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Herbs & Plants

Barosma betulina

Botanical Name : Barosma betulina
Family: Rutaceae
Genus: Agathosma
Species: A. betulina
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Sapindales

Synonym: Agathosma betulina, Diosma betulina, Agathosma  crenulata

Common Names: Round leaf buchu , oval leaf buchu

Habitat: Barosma betulina is native to the lower elevation mountains of western South Africa, where it occurs near streams in fynbos habitats.

Description:
Barosma betulina is an evergreen shrub and a flowering plant growing to 2 m tall. The leaves are opposite and of pale green colour, 1/2 to 3/4 inch long, 1/2 inch or less wide, leathery and glossy, with a blunt, strongly-curved tip and finely-toothed margin, with round oil glands scattered through the leaf. Frequently the small white or pae pink flowers, with five petals, and the brownish fruits may be found mixed with the drug. The leaves have a strongly aromatic taste and a peppermint-like odour. ; the fruit is a five-parted capsule which splits open to release the seeds……..click & see the pictures

Edible Use:
Wild plants of this species are still plentiful but are being harvested faster than they can reproduce. The threat of their becoming scarce has led to efforts to cultivate them. The essential oils and extracts of the leaves are used as flavoring for teas, candy, and a liquor known as buchu brandy in South Africa. The two primary chemical constituents of the oils of A. betulina are isomenthone and diosphenol. The extract is said to taste like blackcurrant.

Constituents: The principal constituents of Buchu leaves are volatile oil and mucilage, also diosphenol, which has antiseptic properties, and is considered by some to be the most important constituent of Buchu its absence from the variety known as ‘Long Buchu’ has led to the exclusion of the latter leaves from the British Pharmacopoeia.

Medicinal Uses:
The plant has been used by the indigenous people of South Africa to as a folk remedy for various disorders. Dutch settlers in early times used Agathosma betulina commonly called buchu to make a brandy tincture. The tincture is still used today. In gravel, inflammation and catarrh of the bladder it is specially useful.

The leaves are used locally for antiseptic purposes and to ward off insects.  In western herbalism, the leaves are used for infections of the genito-urinary system, such as cystitis, urethritis and prostates.  Internally used for urinary tract infections (especially prostates and cystitis), digestive problems, gout, rheumatism, coughs, and colds, often combined with Althaea officinalis.  Externally used in traditional African medicine as a powder to deter insects and in a vinegar-based lotion for bruises and sprains.

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/Agathosma_betulina
http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/b/buchu-78.html

http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_AB.htm

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Herbs & Plants

Potato plant(Phyllanthus reticulatus)

Botanical Name : Phyllanthus reticulatus
Family: Phyllanthaceae/Euphorbiaceae
Tribe: Phyllantheae
Genus: Phyllanthus
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Malpighiales
Common Names: potato plant, roast potato plant (Eng); aartappelbos (Afr); intaba-yengwe, umchumelo (isiZulu); thethenya (xiTsonga)
Sanskrit Synonyms:  Poolika, Krishnakamboji

Hindi Name ;Pancholi, Makhi

Malayalam Name: Niroori, Niroli

Parts Used :  Roots, Leaves.

Habitat :Phyllanthus reticulatus is very common and widespread in the Okavango Delta. It often grows in low altitudes in riverine thickets. It is distributed along the Eastern Cape and Kwa- Zulu Natal coastal areas, Limpopo Province, Zimbabwe and throughout tropical Africa.

Description:
Phyllanthus reticulatus is usually a dense deciduous shrub or small tree with a distinct smell that is emitted by the minute flowers when they open towards the early evening. This is one of the fascinating characteristic smells of Africa. Despite its name, this plant which belongs to the Euphorbiaceae is not at all related to the true potato which belongs to the family Solanaceae.
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Phyllanthus reticulatus is a many branched shrub, sometimes partially scrambling, usually 1-5 m high, or a small twiggy tree that grows up to 8 m in height. The bark is light reddish-brown or grey-brown with hairy stems when young, which become smooth with age.

The leaves alternate along slender branches. They are up to 25 cm long and appear as leaflets of large pinnate leaves. The leaves are thinly textured, usually hairless. They have a noticeable reddish net-veining which is more visible above than below.

You may click to see the pictures

The potato plant has very small greenish-yellow flowers with a reddish tinge. They are clustered on the tips of short slender branches that are about 3 cm long. The flowers appear before or with the leaves. One female and a number of male flowers are grouped together.

