior to use. Short-term use of low levels during the first three months of pregnancy appears to have no adverse side effects. Anyone using anticoagulants should not use ginger.

Ginger allergies
Some people are allergic to ginger. Generally, this is reported as having a gaseous component. This may take the form of flatulence, or it may take the form of an extreme constriction or tightening in the throat necessitating uncontrollable burping to relieve the pressure .

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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:   (Extracted from: http://www.healthreaction.com/web/articles/ginger.htm and http://www.good-earth.com/yogi-tea—ginger-tea.html and http://www.hotel-club-thailand.com/thai-cooking/thai-spices.htm), http://www.ehow.com/facts_5541828_description-ginger-plant.html

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Black cumin seeds

Botanical Name : Nigella sativa
Family: Ranunculaceae
Genus: Nigella
Species: N. sativa
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Ranunculales

Common Names : Black Seed Oil , Black cumin, black caraway, Roman-coria

Other Names
Black Caraway, Black Cumin, Black Seed, Damascena, Devil in-the-bush, Fennel flower, Melanthion, Nutmeg Flower, Roman Coriander, Wild Onion Seed
French: cheveux de Venus, nigell, poivrette
German: Scharzkummel (black caraway)
Italian: nigella
Spanish: neguilla
Indian: kala zeera (lit, black cumin), kalonji, krishnajiraka, Bengali  name; Kalo Zeera
Spice Description:
Nigella seeds are small, matte-black grains with a rough surface and an oily white interior. They are roughly triangulate, 1 1/2 – 3 mm (1/16 to 1/8 in ) long. They are similar to onion seeds.
Bouquet: The seeds have little bouquet, though when they are rubbed they give off an aroma reminiscent of oregano.
Flavour: Slightly bitter and peppery with a crunchy texture.
Hotness Scale: 3

Parts Used : Seeds

Plant Description and Cultivation
An herbaceous annual of the buttercup family, about 60 cm (2 ft) high. The gray–green leaves are wispy and threadlike. Flowers are have five petals bout 2.5 cm wide (1 in), white with blue veins and appearing between June and September. They yield a seed capsule with five compartments each topped by a spike. The compartments open when dried to disperse the seeds. Nigella is native to western Asia where it grows both wild and cultivated. India, Egypt and the Middle East also cultivate it.

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Plants :
flower 1:
flower-2 :

 Negella seeds
Nigella damascena seed capsule

Nigella has been used since antiquity by Asian herbalists and pharmacists and was used for culinary purposes by the Romans. The seeds are known to repel certain insects and can be used like moth balls. The name nigella derives from the Latin nigellus, or niger, meaning black.
A spice that is made from seeds of the black cumin plant. A member of the parsley family of plants, black cumin is native to parts of Asia, India and Pakistan where the seeds are harvested. Narrow, tiny and curved in shape, Kala Jeera has a strong earthy aroma that becomes nutty flavored when cooked. Although it is not the same as cumin, it can be similarly used in small amounts to enhance the flavor of meats, soups, stews, rice, and sauces.

Culinary uses
The seeds of N. sativa, known as kalonji, black cumin (though this can also refer to Bunium persicum) or just nigella, are used as a spice in Indian and Middle Eastern cuisine. The dry roasted nigella seeds flavor curries, vegetables and pulses. The black seeds taste mostly like oregano crossed with pepper. Most people use it as a “pepper” in recipes with pod fruit, vegetables, salads and poultry.

Nigella is used in India and the Middle East as a spice and condiment and occasionally in Europe as both a pepper substitute and a spice. It is widely used in Indian cuisines, particularly in mildly braised lamb dishes such as korma. It is also added to vegetable and dhal dishes as well as in chutneys. The seeds are sprinkled on to naan bread before baking. Nigella is an ingredient of some garam masalas and is one of the five spices in panch phoran. In the Middle East nigella is added to bread dough.

Other uses
Several species are grown as ornamental plants in gardens, popular for their seed capsules, which are used in dried flower arrangements. Love in the mist are used exclusively for dried arrangements. These flowers are the best to add texture to any dried flower arrangement. The delicate, purple striped pods are used in several arrangements for an airy effect.

In India the seeds are used as a carminative and stimulant to ease bowel and indigestion problems and are given to treat intestinal worms and nerve defects to reduce flatulence, and induce sweating. Dried pods are sniffed to restore a lost sense of smell. It is also used to repel some insects, much like mothballs.

