Herbs & Plants

Ammi visnaga

Botanical Name: Ammi visnaga
Species:A. visnaga
Kingdom: Plantae

Synonyms : Ammi dilatatum. Apium visnaga. Carum visnaga. Daucus visnaga.

Common names : Bisnaga, Toothpickweed, and Khella.

Habitat: Ammi visnaga is native to Europe, Asia, and North Africa, but it can be found throughout the world as an introduced species.It grows in fields and sandy places.
Ammi visnaga is an annual or biennial herb growing from a taproot erect to a maximum height near 80 centimeters. Leaves are up to 20 centimeters long and generally oval to triangular in shape but dissected into many small linear to lance-shaped segments. The inflorescence is a compound umbel of white flowers similar to those of other Apiaceae species. The fruit is a compressed oval-shaped body less than 3 millimeters long. This and other Ammi species are sources of khellin, a diuretic extract.


It is in flower from Jul to September. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects.The plant is self-fertile.

Prefers a well-drained soil in a sunny position, succeeding in ordinary garden soil. Tolerates a pH in the range 6.8 to 8.3. This species is not fully winter-hardy in the colder areas of Britain, though it should be possible to grow it as a spring-sown annual. This plant is sold as toothpicks in Egyptian markets.

Propagation: Seed – sow spring in situ. ( Sow under cover Feb-March in a seed tray, module or guttering. Sow direct March-May and/or August-September.)
Edible Uses: Leaves are chewed raw for their pleasant aromatic flavour

Chemical constituents:
Khellin, a chemical obtained from Ammi visnaga gives rose red color with KOH (solid) or NaOH & 2-3 drops of water, was used at one time as a smooth muscle relaxant, but its use is limited due to adverse side effects. Amiodarone and cromoglycate are derivates of khellin that are frequently used in modern medicine.

The chemical visnagin, which is found in A. visnaga, has biological activity in animal models as a vasodilator and reduces blood pressure by inhibiting calcium influx into the cell.
Medicinal Uses:
Antiarrhythmic; Antiasthmatic; Antispasmodic; Diuretic; Lithontripic; Vasodilator.

Visnaga is an effective muscle relaxant and has been used for centuries to alleviate the excruciating pain of kidney stones. Modern research has confirmed the validity of this traditional use. Visnagin contains khellin, from which particularly safe pharmaceutical drugs for the treatment of asthma have been made. The seeds are diuretic and lithontripic. They contain a fatty oil that includes the substance ‘khellin’. This has been shown to be of benefit in the treatment of asthma. Taken internally, the seeds have a strongly antispasmodic action on the smaller bronchial muscles, they also dilate the bronchial, urinary and blood vessels without affecting blood pressure. The affect last for about 6 hours and the plant has practically no side effects. The seeds are used in the treatment of asthma, angina, coronary arteriosclerosis and kidney stones. By relaxing the muscles of the urethra, visnaga reduces the pain caused by trapped kidney stones and helps ease the stone down into the bladder. The seeds are harvested in late summer before they have fully ripened and are dried for later use.
In Egypt, a tea made from the fruit of this species has been used as an herbal remedy for kidney stones. Laborarory rat studies show that the extract slows the buildup of calcium oxalate crystals in the kidneys and acts as a diuretic.
This plant and its components have shown effects in dilating the coronary arteries. Its mechanism of action may be very similar to the calcium channel-blocking drugs. The New England Journal of Medicine writes “The high proportion of favorable results, together with the striking degree of improvement frequently observed, has led us to the conclusion that Khellin, properly used, is a safe and effective drug for the treatment of angina pectoris.” As little as 30 milligrams of Khellin per day appear to offer as good a result, with fewer side effects. Rather than use the isolated compound “Khellin,” Khella extracts standardized for khellin content (typically 12 percent) are the preferred form.

A daily dose of such an extract would be 250 to 300 milligrams. Khella appears to work very well with hawthorn extracts. An aromatic herb which dilates the bronchial, urinary and blood vessels without affecting blood pressure.

