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Herbs & Plants

Petasites palmatus

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Botanical Name :Petasites palmatus
Family : Asteraceae – Aster family
Genus : Petasites Mill. – butterbur
Species : Petasites frigidus (L.) Fr. – arctic sweet coltsfoot
Variety : Petasites frigidus (L.) Fr. var. palmatus (Aiton) Cronquist – arctic sweet coltsfoot
Kingdom : Plantae – Plants
Subkingdom : Tracheobionta – Vascular plants
Superdivision : Spermatophyta – Seed plants
Division:  Magnoliophyta – Flowering plants
Class : Magnoliopsida – Dicotyledons
Subclass:  Asteridae
Order : Asterales

Common Names :Sweet Butterbur ,Western Coltsfoot,Sweet Coltsfoot

Habitat :Petasites palmatus is native to  N. America – Newfoundland to Massachusetts, west to Alaska and south to California. It grows in Low woods, glades and damp clearings. Swamps and along the sides of streams.

Description:
Petasites palmatus is a deciduous  perennial plant growing to 1’h x 3’w   at a fast rate. 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 Insects.The plant is not self-fertile.

CLICK & SEE  THE PICTURES

Leaves – round to heart- or kidney-shaped at stem base. 5 – 20 cm wide, deeply divided (more than halfway to centre), into 5 to 7 toothed lobes, green, essentially hairless above, thinly white-woolly below; stem leaves reduced to alternate bracts.

Flowers – in clusters of several to many white, 8 – 12 mm wide heads on glandular, often white-woolly stalks, mostly female or mostly male; ray flowers creamy white; disc flowers whitish to pinkish; involucres 7 – 16 mm high, bracts lance-shaped, hairy at base.; appearing early-summer.

Fruit – hairless, linear achenes, about 2 mm long, 5 to 10 ribs; pappus soft, white; appearingmid-summer.

The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils.The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils..It can grow in full shade (deep woodland) semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade.It requires moist or wet soil.

Cultivation:
Succeeds in ordinary garden soil, but prefers a deep fertile humus-rich soil that is permanently moist but not stagnant, succeeding in shade, semi-shade or full sun. Requires a moist shady position. Plants can be grown in quite coarse grass, which can be cut annually in the autumn. Plants are hardy to about -20°c. A very invasive plant, too rampant for anything other than the wild garden. Dioecious, male and female plants must be grown if seed is required.

Propagation:   
Seed – we have no information on this species but suggest sowing the seed in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe or in early spring. Only just cover the seed and do not allow the compost to dry out. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out in the summer. Division succeeds at almost any time of the year. Very easy, larger divisions can be planted out direct into their permanent positions. We have found that it is better to pot up the smaller divisions and grow them on in light shade in a cold frame until they are well established before planting them out in late spring or early summer.

Edible Uses   :
Edible Parts: Flowers;  Stem.
Edible Uses: Salt.

Young flower stalks, used before the flower buds appear, are boiled until tender and seasoned with salt. Flower buds – cooked. Leafstalks – peeled and eaten raw. The ash of the plant is used as a salt substitute. To prepare the salt, the stems and leaves are rolled up into balls whilst still green, and after being carefully dried they are placed on top of a very small fire on a rock and burned.

Medicinal Uses:

Pectoral;  Salve;  TB.

The roots have been used in treating the first stages of grippe and consumption. The dried and grated roots have been applied as a dressing on boils, swellings and running sores. An infusion of the crushed roots has been used as a wash for sore eyes. A syrup for treating coughs and lung complaints has been made from the roots of this species combined with mullein(Verbascum sp.) and plum root (Prunus sp.).

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.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Petasites+palmatus
http://www.borealforest.org/herbs/herb27.htm
http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=pefrp

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Healthy Tips

10 Organic Foods That Are Worth the Money

1.Apples…[amazon_link asins=’B00AXYF5EY,B007OC5X40,B0000VD4TS,B00BNZSXC8,B00F6MG2ZY,B011QIAIW4,B01EM9OHC6,B00HKLK3ZO,B001ID6MIC’ template=’ProductCarousel’ store=’finmeacur-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’8ab40d8c-620a-11e7-82a1-4dd9df606967′]
The FDA states that more pesticides are found on apples than are found on any other fruit or vegetable — a grand total of 36. One test found seven chemicals on a single apple. Sounds like a good reason to switch to pesticide-free organic produce to me.

Of course, if you do eat apples or any other fruit, use them sparingly and never consume them in the form of fruit juice, which is basically just a glass full of fructose.

No organic? Peel your apples

2.Baby Foods..[amazon_link asins=’B00FFJ3TJA,B00XCLFZLS,B00PDN097S,B01GU4MQLU,B00AO9H65Y,B001V79W96,B01H0EQ3JU,B017DC7M8U,B015E99Z7U’ template=’ProductCarousel’ store=’finmeacur-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’b99b0a54-620a-11e7-adc0-b194c5e43c09′]
An infant’s immune system is less developed than an adult’s, and more vulnerable. Nonorganic baby foods tend to use fruits and vegetables that have been treated with chemicals.

