Herbs & Plants

Cereus grandiflorus

Botanical Name: Cereus grandiflorus
Species:S. grandiflorus

Synonyms:  Selenicereus grandiflorus

Common Names: Vanilla Cactus. Sweet-scented Cactus. Large-flowered Cactus

Other Common names:
Afrikaans: Koningin van die Nag
Chinese?Shé Bian Zhu ( Column of snake-like rope)
Danish: Nattens Dronning
Dutch: Koningin van de Nacht
English: Queen of the Night, Night-blooming Cereus, Large-flowering Cactus, Sweet-scented Cactus, Vanilla Cactus, Lunar Flower, Large Blooming Cereus, Large flowered torch thistle, Large-flowered Night Cactus
Estonian: Öökuninganna
Finnish: Yönkuningatar
French: reine de la nuit, princesse de la nuit, cierge à grande fleurs, vierge à grandes fleurs, cierge rampant à grandes fleurs, fleur d’amour
German: Königin der Nacht, Schlangencereus, Schlangenkaktus
Italian: cacto grandifloro, regina della notte
Japanese: Gekka Bijin (Beautiful woman under the moon)
Malayalam: Nisha Ghanthi(Nishagandhi)(Fragrance of the Night). This name is also used for Saussurea obvallata
Marathi: Brahma KamaLa. This name is also used for Saussurea obvallata
Portuguese: flor-de-baile, cardeiro trepador
Punjabi: Raat di sassi
Român?: Cactus din Antilele Olandeze
Sinhala: Kadupul
Spanish: Reina de las Flores, Reina Gigante, Cardon, Gigante, Organillo, Reina de la noche.
Swedish: nattens drottning
Tamil/Telugu  : Brahma Kamalam (Lord Bhrahma’s Flower). This name is also used for Saussurea obvallata
Kannada: Brahma Kamala. This name is also used for Saussurea obvallata
Arabic: Malikat Al lail
Vietnamese: Hoa qu?nh

Parts Used in medicines: The flowers, young and tender stems.

Habitat: Cereus grandiflorus is native to  Tropical America, Mexico, West Indies, and Naples
A fleshy, creeping, rooting shrub, stems cylindrical, with five or six not very prominent angles, branching armed with clusters of small spines, in radiated forms. Flowers, terminal and lateral from the clusters of spines, very large 8 to 12 inches in diameter, expanding in the evening and only lasting for about six hours, exhaling a delicious vanilla-like perfume. Petals are white, spreading, shorter than the sepals, which are linear, lanceolate, outside brown, inside yellow. Fruit ovate, covered with scaly tubercles, fleshy and of a lovely orange-red colour, seeds very small and acid. The flower only lasts in bloom about six hours and does not revive- when withered, the ovary enlarges, becomes pulpy and forms an acid juicy fruit, something like a gooseberry. The plant was brought to the notice of the medical profession by Dr. Scheile but it aroused little interest till a homoeopathic doctor of Naples, R. Rubini, used it as a specific in heart disease. The flowers and young stems should be collected in July and a tincture made from them whilst fresh. The plant contains a milky acrid juice….CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES

An easily cultivated, fast growing epiphyte or lithophytic plant. Needs a compost containing plenty of humus and sufficient moisture in summer. Should not be kept under 5°C (41°F) in winter. Perform best if grown in full sun. Extra light in the early spring will stimulate budding. Flowers in late spring or early summer, only blooms one night a year or several years and withers within hours.

Constituents:  No special analysis seems yet to have been made; the chief constituents are resins, the presence of the alleged alkaloid cactine not having been confirmed.

Medicinal  Uses:
Diuretic Sedative, Cardiac. Cereus has been used as a cardiac stimulant and as a partial substitute for digitalis. In large doses it produces gastric irritation, slight delirium, hallucinations and general mental confusion. It is said to greatly increase the renal secretion. It does not appear to weaken the nervous system. It has a decided action on the heart and frequently gives prompt relief in functional or organic disease. It has been found of some service in haemoptysis, dropsy and incipient apoplexy.
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.

