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Herbs & Plants

Achyranthes Aspera

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Botanical Name : Achyranthes aspera
Family: Amaranthaceae
Genus: Achyranthes
Species: A. aspera
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Caryophyllales

Common Name:Apamarga,Latjira,Chirchita or Onga,Apamarga,Kanarica,Kharamanjiri,Merkati, Varisa, Puthkanda, Umblokando,  Prickly chaff-flower,Devil’s Horsewhip
Vernacular Names: Sans: Apamarga; ; Eng: Prickiy-chaffflower.
Parts Used: The whole herb

Habitat: It grows as wasteland herb every where.Open dry places at elevations up to 2000 metres in Nepal. More or less naturalized as a weed in waste ground in southern Europe,E. Asia – Himalayas to Australia.

Description: Achyranthes aspera  is a   perennial or annual herb . Stems erect to ascending . Leaves opposite, petiolate ; blade elliptic , ovate to orbiculate, or broadly rhombate, margins entire . Inflorescences terminal and axillary , pedunculate , elongate , many-flowered, simple spikes or few-branched panicles; flowers crowded together at tips , becoming more widely spaced toward base . Flowers bisexual , often becoming deflexed with age; tepals 4 or 5, basally connate , without ornamentation, coriaceous , becoming indurate in fruit, ± glabrous ; filaments basally connate into short tubes or cups ; anthers 4-locular; pseudostaminodes 5; ovary obovoid or turbinate ; ovule 1; style elongate; stigma 1, capitate. Utricles enclosed by and falling with indurate tepals, elliptic or cylindric , membranous, indehiscent. Seeds 1, inverted , obovoid or ovoid , smooth .

You may click to see the pictures of   Achyranthes Aspera

Species 8-12: c and se United States, Mexico, West Indies, Central America, South America, tropical , subtropical , and warm-temperate regions of the Old World.

The groups of plants referred to as Achyranthes and Alternanthera have been subject to considerable nomenclatural confusion, primarily because P. C. Standley (1915) designated Achyranthes repens Linnaeus as the lectotype species of Achyranthes. As a result, species that had been placed in Achyranthes were transferred to Centrostachys Wallich, and species that had been in Alternanthera were transferred to Achyranthes. A. A. Bullock (1957; see also R. Melville 1958) showed that Standley’s lectotypification was incorrect and that the type species of Achyranthes is Achyranthes aspera Linnaeus. The generic concepts of Achyranthes and Alternanthera then returned to those prior to 1915.

Physical Description:
Species Achyranthes aspera
Plants perennial or annual . Stems 0.4-2 m , pilose or puberulent . Leaf blades elliptic , ovate , or broadly ovate to orbiculate, obovate-orbiculate, or broadly rhombate, 1-20 × 2-6 cm, adpressed-pubescent abaxially and adaxially. Inflorescences to 30 cm; bracts mem-branous; bracteoles long-aristate, spinose ; wings attached at sides and base . Flowers: tepals 4 or 5, length 3-7 mm; pseudostaminodes with margins fimbriate at apex, often with dorsal scale. Utricles ± cylindric , 2-4 mm, apex truncate or depressed .

Achyranthes aspera is a variable, pantropical species divided into six varieties (C. C. Townsend 1974), two of which occur in the flora . The variety with a long perianth and acuminate leaves has long been called var. aspera; the variety with a short perianth and blunt leaves, var. indica. However, A. Cavaco (1962) showed that the type of var. indica must be the type of the species A. aspera, thus var. indica is a homotypic synonym of var. aspera. Townsend made the combination A. aspera var. pubescens for plants previously called var. aspera.

Cultivation:The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It requires moist soil.Cultivated as a food crop in China. A very variable species.

Propagation: Seed – sow spring in situ.

Edible Uses
Edible Parts: Leaves; Seed.

Leaves cooked. Used as a spinach substitute. Seed cooked. The seeds are said to be eaten with milk in order to check hunger without loss of body weight. The brown oviod seed is about 2mm long.


Chemical Constituent:
Plant yields achyranthine.

