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Herbs & Plants

Bryonia dioica

Botanical Nam:  Bryonia dioicae

Family: Cucurbitaceae
Subfamily: Cucurbitoideae
Tribe: Benincaseae
Subtribe: Benincasinae
Genus: Bryonia
Species: B. dioica
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Cucurbitales
Synonyms: English Mandrake. Wild Vine. Wild Hops. Wild Nep. Tamus. Ladies’ Seal. Tetterbury.
(French) Navet du diable.

Common Names: Red bryony and White bryony

Habitat: Bryonia dioica is indigenous to Central and Southern Europe.It is rarer in the Midland counties, and not often found in the north of England. It grows in Scrub and woodland, especially on well-drained soils, avoiding acid soils.

Description:
Bryonia dioica is a perennial climber growing to 3.5 m (11ft) by 3 m (9ft) at a fast rate.The leaves are stalked, with the stalk curved, shorter than the blade, which is divided into five lobes, of which the middle one is the longest – all five are slightly angular.

The flowers, which bloom in May, are small, greenish, and produced, generally three or four together, in small bunches springing from the axils of the leaves. Stamens and pistils are never found in the same flower, nor are the flowers which have them individually ever met with on the same plant in this species, whence the name dioica, signifying literally ‘two dwellings.’ The male flowers are in loose, stalked bunches, 3 to 8 flowers in a bunch, or cyme, the stamens having one-celled, yellow anthers. The fertile flowers, easily distinguished from the barren by the presence of an ovary beneath the calyx, are generally either stalkless (sessile) or with very short stalks – two to five together. The corollas in each case consist of five petals, cohering only at the base. The outer green calyx is widely bell-shaped and five-toothed.

The berries, which hang about the bushes after the stem and leaves are withered, are almost the size of peas when ripe, a pale scarlet in colour. They are filled with juice of an unpleasant, foetid odour and contain three to six large seeds, greyish-yellow, mottled with black, and are unwholesome to eat....CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES

The whole plant is rather succulent, bright green and somewhat shining.

It is in flower from May to June. The flowers are dioecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but only one sex is to be found on any one plant so both male and female plants must be grown if seed is required) and are pollinated by Bees.The plant is not self-fertile.

The plant, Bryonia dioicais is sometimes used in herbalism. The root, which can be 75 cm (30 in) long and 75 mm (3.0 in) thick, can be used fresh at any time of the year. It can also be harvested in the autumn and be dried for later use.

Cultivation:
A rapid grower, it is of easy cultivation succeeding in most soils that are well drained, avoiding acid soils in the wild. Prefers a sunny position. A very deep-rooted climbing plant, attaching itself to other plants by means of tendrils. The plant is not eaten by rabbits. Plants can be easily encouraged by scattering ripe seed along the base of hedgerows. Dioecious, male and female plants must be grown if seed is required.

Propagation:  Seed – best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame. Sow stored seed in late winter in a cold frame. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter, planting them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Division in early spring.

Edible Uses: Young shoots – must be cooked . They are eaten in spring. Caution is advised in the use of this plant, see the notes above regarding toxicity.
Medicinal Uses:
Cathartic; Cytotoxic; Diaphoretic; Expectorant; Hydrogogue; Irritant; Pectoral; Purgative; Vermifuge.

A powerful cathartic and purgative, bryony is used with great caution in present-day herbalism. It is primarily prescribed for painful rheumatic conditions. The root is cathartic, cytotoxic, diaphoretic, expectorant, hydrogogue, irritant, pectoral, purgative and vermifuge. It is used in small quantities internally in the treatment of various inflammatory conditions, bronchial complaints, asthma, intestinal ulcers, hypertension and arthritis. Externally, it is applied as a rubefacient to muscular and joint pains and pleurisy. The root, which can be 75cm long and 75mm thick, can be used fresh at any time of the year, it can also be harvested in the autumn and be dried for later use. This plant should be used with great caution and only under the supervision of a qualified practitioner.  The whole herb has an antiviral effec

Known Hazards: All parts of the plant are poisonous. One report says it is very toxic, another says it is of very low toxicity. The fresh root is a severe skin irritant.
Resources:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bryonia_dioica
http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/b/brywhi77.html
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Bryonia+dioica

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Herbs & Plants

Tamus communis

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Botanical Name:  Tamus communis
Family: Dioscoreaceae
Genus: Dioscorea
Species: D. communis
Kingdom:    Plantae
Order: Dioscoreales

Synonyms:
*Dioscorea communis
*Tamus cretica L.
*Tamus racemosa Gouan
*Smilax rubra Willd.
*Tamus cordifolia Stokes
*Tamus edulis Lowe
*Tamus norsa Lowe
*Dioscorea canariensis Webb & Berthel.
*Tamus canariensis Willd. ex Kunth
*Tamus parviflora Kunth
*Tamus baccifera St.-Lag.
*Tamus cirrhosa Hausskn. ex Bornm.

