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Salvia Divinorum

Botanical Name : Salvia Divinorum
Family: Lamiaceae
Genus: Salvia
Species:S. divinorum
Kingdom:Plantae
Order: Lamiales

Common Names: Sage of the diviners, Ska maría pastora, Seer’s sage, Yerba de la pastora and just Salvia

Habitat : Salvia divinorum is endemic to the Sierra Mazateca in the state of Oaxaca in Mexico, growing in the primary or secondary cloud forest and tropical evergreen forest at elevations from 300 to 1,830 metres (980 to 6,000 ft). Its most common habitat is black soil along stream banks where small trees and bushes provide an environment of low light and high humidity.

Description:
Salvia divinorum has large green ovate (often also dentate) leaves, with a yellow undertone that reach 10 to 30 cm (4 to 12 in) long. The leaves have no hairs on either surface, and little or no petiole. The plant grows to well over 1 metre (3 ft) in height, on hollow square stems which tend to break or trail on the ground, with the plant rooting quite readily at the nodes and internodes.

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The flowers, which bloom only rarely, grow in whorls on a 30-centimetre (12 in) inflorescence, with about six flowers to each whorl. The 3-centimetre (1.2 in) flowers are white, curved and covered with hairs, and held in a small violet calyx that is covered in hairs and glands. When it does bloom in its native habitat, it does so from September to May.

Blooms occur when the day length becomes shorter than 12 hours (beginning in mid-October in some places), necessitating a shade cloth in urban environments with exposure to light pollution (HPS)

Early authors erred in describing the flowers as having blue corollas, based on Epling and Játiva‘s description. The first plant material they received was dried, so they based the flower color on an erroneous description by Hofmann and Wasson, who didn’t realize that their “blue flowers, crowned with a white dome” were in fact violet calyces with unopened white corollas.

Seeds: Salvia seeds are very rare because the plant does not often produce them. This is because salvia wild genetics are scarce. Most of todays salvia divinorum plants are propogated in the wild. This is why over the past few decades they have stopped producing seeds. ..CLICK  & SEE 

Cultivation:
Propagation by cuttings:-
Salvia divinorum is usually propagated through vegetative reproduction. Small cuttings, between two and eight inches long, cut off of the mother plant just below a node, will usually root in plain tap water within two or three weeks

Medicinal uses:
Traditional Mazatec healers have used Salvia divinorum to treat medical and psychiatric conditions conceptualized according to their traditional framework. Some of the conditions for which they use the herb are easily recognizable to Western medical practitioners (e.g colds, sore throats, constipation and diarrhea) and some are not, e.g. ‘fat lambs belly’ which is said to be due to a ‘stone’ put in the victims belly by means of evil witchcraft. Some alternative healers and herbalists are exploring possible uses for Salvia. The problems in objectively evaluating such efforts and ‘sorting the wheat from the chaff’ are considerable. There are no accepted uses for Salvia divinorum in standard medical practice at this time. A medical exploration of some possible uses suggested by Mazatec healing practice is in order in such areas as cough suppression (use to treat colds), and treatment of congestive heart failure and ascites (is ‘fat lamb’s belly’ ascites?). Some other areas for exploration include Salvia aided psychotherapy (there is anecdotal material supporting its usefulness in resolving pathological grief), use of salvinorin as a brief acting general or dissociative anesthetic agent, use to provide pain relief, use in easing both the physical and mental suffering of terminal patients as part of hospice care, and a possible antidepressant effect.

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/Salvia_divinorum
http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_RST.htm

http://www.bcseeds.com/salvia-seeds-salvia-divinorum-seeds-p-158.html

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Arthritis Therapies ‘Ineffective’

Most complementary therapies used by people with rheumatoid arthritis are not effective, a study has suggested.

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The Arthritis Research Campaign looked at the scientific evidence available for 40 treatments.

Two thirds of treatments for rheumatoid arthritis and a fifth of treatments for osteoarthritis were found to be ineffective by the researchers.

The Arthritis Research Campaign said it wanted people who used the therapies to know what evidence was available.

Rheumatoid arthritis is caused by inflammation of the lining (synovium) of the joints.

Osteoarthritis is caused by the breakdown of protective tissue called cartilage in the joints. Inflammation results when the unprotected bones of the joint begin to rub together.

It most commonly affects the joints of the fingers, knees, hips, and spine.

In total, 60% of people with arthritis are thought to use some form of complementary medicine.

