Herbs & Plants

Zanthoxylum nitidum

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Botanical Name : Zanthoxylum nitidum
Family: Rutaceae
Genus: Zanthoxylum
Species:Z. nitidum
Order: Sapindales

*Fagara hamiltoniana (Wall.) Engl.
*Fagara nitida Roxb.
*Fagara warburgii Perkins
*Zanthoxylum hamiltonianum Wall.
*Zanthoxylum hirtellum Ridl.
*Zanthoxylum torvum F. Muell.

Common Name: Shiny-leaf prickly-ash. In Assamese it is known as Tez-mui and Tejamool. It is also called Liang mian zhen

Habitat : Zanthoxylum nitidum is native to South China, southeast Asia, and northern Australia. It is one of thirteen Zanthoxylum species found in India.It grows in shrubby thickets.

Z. nitidum is a “morphologically variable” prickly shrub. Sometimes it is an evergreen Climber.The leaves are made up of several leathery oval leaflets which are up to 12 by 8 centimeters (5 by 3 inches) in size. It is aromatic. Flowers, which occur in the leaf axils, have yellow-green petals a few millimeters long. The fruit is a red-brown follicle.


It is in leaf 12-Jan. The flowers are dioecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but only one sex is to be found on any one plant so both male and female plants must be grown if seed is required)The plant is not self-fertile.

Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.

The plant prefers a good deep well-drained moisture retentive soil in full sun or semi-shade. Dioecious. Male and female plants must be grown if seed is required. Flowers are formed on the old wood.

Seed – best sown in a greenhouse as soon as it is ripe in the autumn. Stored seed may requires up to 3 months cold stratification, though scarification may also help. Sow stored seed in a cold frame as early in the year as possible. Germination should take place in late spring, though it might take another 12 months. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in a cold frame for their first winter. Plant them out in early summer. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, July/August in a frame. Root cuttings, 3cm long, planted horizontally in pots in a greenhouse. Good percentage. Suckers, removed in late winter and planted into their permanent positions.
Chemical constituents:
The plant contains the chemical compounds nitidine, toddalolactone, and chelerythrine.The essential oil, at least from some varieties, contains limonene and geraniol.

Medicinal Uses:
Z. nitidum is one several species of Zanthoxylum that are used in traditional medicine in various parts of the world.The root of zanthoxylum nitidum is anodyne, antiphlogistic, carminative, depurative. The plant is analgesic and antirheumatic. The resin contained in the bark, and especially in that of the roots, is powerfully stimulant and tonic.
Other Uses:
Z. nitidum is used as an insecticide and a piscicide. In India and Nepal, the fruits are used as a condiment. It has been added to toothpaste to enhance its efficacy.
Known Hazards: Plants are slightly toxic

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.


Fruits & Vegetables Herbs & Plants


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Botanical Name: Brassica oleracea botrytis
Family: Brassicaceae
Genus: Brassica
Species: B. oleracea
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Brassicales

Common Name: Cauliflower (The name comes from Latin caulis (cabbage) and flower)

Habitat: Cauliflower is grown allover the world. It is cultivated form of B. oleracea.

Description:     Cauliflower an annual /biennial plant that reproduces by seed, growing to 0.8 m (2ft 7in).    It is not frost tender. It is in flower from May to August, and the seeds ripen from Jul to September in Colder countries but in tropical countries it is an winter vegitable. Typically, only the head (the white curd) is eaten. The cauliflower head is composed of a white inflorescence meristem. Cauliflower heads resemble those in broccoli, which differs in having flower buds. Brassica oleracea also includes broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, collard greens, and kale, though they are of different cultivar groups.The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees.The plant is self-fertile.

CLICK &  SEE THE PICTURES….………....Cauliflower Plant..……Cauliflower…...Cauliflower seeds

Classification and identification:…….Major groups:…….There are four major groups of cauliflower.