No organic? Make your own purees by tossing organic fruits and vegetables into the blender.

3.Butter and Milk..[amazon_link asins=’B01A13AUAU,B000CC1FM8,B00FTC7DR2,B00RPSOEF2,B00VXQGY64,B00DC5ZKQE,B004RR61SM,B01D4V6WXK,B001LNPHNA’ template=’ProductCarousel’ store=’finmeacur-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’6f8997dd-620b-11e7-a4eb-296ee70b662a’] [amazon_link asins=’1603582193,B00APPF0LE,B004K69OMU,0979209528,0970118147,1508886326,B00TW8P380,B01LXML9QT,B06XD2WS8G’ template=’ProductCarousel’ store=’finmeacur-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’937770b7-620b-11e7-97fc-556b69bd1541′]
Dairy cows eat grains that are heavily treated with chemicals, which show up in the milk. Non-organic milk can also contain bovine growth hormone and antibiotics.

However, RAW milk is nearly always better than organic milk if it is purchased from a conscious farmer. In that case, it may not be certified organic, but it will essentially be organic anyway, and drinking your milk raw is KEY. The linked article should have written loads about this difference, but failed entirely to do so.

4.Cantaloupe…[amazon_link asins=’B00F6MFM3C,B01BMVHR38,B007OBE7C0,B0184G4SUE,B01BMWSKQA,B003QGW1Z2,B01EBD850I,B019ED227W,B005SWLG3K’ template=’ProductCarousel’ store=’finmeacur-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’b9a7e636-620b-11e7-b643-6bb6c9dd542f’]
Cantaloupes often are contaminated by five of the longest-lasting chemicals. Dieldrin, a very toxic and carcinogenic insecticide, still gets taken up through the cantaloupe’s roots even though it was banned in 1974.

No organic? Thoroughly wash the outside of the melon, since a knife can drag exterior residues through the flesh as you slice it.

5.Cucumbers…[amazon_link asins=’B00YOQDWOM,B004L6DI9O,B002707WIY,B0142WMX10,B009NKS90G,B009SRTA0M,B01FN4DP2C,B01CSG6P7U,B00005NFBJ’ template=’ProductCarousel’ store=’finmeacur-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’ec6fc6da-620b-11e7-a447-a1fefed18082′]
Cucumbers were ranked the 12th most contaminated food and the second in cancer risk due to their pesticide content.

No organic? Peel the cucumbers, since the waxes used to make the skin shiny also tend to hold chemicals.

6.Grapes….[amazon_link asins=’B007OC3734,B000RGYJI6,B007OC481E,B000P6J0SM,B001O3U7AK,B000NOCRO0,B00CI3ULTC,B005K5GQB2,B0005ZVGJO’ template=’ProductCarousel’ store=’finmeacur-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’0fa30168-620c-11e7-883a-678a208feace’]
Grapes get treated with numerous chemicals, especially Chilean grapes, which can be sprayed with as many as 17 of them. Grapes are also, whether organic or not, especially high in fructose — you might want to consider eating the grape skins and leaving the grape itself alone.
No organic? Search out grapes grown domestically; they are treated with fewer chemicals.
7.Green Beans ..[amazon_link asins=’B00N1763A0,B0005ZVGKS,B006NKT9EO,B0040PX5T4,B01B1A7DZ2,B008KKW0W8,B008STNLI8,B0005ZVGL2,B00BIY0YS0′ template=’ProductCarousel’ store=’finmeacur-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’42326dd3-620c-11e7-899b-8dd5d86aa5dd’]
There are over 60 pesticides that are registered for use on green beans in the U.S.

No organic? Choose fresh beans over canned or frozen. Wash them well.

8.Spinach …..[amazon_link asins=’B0005ZWVRU,B004SV5JWQ,B0044R368S,B007C7PPY0,B0047NSHBK,B00DX5D8CQ,B000FZRYE0,B0090DXWXA,B015EX7GLS’ template=’ProductCarousel’ store=’finmeacur-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’6aa865ff-620c-11e7-978c-9feb4ff34209′]
The chemicals used to treat spinach may cause cancer or interfere with hormone production.

No organic? Vigilantly wash each leaf separately under running water.

9.Strawberries..[amazon_link asins=’B000P6J0SM,B0082WMM7C,B002B8Z98W,B004MPA8P6,B002QYK8FA,B00R7XOGYO,B000P717MI,B01AO47KWW,B00BIBO19G’ template=’ProductCarousel’ store=’finmeacur-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’9beb2d02-620c-11e7-adad-1db21602f861′]
Strawberries are among the most contaminated of all produce. Once again, be wary of overdoing it with fructose when you eat fruit.