Constituents::oleic-acid ,palmitic-acid,phenylalanine ,phytosterols, potassium,stearic-acid, stigmasterol,tannin,thymoquinone,tryptophan ,tyrosine

Medicinal Uses:
Nigella is considered carminative, a stimulant, and diuretic. A paste of the seeds is applied for skin eruptions and is sure to relieve scorpion stings. The seeds are antiseptic and used to treat intestinal worms, especially in children. The seeds are much used in India to increase breast milk. The seeds are often scattered between folds of clothes as an effective insect repellent. Alcoholic extracts of the seeds are used as stabilizing agents for some edible fats. In India, the seeds are also considered as stimulant, diaphoretic and emmenagogue. Some of the conditions nigella has been used for include: eruption fever, puerperium (Iraq); liver disease (Lebanon); cancer (Malaya); joints, bronchial asthma, eczema, rheumatis (Middle East); with butter for cough and colic (North Africa); excitant (Spain); boosing immune system, colds (U.S.) A recent study in South Carolina at the International Immuno-Biology Research Laboratory showed that there was some action against cancer cells using nigella plant extract. nder, fennel-flow.

Black cumin seed oil is used as a healthy dietary supplement. Black seed oil contains fatty acids, vitamins and minerals in a unique cell structure. Native to Western Asia, Turkey, Iraq, and Egypt, black seed oil has been valued for it’s health benefits for centuries, and is now becoming more well known in the West. As a general tonic 1 teaspoon of black seed oil, taken in food or drink, is said to benefit many conditions, in much the same manner as other oils rich in fatty acids, such as flax and walnut oils. According to Dr. Duke, the constituents in black cumin oil have been shown to have health benefits for: Stomach aches, asthma, bronchitis, coughs, digestive system, and fevers. The is anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and acts as an emmenagogue (brings on menses) and a lactagogue (increase breast milk.)

Benefits and Side Effects
Black cumin seed is derived from a plant with the botanical name Nigella sativa. The plant is indigenous to Mediterranean areas, though it is grown in other parts of the world as well. The seeds of the Nigella sativa plant are black in color and look something like sesame seeds. Both the seeds and oil from the seeds are used as a nutritional supplement. Black cumin seed is considered to have a number of beneficial properties when used as part of an overall holistic health program. Many studies show that, while black cumin seed is effective by itself, it is particularly potent when combined with other herbs in regimens used to treat specific ailments.

Black cumin seed (also referred to simply as “black seed”) has been used as a nutritional supplement for centuries. It was even found in King Tut’s tomb, suggesting that even centuries ago, great respect existed for black cumin seed’s beneficial health effects. Ancient traditions document the use of black cumin seed as an energy source, perhaps because of its rich nutritional value. The seeds are still believed to increase heat in the body, making metabolism more efficient.

As a nutritional supplement in modern times, black cumin seed is used to treat respiratory conditions like bronchitis, asthma and emphysema. In addition, it is used to support stomach and intestinal health as well as kidney and liver function. Black cumin seed is thought to have antihistamine-like properties that make it useful in treating congestion, and it is widely used as a general tonic to boost immune function and to help prevent cancer. Several skin conditions can be treated with black cumin seed, and it is also used to enhance circulation. Over the past six decades, black cumin seed has been studied at various universities throughout the world, and more than 200 studies support its use as an effective herbal supplement

The primary active ingredient in black cumin seed is crystalline nigellone. The substance was first identified and isolated for use in supplements in 1959. Other components with health benefits include amino acids, essential fatty acids, crude fiber, and minerals such as potassium, sodium, iron and calcium.

The usual recommended dosage is between 50 and 75 mg of a supplement made from standardized extracts. Black cumin seed oil is also available as a nutritional supplement. The seeds are cold pressed to extract the oil, which is especially effective when used topically on the skin to treat eczema, psoriasis, and dryness.black cumin seed is used to boost immune system function, as an anticancer agent, and to treat skin conditions, including eczema, abscesses, and boil.Very effective for acne, pimples.

Black cumin seed oil can also be taken internally to treat arthritis and asthma and to boost the immune system. The recommended dosage of the oil is one teaspoon daily with meals. It can be mixed with juice or other beverages and should be refrigerated after opening.

