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Herbs & Plants Herbs & Plants (Spices)

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.

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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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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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Fruits & Vegetables Herbs & Plants

Amla or Amalaki (Indian Gooseberry)

Botanical Name :Phyllanthus emblica
Family: Phyllanthaceae
Tribe: Phyllantheae
Subtribe: Flueggeinae
Genus: Phyllanthus
Species: P. emblica
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Malpighiales
Synonyms:   Emblica officinalis
Common Names  :Amalaki, amla , Indian gooseberry, aamla, amali

Habitat : Phyllanthus emblica is native to  India, Nepal, Burma, China (South), Malesia to Australia (North), Thailand, Indochina, Laos (Khammouan).

Amla or Amloki is a tropical fruit which has tremendious medicinal importance.

Description:
Phyllanthus emblica tree is small to medium in size, reaching 8–18 m (26–59 ft) in height, with a crooked trunk and spreading branches. The branchlets are glabrous or finely pubescent, 10–20 cm (3.9–7.9 in) long, usually deciduous; the leaves are simple, subsessile and closely set along branchlets, light green, resembling pinnate leaves. The flowers are greenish-yellow. The fruit is nearly spherical, light greenish yellow, quite smooth and hard on appearance, with six vertical stripes or furrows.

Ripening in autumn, the berries are harvested by hand after climbing to upper branches bearing the fruits. The taste of Indian gooseberry is sour, bitter and astringent, and it is quite fibrous. In India, it is common to eat gooseberries steeped in salt water and turmeric to make the sour fruits palatable

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Edible Uses:
The amla fruit is eaten raw or cooked into various dishes. In Andhra Pradesh, tender varieties are used to prepare dal (a lentil preparation), and amle ka murabbah, a sweet dish indigenous to the northern part of India made by soaking the berries in sugar syrup until they are candied. It is traditionally consumed after meals. In Kerala Well Bed is lined with “Emblica Timber” to get clean and sweet water for drinking & cooking.

Amla or Emblica Officinalis is a natural, efficacious, an antioxidant with the richest natural source of Vitamin C. The fruit contains the highest amount of Vitamin C in natural form and cytokine like substances identified as zeatin, z. riboside, z. nucleotide.Its fruit is acrid, cooling, refrigerant, diuretic and laxative. The dried fruit is useful in hemorrhage, diarrhea and dysentery.It is antibacterial and its astringent properties prevent infection and help in the healing of ulcers. It is used as a laxative to relieve constipation in piles. It is used in the treatment of leukorrhea and artherosclerosis.

Amalaki is referred to in ancient text as the best medicine to prevent aging. It is a very strong rejuvenative which is believed to be the richest natural source ofantioxydant vitamin C, with up to 720 mg/100g of fresh pulp or up to 900 mg/100g of pressed juice (of a heat-stable form which does not lose its value through processing.) Although only one inch in diameter, the Amalaki fruit has the same antiscorbutic value as two oranges. Amalaki is also effective for respiratory complaints. The fruit juice and its sediment, and residue, have antioxidant properties due to Vitamin C content. Amalaki is a carminative and stomachic. It is used in Ayurveda as a cardiotonic, aphrodisiac, antipyretic, antidiabetic, cerebral and gastrointestinal tonic. It raises the total protein level and increases the body weight due to positive nitrogen balance. It has been found to have an anabolic effect.

Amla is highly nutritious and is an important dietary source of Vitamin C, minerals and amino acids. The edible fruit tissue contains protein concentration 3-fold and ascorbic acid concentration 160-fold compared to that of the apple. The fruit also contains considerably higher concentration of most minerals and amino acids than apples. Amla fruit ash contains chromium, 2.5 ; zinc, 4; and copper, 3 ppm. Presence of chromium is of therapeutic value in diabetes. Fruit also contains phyllemblin and curcuminoides. The fruit contained 482.14 units of superoxide dismutase/g fresh weight, and exhibited antisenescent activity. The seed oil contains 64.8% linolenic acid and closely resembles linseed oil. Not surprisingly, Amla’s reputation is supported by scientific studies confirming its immunity-boosting properties. Clinical studies were conducted to investigate the effect of Amalaki in amlapitta (gastritis syndrome). Amalaki churna was given in 20 cases in a dose of 3g., thrice a day for seven days. The drug was found effective in 85 per cent of cases. Cases of hyperchlorhydria with burning sensation in abdominal and cardiac regions and epigastric pain were benefited. (extracted from herbabprovider.com)

A compilation of applications for emblica fruits(Amla) was carried out by several Ayurvedic writers during the last 25 years. The main indications are:

