Herbs & Plants

Betula populifolia

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Botanical Name: Betula populifolia
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Fagales
Family: Betulaceae
Genus: Betula
Subgenus: Betula
Species: B. populifolia

Synonyms: Betula acuminata, Betula cuspidata Schrad. ex Regel

Common Name: Gray Birch

Habitat: Betula populifolia is native to Eastern N. America – Quebec to Virginia and west to Indiana. It is found on the margins of swamps and ponds, it also commonly grows in dry sandy or gravelly barren soils, growing well in poor almost sterile soils.

Betula populifolia is a deciduous Tree growing quickly to 20 to 30 feet tall and 15 inch trunk diameter, with an irregular open crown of slender branches. The tree often has multiple trunks branching off of an old stump. The leaves are 5-7.5 cm long by 4–6 cm wide, alternately arranged, ovate, and tapering to an elongated tip. They are dark green and glabrous above and paler below, with a coarsely serrated margin. The bark is chalky to grayish white with black triangular patches where branch meets trunk. It is most easily confused for the paper birch (Betula papyrifera) by means of its bark; it is smooth and thin but does not readily exfoliate like paper birch does.It is in flower in April, and the seeds ripen in September. Bloom Color is brown. It’s form is Pyramidal, Upright or erect. The flowers are wind-pollinated catkins 5–8 cm long, the male catkins pendulous and the female catkins erect. The fruit, maturing in autumn, is composed of many tiny winged seeds packed between the catkin bracts.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in heavy clay and nutritionally poor soils. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers dry or moist soil. The plant is not wind tolerant.

Landscape Uses:Firewood, Specimen. Succeeds in a well-drained loamy soil in a sunny position. Tolerates most soils doing well on poor ones and on heavy clays. A fast growing tree, though it rarely lives longer than 50 years. It is a pioneer species of abandoned fields, burnt-over lands, cleared woodlands etc. A fairly wind-tolerant plant, but it is shallow-rooted and older trees are often uprooted by winds and heavy snow in the wild. Hybridizes freely with other members of this genus, especially with B. papyrifera. A good plant to grow near the compost heap, aiding the fermentation process. Trees are notably susceptible to honey fungus. Special Features: North American native, Naturalizing, Inconspicuous flowers or blooms.

Seed – best sown as soon as it is ripe in a light position in a cold frame. Only just cover the seed and place the pot in a sunny position. Spring sown seed should be surface sown in a sunny position in a cold frame. If the germination is poor, raising the temperature by covering the seed with glass can help. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in a cold frame for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. If you have sufficient seed, it can be sown in an outdoor seedbed, either as soon as it is ripe or in the early spring – do not cover the spring sown seed. Grow the plants on in the seedbed for 2 years before planting them out into their permanent positions in the winter.

Edible Uses:
Inner bark – cooked or dried and ground into a meal. The meal can be used as a thickener in soups etc, or be added to flour when making bread, biscuits etc. Inner bark is generally only seen as a famine food, used when other forms of starch are not available or are in short supply. Sap – sweet. Harvested in early spring, before the leaves unfurl, by tapping the trunk. The flow is best on warm days that follow frosty nights. The sap is drunk as a sweet beverage or it can be fermented to make birch beer or vinegar. An old English recipe for the beer is as follows:- “To every Gallon of Birch-water put a quart of Honey, well stirr’d together; then boil it almost an hour with a few Cloves, and a little Limon-peel, keeping it well scumm’d. When it is sufficiently boil’d, and become cold, add to it three or four Spoonfuls of good Ale to make it work…and when the Test begins to settle, bottle it up . . . it is gentle, and very harmless in operation within the body, and exceedingly sharpens the Appetite, being drunk ante pastum.”.

Medicinal Uses:
The bark is astringent. a decoction has been used to treat bleeding piles. Scrapings of the inner bark have been used to treat swellings in infected cuts. The German Commission E Monographs, a therapeutic guide to herbal medicine, approve Betula species for infections of the urinary tract, kidney and bladder stones, rheumatism .

Other Uses:
Charcoal; Pioneer; Wood.
A pioneer species, readily invading old fields, burnt-over or cleared land and providing suitable conditions for other woodland trees to become established. It is an excellent crop for very poor soils, where it grows rapidly and affords protection to the seedlings of more valuable and slower-growing trees. Since this species is short-lived and not very shade tolerant, it is eventually out-competed by these other trees. Wood – close-grained, soft, light, weak, not durable. It weighs 36lb per cubic foot. Unimportant commercially, the wood is used locally for making clothes pegs, spools, pulp, charcoal and quite commonly as a fuel.