Antler velvet

The researchers looked at compounds taken by the mouth or applied to the skin.

Effectiveness is measured by improvements in pain, movement or general well-being.

When the researchers examined treatments for rheumatoid arthritis, they found 13 out of 21 complementary medicines were shown to have no or little effect based on the available evidence.

The 13 were: antler velvet powder, blackcurrant seed oil, collagen, eazmov (a herbal mixture), feverfew (herb), flaxseed oil, green-lipped mussels, homeopathy, reumalex herbal mixture, selenium, the Chinese herb tong luo kai bi, vitamins A, C and E, and willow bark.

However, fish body oil was given five out of five in the report, for being effective in reducing joint pain and stiffness.

In addition, six out of 27 treatments for osteoarthritis were shown to have little or no effect based on the available evidence

Capsaicin gel, made from chilli peppers, proved most effective in relieving pain and joint tenderness.

But the effectiveness of glucosamine, a popular supplement used by people with OA which costs around £10 a month, which researchers have previously said was ineffective, again called into question.

For fibromyalgia, which causes widespread pain in muscles and joints, only four products were assessed, none were found to be highly effective with three medicines scoring two out of five, and the fourth just one.

Side effects

The researchers also examined how safe compounds were.

One – thunder god vine, a traditional Chinese medicine – was given a “red” classification, meaning there were serious safety concerns.

A quarter of the compounds were given an “amber” safety classification, because there were some reported side-effects.

The team said they were unable to evaluate the effectiveness of 36 therapies, including basil, green tea, sarsaparilla and St John’s Wort because there was insufficient data.

Professor Gary Macfarlane, from the University of Aberdeen, said while different things worked for different people, “it is useful to also have the scientific evidence available and just as important to know how safe we think they are to use.”

Professor Alan Silman, the Arthritis Research Campaign’s medical director, added: “We didn’t start this saying this was our opportunity to knock complementary medicines.

“The message is not ‘don’t take them’. The message is ‘if you are going to take them, be aware of what the level of evidence is’.”

Dr Peter Fisher, clinical director of the Royal London Homeopathic Hospital, said the report focused on tablets and preparations applied to the skin, missing out therapies such as acupuncture and osteopathy.

“I think what really comes across in this report is how sorely under-researched this area is,” he said.

Jane Gray, president, of the National Institute of Medical Herbalists added: “This report is a commendable attempt to provide information on self help products for osteo and rheumatoid arthritis.”

Sources: BBC NEWS:

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Researchers Make Synthetic HDL Cholesterol

US researchers have developed a synthetic form of good cholesterol known as HDL they hope will be able to keep levels of bad cholesterol  in check. The compound, which has a tiny core of gold, is manufactured using nanotechnology, and its developers think it has the potential to rid the body of excess bad cholesterol.

lipoprotein (HDL) particles like the one depicted here nevertheless incorporate large proteins that are difficult to mimic artificially.This is required  to  treat atherosclerosis.

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“The idea is you take this and effectively just urinate it out,” said Chad Mirkin of Northwestern University in Chicago. Mirkin, director of Northwestern’s International Institute for Nanotechnology said, “The molecule mirrors the size and structure of high-density lipoprotein, or HDL. It is comprised of a carefully sized gold particle swathed in fat molecules known as lipids and capped off with a protein layer.”

It is designed to attract and trap low-density lipoprotein, or LDL, the bad kind of cholesterol that can build up in arteries and cause heart attacks and strokes. Powerful drugs known as statins can help lower LDL levels, but they do little to raise levels of protective HDL cholesterol.

“The hope is this will be a material that doesn’t have side effects, that allows you to do what the statins don’t do. That is raise the HDL level, which might be able reverse a lot of the damage and plaques that are already there,” Mirkin said.

Current drugs that raise natural levels of HDL, such as niacin, cause unpleasant side effects such as flushing. And while many drug companies are working to develop better HDL-raising drugs, few have succeeded. “HDL is a natural nanoparticle, and we’ve successfully mimicked it,” Mirkin said.

Gold is an ideal scaffolding material because its shape can be easily tailored, and it is non-toxic, making it a good drug candidate. Mirkin said “Gold is already used in therapies for arthritis and as contrast agent in imaging.”

Mirkin is testing the synthetic HDL molecules in animals. “Will they bind to cholesterol and effectively lower cholesterol, and will they reverse the damage of plaques? That would be absolutely spectacular,” he said. Analysts believe the market potential for HDL-raising drugs is well over $10 billion.