  • Digestive system disorders: dyspepsia, gastritis, hyperacidity, constipation, colic, colitis, hemorrhoids
  • Bleeding disorders: bleeding hemorrhoids, hematuria, menorrhagia, bleeding gums, ulcerative colitis
  • Metabolic disorders: anemia, diabetes, gout
  • Lung disorders: cough, asthma
  • Aging disorders: osteoporosis, premature graying of hear, weak vision
  • Neurasthenia: fatigue, mental disorders, vertigo, palpitations

According to the Ayurvedic system of classification, the fruit has these properties (4):

Rasa (taste): sour, astringent are dominant, but fruit has five tastes, including sweet, bitter, and pungent
Veerya (nature): cooling
Vipaka (taste developed through digestion): sweet
Guna (qualities): light, dry
Doshas (effect on humors): pacifies all three doshas: vata, kapha, pitta, especially effective for pitta

Because of its cooling nature, amla is a common ingredient in treatments for a burning sensation anywhere in the body and for many types of inflammation and fever; these are manifestations of pitta (fire) agitation.

* Being an effective heamostatic agent, the juice of amla fruit taken twice a day with 250 mg giloy satva (extract of tinosporia cordifolia), an effective remedy for bleeding piles and non-specific epistaxis.

Amla juice, if given along with 500 mg of turmeric powder cures burning sensation of urine and also helps to allay recurring urinary tract infections.

* In viral jaundice during winter, amla juice can be taken after dissolving it with a little honey. It corrects liver functions, besides improving appetite.

* Generally, the dried fruit is put in water for a night or so, and its water content is a popular hair wash. Their paste is applied for relief from various skin diseases.

* The dried powder of amla fruit, if stirred daily with fresh juice of amla for 21 days, is known as amlaki rasayan. This fortified preparation is used both as medicine and tonic in the various phases of the diseases and also during convalescence period. Ancient acharyas have even described it as an anti-aging formula.

.Amla is also used in various other forms as murabbas, pickles and chutneys. Flowers, root and bark of its tree are also medicinal, but nowadays the twig of amla is also used for tanning and dyeing. Its timber is useful for miscellaneous domestic purposes, as it stands well under water and is used in making wells in rural areas. Due to its unlimited benefits and multipurpose uses, it seems that it is the kalpa vriksha of yore

The popularity of emblica fruits, especially for use in making Chyawanprash and Triphala, has led to the cultivation of amla trees, despite widespread distribution of the wild trees. A problem has arisen whereby collectors take a short-cut in collecting the fruits; instead of climbing the trees and carefully hand picking each fruit, large branches containing numerous fruits are lopped off, which can eventually kill the trees. As a result, some areas have been virtually denuded of these valuable trees. Government and non-government agencies in India are undertaking efforts to educate collectors to avoid damaging their economic future by such practices and is encouraging development of plantations of amla trees that are devoted specifically to yielding raw materials for medicinal products. In addition to the fruit pulps, the fruit seeds, and the tree’s leaves, branches, and bark can all be collected for production of health care and tanning products.

Click to learn more about Amla(Indian Gooseberry)…………….(1)…...(2)...(3)....(4)

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/Phyllanthus_emblica

(extracted from itmonline.org/amla.htm and http://www.ayurvediccure.com/blog/2005/11/amla-amalaki.html)

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Fruits & Vegetables Herbs & Plants

Coconut

Florida Keys Coconut Palm (Cocos nucifera)
Florida Keys Coconut Palm (Cocos nucifera) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Botanical Name : Cocos nucifera .
Family: Arecaceae
Subfamily: Arecoideae
Genus: Cocos
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Arecales
Tribe: Cocoeae
Species: C. nucifera


Habitat
:The coconut has spread across much of the tropics, probably aided in many cases by seafaring people. Coconut fruit in the wild is light, buoyant and highly water resistant, and evolved to disperse significant distances via marine currents. Fruit collected from the sea as far north as Norway are viable. In the Hawaiian Islands, the coconut is regarded as a Polynesian introduction, first brought to the islands by early Polynesian voyagers from their homelands in Oceania. They are now almost ubiquitous between 26°N and 26°S except for the interiors of Africa and South America.

Description:
The coconut (Cocos nucifera) is a member of the family Arecaceae (palm family). It is the only accepted species in the genus Cocos, and is a large palm, growing up to 30 m tall, with pinnate leaves 4–6 m long, and pinnae 60–90 cm long; old leaves break away cleanly, leaving the trunk smooth. The term coconut can refer to the entire coconut palm, the seed, or the fruit, which is not a botanical nut. The spelling cocoanut is an old-fashioned form of the word.