Known Hazards: The aromatic and aliphatic hydrocarbons in birch tar are irritating to the skin. Do not use in patients with oedema or with poor kidney or heart functions.

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.


Herbs & Plants

Alchemilla xanthochlora

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Botanical Name: Alchemilla xanthochlora
Family: Rosaceae
Tribe: Potentilleae
Genus: Alchemilla
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Rosales

*Alchemilla gottsteiniana Opiz
*Alchemilla pratensis Opiz
*Alchemilla sylvestris auct.
*Alchemilla vulgaris auct.
*Alchemilla mollis.
* Alchemilla speciosa.
*Alchemilla xanthochlora.

Common Names: Lady’s Mantle, Dewcup, Stellaria, Lion’s Foot, Nine Hooks

Habitat : Alchemilla xanthochlora is native to Europe, including Britain, from Norway to Spain and east to Poland. It grows on the moist meadows, open woods, pastures and also on rock ledges in mountainous areas.

Alchemilla xanthochlora is a perennial plant, growing to 0.3 m (1ft) by 0.3 m (1ft in).It has cupped leaves that hold water droplets after a rain, and the frothy sprays of dainty yellow flowers that bloom in late spring and early summer.


It is not frost tender. It is in flower from Jun to September, and the seeds ripen from Aug to October. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Apomictic.The plant is self-fertile. This is a wonderful companion plant to day lilies or roses.
Easily grown in ordinary soil in sun or part shade. Prefers a well-drained neutral or basic soil. Grows well in heavy clay soils. Succeeds in dry shade. An aggregate species that includes A. mollis and A. speciosa. This plant is listed as A. xanthochlora. Rothm. in ‘Flora Europaea’. Plants seem to be immune to the predations of rabbits.
Seed – sow spring in a cold frame. The seed usually germinates in 3 – 4 weeks at 16°c. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on a cold frame for their first winter, planting out in late spring or early summer. Division in spring or autumn. The divisions can be planted out direct into their permanent positions, though we find it best to pot them up and keep them in a sheltered position until they are growing away well.

Edible Uses:
Edible Parts: Leaves; Root.
Edible Uses:

Young leaves – raw or cooked. A dry, somewhat astringent flavour. They can be mixed with the leaves of Polygonum bistorta and Polygonum persicaria then used in making a bitter herb pudding called ‘Easter ledger’ which is eaten during Lent. Root – cooked. An astringent taste. The leaves are used commercially in the blending of tea.

Medicinal Uses:
Alterative; Antirheumatic; Astringent; Diuretic; Emmenagogue; Febrifuge; Sedative; Styptic; Tonic; Vulnerary.

Alchemilla xanthochlora has a long history of herbal use, mainly as an external treatment for cuts and wounds, and internally in the treatment of diarrhoea and a number of women’s ailments, especially menstrual problems. The herb is alterative, antirheumatic, astringent, diuretic, emmenagogue, febrifuge, sedative, styptic, tonic and vulnerary[. The leaves and flowering stems are best harvested as the plant comes into flower and can then be dried for later use. The fresh root has similar and perhaps stronger properties to the leaves, but is less often used. The plant is rich in tannin and so is an effective astringent and styptic, commonly used both internally and externally in the treatment of wounds. It helps stop vaginal discharge and is also used as a treatment for excessive menstruation and to heal lesions after pregnancy. Prolonged use can ease the discomfort of the menopause and excessive menstruation. The freshly pressed juice is used to help heal skin troubles such as acne and a weak decoction of the plant has been used in the treatment of conjunctivitis.

Other Uses: A useful ground cover plant, though somewhat slow to spread.

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.


Herbs & Plants

Xanthium spinosum

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Botanical Name: Xanthium spinosum
Family: Asteraceae
Subfamily: Asteroideae
Tribe: Heliantheae
Genus: Xanthium
Species: X. spinosum
Order: Asterales

Synonym:  Spiny Clot Burr,  X. canadense. Mill.

