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Herbs & Plants

Chamomile

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Botanical Name: Matricaria chamomilla
Family: Asteraceae
Tribe: Anthemideae
Genus: Matricaria
Species: M. chamomilla
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Asterales

Synonym: Matricaria recutita

Common Names:Chamomile, German chamomile, Hungarian chamomile (kamilla), wild chamomile or scented mayweed,

Habitat:Chamomile is native to southern and eastern Europe. It is also grown in Germany, Hungary, France, Russia, Yugoslavia, and Brazil. It was introduced to India during the Mughal period, now it is grown in Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, and Jammu and Kashmir. The plants can be found in North Africa, Asia, North and South America, Australia, and New Zealand. Hungary is the main producer of the plant biomass. In Hungary, it also grows abundantly in poor soils and it is a source of income to poor inhabitants of these areas. Flowers are exported to Germany in bulk for distillation of the oil. It often grows near roads, around landfills, and in cultivated fields as a weed, because the seeds require open soil to survive.

Description:
Chamomile is an annual plant with thin spindle-shaped roots only penetrating flatly into the soil. The branched stem is erect, heavily ramified, and grows to a height of 10–80 cm. The long and narrow leaves are bi- to tripinnate. The flower heads are placed separately, they have a diameter of 10–30 mm, and they are pedunculate and heterogamous. The golden yellow tubular florets with 5 teeth are 1.5–2.5 mm long, ending always in a glandulous tube. The flowers bloom in early to midsummer, and have a strong, aromatic smell. The flowers are 6–11 mm long, 3.5 mm wide, and arranged concentrically. The receptacle is 6–8 mm wide, flat in the beginning and conical, cone-shaped later, hollow—the latter being a very important distinctive characteristic of Matricaria—and without paleae. The fruit is a yellowish brown achene.

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Cultivation:
German chamomile can be grown on any type of soil, but growing the crop on rich, heavy, and damp soils should be avoided. It can also withstand cold weather with temperature ranging from 2°C to 20°C. The crop has been grown very successfully on the poor soils (loamy sand) at the farm of the Regional Research Laboratory, Jammu. At Banthra farm of the National Botanical Research Institute, Lucknow, the crop has been grown successfully on soil with a pH of 9. Soils with pH 9–9.2 are reported to support its growth. In Hungary, it grows extensively on clayey lime soils, which are barren lands and considered to be too poor for any other crop. Temperature and light conditions (sunshine hours) have greater effect on essential oils and azulene content, than soil type. Chamomile possesses a high degree of tolerance to soil alkalinity. The plants accumulate fairly large quantity of sodium (66 mg/100 gm of dry material), which helps in reducing the salt concentration in the top soil.[43] No substantial differences were found in the characteristics of the plants grown 1500 km apart (Hungary–Finland). Under cooler conditions in Finland, the quantity of the oxide type in the essential oil was lower than in Hungary.

Propagation:
The plant is propagated by seeds. The seeds of the crop are very minute in size; a thousand seeds weigh 0.088–0.153 gm. About 0.3–0.5 kg of clean seed with a high germination percentage sown in an area of 200–250 m2 gives enough seedlings for stocking a hectare of land. The crop can be grown by two methods i.e. direct sowing of the seed and transplanting. Moisture conditions in the field for direct sowing of seeds must be very good otherwise a patchy and poor germination is obtained. As direct sowing of seeds usually results in poor germination, the transplanting method is generally followed. The mortality of the seedlings is almost negligible in transplanting.

Medicinal Uses:
Chamomile is used in herbal medicine for a sore stomach, irritable bowel syndrome, and as a gentle sleep aid. It is also used as a mild laxative and is anti-inflammatory and bactericidal. It can be taken as an herbal tea, two teaspoons of dried flower per cup of tea, which should be steeped for 10 to 15 minutes while covered to avoid evaporation of the volatile oils. The marc should be pressed because of the formation of a new active principle inside the cells, which can then be released by rupturing the cell walls, though this substance only forms very close to boiling point. For a sore stomach, some recommend taking a cup every morning without food for two to three months. It has been studied as a mouthwash against oral mucositis ]and may have acaricidal properties against certain mites, such as Psoroptes cuniculi.

One of the active ingredients of its essential oil is the terpene bisabolol. Other active ingredients include farnesene, chamazulene, flavonoids (including apigenin, quercetin, patuletin and luteolin) and coumarin.

