Habitat : Agrimonia parviflora is native to Eastern N. America – Connecticut and New York to Florida, west to Texas and Nebraska. It grows on the damp thickets and the edges of low woods, growing in clumps. Moist or dry soils.
Agrimonia parviflora is a wildflower plant. It is 2½–5′ tall. The stout central stem is unbranched, terete, and light green, reddish green, or brownish green; it is covered with long hairs that are white or light brown. Along each stem, there are widely spreading alternate leaves. These leaves are odd-pinnate and up to 2′ long and ½’ across; each leaf has 9-17 primary leaflets and smaller secondary leaflets. The secondary leaflets are located between pairs of primary leaflets. Individual primary leaflets are 2-3″ long and about one-third as much across; they are narrowly lanceolate, narrowly oblanceolate, or elliptic with wedge-shaped bottoms and acute tips. Leaflet margins are coarsely dentate. The upper surface of each leaflet is yellowish green and hairless, while the lower surface is short-pubescent. Secondary leaflets are similar to the primary leaflets, but they are much smaller in size (less than 1″ long). Both the petiole and rachis of each compound leaf are pubescent; quite often, they have sparse long hairs. At the base of each leaf, there is a pair of large stipules that are fan-shaped and either coarsely dentate or cleft with pointed lobes.
The central stem terminates in a long spike-like raceme about ¾–2½’ long. Robust plants also produce secondary racemes from the axils of the upper leaves that are shorter than the terminal raceme. These racemes are usually more or less erect, although longer racemes sometimes bend sideways to become nearly horizontal with the ground. The central stalk of the raceme is light green, terete, and short-pubescent. Numerous small flowers about ¼” across occur along the length of the raceme on short stalks about 1/8″ long. Individual flowers consist of a tubular green calyx, 5 yellow petals, about 10 stamens, and a central pistil. The tubular calyx is turbinate in shape and 10-ribbed. The blooming period occurs from mid- to late summer and lasts about 1-2 months. Afterwards, the flowers are replaced by 1-2 seeded fruits about ¼” across. These small fruits have numerous hooked prickles along the upper rims of their persistent calyxes. Immature fruits are green, while mature fruits are brown. The root system is fibrous and rhizomatous. Clonal colonies of plants are often produced. Cultivation:
Succeeds in most soils, preferring a calcareous soil. Prefers a sunny position. Plants self-sow when growing in a suitable position.
Seed – can be sown in spring or autumn, either in pots in a cold frame or in situ. It usually germinates in 2 – 6 weeks at 13°c, though germination rates can be low, especially if the seed has been stored. A period of cold stratification helps but is not essential. When grown in pots, prick out the seedlings when they are large enough to handle and plant them out in late spring or early summer. Division in autumn. Very easy, the divisions can be planted straight out into their permanent positions.
A tea made from the whole plant is astringent. It is used in the treatment diarrhoea, bleeding, wounds, inflammation of the gall bladder, urinary incontinence etc. It is gargled as a treatment for mouth ulcers and sore throats. An infusion of the seedpods is used to treat diarrhoea and fevers. An infusion of the root is used as a blood tonic and is given to children to satisfy their hunger. The powdered root has been used to treat pox. 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.
The non-essential amino acidglycine is needed to generate muscle tissue and also for the conversion of blood glucose into energy. It is referred to as being ‘non-essential’ because the body can manufacture its own glycine, and is therefore not an essential component of your diet. Other uses to which glycine is put by the body includes the maintenance of a healthy nervous system, and is necessary for the proper functioning of the digestive system.
Amino acids play three essential roles in the human body:
1. They are the building blocks of proteins: proteins comprise about half of the dry weight of the majority of your body cells, and without them there would be no life. They are produced using monomers known as amino acids, and there are about 20 different amino acids used to make the vast variety of proteins that make up the human body. Proteins are needed to form enzymes, the catalysts that permit the majority of chemical reactions within our bodies, and also genes, the building blocks of DNA.
2. More relevant here, amino acids play an important role in the production of ATP (adenosine triphosphate) from ADP (adenosine diphosphate) by phosphorylation with creatine phosphate. The more creatine phosphate available, the more ATP can be produced. Since ATP is the molecule responsible for the generation of energy, then the more ATP available the more energy is generated. Although creatine is available from many food sources, it is destroyed by cooking, and over half of what you use is made from the three amino acids, glycine, arginine and methionine. The energy produced in this way is very short-lived, and last only a few seconds – more on that later.
3. Glycine is heavily involved in the production of collagen, which is the substance that maintains the flexibility of your skin and other connective tissues while still maintaining their strength and firmness. Without glycine your skin would become slack due to the degrading effect of sunlight, free radicals and oxidation.