Visnaga is a traditional Egyptian remedy for kidney stones. By relaxing the muscles of the ureter, visnaga reduces the pain caused by the trapped stone and helps ease the stone down into the bladder. Following research into its antispasmodic properties, visnaga is now given for asthma and is safe even for children to take. Although it does not always relieve acute asthma attacks, it do3es help to prevent their recurrence. It is an effective remedy for various respiratory problems, including bronchitis, emphysema, and whooping cough. In Andalusia in Spain, the largest and best quality visnaga were employed to clean the teeth. Khella is the source of amiodarone one of the key anti-arrhythmia medications. The usual recommendation calls for pouring boiling water over about a quarter-teaspoon of powdered khella fruits. Steep for five minutes and drink the tea after straining.

Its active constituent is khellin, a bronchiodilator and antispasmodic that makes it useful for asthma sufferers It’s best used to prevent asthma rather than to counter an attack and can be taken on a daily basis with no contraindications. Because khella builds up in the blood, its use can be decreased after a period of time. Khella is safer than ma huang (ephedra) for asthma sufferers because it’s nonstimulating and nonenervating. Unlike ma huang, it doesn’t rob the body, especially the adrenals, of energy.

Spasmolytic action of khellin and visnagin (both furanochromones) is indicated for treatment of asthma and coronary arteriosclerosis.
An extract from khella (Ammi visnaga) is so far the only herb found to be useful in vitili. Khellin, the active constituent, appears to work like psoralen drugs?it stimulates repigmentation of the skin by increasing sensitivity of remaining pigment-containing cells (melanocytes) to sunlight. Studies have used 120-160 mg of khellin per day. Khellin must be used with caution, as it can cause side effects such as nausea and insomnia.

Another use is for vitiligo (an extract from ammi visnaga appears to stimulate repigmentation of the skin by increasing sensitivity of remaining pigment containing cells, melanocytes to sunlight)

Other Uses: The fruiting pedicel is used as a toothpick whilst the seeds have been used as a tooth cleaner

Known Hazards : Skin contact with the sap is said to cause photo-sensitivity and/or dermatitis in some people. Avoid during pregnancy and lactation. Avoid if on warfarin or other blood thinning medication. Prolonged use may lead to: constipation, appetite loss, headaches, vertigo, nausea and vomiting.

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


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Botanical Name:Dieffenbachia
Subfamily: Aroideae
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Alismatales
Tribe: Dieffenbachieae
Genus: Dieffenbachia
Common Name: Dieffenbachia (Dumb Cane).It is also called “Mother in Law Plant” as a result of the effects of the milky sap it contains.
Habitat:It is a house plant but can grow outside in tropical climate.It is most easy to grow and that may be the reason it is grown as house plant throught the world.

This group consists of about 30 tropical perennials native to Costa Rica, Columbia, Brazil, Puerto Rico and the West Indies. These plants are popularly grown as houseplants because of their beautiful foliage; however, care must be taken, as they are very poisonous (*See Note below*). Dumb Cane (the common name) is one of the easiest plants to grow. They have cane-like stems and can grow about 4 feet high. Their large leaves may be oval with pointed tips or long and narrow and their bases encircle the stems. Their colors also vary. Some have dark green leaves with creamy white markings, while others have dark green, light green, yellowish and white markings. Many of the fancy hybrids where developed from D. maculata and D. Seguine.


Dieffenbachias are not hard to grow as long as you keep them away from drafts and cold temperatures. Anything below 60 degrees will cause the plant to suffer and possibly die. It also needs a good amount of humidity so mist regularly or keep on a humidity tray. They are happy in anything from bright, indirect light to partial shade. Keep out of direct sunlight though as the leaves burn easily. Dieffenbachias tend to be vigorous growers, so annual repotting is usually necessary.

Propagation is fairly easy. If the plant has gotten leggy due to age or improper care, the crown can be cut off and potted up. The remaining cane can be left alone and new sprouts will appear, or it can be cut into three inch pieces and placed in individual pots. Some types even produce offshoots which can be removed and potted up.
Click to see:How to Propagate Dieffenbachia:
.Dieffenbachias come in several varieties, only one of which is all green (Dieffenbachia oerstedii). D. pictais the most common variety found in stores, and sports long, deep green leaves with white splotches. The Camile, Marianne and Rudolph varieties of D. picta are almost entirely ivory. One of the largest varieties available isD. amoena, which reaches five feet tall at maturity with leaves over a foot long. This type makes an outstanding specimen plant.