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The coconut palm is grown throughout the tropics for decoration, as well as for its many culinary and non-culinary uses; virtually every part of the coconut palm can be utilized by humans in some manner. In cooler climates (but not less than USDA Zone 9), a similar palm, the queen palm (Syagrus romanzoffiana), is used in landscaping. Its fruits are very similar to the coconut, but much smaller. The queen palm was originally classified in the genus Cocos along with the coconut, but was later reclassified in Syagrus. A recently discovered palm, Beccariophoenix alfredii from Madagascar, is nearly identical to the coconut, and more so than the queen palm. It is cold-hardy, and produces a coconut lookalike in cooler areas.

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The flowers of the coconut palm are polygamomonoecious, with both male and female flowers in the same inflorescence. Flowering occurs continuously. Coconut palms are believed to be largely cross-pollinated, although some[which?] dwarf varieties are self-pollinating. The meat of the coconut is the edible endosperm, located on the inner surface of the shell. Inside the endosperm layer, coconuts contain an edible clear liquid that is sweet, salty, or both.

The Indian state of Kerala is known as the Land of coconuts. The name derives from “Kera” (the coconut tree) and “Alam” ( “place” or “earth”). Kerala has beaches fringed by coconut trees, a dense network of waterways, flanked by green palm groves and cultivated fields. Coconuts form a part of daily diet, the oil is used for cooking, coir is used for furnishing, decorating, etc.

Coconuts received the name from Portuguese explorers, the sailors of Vasco da Gama in India, who first brought them to Europe. The brown and hairy surface of coconuts reminded them of a ghost or witch called Coco. Before it was called nux indica, a name given by Marco Polo in 1280 while in Sumatra, taken from the Arabs who called it  jawz hind?. Both names translate to “Indian nut.” When coconuts arrived in England, they retained the coco name and nut was added.

You can find many ways to incorporate coconut oil into your daily diet, and you will read about the science behind the diet with links to the research that backs up the wonderful truth about this incredible oil.

Today thousands of people testify that Virgin Coconut Oil has tremendous health benefits, related to not only weight loss, but to such things as increased metabolism, helping sluggish thyroids, increased energy levels, killing Candida and yeast infections, improving cholesterol levels, clearing up skin infections, killing viruses, improving digestive health, and more! All across America health care practioners, including MDs, chiropractors, nurses, nutritionists, naturopaths, and others are seeing positive results in their patients or clients when using Tropical Traditions Virgin Coconut Oil.

Cultivation:The coconut palm thrives on sandy soils and is highly tolerant of salinity. It prefers areas with abundant sunlight and regular rainfall (150 cm to 250 cm annually), which makes colonizing shorelines of the tropics relatively straightforward.[7] Coconuts also need high humidity (70–80%+) for optimum growth, which is why they are rarely seen in areas with low humidity, like the Mediterranean, even where temperatures are high enough (regularly above 24°C or 75.2°F).

Coconut palms require warm conditions for successful growth, and are intolerant of cold weather. Optimum growth is with a mean annual temperature of 27 °C (81 °F), and growth is reduced below 21 °C (70 °F). Some seasonal variation is tolerated, with good growth where mean summer temperatures are between 28–37 °C (82–99 °F), and survival as long as winter temperatures are above 4–12 °C (39–54 °F); they will survive brief drops to 0 °C (32 °F). Severe frost is usually fatal, although they have been known to recover from temperatures of ?4 °C (24.8 °F). They may grow but not fruit properly in areas where there is not sufficient warmth, like Bermuda.

The conditions required for coconut trees to grow without any care are:

*mean daily temperature above 12-13 °C every day of the year
*50 year low temperature above freezing
*mean yearly rainfall above 1000 mm
*no or very little overhead canopy, since even small trees require a lot of sun
The main limiting factor is that most locations which satisfy the first three requirements do not satisfy the fourth, except near the coast where the sandy soil and salt spray limit the growth of most other trees (Palmtalk).

The range of the natural habitat of the coconut palm tree is delineated by the red line in map C1 to the right (based on information in Werth 1933, slightly modified by Niklas Jonsson).

Coconut trees are very hard to establish in dry climates, and cannot grow there without frequent irrigation; in drought conditions, the new leaves do not open well, and older leaves may become desiccated; fruit also tends to be shed.

Coconut palms are grown in more than 80 countries of the world, with a total production of 61 million tonnes per year.

