Herbs & Plants

Zanthoxylum limonella

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Botanical Name : Zanthoxylum limonella
Family: Rutaceae
Subfamily: Toddalioideae
Genus: Zanthoxylum
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Sapindales

Common Names: Badrang , “prickly ash” and “Hercules club”

Habitat :Zanthoxylum limonella is native to the middle latitudes of North America, South America, Africa, Asia, and Australia. (found in India, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Myanmar, Indo-China, Peninsular Malaysia, Java, the Lesser Sunda Island, Moluccas (Wetar), Sulawesi, the Philippines and southern Papua New Guinea)

Zanthoxylum limonella is a deciduous, aromatic, medium-sized tree reaching a height of 35 meters . The green young bark is covered with spines while mature bark is grey with straight or ascending prickles of 2 – 3 cm . Small prickles occur on the twigs, and all parts of tree have a characteristic lemon-like smell. The leaves are paripinnate or imparipinnate, 30 – 40 cm long. The leaflets are opposite to sub opposite, ovate to elliptical, 7 – 13 cm long, 3 – 5 cm wide, pellucid dots, the margins entire to glandular crenate. Inflorescense panicles have a terminal or axillary, 8 – 14 cm long. The flowers are white or pale yellow, 2 – 3 mm long, 4 sepals and 4 petals. The male flowers have 4 stamina and 1 rudimentary carpel while female flowers with ovary 1 carpellate. The fruit is a follicle, subglobose, 6 – 7 mm in diameter, with 1 seed per carpel, green turning red when ripe. Seeds are hard and black in colour, 5 mm in diameter.


Medicinal Uses:
The different parts of Z. limonella have been used in Thai folk medicine. The bark contains febrifugal, sudorific, and diuretic properties, while the essential oil of fruit is used for treatment of dental caries . In India traditional medicine, the bark has been used to treat cardiac, respiratory diseases, tooth infection, stomach infection and rheumatism . The fruits are used as spice and the essential oil extracted from the fruits is known as “Mullilam oil” used as anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, anticholera, diarrhoea, hypocholesterolemic, mosquito repellent and soothing agent for dental caries. The Kanikkars tribe prepare a paste of hard spines prepared by rubbing them against rock with water and apply the extract to the breast of a nursing mother to relief pain and also to increase milk supply. In the Phillippines, the pounded bark mixed with oil is a good formula to treat stomach ache. In addition, the bark decoction is also taken to treat chest pain and chewed bark applied as antidote for snake bites .
The bark and fruit are attributed with stomachic properties. Mullilam oil, an orange-scented, steam-distilled extract from the fruits, is reported to have a variety of medical applications. The methanolic extract of the Zanthoxylum rhetsa Roxb. stem bark, given by oral route to mice at doses of 250 and 500 mg/kg, significantly reduced the abdominal contraction induced by acetic acid and the diarrheal episodes induced by castor oil in mice.


News on Health & Science

Manuka Honey ‘Could Help Fight Superbugs’

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A New Zealand “superfood” honey already known as an infection fighter can also kill superbugs that resist antibiotics, new research shows.

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Manuka honey, produced only from New Zealand’s manuka trees, has prevented some bacteria from growing and killed off other bacteria in lab tests, Professor Rose Cooper told the Star.

Lab experiments show it can clear bacteria found in festering wounds and contaminated hospital surfaces.

It works by breaking down the defences bacteria use against antibiotics, making it useful in treating superbug infections such as MRSA.

The results were presented at a Society for General Microbiology meeting.

Professor Rose Cooper from the University of Wales Institute Cardiff found a variety of honey from bees foraging on manuka trees in New Zealand proved effective.

Fighting resistance:-
A specially filtered version of this honey, with impurities removed, is already used in modern licensed wound-care products around the world.

Indeed, people have known for centuries about honey’s antiseptic powers.

The researchers wanted to gain a better understanding of this honey’s bacteria-fighting properties and to see if it might help tackle some of the most stubborn infections encountered in our hospitals.

Professor Cooper’s work with two common types of bacteria – streptococci and pseudomonads – revealed that manuka honey can deter the attachment of bacteria to tissue, which is an essential step in the initiation of acute infections.

Stopping attachment also blocks the formation of biofilms, which can protect bacteria from antibiotics and allow them to cause persistent infections.

The next stage of research will be to firmly identify which antibiotics work with manuka honey and which don’t.

Medical grade honey:-
The latest lab work showed that the honey can make MRSA more sensitive to antibiotics such as oxacillin – effectively reversing antibiotic resistance.

Professor Cooper said: “This indicates that existing antibiotics may be more effective against drug-resistant infections if used in combination with manuka honey.

“What we need to do now is look at more combinations with antibiotics and do some clinical work in patients.

