Herbs & Plants

Cynanchum stauntonii

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Botanical Name: Cynanchum stauntonii
Family:    Apocynaceae
Genus:    Cynanchum
Kingdom:    Plantae
Order:    Gentianales
Common Chinese Name :Bai Qian

Habitat :
These species are found worldwide in the tropics and subtropics. Several species also grow in temperate regions along water edges where it is shady and damp. Sunny places in moist woodland, water-logged lands at low to moderate elevations.

Cynanchum stauntonii  is a perennial  climbing  herb,erect half-shrub, high 30 ~ 60cm. Stems cylindrical, with thin edges. 6-13cm,width of .03-0.5cmLeaves opposite, lanceolate or linear-lanceolate, long 6 ~ 13cm, width of 0.3 ~ 0.5cm, ends acuminate, midrib apparent. Cymes axillary, 3 to 8 flowers; Calyx 5 parted; Corolla purple, radial, inner surface is pilose, lobes narrowly triangular; Vice corolla lobes peltate, apex slightly thicker and the inner volume; stamens 5, and co-generation core column pistil, anther 2 rooms; stigma convex, including the films in the anther.  Fruit solitary follicles. Flowering 5 to 8 months, the fruit of 9 to 10 months

Slender cylindrical roots, branching, slightly curved, long 4 ~ 15cm, diameter of 1.5 ~ 4mm; surface yellow-white or yellowish brown, for length of 1.5 ~ 4.5cm, the top of a residual stem; crisp, hollow cross section. Tufted slender curved section at the root, long up to 10cm, diameter of less than 1mm, there was hair to be like many branches, often twisting into the group. Gas micro, slightly sweet taste.

We have very little information on this species and do not know if it will be hardy in Britain, though judging by its native range it could succeed outdoors in many parts of this country. It probably does not have any special cultivation requirements and will probably succeed in most soils in a sunny position.

Seed – sow spring in the greenhouse. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Division in spring.

Medicinal Uses:
The dried root, decocted with other herbs, is anodyne, antitussive and expectorant. A decoction of the root is used in the treatment of coughs and asthma. Decoctions of all parts are used as a febrifuge and for treating internal fever. The roots are used medicinally for pulmonary tuber-culosis, infantile malnutrition due to intestinal parasites, influenza, cough, and chronic bronchitis.

Known Hazards:  There are some reports of toxins in this genus

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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How Light Sensors in Eye Work

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Neuro-scientists have unravelled how newly discovered light sensors in the eye detect light and communicate with the brain.
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These light sensors are a small number of nerve cells in the retina that contain melanopsin molecules.

Unlike conventional light-sensing cells in the retina-rods and cones, melanopsin-containing cells are not used for seeing images.

Instead, they monitor light levels to adjust the body’s clock and control constriction of the pupils in the eye, among other functions.

“These melanopsin-containing cells are the only other known photoreceptor besides rods and cones in mammals, and the question is, how do they work,” said Michael Do, a postdoctoral fellow in neuro-science at Johns Hopkins.

“We want to understand some fundamental information, like their sensitivity to light and their communication to the brain,” he informed.

Using mice, the team first tested the light sensitivity of these cells by flashing light at the cells and recording the electrical current generated by one cell.

They found that these cells are very insensitive to light, in contrast to rods, which are very sensitive and therefore enable us to see in dim light at night, for example.

According to Do, the melanopsin-containing cells are less sensitive than cones, which are responsible for our vision in daylight.

“The next question was, what makes them so insensitive to light? Perhaps each photon they capture elicits a tiny electrical signal. Then there would have to be bright light-giving lots of captured photons for a signal large enough to influence the brain. Another possibility is that these cells capture photons poorly,” said Do.

To figure this out, the team flashed dim light at the cells. The light was so dim that, on average, only a single melanopsin molecule in each cell was activated by capturing a photon.

They found that each activated melanopsin molecule triggered a large electrical signal. Moreover, to their surprise, the cell transmits this single-photon signal all the way to the brain, said a Johns Hopkins release.

Yet the large signal generated by these cells seemed incongruous with their need for such bright light. “We thought maybe they need so much light because each cell might also contain very few melanopsin molecules, decreasing their ability to capture photons,” said King-Wai Yau, a professor of neuroscience at Hopkins.

When they did the calculations, the research team found that melanopsin molecules are 5,000 times sparser than other light-capturing molecules used for image-forming vision.

“It appears that these cells capture very little light. However, once captured, the light is very effective in producing a signal large enough to go straight to the brain,” said Yau.

Sources: The Telegraph (Kolkata, India)

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