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Herbs & Plants

Croton Eleuteria

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Botanical Name .: Croton Eleuteria
Family: Euphorbiaceae
Genus: Croton
Species: C. eluteria
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Malpighiales

Synonyms:  Sweetwood Bark. Sweet Bark. Bahama Cascarilla. Elutheria. Clutia Eleuteria. Cascarillae Cortex. Cortex Thuris. Aromatic Quinquina. False Quinquina.

Common Names:   Cascarilla
Habitat:   Croton Eleuteria  is native to the Caribbean.  ( The Bahama Islands. }
Description:
Croton Eleuteria is a small tree rarely reaching 20 feet in height, with scanty, alternate, ovate-lanceolate leaves, averaging 2 inches long, closely-scaled below, giving a metallic silver-bronze appearance, with scattered, white scales above. The flowers are small, with white petals, and very fragrant, appearing in March and April. The scented bark is fissured, and pale yellowish brown. It is imported from Nassau, in New Providence.

The quills of dried bark average 2 inches in length, and 3/8 inch in thickness. They are often furrowed in both directions, so that they appear to be chequered. The outer, thin, corky layer is white, often covered with a fine lichen ( Verrucaria albissima). The second layer is brownish, and sometimes shows through. The bark is hard and compact, breaking with a short, resinous fracture. The taste is nauseating, warm and bitter, and the odour agreeable and aromatic, especially when burned, resembling weak musk, so that it is used in fumigating pastilles, and sometimes mixed with tobacco, though in the latter case some regard it as being liable to cause giddiness and symptoms of intoxication….click & see the pictures

Part Used in medicine:  The dried bark.

Chemical constituents :
Croton Eleuteria bark contains anywhere between 1 and 3% volatile oils, a unique series of diterpenoid compounds called Cascarillins, lignins, tannin, and resins. There are also a long list of aromatic terpene and diterpene compounds, including pinene, vanillin, D-limonene, and thujene.

Medicinal Uses:
An aromatic, bitter tonic, with possibly narcotic properties. It is used in dyspepsia, intermittent and low fevers, diarrhoea and dysentery. It is a stimulant to mucous membranes, and in chronic bronchitis is used as an expectorant; while it is valuable in atonia dyspepsia, flatulence, chronic diarrhcea, nocturnal pollutions, debility and convalescence. Added to cinchona, it will arrest vomiting caused by that drug. The leaves can be infused for a digestive tea,

Other Uses:   The bark yields a good, black dye. The volatile oil is used  as   fumigant.

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/Croton_eluteria
http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/c/cascar28.html

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

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Herbs & Plants

Nutmeg ( Myristica fragrans)

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Botanical Name : Myristica fragrans
Family: Myristicaceae
Genus:     Myristica
Species: M. fragrans
Kingdom: Plantae
Order:     Magnoliales

Synonyms: Nux Moschata. Myristica officinalis (Linn.). Myristica aromata. Myristica.

Common Name :Nutmeg, Jatiphal, Jajikaya, Jatiphala, Jayaphala.

Bengali:  Jayphal

Manipuri: jayfal
Marathi: jatiphala, jayaphala
Nepali: jaiphal
Oriya:  jaiphala
Punjabi: jafal
Sanskrit: jatiphala
Tamil: cati-k-kay
Telugu: jajikaya
Tibetan: dza ti pha la
Urdu: jayaphal

Habitat: Nutmeg  is native to Banda Islands, Malayan Archipelago, Molucca Islands, and cultivated in Sumatra, French Guiana. It is widely grown across the tropics including Guangdong and Yunnan in China, Taiwan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Grenada in the Caribbean, Kerala in India, Sri Lanka and South America.

Description:
Myristica fragrans is a small evergreen tree, usually 5–13 m (16–43 ft) tall, but occasionally reaching 20 m (66 ft). The alternately arranged leaves are dark green,5–15 cm (2.0–5.9 in) long by 2–7 cm (0.8–2.8 in) wide with petioles about 1 cm (0.4 in) long. The species is dioecious, i.e. “male” or staminate flowers and “female” or carpellate flowers are borne on different plants, although occasional individuals produce both kinds of flower. The flowers are bell-shaped, pale yellow and somewhat waxy and fleshy. Staminate flowers are arranged in groups of one to ten, each 5–7 mm (0.2–0.3 in) long; carpellate flowers are in smaller groups, one to three, and somewhat longer, up to 10 mm (0.4 in) long.