“It could be applied topically to wounds and used in combination with antibiotics to treat resistant infections.”

But she warned people not to try the same at home with honey bought from the supermarket. “Not only is it messy, it wouldn’t be advisable. We have been using medical grade honey, not the stuff you buy in shops.”


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Herbs & Plants

Manuka Tree

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Botanical Name : Leptospermum scoparium
Family: Myrtaceae
Genus: Leptospermum
Species: L. scoparium
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Myrtales

Common Names:Manuka or Tea tree or just Leptospermum

Habitat :Manuka  tree native to New Zealand and southeast Australia. It is found throughout New Zealand but is particularly common on the drier east coasts of the North Island and the South Island, and in Australia in Tasmania, Victoria and New South Wales. Manuka (from M?ori ‘m?nuka’) is the name used in New Zealand, and ‘tea tree’ is a common name in Australia and to a lesser extent also in New Zealand.

Manuka  tree is a prolific scrub-type tree and is often one of the first species to regenerate on cleared land. It is typically a shrub growing to 2–5 m tall, but can grow into a moderately sized tree, up to 15 m or so in height. It is evergreen, with dense branching and small leaves 7–20 mm long and 2–6 mm broad, with a short spine tip. The flowers are white, occasionally pink, 8–15 mm (rarely up to 25 mm) diameter, with five petals. This species is often confused with the closely related species Kanuka – the easiest way to tell the difference between the two species in the field is to feel their foliage – Manuka leaves are prickly while Kanuka leaves are soft.



Medicinal Uses:
Manuka products have high antibacterial potency for a limited spectrum of bacteria and are widely available in New Zealand. Similar properties led the Maori to use parts of the plant as natural medicine.

Kakariki parakeets (Cyanoramphus) use the leaves and bark of Manuka and Kanuka to rid themselves of parasites. Apart from ingesting the material, they also chew it, mix it with preen gland oil and apply it to their feathers.

The Cawthron Institute testing showed East Cape Manuka Oil to be active against a wide range of micro-organisms that cause irritation and infection of the skin and body. Some of them serious such as MRSA (more commonly known as the H-bug) and other more common ones such as those that cause Athletes foot . The Cawthron concluded that East Cape Manuka Oil was 20 – 30 times more active than Australian Tea tree Oil “ for gram positive bacteria. Further testing has confirmed that East Cape Manuka Oil is effective in combatting bacteria including those associated with acne, and foot and body odour.

Aromatherapy researchers have found this unique Manuka Oil to have antibacterial /antifungal, anti-allergenic and anti inflammatory properties and to therefore help in the relief of “skin, mucous membrane and rheumatic ailments.” They have found it to be well tolerated by the skin and to be helpful for itchy and irritated skin and scalp. For the pysche it is reported to be beneficial for stress, nervousness and anxiety .

Manuka Cream and Manuka Soap made out of munaka oil is used in Acne, Pimples, Eczema, Ring Worm, Skin Rash, Chafing, Itching, Dandruff, Bed Sores, Athlete’s Foot, Nail Bed Infections, Foot Odor, Body Odor, Cuts, Abrasions, Insect Bites & Stings, Sunburn, Muscle Ache, Aching Joints,
and Aromatherapy for Stress and Anxiety

Infusions and poultices were made from the leaves and inner bark and the seed capsules and sap were chewed . Early european migrants produced a tea from Manuka leaves for refreshment and health.

Manuka honey, produced when honeybees gather the nectar from its flowers, is distinctively flavoured, darker and richer in taste than clover honey and has strong antibacterial and antifungal properties. The finest quality Manuka honey with the most potent …antimicrobial properties is produced from hives placed in wild, uncultivated areas with abundant growth of Manuka bushes. However a very limited number of scientific studies have been performed to verify its efficacy.

The University of Waikato in Hamilton, New Zealand has formed the Waikato Honey Research Unit to study the composition of honey and its antimicrobial activity. The Active Manuka Honey Association (AMHA) is the industry association that promotes and standardizes the production of Manuka honey for medical uses. They have created the Unique Manuka Factor (UMF) standard which grades honey based on its anti-bacterial strength. Because of its antimicrobial properties, Manuka Honey is added in small amounts D-Dartos Oral Suspension and other products. In January 2008 Professor Thomas Henle, University of Dresden (Germany) identified methylglyoxal as the active compound in Manuka honey. This is now shown on products as MGO Manuka honey. E.g. MGO 100 represents 100 mg of methylglyoxal per kilogram

Other Uses:
The wood is tough and hard, and was often used for tool handles. Manuka sawdust imparts a delicious flavour when used for smoking meats and fish.

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.