The flowers of this plant are responsible for the strange smell of potatoes which is often encountered along river banks in the Lowveld, particularly on spring and summer evenings. It flowers from September to October, but the flowering season can extend from July onwards. P. reticulatus has very small, roundish berry like fruits that are green at first, turning purple-black, 4-6 mm in diameter.

Propagation & Cultivation :
P. reticulatus grows easily from seeds. Stored seeds should be soaked in water for a day and then be scrubbed with a brush to remove the fleshy part. They must then be sown in trays filled with normal potting soil. They should not be planted too deep as they can easily rot. Trays must be kept in a warm area, away from direct sunlight, but not too dark. The soil must be kept moist, but not wet to prevent seed from rotting. The seeds take 7 to 11 days to germinate. There is a very low success rate in growing potato bush through cuttings.

Potato bush grows best in deep moist soil, but can also tolerate sandy but not too dry conditions. This plant is best planted together with other taller bushes where it can scramble.

Medicinal Uses:
P. reticulatus has numerous medicinal uses. Roots, bark, leaves, as well as fruits are used for a large number of complaints, notably to treat asthma and coughs, and for injuries of the skin. And varity of ailments including smallpos,syphilis,asthama,diarrhea and bleeding from gums. Moreover,it is also claimed the plant has antidiabetic activity in tribal areas.

The leaves and roots are used as medicine for the fractures and traumatic injury.

Medicinal Properties of the Plant as per Ayurveda: Plant pacifies vitiated vata, pitta, diabetes, burning sensation, burns, skin diseases, obesity and urinary retention.

Other Uses:
Tannin or dyestuff: A black ink is prepared in the Philippines from the ripe fruits. In Indonesia a decoction of stem and leaves was used for dyeing cotton black. It is also used as a mordant. In India the root is reported to produce a red dye. The wood is sometimes used to make utensils.

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://www.plantzafrica.com/plantnop/phyllanthusret.htm
http://web.usm.my/jps/19-2-08/Article%2019-2-5.pdf
http://www.hkflora.com/v2/leaf/euphor_show_plant.php?plantid=1097
http://enchantingkerala.org/ayurveda/ayurvedic-medicinal-plants/niroori.php
http://www.worldagroforestrycentre.org/sea/Products/AFDbases/af/asp/SpeciesInfo.asp?SpID=18066
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phyllanthus

 

 

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Wounded? Try honey

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Anti-bacterial properties could make the nectar an effective treatment for sores that refuse to mend.
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With the rise in cases of diabetes, more and more people will suffer from foot ulcers that do not heal and may end up needing amputation because treatment of chronic wounds is so difficult.

But now, an alternative treatment based on a remedy used since antiquity is getting increased attention — smearing wounds with honey.

Manuka Honey, a medicinal honey harvested from beekeepers in New Zealand, is now being marketed for application on wounds. In June, Health Canada approved it under the brand name Medihoney for use as a wound dressing and an anti-microbial. In July, the US Food and Drug Administration cleared it for use in wounds and burns.

The effects of treating wounds with honey have been noted mostly in anecdotal reports and case histories, making it hard for scientists to know whether the remedy compares favourably with standard wound dressings such as hydrogels, silver-impregnated gauzes or topical antibiotics. But in recent years, larger studies have shown promising results, and more are underway.

“In the last few years, a lot of good science has been done in the area,” says Shona Blair, a microbiologist at the University of Sydney, Australia, who studies the anti-bacterial properties of honey.

Chronic wounds are a growing medical problem. Each year, an estimated 100,000 diabetics will lose a limb through amputation, mostly as a result of non-healing wounds.

Acute wounds are usually treated by keeping them moist and sterile, which promotes the innate wound-healing ability of the body. But in patients with underlying conditions such as diabetes, a small crack in the skin often fails to heal and can develop into a chronic wound.

Such a wound runs a great risk of becoming infected, which in turn reduces the chance of healing — a vicious cycle that can lead to severe infection, even down to the bone. Chronic wounds are at times treated surgically, by removing dead skin to promote healing. Patients are also treated with off-loading orthotic shoes to prevent applying pressure on the wound, but these are cumbersome and rarely efficiently used.

The honey treatment involves putting it on bandages and applying it to wounds. Because there is a concern among some physicians that untreated honey may carry a risk of botulism — a rare but fatal disease caused by contamination — companies such as Comvita, which markets Medihoney, irradiate the product to sterilise it.

There are several possible ways that honey helps wounds heal, researchers say.

Honey, rich in sugars, provides a hyperosmotic environment — meaning it will suck the water out of bacteria, killing them.