*Italian: Diverse in appearance, and biennial and annual in type, this group includes white, Romanesco, various brown, green, purple, and yellow cultivars. This type is the ancestral form from which the others were derived.

*Northern European annuals: Used in Europe and North America for summer and fall harvest, it was developed in Germany in the 18th century, and includes the old cultivars Erfurt and Snowball.

*Northwest European biennial: Used in Europe for winter and early spring harvest, this was developed in France in the 19th century, and includes the old cultivars Angers and Roscoff.

*Asian: A tropical cauliflower used in China and India, it was developed in India during the 19th century from the now-abandoned Cornish type,and includes old varieties Early Benaras and Early Patna.

Varieties: There are hundreds of historic and current commercial varieties used around the world. A comprehensive list of about 80 North American varieties is maintained at North Carolina State University.

Colours: ....White……..White cauliflower is the most common color of cauliflower.

Orange:....Orange cauliflower (B. oleracea L. var. botrytis) contains 25% more vitamin A than white varieties. This trait came from a natural mutant found in a cauliflower field in Canada. Cultivars include ‘Cheddar’ and ‘Orange Bouquet’.

Green:.…..Green cauliflower, of the B. oleracea botrytis group, is sometimes called broccoflower. It is available in the normal curd shape and with a fractal spiral curd called Romanesco broccoli. Both have been commercially available in the U.S. and Europe since the early 1990s. Green-curded varieties include ‘Alverda’, ‘Green Goddess’ and ‘Vorda’. Romanesco varieties include ‘Minaret’ and ‘Veronica’.

Purple:…….The purple color in this cauliflower is caused by the presence of the antioxidant group anthocyanins, which can also be found in red cabbage and red wine. Varieties include ‘Graffiti’ and ‘Purple Cape’.
In Great Britain and southern Italy, a broccoli with tiny flower buds is sold as a vegetable under the name “purple cauliflower”; it is not the same as standard cauliflower with a purple curd.
Cultivation :
Succeeds in full sun in a well-drained moisture-retentive fertile soil with plenty of lime. Cauliflowers, especially the winter and spring maturing types, should not be given a soil that is too rich in nitrogen since this can encourage soft, sappy growth that is more susceptible to winter cold damage. Prefers a heavy soil]. Requires a warm sunny position. Prefers a pH in the range 6 to 7, though it tolerates a pH in the range 4.3 to 8.3. Succeeds in maritime gardens. Lack of moisture in the growing season can cause the plant to produce small or deformed curds. Summer varieties are not very cold hardy and will be damaged by light frosts, winter cauliflower plants are more hardy and will tolerate temperatures down to about -6°c, though the curds are more sensitive and can suffer damage at about -2°c. This damage can often be prevented by bending over the leaves so that they cover the curd. Cauliflowers are widely grown for their edible immature flower heads (or curd). There are many named varieties and, by careful selection, it is possible to provide a year round supply. The summer and autumn maturing cultivars are annuals, they need to produce a certain number of leaves before curd development will be initiated. The optimum temperature for this is around 17°c, but at temperatures above 20°c the curds will either be of poor quality or not be produced at all. Winter and spring maturing forms are biennial and need exposure to temperatures below 10°c before they will produce curds and once again, this will not happen unless the plant has reached a certain size. Grows well with celery and other aromatic plants since these seem to deter insect predations. Grows badly with beet, tomatoes, onions and strawberries.

Propagation :
Seed – sow in a seedbed outdoors in April to June depending on the cultivar. Plant out into their permanent position when the plants are 5 – 10cm tall. Seed of some cultivars can be sown in late winter in a greenhouse in order to obtain a harvest in early summer. Do not let the seedlings get overcrowded or they will soon become leggy and will not make such good plants. If your seedlings do get leggy, it is possible to plant them rather deeper into the soil – the buried stems will soon form roots and the plant will be better supported.