The non essential amino acid, glycine, is believed to offer other benefits to the human body, but it is the second of those above, the production of ATP, which interests us here. ATP is an extremely important nanomolecule, second in importance to the body only to DNA, and possibly also RNA since the two are linked. RNA makes copies of your DNA structure for use in cell division and growth.
When a cell expends energy for whatever reason, such as when I am typing this, or when your heart beats, or even when your liver synthesizes a protein, one of the phosphate groups is removed from the adenosine triphosphate molecule, and converts it to adenosine diphosphate (ADP). The ATP is then said to be ‘spent’, just as your energy is spent when you are tired and can exercise no more.
The ADP is then immediately reconverted to ATP in the mitochondria, a part of every cell in your body. A cell can contain hundreds, or even thousands, of mitochondria, the number depending upon that particular cell’s need for energy. Hence, cells in your muscles, or in your liver where most of the body’s chemistry takes place, contain thousands of mitochondria whereas those in your scalp contain a lot less. Once changed to ATP, a phosphate is again lost when energy is expended, and so the cycle continues.
Glucose is needed allow the ADP to be converted to ATP, hence the need for sugars, or the carbohydrates from which they are manufactured in your body. Each cell can contain up to a billion molecules of ATP, although the couch potatoes among you probably have a lot less! Your store of ATP molecules last about 2 to 5 seconds before being changed to ADP although more rapidly for athletes that expend a lot of energy. Then the energy stored in the form of glycogen in the liver kicks in for another 4 – 6 seconds.
Additionally, you cannot expend more energy that the (eventual) sugars that you take in your diet, which can be in the form of ordinary ‘sugar’ (sucrose), fruit (fructose), glucose, carbohydrates that are metabolized into sugars, or any other member of the sugar family (e.g. lactose, maltose, etc.).
Glycine is one of what are called glucogenic amino acids, which refers to their ability to provide glucose to the blood. Because it helps to maintain proper blood glucose levels, it is often prescribed for conditions that are caused by low glucose levels, such as hypoglycemia that shows symptoms of fatigue and tiredness, and also anemia and what is known as CFS (chronic fatigue syndrome).
The one activity of the human body, in fact that of any mammal, for which ATP is essential, is the heartbeat. Without that no mammal could survive, or any other creature that relies on a circulation system for life. The only reason you heart has to beat is to pump your blood around your body, and it is your blood that contains the oxygen and nutrients needed to sustain life. Your cardiovascular health relies on lots of ATP being available to power each and every heartbeat.
Analysis of the heart during the final stages of heart failure has revealed that there is a general decrease in the myocardial arginine: glycine amidinotraferase (AGAT) gene expression, which is indicative of the necessity of this enzyme for proper heart function. The enzyme is responsible for the first stage in the biosynthesis of creatine from glycine.
Creatine is well known to athletes, and while it is available naturally from some food sources, it can be destroyed during cooking, and at least 50% of the creatine needed by the body is produced in the liver, pancreas and kidneys. It is creatine phosphate that is broken down into creatine and phosphate, the latter of which is used by the mitochondria to regenerate ATP from ADP.
The study carried out on the reduced AGAT levels found in heart failure patients indicates the importance of glycine to heart health. Without a good supply of glycine, there will insufficient creatine produced biochemically to generate the phosphate needed to for the ATP to produce the energy required to keep the heart pumping with the required strength. The energy provided by the mitochondria is used locally by the cells in which it is produced, and within a few seconds of that production. As explained earlier, ATP stores are used up within 2 – 5 seconds, and glycogen stores within another 4 – 6 seconds.
That is why sprinters cannot keep running at maximum speed for more than around 10 seconds or so, because the immediate availability of glycine, and hence creatine, are insufficient to last longer than that. That is one reason why they have to finish those 100 meters as fast as possible, because otherwise they would run out of energy. Other than trying to win, of course!
However, when it comes to the heart, ATP stores are essential, and the cells in your heart require a constant supply of ATP from creatine, which itself depends upon your intake or biosynthesis of glycine. Since dietary sources are insufficient to meet all your needs, and destroyed by cooking, a glycine supplement is the only way to ensure a sufficient intake. You cannot undernourish your heart and remain healthy.
ATP biosynthesis is essential if that of glycine theoretically is not, but the fact that 50% of your glycine requirement has to be produced by your body and the other 50% is sensitive to heat during cooking, a supplement of glycine could be essential to many people.
A groundbreaking treatment for pain, eight times stronger than morphine, has been discovered by scientists. The revolutionary technique involves an injection of the proteinprostatic acid phosphatase (PAP), which can combat serious discomfort for more than three days — an astonishing 14 times as long as the five hours of pain relief brought about with a dose of morphine.