As with many supplements, black cumin seed works best when used on a regular basis so that it can support the body’s natural healing ability. Though there is no known toxicity, pregnant and lactating women should not use black cumin seed, which has a history of use in large doses to induce abortion.

Side Effects:Undiluted oil can cause skin irritation. Not to be used while pregnant For food and dietary use only.

Disclaimer:The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.


Resources:

http://www.theepicentre.com/Spices/nigella.html
http://vitamins.ultimatefatburner.com/black-cumin-seed.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nigella

http://www.anniesremedy.com/herb_detail469.php

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

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Cumin seeds or Bengali Zeera

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Cumin : Popularly called zeera, it has a number of medicinal properties but its main area of action seems to be the gastro-intestinal tract. Apart from having a pronounced carminative and digestive effect, cumin is wind-repellent, anti-colic, anti-obesity and intestinal absorbent herb. It is light, dry, sharp and hot in effect and its use with oil or ghee forms the basic way to prepare most of the Indian curries.

Cumin is a hot, nutty flavored spice. It is used as whole dried seeds and as cumin ground powder. Cumin seed is an important spice for many vegetable curries, soups and other dishes.Cumin grows in most hot countries like India, China, North Africa, and the Americas. The cumin seeds should be lightly roasted before being used whole or ground to bring out the aroma. Cumin may also be pounded with other spices in mixtures such as curry powder. Ground cumin must be kept airtight, to retain its pungency.

Cumin seeds contain protein, fat, carbohydrates, fibre, calcium, iron and phosphorous. Cumin stimulates the appetite. Cumin is believed to increase lactation and reduce nausea in pregnancy. In India cumin is given to new mothers in puddings and other dishes for increased lactation. Cumin is diuretic, stimulant, astringent, emmenagogic, and antispasmodic. It is helpful in dyspepsia diarrhoea see  and hoarseness. Cumin helps to cure colic pain. It relieves swelling of the body, especially of breast or testicles, if used in a poultice.

You may click to see cumin seeds  and     the pictures of  cumin seed plant


Cumin is used as a spice in Indian, Mexican, Portuguese, Eastern, Middle Eastern, and Spanish cookery. It is an important ingredient of most curry powders. Cumin seeds are used in many recipes to improve taste and flavor.(extracted from:http://www.fatfreekitchen.com/spices/cumin.html

–Cultivation—Although we get nearly all our supplies from the Mediterranean, it would be perfectly feasible to grow Cumin in England, as it will ripen its fruit as far north as Norway. It is, however, and seeds are generally somewhat difficult to obtain.

They should be sown in small pots, filled with light soil and plunged into a very moderate hot bed to bring up the plants. These should be hardened gradually in an open frame and transplanted into a warm border of good soil, preserving the balls of earth which adhere to the roots in the pots. Keep clean of weeds and the plants will flower very well and will probably perfect their seeds if the season should be warm and favourable.

The plants are threshed when the fruit is ripe and the ‘seeds’ dried in the same manner as Caraway.

-Constituents—The strong aromatic smell and warm, bitterish taste of Cumin fruits are due to the presence of a volatile oil which is separated by distillation of the fruit with water, and exists in the proportion of 2 to 4 per cent. It is limpid and pale yellow in colour, and is mainly a mixture of cymol or cymene and cuminic aldehyde, or cyminol, which is its chief constituent.

The tissue of the fruits contains a fatty oil with resin, mucilage and gum, malates and albuminous matter, and in the outerseed coat there is much tannin. The yield of ash is about 8 per cent.

-Medicinal Action and Uses—Stimulant, antispasmodic, carminative. The older herbalists esteemed Cumin superior in comforting carminative qualities to Fennel or Caraway, but on account of its very disagreeable flavour, its medicinal use at the present day is almost confined to veterinary practice, in which it is employed as a carminative.

Formerly Cumin had considerable repute as a corrective for the flatulency of languid digestion and as a remedy for colic and dyspetic headache. Bruised and applied externally in the form of a plaster, it was recommended as a cure for stitches and pains in the side caused by the sluggish congestion of indolent parts, and it has been compounded with other drugs to form a stimulating liniment.