Common Names:  Black bryony, Lady’s-seal, and Black bindweed

Habitat: Tamus communis  is a native spontaneous species widespread throughout southern and central Europe, northwest Africa and western Asia, from Ireland to the Canary Islands, east to Iran and Crimea. It  is a typical plant of the forest understory, from the sea to the mountains, usually in dense woods, but it can also be found in meadows and hedges.

Description:
Tamus communis is a climbing perennial  herbaceous plant growing to 2–4 m tall, with twining stems. The leaves are spirally arranged, heart-shaped, up to 10 cm long and 8 cm broad, with a petiole up to 5 cm long. It is dioecious, with separate male and female plants. The flowers are individually inconspicuous, greenish-yellow, 3–6 mm diameter, with six petals; the male flowers produced in slender 5–10 cm racemes, the female flowers in shorter clusters. The fruit is a bright red berry, 1 cm diameter. Its fairly large tuber is, like the rest of the plant, poisonous. The large, fleshy root is black on the outside and exceedingly acrid, and, although an old cathartic medicine, is a most dangerous remedy when taken internally. It is like that of the yam, thick and tuberous and abounding in starch, but too acrid to be used as food in any manner……..CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES

Cultivation:    
Requires a moist well-drained fertile soil. A climbing plant, the weak stems support themselves by twining around other plants and are capable of growing quite high up into shrubs and trees. Dioecious. Male and female plants must be grown if seed is required.

Propagation:  
Seed – sow in a cold frame in early spring or as soon as the seed is ripe in the autumn. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots once they are large enough to handle, and plant out in the summer or in late spring of the following year.

Edible Uses: Young shoots  are cooked & eaten. A decidedly bitter flavour. An asparagus substitute, it is best if the water is changed once whilst cooking.

Constituents:  The rhizome contains phenanthrenes (7-hydroxy-2,3,4,8-tetramethoxyphenanthrene, 2,3,4-trimethoxy-7,8-methylenedioxyphenanthrene, 3-hydroxy-2,4,-dimethoxy-7,8-methylenedioxyphenanthrene, 2-hydroxy-3,5,7-trimethoxyphenanthrene and 2-hydroxy-3,5,7-trimethoxy-9,10-dihydrophenanthrene).

Medicinal Uses:
Antiecchymotic;  Antirheumatic;  Cathartic;  Diuretic;  Emetic;  Haemolytic;  Poultice;  Rubefacient.

Rubifacient, diuretic. The expressed juice of the fresh root, mixed with a little white wine, has been used as a remedy for gravel, being a powerful diuretic, but it is not given internally now, and is not included in the British Pharmacopoeia. Death in most painful form is the result of an overdose, while the effect of a small quantity, varying not with the age only, but according to the idiosyncrasies of the patient, leaves little room for determining the limit between safety and destruction. The expressed juice of the root, with honey, has also been used as a remedy for asthmatic complaints, but other remedies that are safer should be preferred.

The berries act as an emetic, and children should be cautioned against eating them.

As an external irritant, Black Bryony has, however, been used with advantage, and it was formerly much employed. The scraped pulp was applied as a stimulating plaster, and in gout, rheumatism and paralysis has been found serviceable in many instances.

A tincture made from the root proves a most useful application to unbroken chilblains, and also the fruits, steeped in gin, are used for the same remedy.

Black Bryony is a popular remedy for removing discoloration caused by bruises and black eyes, etc. The fresh root is scraped to a pulp and applied in the form of a poultice.

For sores, old writers recommend it being made into an ointment with ‘hog’s grease or wax, or other convenient ointment.’