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

Immature flowering head – raw or cooked. A mild cabbage-like flavour, they make an excellent cooked vegetable and are also very acceptable in salads. By careful selection of cultivars, it is possible to produce flowering heads all year round. Leaves – cooked. A mild cabbage flavour, they make a good cooked vegetable. Do not over-harvest them, however, since this would adversely affect the production of the flowering head .

Medicinal Uses:
Protection against certain cancers. Naturally occurring chemicals (indoles, isothiocyanates, glucosinolates, dithiolethiones, and phenols) in cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cabbage, and other cruciferous vegetables appear to reduce the risk of some cancers, perhaps by preventing the formation of carcinogens in your body or by blocking cancer-causing substances from reaching or reacting with sensitive body tissues or by inhibiting the transformation of healthy cells to malignant ones.

All cruciferous vegetables contain sulforaphane, a member of a family of chemicals known as isothiocyanates. In experiments with laboratory rats, sulforaphane appears to increase the body’s production of phase-2 enzymes, naturally occurring substances that inactivate and help eliminate carcinogens. At the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, 69 percent of the rats injected with a chemical known to cause mammary cancer developed tumors vs. only 26 percent of the rats given the carcinogenic chemical plus sulforaphane.

In 1997, Johns Hopkins researchers discovered that broccoli seeds and three-day-old broccoli sprouts contain a compound converted to sulforaphane when the seed and sprout cells are crushed. Five grams of three-day-old broccoli sprouts contain as much sulforaphane as 150 grams of mature broccoli. The sulforaphane levels in other cruciferous vegetables have not yet been calculated………....Click & see : 
Other Uses :…….Fungicide……..An extract of the seeds inactivates the bacteria that causes black rot.

Known Hazards:
Enlarged thyroid gland (goiter). Cruciferous vegetables, including cauliflower, contain goitrin, thiocyanate, and isothiocyanate. These chemicals, known collectively as goitrogens, inhibit the formation of thyroid hormones and cause the thyroid to enlarge in an attempt to produce more. Goitrogens are not hazardous for healthy people who eat moderate amounts of cruciferous vegetables, but they may pose problems for people who have a thyroid condition or are taking thyroid medication.

Intestinal gas. Bacteria that live naturally in the gut degrade the indigestible carbohydrates (food fiber) in cauliflower, producing intestinal gas that some people find distressing.

Food/Drug Interactions: Anticoagulants. Cauliflower contains vitamin K, the blood-clotting vitamin produced naturally by bacteria in our intestines. Additional intake of vitamin K may reduce the effectiveness of anticoagulants (warfarin, Coumadin, Panwarfin), requiring larger-than-normal doses to produce the same effect.

False-positive test for occult blood in the stool. The active ingredient in the guiac slide test for hidden blood in feces is alphaguaiaconic acid, a chemical that turns blue in the presence of blood. Cauliflower contains peroxidase, a natural chemical that also turns alphaguaiaconic acid blue and may produce a positive test in people who do not actually have blood in the stool.

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.


Herbs & Plants

Wild Hyacinth

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Botanical Name : Hyacinthus nonscriptus
Family: Asparagaceae
Subfamily: Scilloideae
Genus: Hyacinthoides
Species: H. non-scripta
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Asparagales

Synonyms: Bluebell. Scilla nutans. Nodding Squill. Scilla nonscriptus. Agraphis nutans. Calverkeys. Culverkeys. Auld Man’s Bell. Ring-o’-Bells. Jacinth. Wood Bells. Agraphis nutans, Link.

Common Names :Wild Hyacinth, common bluebell or simply bluebell

Habitat : Bluebell is Abundant in Britain, Western Europe to Spain, eastward to Central France, along the Mediterranean to Italy.