Health Quaries

Some Health Quaries & Answers


Not a death knell :
Q: My 54 year-old widowed mother has been diagnosed with diabetes. She works as a secretary. Following the diagnosis she has given up her job and sits at home staring at the television. She insists she is very sick.

A: The diagnosis may have been a shock and she may be feeling depressed. You have to explain to her that it is not a terminal disease. It can be easily brought under control with a 1,500 calorie diet, regular exercise (walking for 40 minutes a day) and the prescribed medication.

This way she can lead a long and healthy life. Failure to adhere to this may result in complications.

[amazon_link asins=’0062219987,B01LZP3JLK,B00R3M5FEE,B000LY3G7O,1580405584,0544302133,1594868107,0692875174,1523642343′ template=’ProductCarousel’ store=’finmeacur-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’0e5c5d5f-4b3a-11e7-a2c0-5f0a3bfc5cd7′]

Fat, but can’t walk
Q: I have arthritis of the knees. Walking is painful, so I have been taking rest. In the process, I put on 15kg. Now the doctor says I must lose weight. I cannot walk. Dieting is not effective at all. What am I to do?

A: You can lose only a certain amount of weight with dieting alone. If you are sitting at home with nothing else to do, the hunger pangs can be devastating. You could purchase a recline exercise cycle. In that you actually sit with a backrest and cycle. It is easy on the knees. Two hours of cycling and a calorie-restricted diet will guarantee weight loss!

[amazon_link asins=’B00WGLAMUY,B00K2TKKP4,B00K2TKKN6,B011M9MRK8,B01MV4FF9Q,B01IUDX8EI,B01LXHI68A,B01N6ULSBS’ template=’ProductCarousel’ store=’finmeacur-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’606f1be9-4b3a-11e7-8eae-257d0c0ddc14′]

Do sunglasses help?
Q: Do wearing sunglasses in India help in any way?

A: Sunglasses are not just fashionable. Good quality glasses with ultra violet protection prevent premature ageing of the eye, cataract formation and yellowing of the sclera.

[amazon_link asins=’B06XNWW2L1,B06Y2266NC,B01H3YI6YW,B01N050ZHQ,B071YLSGX2,B071DD98M2,B071KYZ9HH,B01KHWYTBG,B01BBHKYPG’ template=’ProductCarousel’ store=’finmeacur-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’9e963627-4b3a-11e7-a298-2b2db0dfa812′]

Stop smoking
Q: My leg feels numb and I cannot walk more than 100m without feeling pain. I am 26 years old and smoke around 20 cigarettes a day.

A: The nicotine and other poisonous chemicals in cigarettes constrict the blood vessels. When the main blood vessels are affected intermittent claudication (pain on walking a certain distance relieved by rest) develops. When the blood supply to the nerves is affected tingling and numbness develops. It is better for you to stop smoking altogether. It offers no benefits, is expensive and in your case is adversely affecting your health.

[amazon_link asins=’B01BW0P5MO,B01NH9IWPG,B00UMIBIEC,B00IJILE9Q,B014J0RQM6,B01NCUXGGD,B00008IHL1,B00K1JE5G0,0615482155′ template=’ProductCarousel’ store=’finmeacur-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’dec70236-4b3a-11e7-8f13-71b093ea2783′]

Lots of red blood cells
Q: I have been suffering from drowsiness and feel uneasiness in the chest in the morning hours. I have consulted doctors and after various pathological tests found that I have excessive haemoglobin (last test reveals 21.0 g/dl). I was told I had polycythemia and was advised to remove 250ml of blood from my body twice a week. This is frightening and I do not understand why a high haemoglobin count is considered bad and not healthy.

A: Polycythemia is a condition in which there is a net increase in the total number of red blood cells in the body. This may be a response to low oxygen levels in the body as a result of smoking, renal or liver tumours, haemangioblastomas in the central nervous system, heart or lung diseases, or endocrine abnormalities. It can occur in athletes who dope themselves with high testosterone levels. High levels of haemoglobin increase the viscosity of the blood. This can lead to blockages and strokes. If you live at a high altitude, are a smoker, or have any of the correctable causes listed above, you can be cured once the underlying disease is treated. Otherwise removal of the blood at regular periodic intervals is the only solution.

