Herbs & Plants

Prunus arabica

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Botanical Name: Prunus arabica
Family: Rosaceae
Subfamily: Amygdaloideae
Tribes: Amygdaleae
Genus: Prunus
Subgenus: P. subg. Amygdalus
Species: Prunus arabica

Synonyms: Amygdalus arabica Oliv.; A. spartioides Spach; Prunus spartioides (Spach) Schneid.

Common Name:

Habitat :Prunus arabica is native to W. Asia – Iran. It grows on the dry steppe and open oak woodland.

Prunus arabica an unarmed deciduous shrub of broom-like habit 3 to 6 ft high, with green, glabrous, angled branches, leafless in the hot season. Leaves linear-lanceolate, up to 15?8 in. long, 1?8 to 3?16 in. wide, shortly stalked. It is in flower in May.


Flowers solitary, sessile, borne in spring, each from a bud with numerous brown imbricating scales, 1?2 to 3?4 in. wide, white or pinkish; receptacle partly concealed by the bud-scales, broad campanulate, glabrous or almost so. Ovary densely hairy. Fruits ovoid, slightly flattened, about 1 in. long; stone smooth.

The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects.Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers dry or moist soil.

Thrives in a well-drained moisture-retentive loamy soil. Prefers some lime in the soil but is likely to become chlorotic if too much lime is present. Succeeds in sun or partial shade though it fruits better in a sunny position. Judging by its native habitat this plant should succeed in dry soils. Most members of this genus are shallow-rooted and will produce suckers if the roots are damaged. Plants in this genus are notably susceptible to honey fungus.

Seed – requires 2 – 3 months cold stratification and is best sown in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe. Sow stored seed in a cold frame as early in the year as possible. Protect the seed from mice etc. The seed can be rather slow, sometimes taking 18 months to germinate. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle. Grow them on in a greenhouse or cold frame for their first winter and plant them out in late spring or early summer of the following year. Cuttings of half-ripe wood with a heel, July/August in a frame. Softwood cuttings from strongly growing plants in spring to early summer in a frame. Layering in spring.

Edible Uses:
Edible Parts: Fruit; Seed.

Fruit – raw or cooked. The fruit contains a single large seed. Seed – raw or cooked. Do not eat the seed if it is too bitter – see the notes below on toxicity.
Medicinal Uses:
Although no specific mention has been seen for this species, all members of the genus contain amygdalin and prunasin, substances which break down in water to form hydrocyanic acid (cyanide or prussic acid). In small amounts this exceedingly poisonous compound stimulates respiration, improves digestion and gives a sense of well-being.

Other Uses:...Dye; Gum……A green dye can be obtained from the leaves. A dark grey to green dye can be obtained from the fruit. A gum obtained from the plant is sold in local markets. It is probably obtained from the trunk and branches.

Known Hazards: Although no specific mention has been seen for this species, it belongs to a genus where most, if not all members of the genus produce hydrogen cyanide, a poison that gives almonds their characteristic flavour. This toxin is found mainly in the leaves and seed and is readily detected by its bitter taste. It is usually present in too small a quantity to do any harm but any very bitter seed or fruit should not be eaten. In small quantities, hydrogen cyanide has been shown to stimulate respiration and improve digestion, it is also claimed to be of benefit in the treatment of cancer. In excess, however, it can cause respiratory failure and even death.
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.


News on Health & Science

Body’s Natural Painkillers Can Block Phobias

Magnetic resonance image showing a median sagittal cross section through a human head.

Image via Wikipedia

Human body’s own pain-relief system has the ability to block phobias, claims a new study which is likely to soon throw light on the neural mechanisms behind anxiety and stress.

A international team, led by researchers at the University Medical Centre of Hamburg-Eppendorf, has found that the way humans are conditioned by fearful stimuli is to some extent damped down by the body’s own pain-relief system.

For their study, the researchers recruited 30 male volunteers who were asked to watch green triangles and blue pentagons on a screen inside an MRI scanner. One symbol was followed half the time by a moderately painful application of heat to the forearm; the other was never followed by pain.

Half the volunteers were infused with a drug that blocks the effects of opioids, while the others got saline solution as a control. The brain scans showed that in people whose opioid systems had been blocked, the amygdala showed a fear response that did not diminish with exposure. Every time they saw the symbol associated with pain, their amygdalas reacted strongly.

In the control group, however, the activation decreased over the course of the experiment. As the group receiving the drug was reacting fearfully, the researchers speculate, they were learning the association intensively.

At the beginning of each trial, volunteers had to perform a reaction time task – pressing a button to indicate on which half of the screen the symbol had appeared. Overall, the subjects reacted more quickly to the cue signalling pain than the cue signalling nothing – but the opioid-free subjects reacted significantly faster.

The team speculates that opioid deficiency could be a contributing factor to anxiety disorders and exaggerated fear responses.

Sources:The Times Of India

Ailmemts & Remedies

A Nagging Scratchiness (Psoriasis)

Psoriasis is a mysterious skin disease that affects around 5 per cent of the population. It usually starts between the ages of 16 and 25 years or after the age of 55 as disfiguring, scaly, itchy, eruptions anywhere on the body. It can occur on the elbows and knees, in flexures and folds or on the face and scalp. About 10 per cent of patients may develop psoriatic arthritis, with joint pains that make mobility difficult. The nails may be affected, becoming yellow and disfigured or eventually falling off.

