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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

Jasmine

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Botanical Name : Jasminum
Family: Oleaceae
Tribe: Jasmineae
Genus: Jasminum
ingdom: Plantae
Order: Lamiales

Common Name :Jasmine

Habitat:  Jasmine is native to tropical and warm temperate regions of Europe, Asia, and Africa. Jasmines are widely cultivated for the characteristic fragrance of their flowers.

Description:
Jasmine is a genus of shrubs and vines in the olive family (Oleaceae). It contains around 200 species..It can be either deciduous (leaves falling in autumn) or evergreen (green all year round), and can be erect, spreading, or climbing shrubs and vines. Their leaves are borne opposite or alternate. They can be simple, trifoliate, or pinnate. The flowers are typically around 2.5 cm (0.98 in) in diameter. They are white or yellow in color, although in rare instances they can be slightly reddish. The flowers are borne in cymose clusters with a minimum of three flowers, though they can also be solitary on the ends of branchlets. Each flower has about four to nine petals, two locules, and one to four ovules. They have two stamens with very short filaments. The bracts are linear or ovate. The calyx is bell-shaped. They are usually very fragrant. The fruits of jasmines are berries that turn black when ripe.

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The basic chromosome number of the genus is 13, and most species are diploid (2n=26). However, natural polyploidy exists, particularly in Jasminum sambac (2n=39), Jasminum flexile (2n=52), Jasminum primulinum (2n=39), and Jasminum angustifolium (2n=52).

Edible Uses:
Jasmine tea :Jasmine tea is consumed in China, where it is called jasmine-flower tea. Jasminum sambac flowers are also used to make jasmine tea, which often has a base of green tea or white tea, but sometimes an Oolong base is used. Flowers and tea are “mated” in machines that control temperature and humidity. It takes four hours or so for the tea to absorb the fragrance and flavour of the jasmine blossoms, and for the highest grades, this process may be repeated as many as seven times. It must be refired to prevent spoilage. The spent flowers may or may not be removed from the final product, as the flowers are completely dry and contain no aroma. Giant fans are used to blow away and remove the petals from the denser tea leaves…....CLICK & SEE

In Okinawa, Japan, jasmine tea is known as sanpin cha .

Jasmine syrup: Jasmine syrup, made from jasmine flowers, is used as a flavouring agent….CLICK & SEE

Medicinal Uses:
Constituents: The essential oil of J. grandiflorum contains methyl anthranilate, indol, benzyl alcohol, benzyl acetate, and the terpenes linalol and linalyl acetate.

As essential oil is distilled from Jasmine in Tunis and Algeria, but its high price prevents its being used to any extent.

Jasmine has been used for medicinal purposes for thousands of years. In southern and southeastern Asia, jasmine flowers are worn by women as hair decorations.

The applications of lotions made from jasmine flowers to skin problems like sunburns and rashes have been widely noted. The juices of the flower are said to restore the skin’s moisture and elasticity, reducing the appearance of wrinkles and giving the skin a healthier look and feel.

In Cochin-China, a decoction of the leaves and branches of JASMINUM NERVOSUM is taken as a blood-purifier. The very bitter leaves of JASMINUM FLORIBUNDUM (called in Abyssinia, Habbez-zelim), mixed with kousso, is considered a powerful anthelmintic, especially for tapeworm; the leaves and branches are added to some fermented liquors to increase their intoxicating quality.

Although rarely used in Western medicine, a jasmine flower syrup for coughs and lungs was once made.  The flowers make a tea that calms the nerves and increases erotic feelings. Steep two teaspoons of flowers per cup of water for 20 minutes.  The dose is a quarter cup, four times a day.  The East Indians do use it, chewing the leaves to heal mouth ulcers and softening corns with the juice.  They also make a leaf tea to rinse sore eyes and wounds and use it as a remedy for snakebite. In traditional Chinese medicine states that jasmine clears the blood of impurities.  Headaches and insomnia have been relieved with a tea made from the root along with pain due to dislocated joints and rheumatism. .  The oil of the leaf is rubbed on the head to heal the eyes.  The flowers of J. officinale var. grandiflorum are used to treat hepatitis, liver cirrhosis and dysentery; the flowers of J. sambac are used for conjunctivitis, dysentery, skin ulcers and tumors.

Aromatherapy:
The largest usage of jasmine can be found in aromatherapy. In this field, jasmine is said to have a calming, relaxing effect. In addition, the scent of the flower is said to help sufferers of depression find relief. Another field where jasmine finds a large market is essential oils. Jasmine as an essential oil has many beneficial uses.

It is used as an anti-depressant, aphrodisiac, and even as a medicine to help users sleep better. In fact, in India jasmine is said to be such a good aphrodisiac, the bride and groom’s bedroom are decorated with it for their wedding night.

