Herbs & Plants

Equisetum hyemale

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Botanical Name : Equisetum hyemale
Family: Equisetaceae
Genus: Equisetum
Species: E. hyemale
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Pteridophyta
Class: Equisetopsida
Order: Equisetales

Common Name : Dutch Rush, Scouringrush horsetail, Horsetail, Scouring Rush, Rough Horsetai

Habitat : Equisetum hyemale is a native plant throughout the Holarctic Kingdom, found in North America, Europe, and northern Asia. It grows in mesic (reliably moist) habitats, often in sandy or gravelly areas between sea level to 2,530 metres (8,300 ft) in elevation, to 500 metres.

It is primarily found in wetlands, and in riparian zones of rivers and streams where it can withstand seasonal flooding. It is also found around springs and seeps, and can indicate their presence when not flowing. Other habitats include moist forest and woodland openings, lake and pond shores, ditches, and marshes and swamps.

Equisetum hyemale is a perennial plant, growing to 1 m (3ft 3in).Bloom Color: Unknown. Main Bloom Time: Early spring, Late spring, Mid spring. Equisetum species – horsetail family are Creeping, perenial, Branching rootstocks, rooted at the nodes. The Arial stems may be annual or Perennial, are cylindrical, fluted, simple or with whorled branches at the jointed nodes. The internodes are usually hollow. The Surfaces of the stems are covered with Silica. The Cones are terminal. Form: Spreading or horizontal, Upright or erect, Variable spread.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 5. The seeds ripen from Jul to August.


Equisetum hyemale has vertical jointed reed-like stalks of medium to dark green. The hollow stems are up to 3 feet (0.91 m) in height. The stems are not branched with conspicuous ridges, impregnated with silica which makes them feel rough and harsh.

The tiny leaves are joined together around the stem, forming a narrow black-green band or sheath at each joint. Like other ferns and their relatives, the plant reproduces by spores and does not produce flowers or seeds.

The stems are generally deciduous in cold climates, and remain during winter in warmer climates. It forms dense spreading colonies, in full to partial sun.

Equisetum hyemale subsp. affine — endemic to North America

Landscape Uses:Container, Ground cover, Woodland garden. Prefers a moist soil with a pH between 6.5 and 7.5. Plants are hardy to about -30°c. The stems of this species were once exported to Britain in quantity from Holland so that they could be used as an abrasive for cleaning pots and pans. Plants have a deep and penetrating root system and can be invasive. If grown in the garden they are best kept in bounds by planting them in a large container which can be sunk into the ground. Special Features:North American native, Invasive, Naturalizing, Wetlands plant.

Spores – best collected as soon as they are ripe in the spring and surface-sown immediately on a sterile compost. Keep moist and pot up as soon as the plants are large enough to handle. Very difficult. Division. The plants usually spread very freely when well sited and should not really need any assistance
Edible Uses:
Strobil (the fertile shoots in spring) – cooked. An asparagus substitute. Caution is advised, see the notes above on toxicity. Roots – dried and then cooked. A source of starch. Caution is advised, see the notes above on toxicity. A further report says that the peeled stems, base of the plant, root and tubers were eaten raw by the N. American Indians, the report went on to say that this may be inadvisable.
Medicinal Uses: 
Antibacterial; Antiinflammatory; Antispasmodic; Appetizer; Cancer; Diaphoretic; Diuretic; Expectorant; Febrifuge; Hypotensive; Parasiticide;

Horsetails have an unusual chemistry compared to most other plants. They are rich in silica, contain several alkaloids (including nicotine) and various minerals. The plant is anticancer, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, diaphoretic, diuretic, expectorant, febrifuge, haemostatic, hypotensive and styptic. It also has an appetite-stimulating effect. The barren stems are used, they are most active when fresh but can also be dried and sometimes the ashes of the pant are used. The plant is a useful diuretic when taken internally and is used in the treatment of kidney and bladder problems. A decoction applied externally will stop the bleeding of wounds and promote healing. The plant contains polyphenolic flavonoids with bactericidal activity.

Some Plateau Indian tribes boiled the stalks to produce a drink used as a diuretic and to treat venereal disease. It is used as a homeopathic remedy.
Other Uses:
Dye; Fungicide; Liquid feed; Musical; Paper; Parasiticide; Polish; Sandpaper; Scourer.

