Herbs & Plants

Blue Lettuce

[amazon_link asins=’B00B7858U6,B0000VZ34C,B0081TKL6U,B00R8FJ4GG,B00NKG5D12,B00BFX70BI,B00BUFXBZA,1312882395,B01HOZF0AS’ template=’ProductCarousel’ store=’finmeacur-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’4de28982-2e2c-11e7-a4a2-091a3bbf211b’]

Botanical Name : Lactuca pulchella
Family :Asteraceae – Aster family
Genus: Lactuca L. – lettuce
Species: Lactuca tatarica (L.) C.A. Mey. – blue lettuce
Variety:Lactuca tatarica (L.) C.A. Mey. var. pulchella (Pursh) Breitung – blue lettuce
Kingdom :Plantae – Plants
Subkingdom: Tracheobionta – Vascular plants
Superdivision: Spermatophyta – Seed plants
Division: Magnoliophyta – Flowering plants
Class: Magnoliopsida – Dicotyledons
Subclass: Asteridae
Order: Asterales

*Lactuca tatarica (Linnaeus) C.A. Meyer subsp. pulchella (Pursh) A.P. de Candolle
*Mulgedium pulchellum (Pursh) G. Don
*Sonchus pulchellus Pursh

Common Name : Blue Lettuce,Chicory Lettuce

In Michigan this species is native only to Isle Royale, where it occurs in rocky openings on ridges. It is adventive elsewhere in the state. In other portions of its range, this species inhabits moist prairies, meadows, clearings, and riverbanks. The Isle Royale populations have not been collected since 1930.

General: plant with milky sap, 20-100 cm tall.
Growth habit: perennial from white, deep-seated, creeping root, often growing in patches.
Stems: erect, hairless or almost so.
Leaves: alternate, narrowly lance-shaped, 5-18 cm
long and 6-35 mm wide, entire, or the lower ones more or
less with triangular, backward-pointig lobes or sharply
toothed, often with waxy coating beneath.
Flowerheads: blue, showy, about 2 cm wide, with
18-50 ray florets only, several in open clusters. Involucre
15-20 mm high in fruit, with overlapping bracts in 3 rows.
Flowering time: June-September.
Fruits: achenes, 4-7 mm long, the slender body
moderately compressed, prominently several-nerved on
each face, the beak stout, often whitish, equaling or less
than half as long as the body. Pappus of white, hair-like

Prefers a light sandy loam. This species is considered to be a noxious weed in N. America where it spreads freely by suckers in cultivated ground – even a small portion of the root can regenerate to form a new plant.

Seed – sow April in a greenhouse, only just covering the seed. Germination is usually fairly quick. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when large enough to handle and plant them out in the summer. Division in spring. Root cuttings in spring.

Edible uses:
Young leaves – raw or cooked – of blue lettuce have been eaten by Native tribes. A gum obtained from the roots is used for chewing. However, caution should be used, because of the mild narcotic properties of the plant.

Medicinal Uses:
A tea of the roots and stems has been used by the Okanagan-Colville Indians of British Columbia in the treatment of diarrhea in children. Hemorrhoids have been treated by applying a moist, usually warm or hot mass of plant material. The whole plant is rich in a milky sap, containing ‘lactucarium’, which is used in medicine for its mildly pain-relieving, antispasmodic, digestive, urination-inducing, hypnotic, narcotic and sedative properties. Lactucarium has mild narcotic effects. It has been taken internally in the treatment of insomnia, anxiety, neuroses, hyperactivity in children, dry coughs, whooping cough, rheumatic pain etc. The sap has also been applied externally in the treatment of warts. An infusion of the roots and stems has been given to children in the treatment of diarrhea. The sap has also been applied externally in the treatment of warts.

Other Uses: The Gum has several uses.

The plant should be used with caution, and never without the supervision of a skilled practitioner. Even normal doses can cause drowsiness, excess causes restlessness and overdoses can cause death through cardiac paralysis.

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.