Honey is antibacterial in other ways too. During its creation, worker bees add an enzyme — glucose oxidase — to the nectar they’ve collected. When the honey is applied to a wound, it is exposed to oxygen in the air, and the glucose oxidase produces hydrogen peroxide — bleach — killing the bacteria.

Honey, Blair adds, seems to be active against troublesome antibiotic-resistant strains such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus — an important thing, because chronic wounds are often colonised by such bacteria. She’s tested various Australian and New Zealand honeys against bacterial strains obtained from hospitals and found that even the strains most resistant to antibiotics failed to grow and were killed in the presence of honey.

Peter Molan, a New Zealand biochemist at the University of Waikato, has reported that Manuka honey, named after a New Zealand tree, can stop bacterial growth even when diluted up to 56 times. And in studies in piglets and rats he’s found that honey has anti-inflammatory properties, stimulating skin to grow into a wound, advancing its closure.

Patient case histories also provide evidence that honey can help wounds heal. In 2001, Dr Jennifer Eddy, associate professor at the department of family medicine at the University of Wisconsin, US, was treating a patient with an extreme case of diabetic foot ulcer. It had refused to heal despite treatment with conventional remedies: surgical debridement (or removal of dead tissue), antibiotics, hydrogel dressings and use of an off-loading orthotic.

The foot was infected down to the bone. With the threat of amputation looming, Eddy treated the patient’s wound with honey, smearing it on the bandage and applying it to the wound.

The wound healed, the leg was salvaged, and in 2005 Eddy published the case report in the Journal of Family Practice. There are more than 200 similar case reports in the medical literature, according to a 2006 review, for a wide variety of chronic wounds — diabetic foot ulcers, ulcers due to insufficient venous or arterial blood flow, bed sores, burns, wounds containing antibiotic-resistant bacteria and ones caused by weakened immunity.

Anecdotes are one thing, but the medical gold standard is a clinical trial. And that is a problem for honey, Eddy says. Last year, while at a conference, she discussed with a colleague the possibility of conducting a trial on honey. “He told me, ‘There’s no money in honey’,” she says.

Eddy did manage to obtain funds for a randomised, clinical trial comparing store-bought honey against standard treatments for intractable foot ulcers. Since March, seven patients have been recruited; the goal is to recruit 40. Results are expected in about two years, Eddy says.

A three-year-long study at the University of Bonn, Germany, reported good healing rates in the use of honey as a dressing for wounds in 15 children with cancer, a population prone to non-healing ulcers because of weakened immunity after radiation and chemotherapy.

Preliminary results of another clinical trial comparing honey with hydrogel dressings in 100 patients with chronic leg ulcers were presented in May at a wound meeting in Scotland. The honey-dressing group healed faster and had less infection than the standard treatment group.

Other studies are underway: One, at the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital in Cape Town, South Africa, will compare a honey-based anti-bacterial wound gel product to standard treatment in about 80 children with burns. A smaller pilot study will look at honey treatment in head and neck cancer patients undergoing radiation.

Some specialists are not too optimistic about the benefits of honey in wound management. “It’s good with butter and bread — I don’t think honey on Band-Aid is the answer,” says Dr Adrian Barbul, chair of surgery at Sinai Hospital in Baltimore and professor of surgery at Johns Hopkins University.

But Dr Arne Simon, director of paediatric oncology at the Children’s Hospital of Bonn University and first author of the study on children with cancer, says that although more clinical studies are needed, the data for the children, at least, looked good. Specialists, he says, should consider standardised honey when faced with other wounds that just don’t want to heal.

Click to read the usefulness of honey 

Source:The Telegraph (Kolkata, India)

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News on Health & Science

How alcohol induces breast cancer

A new study has shown how alcohol-induced breast cancer develops in women.

Alcohol consumption is a well-established risk factor for breast cancer in women. The study was conducted by a team of researchers at the University of Mississippi Medical Centre.

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As part of the study, researchers developed a novel mouse breast cancer model to mimic human breast cancer disease. Estrogen receptor-positive breast adenocarcinoma cells were subcutaneously injected near the pad of the fourth mammary gland of female immunocompetant mice (C57BL/6).

The mice were fed with moderate EtOH (alcohol) for four weeks, the equivalent of two drinks per day in humans. In the second week, mouse breast cancer cells were injected at cite referenced above.

Researchers found that moderate alcohol consumption significantly increased the tumour size of breast cancer and micro-vessel density in mice. This study presents the first animal model to confirm that alcohol consumption stimulates tumour growth and malignancy of breast cancer.

Source:The Times Of India