The stems are very rich in silica. They are used for scouring and polishing metal and as a fine sandpaper. The stems are first bleached by repeated wetting and drying in the sun. They can also be used as a polish for wooden floors and furniture. The infused stem is an effective fungicide against mildew, mint rust and blackspot on roses. It also makes a good liquid feed. Used as a hair rinse it can eliminate fleas, lice and mites. A light pink dye is obtained from the stem. The hollow stems have been used as whistles. Another report says that the stem joints are pulled apart and used by children to produce a whistling sound.

The rough stems have been used to scour or clean pots, and used as sandpaper.

Boiled and dried Equisetum hyemale is used as traditional polishing material, similar to a fine grit sandpaper, in Japan.

Music :   The stems are used to shape the reeds of reed instruments such as clarinets or saxophones.

Known Hazards :Large quantities of the plant can be toxic. This is because it contains the enzyme thiaminase, a substance that can rob the body of the vitamin B complex. In small quantities this enzyme will do no harm to people eating an adequate diet that is rich in vitamin B, though large quantities can cause severe health problems. The enzyme is destroyed by heat or thorough drying, so cooking the plant will remove the thiaminase. The plant also contains equisetic acid – see the notes on medicinal uses for more information.


News on Health & Science

New Way to ‘Stop’ Premature Birth

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A drug used to treat cancer can stop contractions and may prevent premature labour, researchers say.
………click & see
The Newcastle University team tested the drug Trichostatin A on tissue taken from 36 women undergoing a caesarean.

The researchers said the therapy worked by increasing the levels of a protein that controls muscle relaxation.

One expert said with rates of premature births rising – there are 50,000 a year in the UK – a new treatment was badly needed.

Preterm labour and birth continue to be the single biggest cause of death in infants in the developed world and around 1,500 babies die in the UK every year.

A number of drugs are used to try to stop early labour, but most have serious side effects.

Trichostatin A (TSA) is known to promote the death of cancer cells.

The researchers got permission to take samples of the muscles of women undergoing caesarean sections at the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle, the Cellular and Molecular Medicine journal reported.

They exposed the muscle to TSA and measured the effects on both spontaneous contractions and those induced by the labour drug, oxytocin.

They found an average 46% reduction in contractions for the spontaneously contracting tissue and an average 54% reduction in the oxytocin induced contractions.

It has been previously shown that a protein kinase A (PKA) is involved in controlling the relaxation of the uterus during pregnancy.

The researchers showed that TSA increased the levels of a protein sub-unit of PKA.

Professor Nick Europe-Finner, who led the research, said: “We will not give this drug to a patient because it can damage as many as 10% of the genes in a cell.

“But it does show us that other more specific agents that act on the same enzymes but only one at a time are worth investigating.”

New treatment
Dr Yolande Harley, deputy director of research at Action Medical Research which funded the study, said: “This project has uncovered some of the molecular pathways that regulate uterine contractions and so could be linked to premature birth.

“It could have a role in preventing premature birth – finding a new treatment for early labour would be a major step forward.”

Professor Jane Norman, a spokeswoman for the Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology (RCOG), said: “At the moment, it’s not possible to treat preterm labour effectively. We only have drugs that delay it by 24 hours or so – not enough to deliver the baby safely.

“One of the interesting things about this research is that they are using a new kind of drug – the drugs we are currently using have been around for a long time.

“And they are targeting pathways we have not known about before.

“When you consider that preterm birth rates are rising in all four countries of the UK a new more effective drug is badly needed.”

Source:BBC News:Oct.22 ’09

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Positive thinking

Ceremony of Welcome

Welcoming a New Member in Your Family
Just as our inner landscape is constantly shifting and changing in response to the world around us, the dynamics of the families we belong to evolve over time. When we welcome an individual into our family—whether that individual is human or animal—a transformation takes place, a shift in the energy of your family unit. The birth or adoption of a child, the introduction of a spouse or stepparent, or the choice to bring a pet into your home can mark a new direction in the life of the family as a whole. A simple welcoming ritual can serve as the platform upon which every member of the household, old and new, gathers together to joyfully mark this new phase of family life. Encouraging every member of the family to take part in the ritual will foster a sense of unity and help members come together to grow into the new family paradigm as a group.

