Tag Archives: Chocolate

Celastrus scandens

Botanical Name : Celastrus scandens
Family: Celastraceae
Genus: Celastrus
Species: C. scandens
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Celastrales

Common Mame :American Bittersweet , Bittersweet or Climbing Bittersweet

Habitat :Celastrus scandens is native to central and eastern North America. It was given the name Bittersweet by European colonists in the 18th century because the fruits resembled the appearance of the fruits of Eurasian Nightshade (Solanum dulcamara), which was also called Bittersweet. Today, American Bittersweet is the accepted common name of C. scandens in large part to distinguish it from an invasive relative, C. orbiculatus (Oriental Bittersweet), from Asia.It grows in  rich soils  in dense moist thickets, woods and along river banks.

Description:
It has a sturdy perennial vine that may have twining, woody stems that are 30 feet (9.1 m) or longer and an inch or more thick at the base. The stems are yellowish-green to brown and wind around other vegetation, sometimes killing saplings by restricting further growth. It has tiny, scentless flowers at the tips of the branches. It has colorful, orange fruits that are the size of a pea.  Bloom Color: Green, Yellow.   Main Bloom Time: Mid summer. Form: Spreading or horizontal, Variable spread.

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Celastrus scandens is a  woody and shrubby climber, growing over trees or fences. It has smooth thin leaves 2 to 4 inches long and about half as wide. The small greenish-white  flowers are produced in June in short clusters. The fruit is a round, orange-yellow capsule which opens in autumn, disclosing the scarlet-colored seed pod. The seed capsules remain on the plant well into the cold season and provide food for birds in the winter.It blooms mostly in June

Fruits are eaten by songbirds, ruffed grouse, pheasants, bobwhite and squirrel.  Old fruits are eaten as survival foods by many birds and animals in late winter.   Fruits should NOT be eaten by humans.    Bunches of twisted branchlets, loaded with fruit, are very decorative and the plant is disappearing in many places because of the ruthless methods of market pickers.

Cultivation:
Landscape Uses:Arbor. Prefers a deep loamy soil. Dislikes chalky soils. Succeeds in full or partial shade. Requires a humus-rich soil if it is to be at its best. A rampant climber, it requires ample space and is best grown into an old tree. It climbs by means of twining and also by prickles on the young stems. Plants do not normally require pruning. The foliage of some wild plants is variegated. There are some named forms, selected for their ornamental value. A good bee plant. Plants in this genus are notably resistant to honey fungus. Plants are usually dioecious, in which case male and female plants must be grown if seed is required. This species seldom fruits freely in Britain. Special Features: Attracts birds, North American native, Invasive, Attracts butterflies, Suitable for dried flowers, Inconspicuous flowers or blooms.

Propagation :
Seed – gather when ripe, store in dry sand and sow February in a warm greenhouse. Three months cold stratification leads to a higher germination rate. Remove the flesh of the fruit since this inhibits germination. Germination rates are usually good. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in a greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Layering in August of the current seasons growth. Takes 12 months. Root cuttings, 6mm thick 25mm long in December. Plant horizontally in pots in a frame.

Edible Uses:..…Bark and twigs – they must be cooked. The thickish bark is sweet and palatable after boiling. Another report says that it is the inner bark that is used, and that it is a starvation food, only used when other foods are in short supply. Some caution is advised in the use of this plant since there are suggestions of toxicity.

Medicinal Uses:
Climbing bittersweet was employed medicinally by a number of native North American Indian tribes, though it is scarcely used in modern herbalism.  The root is a folk remedy for chronic liver and skin ailments, rheumatism, leukorrhea, dysentery and suppressed menses. A strong compound infusion, usually combined with raspberry leaf tea, has been used to reduce the pain of childbirth. A poultice of the boiled root has been used to treat obstinate sores, skin eruptions etc.  Externally, the bark is used as an ointment on burns, scrapes and skin eruptions.  The bark of the root has been taken internally to induce vomiting, to quiet disturbed people, to treat venereal diseases and to increase urine flow.  As an ointment mixed with grease it has been used to treat skin cancers, tumors, burns and swellings.  A decoction of the root bark has been used to induce menstrual flow and perspiration.  Extracts of the bark are thought to be cardioactive.  Many plants in this genus contain compounds of interest for their antitumor activity.

C. scandens roots were used by Native Americans and pioneers to induce vomiting, to treat venereal disease, and to treat symptoms of tuberculosis.

Known Hazards: Fruits of Celastrus scandens are poisonous to humans when ingested internally, but are favorites of birds.

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.easywildflowers.com/quality/cel.sca.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Celastrus_scandens
http://countrystoreplants.com/proddetail.php?prod=10233
http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_C.htm

http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Celastrus+scandens

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Chocolate Protects Against Heart Disease

Numerous studies have shown that cocoa has a protective effect against cardiovascular diseases. The reason for this has now been uncovered by researchers at Linköping University in Sweden. When a group of volunteers devoured a good-sized piece of dark chocolate, it inhibited an enzyme in their bodies that is known to raise blood pressure.

“We have previously shown that green tea inhibits the enzyme ACE, which is involved in the body’s fluid balance and blood pressure regulation. Now we wanted to study the effect of cocoa, since the active substances catechins and procyanidines are related,” says study leader Ingrid Persson.

The researchers recruited 16 healthy volunteer subjects for the study. They were not tobacco users and were not allowed to take any pharmaceuticals for two weeks. During the last two days they were not allowed to eat chocolate or anything containing similar compounds, including many kinds of berries and fruits, nor could they drink coffee, tea, or wine.