The substance appears to have few side effects, and works by neutralizing the chemical in your body that causes your brain to feel pain.
A research team pinpointed the identity of a particular “pain protein” in nerve cells, and then found a way of converting it from a substance that causes pain into one that suppresses it.
When nerve cells are in distress, they release a chemical known as adenosine triphosphate (ATP) which creates the sensation of pain. PAP converts the ATP into adenosine — which actually suppresses pain.
Oxygen is the most important chemical in the body. Its main function is to purify the cells. It is like a food for the cells.
Amazingly, the body requires about 88 pounds of oxygen a day.Deep breathing recharges the hemoglobin which is the red element in the blood. Hemoglobin, an iron molecule that is magnetic, reacts to vibration to produce the oxygen carrying component of the blood.
We take approximately 21,600 breaths of air each day. It is said that the slower and deeper your breathing, the longer the life span. Deep rhythmic breathing is like a natural tranquilizer and can be used to reduce stress and release pain.
The movement created by deep breathing stimulates the blood throughout the body. With deep breathing, more oxygen is carried into your bloodstream. Then more wastes and toxins are removed. And if you are afflicted with pain, you may experience more relief from your pain.
When the cells are starved for oxygen, they are weak. They do not function enough to eliminate the 70% of the wastes produced your body they were intended.
Also, your cells need a lot of oxygen to create the energy-storing molecule, Adenosine TriPhosphate (ATP), which fuels your body and gives it the energy needed to be healthy.
ATP is the energy source that keeps everything going. It powers virtually every activity of each cell in your body including the mechanical work performed by your muscles.
Without Adenosine TriPhosphate your bodies would shut down. And without oxygen, there would be no Adenosine TriPhosphate.
The Lymph System – “Your Body’s Garbage Removal System”
Your Lymph System circulates all the toxins and waste products in your cells.
Did you know you have 4 times more lymph than you do blood in your body. As you know, you have a heart to pump your blood. But your lymph system has no pump to remove your bodys waste products. The only way lymph moves and is cleansed in your body is by exercising and deep breathing.
According to Dr. Jack Shields, a Lymphologist, deep breathing that moves your diaphragm sucks lymph up through your thoracic tract and stimulates the lymph in your body. He says that deep breathing is 10 times more effective than any other activity in stimulating the lymph system and doing its “garbage removal job” for the cells in your body.
As you can see deep breathing is important to your cell health. It can go a long way to reduce your back pain fast by removing toxins and fueling your cells. However, it does take a bit of practice to do deep breathing correctly.
Most of us do not breathe deeply. We only breathe in the upper chest, and it is in the lower chest where the blood supply is richer and where we can produce more “food” for our cells.
So look for an article in the near future to help you do proper deep breathing. It can change your life – not only to reduce your back pain but also to improve your health in every way.
Habitat: Gymnema sylvestre R.Br. is a herb native to the tropical forests of southern and central India where it has been used as a naturopathic treatment for diabetes for nearly two millennia. (Mainly in Deccan peninsula, also found in Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan; Sri Lanka.)
Large climbers, rooting at nodes, leaves elliptic, acuminate, base acute to acuminate, glabrous above sparsely or densely tomentose beneath; Flowers small, in axillary and lateral umbel like cymes, pedicels long; Calyx-lobes long, ovate, obtuse, pubescent; Corolla pale yellow campanulate, valvate, corona single, with 5 fleshy scales. Scales adnate to throat of corolla tube between lobes; Anther connective produced into a membranous tip, pollinia 2, erect, carpels 2,unilocular; locules many ovuled; Follicle long, fusiform1.
Stout, woody, large climber; young branches slender and pubescent; leaves opposite, simple, petioles 0.6-1.2 cm, stout or slender, lamina 2.5-6.25 cm in length, elliptic or ovate, thinly coriaceous, upper surface rarely pubescent; cymes subglobose, Â± 1.25 cm in diameter; flowers yellow, Â±0.2 cm in diameter; follicles slender, Â±5-7.5 by 0.8 cm; seeds pale brown, flat, Â±1.25 cm long.
Flowering: August-March; Fruiting: Winter.
Ecology and Cultivation: Grows in the plains from the coast, in scrub jungles and in thickets; wild.
Chemical composition: Leaf: conduritol A, gymnestrogenin, gymnamine, hentriacontane, nonacosane, penta-OH-triterpene.