No organic? Choose local berries over long-distance ones (which generally involve more spraying). The package should say where they’re from, or the supermarket’s produce manager should know.

10.Winter Squash..[amazon_link asins=’B00AMO2ITK,B01M1MY4JV,B00AUUN9US,B01A3MTJ3I,B001F5XE6G,B01B1VFP8I,B00E816T2A,B00F4I2FNS,B001BM8SS2′ template=’ProductCarousel’ store=’finmeacur-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’c4215e36-620c-11e7-9c43-a1c16ca06a25′]
Winter squash, like cantaloupe, can absorb dieldrin from the soil.

No organic? Buy Mexican. The soil in Mexico is largely uncontaminated by dieldrin.

Source: Real Simple November 2010

 
Categories
Herbs & Plants

Verbascum thapsus

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Botanical Name: Verbascum thapsus
Family: Scrophulariaceae
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Lamiales
Genus: Verbascum
Species: V. thapsus

Common NamesMullein
V. thapsus is known by a variety of names. European reference books call it “Great mullein”. In North America, “Common mullein” is used. In the 19th century it had well over 40 different common names in English alone. Some of the more whimsical ones included “Hig candlewick”, “Bullicks lungwort”, “Adams-rod”, “Feltwort“, “Hare’s-beard” and “Ice-leaf”. Vernacular names include innumerable references to the plant’s hairiness: “Woolly”, “Velvet” or “Blanket Mullein“,  “Beggar’s”, “Moses'”, “Poor Man’s”, “Our Lady’s” or “Old Man’s Blanket”, and so on (“Flannel” is another common generic name).

Some names refer to the plant’s size and shape: “Shepherd’s Club(s)” or “Staff”, “Aaron’s Rod” (a name it shares with a number of other plants with tall, yellow inflorescences), and a plethora of other “X’s Staff” and “X’s Rod”. The name “Velvet” or “Mullein Dock” is also recorded, where “dock” is a British name applied to any broad-leaved plant

Habitat:
Verbascum thapsus has a wide native range including Europe, northern Africa and Asia, from the Azores and Canary Islands east to western China, north to the British Isles, Scandinavia and Siberia, and south to the Himalayas. In northern Europe, it grows from sea level up to 1,850 m altitude,  while in China it grows at 1,400–3,200 m altitude.

It has been introduced throughout the temperate world, and is established as a weed in Australia, New Zealand, tropical Asia, La Réunion, North America, Hawaii, Chile, Hispaniola and Argentina. It has also been reported in Japan.

In the United States it was imported very early in the 18th. century and cultivated for its medicinal and piscicide property. By 1818, it had begun spreading so much that Amos Eaton thought it was a native plant. In 1839 it was already reported in Michigan and in 1876, in California. It is now found commonly in all the states. In Canada, it most common in Southern Quebec, Ontario and British Columbia, and in the Maritime Provinces, with scattered populations in between.

Great Mullein most frequently grows as a colonist of bare and disturbed soil, usually on sandy or chalky soils. It grows best in dry, sandy or gravelly soils, although it can grow in a variety of habitats, including banksides, meadows, roadsides, forest clearings and pastures. It germinates almost solely in bare soil, at temperatures between 10 °C and 40 °C. This ability to grow in a wide range of habitats has been linked to strong phenotype variation rather than adaptation capacities. While it can germinate in total darkness if proper conditions are present (tests give a 35% germination rate under ideal conditions), in the wild, it will only do so if the seeds are exposed, or very close to the soil surface. While it can also appear in areas where some vegetation exist, growth of the rosettes on bare soil is four to seven times more rapid.

Description:
Verbascum thapsus  is a hairy biennial plant that can grow to 2 m or more tall. Its small yellow flowers are densely grouped on a tall stem, which bolts from a large rosette of leaves. It grows in a wide variety of habitats, but prefers well-lit disturbed soils, where it can appear soon after the ground receives light, from long-lived seeds that persist in the soil seed bank. It is a common weedy plant that spreads by prolifically producing seeds, but rarely becomes aggressively invasive, since its seed require open ground to germinate. It is a very minor problem for most agricultural crops, since it is not a very competitive species, being intolerant of shade from other plants and unable to survive tilling. It also hosts many insects, some of which can be harmful to other plants. Although individuals are easy to remove by hand, populations are difficult to eliminate permanently.