Current HDL-raising drugs include Abbott Laboratories Inc’s Niaspan, which also lowers a type of blood fat called triglycerides. In Europe, Merck & Co markets a drug called Tredaptive that combines niacin with an anti-flushing agent. Merck is already well into development of an HDL-raising drug called anacetrapib and plans to start late-stage trials in humans this year. The drug, also called MK-859, has a similar mechanism of action to a failed compound by Pfizer Inc called torcetrapib that was linked with deaths .

Sources: The Times Of India

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High Blood Calcium Tied to Cancer

Men with elevated levels of calcium in their blood may have a much higher risk of getting fatal prostate cancer, US researchers said .

The findings indicate that a simple blood test may identify men at high risk for the most dangerous prostate tumors, and there already are drugs available that cut calcium levels in the bloodstream, the researchers said.

They tracked 2,814 men in a US government health survey in which they gave blood samples that revealed calcium levels. The men in the top third of blood calcium levels had 2.68 times the risk of developing fatal prostate cancer later in life compared to those in the bottom third, the study found.

“If serum calcium really does increase your risk for fatal prostate cancer, that’s wonderfully exciting because serum calcium levels can be changed,” Gary Schwartz of Wake Forest University School of Medicine, who helped lead the study, said in a telephone interview.

“One way to think of it is to think of the tremendous advances in the control of cardiovascular disease that occur from understanding that things like serum cholesterol predict heart attack,” Schwartz added.

Doctors have struggled to find ways to predict if a man who gets prostate cancer will have a tumor that poses little danger, as is often the case, or one that is a killer.

Blood calcium was not very predictive of whether a man would get nonlethal prostate cancer, but was highly predictive of whether a man would get a fatal case, the researchers wrote in the American Association for Cancer Research‘s journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention. The blood samples on average were given a decade before the cancer appeared, the researchers said.

A COMMON CANCER

Prostate cancer is the second most commonly diagnosed form of cancer in men worldwide, with about 780,000 men diagnosed per year, and the sixth mostly deadly form in men, with about 250,000 deaths per year, the American Cancer Society said.

Schwartz said it is unclear whether it is the actual calcium or blood levels of parathyroid hormone, which is supposed to keep calcium levels at normal levels in the bloodstream, that is raising the risk. Either way, he said there are drugs that can lower them, including Fontus Pharmaceuticals Inc’s Rocaltrol, also called calcitriol; Genzyme Corp’s Hectorol (doxercalciferol); Abbott Laboratories‘ Zemplar (paricalcitol); and Amgen Inc’s Sensipar (cinacalcet).

People treated for high blood calcium usually have chronic kidney disease, which is associated with low vitamin D levels. Low vitamin D levels elevate parathyroid hormone levels, Schwartz said.

Halcyon Skinner of the University of Wisconsin, who also worked on the study, said there is little relationship between calcium in the diet and blood calcium levels, so these men would not benefit from eating less food rich in calcium.

Previous research had suggested a role for calcium in prostate cancer. In laboratory studies, parathyroid hormone and calcium promote the growth of prostate cancer cells.

Sources: The Times Of India

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Do Arthritis Drugs Cause Cancer?

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is investigating whether four drugs used to treat rheumatoid arthritis and other immune system diseases might increase the risk of cancer in children.

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The FDA has received reports of 30 cases of cancer among children and young adults treated with the drugs. The agency did not make clear how many children had taken the drugs.

The drugs involved are:

1. Enbrel, sold by Amgen and Wyeth
2. Remicade, sold by Johnson & Johnson and Schering-Plough
3. Humira, sold by Abbott Laboratories
4. Cimzia, sold by the Belgian company UCB

All of the drugs block a protein called tumor necrosis factor, and are therefore known as TNF-blockers. They are used to treat not only rheumatoid arthritis but also psoriasis, Crohn’s disease and other immune diseases.

Because the drugs block part of the immune system, it’s long been known that they might contribute to a higher risk of cancers and infections. The drugs’ labels contain warnings as such, including warning about a risk of lymphomas, which are cancers of immune system cells.

Among adults, meanwhile, one study found that those given Humira or Remicade to treat rheumatoid arthritis had 2.4 times the cancer rate of those in control groups.

Sources: New York Times June 5, 2008

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