Enhanced by Zemanta

Stop Dengue in its Tracks

[amazon_link asins=’B00A51A3E2,B01MT7D0P5,B003AW1OM8,B004W6GC28,B004W6F1VG,B001UDUR9U,B004KU2DVU,B00BDSRB6Y,B00R8JDGUC’ template=’ProductCarousel’ store=’finmeacur-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’3cc5500a-99df-11e7-8df4-97be780e82a8′]

Dengue fever is caused by the Aedes egypti mosquito. Culex and Anophelesmosquitoes (which cause diseases like malaria and filaria) are nocturnal — that is, they emerge and bite at night. They can be effectively kept at bay by using mosquito nets while sleeping at night. Aedes egypti, however, is a daytime urban insect. It cannot live above 1,220m or fly more than a hundred metres. It is easily identifiable — its body is striped like that of a tiger. It lives in houses and breeds in stagnant water. This could be in flower vases, old tyres, upturned bottle caps, and even water that collects on leaves and plants.

Eradication of their breeding grounds is, therefore, a Herculean task, which cannot be achieved by the government alone. Citizens need to do their bit, awaken their civic sense and keep their neighbourhood garbage free. At home, flower vases, water cooler trays, and all sorts of open containers — including broken mugs and bottle caps — should be emptied.

The government often uses frogs or sprays of insecticides to reduce the population of Aedes egypti in populated areas. The sprays need to be used every eight to 10 days to interrupt the cycle of virus transmission. Also, people must leave their doors and windows open so that the insecticide can penetrate indoors, into the nooks and crannies where the mosquitoes rest. We often close all openings to prevent the “harmful chemicals” from entering inside. This negates the effects of spraying.

Once an infected mosquito bites, there is an asymptomatic incubation period of five to six days. After this, dengue sets in abruptly with headache and high fever. There is pain behind the eyes and on moving the eyes. Severe body ache makes it difficult for the person to move, giving dengue the nickname “back breaking” fever. There may be rashes on the skin and inside the mouth. There may also be bleeding into the conjunctiva of the eyes, making them appear blood shot.

After three or four days, the temperature returns to normal. But this is only a temporary respite; the fever returns a few days later with all the previous symptoms but in a milder form. Dengue is, therefore, also called “saddle back” fever.

Unfortunately, there is no specific treatment for dengue. There is no vaccination (as yet) to prevent infection or specific antiviral medication to combat the condition. Affected persons have to ride out the disease with supportive treatment, hoping for the best. Treatment is symptomatic with paracetamol for lowering the fever and fluids for hydration. Aspirin and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents like brufen must be avoided. Blood transfusions may have to be given if there is bleeding and shock.

The first attack of dengue usually takes a few weeks to completely recover from. Overall, the disease has a five per cent mortality. It is especially dangerous in children. The dangerous form, called dengue haemorrhagic fever, which is accompanied by shock and bleeding, occurs with subsequent infections with the virus, especially if they are of a different “serotype”.

Humans are infective during the first three days when the virus is multiplying in the blood. During this period, it’s important they lie inside a mosquito net all day and night. This is to prevent them from infecting other members of the household.

The diagnosis is made by excluding other causes of fever. Blood tests may show a low white cell count and platelets. There are, however, some confirmatory tests, like complement fixation, Elisa and an increasing number of antibodies.

Dengue is a self-limited disease. The severity of the symptoms depends on the serotype of the virus, immunological status of the host and, to some extent, genetics.

Herbal products — such as fresh leaves and extracts of neem and tulasi — are being investigated for their anti viral and immune boosting properties. The results are not conclusive. Claims and counterclaims about the efficacy of herbal products are difficult to evaluate. Double blind control studies have not yet been done to prove or disprove their efficacy.

One can prevent mosquito bites to a certain extent by wearing long-sleeved clothing, sleeping inside a mosquito net, and using mosquito meshes for windows and doors. Water should not be allowed to stagnate in containers in and around residential areas. Adding a handful of rock salt or pouring kerosene into stagnant water prevents mosquitoes from breeding.

Remember, no vaccine or specific treatment exists — the only way to escape dengue is to prevent being stung by these pesky insects.

Source: The Telegraph (Kolkata, India)

Enhanced by Zemanta
Health Alert

Beware the Day Mosquito

An Anopheles stephensi :en:mosquito is obtaini...
Image via Wikipedia

[amazon_link asins=’B072NSQDJC,B01LE6OTUK,B01FZKMK2K’ template=’ProductCarousel’ store=’finmeacur-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’9c9bbb2a-297a-11e7-bd0c-cdf83f48d333′]

[amazon_link asins=’B00004R9VZ,B00I0G0JXE,B0117K6ZLY,B0002568YA,B000PGE032,B01LMKIGB6,B000HMA7OK,B01GN6M7UA’ template=’ProductCarousel’ store=’finmeacur-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’c0a72e4d-297a-11e7-a491-6f2b385b0346′]

People living in countries like India, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Sri Lanka, bordering the Indian Ocean and Arabian Sea, have recently been suffering from high fever, red rashes, muscle aches and incapacitating and excruciating joint pain. The disease, chikungunya, has now assumed epidemic proportions. It disregards economic status and affects everyone, from the poor farmer in his hut to the well-heeled businessman in his mansion. Entire families, housing colonies, villages and townships suffer together.