Wild Hyacinth  is a perennial plant that grows from a bulb. It produces 3–6 linear leaves, all growing from the base of the plant, and each 7–16 millimetres (0.28–0.63 in) wide. An inflorescence of 5–12 (exceptionally 3–32) flowers is borne on a stem up to 500 mm (20 in) tall, which droops towards the tip; the flowers are arranged in a 1-sided nodding raceme. Each flower is 14–20 mm (0.55–0.79 in) long, with two bracts at the base, and the six tepals are strongly recurved at their tips. The tepals are violet–blue. The three stamens in the outer whorl are fused to the perianth for more than 75% of their length, and bear cream-coloured pollen. The flowers are strongly and sweetly scented. The seeds are black, and germinate on the soil surface

The Wild Hyacinth is in flower from early in April till the end of May, and being a perennial and spreading rapidly, is found year after year in the same spot, forming a mass of rich colour in the woods where it grows. The long leaves remain above ground until late in the autumn.

The bulbs produce contractile roots; when these roots contract, they draw the bulbs down into deeper layers of the soil where there is greater moisture, reaching depths of 10–12 cm (3.9–4.7 in). This may explain the absence of H. non-scripta from thin soils over chalk in South East England, since the bulbs are unable to penetrate into sufficiently deep soils.

Part Used: Root bulb, dried and powdered.

Constituents: The bulbs contain inulin, but are characterized by the absence of starch (which in many other monoeotyledons is found in company with inulin). Even if fed on cane-sugar, Bluebell bulbs will not form starch. They also contain a very large quantity of mucilage.

Though little used in modern medicine, the bulb has diuretic and styptic properties.

Dried and powdered it has been used as a styptic for leucorrhoea; ‘There is hardly a more powerful remedy,’ wrote Sir John Hill (1716-75), warning at the same time that the dose should not exceed 3 grains. He also informs us that a decoction of the bulb operates by urine.

Tennyson speaks of Bluebell juice being used to cure snake-bite.

The flowers have a slight, starch-like scent, but no medicinal uses have been ascribed to them.

The bulbs are poisonous in the fresh state. The viscid juice so abundantly contained in them and existing in every part of the plant has been used as a substitute for starch, and in the days when stiff ruffs were worn was much in request. From its gummy character, it was also employed as bookbinders’ gum.

Other Uses:
Wild Hyacinth or Bluebells are widely planted as garden plants, either among trees or in herbaceous borders. They flower at the same time as hyacinths, Narcissus and some tulips. Their ability to reproduce vegetatively using runners, however, means that they can spread rapidly, and may need to be controlled as weeds.

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.


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Featured Pediatric

Gurgling Tots Trained in Sign Language

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Babies who have mastered gurgling, but can’t quite handle words yet can learn a baby version of sign language to tell mom and dad whether they want to eat, play or be lulled into sweet sleep.

click & see

“Przepraszam” (excuse me), “sprzatamy” (cleaning up) ou “kurczaczek” (chick), are practical words to know but impossible to pronounce for one-year-olds, even if they are Polish.

“Babies aren’t ready to speak. In order to utter words you need teeth,” Danuta Mikulska, 31, a linguist specializing in sign language said.

“Their muscles and vocal chords are insufficiently developed, but they are able to make hand gestures.”
At nine months, Mateusz has already mastered a few signs: suck, balloon and music, light. “He understands twenty-or-so more,” says his mum, Agnieszka Nec, 25.

When eight-month-old Adam wants something he spells it out with his hands. “It’s with gestures that he tells me he wants a song or to be rocked when he’s going to sleep,” says mom, Karolina Olszewska, a journalist.

Along with eight other babies and their mums, none of whom have hearing problems; Mateusz and Adam learn sign language at Warsaw‘s Klub Koko, created by three women, academics and artists: Danuta Mikulska, Magdalena Jakubowska and Joanna Kolodziejska. During a series of hour-long lessons, instructors create a world of play for babies and moms focused on songs, poems and exercises in which words are systematically reinforced by their equivalent hand signs.

According to Klub Koko, the method first created in the US in the 1980s reinforces contacts between mother and child, stimulates the intellectual and sensory-motor development of babies as well as their imagination, memory and concentration.

It reduces tears, tantrums and frustration in tots, who, try as they might, cannot get their message across verbally, instructors say. It also helps toddlers master the ability to speak, read, write and count more rapidly.

