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Herbs & Plants

Chamaecyparis thyoides

Botanical Name: Chamaecyparis thyoides
Family: Cupressaceae
Genus: Chamaecyparis
Species: C. thyoides
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Pinophyta
Class: Pinopsida
Order: Pinales

Synonyms:
Chamaecyparis thyoides (L.) Britton, Sterns & Poggenb.

CHHE4 Chamaecyparis henryae Li
CHTHH Chamaecyparis thyoides (L.) Britton, Sterns & Poggenb. var. henryae (Li) Little

Common Names :Atlantic White Cypress or Atlantic White cedar

Habitat :Chamaecyparis thyoides is   native to the Atlantic coast of North America from Maine south to Georgia, with a disjunct population on the Mexican Gulf coast from Florida to Mississippi. It grows on wet sites on the coastal plain at altitudes from sea level up to 50 m, more rarely in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains up to 460 m altitude.

Description:
Chamaecyparis thyoides is an evergreen coniferous tree growing to 20-28 m (rarely to 35 m) tall, with feathery foliage in moderately flattened sprays, green to glaucous blue-green in color. The leaves are scale-like, 2-4 mm long, and produced in opposite decussate pairs on somewhat flattened shoots; seedlings up to a year old have needle-like leaves. The seed cones are globose, 4-9 mm diameter, with 6-10 scales, green or purple, maturing brown in 5–7 months after pollination. The pollen cones are purple or brown, 1.5–3 mm long and 1–2 mm broad, releasing their yellow pollen in spring.

CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES

There are two geographically isolated subspecies, treated by some botanists as distinct species, by others at just varietal rank:

Chamaecyparis thyoides subsp. thyoides (Atlantic Whitecedar). Atlantic coast, Maine to Georgia. Leaves and cones usually glaucous blue-green; facial leaves flat, not ridged; cones 4-7 mm long. (Least concern)
Chamaecyparis thyoides subsp. henryae (H.L.Li) E.Murray (Gulf Whitecedar; syn. Chamaecyparis thyoides subsp. henryae (H.L.Li) Little; Chamaecyparis henryae H.L.Li). Mexican Gulf coast, Florida to Mississippi. Leaves and cones always green, not glaucous; facial leaves with a longitudinal ridge; cones 6-9 mm long. (Near threatened)
Older gypsy moth caterpillars sometimes eat the foliage, whereas young ones will avoid it.

Cultivation :
Chamaecyparis thyoides is of some importance in horticulture, with several cultivars of varying crown shape, growth rates and foliage color having been selected for garden planting. Named cultivars include ‘Andelyensis’ (dwarf, with dense foliage), ‘Ericoides’ (juvenile foliage), and ‘Glauca’ (strongly glaucous foliage).

Medicinal Uses:
A decoction of the leaves has been used as a herbal steam for treating headaches and backaches. A poultice made from the crushed leaves and bark has been applied to the head to treat headaches.

Other Uses:
The wood is reported to endure moisture indefinitely; it has been used for fence-posts, ties and shingles

Disclaimer:
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.

Resources:
http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_C.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chamaecyparis_thyoides

http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=CHTH2

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Herbs & Plants

Aconitum Uncinatum

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Botanical Name: Aconitum uncinatum
Family: Ranunculaceae
Genus : Aconitum

Common Name : southern blue monkshood/Wild Monkshood

Habitat: Eastern N. AmericaPennsylvania to Indiana and south to Alabama and Georgia.   It grows on low woods and damp slopes. Wet areas along streams and in springs, also less mesic locations in woods and clearings at elevations of 200 – 2000 metres.

Description: Perennial growing to 1m.
. It is in flower from July to August. The flowers are pollinated by Bees.
CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES.
Flower/fruit: 1-inch deep purple or purplish blue flowers clustered at the end of stems; five sepals; upper sepal forms a rounded hood, concealing part of two clawlike petals.

Flowering Season: Summer into fall.

Foliage: Up to 6-inch coarsely toothed leaves with three to five lobes; similar to buttercup; slender, weak branching stem

The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and can grow in heavy clay soil. The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It requires moist soil

Cultivation:
Thrives in most soils and in the light shade of trees[1]. Grows well in heavy clay soils. Prefers a moist soil in sun or semi-shade. Prefers a calcareous soil. Members of this genus seem to be immune to the predations of rabbits and deer. Grows well in open woodlands. A greedy plant, inhibiting the growth of nearby species, especially legume.

