Herbs & Plants

Solanum fendleri

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Botanical Name: Solanum fendleri
Family :Solanaceae
Subfamilia : Solanoideae
Genus : Solanum
Tribes : Solaneae
Kingdom : Plantae – Plants
Subkingdom : Tracheobionta – Vascular plants
Superdivision: Spermatophyta – Seed plants
Division: Magnoliophyta – Flowering plants
Class: Magnoliopsida – Dicotyledons
Subclass: Asteridae
Order: Solanales
Species: Solanum fendleri A. Gray ex Torr. – Fendler’s horsenettle

Synonym: Solanum stoloniferum

Common Names: Wild Potato, Fendler’s horsenettle, Texan horsenettle

Habitat :Solanum fendleri is native to South-western N. America. It grows on rich soils in open pine woods, 1800 – 2700 metres in Arizona.

Solanum fendleri is a perennial herb, growing to 20 inches (50 cm) tall. The flowers are flat, round, 1 inch (2.5 cm) in diameter, and have 5 pointed lobes and a yellow beak of stamens. It blooms in summer & early fall. The flowers are followed by small, green to white fruits. The leaves are green to tinged purple below, hairy, alternate, and pinnately compound with usually 5 or 7 elliptic to egg-shaped leaflets. The terminal (end) leaflet is larger than the other leaflets. The plants have both stolons and small, rounded, white or purple tubers (potatoes)

The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects.Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist soil.

We have very little information on this species and do not know if it will succeed in Britain. This plant is a N. American species of potatoes and it can probably be grown in much the same way as potatoes are grown. The following notes are based on the general needs of the genus. Succeeds in most soils. Dislikes wet or heavy clay soils. Prefers a slightly acid soil, the tubers are subject to scab on limy soils or those deficient in humus. Yields best on a fertile soil rich in organic matter.

Seed – sow early spring in a warm greenhouse. Prick out the seedlings into a fairly rich compost as soon as they are large enough to handle and grow them on fast. Plant them out after the last expected frosts. Division. Harvest the tubers in autumn after the top-growth has been cut back by frost. Store the tubers in a cool frost-free place overwinter and replant in April.

Edible Uses:

Edible Parts: Root.

Tubers – raw or cooked. Rich in starch, the tubers can be dried and ground into a powder then used in making bread. A type of potato, it is said to be pleasant eating, tasting somewhat like a sweet chestnut. When eaten raw the potatoes are mixed with clay. One report says that, after every mouthful of raw potato, a person would take a bite f white clay to counteract the unpleasant astringent effect of the potato in the mouth. The roots are fairly small, averaging about 15mm in diameter.

Medicinal Uses:


The raw tubers have been used in the treatment of gastric distress due to hyperacidity.

Known Hazards: Although no specific mention of toxicity has been seen for this species, it belongs to a genus where many if not all the members have poisonous leaves and sometimes also the unripe fruits.

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.


Solanum fendleri – Fendler's Horsenettle

News on Health & Science

Web Addiction a ‘Clinical Disorder’

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China could become the first country to classify internet addiction as a clinical disorder amid growing concern over compulsive web use by millions of Chinese, state media said 


The health ministry is likely to adopt a new manual on Internet addiction next year drawn up by Chinese psychologists that recognises it as a condition similar to compulsive gambling or alcohol addiction, the China Daily reported.

It cited psychologists involved in drafting the diagnostic manual.

China has the world’s largest online population at 253 million people, according to official figures, and is growing rapidly as computer use rises along with income levels.

But that has also fed growing concerns over compulsive internet use.

A top Chinese legislator said in August that about 10% of China’s web users under the age of 18, or four million people, were addicted to the internet, mainly to “unhealthy” online games, state media said at the time.

Recent research by internet media company InterActiveCorp showed that 42% of Chinese youngsters polled felt “addicted” to the web, compared to 18% in the US. China has tried various measures to regulate the booming online gaming market and curb Web use by teens.

In 2006, it ordered all Chinese internet game manufacturers to install technology in their games that demands players reveal their real name and identification number.

Sources: The Times Of India

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Grey Guns Against Addiction

Coronal section of brain through anterior comm...Image via Wikipedia

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Scientists have found that the brain tries to defend itself against drug abuse by making internal changes.

Researchers have received a rare insight into the brain’s fight against substance abuse, boosting the possibilities of developing better medicines to combat drug addiction.

The study, that involved many Indian scientists working in the US, has identified several brain mechanisms that underlie addiction-related structural changes. To their surprise, the researchers found that these mechanisms are an attempt by the brain to defend itself against excessive drug use.

