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Polypodiurn vulgare

Botanical Name :  Polypodiurn vulgare
Family: Polypodiaceae
Genus: Polypodium
Species: P. vulgare
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Pteridophyta
Class: Polypodiopsida /Pteridopsida (disputed)
Order: Polypodiales

Synonyms: Polypody of the Oak. Wall Fern. Brake Root. Rock Brake. Rock of Polypody. Oak Fern.

Common Name :common polypody

Habitat :The common polypody is very common in France, where it is found up to an altitude of 2,000 metres (6,600 ft). It is also quite common in Scandinavia and Carpathian Mountains. It is present but less commonly found around the Mediterranean region.
It is an introduced species in New Zealand, that has begun to spread into the wild as an invasive species. It grows on Rocks, walls and trees, as well as on the ground, in a variety of habitats but especially in humid shady conditions.

Description:

Polypodium vulgare is an evergreen fern developing in isolation from along a horizontal rhizome. The fronds with triangular leaflets measure 10 to 50 centimetres.
It is hardy to zone 3. It is in leaf 12-Jan.

They are divided all the way back to the central stem in 10 to 18 pairs of segments or leaflets.

The leaflets become much shorter at the end of the frond. The leaflets are generally whole or slightly denticulated and somewhat wider at their base, where they often touch each other. They have an alternating arrangement, those on one side being slightly offset from those on the other side. The petioles have no scales.

The sori are found on the lower side of the fronds and range in colour from bright yellow to orange. They became dark grey at maturity.

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*Period of sporulation: July to September.
*Mode of dissemination: anemochory (wind dispersal).

P. vulgare is an allotetraploid species of hybrid origin, its parents being the diploids Polypodium appalachianum and Polypodium glycyrrhiza.

Cultivation:
Easily grown in most light soils. Prefers a soil of leaf mould and a cool but not too moist clay. Prefers a cool damp shady position. Thrives in dry shade. Established plants are drought tolerant. They grow well on drystone walls. Plants often grow as epiphytes. Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer. A rather variable plant, it is considered to be an aggregate species of several very similar species. Only the roots should be planted, the rhizome being fixed to the surface of the soil.

Propagation:                                            
Spores – best sown as soon as they are ripe, though they can also be sown in the spring. Sow them on the surface of a humus-rich sterilized soil. Keep the compost moist, preferably by putting a plastic bag over the pot. Pot on small clumps of plantlets as soon as they are large enough to handle and keep humid until they are well established. Do not plant outside until the ferns are at least 2 years old and then only in a very well sheltered position. Division. This is best done in the spring but it succeeds at most times of the year

Edible Uses:     
Edible Parts: Root.

Root. Very sweet, it contains sugars, tannin and oils. It is used as a liquorice adulterant. The root has a unique, rather unpleasant odour and a sweet (cloying) flavour at first though it quickly becomes nauseating. The root contains 15.5% saccharose and 4.2% glucose.

Medicinal Uses:
Part Used Medicinally : The root, which is in perfection in October and November, though it may be collected until February. It is used both fresh and dried, and the leaves are also sometimes used.

Polypody stimulates bile secretion and is a gentle laxative. In European herbal medicine it is traditionally used as a treatment for hepatitis and jaundice and as a remedy for indigestion and loss of appetite. It should not be used externally since it can cause skin rashes. The root is alterative, anthelmintic, cholagogue, demulcent, diuretic, expectorant, pectoral, purgative, tonic. It can be used either fresh or dried and is best harvested in October or November, though it can be collected until February. The leaves can also be used but are less active. A tea made from the roots is used in the treatment of pleurisy, hives, sore throats and stomach aches and as a mild laxative for children. It was also considered of value for lung ailments and liver diseases. The poulticed root is applied to inflammations. A tea or syrup of the whole plant is anthelmintic.