Dried chamomile has a reputation (among herbalists) for being incorrectly prepared because it is dried at a temperature above the boiling point of the volatile components of the plant.

Chamomile is used topically in skin and mucous membrane inflammations and skin diseases. It can be inhaled for respiratory tract inflammations or irritations; used in baths as irrigation for anogenital inflammation; and used internally for GI spasms and inflammatory diseases. However, clinical trials supporting any use of chamomile are limited.

Possible Side Effects:
Chamomile, a relative of ragweed, can cause allergy symptoms and can cross-react with ragweed pollen in individuals with ragweed allergies. It also contains coumarin, so care should be taken to avoid potential drug interactions, e.g. with blood thinners.

While extremely rare, very large doses of chamomile may cause nausea and vomiting. Even more rarely, rashes may occur. A type-IV allergic reaction with severe anaphylaxis has been reported in a 38-year old man who drank chamomile tea.

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:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matricaria_chamomilla
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3210003/
http://www.drugs.com/npp/chamomile.html

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Herbs & Plants

Inonotus obliquus

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Botanical Name :Inonotus obliquus
Family: Hymenochaetaceae
Genus: Inonotus
Species: I. obliquus
Kingdom: Fungi
Division: Basidiomycota
Class: Agaricomycetes
Order: Hymenochaetales

Common Names  : Chaga Mushroom , Cinder conk, Birch mushroom

Habitat : Inonotus obliquus grows in birch forests of Russia, Korea, Eastern and Northern Europe, northern areas of the United States, in the North Carolina mountains and in Canada. The chaga mushroom is considered a medicinal mushroom in Russian and Eastern European folk medicine

Description:
It is parasitic on birch and other trees. The sterile conk is irregularly formed and has the appearance of burnt charcoal. It is not the fruiting body of the fungus, but a mass of mycelium, mostly black due to the presence of massive amounts of melanin. The fertile fruiting body can be found very rarely as a resupinate (crustose) fungus on or near the clinker, usually appearing after the host tree is dead.

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Cultivation:
Geographically this fungus is mostly found in very cold habitats. It grows very slowly, suggesting it is not a reliable source of bioactive compounds in the long run. Attempts at cultivating this fungus all resulted in a reduced and markedly different production of bioactive metabolites.[9][10]Secondary metabolites were either absent or present in very different ratios, and in general showed significantly less potency in cultivated Chaga.  Cultivated Chaga furthermore results in a reduced diversity of phytosterols, particularly lanosterol, an intermediate in the synthesis of ergosterol and lanostane-type triterpenes. This effect was partially reversed by the addition of silver ion, an inhibitor of ergosterol biosynthesis.

Additionally, the bioactive triterpene betulinic acid is completely absent in cultivated Chaga. In nature Chaga grows pre-dominantly on birches, and birch bark contains up to 22% of betulin. Betulin is poorly absorbed by humans, even when taken intravenously; its bioavailability is very limited. However, the Chaga mushroom converts betulin into betulinic acid, and many internet sources state Chaga’s betulinic acid is bioavailable, even when taken orally. Unfortunately there is no research that confirms this claims.

Medicinal Uses:
Properties: * Analgesic * Antioxidant * AntiViral * Immunostimulant

Chaga mushrooms, or cinder conks, have been a staple of traditional medicine for centuries among the peoples of the boreal forests in Siberia, Asia and North America. They are used as a tonic and blood purifier. They belong to the Polypores, a group of mushrooms that grow on wood and may be the ancestors of most gilled mushrooms. Chaga and the similar reishi mushroom both have a reputation as tonics for longevity and health which are born out by recent scientific studies. These mushrooms show great promise for their anti-viral activities, immune response stimulation and anti-tumor effects that inhibit the spread of cancer cells.

In China, Japan and South Korea, extracts of chaga and other mushrooms from the family Hymenochaetaceae are being produced, sold and exported as anticancer medicinal supplements. The main bioactive ingredient in these extracts are usually (1>3)(1>6) Beta-D-glucans, a type of water-soluble polysaccharide. The biologic properties of crude preparations of these specific Beta-D-glucans have been subject of research since the 1960s.