The major bioactive constituents of Gymnema sylvestris are a group of oleanane type triterpenoid saponins known as gymnemic acids. The latter contain several acylated (tigloyl, methylbutyroyl etc.,) derivatives of deacylgymnemic acid (DAGA) which is 3-O-glucuronide of gymnemagenin (3, 16, 21, 22, 23, 28-hexahydroxy-olean-12-ene)2. The individual gymnemic acids (saponins) include gymnemic acids I-VII, gymnemosides A-F, gymnemasaponins
Extra Information –
G. sylvestre leaves contain triterpene saponins belonging to oleanane and dammarene classes. Oleanane saponins are gymnemic acids and gymnemasaponins, while dammarene saponins are gymnemasides. Besides this, other plant constituents are flavones, anthraquinones, hentri-acontane, pentatriacontane, Î± and Î²- chlorophylls, phytin, resins, d-quercitol, tartaric acid, formic acid, butyric acid, lupeol, Î²-amyrin related glycosides and stigmasterol. The plant extract also tests positive for alkaloids. Leaves of this species yield acidic glycosides and anthroquinones and their derivatives.
Gymnemic acids have antidiabetic, antisweetener and anti-inflammatory activities. The antidiabetic array of molecules has been identified as a group of closely related gymnemic acids after it was successfully isolated and purified from the leaves of Gymnema sylvestre. Later, the phytoconstituents of Gymnema sylvestre were isolated, and their chemistry and structures were studied and elucidated.
Medicinal Uses: Use as herbal medicine
While it is still being studied, and the effects of the herb are not entirely known, the herb has been shown to reduce blood sugar levels when used for an extended period of time. Additionally, Gymnema reduces the taste of sugar when it is placed in the mouth, thus some use it to fight sugar cravings. From extract of the leaves were isolated glycosides known as Gymnemic acids, which exhibit anti-sweet activity.
This effect, however, is short-lived, lasting a mere fifteen minutes. Some postulate that the herb actually reduces cravings for sugar by blocking sugar receptors in the tongue, but no scientific studies have supported this hypothesis. It is currently being used in an all natural medication for diabetes with other ingredients such as cinnamon, chromium, zinc, biotin, banaba, huckleberry and bitter melon.
The active ingredient is thought to be gurmenic acid which has structure similar to saccharose. Extracts of Gymnema is not only claimed to curb sweet tooths but also for treatment of as varied problems as hyperglycemia, obesity, high cholesterol levels, anemia and digestion. According to the Sushruta of the Ayurveda it helps to treat Madhumeha ie glycosuria.
In 2005, a study made by Kingâ€™s College, London, United Kingdom, showed that a water-soluble extract of Gymnema Sylvestre, caused reversible increases in intracellular calcium and insulin secretion in mouse and human Î²-cells when used at a concentration (0.125 mg/ml) without compromising cell viability. Hence forth these data suggest that extracts derived from Gymnema Sylvestre may be useful as therapeutic agents for the stimulation of insulin secretion in individuals with T2DM. Mechanism of Action Gymnemic acid formulations have also been found useful against obesity, according to recent reports. This is attributed to the ability of gymnemic acids to delay the glucose absorption in the blood. The atomic arrangement of gymnemic acid molecules is similar to that of glucose molecules. These molecules fill the receptor locations on the taste buds thereby preventing its activation by sugar molecules present in the food, thereby curbing the sugar craving. Similarly, gymnemic acid molecules fill the receptor location in the absorptive external layers of the intestine thereby preventing the sugar molecules absorption by the intestine, which results in low blood sugar level.
Gymnema sylvestre leaves have been found to cause hypoglycemia in laboratory animals and have found a use in herbal medicine to help treat adult onset diabetes mellitus (NIDDM). When Gymnema leaf extract is administered to a diabetic patient, there is stimulation of the pancreas by virtue of which there is an increase in insulin release. These compounds have also been found to increase fecal excretion of cholesterol, but further studies to prove clinical significance in treating hypercholesterolemia (high serum cholesterol) are required. Other uses for Gymnema leaf extract are its ability to act as a laxative, diuretic, and cough suppressant. These other actions would be considered adverse reactions when Gymnema is used for its glucose lowering effect in diabetes.
Gymnema leaf extract, notably the peptide â€˜Gurmarinâ€™, has been found to interfere with the ability of the taste buds on the tongue to taste sweet and bitter. Gymnemic acid has a similar effect. It is believed that by inhibiting the sweet taste sensation, people taking it will limit their intake of sweet foods, and this activity may be partially responsible for its hypoglycemic effect.