Selected species:
Dieffenbachia amoena –
Dieffenbachia maculata –
Dieffenbachia seguine –

The cells of the Dieffenbachia plant contain needle-shaped calcium oxalate crystals called raphides. If a leaf is chewed, these crystals can cause a temporary burning sensation and erythema. In rare cases, edema of tissues exposed to the plant have been reported. Mastication and ingestion generally result in only mild symptoms. With both children and pets, contact with dieffenbachia (typically from chewing) can cause a host of unpleasant symptoms, including oral irritation, excessive drooling, and localized swelling.  However, these effects are rarely life-threatening. In most cases, symptoms are mild, and can be successfully treated with analgesic agents,  antihistamines,  or medical charcoal.  Gastric evacuation or lavage is “seldom” indicated.  Jennifer S. Boyle, MD, PharmD, and Christopher P Holstege, MD, note that, “In a large retrospective study of 188 patients with plant oxalate exposure, all cases were determined to be minor and all resolved with minor or no treatment.”   They also note that, “In patients with exposure to toxic plants, 70% are children younger than 5 years.”

The milky sap it contains. If ingested it causes a burning sensation in the mouth, swells the tongue, and paralyzes the vocal cords, literally taking one’s voice away. It has the same affect on cats and dogs, so it’s important to keep this plant out of reach. The sap can also cause mild skin irritation so be sure to wash hands after handling.

Calcium oxalate crystals, a protein and a N-free compound have been implicated in the toxicity of Dieffenbachia. The plants have been used as medicine, stimulants and to inflict punishment.


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Probiotic Hope For Kidney Stones

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Treating patients with bacteria may be an effective way of reducing their risk of repeatedly developing painful kidney stones, a study suggests.


.Kidney stones can cause severe pain

People naturally carrying the bacterium Oxalobacter formigenes were found to be 70% less likely to have problems.

Researchers at Boston University, in the US, are now investigating the possibility of using the bacteria as a “probiotic” treatment.

The study features in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.

Kidney stones are small, hard lumps formed of waste products contained in the urine.

They normally range in size from a grain of sand to a pearl. They can be smooth or jagged, and are usually yellow or brown.

Once a kidney stone has formed in a kidney it may travel down through the other parts of the urinary system, where they can slow the flow of urine, cause infection, severe pain and even lead to kidney failure.

About three in 20 men and one in 20 women in the UK will develop a kidney stone at some point in their lifetime.

They are most likely to occur in people aged 20 to 40.

Up to 80% of kidney stones are predominately composed of a compound called calcium oxalate.

O. formigenes breaks down oxalate in the intestinal tract and is present in a large proportion of the normal adult population.

The Boston team compared 247 patients with recurrent calcium oxalate kidney stones with 259 people with no history of the condition.

They found just 17% of the kidney stones group were colonised with O. formigenes, compared with 38% of healthy group.

Researcher Professor David Kaufman: “Our findings are of potential clinical importance.

“The possibility of using the bacterium as a probiotic is currently in the early stages of investigation.”

Promising avenue:

Derek Machin, clinical director of urology at University Hospital, Aintree, said an effective treatment for recurrent kidney stones would be a significant step forward.

He said bigger kidney stones were currently treated by using shock waves to break them up, but this was not always completely effective.

Passing a stone in the urine intact can be extremely painful, and even getting rid of the smaller pieces created by shock treatment could cause significant pain.

“For some people kidney stones can be an on-going lifelong problem,” he said.

“And in some cases a stone can destroy kidney function before it is even identified.”

However, Mr Machin warned that there was much work to be done before clinical trials of a probiotic could be considered.

He said kidney stones had been linked to dehydration and were more common in countries such as Saudi Arabia where the climate is hot and dry.

In instances they may be linked to an unusually high rate of calcium excretion.

However, he said in many cases there was no obvious cause for the condition.

It is a particular problem for airline pilots, who are not allowed to fly if they have a stone.

Click to see also:->

‘Stethoscope’ hears kidney stones
Quick kidney failure test ‘found’
‘Biological’ kidney implant hope
Transplant goal ‘one step closer’

Kidney test may cut dialysis need

Human kidneys grown in mice
Kidney failure
Better kidney care plan unveiled

Sources: BBC NEWS:9Th.March.’08