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The Truth About the Super Bug

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The bug is actually a single-celled bacteria belonging to the Eschericia coli (E. coli) family. The species carries an enzyme called New Delhi metallo-beta—lactamase (NDM-1), which allows it to neutralise all known antibiotics and survive in their presence.

The enzyme was first isolated from a patient who had come to India for elective surgery. When he left, he took the “super bug” with him. No one knows how prevalent the organism is in India, as we do not have a centralised surveillance and reporting system that tracks hospital acquired infections and bacterial antibiotic resistance patterns.

Resistance is not a new phenomenon. Sulpha drugs and penicillin — the first antibiotics — were once hailed as “miracle” drugs. Today, they are hardly used. Overuse and misuse resulted in almost all bacteria becoming resistant to them.

If appropriate antibiotics are administered during a disease process caused by bacteria, the germs die. The host develops antibodies that help the body eliminate the weakened organisms.

E. coli has been around for thousands of years. That’s because the microorganisms developed “plasmids”, stable genetic elements composed of DNA or RNA. These help the bacteria grow resistance to chemicals and antibiotics. Once they have acquired this ability, they pass on the gene to other bacteria, even belonging to different species. Staphylococcus aureus and Klebsiella too have developed multiple drug resistance.

The outbreak of plague in Gujarat in 1994 killed hundreds. The state government realised the disease could be controlled by preventing rats from infesting human habitation and with appropriate antibiotic treatment. The situation was thus brought under control.

The spread of antibiotic resistance too can be controlled with combined concentrated effort. People are often “too busy” to consult a doctor when they are ill. The neighbourhood pharmacy then seems an attractive alternative. The man at the counter (often not a qualified pharmacist) dispenses antibiotics for coughs, colds, fever and diarrhoea. But there is often no rational or appropriate use of antibiotics.

Also, people sometimes do not complete the full course of a drug. They keep a few tablets, popping them for similar symptoms later or dispensing them to friends and relatives. A single dose may temporarily suppress the symptom. In a previously healthy person, the body’s natural defences then take over and eliminate the bacteria. The elderly or those with poor immunity become sicker, requiring the services of a qualified doctor. The bacteria, meanwhile, thrives in the presence of the antibiotic, because either they were not susceptible or the dosage was too small to be effective. Antibiotic resistance develops.

Practitioners of alternative systems of medicine prescribe and dispense antibiotics (which they are not licensed to use) inappropriately, perpetuating the problem.

At times, qualified physicians and surgeons use antibiotics prophylactically, especially after surgical procedures, to “prevent infection”. These antibiotics are eventually excreted by the body. They reach the sewage systems and seep through the earth. Bacteria are naturally present in sewage. They spread and multiply in the presence of the antibiotic.

Cattle and poultry feed are laced with antibiotics to “prevent” infection. Antibiotic resistant bacteria thrive on farms.

Everyone must play his or her part well to prevent another plague with super bugs which places the entire world population at risk.

• Take treatment only from qualified physicians

• Always buy antibiotics with a prescription, not OTC

• Complete the course in the dosage prescribed

Hygiene has to be maintained not just in the hospitals but also at home. Regularly washing hands, an elementary procedure, reduces infection and its spread.

Governments, nationally and internationally, need to maintain surveillance to monitor emerging infections and drug resistance patterns. If everyone — patients, doctors and the public — does not co-operate on a war footing, we may revert to the dark ages of the pre penicillin era. No antibiotic will work against infections and developing an infectious disease will turn out to be a death sentence.

An Article written by Dr Gita Mathai

Source: The Telegrtaph (Kolkata, India)

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Animals Can Harbor MRSA

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Following a Lancet Infectious Diseases report of the spread of a new drug-resistant superbug spreading from south Asia, news agencies have reported “panic” over the germs’ possible consequences. Writing in the Guardian, for example, editor and columnist Sarah Boseley said:

“The era of antibiotics is coming to a close. In just a couple of generations, what once appeared to be miracle medicines have been beaten into ineffectiveness by the bacteria they were designed to knock out.”

The effectiveness of antibiotics depends on how antibiotics are used — how well drug use is managed in clinical practice and outside of it. But some 70 percent of American antibiotics — tens of millions of pounds of drugs each year — is used in animal feed.

The antibiotic-resistant staph strain that kills 19,000 Americans every year.

According to Time Magazine:

“The European Union banned routine use of antibiotics in animal feed years ago because of evidence about its drug-resistance consequences for humans. Now the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is recommending the same for the U.S. as well, for the same reason. But for now the practice continues.”

According to Grist:
“MRSA has a major food angle: Today, as much as 70 percent of antibiotics consumed in the United States go into concentrated-animal feedlot operations, or CAFOs, and these vast, factory-scale animal farms have been shown to harbor a novel MRSA strain.”


Grist June 15, 2010

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