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Carpellate trees produce smooth yellow ovoid or pear-shaped fruits, 6–9 cm (2.4–3.5 in) long with a diameter of 3.5–5 cm (1.4–2.0 in). The fruit has a fleshy husk. When ripe the husk splits into two halves along a ridge running the length of the fruit. Inside is a purple-brown shiny seed, 2–3 cm (0.8–1.2 in) long by about 2 cm (0.8 in) across, with a red or crimson covering (an aril). The seed is the source of nutmeg, the aril the source of mace.

The tree  has a greyish-brown smooth bark, abounding in a yellow juice. The branches spread in whorls – alternate leaves, on petioles about 1 inch long, elliptical, glabrous, obtuse at base – acuminate, aromatic, dark green and glossy above, paler underside and 4 to 6 inches long. Flowers dioecious, small in axillary racemes. Peduncles and pedicles glabrous. Male flowers three to five more on a peduncle. Calyx urceolate, thick and fleshy, covered with an indistinct reddish pubescence dingy pale yellow, cut into three erect teeth. Female flowers differ little from the male, except pedicel is often solitary. Fruit is a pendulous, globose drupe, consisting of a succulent pericarp – the mace arillus covering the hard endocarp, and a wrinkled kernel with ruminated endosperm. When the arillus is fresh it is a brilliant scarlet, when dry more horny, brittle, and a yellowish-brown colour. The seed or nutmeg is firm, fleshy, whitish, transversed by red-brown veins, abounding in oil. The tree does not bloom till it is nine years old, when it fruits and continues to do so for seventy-five years without attention. In Banda Islands there are three harvests, the chief one in July or August, the next in November, and the last in March or April. The fruit is gathered by means of a barb attached to a long stick. The mace is separated from the nut and both are dried separately. The nutmeg or kernel of the fruit and the arillus or mace are the official parts.
After the mace is removed, the nutmegs are dried on gratings, three to six weeks over a slow charcoal fire – but are often sun-dried for six days previously. The curing protects them from insects.

When thoroughly dried, they rattle in the shell, which is cracked with a mallet. The nutmegs are graded, 1st Penang, 2nd Dutch (these are usually covered with lime to preserve them from insects), 3rd Singapore, and 4th long nutmegs.

Nutmegs have a strong, peculiar and delightful fragrance and a very strong bitter warm aromatic taste.

CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES….
Edible Uses:
Nutmeg and mace have similar sensory qualities, with nutmeg having a slightly sweeter and mace a more delicate flavour. Mace is often preferred in light dishes for the bright orange, saffron-like hue it imparts. Nutmeg is used for flavouring many dishes, usually in ground or grated form, and is best grated fresh in a nutmeg grater.

In Penang cuisine, dried, shredded nutmeg rind with sugar coating is used as toppings on the uniquely Penang ais kacang. Nutmeg rind is also blended (creating a fresh, green, tangy taste and white colour juice) or boiled (resulting in a much sweeter and brown juice) to make iced nutmeg juice.
In Indian cuisine, nutmeg is used in many sweet, as well as savoury, dishes (predominantly in Mughlai cuisine). It is also added in small quantities as a medicine for infants. It may also be used in small quantities in garam masala. Ground nutmeg is also smoked in India.
In Indonesian cuisine, nutmeg is used in various dishes,  mainly in many soups, such as soto soup, baso soup or sup kambing.

In Middle Eastern cuisine, ground nutmeg is often used as a spice for savoury dishes.

In original European cuisine, nutmeg and mace are used especially in potato dishes and in processed meat products; they are also used in soups, sauces, and baked goods. It is also commonly used in rice pudding. In Dutch cuisine, nutmeg is added to vegetables such as Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and string beans. Nutmeg is a traditional ingredient in mulled cider, mulled wine, and eggnog. In Scotland, mace and nutmeg are usually both essential ingredients in haggis.

In Italian cuisine, nutmeg is almost uniquely used as part of the stuffing for many regional meat-filled dumplings like tortellini, as well as for the traditional meatloaf.

Japanese varieties of curry powder include nutmeg as an ingredient.

In the Caribbean, nutmeg is often used in drinks such as the Bushwacker, Painkiller, and Barbados rum punch. Typically, it is just a sprinkle on the top of the drink.

The pericarp (fruit/pod) is used in Grenada and also in Indonesia to make jam, or is finely sliced, cooked with sugar, and crystallised to make a fragrant candy.

In the US, nutmeg is known as the main pumpkin pie spice and often shows up in simple recipes for other winter squashes such as baked acorn squash.