You may click to see the pictures

Psoriasis occurs because there is an imbalance between the rate of formation and the rate of shedding of the skin in certain areas of the body. Normally new skin forms in the lowermost skin layer and gradually moves upwards. Eventually the topmost layer falls off. In most people this process takes about a month. It is a uniform, asymptomatic process and occurs unnoticed. In those with psoriasis the entire process is accelerated, uncoordinated and happens within just a few days. The skin piles up, producing the thickened silvery appearance.

Psoriasis may be precipitated by environmental factors like a bacterial (streptococcal) infection, exposure to medication like anti-malarials, some anti-hypertensives, pain killers such as indomethacin, or anti-depressants like lithium. It may appear with prolonged exposure to certain chemicals like disinfectants and paint thinners. It can also be aggravated by stress and alcoholism. There may be a genetic predisposition. Most often, no real cause is found.

The diagnosis is usually made from the typical appearance of the lesions. A scraping or biopsy may be needed if the manifestation or history is not typical. The lesions tend to wax and wane, sometimes mysteriously disappearing all together. This makes evaluation of any treatment regimen difficult. Also, unlike in the case of other chronic illness, there is no standard treatment regimen.
Bathing in tepid water to which a few drops of coconut oil has been added may bring relief

In mild cases, simple home remedies may be sufficient. Adding coconut oil to the bath water and avoiding harsh soaps and detergents is helpful. At night, a moisturising emollient like paraffin wax, petroleum jelly or baby oil may be locally applied. The hair on the scalp has to be parted and the oil applied with a brush. Sometimes the scales (particularly on the scalp) can be quite thick. Regular use of a salicylic acid shampoo alternating with a coal tar shampoo can be quite effective.

If these simple measures are not effective, a dermatologist can recommend stronger topical applications of other chemicals or steroids. These ointments may have side effects and should be used only under medical supervision. Steroid creams cause the lesions to disappear rapidly. They are most effective when applied at night and the area is sealed off under a piece of polyethylene. The creams have to be chosen carefully, as significant quantities of some of the molecules can be absorbed through the skin, causing inadvertent steroid side effects. Sometimes, it can cause thinning and atrophy of the treated area. The use of steroid creams should be tapered off, and not stopped abruptly, to prevent rebound reactivity in the psoriatic patches.

Light therapy is effective. Treatment using light becomes more efficient if a photosensitising medicine is taken prior to exposure. Natural early morning sunlight or artificial light with ultra violet (UV) lamps can be used. UV light, used unsupervised for prolonged periods (more than 200 hours), increases the risk of skin cancer.

Oral medication that can be used are methotrexate or the newer retinoids. However, they can cause gene mutations. Women who have taken retinoids should not become pregnant while on treatment and for least two years afterwards.

Psoriasis follows a frustrating, remitting, relapsing course over a lifetime. The number of relapses and their severity can be reduced if patients follow a few simple, disease-modifying, lifestyle guidelines.

• Eat a nutritionally balanced diet with plenty of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants

• Exercise regularly. Aerobic exercise like walking, jogging or swimming releases disease-modulating chemicals from the muscles

• Try to maintain ideal body weight. Psoriasis often occurs in skin creases or folds, which are commoner in the obese

• Bathe daily so that the scales get washed off. Use tepid water and a moisturising soap. Pat the skin dry after a bath instead of harshly rubbing it with a rough towel

• Apply a non-medicated moisturising cream soon after a bath when the skin is still soft

• Expose your skin to a moderate amount of sunlight.

Disclaimer: This information is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advise or help. It is always best to consult with a Physician about serious health concerns. This information is in no way intended to diagnose or prescribe remedies.This is purely for educational purpose.

Sources: The Telegraph (Kolkata, India)

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Healthy Tips News on Health & Science

Get The Right Curve

Being in shape is no child’s play.


Lipolysis is a treatment used to remove localised fat and shape the body. Fat is stored in the body in cells called adipocytes. In liposuction these fat cells are sucked out.

Though this helps in fat reduction, it also causes skin laxity, as the skin never contracts in liposuction. According to Dr Vivekanand Bhat, cosmetic surgeon, Noble Clinic, it’s possible to get rid of excess fat with good skin contraction through lipolysis.

Laser lipolysis works by destroying the fat cells using a Nd yag laser. Once the fat cells are destroyed, they do not store fat any more and this results in permanent fat reduction.

What are the advantages of lipolysis over other fat reduction treatments? “It’s US FDA approved and unlike other treatments, lipolysis requires only one sitting and is not expensive.

It’s performed under local anaesthesia and needs no hospitilisation. There’s no need to wear compression bandages, has minimal downtime and patients can get back to normal activities in a day’s time,” says Dr Vivekanand.

Lipolysis has been successful in removing fat from male breast enlargement and other parts like chin, arms, abdomen, love handles, buttocks and thighs.

Is there any alternate to lipolysis? “The other option for fat reduction is medical lipolysis which uses a drug called lipostabil to destroy the fat cells.

This drug is injected into the fat area and destroys fat locally, thus shaping up the body. In our clinic most of our patients are extremely happy with medical lipolysis as results are seen from the first sitting itself,” he adds.

Lipolysis is not a solution for losing weight but it helps lose the fat which is resistant to dieting and exercising. Other treatments offered in the clinic include laser hair removal, hair transplantation , botox, fillers and radio frequency for skin tightening on the face. The clinic also has laser treatment for acne and scars.

Source: The Times Of India