Help, I’m bald
Q: I have lost a great deal of hair and am now bald. Can I use minoxidil?

A: Hair loss and hereditary baldness do respond to minoxidil. The problem is that the lotion has to be applied regularly. The hair which grows is fine and silky (lanugo hair) and tends to fall out soon after the applications are stopped.

[amazon_link asins=’B015QFMNZI,B00HUGJVTS,B00C2SD2SA,B01MRKAQM5,B000V8MTIC,B00KU8FYN0,B0085E36EK,B071NGKXR5,B0023UTL7S’ template=’ProductCarousel’ store=’finmeacur-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’5dc00b36-4b3b-11e7-904c-3917a05b0d27′]

: The Telegraph (Kolkata, India)

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]
News on Health & Science

Early Childhood Stress Can Have a Lingering Effect on Your Health

[amazon_link asins=’0134289978,0133802663,3319725882,1612436676,1589243072,0876593503,1785923358,0465013546,0807757454′ template=’ProductCarousel’ store=’finmeacur-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’9436615e-05c8-11e8-9589-9f81b774a43c’]

Stressful experiences in early childhood can have long-lasting impacts on children‘s health that can persist well beyond the resolution of the situation.
A study revealed impaired immune function in adolescents who experienced either physical abuse or time in an orphanage as youngsters. Even though their environments had changed, physiologically they were still responding to stress. How the immune system develops is very much influenced by early environment.

The researchers looked for high levels of antibodies against the common and usually latent herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1). While roughly two-thirds of Americans carry this virus, which causes cold sores and fever blisters, people with healthy immune systems are able to keep the virus in check and rarely if ever have symptoms. However, people with weakened immune systems can have trouble suppressing HSV-1 and produce antibodies against the activated virus.

Adolescents who had experienced physical abuse or stressful home environments as children had higher levels of HSV-1 antibodies, showing their immune systems were compromised.


Science Daily January 28, 2009

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences February 2, 2009

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]
Herbs & Plants

Taxus Brevifolia (Yew)

Botanical Name:
Taxus baccata
: Taxaceae
T. brevifolia

Common Names:
Yew, English yew, Common Yew

Other Names:Taxus brevifolia, Pacific Yew or Western Yew
Poisonous Parts: Leaves, seed and fruit.

Habitat :Taxus Brevifolia  is native to  Europe, incl Britain, from Scandanavia south and east to N. Africa, the Caucasus, Iran, Himalayas.   It grows in woods and scrub, usually on limestone. It sometimes forms pure stands in sheltered sites on chalk in the south-east and on limestone in the north-west.  

Description: It is a small to medium-sized evergreen tree, growing 10-15 m tall and with a trunk up to 50 cm diameter, rarely more. forming with age a very stout trunk covered with red-brown, peeling bark and topped with a rounded or wide-spreading head of branches; leaves spirally attached to twigs, but by twisting of the stalks brought more or less into two opposed ranks, dark, glossy, almost black-green above, grey, pale-green or yellowish beneath, 1/2 to 1 1/2 inches long, 1/16 to 1/12 inch wide. Flowers unisexual, with the sexes invariably on different trees, produced in spring from the leaf axils of the preceding summer’s twigs. Male, a globose cluster of stamens; female, an ovule surrounded by small bracts, the so-called fruit bright red, sometimes yellow, juicy and encloses the seed.

Bloom Color: Green, Yellow. Main Bloom Time: Early spring, Late spring, Mid spring. Form: Rounded.

It has thin scaly brown bark. The leaves are lanceolate, flat, dark green, 1-3 cm long and 2-3 mm broad, arranged spirally on the stem, but with the leaf bases twisted to align the leaves in two flat rows either side of the stem except on erect leading shoots where the spiral arrangement is more obvious.