Bay-salt and Cumin-seeds mixed, is a universal remedy for the diseases of pigeons, especially scabby backs and breasts. The proportions of the remedy are: 1/4 lb. Baysalt, 1/4 lb. Common Salt, 1 lb. Fennel-seeds, 1 lb. Dill-seeds, 1 lb. Cumin-seeds, 1 OZ. Assafoetida; mix all with a little wheaten flour and some fine-worked clay; when all are well beaten together, put into two earthen pots and bake them in the oven. When cold, put them on the table in the dove-cote; the pigeons will eat it and thus be cured.

 

  • It increases the capacity of producing milk in a woman.
  • A daily use of handful of cumin seeds, cures night blindness and decreases the level of temprature in the body.
  • Twelve grams of memordic- charantia (kereal) mixed with one spoon of powdered cumin seeds cure ague.
  • A mixture of powdered coriander seeds, powdered cumin seeds and sugar, cures acidity and inflammation in the chest due to it.
  • Use of cumin seeds checks hiccups, eliminates colic in stomach, swelling of intestine due to indigestion.
  • Six grams of powdered cumin seeds mixed with old raw sugar and after making small pills of one gram each, if taken, it cures fever.
  • A baked mixture of cumin seeds, black pepper and rock salt (all in powdered form), dissolved in butter milk or whey, if taken after lunch, cures diarrhea, piles and sprue

(extracted from:://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/c/cumin127.html and http://www.urday.com/spice.html)

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Magic of Methi or Fenugreek

 

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Fenugric; Botanical name: Trigonella foenum-graecum

Family: Fabaceae/Leguminosae
Genus: Trigonella
Species: T. foenum-graecum
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Fabales

Fenugreek,commonly known as Methi, seeds provide a tangy flavor and powerful curry scent to the vegetable and lentil dishes. Fenugreek seed are used in wide range of curry powder. Fenugreek can also be used as a fresh herb.

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Fenugreek are always roasted before using. Light roast gives a mellow flavor and dark roast will give a bitter. Sometimes the seeds are soaked overnight, when they becomes easier to combine in curry paste. Soaked seeds can also be used as main ingredient for a vegetable or chutney.

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Fenugreek are used and grown throughout the South Asia. The Fenugreek plant grows 2 feet tall with light green leaves and white flower. Each Fenugreek pod gives from 10 to 20 seeds. Fenugreeks are rich in protein, vitamins and mineral

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It is a herb with small, aromatic green leaves. It is also used in dried form (kasoori methi) to flavour chicken and fish and cooked as a classic vegetable dish with potatoes (alumethi). Slightly bitter in taste, it is a popular winter green.

Methi seeds, whole, fried or roasted and powdered, are used as ‘tarka’ or garnishing. It is used commonly in pickles across India and is part of a five spice mixture used in Bengal. Like most herbs, Methi has many medicinal properties.

Fenugreek seeds contain a high percentage of mucilage a natural gummy substance present in the coatings of many seeds. Although it does not dissolve in water, mucilage forms a thick, gooey mass when exposed to fluids. Like other mucilage-containing substances, fenugreek seeds swell up and become slick when they are exposed to fluids. The resulting soft mass is not absorbed by the body, but instead passes through the intestines and also triggers intestinal muscle contractions. Both actions promote the emptying of intestinal contents. Therefore, fenugreek is a mild but effective laxative.

In addition, fenugreek seeds contain chemicals that slow down the time that food takes to go through the intestinal tract. As one result, sugars are absorbed from foods more slowly and blood sugar levels may not rise as high or fluctuate as much as usual. Fenugreek may further affect blood sugar levels by decreasing the activity of an enzyme that is involved in releasing stored sugar from the liver into the blood. Also, fenugreek contains an amino acid called 4-hydroxyisoleucine, which appears to increase the body’s production of insulin when blood sugar levels are high. For many individuals, higher insulin production decreases the amounts of sugar that stay in the blood In some studies of animals and humans with both diabetes and high cholesterol levels, fenugreek lowered cholesterol levels as well as blood sugar levels. However, no blood-sugar lowering effect was seen in non-diabetic animals. Similarly, individuals with normal cholesterol levels showed no significant reductions in cholesterol while taking fenugreek.