Verbascum thapsus is a dicotyledonous biennial that produces a rosette of leaves in its first year of growth. The leaves are large, up to 50 cm long, and are covered with woolly, silvery hairs. The second year plants normally produce a single unbranched stem 1–2 m tall, with some plants reportedly having stems reaching up to 3.5 m tall. In the East of its range in China, it is, however, only reported to grow up to 1.5 m tall. The tall pole-like stems end in a dense spike of flowers, that can occupy up to half the stem length. All parts of the plants are covered with star-shaped trichomes. Its chromosome number is 2n = 36.
CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES
On flowering plants the leaves are alternately arranged up the stem. The leaves are thick, and decurrent on the stem, with much variation especially between the upper and lower leaves on the stem, with leaf shape ranging from between oblong to oblanceolate, ranging in size up to 50 cm long and 14 cm across (19 inches long and 5 inches wide).They become smaller higher up the stem, and less strongly decurrent lower down the stem. The flowering stem is solid and 2–2.5 cm (nearly an inch) across, and occasionally branched just below the inflorescence, usually when damaged. After flowering and seed release the stem and fruits usually persist in winter[10] after drying into hard, stiff structures topped with densely packed, ovoid shaped, dry seed capsules. The dried stems are most often dark brownish, and often persist standing until the next spring or even into the next summer. The plants produce a shallow taproot.

The flowers are pentamerous with five stamen that are fused to the petals, a 5-lobed calyx tube and a 5-petalled corolla, the latter bright yellow and an 1.5–3 cm (0.5–1 inch) wide. The flowers are almost sessile, with very short pedicels (2 mm, 0.08 in). The five stamens are of two types, with the three upper stamens being shorter, with filaments covered by yellow or whitish hairs, and having smaller anthers, while the lower two stamens have glabrous filaments and larger anthers. The plant produces small ovoid (6 mm, 0.24 in) capsules that split open by way of two valves, each capsule containing large numbers of minute brown seeds less than a millimetre (0.04 in) in size, with longitudinal ridges. A white-flowered form V. thapsus f. candicans occurs. Flowering lasts for up to three months from early to late summer (June to August in northern Europe), with flowering starting at the bottom of the spike and progressing irregularly up the spike; each flower opens for part of a day and only a few open at the same time around the stem.

Edible Uses:  
Tea: An aromatic tea can be made by boiling 1 tbs. dried leaves or root, in 1 cup water for 5 – 10 min. A sweeter tea can be made by infusing the fresh or dried flowers. Or for children and the elderly use milk instead of water. Sweeten if desired.

Main  Uses: 
Great Mullein has been used since ancient times as a remedy for skin, throat and breathing ailments. It has long had a medicinal reputation, especially as an astringent and emollient. It contains mucilage, several saponins, coumarin and glycosides. Dioscorides recommended it for diseases of the lung and it is nowadays widely available in health and herbal stores.

Medical uses

Great Mullein has been used as an alternative medicine for centuries, and in many countries throughout the world, the value of Great Mullein as a proven medicinal herb is now backed by scientific evidence. Some valuable constituents contained in Mullein are Coumarin and Hesperidin, they exhibit many healing abilities. Research indicates some of the uses as analgesic, antihistaminic, anti-inflammatory, anticancer, antioxidant, antiviral, bacteristat, cardio-depressant, estrogenic, fungicide, hypnotic, sedative and pesticide are valid.
Dioscorides first recommended the plant 2000 years ago, against pulmonary diseases, and this has remained one of its primary uses, especially against cough. Leaf decoctions or herbal teas were used for expectoration, consumption, dry cough, bronchitis, sore throat and hemorrhoids. Leaves were also smoked against pulmonary ailments, a tradition that in America was rapidly transmitted to Native American peoples. They used the non-indigenous plant to make syrups against croup. The combination of expectorant saponins and emollient mucilage makes the plant particularly effective for cough. All preparations meant to be drunk have to be finely filtered to eliminate the irritating hairs.

Oil from the flowers was used against catarrhs, colics and, in Germany, earaches, frostbite, eczema and other external conditions. Topical application of various V. thapsus-based preparations was recommended for the treatment of warts, boils, carbuncles, hemorrhoids, and chilblains, amongst others. Recent studies have found that Great Mullein contains glycyrrhizin compounds with bactericide and potential anti-tumoral action. These compounds are concentrated in the flowers. Different extracts have varying levels of efficiency against bacteria. In Germany, a governmental commission sanctioned medicinal use of the plant for catarrhs. It was also part of the National Formulary in the United States[66] and United Kingdom. The plant’s leaves, in addition to the seeds, have been reported to contain rotenone, although quantities are unknown.

In Spanish, Great Mullein is called Gordolobo. Gnaphalium conoideum was used in a fashion similar to Mullein by the Mexican Aztecs, which caused confusion in naming, and both are sold under the name “Gordolobo”, (although V. thapsus is not found in Mexico). This situation has led to at least one case of poisoning due to confusion of G. conoideum with Senecio longilobus.