The seed cones are highly modified, each cone containing a single seed 4-7 mm long partly surrounded by a modified scale which develops into a soft, bright red berry-like structure called an aril, 8-15 mm long and wide and open at the end. The arils are mature 6-9 months after pollination, and with the seed contained are eaten by thrushes and other birds, which disperse the hard seeds undamaged in their droppings; maturation of the arils is spread over 2-3 months, increasing the chances of successful seed dispersal. The male cones are globose, 3-6 mm diameter, and shed their pollen in early spring. It is mostly dioecious, but occasional individuals can be variably monoecious, or change sex with time.

No tree is more associated with the history and legends of Great Britain than the Yew. Before Christianity was introduced it was a sacred tree favoured by the Druids, who built their temples near these trees – a custom followed by the early Christians. The association of the tree with places of worship still prevails.

Many cases of poisoning amongst cattle have resulted from eating parts of the Yew.

Click to read about The Yew ,Sacred Tree of Transformation and Rebirth

Landscape Uses:Espalier, Firewood, Hedge, Screen, Standard, Superior hedge, Specimen. A very easy plant to grow, it is extremely tolerant of cold and heat, sunny and shady positions, wet and dry soils, exposure and any pH[200]. Thrives in almost any soil, acid or alkaline, as long as it is well-drained. Grows well in heavy clay soils. Sensitive to soil compaction by roads etc. Very shade tolerant. Tolerates urban pollution.  In general they are very tolerant of exposure, though plants are damaged by severe maritime exposure. A very cold hardy plant when dormant, tolerating temperatures down to about -25°c. The fresh young shoots in spring, however, can be damaged by frosts. Plants are dioecious, though they sometimes change sex and monoecious trees are sometimes found. Male and female trees must be grown if fruit and seed is required. The fruit is produced mainly on the undersides of one-year old branches. A very long lived tree, one report suggests that a tree in Perthshire is 1500 years old, making it the oldest plant in Britain. Another report says that trees can be up to 4000 years old. It is, however, slow growing and usually takes about 20 years to reach a height of 4.5 metres. Young plants occasionally grow 30cm in a year but this soon tails off and virtually no height increase is made after 100 years. A very ornamental tree, there are many named varieties. Very resistant to honey fungus, but susceptible to phytopthera root rot. The bark is very soft and branches or even the whole tree can be killed if the bark is removed by constant friction such as by children climbing the tree. Plants produce very little fibrous root and should be planted in their final positions when still small. The fruit is greatly relished by thrushes. Special Features: Not North American native, All or parts of this plant are poisonous, Inconspicuous flowers or blooms.

Seed – can be very slow to germinate, often taking 2 or more years. It is best sown as soon as it is ripe in the autumn when it should germinate 18 months later. Stored seed may take 2 years or more to germinate. 4 months warm followed by 4 months cold stratification may help reduce the germination time. Harvesting the seed ‘green’ (when fully developed but before it has dried on the plant) and then sowing it immediately has not been found to reduce the germination time because the inhibiting factors develop too early. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots once they are large enough to handle and grow them on in pots in a cold frame. The seedlings are very slow-growing and will probably require at least 2 years of pot cultivation before being large enough to plant out. Any planting out is best done in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Cuttings of half-ripe terminal shoots, 5 – 8cm long, July/August in a shaded frame. Should root by late September but leave them in the frame over winter and plant out in late spring. High percentage. Cuttings of ripe terminal shoots, taken in winter after a hard frost, in a shaded frame.

Edible Uses:

Fruit – raw. Very sweet and gelatinous, most people find it delicious though some find it sickly. A number of people who like the flavour do not like the texture which is often described as being ‘snotty’. All other parts of this plant, including the seed, are highly poisonous. When eating the fruit you should spit out the large seed found in the fruit’s centre. Should you swallow the whole seed it will just pass straight through you without harm (UPDATE: this is probably not true: unfortunately, the digestive system of most mammals, including humans, is robust enough to break down the seeds. This will release the toxic taxanes. Birds are able to eat the whole “berry” because they cannot digest the seeds). If it is bitten into, however, you will notice a very bitter flavour and the seed should immediately be spat out or it could cause some problems. The fruit is a fleshy berry about 10mm in diameter and containing a single seed. Some reports suggest using the bark as a tea substitute, this would probably be very unwise.