Some evidence suggests that fenugreek may also have other medical uses. It may reduce the amounts of calcium oxalate in the kidneys. Calcium oxalate often contributes to kidney stones. In animal studies, fenugreek also appeared to lessen the chance of developing colon cancer by blocking the action of certain enzymes. It may have some ability to protect the liver against damage from alcohol and other chemicals, but much further research is needed to prove or disprove all these possible uses of fenugreek.

Methi is supposed to be natural cure for arthritis. According to ayurveda, the cause of arthritis is a noxious gas produced within the human body known as Va and the gas that causes joint arthritis is known as Sandhiva.

During the course of time, intestines fill with undigested food particles which become glued to the intestine lining. These particles create several different layers in the intestine and act as chemicals that release gases with different constituents. The gas, sandhiva, finds refuge in the joints and creates pressure, immobilizing them and making movement painful, due to inflamation. Methi, if consumed twice a day, cleans the intestines and directs the waste out of the body naturally.

According to Ayurveda, Methi is an antipyretic and anthelmintic herb. Translation: It is an appetizer, relieves constipation, and reduces colic. It is also known to cure leprosy, vomiting, bronchitis, and piles.

Traditional healers recommend that people suffering from digestive problems eat Methi leaves. It also helps you lose weight and reduces dullness, dizziness and drowsiness. In general, it is considered as good appetizer. Methi seeds are considered very effective in combative diabetes.

Topically, the gelatinous texture of fenugreek seed may have some benefit for soothing skin that is irritated by eczema or other conditions. It has also been applied as a warm poultice to relieve muscle aches and gout pain

The fresh juice of Methi leaves prevents hair fall. You can massage it in your hair, particularly the roots, to get rid of dandruff and promote new hair growth. It can also be used in a facepack to reduce wrinkles.

Fenugreek seed is widely used as a galactagogue (milk producing agent) by nursing mothers to increase inadequate breast milk supply. Studies have shown that fenugreek is a potent stimulator of breast milk production and its use was associated with increases in milk production. It can be found in capsule form in many health food stores.

Several human intervention trials demonstrated that the antidiabetic effects of fenugreek seeds ameliorate most metabolic symptoms associated with type-1 and type-2 diabetes in both humans and relevant animal models by reducing serum glucose and improving glucose tolerance.  click & see

Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider

Extracted from: /www.purpleparka.com and http://www.drugdigest.org/DD/DVH/HerbsWho/0,3923,552024%7CMethi,00.html

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Categories
Dry Fruit Herbs & Plants

Almonds

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Botanical Name: Prunus dulcis
Family: Rosaceae
Genus: Prunus
Subgenus: Amygdalus
Species: P. dulcis
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Rosales

Synonyms:   Prunus amygdalus, Amygdalus communis, Amygdalus dulcis

Almond is called: Lawz in Arabic Baadaam in Farsi and Urdu

Habitat : The tree is a native of southwest Asia. The domesticated form can ripen fruit as far north as the British Isles.

Etymology:
The word ‘almond’ comes from Old French almande or alemande, late Latin amandola, derived through a form amingdola from the Greek  (cf Amygdala), an almond. The al- for a- may be due to a confusion with the Arabic article al, the word having first dropped the a- as in the Italian form mandorla; the British pronunciation ah-mond and the modern Catalan ametlla and modern French amande show the true form of the word.

Description:

The almond is a deciduous tree, growing 4–10 m (13–33 ft) in height, with a trunk of up to 30 cm (12 in) in diameter. The young twigs are green at first, becoming purplish where exposed to sunlight, then grey in their second year. The leaves are 3–5 inches long,[3] with a serrated margin and a 2.5 cm (1 in) petiole. The flowers are white to pale pink, 3–5 cm (1–2 in) diameter with five petals, produced singly or in pairs and appearing before the leaves in early spring. Almond grows best in Mediterranean climates with warm, dry summers and mild, wet winters. The optimal temperature for their growth is between 15 and 30 °C (59 and 86 °F) and the tree buds have a chilling requirement of between 300 and 600 hours below 7.2 °C (45.0 °F) to break dormancy.  The flowers are white or pale pink, 3.5 cm diameter with five petals, produced before the leaves in early spring.

Almonds begin bearing an economic crop in the third year after planting. Trees reach full bearing five to six years after planting. The fruit matures in the autumn, 7–8 months after flowering.