The structural changes that appeared in the brain after chronic cocaine exposure, at critical points of communication between cells in the nucleus accumbens — the reward or pleasure centres — might actually function to limit addiction rather than support it, says Suprabha Pulipparacharuvil, the first author of the study. The findings appear in the August 28 issue of the journal Neuron. “They tend slow the process or minimise the long-lasting behavioural changes associated with addiction,” she told KnowHow.

Previous studies have shown that repeated use of drugs like cocaine, amphetamines and nicotine increases the number of anatomical structures called dendritic spines in the regions associated with pleasure and reward. These dendritic spines are the sites where brain cells communicate with one another. Many scientists believe that this long-lasting brain rewiring underlies similarly persistent drug taking and drug seeking behaviours associated with addiction and relapse. The mechanism that controls this brain rewiring and its relationship to addiction-related behaviour was not known previously.

In the new study involving laboratory mice, the researchers found that cocaine suppresses the activity of a set of proteins called MEF2 proteins. As MEF2 normally reduces the number of brain connections, suppressing it leads to an increase in dendritic spine density. The researchers also found that enhanced MEF2 activity in the brain blocked a drug-induced increase in dendritic spine density and increased addiction-related behavioural responses to cocaine.

This seems to be the brain’s natural response to cocaine. It may not be important for the process of addiction but may limit it, says Christopher Cowan, who led the research. The brain adapts to the effects of cocaine, and some of these changes may actually oppose addiction, he says.

Cowan is hopeful that by identifying a gene family that modulates the behavioural responses to cocaine, the study may generate new potential protein targets for drug companies to pursue.

“Relapse, or the resumption of active drug taking and drug seeking, is very common in drug addicts,” says Cowan. “Addiction-related brain changes and behaviours seem to be hardwired and semi-permanent, and treatment options are limited. Our data suggest that rather than trying to block the process of increasing dendritic spine density, we may actually want to look at treatments that try to enhance this.”

MEF2 is activated in response to brain activity. It actually tells the brain to eliminate the potential growth of too many communication sites between nerve cells. But repeated exposure to cocaine disrupts this function of MEF2, resulting in new brain connections.

To investigate the relationship between MEF2 and spine density changes, the researchers varied the level of the protein in the nucleus accumbens. Brain imaging done after administration of cocaine to the lab animals showed that it prevented MEF2 from limiting dendritic spine increase.

To test MEF2’s relationship to behaviour, the researchers monitored the movement of the mice after daily exposure to the same amount of cocaine. The same dose of cocaine produced a larger behavioural response after repeated days of drug injections, resulting in a “sensitised” response. This sensitised behavioural response to the drug is very stable, lasting for months after the drug is discontinued.

When the researchers manipulated the animals so that their MEF2 levels remained high in the presence of cocaine, they turned out to be more sensitive to the drug. This suggested that an increase in the number of communication sites might help combat the addiction process.

“This suggests the exciting possibility that MEF2 proteins may control the expression of key genes that modulate drug-related brain changes and behaviour,” says Cowan. “If we understand which genes are influenced by MEF2, we can intervene and try to help the system resist or reverse these sensitisation processes.”

Sources: The Telegraph (Kolkata, India)

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News on Health & Science

Bitter Truth About Betel

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Indian researchers have discovered that areca nut is quite addictive and, when combined with tobacco, can lead to cancer.

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If you thought only the tobacco in chewing pan is addictive, think again. Researchers in Bangalore have found that betel nut (Areca catechu or supari), too, is addictive and long-term users develop a dependency on it.

According to a team of researchers at the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (Nimhans), the chances of those chewing areca nut — with or without tobacco — developing oral submucous fibrosis (OSF) are much higher than in smokers. OSF is a medical condition that leads to cancers of the oral cavity and throat.

The relative risk of those who use areca nut along with tobacco developing OSF is nearly 400 times more than plain tobacco users, Nimhans psychiatrist Vivek Benegal and his colleagues at the institute’s Deaddiction Centre said in a study reported online in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence.

“Traditionally, it is thought that areca nut is not addictive and hence safe to consume. For this reason, even children, for whom other stimulants such as tobacco are taboo, are allowed to use it,” observed Benegal. It is a matter of concern as a significant portion of the younger generation in India consumes areca products, he said.

“Our study shows that it is not just gutka (which contains tobacco along with areca nut and several spices) that is harmful; even plain pan masala is injurious to health as it, too, develops a dependence syndrome on persistent use,” he said.

Tobacco in areca nut mixtures — although not a causative factor of OSF — is believed to be more responsible for the disease as it increases addiction, leading to a greater yearning for nut chewing.