It starts suddenly and as the small joints of the hands and feet are affected the person is unable to walk. It fells a previously healthy person to the ground. Once the fever subsides, the joint pain remains for around 10-15 days in the young, 1-2 months in the middle aged and 3-6 months or even five years in older people. Work comes to a grinding halt as the patient is prostrate with a headache and joint pain.

High fever and joint pain can appear acutely in other infections like dengue, malaria or filaria. Joint pains caused by chikungunya last for months, so that it can be confused with non-infectious diseases like rheumatoid or osteoarthritis. Fortunately these diseases can be ruled out with X-rays and appropriate blood tests.

Chikungunya (meaning ‘bent over’ in an African tribal language) created confusion among physicians till it was rightly diagnosed during the present epidemic that started in 2006. Significantly, it wasn’t the first time that chikungunya was reported in India. In 1971 an epidemic of chikungunya was proven and documented in Calcutta.

Chikungunya is an arbo virus infection transmitted by the bite of the Aedes mosquito, a small, innocuous insect with an attractive striped body. As the mosquito is a daytime biter which is “domesticated”, entire families can be affected within a few days of each other. This is because, unlike the Culex and Anopheles mosquito species, which bite at dawn and dusk, the Aedes mosquito bites in broad daylight. It loves civilisation, and thrives and breeds prolifically in the new urban environment with open water storage, poor sewage disposal, and inadequate uncovered drains. It is a hardy survivor which requires only in a few millilitres of water to breed in, a quantity that easily accumulates in old tyres, upturned bottle caps and flower vases. It can also survive in luggage, clothes, cars, trains and planes and then be inadvertently carried by tourists from one place to another. The Indian epidemic has now spread to Italy and other countries in Europe. There is a reservoir of infection as the virus survives in warm blooded vertebrates like monkeys, rodents and birds.

Treatment for chikungunya is not very satisfactory. NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) and paracetemol can be used for pain and fever. New studies have shown that 250mg of chloroquine (a drug used for malaria) once a day reduces joint pain. Patients become very frustrated as the response is slow and unpredictable. This makes them “doctor shop” and opt for non-conventional therapy. This can result in misdiagnosis and inappropriate treatment and may be dangerous.

There is no vaccine to prevent chikungunya. The only effective method is to prevent the mosquito bites. Since the bites occur in the daytime, mosquito nets are not effective. Keeping an affected individual in a net for 24 hours a day prevents the disease spreading to others in the house. The breeding of the mosquito should be prevented by eliminating breeding grounds.

As you walk, turn over bottles caps and coconut shells so that rainwater doesn’t accumulate and stagnate. Straighten sagging canvas and plastic coverings periodically.

Empty air conditioning and cooler trays. Alternatively, put a handful of salt into the tray so that mosquitoes cannot breed.

Do not place trays under potted plants. Empty pots and vases regularly.

Fix mosquito mesh on open tanks and wells.

Windows and doors can be “mosquito proofed” using inexpensive plastic mesh.

BTI (bacillus thurin giensis israelensis) is a naturally occurring bacterium that kills immature mosquito larvae. It is available with the government malaria control division. The substance is nontoxic to humans and can be dumped in stagnant brackish or slowly flowing water.

There are some hardy mosquito larva eating ornamental fish, like Gambusia and Poecilia (guppy), which can be added to public ponds, canals and sewers.

Coils, liquid repellents and mosquito mats are better avoided. They should not be used in places where there are children below the age of six months. They can cause respiratory allergy, and lead to wheezing and sneezing in susceptible individuals.

Many mosquitoes are now resistant to DDT and other commonly used insecticides so that they survive and reproduce despite regular spraying by government and private agencies. Spraying the environment with insecticides causes the development of “pesticide resistance” in mosquitoes and respiratory allergies in susceptible individuals. It is eventually counterproductive.

Sources: The Telegrapg (Kolkata, India)

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]