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The sweet fleshy outer covering of other members of Prunus, such as the plum and cherry, is replaced by a leathery coat called the hull, which contains inside a hard shell the edible kernel, commonly called a nut in culinary terms. However, in botanical terms, an almond is not a true nut. In botanical parlance, the reticulated hard stony shell is called an endocarp, and the fruit, or exocarp, is a drupe, having a downy outer coat. .

Origin and history
The wild form of domesticated almond grows in the Mediterranean region in parts of the Levant; almonds must first have been taken into cultivation in this region. The fruit of the wild forms contains glycoside amygdalin, “which becomes transformed into deadly Prussic acid (Hydrogen cyanide) after crushing, chewing, or any other injury to the seed.” Before cultivation and domestication occurred, wild almonds were harvested as food and doubtless were processed by leaching or roasting to remove their toxicity.

However, domesticated almonds are not toxic; Jared Diamond argues that a common genetic mutation causes an absence of glycoside amygdalin, and this mutant was grown by early farmers, “at first unintentionally in the garbage heaps and later intentionally in their orchards.” Zohary and Hopf believe that almonds were one of the earliest domesticated fruit-trees due to “the ability of the grower to raise attractive almonds from seed. Thus in spite of the fact that this plant does not lend itself to propagation from suckers or from cuttings, it could have been domesticated even before the introduction of grafting.”Domesticated almonds appear in the Early Bronze Age (3000–2000 BC) of the Near East, or possibly a little earlier. A well-known archaeological example of almond is the fruits found in Tutankhamun’s tomb in Egypt (c. 1325 BC), probably imported from the Levant.

Culinary uses:

While the almond is most often eaten on its own, raw or toasted, it is used in some dishes. It, along with other nuts, is often sprinkled over desserts, particularly sundaes and other ice cream based dishes. It is also used in making baklava and nougat. There is also almond butter, a spread similar to peanut butter, popular with peanut allergy sufferers and for its less salty taste. The young, developing fruit of the almond tree can also be eaten as a whole (“green almonds”), when it is still green and fleshy on the outside, and the inner shell has not yet hardened. The fruit is somewhat sour, and is available only from mid April to mid June; pickling or brining extends the fruit’s shelf life.

The sweet almond itself contains practically no carbohydrates and may therefore be made into flour for cakes and biscuits for low carbohydrate diets or for patients suffering from diabetes mellitus or any other form of glycosuria. A standard serving of almond flour, 1 cup, contains 20 grammes of carbohydrates, of which 10 g is dietary fibre, for a net of 10 g of carbohydrate per cup. This makes almond flour very desirable for use in cake and bread recipes by people on carbohydrate-restricted diets.

Almonds can be processed into a milk substitute simply called almond milk; the nut’s soft texture, mild flavour, and light colouring (when skinned) make for an efficient analog to dairy, and a soy-free choice, for lactose intolerant persons, vegans, and so on. Raw, blanched, and lightly toasted almonds all work well for different production techniques, some of which are very similar to that of soymilk and some of which actually use no heat, resulting in “raw milk” (see raw foodism).

Sweet almonds are used in marzipan, nougat, and macaroons, as well as other desserts. Almonds are a rich source of Vitamin E, containing 24 mg per 100 g They are also rich in monounsaturated fat, one of the two “good” fats responsible for lowering LDL cholesterol.

The Marcona variety of almond, which is shorter, rounder, sweeter, and more delicate in texture than other varieties, originated in Spain and is becoming popular in North America and other parts of the world Marcona almonds are traditionally served after being lightly fried in oil, and are also used by Spanish chefs to prepare a dessert called turrón.

In China, almonds are used in a popular dessert when they are mixed with milk and then served hot. In Indian cuisine, almonds are the base ingredient for pasanda-style curries.

Possible health benefits

Edgar Cayce, a man regarded as the father of American holistic medicine, also highly favored the almond. In his readings, Cayce often recommended that almonds be included in the diet. Claimed health benefits include improved complexion, improved movement of food through the colon and the prevention of cancer. Recent research associates inclusion of almonds in the diet with elevating the blood levels of high density lipoproteins and of lowering the levels of low density lipoproteins.