Although these macro-molecules exhibit a wide range of biologic functions, including antitumor activity, their ability to prevent a range of infectious diseases (by triggering and supporting the immune function) has been studied in the greatest detail. Recent scientific research in Japan and China has been focused more on the anticancer potential and showed the effects of these specific beta-glucans to be comparable to chemotherapy and radiation, but without the side effects. Further research indicated these polysaccharides have strong anti-inflammatory and immune balancing properties, stimulating the body to produce natural killer (NK) cells to battle infections and tumor growth, instead of showing a direct toxicity against pathogens. This property makes well-prepared medicinal mushroom extracts stand out from standard pharmaceuticals – no side effects will occur or develop; the body is healing itself, triggered into action by the BRM effect of the chaga extract. Herbalist David Winston maintains it is the strongest anticancer medicinal mushroom. Russian literature Nobel Prize laureate Alexandr Solzhenitsyn wrote two pages on the medicinal use and value of chaga in his autobiographical novel, based on his experiences in a hospital in Tashkent, Cancer Ward (1968).

Since the 16th century, chaga mushrooms were recorded as being used in folk medicine and the botanical medicine of the Eastern European countries as a remedy for cancer, gastritis, ulcers, and tuberculosis of the bones. A review from 2010 stated, “As early as in the 16th century, chaga was used as an effective folk medicine in Russia and Northern Europe to treat several human malicious tumors and other diseases in the absence of any unacceptable toxic side effects.”

Chemical analysis shows that I. obliquus produces during its development and growth a range of secondary metabolites, including phenolic compounds such as melanins, and lanostane-type triterpenes, which include a small percentage of betulinic acid. Among these metabolites are biologically active components which have been researched and tested for their potential antioxidant, antitumoral, and antiviral activities. Both betulin and betulinic acid are being studied for use as chemotherapeutic agents and are already used as anti-HIV agents ). In an animal study, researchers found betulin from birch bark lowered cholesterol, obesity and improved insulin resistance.

In 1958, scientific studies in Finland and Russia found chaga provided an epochal effect in breast cancer, liver cancer, uterine cancer, and gastric cancer, as well as in hypertension and diabetes.

Research:
A 1998 study in Poland demonstrated chaga’s inhibiting effects on tumor growth. Noda and colleagues found betulin seems to work highly selectively on tumor cells because the interior pH of tumor tissues is generally lower than that of normal tissues, and betulinic acid is only active at those lower levels. Fulda et al. found, in 1997, once inside the cells, betulinic acid induces apoptosis (programmed cell death) in the tumors.[citation needed] In 2005, I. obliquus was evaluated for its potential for protecting against oxidative damage to DNA in a human keratinocyte cell line. The study found the polyphenolic extract protected these cells against hydrogen peroxide-induced oxidative stress. Another study that year found the endopolysaccharide of chaga produced indirect anticancer effects via immunostimulation. The mycelial endopolysaccharide of I. obliquus was identified as a candidate for use as an immune response modifier and indicated the anticancer effect of endopolysaccharide is not directly tumoricidal, but rather is immunostimulation. It also has anti-inflammatory properties. Saitoh Akiko published on the antimutagenic effects of chaga in 1996. Mizuno et al. published on the antitumor and hypoglycemic activities of the polysaccharides from the sclerotia and mycelia of chaga. Due to the serum glucose-lowering activity of polysaccharides, caution should be taken by those with hypoglycemia

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:
http://www.anniesremedy.com/herb_detail502.php
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inonotus_obliquus

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Herbs & Plants

Humulus lupulus

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Botanical name :Humulus lupulus
Family: Cannabaceae
Genus: Humulus
Species: H. lupulus
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Rosales

Synonyms: Humulus americanus. Humulus volubilis. Humulus vulgaris. Lupulus amarus.

Common names:Hop, Common hop, European Hop,

Habitat :Humulus lupulus is native to Europe, western Asia and North America.

Description:
It is a dioecious, perennial, herbaceous climbing plant which sends up new shoots in early spring and dies back to a cold-hardy rhizome in autumn. Strictly speaking it is a bine rather than a vine, using its own shoots to act as supports for new growth.
The plant grows to 6 m (19ft 8in) at a medium rate. It is not frost tender. It is in flower from Jul to August, and the seeds ripen from Sep to October. 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.Bloom Color: Green, Yellow. Main Bloom Time: Early fall, Late summer, Mid summer. Form: Spreading or horizontal, Variable spread.It is noted for attracting wildlife.