Propagation:
Seed – best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame. The seed can be stratified and sown in spring but will then be slow to germinate. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in a cold frame for their first winter. Plant them out in late spring or early summer. Division – best done in spring but it can also be done in autumn. Another report says that division is best carried out in the autumn or late winter because the plants come into growth very early in the year.

Medicinal Actions &  Uses
Alterative; Anaesthetic; Antiarthritic; Deobstruent; Diaphoretic; Diuretic; Sedative; Stimulant.

The dried root is alterative, anaesthetic, antiarthritic, deobstruent, diaphoretic, diuretic, sedative, stimulant. It is harvested as soon as the plant dies down in the autumn. This is a very poisonous plant and should only be used with extreme caution and under the supervision of a qualified practitioner. A tincture is used as an external anaesthetic.


Known Hazards:
The whole plant is highly toxic – simple skin contact has caused numbness in some people.  Roots and seeds contain poisonous alkaloides


Disclaimer:
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.

Resources:
http://www.pfaf.org/database/plants.php?Aconitum+uncinatum
http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=ACUN&photoID=acun_1v.jpg
http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=ACUN

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News on Health & Science

Scientists Discover Influenza’s Achilles Heel: Antioxidants

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As the nation copes with a shortage of vaccines for H1N1 influenza, a team of Alabama researchers has raised hopes that they have found an Achilles‘ heel for all strains of the fluantioxidants.

In an article appearing in the November 2009 print issue of the FASEB Journal, they show that antioxidants — the same substances found in plant-based foods — might hold the key in preventing the flu virus from wreaking havoc on our lungs.

“The recent outbreak of H1N1 influenza and the rapid spread of this strain across the world highlights the need to better understand how this virus damages the lungs and to find new treatments,” said Sadis Matalon, co-author of the study.

“Additionally, our research shows that antioxidants may prove beneficial in the treatment of flu.”

Sources:
Science Daily October 30, 2009
FASEB Journal October 30, 2009

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Health Alert

Listen to Your Body

Neanderthal cave men and women had tremendous physical prowess. They excelled in all kinds of physical activities. We, on the other hand, do not do everything — we are selective and specialise. We choose and pick our jobs, and this means we repeat some tasks, day after day. As a result, certain muscles and joints in our bodies get overused, while others atrophy from disuse. This has resulted in a spate of new diseases and diagnoses, namely, repetitive stress injuries or RSIs.


RSIs are a common affair in the computer era. Be it a student or senior citizen, computers have infiltrated everyone’s lives. People who had perhaps never imagined that they would need a computer — including housewives, schoolteachers, clerks, typists and salespersons in shops — are now forced to rely on the new technology. Everyone is busy using computers for work, browsing the Internet or playing games, or using the tiny keyboard on a mobile phone for repeated text messaging. These persistent rapid movements do not give the joints and muscles sufficient time to recover, resulting in inflammation, swelling and eventual damage. In children and teenagers, the growing ends of the bones are particularly susceptible.

Early signs of injury are stiffness of the neck, tingling, numbness or pain radiating to the arms, and feelings of weakness or fatigue. The fingers and arm joints may start to “trigger”. They get fixed painfully in a bent position and then get released with a painful internal pop.

Long hours in front of the computer take a toll on the eyes as well. Eyestrain can cause headaches, neck pain and transient blurring of vision.

An unfit workforce naturally means loss of man hours. A new science has thus evolved to tackle this problem. It is called ergonomics or the scientific study of people and their working conditions, especially to improve effectiveness. An ergonomically designed workplace goes a long way in reducing RSIs.

The seating arrangement is important while using a computer. Since people vary in height, the entire workforce cannot use similar chairs. A one-size-fits-all policy cannot be followed unless the height is adjustable. Chairs should also have a contoured back support. The feet should reach the floor comfortably. To check if the height of a chair is correct, place a pencil on the legs while sitting. It should slide towards the body, not away from it.

…....CLICK & SEE

PROPER SEATING ARRANGEMENT WHILE WORKING  ON COMPUTER

The monitor should be placed at eye level, directly in front (not to a side), at an arm’s length from the eyes. If reading at this distance is a problem, increase the font size. The keyboard needs to be placed directly in front of the monitor. If it is angulated to a side, the eyes have to keep adjusting for different distances. Elbows should be placed close to the side of the body to prevent the wrists from bending. The fingers and wrists should remain at a 90-degree angle to the upper part of the arm.

Even if your work is hectic and engrossing, you should walk around or at least stretch your arms and legs every half an hour. If your work requires long hours on the computer, do static, seated exercises (you can get the information on the Internet).