When the study took place, everyone in the group – ten men and six women between the ages of 20 and 45 – ate 75 grams of unsweetened chocolate with a cocoa content of 72 percent. To analyze what happened with the ACE enzyme, blood samples were taken in advance and then a half hour, one hour, and three hours afterward.

In the sample taken three hours afterward, there was a significant inhibition of ACE activity. The average was 18 percent lower activity than before the dose of cocoa, fully comparable to the effect of drugs that inhibit ACE and are used as a first-choice treatment for high blood pressure.

When the activities of the enzyme decline, the blood pressure goes down with time. As expected, no such effect was found in the subjects. To show this, the study would have to continue over a longer period.

“Our findings indicate that changes in lifestyle with the help of foods that contain large concentrations of catechins and procyaninides prevent cardiovascular diseases,” she says

Source
:Elements4Health

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Water Arum(Calla palustris)

Botanical Name : Calla palustris
Family : Araceae
Subfamily: Calloideae
Genus :               Calla
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Alismatales
Species: C. palustris

Habitat :  Forest swamps, moorland marshes, by ponds and streams.
.Pond; Bog Garden;

Description:
It is a rhizomatous herbaceous perennial plant growing in bogs and ponds. The leaves are rounded to heart-shaped, 6–12 cm long on a 10–20 cm petiole, and 4–12 cm broad. The greenish-yellow inflorescence is produced on a spadix about 4–6 cm long, enclosed in a white spathe. The fruit is a cluster of red berries, each berry containing several seeds.

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It is hardy to zone 4. It is in flower from June to July, and the seeds ripen from August to September. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Flies.
The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. The plant prefers acid and neutral soils and can grow in very acid soil. It cannot grow in the shade. It requires wet soil and can grow in water.

Cultivation details
Requires a wet lime-free humus rich soil by water or in shallow, still or slowly flowing water in full sun[200]. When grown on the pond margins it creeps in and out of the water[1]. Succeeds in water up to 25cm deep[188].

Propagation
Seed – best sown as soon as it is ripe in late summer in a cold frame in pots standing in about 3cm of water[200]. Sow stored seed as early as possible in the year in a greenhouse. The germination rate of stored seed is often poor. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in trays of water in the greenhouse for at least their first winter, planting them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Division in spring[200]. Very easy, it is possible to divide this plant at almost any time in the growing season. Any part of the stem, if placed in water or a pot of very wet soil, will quickly root away to form a new plant. Stem cuttings in summer, rooted in wet mud.


Edible Uses
Edible Parts: Fruit; Root; Seed.

Rhizome – cooked. It is usually prepared by drying the root, grinding it into a powder and then thoroughly cooking it to ensure that any acrimonious principle is completely destroyed. The resulting powder is rich in starch and can be used as a flour for making bread etc, especially in conjunction with cereal flours[1, 2, 55, 100, 183]. It is said to be very tasty[65]. Fruit (does this include the seed?) – it should be dried and then thoroughly cooked[172]. The dried fruit and rootstalk can be ground into an unpalatable but nutritious powder[172]. The seed is dried, cooked and ground into a powder.

Medicinal Actions &  Uses
Antirheumatic; Poultice.

Antirheumatic. Used in the treatment of colds and flu. A tea made from the dried root has been used in the treatment of flu, shortness of breath, bleeding and as a poultice on swellings and snakebites. The aerial stems have been used in the treatment of sore legs.
Known Hazards:The plant is very poisonous when fresh due to its high oxalic acid content, but the rhizome, like that of Caladium, Colocasia and Arum, is edible after drying, grinding, leaching and boiling.

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/database/plants.php?Calla+palustris
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Calla
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Calla_palustris

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Dark Chocolate Guards Against Brain Injury

Researchers have discovered that epicatechin, a compound in dark chocolate, may protect your brain after a stroke by increasing cellular signals that shield nerve cells from damage.

An hour and a half after feeding mice a single dose of epicatechin, animals that had ingested the compound suffered significantly less brain damage following an induced stroke.

Eurekalert reports:
“While most treatments against stroke in humans have to be given within a two- to three-hour time window to be effective, epicatechin appeared to limit further neuronal damage when given to mice 3.5 hours after a stroke. Given six hours after a stroke, however, the compound offered no protection to brain cells.”

Resources:
Eurekalert May 5, 2010
Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism May 5, 2010 [Epub ahead of print]

Chocolate May Help Prevent Stroke

Those who give chocolate as a gift this Valentine’s Day may be surprised to learn that the sweet treat has taken on a whole new dimension, according to the latest research from McMaster University. The recently released study indicates that chocolate may help lower an individual’s risk of stroke.
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The team of scientists took into account three different studies before reaching this conclusion. One study tracked 44,489 participants and found that those who consumed a serving of chocolate each week decreased their risk of stroke by 22 percent.

While study author Sarah Sahib admitted “more research is needed to determine whether chocolate truly lowers stroke risk,” a second study of 1,169 individuals revealed that consuming 50 grams or more of chocolate each week may decrease stroke risk by 46 percent.

It is believed that some of the antioxidants in chocolate may have health benefits, but this doesn’t mean individuals should abandon a balanced diet and adequate exercise each day.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, stroke is the third most frequent cause of death in America today and about 137,000 Americans die from a stroke each year.

Source:Better Health Research.12th Feb.2010

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