CLICK TO SEE THE PICTURES..>…...(01)..(1).(2)…...(3)…….(4).…..(5)

The female plants produce strobiles, which are cone-like reproductive structures (Anon 1999a). The common and most well-known use of H. lupulus is in the flavoring of beer. Lupulin, a resinous substance found in the strobiles, is added to beer to give the distinct bitter taste (Anon 1999b).

Cultivation:
Landscape Uses:Ground cover, Screen. Easily grown in a good garden soil in sun or semi-shade. Prefers a deep rich loam and a warm sheltered position. Plants can succeed in dry shade if plenty of humus is incorporated into the soil, once established they are also somewhat drought tolerant. Hops are reported to tolerate an annual precipitation of between 31 and 137cm, an annual temperature in the range of 5.6 to 21.3°C and a pH of 4.5 to 8.2. Plants are very hardy tolerating temperatures down to about -20°c when dormant. The young shoots in spring, however, can be damaged by any more than a mild frost. A climbing plant, supporting itself by twining around the branches of other plants. Hops are frequently cultivated, both commercially and on a domestic scale, in temperate zones for their seed heads which have many medicinal qualities and are also used as a flavouring and preservative in beer. There are many named varieties. They grow best between the latitudes of 35 – 51°N and 34 – 43°S, with mean summer temperatures of 16 – 18°C. Generally, for beer making, the unfertilized seed heads are preferred and so most male plants are weeded out. Hops are fairly deep rooted, but with a network of shallow feeding roots. These horizontal feeding roots spread out at depth of 20 – 30 cm in the soil and give rise to fibrous roots in upper layers of soil[269]. The vertical roots develop downwards to a depth of about 150 cm with a spread of 183 – 244 cm and have no fibrous roots. The bruised leaves are refreshingly aromatic whilst the flowers cast a pleasing scent. A food plant for many caterpillars[30]. Dioecious. Male and female plants must be grown if seed is required. Special Features: Edible, Invasive, Naturalizing, Attracts butterflies, Suitable for dried flowers, Inconspicuous flowers or blooms.

Propagation:
Seed – sow spring in a cold frame. Germination is fairly quick. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots as soon as they are large enough to handle and plant out in the summer or following spring. Division in spring as new growth begins. Very easy, you can plant the divisions straight out into their permanent positions if required[K]. Basal cuttings in March. Harvest the shoots when they are about 10 – 15cm long with plenty of underground stem. Pot them up into individual pots and keep them in light shade in a cold frame or greenhouse until they are rooting well. Plant them out in the summer.

Edible Uses: 
Edible Parts: Leaves; Root.
Edible Uses: Drink; Rutin; Tea.

Young leaves and young shoots – cooked. The flavour is unique and, to many tastes, delicious. Young leaves can be eaten in salads. Use before the end of May. The leaves contain rutin. The fleshy rhizomes are sometimes eaten. A tea is made from the leaves and cones. It has a gentle calming effect. The dried flowering heads of female plants are used as a flavouring and preservative in beer. They are also medicinal. The flowering heads are sprinkled with bitter-tasting yellow translucent glands, which appear as a granular substance. This substance prevents gram-negative bacteria from growing in the beer or wort. Much of the hop’s use as a flavouring and medicinal plant depends on the abundance of this powdery substance. The seeds contain gamma-linolenic acid, an essential fatty acid that is said to have many important functions in the human body and is rarely found in plant sources. The essential oil in the flowering heads is used as a flavouring in cereal beverages and mineral waters. Extracts from the plant, and the oil, are used as flavouring in non-alcoholic beverages, frozen dairy desserts, candy, baked goods and puddings, with the highest average maximum use level of 0.072% reported for an extract used in baked goods

Medicinal Uses:

Humulus lupulus has also been used for medicinal purposes. Traditionally, it has been used to aid digestion and as a mild sedative to treat insomnia (Anon. 1999a).
From about 1950 to 1970, claims had been made that hops contained high quantities of estrogens (Fenselau 1973). Fenselau, et. al. (1973), assessed the degree of estrogenic activity in hops. They tested purified essential-oil fractions, alpha and beta bitter acids, and organic solvent extracts for estrogenic activity (Fenselau 1973). They also examined several dilutions by uterine-weight assay in immature female mice (Fenselau 1973). All tests indicated that hops lacked estrogenic activity (Fenselau 1973).

