Herbs & Plants

Dioscorea communis

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

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

Habitat: Dioscorea 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.

It is a climbing 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….:

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Edible Uses:
Young shoots are edible and can be used as asparagus substitute, and are usually picked in spring. Top of the shoots and sturdy, meaty parts of staple are used for eating, and the flabby parts are discarded by snapping them off. Young shoots may be eaten raw, but they are usually cooked in hot water for various salads or used in omelette.

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:
According to secondary sources, all components of the black bryony plant, including the tubers, are poisonous due to saponin content. Therefore, it is not typically used internally; however, it has been used as a poultice for bruises and inflamed joints. It has been suggested that black bryony be used topically with caution, due to a tendency for the plant to cause painful blisters.

Known Hazards:  Studies have isolated calcium oxalate deposits and histamines in the berry juice and rhizomes, which may contribute to skin irritation and contact dermatitis associated with black bryony.
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.


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Veg ‘Prevents Artery Hardening’

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Eating vegetables may prevent hardening of the arteries, research suggests.

Different coloured veg contain different minerals

.US researchers found 38% less build up of fatty deposits in the arteries of mice who were fed a mixture of vegetables, including carrots and peas.

Evidence on the effects of diet on atherosclerosis in humans is not clear but eating fruit and vegetables is known to protect against heart disease.

The study in the Journal of Nutrition said the average person only eats three portions of fruit and veg a day.

The researchers from the Wake Forest University School of Medicine assessed the effect of diet on heart disease by studying mice that had been specially bred to rapidly develop atherosclerosis – the formation of fatty plaques in the arteries which can eventually block blood flow leading to heart attacks and strokes.

“While everyone knows that eating more vegetables is supposed to be good for you, no-one had shown before that it can actually inhibit the development of atherosclerosis” Says Dr Michael Adams, lead researcher

Half the mice were fed a vegetable-free diet and half the mice were fed a diet which included broccoli, green beans, corn, peas and carrots.

After 16 weeks, researchers measured cholesterol content in the blood vessels and estimated that plaques in the arteries of the mice were 38% smaller.

Although there was also a reduction in total cholesterol and body weight in mice fed the vegetable-rich diet, analysis showed that this could not explain the reduction in atherosclerosis.

Lead researcher Dr Michael Adams said: “While everyone knows that eating more vegetables is supposed to be good for you, no-one had shown before that it can actually inhibit the development of atherosclerosis.”

He added that there was a 37% reduction in serum amyloid – a marker of inflammation in mice – suggesting that vegetable consumption may inhibit inflammatory activity

“Although the pathways involved remain uncertain, the results indicate that a diet rich in green and yellow vegetables inhibits the development of hardening of the arteries and may reduce the risk of heart disease,” he said.

“It is well known that atherosclerosis progression is intimately linked with inflammation in the arteries.”

Dr Adrian Brady, consultant cardiologist at Glasgow Royal Infirmary, said: “It’s an interesting study and it is encouraging. There is a public health message that dietary interventions are helpful.

“And now this animal model shows maybe there is long-term dietary involvement that could lead to less plaques.”

He added more work was needed to look at the development of plaques and confirm the protective effect of eating fruit and veg.

Dr Charmaine Griffiths, spokesperson for the British Heart Foundation, said: “This study supports the recommendation of eating at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day.

“Different coloured fruit and vegetables contain different vitamins and minerals, so the more types of fruit and vegetables you can include in your diet the better.”

Sources:BBC NEWS:18th.June,’08

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Healthy Tips News on Health & Science

Juice ‘Prevents Clogged Arteries’

Juices made from apples or purple grapes – and the fruit themselves – protect against developing clogged arteries, a study suggests.

Juice made from purple grapes had the most beneficial effect

Researchers fed hamsters the fruit and juice or water, plus a fatty diet.

The animals who were fed grape juice had the lowest risk of developing artery problems, Molecular Nutrition and Food Research reports.

The University of Montpellier team said the juice’s benefits came from its high levels of phenols – an antioxidant.

Antioxidants in various foods have been regularly cited as being beneficial to heart health.

The French team looked at how juicing affected the phenol content of fruit – because most studies look at raw fruit.

Four glasses a day

They then looked at how being fed various kinds of fruit affected the hamsters’ risk of atherosclerosis – the build-up of fatty plaque deposits in the arteries that can lead to heart attacks or strokes.

The amount of fruit the hamsters consumed was equivalent to three apples or three bunches of grapes daily for a human.

Hamsters given juice drank the equivalent of four glasses daily for a person weighing 70 kilograms (154 pounds).

The apples and grapes had about the same phenol content, while the purple grape juice had 2.5 times more phenols than apple juice.

Compared with animals given water, those given fruit or fruit juice had lower cholesterol levels, less oxidative stress, and less fat accumulation in their aorta, the main vessel supplying oxygenated blood to the body.

Purple grape juice had the strongest effect, followed by purple grapes, apple juice and apples.

The researchers say their findings suggest the amount of phenols contained in a food have a direct effect on its antioxidant properties.