Essential oils:
The essential oil obtained by steam distillation of ground nutmeg is used widely in the perfumery and pharmaceutical industries. This volatile fraction typically contains 60-80% d-camphene by weight, as well as quantities of d-pinene, limonene, d-borneol, l-terpineol, geraniol, safrol, and myristicin. In its pure form, myristicin is a toxin, and consumption of excessive amounts of nutmeg can result in myristicin poisoning. The oil is colourless or light yellow, and smells and tastes of nutmeg. It contains numerous components of interest to the oleochemical industry, and is used as a natural food flavouring in baked goods, syrups, beverages, and sweets. It is used to replace ground nutmeg, as it leaves no particles in the food. The essential oil is also used in the cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries, for instance, in toothpaste, and as a major ingredient in some cough syrups. In traditional medicine, nutmeg and nutmeg oil were used for disorders related to the nervous and digestive systems.

After extraction of the essential oil, the remaining seed, containing much less flavour, is called “spent”. Spent is often mixed in industrial mills with pure nutmeg to facilitate the milling process, as nutmeg is not easy to mill due to the high percentage of oil in the pure seed. Ground nutmeg with a variable percentage of spent (around 10% w/w) is also less likely to clot. To obtain a better running powder, a small percentage of rice flour also can be added

Nutmeg butter:
Nutmeg butter is obtained from the nut by expression. It is semisolid, reddish-brown in colour, and tastes and smells of nutmeg. About 75% (by weight) of nutmeg butter is trimyristin, which can be turned into myristic acid, a 14-carbon fatty acid, which can be used as a replacement for cocoa butter, can be mixed with other fats like cottonseed oil or palm oil, and has applications as an industrial lubricant.

Medicinal Uses:

Part Use: Dried kernel of the seed.

Constituents: They contain lignin, stearin, volatile oil, starch, gum and 0.08 of an acid substance. By submitting nutmegs and water to distillation, a volatile oil is obtained. The small round heavy nutmeg is the best. Those that are larger, longer, lighter, less marbled, and not so oily, are inferior.

The tonic principle is Myristicin. Oil of Nutmeg is used to conceal the taste of various drugs and as a local stimulant to the gastro-intestinal tract.

Powdered nutmeg is rarely given alone, though it enters into the composition of a number of medicines. The expressed oil is sometimes used externally as a gentle stimulant, and it was once an ingredient of the Emplastrum picis.

The properties of mace are identical to those of the nutmeg.

Both nutmeg and mace are used for flatulence and to correct the nausea arising from other drugs, also to allay nausea and vomiting.

Nutmeg is an agreeable addition to drinks for convalescents.

Grated nutmeg mixed with lard makes an excellent ointment for piles.

In some places roasted nutmeg is applied internally as a remedy for leucorrhaoea.

It is  carminative, stimulant, and tonic, mace aids the digestion, is beneficial to the circulation and is used to mollify febrile upsets and in Asia to relieve nausea.  Mace butter is employed as a mild counter-irritant and used in hair lotions and plasters.  As with nutmeg, large doses of mace can lead to hallucination and epileptiform fits, myristin being poisonous, but dangerous doses are unlikely to be taken in the course of everyday use.  Taken in a toddy, it was a cure for insomnia, but prolonged over-indulgence is now avoided as addictive.

Click & see :

* Herbal remedies using nutmeg (Myristica fragrans)
also known as jatiphala:

*Health Benefits of Nutmeg (Myristica fragrans):

*Different medicinal uses of Nutmeg  :

Medical research:
Nutmeg has been used in medicine since at least the seventh century. In the 19th century, it was used as an abortifacient, which led to numerous recorded cases of nutmeg poisoning. Although used as a folk treatment for other ailments, unprocessed nutmeg has no proven medicinal value today.

One study has shown that the compound macelignan isolated from M. fragrans (Myristicaceae) may exert antimicrobial activity against Streptococcus mutans, and another that a methanolic extract from the same plant inhibited Jurkat cell activity in human leukemia, but these are not currently used treatments.

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://medplants.blogspot.in/search/label/Myristica%20fragrans
http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/n/nutmeg07.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Myristica_fragrans

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nutmeg

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

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Herbs & Plants

Picraena excelsa

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Botanical Name :Picraena excelsa
Family: Simaroubaceae
Genus: Picrasma
Species: P. excelsa
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Sapindales

Synonym: Jamaica Quassia.

Common Names:Bitter Ash ,Picraena excelsa, Quassia undalata, Quassia amara

Habitat: Bitter Ash  is native to West Indies. It is found in Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Venezuela. It is threatened by habitat loss.