Common Names:  Spiny cocklebur, Prickly burweed and Bathurst burr, Cocklebur, Rough cocklebur, Canada cocklebur

Habitat: : Xanthium spinosum, a native of South America, has now spread to at least 39 countries throughout the world, occurring between latitudes 43 egrees S and 50 degrees N. It is widely distributed in the mediterranean region and Europe, throughout most of Australia, in some coastal African countries, and in southern parts of South America and the United States. It is seldom found in the tropics. In California, spiny clotbur is common at low elevations throughout the state. It was introduced to the state, probably by way of Europe, sometime before 1870.
The plant grows along roads, in pastures, meadows, roadsides and disturbed areas. It is sometimes common around waterholes and along floodplains, canals, ditches, creek flats, river terraces, and other moist places

Xanthium spinosum is an erect, rigid, much-branched annual herb, 0.8 m (2ft 7in) by 0.4 m (1ft 4in)   .( Stems are striate, yellowish or brownish gray, and finely pubescent. The cotyledons are linear-lanceolate in shape, differing in appearance from later developing leaves. True leaves are lanceolate, entire, toothed or lobed, 3-8 cm long, 6-26 mm wide, glabrous or strigose above, and silvery-tomentulose beneath. They are dull gray-green above with a conspicuous white midrib and short petioles (1 cm). Each leaf base is armed at the axil with yellow three-pronged spines 2-5 cm long, often opposite in pairs…..CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES

Flower heads are in axillary clusters or often solitary. Flowers are inconspicuous, greenish, and monoecious; male flowers in almost globular heads in axils of upper most leaves, and female flowers in axils of lower leaves, developing into a bur. The bur is two–celled, oblong, nearly egg-shaped, slightly flattened, 10-13 mm long, 4 mm wide, pale yellowish, more or less striate, glandular, covered with slender, hooked, glabrous spines from more or less thickened bases, with the two apical beaks short and straight. Each bur contains two flattened, thick-coated, dark brown or black seeds, the lower germinating first.

Xanthium is derived from the Greek, xanthos, meaning “yellow” and is thought to refer to a yellow dye obtainable from some species.
Unlike cocklebur (X. strumarium), spiny clotbur has conspicuous narrower leaves tapering at both ends, short petioles, conspicuous three-pronged spines at the leaf base, and egg-shaped burs covered with hooked, thorny prickles.

Xanthic flowers belong to a type which are yellow in colour and can become white or red but never blue. These plants are spread as weeds or cultivated over a great part of the world.

Cultivation: Requires a sunny position, succeeding in most soils. Prefers a poor dry soil. Hardy to about -15°c. Plants often self sow and in some parts of the world have become noxious weeds.

Propagation: Seed – sow spring or autumn in situ. The seed requires plenty of moisture in order to germinate.

Edible Uses:
Edible Parts: Leaves; Seed.….Leaves and young plants – cooked. They must be thoroughly boiled and then washed. Caution is advised, the plant is probably poisonous. Seed – raw or cooked. It can be used as a piñole. The seed can be ground into a powder and mixed with flour for making bread, cakes etc. The seed contains about 36.7% protein, 38.6% fat, 5.2% ash. It also contains a glycoside and is probably poisonous.

Part Used in medicines: The whole  herb.

Medicinal  Uses:  The leaves and root are anodyne, antirheumatic, appetizer, diaphoretic, diuretic, emollient, laxative and sedative. The plant is considered to be useful in treating long-standing cases of malaria   and is used as an adulterant for Datura stramonium. An infusion of the plant has been used in the treatment of rheumatism, diseased kidneys and tuberculosis. It has also been used as a liniment on the armpits to reduce perspiration. The fruits contain a number of medically active compounds including glycosides and phytosterols. They are anodyne, antibacterial, antifungal, antimalarial, antirheumatic, antispasmodic, antitussive, cytotxic, hypoglycaemic and stomachic. They are used internally in the treatment of allergic rhinitis, sinusitis, catarrh, rheumatism, rheumatoid arthritis, constipation, diarrhoea, lumbago, leprosy and pruritis. They are also used externally to treat pruritis. The fruits are harvested when ripe and dried for later use. The root is a bitter tonic and febrifuge. It has historically been used in the treatment of scrofulous tumours. A decoction of the root has been used in the treatment of high fevers and to help a woman expel the afterbirth. A decoction of the seeds has been used in the treatment of bladder complaints. A poultice of the powdered seed has been applied as a salve on open sores.

A valuable and sure specific in the treatment of hydrophobia. An active styptic, local and general. Fluid extract, 1 to 2 drachms. 10 grains of the powdered plant, four times daily.