Another study by Fenselau (1976), tested samples of hops to detect for the presence of tetrahydrocannabinol, THC. This psychotropic compound is the active chemical component of Cannabis sativa (marijuana). They used the selected ion mode on a combined gas chromatograph – mass spectrometer to assay for the compound in 17 samples (Fenselau 1976). No THC was found in any of the samples (Fenselau 1976).

In 1989, H. lupulus was one of twelve plants studies for the treatment of diabetes mellitus (Swanston-Flatt 1989). The studies were done in vivo in normal and streptozotocin-induced diabetic mice (Swanston-Flatt 1989). Streptozotocin is an older intravenous chemotherapeutic (Anon. 1999c). It is used in the treatment of symptomatic or progressive metastatic islet and non-islet cell carcinoma of the pancreas (USP 1995). It also has diabetogenic and hyperglycemic effects (USP 1995). It has been shown to induce diabetes and lower pancreatic insulin content in insulin promoter-mB7-l transgenic mice when given in low doses (Harlen 1995). The mice were given preparations of the herb for 28 days (Swanston-Flatt 1989). In normal diabetic mice, the hops showed no effect on their basal plasma glucose and insulin, glucose tolerance, insulin-induced hypoglycemia, and glycated hemoglobin (Swanston-Flatt 1989). In the streptozotocin diabetic mice, the hops did not significantly affect the parameters of glucose homeostasis listed above or in pancreatic insulin concentration (Swanston-Flatt 1989).

Other modern day experimentation has led to the observance of a variety of possible medicinal uses of H. lupulus, including antibacterial activity (Langezaal 1992; Simpson 1992), treatment for gastritis (Krivenko 1989; Torosyan 1974), and even cancer prevention (Anon. 1998, Buhler 1999, Yasukawa 1995).

Two studies were done on the antibacterial and antimicrobial activity of H. lupulus. Simpson (1992) performed experiments on H. lupulus to determine what factors determine its antibacterial activity. It was determined that a decrease in pH caused the greatest stimulation of antibacterial activity in the weak acids (trans-isohumulone, humulone, colupulone and trans-humulinic acid) of the hops plant (Simpson 1992). The trans-isohumulone was found to have the greatest activity (Simpson 1992). Other monovalent cations stimulated activity, but not to the extent observed by protons (Simpson 1992). Divalent cations produced mixed reactions (from little effect to reduced effect) (Simpson 1992.) The activity of the trans-isohumulone was also found to be antagonized by lipids and beta-cyclodextrin (Simpson 1992). Langezaal (1992) did a study on the antimicrobial effects of essential oils and extracts of H. lupulus. He isolated the essential oils by hydrodistillation and the extracts by soaking the strobiles in chloroform (Langezaal 1992). The compounds had anntimicrobial effects against Bacillus subtilis, Staphlococcus aureus and Trichophylon mentagrophytes var. interdigitale but none against Escherichia coli and Candida albicans (Langezaal 1992).

In 1974, Totosyan conducted a study of H. lupulus in 46 chronic hyposecretory gastritis patients. A decoction of H. lupulus was given to the patients and in 36, a positive therapeutic effect was observed (Totosyan 1974). This was due to the high secretory-motor stimulating effect of the hops (Totosyan 1974). Later, another stuliy of this type was done by Krivenko (1989). He gave an herbal complex of H. lupulus, Achillea millefolium, Urtica dioica, Cichorium, Polygonum, Matricaria chamomilla, Helichrysum arenarium, Calendula, and corn stigmas to patients suffering from chronic hyposecretory gastritis, chronic hepatocholecystitis and/or angiocholitis (Krivenko 1989). No results were reported in this document.