Constituents: The fruit and seeds seem to be the most poisonous parts of the tree. An alkaloid taxine has been obtained from the seeds; this is a poisonous, white, crystalline powder, only slightly soluble in water; another principle, Milossin, has also been found.

Medicinal Uses:

The yew tree is a highly toxic plant that has occasionally been used medicinally, mainly in the treatment of chest complaints. Modern research has shown that the plants contain the substance ‘taxol’ in their shoots. Taxol has shown exciting potential as an anti-cancer drug, particularly in the treatment of ovarian cancers. Unfortunately, the concentrations of taxol in this species are too low to be of much value commercially, though it is being used for research purposes. This remedy should be used with great caution and only under the supervision of a qualified practitioner. See also the notes below on toxicity. All parts of the plant, except the fleshy fruit, are antispasmodic, cardiotonic, diaphoretic, emmenagogue, expectorant, narcotic and purgative. The leaves have been used internally in the treatment of asthma, bronchitis, hiccup, indigestion, rheumatism and epilepsy. Externally, the leaves have been used in a steam bath as a treatment for rheumatism. A homeopathic remedy is made from the young shoots and the berries. It is used in the treatment of many diseases including cystitis, eruptions, headaches, heart and kidney problems, rheumatism etc. Ingestion of 50-100g of needles can cause death.

(In homoeopathy a tincture of the young shoots and also of the berries is used in a variety of diseases: cystitis, eruptions, headache and neuralgia, affections of the heart and kidneys, dimness of vision, and gout and rheurmatism. – EDITOR) .

The chemotherapy drug paclitaxel, used in breast, ovarian and lung cancer treatment, is derived from Taxus brevifolia. Over-harvesting for production of this drug has resulted in the Pacific Yew becoming a rare species, despite the fact the drug can be produced semi-synthetically from cultivated yews. Pharmaceutical use of closely-related wild yew species in India and China threatens some of those species as well.

Click to read Taxol, an Anticancer Drug, is found in the Pacific Yew tree

Other Uses:  
Very tolerant of trimming, this plant makes an excellent hedge. The plants are often used in topiary and even when fairly old, the trees can be cut back into old wood and will resprout. One report says that trees up to 1000 years old respond well to trimming. A decoction of the leaves is used as an insecticide. Some cultivars can be grown as a ground cover when planted about 1 metre or more apart each way. ‘Repandens’ has been recommended. Wood – heavy, hard, durable, elastic, takes a good polish but requires long seasoning.  Highly esteemed by cabinet makers, it is also used for bows, tool handles etc. It makes a good firewood. The wood is burnt as an incense

Known Hazards :  All parts of the plant, except the flesh of the fruit, are highly poisonous, having a paralyzing affect on the heart. Poisoning symptoms are dry mouth, vomiting, vertigo, abdominal pain, dyspnoea, arrhythmias, hypotension & unconsciousness.

The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to c

Yew may refer to various other species, click to read about them:
Any of various coniferous trees and shrubs in the genus Taxus:
European Yew or Common Yew (Taxus baccata)
Canadian Yew (Taxus canadensis)
Chinese Yew (Taxus chinensis)
Japanese Yew (Taxus cuspidata)
Florida Yew (Taxus floridana)
Mexican Yew (Taxus globosa)
Sumatran Yew (Taxus sumatrana)
Himalayan Yew (Taxus wallichiana)
Any of various coniferous plants in the families Taxaceae and Cephalotaxaceae:
White-berry Yew (Pseudotaxus chienii)
New Caledonian Yew or Southern Yew (Austrotaxus spicata)
Catkin-yew (Amentotaxus sp.)
Plum-yew (Cephalotaxus sp.)
Any of the various coniferous plants in the family Podocarpaceae which are superficially similar to other yews:
Prince Albert’s Yew (Saxegothaea conspicua)
Plum-yew (Prumnopitys sp.)

Fortigall Yew