Other Uses:  
Insecticide;  Potash.
Plants can be grown as a ground cover in a shady position. They form a spreading carpet and are best spaced about 30cm apart each way. The ash of burnt leaves is rich in carbonate of potash

Known Hazards :  Although we have found no reports of toxicity for this species, a number of ferns contain carcinogens so some caution is advisable[200]. Many ferns also contain thiaminase, an enzyme that robs the body of its vitamin B complex. In small quantities this enzyme will do no harm to people eating an adequate diet that is rich in vitamin B, though large quantities can cause severe health problems. The enzyme is destroyed by heat or thorough drying, so cooking the plant will remove the thiaminase.

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.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/f/ferns-08.html#lad
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Polypodium+vulgare
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polypodium_vulgare

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Scolopendrium vulgare

Botanical Name : Scolopendrium vulgare
Family: Aspleniaceae
Genus: Asplenium
Species: A. scolopendrium
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Pteridophyta
Class: Polypodiopsida
Order: Polypodiales

Synonyms:Phyllitis scolopendrium, Asplenium scolopendrium, .

Common Names :  Hart’s Tongue,Hart’s-tongue fern, Hind’s Tongue. Buttonhole. Horse Tongue. God’s-hair. Lingua cervina(its name refers to the shape of its fronds.)

Habitat : Scolopendrium vulgare is a common species in Europe, but in North America occurs as rare, widely scattered populations that have been given varietal status, A. scolopendrium var. americanum. Morphological differences are minor, but the North American populations are tetraploid, whereas those occurring in Europe are diploid.The plants grow on neutral and lime-rich substrates, including moist soil and damp crevices in old walls, most commonly in shaded situations but occasionally in full sun; plants in full sun are usually stunted and yellowish in colour, while those in full shade are dark green and luxuriant.

Description:
The plants are unusual in being ferns with simple, undivided fronds. The tongue-shaped leaves have given rise to the common name “Hart’s tongue fern”; a hart being an adult male red deer. The sori pattern is reminiscent of a centipede’s legs, and scolopendrium is Latin for “centipede”. The leaves are 10–60 cm long and 3–6 cm broad, with sori arranged in rows perpendicular to the rachis.The sori are in twin oblique lines, on each side of the midrib, covered by what looks like a single indusium, but really is two, one arranged partially over the other.
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In the early stages of its growth, the folding over of the indusium can be clearly seen through a lens. The fronds are stalked and the root, tufted, short and stout. This fern is evergreen and easy of cultivation.

Cultivation:  Moist banks and walls, rocks in damp shady places in woodlands, often on lime-rich soils.

Propagation: Spores – best sown as soon as they are ripe on the surface of a humus-rich sterilized soil. Keep the compost moist, preferably by putting a plastic bag over the pot. The spores usually germinate in the spring. Spring sown spores germinate in 1 – 3 months at 15°C. Pot on small clumps of plantlets as soon as they are large enough to handle and grow them on in light shade in a greenhouse. Keep the plants humid until they are well established. Once the plants are 15cm or more tall, plant them out into their permanent positions in the spring. Division in spring. Leaf bases – dig up the plant and wash off the soil until the old caudex covered with “dead” leaf bases can be clearly seen. Strip off these bases individually by peeling them down the caudex. At the point of attachment they will be green. Young plants can be raised by planting these leaf bases, green tip up, in a pot of loam-based compost and enclosing the pot in a plastic bag. Within one month green swellings will appear around the original point of attachment to the caudex, each of these will develop quite quickly into a young fern. It takes 3 months in summer but longer in winter.

Medicinal Uses:
This fern was recommended as a medicinal plant in folk medicine as a spleen tonic and for other uses.The fronds are astringent, cholagogue, diaphoretic, diuretic, expectorant, vulnerary. Externally it is used as an ointment in the treatment of piles, burns and scalds. An infusion is taken internally for the treatment of diarrhoea, dysentery, gravelly deposits of the bladder and for removing obstructions of the liver and spleen. The fronds are harvested during the summer and can be dried for later use.