Sources: The Times Of India

Featured News on Health & Science

Smelling Good (Body smell)

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All human beings have a unique body odour, often pleasant but sometimes a little repulsive. Animals, too, have a distinctive smell which is different from that of other species. They can identify their own kind and are attracted only to the opposite sex of the same species. This is through the release of chemicals called pheromones which they detect with a vomeronasal olfactory (smell) organ in their nasal cavities………CLICK & SEE

Perfumes make the skin acidic and less attractive to bacteria

Human beings, too, have a well-developed sense of smell. Cave men smelt out their friends, enemies and predators. Like lower mammals, humans knew when women were at the fertile period of their menstrual cycle. Similarly, women could identify virile males with good genes.

Over the years, the olfactory sense became rudimentary as it was no longer needed for survival. Natural body odour is now a nuisance, which needs to be controlled and altered to a pleasant, subtle fragrance.

Odour arises as a result of bacterial action on sweat. People with a congenital condition called anhidrosis do not sweat or smell.

Most people have between two and five million sweat glands situated all over the body. Most of these are eccrine glands which secrete a watery, salty sweat as and when the body temperature rises. As this sweat evaporates, it cools down the body. Eccrine glands are distinct from the apocrine sweat glands found in the scalp, armpits and groin. Apocrine glands are connected to cells that secrete a fatty substance called sebum. Sweat from these glands is mixed with this material. Bacteria living on the surface of the skin can break down the sebum for nutrition, producing the characteristic odour.

Our individual odour is dependent on age, sex, menstrual cycle, bathing habits, clothes, diet and any medication we may be taking.

Children have poorly developed apocrine sweat glands and hence have no body odour. These glands develop at puberty, producing the typical “teenage smell”.

Increased sweating or hyperhidrosis can be hereditary. It can also occur with anxiety, as a result of the stimulation of the sweat glands by the nervous system, making the person “clammy with fear” or break out into a “cold sweat”.

Hormonal changes affect sweating. Around the time of menopause, as the oestrogen levels drop, many women experience sudden, unprovoked attacks of excessive sweating. Excessive thyroid hormones also produce the same symptoms.

During fever, the body attempts to cool itself by increasing the sweat production — causing the typical chills and sweating that occur with malaria.

Medications like paracetamol or caffeine also increase sweating.

Body odour is as individual as a finger print. A sudden change in the body odour may herald the onset of illness. Diabetes has a fruity smell, liver and kidney disease an ammonia smell.

Body odour can be changed and controlled. The Japanese have actually invented clothes impregnated with chemicals that absorb and alter body odour, making it pleasant and sexy. For us less fortunate Indians, there are many simple measures that can reduce and pleasantly alter body odour.

Keep your axillary and pubic hair trimmed and bathe twice a day to control the population of body bacteria. Use a loofa instead of applying the soap directly to the skin. Dry the feet thoroughly to prevent bacterial overgrowth.

Wear clothes made of natural fibres like cotton, silk or linen. Clothes including socks should be changed daily and washed regularly. Wearing clothes on which sweat has dried aids bacterial growth.

Shoes should be leather or cloth so that sweat can evaporate and the feet can breathe.

Spicy foods and caffeinated beverages should be avoided as they can increase sweating. Garlic and onions also can impart an offensive odour to sweat.

Aerobic exercise combined with relaxation techniques help to control the stress that triggers excessive perspiration.

Sweating can be reduced with acetylcholine medications, mild electric currents, botox injections or surgery. For most people, such measures are not required. Deodorants, anti-perspirants and body sprays are sufficient. They make the skin acidic and less attractive to bacteria. They contain perfume fragrances which mask the odour of perspiration.

An unpleasant body odour can have psychological, social and occupational consequences. Love follows initial attraction which is influenced by body odour. Romantic failures probably mean you need to “Zatak” yourself or aim for “the Axe Effect”.

Source: The Telegraph (Kolkata,India)