Medicinal Uses:Antispasmodic; Astringent; Diuretic; Odontalgic.
Since time immemorial, it is in use as folk medicine. It holds a reputed position as medicinal herb in different systems of medicine in India.One of the more important mdicinal herbs of Nepal, it is widely used in the treatment of a range of complaints. Ophthalmic. The whole plant is used medicinally, but the roots are generally considered to be more effective. They contain triterpenoid saponins. The root is astringent, diuretic and antispasmodic. It is used in the treatment of dropsy, rheumatism, stomach problems, cholera, skin diseases and rabies. The juice extracted from the root of this plant, mixed with the root of Urena lobata and the bark of Psidium guajava, is used in the treatment of diarrhoea and dysentery. The plant is astringent, digestive, diuretic, laxative, purgative and stomachic. The juice of the plant is used in the treatment of boils, diarrhoea, dysentery, haemorrhoids, rheumatic pains, itches and skin eruptions. The ash from the burnt plant, often mixed with mustard oil and a pinch of salt, is used as a tooth powder for cleaning teeth. It is believed to relieve pyorrhea and toothache. The leaf is emetic and a decoction is used in the treatment of diarrhoea and dysentery. A paste of the leaves is applied in the treatment of rabies, nervous disorders, hysteria, insect and snake bites.

As per Ayurveda:It is tikta, ushnnveerya .and katu; alleviates deranged function of kapha; useful in the treatment of piles, pruritus, dysentery and dyscrasia; astringent and emetic.

Leaves made into a paste with water are applied to bites of poisonous insects, wasps, bees, etc. Powdered root, mixed with honey, is given internally in haemorrhoids.

Decoction of the root is prescribed in diarrhoea. Root paste is given to stop bleeding after abortion. A pinch of root powder, in combination with pepper powder and honey, is a good remedy for cough; seeds,rubbed with rice-water, are prescribed to patients suffering from bleeding piles.

Decoction of the whole plant is diuretic; it is efficacious in renal dropsies and in combination with that of Kakajanga (Leea aequata) useful in insomnia.

Dry plant is beneficial in gonorrhoea and colic. It also acts as a laxative.

Ashes of the plant with water and jaggery are effective in ascites and anasarca;sesamum oil medicated with ashes of the plant is applied as eardrops.

Traditional Medicinal Uses: According to Ayurveda, it is bitter, pungent, heating, laxative, stomachic, carminative and useful in treatment of vomiting, bronchitis, heart disease, piles, itching abdominal pains, ascites, dyspepsia, dysentery, blood diseases etc.

Ayurvedic Preparation: Apamarga Taila, Agnimukha etc.

The plant is highly esteemed by traditional healers and used in treatment of asthma, bleeding, in facilitating delivery, boils, bronchitis, cold, cough, colic, debility, dropsy, dog bite, dysentery, ear complications, headache, leucoderma, pneumonia, renal complications, scorpion bite, snake bite and skin diseases etc. Traditional healers claim that addition of A. aspera would enhance the efficacy of any drug of plant origin.    Prevents infection and tetanus.  Used to treat circumcision wounds, cuts.  Also used for improving lymphatic circulation, strengthens musculatured, improves blood circulation; Cold with fever, heat stoke with headache, malaria, dysentery; Urinary tract lithiasis, chronic nephritis, edema; Rheumatic arthralgia (joint pain). Used traditionally for infertility in women: Two ml decoction of root and stem is administered orally thrice a day for three months. Younger women respond better to this therapy.

Other Uses
*Useful for reclamation of wastelands.
*Leaf is consumed as potherb.
*Seeds rich in protein, cooked and eaten.
*Used in religious ceremonies in India.

Soap; Teeth.
The ash from the burnt plant, often mixed with mustard oil and a pinch of salt, is used as a tooth powder for cleaning teeth. The dried twigs are used as toothbrushes. The ash of the burnt plant is a rich source of potash. It is used for washing clothes.

Click to see:->Achyranthes aspera elevates thyroid hormone levels and decreases hepatic lipid peroxidation in male rats

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.ayurvedakalamandiram.com/herbs.htm
http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/CropFactSheets/onga.html
http://www.pfaf.org/database/plants.php?Achyranthes+aspera
http://www.pfaf.org/database/plants.php?Achyranthes+aspera
http://www.hear.org/starr/plants/images/species/?q=achyranthes+aspera+var+aspera
http://zipcodezoo.com/Plants/A/Achyranthes_aspera/

http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_DE.htm

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Categories
Positive thinking

Fearlessness Can be Taught

The brain can produce antidepressants with the right signal, a finding that suggests that meditating, or going to your “happy place,” tru ly works, scientists reported .

Mice, who were forced to swim endlessly until they surrendered and just floated, waiting to drown, could be conditioned to regain their will to live when a tone they associated with safety was played.

The experiment suggests that there are good ways to teach people this skill, and points to new routes for developing better antidepressants, said Dr Eric Kandel of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Columbia University in New York, who led the research.

“The happy place works. This is like going to the country,” Kandel said in a telephone interview.