Description:
This is the Quassia excelsa of Linnaeus, though the genuine plant is the Quassia amara. The species amara is a large shrub, or low tree, inhabiting Surinam; while the excelsa is a lofty tree with a very large trunk, and is found in Jamaica and other portions of the West Indies.The tree grows from 50 to 100 feet in height and has smooth, gray bark.  “Leaves alternate, unequally pinnate; leaflets opposite, oblong, acuminate. Flowers polygamous; sepals five, minute; petals five, pale; stamens five. Racemes axillary toward the ends of the brandies, very compound, panicled, many-flowered. Fruit of three black, shining drupes the size of a pea, only one of which comes to perfection.”

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Medicinal Uses:
Parts Used: Wood of trunk and branches, dried

Quassia is tonic, stomachic and antiseptic, possessing all the properties that belong to the other pure bitters. It is employed in cases of anorexia for promoting the appetite and assisting the digestive functions. It is wholly devoid of all irritant, stimulant, or astringent properties, and hence has been regarded as the type of the pure bitters. Its use is mostly confined to atonic states of the system, with indigestion and loss of appetite.

It is an excellent remedy in dyspeptic conditions due to lack of tone. As with all bitters, it stimulates the production of saliva and digestive juices and so increases the appetite. It may safely be used in all cases of lack of appetite such as anorexia nervosa and digestive sluggishness. The wood has been used to prepare “qQuassia cups.” A Quassia cup is filled with hot water and the wqater is allowed to cool somewhat before being drunk. This results in a liquid that is very bitter and thus acts to stimulate the appetitie. Quassia cups can be used in this way for a number of years and will retain an ability to produce a bitter water extract.. It is used in the expulsion of threadworms and other parasites, both as an enema and an infusion. The herb’s bitterness has led to its being used as a treatment for malaria and other fevers, and in the Caribbean it is given for dysentery. Externally as a lotion it may be used against lice infestations.

Known Hazards;
Allergies:

Avoid in individuals with a known allergy or hypersensitivity to quassia or its constituents.

Side Effects and Warnings:

*Quassia is likely safe when consumed in amounts found in foods and beverages. It has Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) status in the United States.

*Quassia appears to have a very mild side effects profile. The most common side effects are nausea and vomiting, due to its bitter taste. There have also been reports of mucous membrane irritation.

* Quassia may cause drowsiness or sedation. Use cautiously if driving or operating heavy machinery. Long-term use of quassia may cause vision changes and blindness

*Use cautiously with cardiac (heart) medications and blood thinners.

*Avoid in people who are pregnant, and in males and females trying to become pregnant due to quassia’s potential antifertility effects.

* Avoid intravenous use in cardiomyopathy (heart disease) patients.

Other Uses:
Quassia has been used by brewers as a substitute for hops and is in general use by gardeners, mixed with soft soap, for spraying plants affected with green-fly.

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/Picrasma_excelsa
http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/a/ashbi074.html
http://doctorschar.com/archives/quassia-picriena-excelsa/
http://www.appliedhealth.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=108436
http://www.thefreshcarrot.ca/ns/DisplayMonograph.asp?StoreID=5020E137E9014BC38944489AF1F99926&DocID=bottomline-quassia
http://www.henriettes-herb.com/eclectic/cook/PICRAENA_EXCELSA.htm

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

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Herbs & Plants

Matico

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Botanical Name : Piper angustifolium
Family: Piperaceae
Genus:     Piper
Species: P. aduncum
Kingdom: Plantae
Order:     Piperales

Synonyms: Artanthe elongata. Stephensia elongata. Piper granulosum. Piper elongatum. Yerba soldado. Soldier’s Herb. Thoho-thoho. Moho-moho.

Common Names : Matico  or Soldier’s herb, gusanillo, herbe du soldat, higuillo,wer-ui-qui-yik higuillo de hoja, hoja santa, jaborandi falso, jawawa, jointwood, kakoro, malembe toto,tupa burraco, man-anihs, matico pepper, matico, maticoblätter, matika, matiko, menuda, moco-moco, moho-moho, mucumucu, pimenta de fruto ganxoso, pimenta-de-fruto-ganchoso, upnpoingpoing, pimenta-de-macaco, pimenta-matico, Santa Maria negro, shiatani, soldaten kraut, soldier’s herb, spiked pepper, tapa-curaco, tokondé,

Habitat:Matico is native to Southern Mexico, the Caribbean, and much of tropical South America. It is grown in tropical Asia, Polynesia, and Melanesia and can even be found in Florida, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico.