Other Uses:Scolopendrium vulgare is often grown as an ornamental plant, with several cultivars selected with varying frond form, including with frilled frond margins, forked fronds and cristate forms.A good ground cover plant for shady positions, so long as it is planted no more than 30cm apart each way. Plants form a slowly spreading clump. A decoction of the fronds is used cosmetically as a hair wash to counteract greasy skin and also as a face pack for delicate skin.

Known Hazards:  Although we have found no reports of toxicity for this species, a number of ferns contain carcinogens so some caution is advisable. Many ferns also contain thiaminase, an enzyme that robs the body of its vitamin B complex. In small quantities this enzyme will do no harm to people eating an adequate diet that is rich in vitamin B, though large quantities can cause severe health problems. The enzyme is destroyed by heat or thorough drying, so cooking the plant will remove the thiaminase.

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.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/f/ferns-08.html#lad
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scolopendrium_vulgare
http://www.naturalmedicinalherbs.net/herbs/a/asplenium-scolopendrium=hart’s-tongue-fern.php

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Bai Zhu

Botanical Name :Atractylodes macrocephala
Family: Asteraceae
Tribe: Cynareae
Genus: Atractylodes
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Asterales

Parts Used : The rhizomes are collected in November when the lower leaves begin withering. They are stripped of the small roots and sun-dried or heat-dried.

Common Name : Bai Zhu

Habitats: E. Asia – China, Japan and Korea.   Pastures and waste ground. Grassland and forests at elevations of 600 – 2800 metres.

Descriptiopn :
Bai Zhu  is a  Perennial herbaceous plant, 40-60 cm. high. Stems cylindrical, much-branched in the upper part. Leaves alternate, toothed, the lower 3-lobed with long petiole, the upper entire, short-petioled. Inflorescence in terminal head; flowers small, lilac, all tubulous. Achene globose, with a coma of hairs.
It is hardy to zone 6. It is in flower from Jul to August, and the seeds ripen from Aug to September. 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)
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The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and requires well-drained soil.The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils..It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade.It requires moist

Cultivation :
Succeeds in any well-drained soil in sun or partial shade. This species is probably hardy in most of Britain, it tolerates temperatures down to at least -15°c. Widely cultivated in China for its use as a medicinal herb. This species is dioecious. Both male and female plants need to be grown if seed is required.

Propagation :
Seed – sow spring in a cold frame and only just cover the seed. Prick out the seedlings when they are large enough to handle and plant them out into their permanent positions in the following spring or early summer.

Chemical composition: The rhizomes contain essential oil 1.5%, atractylol, atractylon; glucoside, inulin, vitamin A, potassium atractylate.

Medicinal Uses:
Antibacterial;  DiureticSedativeStomachic;  Tonic.

Bai Zhu is widely used in traditional Chinese medicine. The root contains an essential oil, glucoside and inulin. It is a bitter-sweet tonic herb that acts mainly upon the digestive system and strengthens the spleen. The root is antibacterial, diuretic, hypoglycaemic, sedative, stomachic and tonic. It is used in the treatment of poor appetite, dyspepsia, abdominal distension, chronic diarrhoea, oedema and spontaneous sweating. It is often used in conjunction with other herbs such as Codonopsis tangshen and Glycyrrhiza uralensis. Combined with Baical skullcap (Scutellaria baicalensis) it is used to prevent miscarriage. The roots are harvested in the autumn and baked for use in tonics

It has traditionally been used as a tonic for the digestive system, building qi and strengthening the spleen.  The rhizome has a sweet, pungent taste, and is used to relieve fluid retention, excessive sweating, and digestive problems such as diarrhea and vomiting.  It is also used in the treatment of poor appetite, dyspepsia, abdominal distension, and edema. It is often used in conjunction with other herbs such as Codonopsis tangshen and Glycyrrhiza uralensis. Combined with Baical skullcap (Scutellaria baicalensis) it is used to prevent miscarriage.