Recent research has examined the role of H. lupulus on cancer prevention. Songsan (1990) used spectral methods to establish the structures of isoxanthohumol, xanthohumaol, and two new chalcone derivatives 3-(isoprenyl)-2,4-dihydroxy-4, 6- dimethyoxychalcone and 2,6 dimethyoxy-4,4-dihydroxychalcone. In 1998, xanthohumol was shown to inhibit the activity of the enzyme cytochrome P450, a component in the activation of the uncontrolled division of cancer cells (Anon. 1998). This research, conducted by Buh!er (1999) looked at the effects of the flavonoids and chalcones of hops on cancer chemoprevention and cancer chemotherapy. A study by Yasukawa (1995) looked at the effects of another compound in hops: humulon, on tumor promotion. It was shown that humulon inhibited 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate (TPA) induced inflammation (Yasukawa 1995). Humulon also had a pronounced inhibition of the tumor promoting factor of TPA on the growth of mouse skin tumors that had been activated by 7, 12-dimethylbenz[a]anthracene (Yasukawa 1995).

It is evident that more research needs to be conducted before proven medicinal significance of H. lupulus can be claimed. Clearly, the emphasis of the research will be on cancer prevention. And in this era, with the discovery of compounds such as Vincristine and Vinblastine in Vinca roseus, the possibility may not be so unrealistic.

Other Uses:

Dye; Essential; Fibre; Paper.

A fine brown dye is obtained from the leaves and flower heads. An essential oil from the female fruiting heads is used in perfumery. Average yields are 0.4 – 0.5%. Extracts of the plant are used in Europe in skin creams and lotions for their alleged skin-softening properties. A fibre is obtained from the stems. Similar to hemp (Cannabis sativa) but not as strong, it is used to make a coarse kind of cloth. It is sometimes used for filler material in corrugated paper or board products, but is unsuited for corrugated paper because of low pulp yield and high chemical requirement, or for production of high-grade pulp for speciality paper. The fibre is very durable but it is difficult to separate, the stems need to be soaked beforehand for a whole winter. A paper can also be made from the fibre, the stems are harvested in the autumn, the leaves removed and the stems steamed until the fibres can be removed. The fibre is cooked for 2 hours with lye and then hand pounded with mallets or ball milled for 2½ hours. The paper is brown in colour
The species is a main ingredient of many beers, and as such is widely cultivated for use by the brewing industry . The fragrant flower cones (hops) impart bitterness and flavor, and also have preservative qualities. The extract is antimicrobial, which makes it useful for making natural deodorant. Hops also contain the potent phytoestrogen, 8-prenylnaringenin, that may have a relative binding affinity to estrogen receptors. Hop also contains myrcene, humulene, xanthohumol, myrcenol, linalool, tannins, and resin.

Known Hazards:  Skin contact with the plant causes dermatitis in sensitive people. Hops dermatitis has long been recognized. Not only hands and face, but legs have suffered purpuric eruptions due to hop picking. Although only 1 in 3,000 workers is estimated to be treated, one in 30 are believed to suffer dermatitis. Dislodged hairs from the plant can irritate the eyes. Sedative effect may worsen depression. Avoid during pregnancy (due to antispasmodic action on uterus). Avoid with breast, uterine and cervical cancers

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:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Humulus_lupulus
http://klemow.wilkes.edu/Humulus.html
http://www.piam.com/mms_garden/plants.html
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Humulus+lupulus

 

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Herbs & Plants

Artemisia afra

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Botanical Name ; Artemisia afra
Family: Asteraceae
Genus: Artemisia
Species: Artemisia afra
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Asterales

Common Names:wild wormwood, African wormwood (Eng.); wilde-als (Afr.); umhlonyane (Xhosa); mhlonyane (Zulu); lengana (Tswana); zengana (Southern Sotho)

Habitat :Artemisia afra has a  wide distribution from South Africa, to areas reaching to the North and East, as far north as Ethiopia. Artemisia afra is the only indigenous species in this genus.

Description:
Artemisia afra grows in thick, bushy, slightly untidy clumps, usually with tall stems up to 2 m high, but sometimes as low as 0.6 m. The stems are thick and woody at the base, becoming thinner and softer towards the top. Many smaller side branches shoot from the main stems. The stems are ribbed with strong swollen lines that run all the way up. The soft leaves are finely divided, almost fern-like. The upper surface of the leaves is dark green whereas the undersides and the stems are covered with small white hairs, which give the shrub the characteristic overall grey colour. A. afra flowers in late summer, from March to May. The individual creamy yellow flowers are small (3-4 mm in diameter), nodding and crowded at the tips of the branches. Very typical of A. afra is the strong, sticky sweet smell that it exudes when touched or cut.

CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES

Medicinal Uses;
Artemisia afra is a well-known medicinal plant in Africa, and is still used effectively by people of many cultures. Uses range from treating cough, fever, colic, headache, to intestinal parasites and malaria. In addition, Artemisia afra is frequently used as a moth repellent, and in organic insecticidal sprays.

The roots, stems and leaves are used as enemas, poultices, infusions, lotions, inhaled (e.g. smoked or snuffed), or as an essential oil.

Artemisia afra is used in many different ways and one of the most common practices is to insert fresh leaves into the nostrils to clear blocked nasal passages. Another maybe not so common use is to place leaves in socks for sweaty feet. The roots, stems and leaves are used in many different ways and taken as enemas, poultices, infusions, body washes, lotions, smoked, snuffed or drunk as a tea. A. afra has a very bitter taste and is usually sweetened with sugar or honey when drunk. Wilde-als brandy is a very popular medicine still made and sold today. Margaret Roberts lists many other interesting uses which includes the use in natural insecticidal sprays and as a moth repellent.

Used mainly as an aqueous decoction or infusion applied externally or taken orally, the extremely bitter taste being masked by the addition of sugar or honey. Fresh leaf may be added to boiling water and the vapors inhaled.  For the treatment of cough, croup, whooping cough, influenza, fever, diabetes, gastro-intestinal disorders and intestinal worms.  As an inhalation for the relief of headache and nasal congestion or a lotion to treat hemorrhoids. In traditional practice, fresh leaf is inserted into the nostrils to relieve nasal congestion or placed in boiling water as a steam bath for menstrual pain or after childbirth. Warmed leaves may be applied externally as a poultice to relieve inflammation and aqueous infusions administered per rectum or applied as a lotion to treat hemorrhoids.  African Artemisia afra foliage was smoked by many Indian tribes to induce visionary states during religious ceremonies. It is a strong narcotic, analgesic and antihistamine. It is an excellent smoke or smoke-mix, reputed for its hallucinogenic effects and psychoactive properties. In Central America and the Caribbean Islands, it is dried and smoked along with Cannabis sativa as an aphrodisiac.  Volatile oils from the plant resulted in significant activity against Aspergillus ochraceus, A. niger, A. parasiticus, Candida albicans, Alternaria alternata, Geotrichum candidum, and Penicillium citrium

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://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Artemisia_afra
http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_UZ.htm
http://www.plantzafrica.com/plantab/artemisafra.htm
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Medical Marijuana: What Does Science Say?

A dried flowered bud of the Cannabis sativa plant.Image via Wikipedia

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A look at the pros and cons of medical marijuana use, a topic that inspires strong opinions on both sides.

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Whom you ask, marijuana is a dangerous drug that should be kept illegal alongside heroin and PCP, or it’s a miracle herb with a trove of medical benefits that the government is seeking to deny the public — or something in between: a plant with medical uses and drawbacks, worth exploring.

As the political debates over medical marijuana drag on, a small cadre of researchers continues to test inhaled marijuana for the treatment of pain, nausea and muscle spasms.

All drugs have risks, they point out — including ones in most Americans’ medicine cabinets, such as aspirin and other pain-relievers or antihistamines such as Benadryl. Doctors try to balance those risks against the potential for medical good — why not for marijuana as well, they ask.

The truth, these researchers say, is that marijuana has medical benefits — for chronic-pain syndromes, cancer pain, multiple sclerosis, AIDS wasting syndrome and the nausea that accompanies chemotherapy — and attempts to understand and harness these are being hampered. Also, they add, science reveals that the risks of marijuana use, which have been thoroughly researched, are real but generally small.

Dr. Donald Abrams, chief of hematology and oncology at San Francisco General Hospital and professor of clinical medicine at UC San Francisco, says he sees cancer patients in pain, not eating or sleeping well, experiencing nausea and vomiting from treatment, and being depressed about their situation. He says he is glad that he lives in California, where use of medical marijuana is allowed by state law, although federal officials continue to raid cannabis dispensaries in the state and scrutinize practices of physicians who specialize in writing cannabis recommendations for patients.

“I can talk to patients about medicinal cannabis I’m often recommending it to them for these indications,” Abrams says.
You may click to see:-> The medical pros and cons, and some mitigating factors, of Cannabis sativa.

Facts About Medical Marijuana

Sources: Los Angles Times

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