There are some possible mechanisms by which the leaves and especially Gymnemic acids from Gymnema sylvestre exert its hypoglycemic effects are:
1. It increases secretion of insulin.
2. It promotes regeneration of islet cells.
3. It increases utilization of glucose: it is shown to increase the activities of enzymes responsible for utilization of glucose by insulin-dependant pathways, an increase in phosphorylase activity, decrease in gluconeogenic enzymes and sorbitol dehydrogenase.
4. It causes inhibition of glucose absorption from intestine.
The gymnemic acid components are believed to block the absorption of glucose in the small intestine, the exact action being unknown. It could involve one or more mechanisms.
One of the mechanisms responsible for adult onset diabetes mellitus is a form of insulin resistance, which is attributed to the inability of insulin to enter cells via the insulin receptor. Gymnema may overcome this resistance, but require further studies to confirm its validity and also whether the effect is clinically relevant. Should this effect be proven, Gymnema may prove useful in both adult onset (NIDDM) and juvenile onset diabetes mellitus (IDDM) to help insulin enter cells. In the case of IDDM, the insulin is injected by syringe and is not secreted from the pancreas.
The leaves are also noted for lowering serum cholesterol and triglycerides. The primary chemical constituents of Gymnema include gymnemic acid, tartaric acid, gurmarin, calcium oxalate, glucose, stigmasterol, betaine, and choline. While the water-soluble acidic fractions reportedly provide the hypoglycemic action, it is not yet clear what specific constituent in the leaves is responsible for the same. Some researchers have suggested gymnemic acid as one possible candidate, although further research is needed. Both gurmarin (another constituent of the leaves) and gymnemic acid have been shown to block sweet taste in humans. The major constituents of the plant material 3B glucuronides of different acetylated gymnemagenins, gymnemic acid a complex mixture of at least 9 closely related acidic glucosides.
The following figure could provide a diagrammatic representation for explaining the action of gymnemic acids on the intestinal receptors. The basic function of the acids is to bind to the receptor on the intestine, and stop the glucose molecule from binding to the receptor. Thus, gymnemic acids prevent the absorption of excess glucose.
Traditional use: KOL : Leaf: in gastric troubles; ETHNIC COMMUNITIES OF RAJASTHAN and DHASAN VALLEY: Leaf: in diabetes; ETHNIC COMMUNITIES OF KANDALA (Maharashtra) : Leaf: in urinary complaints; GOND: Leaf: in diabetes, stomachache; ETHNIC COMMUNITIES OF MADHYA PRADESH: Leaf: in cornea opacity and other eye diseases; ETHNIC COMMUNITIES OF GODAVARI DISTRICT (Andhra Pradesh) : Leaf: in diabetes, glycosuria; IRULAR : Leaf: in diabetes; CHARAKA SAMHITA: removes bad odour from breast milk, aperitive; SUSHRUTA SAMHITA : plant useful as purgative, in eye troubles; leaf extract and also the same of flower beneficial for eyes; bark useful in the diseases caused by vitiated kapha (phlegm); BAGBHAT : rootbark useful in piles; BHAVAPRAKASHA: it is bitter, appetiser, gastric stimulant, removes cough, alleviates breathing troubles, useful in curing phlegm, eyetroubles, wounds; RAJA NIGHANTU : appetiser, removes phlegm, piles, colic pain, cures dropsy, useful in eye troubles, cardiotonic, beneficial in respiratory diseases, wounds, detoxicant; fruits are bitter, sialagogue, thermogenic, cures the diseases caused by vitiated kapha (phlegm) or vata (wind); NIGHANTU RATNAKARAM : removes cough, vitiated wind, detoxicant, appetiser, useful in eye troubles. AYURVEDA : acrid, alexipharmic, anodyne, anthelmintic, antipyretic, astringent, bitter, cardiotonic, digestive, diuretic, emetic,expectorant, laxative, stimulant, stomachic, uterine tonic; useful in amennorrhoea, asthma, bronchitis, cardiopathy, conjunctivitis, constipation, cough, dyspepsia, haemorroids, hepatosplenomegaly, inflammations, intermittant fever, jaundice and leucoderma; root emetic and removes phlegm; external application is useful in insectbite;
SIDDHA : an ingredient of ‘Cirukuricinver’; UNANI : an ingredient of â€˜Gurmarbutiâ€™.
The fresh leaves, when chewed, paralyse the sense of sweet for sometime; for this reason it is called gur-mar, thereby meaning sugar-killer and impression has become prevalent in some parts of the country that it is useful in diabetes mellitus. Chewing fresh leaves also paralyse the taste of bitter for a while.
Modern use: Aerial parts (50% EtOH extract) : spasmolytic, hypyoglycaemic, in vitro antiviral against influenza A2 virus.
Remark: In Sri Lanka, plant used in bone fractures.
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.