To make it easier on the eyes, the lighting in the room should be soft, from the side and not directly overhead or from the back. You should also take eye breaks from time to time. Focus on a finger held a few inches in front of the face and then on something far in the distance and then back to the finger. Take eye breaks throughout the day. Consciously blink, as prolonged computer use can result in infrequent blinking and dry eyes.

Sports activities can also cause RSIs. If you walk or jog for an hour every day, you need to prevent RSIs to your lower limbs. Warm ups and cool downs taught in school are excellent. Unfortunately, these stretches are often forgotten or done half-heartedly as they seem unnecessary and time-consuming. They are vital to condition and prepare the muscles for exercise and for adequate recovery. To prevent repetitive injuries, it is also important at any age to try and vary the daily exercise. Alternate walking or running with bicycling or swimming so that different groups of muscles are used.

While exercising, wear appropriate footwear. Walking and jogging require running shoes or cross trainers, not Hawaii chappals or rubber sandals. Children require footwear suitable to the sport they are playing. Inexpensive, stiff plastic shoes or playing football barefoot can result in an injury.

Listen to your body and seek prompt medical advice for any discomfort during work, sports or leisure activities. Don’t concentrate on work alone. Incorporate aerobic exercises and stretches into your lifestyle. The benefits of regular exercise are immeasurable. Immunity and resistance to disease increase and the improvement in overall flexibility and strength can help prevent crippling RSIs.

Source: The Telegraph (kolkata, India)

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Herbs & Plants

Daruharidra (Berberis aristata)

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Botanical Name : Berberis aristata
Family: Berberidaceae
Kingdom:
Plantae
Order:
Ranunculales
Genus:
Berberis
Species:
B. aristata

Common name: Chitra
Other Common Names:   Darlahad [H], Hint Amberparisi [E], Indian Lycium [E], Nepal Barberry [H], Ophthalmic Barberry [H] (From various places around the Web, may not be 100% correct.) Barberry, Nepal
Vernacular Name: Sans; Daruharidra; Hind: Darhald; Eng : Indian barberry
Synonyms: Berberis coriaria (Lindl.), Berberis chitria (Hort.)

Sanskrit Synonyms:
Darunisha, Peeta, Daruharidra, Darvi, Peetadru, Peetachandana, Hemakanti, Kashta Rajani, Peetaka, Peetahva, Hemakanta,Hemavarnavati, – All these synonyms explain about turmeric-like yellow coloured stem.
Katankati, Katankateri, Parjanya, Pachampacha, Kusumbhaka,
Habitat :E. Asia – Himalayas in Nepal.(Shrubberies to 3500 metres)Woodland, Dappled Shade, Shady Edge.

Description:

Daruharidra is an evergreen erect spiny shrub, ranging between 2 and 3 meters in height. It is a woody plant, with bark that appears yellow to brown from the outside and deep yellow from the inside. The bark is covered with three-branched thorns, which are modified leaves, and can be removed by hand in longitudinal strips. The leaves are arranged in tufts of 5-8 and are approximately 4.9 centimeters long and 1.8 centimeters broad. The leaves are deep green on the dorsal surface and light green on the ventral surface. The leaves are simple with pinnate venation. The leaves are leathery in texture and are toothed, with several to many small indentations along the margin of the leaf.
It is a woody plant, with bark that appears yellow to brown from the outside and deep yellow from the inside. The bark is covered with three-branched thorns, which are modified leaves, and can be removed by hand in longitudinal strips. The leaves are arranged in tufts of 5-8 and are approximately 4.9 centimeters long and 1.8 centimeters broad. The leaves are deep green on the dorsal surface and light green on the ventral surface. The leaves are simple with pinnate venation. The leaves are leathery in texture and are toothed, with several to many small indentations along the margin of the leaf.

The flowering season begins in mid-March and lasts throughout the month of April. The yellow flowers that develop are complete and hermaphroditic. The average diameter of a fully opened flower is 12.5 millimeters. The flowers form a racemose inflorescence, with 11 to 16 flowers per raceme, arranged along a central stem. The flower is polysepalous, with 3 large and 3 small sepals, and polypetalous, with 6 petals in total. The male reproductive structure, the androecium, is polyandrous and contains 6 stamens, 5 to 6 millimeters long. There is one female reproductive structure, the gynoecium, which is 4 to 5 millimeters long and is composed of a short style and a broad stigma. The plant produces bunches of succulent, acidic, edible berries that are bright red in color and have medicinal properties. The fruits start ripening from the second week of May and continue to do so throughout June. The berries are approximately 7 millimeters long, 4 millimeters in diameter and weigh about 227 milligrams.