Other antioxidant compounds in the fruits, such as vitamin C and carotenoids, could also contribute to their effects, they added.

The team, led by Kelly Decorde, said their findings “provide encouragement that fruit and fruit juices may have a significant clinical and public health relevance.”

A British nutritionist said: “High levels of antioxidants are recognised as being good for you.”

You may also click to see:->Beetroot ‘May Cut Blood Pressure’

Apple juice ‘may prevent asthma’
Berry juice may be a heart tonic

Molecular Nutrition and Food Research April ’08

Sources: BBC NEWS:MAY 16, ’08

Herbs & Plants


Lawsonia inermis
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Botanical Name : Lawsonia inermis
Family: Lythraceae
Genus: Lawsonia
Species: L. inermis
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Myrtales

Common Names:  Hina, The henna tree, The mignonette tree, and The Egyptian privet

Vernacular Name: Sans: Madayantika; Hind: Mehendi; Eng : Henna

Habitat :  Henna  is native to  northern Africa, southwestern Asia. It grows on the  hot &  semi-arid regions.
Henna is a tall shrub or small tree, standing 1.8 to 7.6 m (5 ft 10 in to 24 ft 10 in) tall. It is glabrous and multi-branched, with spine-tipped branchlets. The leaves grow opposite each other on the stem and are glabrous, sub-sessile, elliptical, and lanceolate (long and wider in the middle; average dimensions are 1.5–5.0 cm x 0.5–2 cm or 0.6–2 in x 0.2–0.8 in), acuminate (tapering to a long point), and have depressed veins on the dorsal surface.[2] Henna flowers have four sepals and a 2 mm (0.079 in) calyx tube, with 3 mm (0.12 in) spread lobes. Its petals are obvate, with white or red stamens found in pairs on the rim of the calyx tube. The ovary is four-celled, 5 mm (0.20 in) long, and erect. Henna fruits are small, brownish capsules, 4–8 mm (0.16–0.31 in) in diameter, with 32–49 seeds per fruit, and open irregularly into four splits.

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Henna has been in use for centuries in various parts of world. Even as far back as 5000 years ago. Henna was used for coloring the hair and nails of Mummies. Henna was introduced in India during the 12th century by the Mughals. It was most popular among the Rajputs of Mewar. The ladies especially, applied henna on their hands and feet in artistic decorative patterns to beautify themselves. From years to come, it became a tradition to use henna on auspicious days and functions, particularly for weddings, the use of henna to adorn hands and feet became customary.It is a natural product, grown in form of a small plant, of size 3.5 ft to 5 ft. Henna leaves are green in color but its coloring effect is brownish reddish. Its leaves are small. Henna is well known for its natural values, coloring effect and sweet pleasant fragrance.Henna is found in very few countries in world, India is one of the largest producer of henna. Indian henna is of best quality in world.

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Henna is the name given to the dried and powdered leaves of lawsonia inermis, a plant that grows in Egypt, India and parts of the Middle East. For thousands of years it has been used as a colorant to stain human hair, nails or skin a bright fire-engine red color. In literature, this orange-red color is often referred to as “henna red”. The ancients combined henna with other natural colorants like indigo, iron oxide or lead salts in order to produce brown and black colors. The Old Testament describes Solomon as using henna and indigo to stain his beard.

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This herbal preparation is made with the choicest of herbs and Henna leaves. It can be used for hair conditioning as well as for dyeing, grey hair to natural brown. Its rare herbal ingredients add health to your hair, each time you apply it on your hair.

It can also be used for hand and feet decoration.

CULTIVATION:  The henna plant is native to northern Africa, western and southern Asia, and northern Australasia, in semi-arid zones and tropical areas. It produces the most dye when grown in temperatures between 35 and 45 °C (95 and 113 °F). During the onset of precipitation intervals, the plant grows rapidly, putting out new shoots. Growth subsequently slows. The leaves gradually yellow and fall during prolonged dry or cool intervals. It does not thrive where minimum temperatures are below 11 °C (52 °F). Temperatures below 5 °C (41 °F) will kill the henna plant.

Today people still use henna to color their hair. It is a natural coloring agent without the potential health hazards posed by the synthetic coal tar derivatives, many of which are potentially carcinogenic.

Furthermore, a henna treatment leaves the hair excellently conditioned, with added body and superb shine.

When using henna, the following procedure is used. The henna powder is first mixed with water to the consistency of a thick paste. This paste is then applied to the hair wherever coloration is desired. The longer this “henna pack” is left on the hair the more color is transferred. Heat can be used to further fasten the coloring. When the desired color is achieved, the henna paste is removed by washing and the process is complete.

Henna is one of the oldest cosmetics known, used as a dye to stain nails, hands, feet and hair. The art of staining patterns onto the skin is known as mehndi.

The dye is produced by mixing ground henna leaves with water, although tea leaves, indigo leaves, ground coffee beans or lemon juice are sometimes added to deepen the stain.

Among other compounds, the dying properties of henna have been attributed mainly to a compound called lawsone, which is found in the leaves (about 1% lawsone). Lawsone can bind to some proteins, such as keratin found in hair, which is why it is an effective dye for the body.