Writing in the journal Neuron, Kandel’s team said they used classical conditioning to train mice. They had already conditioned some mice to fear a neutral tone by playing the sound when they shocked the animals’ paws. After a while, the tone itself creates fear. “It scares the hell out of the animal,” Kandel said.

They decided to reverse the study — they played the tone when they were not shocking the mice. “It learned that the only time it was really safe is when the tone comes on,” Kandel said.

To make a mouse depressed, they used a method favored by drug companies called learned helplessness. “You put an animal into a pool of water and it can’t get out. It gives up and it stops swimming and it just floats,” Kandel said. “When you give the animal an antidepressant, it starts swimming again. When we played the tone, it started to swim again just as it did with the antidepressant.”

Further experiments showed the tone and an antidepressant drug worked synergistically, he said. When they looked at the brains of their mice, they saw using the conditioned “safety” tone activated a different pathway than the drugs did.

It affected dopamine, while antidepressants work on serotonin. Both are message-carrying molecules called neurotransmitters. The conditioning also affected a compound called brain-derived neurotrophic factor or BDNF —which helps nourish and encourages the growth of brain cells. The learned safety did not affect serotonin.
Mice conditioned by the “safety” tone also had more newborn brain cells in the dentate gyrus, a part of the brain linked with learning and depression.

When Kandel’s team used radiation to slow the birth of new cells in the dentate gyrus, the effects of learned safety and of antidepressants were blunted.

Kandel noted that antidepressant drugs appear to work, in part, by encouraging the growth of new brain cells — as does psychotherapy.

“Learning involves alterations in the brain and gene expression,” Kandel said. “Psychotherapy is only a form of learning.”

This shows how effective psychotherapy, meditation and other stress-reduction tools may be, and it could help in the design of new drugs, Kandel said. “This opens up new pathways that may profitable,” he said.

Sources: The Times Of India

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Categories
Positive thinking

All Is Not Lost

Snap out of it,  say friends and relatives if you are feeling down or  having the blues. However, the person soon starts to feel better, with or without such ineffectual advice, as negative thoughts and feelings usually last for about two weeks.
click & see
Several bouts of depression may occur during the course of a lifetime. These may be precipitated by chronic illness, the loss of a loved one, financial difficulties or failures. If the precipitating situation changes for the better, recovery is faster.

Depression becomes a disease when it lasts longer than two weeks. It may occur as repeated attacks with short symptom-free intervals, or it may be present constantly. Sometimes a precipitating factor may not exist. It is a difficult diagnosis for the person and his or her relatives to accept as there are no outward physical signs of illness. There is only an all-pervading sense of gloom and inability to get things done. Everything becomes too much of an effort. The person may also become increasingly isolated as he or she fails to keep social obligations or maintain relationships. Constant talk about death, pacing, agitation and withdrawal are danger signals. It means the depression is severe enough for the sufferer to even attempt suicide. Getting over it  is no longer an option and medical treatment is required.

The changes during a bout of depression are not due to a weak personality. The altered behaviour results from an imbalance in the ratios of three chemical messengers in the brain: serotonin, adrenaline and dopamine. This may be genetic, with the condition running in families. Or it may be a response to a life event, precipitated by medication or hormonal changes.

Women become depressed four times more often than men. This is because the female hormone, estrogen, affects the brain chemicals. Menarche, menstruation, pregnancy and menopause produce sudden marked alterations in a woman’s hormone levels. Sometimes  post delivery” blues may be severe enough to incapacitate the mother and even drive her to suicide.

People of all age groups and communities are prone to depression. Children react differently in such a situation than do adults. They perform poorly in class or may refuse to go school. They may develop vague abdominal symptoms and vomit. Adolescents, who generally have confused and uncontrolled emotions, may respond to an underlying depression with unreasonable anger or substance abuse.

Monsoon days are dull and grey with little or no sunlight. The darkness and enforced physical inactivity may aggravate an underlying depression.

National public health does not consider depression a priority as it is a nebulous condition which is not contagious. But depression does seriously affect the national economy as many patients remain undiagnosed and untreated. Their productivity is affected as they are frequently absent from work, apparently uninterested, inefficient and have poor interpersonal relationships.

Sleep disturbances   excessive sleep or insomnia   may be the first sign of depression. There may be early wakening with an inability to fall asleep again. The weight may increase or decrease as the person experiences appetite swings, eating too much or too little. Alcohol or drugs may be used as an escape mechanism to elevate the mood. After the initial euphoria passes, there is a rebound and this worsens the condition. In older people, depression may manifest itself as vague physical symptoms, aches and pains which defy diagnosis, requiring repeated unsatisfactory visits to the doctor.