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In Ayurveda, the Indian System of Medicine, almond is considered a nutritive for brain and nervous system. It is said to induce high intellectual level and longevity. Almond oil is called Roghan Badam in both Ayurveda and Unani Tibb (the Greco-Persian System of Medicine). It is extracted by cold process and is considered a nutritive aphrodisiac both for massage and internal consumption. Recent studies have shown that the constituents of almond have anti-inflammatory, immunity boosting, and anti-hepatotoxicity effects

Fresh Sweet Almonds possess demulcent and nutrient properties, but as the outer brown skin sometimes causes irritation of the alimentary canal, they are blanched by removal of this skin when used for food. Though pleasant to the taste, their nutritive value is diminished unless well masticated, as they are difficult of digestion, and may in some cases induce nettlerash and feverishness. They have a special dietetic value, for besides containing about 20 per cent of proteids, they contain practically no starch, and are therefore often made into flour for cakes and biscuits for patients suffering from diabetes.

Sweet Almonds are used medicinally, the official preparations of the British Pharmacopoeia being Mistura Amygdalae, Pulvis Amygdalae Compositus and Almond Oil.

On expression they yield nearly half their weight in a bland fixed oil, which is employed medicinally for allaying acrid juices, softening and relaxing solids, and in bronchial diseases, in tickling coughs, hoarseness, costiveness, nephritic pains, etc.

When Almonds are pounded in water, the oil unites with the fluid, forming a milky juice – Almond Milk – a cooling, pleasant drink, which is prescribed as a diluent in acute diseases, and as a substitute for animal milk: an ounce of Almonds is sufficient for a quart of water, to which gum arabic is in most cases a useful addition. The pure oil mixed with a thick mucilage of gum arabic, forms a more permanent emulsion; one part of gum with an equal quantity of water being enough for four parts of oil. Almond emulsions possess in a certain degree the emollient qualities of the oil, and have this advantage over the pure oil, that they may be given in acute or inflammatory disorders without danger of the ill effects which the oil might sometimes produce by turning rancid. Sweet Almonds alone are employed in making emulsions, as the Bitter Almond imparts its peculiar taste when treated in this way.

Blanched and beaten into an emulsion with barley-water, Sweet Almonds are of great use in the stone, gravel, strangury and other disorders of the kidneys, bladder and biliary ducts.

By their oily character, Sweet Almonds sometimes give immediate relief in heartburn. For this, it is recommended to peel and eat six or eight Almonds.

Almonds are also useful in medicine for uniting substances with water. Castor oil is rendered palatable when rubbed up with pounded Almonds and some aromatic distilled water.

The fixed Oil of Almonds is extracted from both Bitter and Sweet Almonds. If intended for external use, it must, however, be prepared only from Sweet Almonds.

The seeds are ground in a mill after removing the reddish-brown powder adhering to them and then subjected to hydraulic pressure, the expressed oil being afterwards filtered and bleached, preferably by exposure to light.

Almond oil is a clear, pale yellow, odourless liquid, with a bland, nutty taste. It consists chiefly of Olein, with a small proportion of the Glyceride of Linolic Acid and other Glycerides, but contains no Stearin. It is thus very similar in composition to Olive Oil (for which it may be used as a pleasant substitute), but it is devoid of Chlorophyll, and usually contains a somewhat larger proportion of Olein than Olive Oil.

It is used in trade, as well as medicinally, being most valuable as a lubricant for the delicate works of watches, and is much employed as an ingredient in toilet soap, for its softening action on the skin. It forms a good remedy for chapped hands

‘The oil newly pressed out of Sweet Almonds is a mitigator of pain and all manner of aches, therefore it is good in pleurisy and colic. The oil of Almonds makes smooth the hands and face of delicate persons, and cleanseth the skin from all spots and pimples.’

The oil of both (Bitter and Sweet) cleanses the skin, it easeth pains of the chest, the temples being annointed therewith, and the oil with honey, powder of liquorice, oil of roses and white wax, makes a good ointment for dimness of sigh.

‘This kind of butter is made of Almonds with sugar and rose-water, which being eaten with violets is very wholesome and commodious for students, for it rejoiceth the heart and comforteth the brain, and qualifieth the heat of the liver.