It is widely used for herbal remedies with emollient and astringent properties. It is especially recommended for coughs and related problems, but also used in topical applications against a variety of skin problems. It was traditionally smoked for lung conditions.  It is also a diuretic used to relieve urinary tract inflammation, diarrhea, and inflammation, colitis, or other bleeding in the bowel.  The flowers extracted into olive oil make a preparation that is known to reduce the pain and inflammation of earache, insect bites, bruises, hemorrhoids, and sore joints.  A distilled flower water or a poultice has been placed on burns, ringworm, boils and sores.  The leaves are used in homeopathic products for migraine and earache.

Medicinally, it is expectorant, anti-inflammatory, antibiotic, astringent, and demulcent (which means soothing). Mullein tea is primarily used as an effective treatment for coughs and lung disorders. Due to its mucilage content, Mullein is also a soothing emollient for inflammatory skin conditions and burns.


Other uses

Dye, Insecticide, Insulation, Lighting, Tinder, Wick. A yellow dye is made from the flowers by boiling them in water. When used with dilute sulphuric acid they produce a rather permanent green dye, this becomes brown with the addition of alkalis. An infusion of the flowers is sometimes used to dye the hair a golden color. The leaves contain rotenone, which is used as an insecticide. The dried leaves are highly flammable and can be used to ignite a fire quickly , or as wick for candles.
Like many ancient medicinal plants (Pliny the Elder describes it in his Naturalis Historia), Great Mullein was linked to witches, although the relationship remained generally ambiguous, and the plant was also widely held to ward off curses and evil spirits.The seeds contain several compounds (saponins, glycosides, coumarin, rotenone) that cause breathing problems in fish, and have been widely used as piscicide for fishing.

The plant was also used to make dyes and torches.  The flowers provide dyes of bright yellow or green, and have been used for hair dye.The dried leaves and hair were made into candle wicks, or put into shoes to help with insulating them. The dried stems were also dipped into suet or wax to make torches. Due to its weedy capacities, the plant, unlike other species of the genus (such as V. phoeniceum), is not often cultivated.

Folklore
An old superstition existed that witches used lamps and candles provided with wicks of Mullein in their incantations, and another of the plant’s many names, ‘Hag’s Taper’, refers to this. Both in Europe and Asia the power of driving away evil spirits was ascribed to the Mullein. Being a sure safeguard against evil spirits and magic, and from the ancient classics, it was this plant which Ulysses took to protect himself against the wiles of Circe. 

Mullein oil: Use flowers or root. Place in blender or crush, fill jar, cover with olive oil, set in warm place for 2 weeks. Strain before use.

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/Verbascum_thapsus
http://www.piam.com/mms_garden/plants.html

http://altnature.com/gallery/mullien.htm

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

Categories
Ailmemts & Remedies

Contact Dermatitis

As its name implies, contact dermatitis is inflammation of the skin caused by contact with a specific substance. there are two types: irritant contact dermatitis, which is caused by primary irritants (substances, such as bleach, that harm anyone’s skin); and allergic contact dermatitis, which occurs when a person comes in contact with a particular substance to which he or she has developed a sensitivity over time.

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substances that commonly trigger irritation or allergic reactions include some cosmetics; the nickel contained in jewelry, buttons, earrings for pierced ears, or watch straps; certain chemicals; drugs in skin creams; and plants, such as poison ivy or ragweed.

It is a term for a skin reaction resulting from exposure to allergens (allergic contact dermatitis) or irritants (irritant contact dermatitis). Phototoxic dermatitis occurs when the allergen or irritant is activated by sunlight.

Contact dermatitis is a localized rash or irritation of the skin caused by contact with a foreign substance. Only the superficial regions of the skin are affected in contact dermatitis. Inflammation of the affected tissue is present in the epidermis (the outermost layer of skin) and the outer dermis (the layer beneath the epidermis).[1] Unlike contact urticaria, in which a rash appears within minutes of exposure and fades away within minutes to hours, contact dermatitis takes days to fade away. Even then, contact dermatitis fades only if the skin no longer comes in contact with the allergen or irritant. Contact dermatitis results in large, burning, and itchy rashes, and these can take anywhere from several days to weeks to heal. Chronic contact dermatitis can develop when the removal of the offending agent no longer provides expected relief.

Types of contact dermatitis
There are three types of contact dermatitis: irritant contact, allergic contact, and photocontact dermatitis. Photocontact dermatitis is divided into two categories: phototoxic and photoallergic.

Chemical irritant contact dermatitis
is either acute or chronic, which is usually associated with strong and weak irritants respectively (HSE MS24). The following definition is provided by Mathias and Maibach (1978): a nonimmunologic local inflammatory reaction characterized by erythema, edema, or corrosion following single or repeated application of a chemical substance to an identical cutaneous site.

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The mechanism of action varies between toxins. Detergents, surfactants, extremes of pH, and organic solvents all have the common effect of directly affecting the barrier properties of the epidermis. These effects include removing fat emulsion, inflicting cellular damage on the epithelium, and increasing the transepidermal water loss by damaging the horny layer water-binding mechanisms and damaging the DNA, which causes the layer to thin. Strong concentrations of irritants cause an acute effect, but this is not as common as the accumulative, chronic effect of irritants whose deleterious effects build up with subsequent doses (ESCD 2006).