Areca nut, which is said to be the fourth most commonly used psychoactive stimulant, makes more than 70 per cent of its users addicted to it. Popular in South Asia and South-east Asia, it is used by nearly 10 per cent of the world’s population. Though there could be subtle variations in its effects on people, the consumption of areca nut generally produces a sense of well being, euphoria, warm sensation in the body and heightened alertness.

The scientists said that long-term areca users may develop the same kind of dependence syndrome as those indulging in other substances of abuse do. They hoped that the work might highlight a public health problem that has hitherto been ignored.

Sources: The Telegraph (Kolkata, India)

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Healthy Tips

18 Secrets to Help You Achieve Your Health Goals

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It is easy to focus on bad habits that you  like to overcome, but how about this for a change: focusing on habits you like to have…….click & see

The tips that follow will help you to put your good habits — like eating healthy, exercising, and taking time to relax — on autopilot, so you can maintain them with very little effort. Here are a few of my favorites (the link below has the entire list):

1. Commit to Thirty Days – Three to four weeks is all the time you need to make a habit automatic. If you can make it through the initial conditioning phase, it becomes much easier to sustain. A month is a good block of time to commit to a change since it easily fits in your calendar.

2. Make it Daily – Consistency is critical if you want to make a habit stick. If you want to start exercising, go to the gym every day for your first thirty days. Going a couple times a week will make it harder to form the habit. Activities you do once every few days are trickier to lock in as habits.

3. Start Simple – Don’t try to completely change your life in one day. It is easy to get over-motivated and take on too much. If you wanted to study two hours a day, first make the habit to go for thirty minutes and build on that.

4. Remind Yourself – Around two weeks into your commitment it can be easy to forget. Place reminders to execute your habit each day or you might miss a few days. If you miss time it defeats the purpose of setting a habit to begin with.

5. Stay Consistent – The more consistent your habit the easier it will be to stick. If you want to start exercising, try going at the same time, to the same place for your thirty days. When cues like time of day, place and circumstances are the same in each case it is easier to stick.

6. Get a Buddy – Find someone who will go along with you and keep you motivated if you feel like quitting.

7. Form a Trigger – A trigger is a ritual you use right before executing your habit. If you wanted to wake up earlier, this could mean waking up in exactly the same way each morning. If you wanted to quit smoking you could practice snapping your fingers each time you felt the urge to pick up a cigarette.

8. Replace Lost Needs – If you are giving up something in your habit, make sure you are adequately replacing any needs you’ve lost. If watching television gave you a way to relax, you could take up meditation or reading as a way to replace that same need.

9. Be Imperfect – Don’t expect all your attempts to change habits to be successful immediately. It took me four independent tries before I started exercising regularly. Now I love it. Try your best, but expect a few bumps along the way.

10. Use “But” – A prominent habit changing therapist once told me this great technique for changing bad thought patterns. When you start to think negative thoughts, use the word “but” to interrupt it. “I’m no good at this, but, if I work at it I might get better later.”

11. Remove Temptation – Restructure your environment so it won’t tempt you in the first thirty days. Remove junk food from your house, cancel your cable subscription, throw out the cigarettes so you won’t need to struggle with willpower later.

12. Associate With Role Models – Spend more time with people who model the habits you want to mirror. A recent study found that having an obese friend indicated you were more likely to become fat. You become what you spend time around.

13. Run it as an Experiment – Withhold judgment until after a month has past and use it as an experiment in behavior. Experiments can’t fail, they just have different results so it will give you a different perspective on changing your habit.

14. Swish – A technique from NLP. Visualize yourself performing the bad habit. Next visualize yourself pushing aside the bad habit and performing an alternative. Finally, end that sequence with an image of yourself in a highly positive state. See yourself picking up the cigarette, see yourself putting it down and snapping your fingers, finally visualize yourself running and breathing free. Do it a few times until you automatically go through the pattern before executing the old habit.

15. Write it Down – A piece of paper with a resolution on it isn’t that important. Writing that resolution is. Writing makes your ideas more clear and focuses you on your end result.

16. Know the Benefits – Familiarize yourself with the benefits of making a change. Get books that show the benefits of regular exercise. Notice any changes in energy levels after you take on a new diet. Imagine getting better grades after improving your study habits.

17. Know the Pain – You should also be aware of the consequences. Exposing yourself to realistic information about the downsides of not making a change will give you added motivation.

18. Do it For Yourself – Don’t worry about all the things you “should” have as habits. Instead tool your habits towards your goals and the things that motivate you. Weak guilt and empty resolutions aren’t enough.

Click to read Related Articles:
147 Tips to a Happier and Healthier Life
13 Tips to Actually Enjoy Exercising
What I Have Learned About Goal Setting as a Means to Success

Sources: August 14, 2007

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