Other Uses:  …………Dye;  Essential;  Repellent;  Tannin....The dried leaves are a source of tannin. A yellow dye is obtained from the leaves. The seed powder has been used as a blue body paint. The dried plant repels weevils from stored wheat grain. The seed contains an essential oil.

Known Hazards : Poisonous. Most members of this genus are toxic to grazing animals and are usually avoided by them. The seed also contains toxins

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

Herbs & Plants

Meadowsweet (Spriea Ulmaria)

Botanical Name : Spriea Ulmaria
Family : ROSACEAE Rose Family
Genus: Filipendula

Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Rosales
Species: F. ulmaria
Synonyme : Spirea ulmaria L.

Common Names : Meadowsweet , Queen of the Meadow,  Quaker Lady , Pride of the Meadow, Meadow-Wort, Meadow Queen, Lady of the Meadow, Dollof, Meadsweet and Bridewort.

Habitat :  It is found in the North Temperate and Arctic regions of Arctic Europe, Asia Minor, and North Asia,  grows in damp meadows.
The Meadow-sweet is found in all parts of Great Britain as far north as the Shetland Islands, up to 1200 ft. in Yorkshire. It is found in the West of Ireland.

Description :

Meadowsweet  is a perennial herb .The stems are 1–2 m (3-7 ft) tall, erect and furrowed, reddish to sometimes purple. The leaves  are dark green on the upper side and whitish and downy underneath, much divided, interruptedly pinnate, having a few large serrate leaflets and small intermediate ones. Terminal leaflets are large, 4–8 cm long and three to five-lobed.


Meadowsweet has delicate, graceful, creamy-white flowers clustered close together in handsome irregularly-branched cymes, having a very strong, sweet smell. They flower from June to early September.

Meadowsweet leaves are commonly galled by the bright orange rust fungus Triphragmium ulmariae which creates swellings and distortions on the stalk and / or midrib.

Meadowsweet is known in Irish as Airgead Luachra meaning Rush Silver. Perhaps it derives its name from its leaves which are a silvery green underneath and the fact that the herb grows in damp areas. Meadowsweet was considered a sacred herb in ancient Celtic rituals. Few of its medicinal uses were known in the past when it was used mainly for scouring milk churns in Co Mayo and strewing on floors. At the same time in parts of Ireland country people tended to be wary of the plant and some wouldn’t allow it into the home believing it induced sleep from which they could not awake. In Co Kerry a black dye was obtained and used from the roots.

Its medicinal properties have only been used in recent times, possibly since it was discovered that the plant contained salicylic acid, one of the main ingredients for Aspirin. The old name of the plant was Spirea (Ulmaria) from which Aspirin derives is name.

Properities & Constituents :

Active ingredients: compounds of salicylic acid, flavone-glycosides, essential oils and tannins.
Astringent* Diuretic* Tonic* Depurative* Febrifuge* . Meadowsweet contains chemicals called tannins. Since tannins have a drying effect on mucous membranes, meadowsweet is helpful in decreasing the congestion and mucus associated with a cold. Meadowsweet has also been used for heartburn, stomach ulcers, diarrhea, infections and to ease the pain of sore joints and muscles.

Medicinal Uses:

Common Uses: Colds * Congestion/Chest & Sinus * Diarrhea * Gout * Influenza * Lupus * Rheumatoid Arthritis *

Like Aspirin, Meadowsweet is used mainly to relieve pain. It is suitable as a diuretic, being useful for kidney and bladder complaints such as cystitis. Since it contains mucilage, it is ideal for problems concerning the stomach lining – gastritis, ulcers, hiatus hernia etc. It also reduces stomach acidity and is good for rheumatic conditions, as it rids the body of excess uric acid.

To prepare Meadowsweet add 1 pint of almost boiling water to 1 oz. of the flowers. Cover and leave to infuse for 10 minutes and take 3-4 cups per day between meals. This can be taken regularly for three weeks. Compresses soaked in the above infusion or poultices made from the flowers will relieve pain when applied directly to joints affected by rheumatism and neuralgia.

The whole herb possesses a pleasant taste and flavour, the green parts having a similar aromatic character to the flowers, leading to the use of the plant as a strewing herb, strewn on floors to give the rooms a pleasant aroma, and its use to flavour wine, beer and many vinegars. The flowers can be added to stewed fruit and jams, giving them a subtle almond flavor. It has many medicinal properties. The whole plant is a traditional remedy for an acidic stomach and the fresh root is often used in infinitesimal quantities in homeopathic preparations. It is effective on its own as a treatment for diarrhea. The flowers, when made into a tea, are a comfort to flu sufferers. Dried, the flowers make lovely pot pourri.