Common chemical irritants implicated include solvents (alcohol, xylene, turpentine, esters, acetone, ketones, and others); metalworking fluids (neat oils, water-based metalworking fluids with surfactants); latex; kerosene; ethylene oxide; surfactants in topical medications and cosmetics (sodium lauryl sulfate); alkalies (drain cleaners, strong soap with lye residues).

Physical irritant contact dermatitis
is a less researched form of ICD (Maurice-Jones et al) due to its various mechanisms of action and a lack of a test for its diagnosis. A complete patient history combined with negative allergic patch testing is usually necessary to reach a correct diagnosis. The simplest form of PICD results from prolonged rubbing, although the diversity of implicated irritants is far wider.[citation needed] Examples include paper friction, fiberglass, and scratchy clothing.

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Many plants cause ICD by directly irritating the skin. Some plants act through their spines or irritant hairs. Some plant such as the buttercup, spurge, and daisy act by chemical means. The sap of these plants contains a number of alkaloids, glycosides, saponins, anthraquinones, and (in the case of plant bulbs) irritant calcium oxalate crystals – all of which can cause CICD (Mantle and Lennard, 2001).

Allergic Contact Dermatitis
This condition is the manifestation of an allergic response caused by contact with a substance. A list of common allergens is shown in Table 1 (Kucenic and Belsito, 2002).

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Although less common than ICD, ACD is accepted to be the most prevalent form of immunotoxicity found in humans (Kimble et al 2002). By its allergic nature, this form of contact dermatitis is a hypersensitive reaction that is atypical within the population. The mechanisms by which these reactions occur are complex, with many levels of fine control. Their immunology centres around the interaction of immunoregulatory cytokines and discrete subpopulations of T lymphocytes.

ACD arises as a result of two essential stages: an induction phase, which primes and sensitizes the immune system for an allergic response, and an elicitation phase, in which this response is triggered (Kimble et al 2002). As such, ACD is termed a Type IV delayed hypersensitivity reaction involving a cell-mediated allergic response. Contact allergens are essentially soluble haptens (low in molecular weight) and, as such, have the physico-chemical properties that allow them to cross the stratum corneum of the skin. They can only cause their response as part of a complete antigen, involving their association with epidermal proteins forming hapten-protein conjugates. This, in turn, requires them to be protein-reactive.

The conjugate formed is then recognized as a foreign body by the Langerhans cells (LCs) (and in some cases Dendritic cells (DCs)), which then internalize the protein; transport it via the lymphatic system to the regional lymph nodes; and present the antigen to T-lymphocytes. This process is controlled by cytokines and chemokines – with tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) and certain members of the interleukin family (1, 13 and 18) – and their action serves either to promote or to inhibit the mobilization and migration of these LCs. (Kimble et al 2002) As the LCs are transported to the lymph nodes, they become differentiated and transform into DCs, which are immunostimulatory in nature.

Once within the lymph glands, the differentiated DCs present the allergenic epitope associated with the allergen to T lymphocytes. These T cells then divide and differentiate, clonally multiplying so that if the allergen is experienced again by the individual, these T cells will respond more quickly and more aggressively.

Kimbe et al (2002) explore the complexities of ACD’s immunological reaction in short: It appears that there are two major phenotypes of cytokine production (although there exists a gradient of subsets in between), and these are termed T-helper 1 and 2 (Th1 and Th2). Although these cells initially differentiate from a common stem cell, they develop with time as the immune system matures. Th1 phenotypes are characterised by their focus on Interleukin and Interferon, while Th2 cells action is centred more around the regulation of IgE by cytokines. The CD4 and CD8 T lymphocyte subsets also have been found to contribute to differential cytokine regulation, with CD4 having been shown to produce high levels of IL-4 and IL10 while solely CD8 cells are associated with low levels of IFN?. These two cell subtypes are also closely associated with the cell matrix interactions essential for the pathogenesis of ACD.

White et al have suggested that there appears to be a threshold to the mechanisms of allergic sensitisation by ACD-associated allergens (1986). [10] This is thought to be linked to the level at which the toxin induces the up-regulation of the required mandatory cytokines and chemokines. It has also been proposed that the vehicle in which the allergen reaches the skin could take some responsibility in the sensitisation of the epidermis by both assisting the percutaneous penetration and causing some form of trauma and mobilization of cytokines itself.