Different flowers are used for different things, of course. Jasmine is no different

Other Uses:
Jasmine essential oil:  Jasmine is considered an absolute and not an essential oil as the petals of the flower are much too delicate and would be destroyed by the distillation process used in creating essential oils. Other than the processing method it is essentially the same as an essential oil. Absolute is a technical term used to denote the process of extraction. It is in common use. Its flowers are either extracted by the labour-intensive method of enfleurage or through chemical extraction. It is expensive due to the large number of flowers needed to produce a small amount of oil. The flowers have to be gathered at night because the odour of jasmine is more powerful after dark. The flowers are laid out on cotton cloths soaked in olive oil for several days and then extracted leaving the true jasmine essence. Some of the countries producing jasmine essential oil are India, Egypt, China and Morocco….CLICK & SEE

Jasmine scent has been reported to have sedative properties.

Jasmine absolute used in perfume and incense:
Many species also yield an absolute, which is used in perfumes and incense. Its chemical constituents include methyl anthranilate, indole, benzyl alcohol, linalool, and skatole

Jasmonates:
Jasmine gave name to the jasmonate plant hormones as methyl jasmonate isolated from the jasmine oil of Jasminum grandiflorum led to the discovery of the molecular structure of jasmonates

Cultural importance:
The White Jasmine Branch, painting of ink and color on silk by Chinese artist Zhao Chang, early 12th centuryMadurai, the Southern district of Tamil Nadu, is famous for the Jasmine production. In the western and southern states of India, including Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, and Tamil Nadu, jasmine is cultivated alongside other flowers in private homes, within gardens or as potted plants. These flowers are used in regular worship at home as well as for hair ornaments (for the girls and women of the house). Jasmine is also cultivated commercially, for both the domestic purposes discussed above and other purposes (such as use in the perfume industry). It is used in rituals like marriages, religious ceremony, and festivals. In the Chandan Yatra of lord Jagannath, the deity is bathed with water flavored in sandalwood paste and jasmine.

Jasmine flower vendors selling ready-made garlands of jasmine, or in the case of the thicker motiyaa (in Hindi) or mograa (in Marathi) varietal, bunches of jasmine, as well as flowers by weight, are a common sight on city streets in many parts of India. They may be found around entrances to temples, on major thoroughfares, and in major business areas (including bus stands). This is common as far north as Mumbai, and generally from Maharashtra southward through all of South India. Jasmine vendors may also be found in Kolkata, though roadside sales are fewer there, since in North India women and girls generally, by tradition, do not wear flowers in their hair….CLICK & SEE

A change in presidency in Tunisia in 1987 and the Tunisian Revolution of 2011 are both called “Jasmine revolutions” in reference to the flower. Jasmine flowers were also used as a symbol during the 2011 Chinese pro-democracy protests in the People’s Republic of China.

In Syria, jasmine is the symbolic flower of Damascus, which is called the City of Jasmine. In Thailand, jasmine flowers are used as a symbol for motherhood.

“Jasmine” is also a feminine given name in some countries.

Jasmine as a national flower:
Several countries and states consider jasmine as a national symbol. They are the following:

*Hawaii: Jasminum sambac (“pikake”) is perhaps the most popular of flowers. It is often strung in leis and is the subject of many songs.

*Indonesia: Jasminum sambac is the national flower, adopted in 1990. It goes by the name “melati putih” and is the most important flower in wedding ceremonies for ethnic Indonesians, especially in the island of Java.

*Pakistan: Jasminum officinale is known as the “chambeli” or “yasmin”, it is the national flower.

*Philippines: Jasminum sambac is the national flower. Adopted in 1935, it is known as “sampaguita” in the islands. It is usually strung in garlands which are then used to adorn religious images.

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/Jasmine

Jasmine


http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/j/jasmin06.html

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

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Candy Canes Can Help Fight Germs

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The traditional candy canes used for decorating Christmas trees can help fight germs and treat digestive disorders, according to a new study.

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A study led by McMaster University researcher Alex Ford had found that peppermint oil, found in most candy canes, can act as the first line of defence against irritable bowel syndrome.

“Most of the (effective) species are really from the family Lamiaceae, or mint family,” Discovery News quoted Pavel Kloucek, a scientist at the Czech University of Life Sciences in Prague, as saying.

The researchers hope that peppermint oil, and other potent essential oils, may soon be wafted in vapour form over food to inhibit bacterial growth.

For the new study, Kloucek and his team looked at several essential oils to determine how well they could, in vapour form, kill the bacteria responsible for Listeria, Staph, E. coli, and Salmonella infections, and more.

The new study is the first to bring forth the antimicrobial activity of two other mint family members –Mentha villosa and Faassen’s catnip -along with another non-mint herb, bluebeard.Moreover, essential oils for horseradish, garlic, hyssop, basil, marjoram, oregano, winter savory, and three types of thyme also showed potent bacteria-busting abilities.

Kloucek said that plant essential oils are lipophilic, i.e. they gravitate towards fat.

“And luckily, in the cell membrane of bacteria, there is plenty of fat, which serves as a seal,” he said.

“Essential oils are attracted to this fat and, as their molecules squeeze in between the fat molecules, they cause leakage of the membrane,” he added.

If foods were treated with essential oils to prevent illness, the obvious problem to overcome is the oils’ potent taste. While strong mint flavour is desirable in a candy cane, it might not work well with other foods. The solution, according to Kloucek and his team, is to carefully match the oil with the food.

The findings have been accepted for publication in the journal Food Control.

Sources: The Times Of India

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