Depression may alternate with elation in people with a “bipolar disorder”. Such people may be withdrawn and non-functional or productive and creative depending on their mood swings. They either talk too much or not at all.

Once depression is diagnosed, it needs to be tackled. Taking sleeping tablets (sedatives) purchased without a prescription OTC (over the counter) to correct the sleep disturbances alone is not the answer. A combination of anti-depressant medication and psychotherapy probably works best. The medication corrects the imbalances in the chemicals in the brain. The drugs belong to various groups and subtypes. The response of each person varies; a drug that works for one may not work for another. The medications take around six weeks to start acting. Once the mood becomes stable, the person is able to function normally.

Children and young adults respond paradoxically to some anti-depressants. Drugs like paroxetine may increase the suicidal tendency in persons between 18 and 24 years of age. Treatment in adolescents and young adults thus has to be carefully monitored.

Patients need to be supported by family, friends and psychotherapy during treatment. Otherwise, they may prematurely discontinue the treatment thinking that the drug   does not work.  Also, once the symptoms have disappeared, treatment needs to be continued for 9 to 12 months for complete recovery. This, too, may not be followed as patients may not see the need to continue medication once they start feeling better.

THE BEST WAY  IS TO DO REGULAR  YOGA EXERCISE  SPECIALLY  PRANAYAMA .

Source: The Telegraph (Kolkata, India)

Categories
News on Health & Science

Insomnia in kids may spell big trouble

 Does your child suffer from regular disturbed sleep? Beware, he or she could grow up to be depressed and suffer from various ‘co morbid anxiety disorders’.

According to a study published in the January 1 issue of journal SLEEP, sleep-disturbed children have been found to be more severely depressed and suffering from co morbid anxiety disorders compared with children without sleep disturbance.

The study, authored by Xianchen Liu and colleagues from the University of Pittsburgh, was conducted on 553 children with a depressive disorder in Hungary. Out of this study group, 72.7% had suffered from some kind of sleep disturbance, of which 53.5% had insomnia, 9% hypersomnia (prolonged night time sleep and daytime sleepiness) and 10.1% had both disturbances.

Researchers said depressed girls were more likely to have sleep disturbance than boys, but age had no significant effects. In an e-mail interview with TOI, Liu said the study also found that across sleep-disturbed children, those with both insomnia and hypersomnia had a longer history of illness, were more severely depressed and were more likely to have anhedonia (a key symptom of depression associated with lack of pleasure in everyday pleasurable activities), weight loss, psychomotor retardation and fatigue than those with either insomnia or hypersomnia.

Liu is an assistant professor of psychiatry and has been conducting sleep studies for more than 10 years with a focus on sleep in children and adolescents for 5 years and on sleep and depression and suicidality for about 3 years.

“We know that depression is associated with sleep problems. But what this study shows is that in depressed youths, not all sleep problems are the same. Insomnia is the most common problem, but having a combination of insomnia and sleepiness is double trouble. Youths having both of these had more severe depression than youths with just one sleep problem,” he stated.

The study, conducted in 23 mental health facilities in Hungary, also pointed out that 90% of depressed adults had sleep complaints and over two-third of depressed children had significant sleep onset problems. “The surprising finding of the study was the relationship between sleep disturbances and depressive symptoms. Insomniacs suffered from depressed mood, diurnal variation and agitation, hypersomnia caused weight loss and worthlessness,” Liu said.

Said Dr Anupam Sibal, paediatrician at Delhi’s Apollo Hospital,”Sleep deprivation leading to health complications is a common problem in adolescence. School children should get between 10-11 hours of sleep a night to achieve good health and optimum performance. We see the hours reduce to 8 in adolescence due to late night television and internet chatting. This impacts their health, attention span, reaction time, memory and motivation, ultimately affecting their academic performance.”

To ensure the most effective care, researchers in the study have advised parents of sleep-disturbed children to first consult a paediatrician, who may issue a referral to a sleep specialist for comprehensive testing and treatment.

Source:The Times Of India

Categories
Advice against Health Hazards

Smoking

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EVERY SMOKER MUST KNOW : BY SMOKING HE OR SHE IS NOT ONLY DOING LOT OF HARM TO HIS OR HER OWN HEALTH BUT HARMING THE FAMILY,THE GENERATION AND THE SOCIETY. SO, SMOKERS SHOULD QUIT SMOKING AS EARLY AS POSSIBLE……….CLICK  &  SEE

IT IS A PROVED FACT THAT WITHIN ONE MONTH AFTER YOU QUIT SMOKING, YOU GET RID OF 90% OF YOUR PRESENT AILMENTS LIKE INDIGESTION,GAS,HEARTBURN,FATIGUE AND WEAKNESS ETC. AND THE RISK OF FUTURE SEVERE DISEASE.
It’s never too late to quit smoking, but unfortunately a tobacco addiction is one of the most difficult habits to overcome. A number of natural supplements can boost your chances of success by helping you cope with cravings and reducing the anxiety that often accompanies quitting.