Known Hazards:    The whole plant is poisonous due to its saponin content. Although toxic, saponins are very poorly absorbed by the body and so tend to pass through without causing harm. They are also broken down by thorough cooking. Saponins are found in many plants, including several that are often used for food, such as certain beans. It is advisable not to eat large quantities of food that contain saponins. Saponins are much more toxic to some creatures, such as fish, and hunting tribes have traditionally put large quantities of them in streams, lakes etc in order to stupefy or kill the fish. The toxic effect of this plant is not caused by saponins, but by calcium oxalate crystals which are found mainly in the fruit.

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.

Resources:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dioscorea_communis
http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/b/brybla75.html
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Tamus+communis

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Herbs & Plants

Turnera diffusa

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Botanical Name :Turnera diffusa
Family: Passifloraceae
Genus: Turnera
Species: T. diffusa
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Malpighiales

Synonym:Turnera diffusa aphrodisiaca

Common Name:Damiana

Habitat :Turnera diffusa is native to southwestern Texas in the United States,  Central America, Mexico, South America, and the Caribbean

Description:
Turnera diffusa is a relatively small shrub that produces small, aromatic flowers. It blossoms in early to late summer and is followed by fruits that taste similar to figs. The shrub is said to have a strong spice-like odor somewhat like chamomile, due to the essential oils present in the plant. The leaves have traditionally been made into a tea and an incense which was used by native people of Central and South America for its relaxing effects. Spanish missionaries first recorded that the Mexican Indians drank Damiana tea mixed with sugar for use as an aphrodisiac

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Cultivation:   
Requires a dry soil in a warm sunny sheltered position. One report says that this species is hardy to about -5°c, though this needs to be treated with some caution considering its native range is entirely tropical. It is possible that, whilst the plant will be cut back to the ground by cold weather, the rootstock is hardier and will re-sprout in the spring. It will certainly be worthwhile trying the plant outdoors and giving the roots a thick protective mulch in the autumn.

Propagation:  
Seed – sow spring in a greenhouse. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots once they are large enough to handle and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in early summer and give some protection from winter cold for at least their first winter outdoors. Division in spring or autumn. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, July/August in a frame. Overwinter the young plants in a greenhouse and plant them out in early summer.

Constituents:  leaves: greenish volatile oil consisting of cineole, p-cymene, alpha- and beta-pinene, thymol, alpha-copaene, and calamene. the dry matter of the leaf includes damianin as well as tannins, flavonoids, beta-sitosterol, and the glycosides gonzalitosin, arbu

Medicinal Uses: * Aphrodisiac * Libido * Prostate
Properties: * Aphrodisiac * Astringent * Bitter * Nervine * Stimulant * Tonic
Parts Used: Leaf

Turnera diffusa has long been claimed to have a stimulating effect on libido, and its use as an aphrodisiac has continued into modern times. More recently, some corroborating scientific evidence in support of its long history of use has emerged. Several animal testing studies have shown evidence of increased sexual activity in rats of both sexes. Damiana has been shown to be particularly stimulating for sexually exhausted or impotent male rats as well as generally increased sexual activity in rats of both sexes. It has also been shown that damiana may function as an aromatase inhibitor, which has been suggested as a possible method of action for its reputed effects.

Turnera diffusa might be effective as an anxiolytic.

Turnera diffusa is an ingredient in a traditional Mexican liqueur, which is sometimes used in lieu of Triple Sec in margaritas. Mexican folklore claims that it was used in the “original” margarita. The damiana margarita is popular in the Los Cabos region of Mexico.

Turnera diffusa was included in several 19th century patent medicines, such as Pemberton’s French Wine Coca. The leaves were omitted from that product’s non-alcoholic counterpart, Coca-Cola.

Turnera diffusa is used primarily as an aphrodisiac for both sexes 1, and as a stimulant that can boost mental focus and stamina.

The health benefits of damiana are for the most part only verified by folklore and long observation, not by scientific study, however chemical analysis shows that damiana contains alkaloids similar to caffeine that have stimulating and aphrodisiac effects, stimulating blood flow to the genital area and increasing sensitivity. Some people report feelings of mild euphoria. Damiana is often combined with saw palmetto in formulas that address male prostate health.

Known Hazards :  Tetanus-like rigidity and genitourinary irritation in one patient. Possible hallucinations. May affect the control of blood sugar in diabetic patients

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

Resources:
http://www.anniesremedy.com/herb_detail201.php
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turnera_diffusa
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Turnera+diffusa+aphrodisiaca

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