Other plants, such as indigo or the seed of the betel nut palm, may also be mixed with henna to change the shade of the dye. A combination of henna and indigo creates a black dye for hair.

Henna is also often used in cosmetic products as a hair conditioner and other preparations have included it for its reputed astringent, anti-dandruff and nail strengthening effects. Lawsone has also been used as a sunscreen.

Essential oil obtained from the flowers (mehndi oil) is used in Asian perfumery. In Pakistan, henna flowers are strewn upon oil seeds and are left in the sun for a few days, then old flowers are replaced by fresh, so the oil seeds eventually become permeated with the fragrance of henna flowers. This oil is used for grooming hair and is massaged onto the face and body as it is thought to improve the complexion and relieve aching muscles.

Mix henna in enough boiling water to make a paste. Use an iron vessel to bring out the colour, keep mixture in vessel overnight. Use next morning.
Take a tablespoon of coffee and make a thick decocation.Mix decocation with henna powder; add water to make a paste. Apply after twenty minutes.
Take 2 teaspoon of tea and make a decoration. Add a teaspoon of Methi powder to the boiling tea decocation. Mix decocation with henna powder to make a paste. Allow to settle for thirty minutes to one hour. Just before using add juice to one lime of the paste.

Take the juice of two beatroots, henna powder, 6 to 8 hibiscus flowers and boil for twenty minutes. Allow it to stand for thirty minutes before use, Add a teaspoon of vinegar.

Mix henna into a paste with a cup of curd and water. Add a teaspoon of methi powder and an egg or table spoon of proteinex powder. Mix well and apply on Hair for the thirty minutes.

As per Ayurveda:-
It is iaghu, ruksha, kashaya, tikta and sheetala; pacifies deranged kapha and pitta; beneficial in skin disease, fever, pruritus, burning sensation, haemorrhagic diseases, jaundice, blood dysentery, heart disease, dysuria, vertigo and ulcer.

Parts Used: Whole plant, seeds, flowers, leaves and bark.

Therapeutic Uses:

Whole plant: in headache and muscle pain:

Seeds’ efficacious in leucorrhoea, menorrhagia and vaginal discharges; infusion ( also flowers) used in bruises and to cure headache;flowers: refrigerant and soporific
Leaves: given in leucorrhoea, menorrhagia and externally in headache; paste (with vinegar or lime juice) applied as poultice over the soles to relieve the troublesome burning sensation of the feet; (with water) in rheumatism;

Decoction is astringent and burns, bruises, inflammation and sprains; used as gargle in cases of ulcer in the mouth; juice mixed with milk prescribed in spermatorrhoea;

An ointment from the leaves useful as a cure of wounds and ulcers; root-bark: alterative, astringent and sedative; infusion given in calculous affections, enlargement of the liver and spleen, jaundice and skin diseases

The leaves are bitter, astringent, acrid, refrigerant vulnerary, diuretic, emetic, expectorant, anodyne, anti-inflammatory, constipating, depurative, liver tonic, haematinic, styptic, febrifuge and trichogenous.

They are useful in wounds, ulcers, strangury,cough, bronchitis, vitiated conditions of kapha and pitta, burning sensation, cephalalgia, hemi_rania, lumbago, rheumatalgia, inflammations, diarrhoea, dysentery, leprosy, leucoderma, scabies, boils, hepatopathy, splenopathy, anaemia, haemorrhages, haemoptysis, fever, ophthalmia, amenorrhoea, dysmenorrhoea, falling of hair, greyness of hair and jaundice.

The flowers are intellect promoting, cardiotonic, refrigerant, soporific, febrifuge and tonic. They are useful in cephalalgia, burning sensation, cardiopathy, amentia, insomnia, and fever.

The roots are bitter, refrigerant, depurative, diuretic, emmenagogue, ,abortifacient and trichogenous, and are useful in burning sensation, dipsia, leprosy, skin diseases, strangury, amenorrhoea, dysmenorrhoea, and premature greying of hair.

Used mainly within Ayurviedic and Unani medicine.  The fruits have been thought to stimulate the menstrual function.  In powdered form, the leaves have been utilized both internally and externally to treat various skin diseases, including leprosy, fungal infections, acne and boils.  In Arabic medicine the powder was employed in the treatment of jaundice, though there it is unlikely the henna benefited the patient at all. In India the leaves were made into an astringent gargle.  An infusion or decoction of the leaves is used for diarrhea and dysentery.

Extracts of henna leaves have been shown to act in a manner similar to ergot with respect to inducing uterine contractions.  So it’s possible that extracts of the plant could induce menstruation and be effective emmanagogues.  The topical application of two chemical components of this shrub, lawsone and dihydroxyacetone, has been reported ultraviolet light for people with chlorpromazine-induced light sensitivity.  Experimentally, a water extract of the leaves inhibited gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria.  Antitumor activity in experiments with mice tends to support folkloric uses of henna as an anticancer agent.

Resource: and

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