RECIPES

–To make Almond Cake—(Seventeenth Century)
‘Take one pound of Jordan almonds, Blanch ym into cold water, and dry ym in a clean cloth: pick out these that are nought and rotten: then beat ym very fine in a stone mortar, puting in now and then a little rose water to keep ym from oyling: then put it out into a platter, and half a pound of loaf sugar beaten fine and mixt with ye almonds, ye back of a spoon, and set it on a chafing dish of coals, and let it stand till it be hott: and when it is cold then have ready six whites of eggs beaten with too spoonfuls of flower to a froth, and mix it well with ye almonds: bake ym on catt paper first done over with a feather dipt in sallet oyle.’

—Almond Butter—(Seventeenth Century)
‘Seeth a little French Barly with a whole mace and some anniseeds to sweeten but not to give any sensible tast: then blanch and beat the almonds with some of the clearest of the liquor to make the milke the thicker, and strain them, getting forth by often beating what milk you can: seeth the milke till it thicken and bee ready to rise, and turne it with the juice of a lemon or salt dissolved in rose water: spread the curd on a linnen cloath that the whey may run out, and let it hang till it leave dropping: then season the butter that is left with rose water, and sugar to your liking.’

—To make Almond Milk—(Seventeenth Century)
‘Take 3 pints of running water, a handfull of Raisins of the Sun stoned, halfe a handfull of Sorrell as much violet and strawberry leaves, halfe a handfull of the topps and flowers of burrage (borage), as much of Buglass, halfe a handfull of Endive, as much Succory, some Pauncys (Pansies), a little broad time and Orgamen (Marjoram), and a branch or two of Rosemary, lett all these boyle well together; then take a good handfull of French Barley, boyling it in three waters, put it to the rest, and lett them boyle till you think they are enough, then pour the liquor into a basin, and stampe the barley and reasons, straining them thereto; then take a quarter of a pound of Sweet Almonds, blanch them and pound them thrice, straining them to the other liquor; then season it with damask rosewater to your liking.’

—A Paste for ye Hands—(Seventeenth Century)
‘Take a pound of sun raysens, stone and take a pound of bitter Almonds, blanch ym and beat ym in stone morter, with a glass of sack take ye peel of one Lemond, boyle it tender; take a quart of milk, and a pint of Ale, and make therewith a Possett; take all ye Curd and putt it to ye Almonds: yn putt in ye Rayson: Beat all these till they come to a fine Past, and putt in a pott, and keep it for ye use.

Medicinal Uses:
*Almonds form an ideal tonic for your growing child. Soak 3-6 shelled almonds in warm water and than remove the skin. Grind them into paste, and mix it with milk. Add a teaspoon of honey. Feed your child daily. It can also be useful in adolescent girls with delayed puberty; crushed almonds, egg yolk, gingelly (til) powder, and a teaspoon of honey in milk will ensure good overall development during adolescence.

*An excellent food supplement in case of general debility and convalescence. Soak 12-15 shelled almonds in hot water and remove outer covering. Grind them into fine paste, and mix it with the buttermilk and mash a ripe banana in it. Strain it through a muslin cloth, add 4 teaspoons honey, and drink twice daily. Almond forms an ideal food for diabetics also as it contains little carbohydrates.

*Almonds increase libido and enhance general sexual performance in cases of frigidity. Grind a few almonds and 2-3 pinches of saffron and eat everyday for 40 days.

*Almonds are a good for constipation. Grind separately 5 teaspoons almonds and 5 teaspoons dried dates. Combine them and add 10 teaspoons honey.  Take 3 teaspoons of this mixture twice daily.

*In the case of head lice, grind 7-8 kernels with 1-2 teaspoons lime juice and apply on the scalp. Apply a little almond oil on the scalp regularly and massage.

*In the case of tooth ache and gum diseases, burn the shells of almonds, powder, and use as tooth powder.

*To get relief from psoriasis and allied skin troubles, powder a few almonds, boil and apply on affected areas and let it remain overnight.

*To improve skin complexion, mix equal quantities of almond oil and honey and apply to face. To protect from sunburn, apply the paste of almonds and milk cream along with coconut oil on exposed skin.

*In the case of insomnia, grind blanched almonds (8-10) along with khuskhus grass powder (1 teaspoon) and milk (half teacup) and smear the paste on palms and soles.

*To get relief from muscle sprains, mix equal parts of almond oil and garlic oil and massage over affected areas.
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/Almonds

www.botanical.com

http://blog.tattvasherbs.com/tag/medicinal-uses-of-almonds/

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