Common allergens implicated include the following:

Nickel (nickel sulfate hexahydrate) – metal frequently encountered in jewelry and clasps or buttons on clothing
Gold (gold sodium thiosulfate) – precious metal often found in jewelry
Balsam of Peru (Myroxylon pereirae) – a fragrance used in perfumes and skin lotions, derived from tree resin (see also Tolu balsam)
Thimerosal – a mercury compound used in local antiseptics and in vaccines
Neomycin – a topical antibiotic common in first aid creams and ointments, cosmetics, deodorant, soap and pet food
Fragrance mix – a group of the eight most common fragrance allergens found in foods, cosmetic products, insecticides, antiseptics, soaps, perfumes and dental products
Formaldehyde – a preservative with multiple uses, e.g., in paper products, paints, medications, household cleaners, cosmetic products and fabric finishes
Cobalt chloride – metal found in medical products; hair dye; antiperspirant; metal-plated objects such as snaps, buttons or tools; and in cobalt blue pigment
Bacitracin – a topical antibiotic
Quaternium-15 – preservative in cosmetic products (self-tanners, shampoo, nail polish, sunscreen) and in industrial products (polishes, paints and waxes).

Photocontact Dermatitis
Sometimes termed “photoaggravated”(Bourke et al 2001)[13], and divided into two categories, phototoxic and photoallergic, PCD is the eczematous condition which is triggered by an interaction between an otherwise unharmful or less harmful substance on the skin and ultraviolet light (320-400nm UVA) (ESCD 2006), therefore manifesting itself only in regions where the sufferer has been exposed to such rays. Without the presence of these rays, the photosensitiser is not harmful. For this reason, this form of contact dermatitis is usually associated only with areas of skin which are left uncovered by clothing. The mechanism of action varies from toxin to toxin, but is usually due to the production of a photoproduct. Toxins which are associated with PCD include the psoralens. Psoralens are in fact used therapeutically for the treatment of psoriasis, eczema and vitiligo.

Photocontact dermatitis is another condition where the distinction between forms of contact dermatitis is not clear cut. Immunological mechanisms can also play a part, causing a response similar to ACD.

 

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Symptoms:
Contact dermatitis usually affects the area that has been in direct contact with the substance that triggered the reaction. In irritant contact dermatitis, the skin inflammation develops soon after contact with the substance. the severity of the resulting rash depends both on the concentration of the irritant and on the duration of exposure.

Allergic contact dermatitis usually develops slowly over a period of time, and it is possible to have contact with a substance for several years without any skin inflammation occurring. however, once your skin has become sensitive to the substance, even a small amount of it, or a short exposure time, can trigger an allergic reaction.

In either form of contact dermatitis, the symptoms may include:

* Redness and swelling of the skin.This is the usual reaction. The rash appears immediately in irritant contact dermatitis; in allergic contact dermatitis, the rash sometimes does not appear until 24-72 hours after exposure to the allergen.

* water- or pus-filled blisters that may ooze, drain, or become encrusted. Blisters, welts, and hives often form in a pattern where skin was directly exposed to the allergen or irritant.

* flaking skin, which may develop into raw patches.

* persistent itching…..Itchy, burning skin. Irritant contact dermatitis tends to be more painful than itchy, while allergic contact dermatitis often itches.

While either form of contact dermatitis can affect any part of the body, irritant contact dermatitis often affects the hands, which have been exposed by resting in or dipping into a container (sink, pail, tub) containing the irritant.


Causes:

In North/South America, the most common causes of allergic contact dermatitis are plants of the Toxicodendron genus: poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac. Common causes of irritant contact dermatitis are harsh (highly alkaline) soaps, nickel, detergents, and cleaning products and rubbers.

Treatment:

Self-care at Home
Immediately after exposure to a known allergen or irritant, wash with soap and cool water to remove or inactivate most of the offending substance.
– Weak acid solutions [lemon juice, vinegar] can be used to counteract the effects of dermatitis contracted by exposure to basic irritants [phenol etc.].

If blistering develops, cold moist compresses applied for 30 minutes 3 times a day can offer relief.
Calamine lotion and cool colloidal oatmeal baths may relieve itching.
Oral antihistamines such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl, Ben-Allergin) can also relieve itching.
For mild cases that cover a relatively small area, hydrocortisone cream in nonprescription strength may be sufficient.
Avoid scratching, as this can cause secondary infections.

What might be done?
Your doctor will want to know when the skin inflammation developed and whether you have any known allergies. the site of the reaction is often a clue to its cause. For example, a patch of dermatitis on the wrist may be caused by an allergic to nickel in a watch or watch strap. people who handle chemicals at work often develop irritant or allergic contact dermatitis on their hands.

Your doctor may prescribe a topical corticosteroid to relieve itching and inflammation. however, even with treatment, contact dermatitis may take a few weeks to clear up.

If you handle chemicals at work, it is particularly important to find the cause of your skin allergy. If the cause cannot easily be identified, you may need to have patch testing.

Once the trigger has been identifies, you should avoid it as much as possible. If you cannot do so, you may need to use creams, protective clothing, or gloves whenever you come into contact with the trigger.