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.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_AB.htm
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Atractylodes+macrocephala
http://sulwhasoo-sulwhasoo.blogspot.com/2010/12/update-history-of-whoo-chung-line.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atractylodes

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Some Health Quaries & Answers

Popping antibiotics for diarrhoea
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Q: My eight-year-old son has frequent attacks of diarrhoea. The doctor always prescribes antibiotics. Are so many antibiotics needed?

A: Children often develop diarrhoea when they go to school. They may be sharing food with other children. They may run out of water and drink unhygienic water from any source they find. They may have a little money with them and buy eatables from roadside eateries.

The diarrhoea and vomiting may be due to food poisoning or a viral infection. It may not be an infective bacterial diarrhoea that requires and responds to antibiotics.

Before going to the doctor, try some home remedies. Stop all milk, sugar and wheat. Take equal quantities of rice and dal in a pressure cooker and cook it well. Mash it and feed it to your son, two teaspoons at a time every 10 minutes. If the vomiting and diarrhoea persist, or if he has not passed urine for eight hours, please go to the doctor. Otherwise this may be all the treatment he requires.

Too many pills
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Q: Whenever anyone in the family has fever, our doctor prescribes two to three antibiotics. Is this normal?

A: A combination of two antibiotics may be prescribed for a life threatening infection, where a blood culture has grown more than one organism. This may be the case in individuals whose immunity is insufficient — as in cancer patients or those infected with the HIV virus. Most people need only a single appropriate antibiotic in adequate dosage and duration.

If you develop fever, wait for three days. Take paracetamol when the temperature rises above 100.5 degree F. If the fever persists consult your doctor, but ask for a diagnosis before taking any medication. Also, maintain a file with dates, diagnoses and a list of prescribed medications.

Chest pain
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Q: I am 22 years old and have pain on the left side of my chest. It appears with exercise. I am scared I might have a heart attack.

A: At the age of 22, the chest pain you are experiencing is unlikely to be a heart attack, but stranger things have been known to occur. Take a plain X-ray of the chest as well as an ECG, treadmill and echo. The results are likely to be normal, but the tests will help put your mind at ease.

Chest pain can occur in a localised area of the chest wall owing to fibromyalgia or costochondritis. Press your chest and see if you can elicit the pain. If so, the diagnosis may be one of these two conditions.

Physiotherapy will help ease the pain. You can also apply a capsaicin containing gel to the area followed by application of ice.

Yeast for health
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Q: I read that yeast is good for health. Can I eat baker’s yeast?

A: Baker’s yeast is used for fermentation, so that the bread rises and becomes soft before baking. The same yeast is sold as a medical supplement under the name Brewer’s yeast. It is a rich source of B-complex vitamins like thiamine, riboflavin, pyridoxine and pantothenic acid. It is one of the few natural foods that contain folic acid and biotin. Brewer’s yeast also has essential minerals like chromium and selenium. It is available as powdered flakes and tablets. The usual dose is two tablespoons of the flakes or one 300mg tablet three times a day. It is a harmless food supplement which may confer some health benefits. But it should be avoided by people on psychiatric medications and those who are suffering from gout.

Red groin

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Q: My baby has developed redness in the groin area. It looks inflamed and pains when I touch it.

A: What you are describing is a type of diaper rash. You need to —

Bathe the baby with a non-irritating mild soap and not a medicated antiseptic one

Make sure the area is wiped dry with a soft towel

Apply a cream containing Clotrimazole as a single ingredient. It should not be combined with steroids

Avoid using talcum powder

Wash the baby’s diapers with a Neem-based washing soap. This is available in Khadi and Village Industries outlets. Avoid soaking the clothes in antiseptic solutions.

If possible, switch to disposable diapers.

Ambient noise
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Q: We live very close to a railway station. The loud sound of passing trains makes the whole house vibrate. We have had a baby recently. Will it affect her?

A: Children become accustomed to the noises they hear in the womb. And those sounds do not disturb their sleep.