Symptoms:

Persistent cough or recurring bouts of bronchitis or pneumonia.
Hoarseness, sore throat, bad breath, yellowed teeth.
Premature graying, balding, wrinkling of the skin.
Impotence and many additional complaints.


When to Call Your Doctor

If you develop symptoms of a serious smoking-related illness: pains in your chest or upper back; chronic wheezing or coughing; pink or blood-tinged mucus; or persistent sores or white patches on the mouth, tongue, or throat.
If you need help quitting.
Reminder: If you have a medical condition, talk to your doctor before taking supplements.

What It Is
Though not considered an illness per se, smoking is a habit with serious health consequences. Within minutes of lighting a cigarette or cigar, blood pressure and pulse rate rise, and oxygen levels in the body drop. After several months of smoking, cough, sinus congestion, fatigue, shortness of breath, and other symptoms can appear. Over the long term, smoking can lead to cancer, chronic lung disorders, heart disease, and stroke.

What Causes it
Why do so many people continue to smoke despite the health risks? Because smoking is an extremely powerful addiction. Not only does nicotine, the addictive drug in tobacco, cause physical effects throughout the body, but it goes almost straight to the brain, where it temporarily lifts spirits and soothes anxiety. The social rituals associated with lighting up also work to calm anxieties. When you stop smoking, nicotine levels drop, and jittery feelings accompany a range of physical complaints.

How Supplements Can Help
Various supplements may help soothe the frazzled nerves and powerful cravings that afflict those trying to kick the smoking habit. Used for several weeks or months, they can help smokers through this difficult time. All can be taken with other stop-smoking aids, such as a nicotine patch or gum, and under your doctor’s supervision, with antidepressant drugs.

What Else You Can Do
Consider nicotine gums or patches, the antidepressant drug bupropion, acupuncture treatment, or hypnosis. All can reduce cravings.
Exercise to cut down on stress. A brisk walk can also help overcome an intense craving, which usually lasts only a few minutes.
Eat a well-balanced diet and take a high-potency multivitamin daily. This can help boost your natural production of acetylcholine and reduce your need to smoke. The up feeling smoking produces comes from nicotine and other compounds that mimic the effects of the brain chemical acetylcholine, which plays a vital role in mental alertness and memory.
Many people put off quitting for fear of gaining weight. To help keep pounds off (and stay off cigarettes), exercise regularly and keep your hands busy. Try munching on healthy rabbit food — carrots, celery, cucumbers, and the like. In addition, pursue hobbies such as painting, knitting, or woodworking.
Reduce your intake of alcohol. Researchers have long known that drinkers tend to smoke more than nondrinkers and that drinking often serves as a social cue to smoke. Now, a Purdue University study shows that in smokers, alcohol can actually increase the craving to smoke.

Supplement Recommendations

Vitamin B Complex
Vitamin C
Baking Soda
Oat Extract
Kava

Niacinamide
Pantothenic Acid

Vitamin B Complex
Dosage: 1 pill twice a day with food.
Comments: Look for a B-50 complex with 50 mcg vitamin B12 and biotin; 400 mcg folic acid; and 50 mg all other B vitamins.

Vitamin C

Dosage: 2,000 mg 3 times a day.
Comments: Will likely loosen stools at this dosage. Use buffered powder form for reduced stomach irritation and for convenience.

Baking Soda
Dosage: 1 tsp. in a glass of water twice a day.

Oat Extract
Dosage: 1/2 tsp. tincture 4 times a day.

Kava
Dosage: 250 mg 3 times a day.
Comments: Standardized to contain at least 30% kavalactones.

Niacinamide
Dosage: 500 mg twice a day between meals.
Comments: Long-term use can cause liver damage and other serious side effects; physician monitoring is necessary during treatment.

Pantothenic Acid
Dosage: 500 mg twice a day.
Comments: Use calcium pantothenate, the least expensive form.

Disclaimer: This information is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advise or help. It is always best to consult with a Physician about serious health concerns. This information is in no way intended to diagnose or prescribe remedies.This is purely for educational purpose.

Source:   Your Guide to Vitamins, Minerals, and Herbs