Medical Care
If the rash does not improve or continues to spread after 2-3 of days of self-care, or if the itching and/or pain is severe, the patient should contact a dermatologist or other physician. Medical treatment usually consists of lotions, creams, or oral medications.

Corticosteroids. A corticosteroid medication similar to hydrocortisone may be prescribed to combat inflammation in a localized area. This medication may be applied to your skin as a cream or ointment. If the reaction covers a relatively large portion of the skin or is severe, a corticosteroid in pill or injection form may be prescribed.
Antihistamines. Prescription antihistamines may be given if nonprescription strengths are inadequate.

Prevention
Since contact dermatitis relies on an irritant or an allergen to initiate the reaction, it is important for the patient to identify the responsible agent and avoid it. This can be accomplished by having patch tests, a method commonly known as allergy testing. The patient must know where the irritant or allergen is found to be able to avoid it. It is important to also note that chemicals sometimes have several different names.

Summary
The distinction between the various types of contact dermatitis is based on a number of factors. The morphology of the tissues, the histology, and immunologic findings are all used in diagnosis of the form of the condition. However, as suggested previously, there is some confusion in the distinction of the different forms of contact dermatitis (Reitschel 1997). Using histology on its own is insufficient, as these findings have been acknowledged not to distinguish (Rietschel, 1997), and even positive patch testing does not rule out the existence of an irritant form of dermatitis as well as an immunological one. It is important to remember, therefore, that the distinction between the types of contact dermatitis is often blurred, with, for example, certain immunological mechanisms also being involved in a case of irritant contact dermatitis.

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.

Resources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Contact_dermatitis
http://www.charak.com/DiseasePage.asp?thx=1&id=149

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Categories
Pediatric

Getting the Lead Out

There is no question that lead poses a serious health risk to children. Exposure to lead can lower a child’s intelligence and lead to learning disabilities, hyperactivity, and reduced attention span.

Even though doctors and scientists cannot dispute the harmful effects of lead, they cannot seem to agree on just how much lead is dangerous. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has established 10 micrograms of lead per deciliter of a child’s blood as the threshold at which problems begin. About 1.6 % of American children ages one to five have blood lead levels (BLL) above this limit, according to the CDC. However, even levels below the cut-off can cause neu­rological problems, the CDC said in a recent report. Scientific research indicates that there really is no  safe threshold for children’s blood lead levels.

Lead paint is one of the leading sources of lead expo­sure in children, along with contaminated soil, dust, and drinking water. Most homes built before 1960 contain lead paint   that’s about four million homes in the U.S., according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Home remodeling makes up a big part of children’s lead exposure, experts say.

Protecting Your Kids from Lead Exposure:....CLICK & SEE

Regardless of which blood lead level is most dangerous, it’s a good idea to avoid exposing your kids to lead as much as possible. The following checklist, from the book 365 Ways to Keep Kids Safe (Balloon Press), can help you spot potential lead dangers and keep your kids away from this toxic substance.

*Test your children for lead. This is especially important if you live in an older home. A routine lead level test is simple to take an usually costs around $25. Have your children screened for lead once a year until they reach age three, then once every five years.

*Test your home for lead. A home lead test is the only way to determine if you have lead in your home, and if so, how much there is. Don’t try to test yourself, though. Although many companies advertise do-it-yourself tests, these tests are unreliable. You’re better off calling an EPA-certified examiner. To find an examiner, call the National Lead Infor­mation Center (NLIC) at 1-800-424-LEAD.

*Check for lead outside. Contaminated soil is a sig­nificant source of lead, especially when that soil is located close to high-traffic roads or old buildings. Your kids can easily track in lead-tainted dirt when they go outside to play. If you  are concerned about lead near your home, the EPA-certified examiner you call to check the inside of your home can also test the soil outside of it.

*Know where your water travels. Many homes contain lead pipes, which can leech lead into your drinking water. To clean up your water, the EPA advises that you use a NSF International water filter. To learn more about these filters, visit the NSF website at http://www.nsf.org/consumer/drinking_water/dw_treatment.asp?program=WaterTre. You can also contact your local water authority to find out whether or not they are doing anything to reduce lead in the water supply, and to have your water tested for lead.

*Change your wallpaper. If your home contains wallpaper that was made before 1978, it may contain lead. Consider removing it and painting or re-wallpapering your walls.

*Check your blinds. Several types of mini-blinds, especially those made in the Far East, can contain high levels of lead. Ask your lead examiner to check your blinds. If they do contain lead, have them replaced.

*Be aware of playground lead dangers. Metal equipment on public playgrounds may be covered with lead paint, and if the equipment is not well maintained that paint can chip onto the ground and come into direct contact with children. Call your local department of recreation and ask if the playground contains any lead paint.

Source:kidsgrowth.com