In 1897 Felix Hoffmann created a synthetically altered version of salicin, derived from the species, which caused less digestive upset than pure salicylic acid. The new drug, formally Acetylsalicylic acid, was named aspirin by Hoffman’s employer Bayer AG after the old botanical name for meadowsweet, Spiraea ulmaria. This gave rise to the hugely important class of drugs known as NonSteroidal AntiInflammatory Drugs, or NSAIDs.

This plant contains the chemicals used to make aspirin, a small section of root, when peeled and crushed smells like Germolene, and when chewed is a good natural remedy for relieving headaches. A natural black dye can be obtained from the roots by using a copper mordant.

About one in five people with asthma has Samter’s triad, in which aspirin induces asthma symptoms. Therefore, asthmatics should be aware of the possibility that meadowsweet, with its similar biochemistry, could theoretically also induce symptoms of asthma.


Should not be used by anyone who has asthma or is allergic to aspirin.
Can cause stomach upset or kidney damage if used too much or for too long

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.


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News on Health & Science

The Little Blood-Sucker Ticks Can Save Lives

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Thousands of people who have had, or are at risk of, a heart attack could be saved by a new drug made from a chemical produced by blood-sucking ticks.

………………………….click & see
The drug, called Variegin, contains a man-made version of an anti-clotting chemical found in ticks from Africa and Central America.

Once the tiny insects have latched on to their human or animal prey, they release the chemical to stop blood from clotting and allow them to feed for longer.

Now a team of scientists from Britain, Singapore and Slovakia have discovered it might also slash the risk of heart attacks by stopping blood clots from forming.
They have developed a drug containing a synthetic form of the blood-thinning chemical that is up to 70 times more powerful than the ‘natural’ form produced by the ticks.
Initial tests show it is not only highly effective as an anticlotting agent, but potentially longer-lasting and safer than some existing drugs.

Every year, around 270,000 people in Britain suffer a heart attack, and coronary disease remains Britain’s biggest killer. About a third of heart attack patients die before reaching hospital, often because they have delayed seeking help.
Heart attacks occur when a clot forms and shuts off the supply of blood to cardiac muscle. Clotting is the body’s natural reaction to injury, designed to stem blood loss. But clots that form when there has been no injury can wreak havoc throughout the body, not just on the heart.
If they reach the brain, they can cause a stroke, or if they restrict blood flow to the lungs, they can cause an often fatal condition called a pulmonary embolism.

Patients who have suffered a heart attack or stroke – or are at high risk of them – are often given anti-clotting drugs to prevent more clots forming.
These work by changing the chemical composition of blood in a way that switches off the clotting process. The best known is Warfarin, a drug that has been around for more than 50 years and was once commonly used as a rat killer.
But patients on Warfarin have to be monitored extremely closely to ensure it does not thin their blood so much that they run the risk of bleeding to death from even the slightest cut. Newer drugs, known as direct thrombin inhibitors, have come on to the market in recent years. Although they have a better safety record than Warfarin, they can also increase the danger of a life-threatening bleed.
Around one in 100 people given a direct thrombin inhibitor suffers bleeding severe enough to kill them – unless they have urgent medical attention such as a transfusion.
If a patient is bleeding heavily or needs surgery, it’s vital that doctors can quickly restore normal clotting. But a drawback of modern anticlotting drugs is that their effects are irreversible.
The researchers behind the tick-saliva medicine have found a way of switching the clotting process back on, by injecting a chemical called protamine sulphate.
Professor Patricia Nuttall, who spearheaded the British arm of the tick project-at the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology in Wallingford, Oxfordshire, says: ‘The problem with direct thrombin inhibitors is once you have used them, you cannot switch them off.
‘Then you might get a patient who suffers excessive bleeding that you cannot control. But in our tests we used protamine sulphate, which stops the drug from binding to thrombin, the enzyme in the blood that makes it clot.’
Researchers hope to begin human clinical trials using the tick-saliva drug in the near future.
Professor Jeremy Pearson, associate medical director at the British Heart Foundation, says: ‘Scientists often take lessons from nature in the development of new medicines.
‘Our own researchers have worked with snake venom in the past to reveal clues about blood clotting. We look forward to seeing the results of clinical tests with Variegin.’

Source: Mail Online.Sept.8,2009

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