Harvesting
In some parts of the world (Thailand and Malaysia), trained pig-tailed macaques are used to harvest coconuts. Training schools for pig-tailed macaques still exist both in southern Thailand, and in the Malaysian state of Kelantan.[11] Competitions are held each year to find the fastest harvester.

Use of Coconut

Once I heard some one to say Coconut is such an amazing fruit which can quench your thrust with its sweet water and meet your hunger with its good and neutritious pulp.Coconuts are a way of life for millions of people around the world today in tropical climates. Known as the “tree of life,” the wonderful fruit of the coconut palm is rich in specific fats that have incredible health benefits. Traditional tropical populations that consume a lot of coconut oil are seldom overweight, and traditionally have been free from the modern diseases that afflict most western cultures.

The Coconut Diet picks up where traditional diets fail. Low-fat diets don’t work. The body needs a proper balance of good fats, but in recent years traditional, healthy saturated fats have been substituted with harmful trans fatty acids in the US food industry. We now know that these harmful trans fatty acids that are found in most vegetable oils are not the healthy oils they were once thought to be, and they are considered one of the major culprits in modern diseases and obesity. The Coconut Diet replaces these highly refined harmful fats with one of the healthiest fats known to mankind: coconut oil.

The Coconut Diet is a not one specific diet plan, but a way of life! Most diet plans are temporary and tell you exactly which foods to eat, how much to eat, how to count calories or carbs, etc. Statistics prove that those starting diet plans are usually doomed to failure before they even start, because while they may temporarily lose weight on specific diet plans, they will almost always regain that weight and more as soon as they stop using the diet plan. We have seen traditional people in the tropics follow these dietary principles and live very long, healthy lives with coconut oil as the main dietary oil in their diet.

The dark, fibrous shell breaks, and fragrant coconut liquid begins to ooze out. Using a sharp knife, you separate the luscious white flesh from its shell; then grate it to make rich, delicious coconut milk. The milk will add delicate flavor and a smooth creamy texture to your lentil soup simmering on the stove.

But it is not only for its taste that the coconut is valued, says The Council of Maharishi Ayurveda Physicians. Coconut is considered a divine plant in the Vedic tradition. Whenever you perform a sacred ceremony like a yagya, a coconut must grace the occasion. Thus, the coconut enjoys the hallowed status of a select few herbs and fruits-like holy basil and amla-in the Vedic tradition.

What’s in a Coconut?
A recent research study from the Department of Biochemistry in the University of Kerala states that the fatty-acid composition of coconut changes as it grows. This change in composition is being studied by scientists in many places. But ayurvedic scholars knew many centuries ago that coconut has different properties at different stages of its life.

In the ayurvedic nighantus or classical texts which talk about raw materials or fruits, the coconut is actually divided into three types of coconuts —

  • Baal: tender or baby coconut
  • Madhyam: half-mature coconut
  • Pakva: fully mature coconut.

The Three Coconuts
Baal or Tender coconut: This type is 90 to 95 percent water. The liquid from this coconut is at its purest and most healing. It is considered the best for its cooling properties, for it is a proven pitta-pacifier. While unclogging the body’s channels, tender coconut water lubricates the dryness caused by ama. It repairs the gastro-intestinal tract, and its snigdha or sweet quality gives it a pranaropana-life-restoring-capacity.

Madhyam or Middle-aged coconut: In addition to water, the coconut at this stage has some soft pulp. Madhyam coconuts have less water than tender ones, but more water than mature coconuts. The water is slightly milky at this age. In the classical ayurvedic texts called Raj Nighantus, the middle-aged coconut is said to be the most nutritious. This type generally has more carbohydrates, protein, minerals, phosphorus, and Vitamins A, B, and C than the other two forms.

Mature or Pakva coconut: This type of coconut has firm “meat” or pulp, and very little water. Ancient ayurvedic scholar Bhav Mishra wrote that when a coconut becomes mature, it becomes heavy to digest, and it can also aggravate pitta or vata if the digestive agni of the individual is low. Mature coconuts can also build up toxic ama by interfering with digestion. If large quantities of this variety are consumed daily, then a person can suffer hyperacidity, and worse still, elevated cholesterol levels.

Therefore, people who have low agni or digestive power are not advised to eat mature coconut, unless it is combined with ingredients that balance its negative properties. In the south of India, for instance, a popular way to eat coconut is in the form of chutney. Combined with healthful ingredients like roasted chickpea flour, curry leaves, mustard seeds, and oil, the coconut is used in smaller quantities, and can actually be beneficial.

Click to read more about Thyroid & Coconut Oil

Click to read more about the benefits of Coconut oilÂ

Benefits of coconut oil

Details of coconut plant, use etc

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coconut

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