Therefore, the trains and the vibration will not affect the baby’s sleep as she is acclimatised to it. But the disadvantage of living with loud ambient noise is that it causes progressive loss of hearing. This will affect you, your wife and eventually your child. It also produces stress in adults.

Source: The Telegraph ( Kolkata, India)

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A Painful Night Visitor

It is not unusual to get a sudden spasm or cramp in a muscle, causing excruciating pain and a temporary inability to move. The condition, however, has an unusual colloquial name in the US and the UK — charley horse. This may be because the pain resembles the kick of a horse. The ailment is not confined to Western nations or horse riders. It affects 70 per cent of people over the age of 50 and 50 per cent of women during pregnancy.

These leg cramps usually last less than a minute — though it may seem much longer as the pain is severe — but the contraction may take several minutes to subside. It may leave a residual dull ache. It can occur once — as a never-to-be-forgotten single incidence — or several times a month, or disturb the person’s sleep night after night.

Although any muscle can go into such cramps, it commonly occurs in bigger muscles that cross two joints, like the hamstrings and quadriceps which cross the knee and hip or calf muscles which cross the ankle and the knee. It can occur in the fingers and toes as well.

The exact reason for cramps is not known. Older people, especially post menopausal obese women, and smokers are more prone to them. Improper footwear while exercising aggravates the problem. Medications — such as statins (for high cholesterol), some drugs for high blood pressure, diuretics and steroids — may cause cramps. People of all ages can develop cramps, especially if they change their mode of exercise and suddenly increase its intensity, type and duration.

Cramps are a result of electrolyte imbalance in the body. This causes defective functioning of the muscle-nerve reflex arc. It is rather like traffic lights going out of sync and causing a jam. The electrolytes involved are sodium, potassium, magnesium, iron, zinc and calcium. Cramps occur if the ratio among these minerals changes. Proper functioning of the reflex arcs also requires biochemical reactions in the body, mediated by enzymes. The latter are affected by diseases like diabetes and malfunctioning of the thyroid gland. Deficiencies in the B group of vitamins, alcohol consumption, excessive caffeine intake and smoking also affect the enzymes.

If you have several attacks of leg cramps a month, consult your doctor. You need to tackle treatable conditions and change medication that may be aggravating it. If the cramps are due to pregnancy, they usually disappear once the baby is born.

If all the tests are normal, you may try a few simple measures:

* Try eating three to four helpings of fresh fruit and raw vegetables every day. It will correct any potassium and vitamin B deficiency.

* Eat a handful of nuts. It will take care of your requirements of magnesium and zinc.

* If you are anaemic, take iron and folic acid supplements.

* Most people do not get enough calcium from their diet and this needs to be supplemented. Around 1,200 mg of calcium needs to be taken daily, preferably at bedtime.

* Keep yourself well hydrated. Drink at least three litres of water a day and at least 250 ml before going to bed.

* Finish all your exercise at least an hour before bedtime.

* Soak the legs in warm water for 10 minutes before bedtime, and place a pillow at the end of the bed so that you sleep with your feet propped up.

* Some stretches done morning and evening prevent cramps. Stand on the floor with your feet apart. Stretch your hands up over your head and rise up on to your toes. Holding this position, rock backwards and forwards on your feet for a minute.

* Always warm up and cool down before and after exercise.

* The stretches done as a part of yoga prevent cramps.

If you develop spasms despite all this, immediately try to push the foot upwards. Massage the affected leg and apply moist heat. Sometimes, stretching the unaffected leg helps.

Leg cramps occur specifically at night. That is what distinguishes them from pain that is due to nerve disorders or damage, slipped discs or blocked blood vessels which reduce blood circulation to the legs. These diseases cause pain all the time, day and night.

“Restless legs” are different from leg cramps. This is a peculiar condition where both the legs develop pins and needles and sometimes a creeping pain several times during the night. It wakes up the person, and relief can be obtained only by moving the leg or standing up. Sleep is disturbed and inadequate. This needs to be evaluated by a doctor and treated with medication.

Source: The Telegraph (Kolkata, India)

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