Description:
Matico is a tropical, evergreen, shrubby tree that grows to the height of 6 to 7 meter (20 to 23 ft) with lance-shaped leaves that are 12 to 20 centimeter (5 to 8 in) long.The tree produces cord-like, white to pale yellow, inflorescence spikes that contain many minute flowers that are wind-pollinated and that soon develop into numerous tiny drupes with black seeds. The seeds are then scattered easily by bats and birds. From these many seeds, it can form large stands of quickly-growing shrubby trees that can choke out other native vegetation. Established plants also thicken into clumps or stands by suckers arising from the root crown. In some countries Matico is considered as an invasive weed.
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In parts of New Guinea, although Matico is notorious for drying out the soil in the areas where it is invasive, the wood of this plant is nonetheless used by local residents for a myriad of uses such as for fuel and fence posts.

Edible Uses: The fruits are used as a condiment and for flavoring cocoa.It is sometimes used as a substitute for long pepper.

Medicinal Uses:
Part Used:  The dried leaves.

Constituents: A volatile oil, slightly dextrogyrate, containing in some specimens Matico camphor. Some of the later specimens of oil are said to contain not camphor but asarol. A crystallizable acid called artanthic acid and a little tannin and resin are also found.

In the Amazon Rainforest, many of the native tribes use matico leaves as an antiseptic.It is effective as a topical application to slight wounds, bites of leeches, or after the extraction of teeth. The under surface of the leaf is preferred to the powder for this purpose. In Peru, it was used for stopping hemorrhages and treating ulcers, and in European practice in the treatment of diseases of the genitals and urinary organs, such as those for which cubeb was often prescribed.

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.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/m/matico24.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piper_aduncum

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Herbs & Plants

Smilax ornata

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Botanical Name : Smilax ornata
Family: Smilacaceae
Genus:     Smilax
Species: S. regelii
Kingdom: Plantae
Order:     Liliales

Synonyms:Smilax regelii, Smilax Medica. Red-bearded Sarsaparilla

Common names:Sarsaparilla, Honduran sarsaparilla, and Jamaican sarsaparilla,Sarsaparilla,  khao yen, saparna, smilace, smilax, zarzaparilla, jupicanga

Habitat: Smilax ornata is native to South America, Jamaica, the Caribbean, Mexico, Honduras, and the West Indies. Principally Costa Rica.

Description:
Smilax ornata is a large perennial climber, rhizome underground, large, short, knotted, with thickened nodes and roots spreading up to 6 or 8 feet long. Stems erect, semiwoody, with very sharp prickles 1/2 inch long. Leaves large, alternate stalked, almost evergreen with prominent veins, seven nerved mid-rib very strongly marked.  It produces small flowers and black, blue, or red berry-like fruits which are eaten greedily by birds. Cortex thick and brownish, with an orange red tint; when chewed it tinges the saliva, and gives a slightly bitter and mucilaginous taste, followed by a very acrid one; it contains a small proportion of starch, also a glucoside, sarsaponin, sarsapic acid, and fatty acids, palmitic, stearic, behenic, oleic and linolic.

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Medicinal Uses:
Part Used: Root.
Smilax regelii was considered by Native Americans to have medicinal properties, and was a popular European treatment for syphilis when it was introduced from the New World. From 1820 to 1910, it was registered in the U.S. Pharmacopoeia as a treatment for syphilis. Modern users claim it is effective for eczema, psoriasis, arthritis, herpes, and leprosy, along with a variety of other complaints. There is no peer-reviewed research available for these claims. There is, however, peer-reviewed research suggesting that S. regelii extracts have in vitro antioxidant properties, like many other herbs.

Sarsaparilla has been used for centuries by the indigenous peoples of Central and South America for sexual impotence, rheumatism, skin ailment, and a tonic for physical weakness. Sarsaparilla root was used by South American indigenous tribes as a general tonic where New World traders found it and introduced it into European medicine in the 1400’s. European physicians considered it an alterative tonic, blood purifier, diuretic and diaphoretic.

Other Uses:
Smilax regelii is used as the basis for a soft drink, frequently called Sarsaparilla. It is also a primary ingredient in old fashioned-style root beer, in conjunction with sassafras, which was more widely available prior to studies of its potential health risks.

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/Smilax_regelii
http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/s/sarjam17.html
http://www.theherbprof.com/hrbSarsaparilla.htm

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