CLICK TO SEE THE PICTURES.……..>….(01).…..

Cultivation :   Prefers a warm moist loamy soil and light shade but it is by no means fastidious, succeeding in thin, dry and shallow soils. Grows well in heavy clay soils. The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and can grow in heavy clay and nutritionally poor soils. The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It requires dry or moist soil. Plants are very hardy, they survived the severe winters of 1986-1987 without problems in most areas of Britain.

Plants can be pruned back quite severely and resprout well from the base. The fruits are sometimes sold in local markets in India. Hybridizes freely with other members of this genus. Most plants cultivated under this name are B. chitria., B. coriaria., B. glaucocarpa. and, more commonly, B. floribunda.

Propagation:  Seed – best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame, it should germinate in late winter or early spring.  Seed from over-ripe fruit will take longer to germinate. Stored seed may require cold stratification and should be sown in a cold frame as early in the year as possible. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse or cold frame for at least their first winter. Once they are at least 20cm tall, plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. The seedlings are subject to damping off, so be careful not to overwater them and keep them well ventilated.

Cuttings of half-ripe wood, July/August in a frame. Very difficult, if not impossible. Cuttings of mature wood of the current season’s growth, preferably with a heel, October/November in a frame . Very difficult, if not impossible.

Edible Uses:  Fruit – raw or cooked. A well-flavoured fruit, it has a sweet taste with a blend of acid, though there is a slight bitterness caused by the seeds. The fruit is much liked by children. It is dried and used like raisins in India. The fruit contains about 2.3% protein, 12% sugars, 2% ash, 0.6% tannin, 0.4% pectin. There is 4.6mg vitamin C per 100ml of juice.The fruit is about 7mm x 4mm – it can be up to 10mm long. Plants in the wild yield about 650g of fruit in 4 pickings.

Flower buds – added to sauces.

Composition:  Fruit (Fresh weight) :In grammes per 100g weight of food:Protein: 2.3 Carbohydrate: 12 Ash: 2

Medicinal Uses:  Alterative; Antibacterial; Antiperiodic; Bitter; Cancer; Deobstruent; Diaphoretic; Laxative; Ophthalmic; Tonic.

The dried stem, root bark and wood are alterative, antiperiodic, deobstruent, diaphoretic, laxative, ophthalmic and tonic (bitter). An infusion is used in the treatment of malaria, eye complaints, skin diseases, menorrhagia, diarrhoea and jaundice.

Berberine, universally present in rhizomes of Berberis species, has marked antibacterial effects. Since it is not appreciably absorbed by the body, it is used orally in the treatment of various enteric infections, especially bacterial dysentery]. It should not be used with Glycyrrhiza species (Liquorice) because this nullifies the effects of the berberine. Berberine has also shown antitumour activity.

As per Ayurveda:
It is tikta, katu, ushnaveerya; applied in the treatment of septic wounds and polyuria, pruritus, erysipelas and diseases of skin, eye and ear; antidotal

 Therapeutic uses: Paste of root-bark finds external application for healing ulcers. Extract prepared from root-bark is used as a local application in affected parts of the eyelids and in chronic ophthalmia.The tincture of the root is used against intermittent fever and considered to be advantageous over quinine and cinchona since it does not produce deafness or cardiac depression.

The decoction is particularly useful in the enlargement of liver and spleen associated with malarial fever. It is also used for fever accompanied by diarrhoea. Root combined with opium, rocksalt and alum is considered to be an useful anti-inflammatory agent.

In bleeding piles, application of powdered root mixed with butter is beneficial. “Rasauf’ of the rootprepared withis found useful in stomatitis and leucorrhoea.

Decoction of stem mixed with that of curcuma longa is recommended in’gonorrhoea.

Bark juice is useful in jaundice.

Fruits are edible and prescribed as a mild laxative for children.

 Other Uses:A yellow dye is obtained from the root and the stem. An important source of dyestuff and tannin, it is perhaps one of the best tannin dyes available in India. The wood is used as a fuel.

Disclaimer: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.

Resources:
http://www.ibiblio.org/pfaf/cgi-bin/arr_html?Berberis+aristata
http://www.ayurvedakalamandiram.com/herbs.htm#bringraj
http://www.motherherbs.com/berberis-aristata.html
http://www.ayurgold.com/clinical_studies/indian_barberry

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Berberis_aristata

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