The transition from one family dynamic to another isn’t always straightforward. The needs and desires of new members of a household may not always correspond with those of other members of the household. It is precisely because the introduction of a new family member can interrupt the flow of energy upon which the family previously thrived that it is so important to respect the change and honor the induction of the new addition. When welcoming an adult into your family, a sand ceremony can reinforce each member’s individuality and symbolically integrate the newest family member into the whole. During the ceremony, parents, children, and extended relations are given sand of a different color or texture and, one by one, pour it into a thoughtfully chosen container. The rainbow of sand can then be displayed as a reminder of family unanimity. To honor the introduction of a child, parents can hold a ritual during which they formally introduce their child to the other members of t! he family and invite each to speak a blessing over the child. Welcoming a pet can be as simple as coming together in the presence of your new friend and articulating your intention as a family to provide it with a loving and secure atmosphere in which it can flourish.

As each family is different, you may feel more comfortable using a ritual or ceremony of your own design to welcome the new member of your household. However you choose to honor your new family member, know that your decision to acknowledge the manner in which your household has grown will make the transition a beautiful and memorable event in your family history.

Source: Daily Om

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Try a Consultant to Name Your Baby

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Actress Halle Berry‘s decision to call her daughter Nahla had some people perplexed, but baby experts said it mirrored a trend for unusual names which has helped create a new profession – baby name consultant……..CLICK & SEE

Many parents have moved away from giving their children family or unisex names and want their youngsters to have names that stand out from the crowd – but not in a bad way.

An online survey by specialist website found 15% of parents think the name you give a child plays a role in their success in life, so it is not a decision taken lightly – and this has made people seek outside help.

“It used to be more common to choose from family names or names from the bible, but today’s parents have so many more choices and many of them are overwhelmed,” said Linda Murray, editor-in-chief of

“It can be very stressful. It’s the first big public parenting decision you make. People want extra help so consultants have cropped up in the last few years to provide this service, people who know about the origins of names.”

Berry has not explained why she and her model boyfriend Gabriel Aubry chose Nahla for their new-born daughter. Nahla was found to have a few meanings ranging from gift in Swahili to “drink of water” in Arabic.

Spiritual names and names with meanings have become popular with consultants charging anything from $25 to several hundred dollars to help couples find the right meaning for their child. Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt named their daughter Shiloh, which means “peaceful one” in Hebrew, while Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes‘ daughter is Suri, which can mean “princess” or “red rose”.

Sources: The Times Of India

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Less sleep, more fat

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The link between lack of sleep and obesity could be a protein called Nocturnin, reports Roger Highfield……click & read
Poor sleep at 30 months predicts obesity at the age of seven

Scientists have found a new clue to explain the link between lack of sleep and obesity.

Over the years, evidence has grown to show the link is real. One study of 18,000 adults found that those who got fewer than four hours of sleep were 73 per cent more likely to be obese than those who got the recommended seven to nine hours.

Over the years, evidence has grown to show the link is real. One study of 18,000 adults found that those who got fewer than four hours of sleep were 73 per cent more likely to be obese than those who got the recommended seven to nine hours.

The reason for the link is still a matter of debate but recently scientists reported the discovery of a protein, called Nocturnin, which could help provide the answer.

Mice lacking the protein that works at night to regulate daily biological rhythms keep their lean physique, even when fed a high fat diet, according to the study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Prof. Joseph Besharse, and colleagues at the Medical College of Wisconsin, working with Prof. Carla Green of the University of Virginia, genetically engineered mice lacking this protein and fed them either a standard or high fat diet.

Unlike normal mice, which became obese on the high fat diet, the Nocturnin-deficient mice stayed lean without increasing their activity or reducing food intake. These mice showed normal circadian cycles but had an altered metabolism of sugar (glucose), suggesting that Nocturnin may control a metabolic pathway specifically related to fat uptake that waxes and wanes each day.

“This paper adds an important new twist to a recent body of evidence that circadian rhythms play an important role in the control of metabolism and energy balance,” said Prof. Besharse.

With the dramatic increase in obesity in western cultures, these mice could help illuminate how disruptions in circadian clocks exacerbate the problem. And, said Prof. Besharse, could eventually lead to new treatments.

A flurry of worldwide research has established an intriguing connection between poor sleep and fat stomachs. The Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents And Children in the Nineties, after tracking 13,000 British children as they grew up, concluded that poor sleep at 30 months predicts obesity at the age of seven years.

Obesity and Type II diabetes are major health problems,  he said.  The emerging connection between circadian clocks, metabolic control and disease brings perspective to this important area of biomedical research. This linkage likely evolved in animals to enable them to adapt to diurnal (daily) changes in their environment such as food availability.
Source: The Telegraph (Kolkata , India)