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Herbs & Plants

Atriplex confertifolia

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Botanical Name : Atriplex confertifolia
Family: Chenopodiaceae
Genus: Atriplex
Species:A. confertifolia
Kingdom:Plantae
Order: Caryophyllales

Synonyms:
*Atriplex collina Wooton & Standl.
*Atriplex jonesii Standl.
*Atriplex sabulosa M.E.Jones 1903 not Rouy 1890
*Atriplex subconferta Rydb.
*Obione confertifolia Torr. & Frém.
*Obione rigida Torr. & Frém.

Common Names: Shadscale, Shadscale saltbush, Spiny saltbush, Sheep-fat

Habitat : Atriplex confertifolia is native to the western United States and northern Mexico. It grows on gravelly to fine-textured soils in greasewood, mat-atriplex, other salt desert shrub, sagebrush, pinyon-juniper, and ponderosa pine communities, 600 – 2200 metres.

Description:
Atriplex confertifolia is an evergreen Shrub growing to 1.8 m (6ft). It is in leaf 12-Jan and is in flower in June, and the seeds ripen in August. 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 Wind.The plant is not self-fertile.

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Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils and can grow in very alkaline and saline soils.
It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers dry or moist soil and can tolerate drought.

Cultivation:
Requires a light or medium well-drained but not too fertile soil in a sunny position. Tolerates saline and very alkaline soils[200]. Succeeds in a hot dry position. Plants resent root disturbance when they are large. Plants are apt to succumb to winter wet when grown on heavy or rich soils. Shadscale forms hybrids with Atriplex canescens, A. garrettii, A. corrugata, and A. gardneri varieties. It is, however, closely allied to A. parryi and A. spinifera. Dioecious. Male and female plants must be grown if seed is required.
Propagation:
Seed – sow April/May in a cold frame in a compost of peat and sand. Germinates in 1 – 3 weeks at 13°c. Pot up the seedlings when still small into individual pots, grow on in a greenhouse for the first winter and plant out in late spring or early summer after the last expected frosts. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, July/August in a frame. Very easy. Pot up as soon as they start to root (about 3 weeks) and plant out in their permanent positions late in the following spring. Cuttings of mature wood of the current season’s growth, November/December in a frame. Very easy. Pot up in early spring and plant out in their permanent position in early summer
Edible Uses:
Leaves – cooked and used as greens. The water in which the leaves is cooked is used in making corn pudding. Seed – used in piñole or ground into a meal and used as a thickener in making bread or mixed with flour in making bread.
Medicinal Uses:

Antispasmodic; Poultice.

The plant has been burnt and the smoke inhaled as a treatment for epilepsy. The boiled leaves have been used as a liniment for sore muscles and aches. A poultice of the mashed leaves have been applied to the chest and a decoction of the leaves drunk to treat colds.

Other Uses: Shadscale fruits and leaves provide important winter browse for domestic livestock and native herbivores. Compared to fourwing saltbush (Atriplex canescens), shadscale has shorter and wider leaves and the fruit does not have four wings (although it may have two wings in a “V” shape).

Known Hazards : No member of this genus contains any toxins, all have more or less edible leaves. However, if grown with artificial fertilizers, they may concentrate harmful amounts of nitrates in their leaves.

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/Atriplex_confertifolia
http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/plants/shrub/atrcon/all.html
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Atriplex+confertifolia

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News on Health & Science

Device For Your Heart

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Shabina Akhtar on a new instrument that records the heart‘s functioning and shows exactly what goes wrong during a fainting spell .
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When V.S. Prasad, 58, lost consciousness for about half a minute in his bathroom last September, none of the doctors he went to initially could fathom why. They thought it was a case of syncope  simply temporary loss of consciousness. All the usual tests failed to give any indicationsEven the 24-hour Holter monitoring(an ambulatory electrocardiography device for monitoring the heartbeat  round the clock) failed to indicate any underlying heart disorder. The Tilt test (to detect syncope of neurological origin), too, was negative because of which the neurologist ruled out epilepsy,” says Arunangshu Ganguly, consultant interventional cardiologist at the Apollo Gleneagles Hospital, Calcutta.

Prasad’s case is not uncommon; cardiologists worldwide are often faced with such tricky situations. Dr Emilio Vanoli, associate professor at the Dipartimento di Cardiologia Policlinico of Monza, Italy, says: Syncope is a symptom that a doctor needs to interpret. Unfortunately, in more than 40 per cent of cases, it goes unregistered.” Lack of awareness — even among doctors — makes things difficult, he adds. Patients who complain of fainting spells are often treated as epileptics and the cardiac problem, if any, goes undetected. Similarly, epileptics are sometimes wrongly implanted with pacemakers.

Prasad was, however, more fortunate. Says Dr Ganguly: “I suspected some electrical problem in his heart. But none of the tests backed my intuition. Then I advised him to get an Insertable Loop Recorder (ILR) implanted. The device records the heart’s functioning, providing evidence of what goes wrong during a fainting spell.”

So when Prasad fainted again in December, he pressed the activator button on regaining consciousness. This, to store data about how his heart had behaved during the episode.

When Dr Ganguly analysed the data, he found that Prasad’s heart had stopped beating for nearly 20 seconds. The doctor then concluded that Prasad was suffering from an abnormally low heart beat rate — less than 60 beats a minute is a cause for worry — and needed a pacemaker.

Launched in India in October 2007, the ILR has been on the US market for some years now. It costs around Rs 35,000 to get the thumb-sized device inserted through a non-invasive procedure under local anaesthesia. It has a battery life of 14 months, during which it can continuously record the user’s heart beat.

The ILR promises to be of great use to many. “About 1.5 million people worldwide suffer from unexplained syncope. In almost 10 per cent of cases syncope has a cardiac cause, in 50 per cent a non-cardiac cause, and in the remaining 40 per cent of cases the cause remains unknown. The recorder is of great help as the fainting occurs suddenly and for a very brief duration. Moreover, there is no definite pattern of repetition, which makes documentation very difficult. We cannot perform an electrocardiograph (ECG) right then and the ECGs before and after are usually normal,” explains Dr Vanoli.

With the number of patients complaining of unexplained loss of consciousness increasing, unfortunately, there are instances where pacemakers are implanted without proper documentation of the cause, says Dr Ganguly. Not all cases of loss of consciousness are due to cardiological reasons; neurological, metabolic and other factors too could be at play.

The heart, explains the doctor, is an electromechanical pump which uses its muscles to continuously pump blood to the body system. The valves in it ensure a uni-directional blood flow. A mechanical failure of the organ doesn’t lead to syncope except when there is a critical obstruction in the outflow valve or when there is an uncoordinated contraction of the heart muscles. All other causes of loss of consciousness attributed to a cardiological reason are due to a power failure in the electrical supply to the heart. This electrical supply originates in a generator (Sinus node) and is carried through a nerve to a distribution box (AV node) from where it reaches the heart by means of three nerves (one right bundle and two left bundles). Now when the generator or distribution point or any of the wires becomes incapable of providing uninterrupted power flow to the heart, the heart stops functioning and the brain — on not getting its blood supply — switches off, and the person faints. A stoppage of more than three seconds is fatal. And that is where you need an inverter to back you up, which is a pacemaker.
………………………………

The ILR has helped us provide evidence-based treatment rather than fall back on presumptive management,” says Dr Ganguly. However, the cost could pose a problem for some, he feels.

Nonetheless, it comes as a huge relief to many people, sparing them the travails of presumptive management of their disease.

Sources: The Telegraph (Kolkata, India)