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Herbs & Plants

Crocus nudiflorus

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Botanical Name :Crocus nudiflorus
Family: Iridaceae
Subfamily: Crocoideae
Genus: Crocus
Species: C. nudiflorus
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Asparagales

Synonyms: Crocus aphyllus, Crocus fimbriatus, Crocus multifidus, Crocus pyrenaeus

Common Name : Saffron

Other Names: Autumnal crocus, Naked-flowered crocus

Habitat: Crocus nudiflorus is native to S. Europe – S.W. France to N.E. Spain.(the plants are found over much of Europe, especially around the Mediterranean, in North Africa, and in Western Asia.) It goows on Meadows. (Soil…Sand, Chalk)

Description:
Crocus nudiflorus is a CORM growing to Height in inches 6-10 and spread is 15.

Foliage: The Dark Green grasslike leaves appear after the flowers; becoming 6-8 inches long and 0.125 inches wide.

Flower Colour in Month(s). Seed: Bright Purple, 6 inches in height, blooms in September-October before the leaves.

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It is not frost tender. It is in flower from Sep to October. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees, butterflies.Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils and can grow in very alkaline soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers dry or moist soil.
Cultivation:
Prefers a well-drained sandy or loamy soil that is free from clay. Prefers some shade from the hottest sun in summer and at least a modicum of moisture during its summer dormancy. Succeeds in grass, so long as this is not mown until the leaves die down, it also grows well under deep-rooting deciduous trees and shrubs. It can also be grown with very low shallow-rooting groundcover plants such as lawn camomile (Chamaemelum nobile ‘Treneague’). Plants are very frost hardy. Plants tend to move considerably from their original planting place because of their means of vegetative reproduction, it is therefore wise not to grow different species in close proximity. The corms should be planted about 5 – 8cm deep in the soil. Any planting out is best done in late spring or early summer. Plants take 4 – 5 years to come into flowering from seed. The flowers are only open during the day time, closing at night.
Propagation:
Seed – best sown as soon as it is ripe in a light sandy soil in pots in a cold frame. The seed can also be sown in a cold frame in early spring. Sow thinly because the seed usually germinates freely, within 1 – 6 months at 18°c. Unless the seed has been sown too thickly, do not transplant the seedlings in their first year of growth, but give them regular liquid feeds to make sure they do not become deficient. Divide the small bulbs once the plants have died down, planting 2 – 3 bulbs per 8cm pot. Grow them on for another 2 years in a greenhouse or frame and plant them out into their permanent positions when dormant in late summer. Plants take 3 – 4 years to flower from seed. Division of the clumps after the leaves die down in spring. The bulbs can be replanted direct into their permanent positions if required.

Edible Uses:
This species has been used as a saffron substitute. The following notes are for the genuine saffron, C. sativus:- The flower styles are used as a flavouring and yellow colouring for various foods such as bread, soups, sauces, rice and puddings. Extremely rich in riboflavin. Water soluble. Yields per plant are extremely low, about 4000 stigmas yield 25g of saffron. Saffron is the world’s most expensive spice, it takes 150,000 flowers and 400 hours work to produce 1 kilo of dried saffron. About 25 kilos of styles can be harvested from a hectare of the plant. The flower styles are used as a tea substitute.

Medicinal Uses:
This species has been used as a saffron substitute. The following notes are for the genuine saffron, C. sativus:- Saffron is a famous medicinal herb with a long history of effective use. The flower styles and stigmas are the parts used, but since these are very small and fiddly to harvest they are very expensive and consequently often adulterated by lesser products. They are anodyne, antispasmodic, aphrodisiac, appetizer, carminative, diaphoretic, emmenagogue, expectorant, sedative and stimulant. They are used as a diaphoretic for children and to treat chronic haemorrhages in the uterus of adults. A dental analgesic is obtained from the stigmas. The styles are harvested in the autumn when the plant is in flower and are dried for later use, they do not store well and should be used within 12 months. This remedy should be used with caution, large doses can be narcotic and quantities of 10g or more can cause an abortion.
Other Uses: Plants are ideal for rock gardens and for slight forcing in bowls for an early indoor display. The yellow dye obtained from the stigmas has been used for many centuries to colour cloth. It is the favoured colouring for the cloth of Indian swamis who have renounced the material world. A blue or green dye is obtained from the petals.

Known Hazards: The following reports are for C. sativus. They quite possibly also apply to this species. The plant is poisonous. The plant is perfectly safe in normal usage but 5 – 10 grams of saffron has been known to cause 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.

Resources:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crocus_nudiflorus
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Crocus+nudiflorus
http://www.ivydenegardens.co.uk/Bulb%20Colchicum%20Crocus%20Gallery/crocusnudiflorus.html
https://www.rhs.org.uk/Plants/4912/Crocus-nudiflorus/Details

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Herbs & Plants

Osmunda japonica

 

Bmily:otanical Name : Osmunda japonica
Family:  Osmundaceae
Genus: Osmunda
Section:Euosmunda
Species:O. japonica
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Pteridophyta
Class: Polypodiopsida /Pteridopsida (disputed)
Order: Osmundales

Synonyms: Osmunda nipponica Makino

Common Name : Japanese royal fern or Japanese flowering fern ,Zenmai (In some parts of China it is called juecai in Mandarin), Tibet and Japan it is called zenmai in Japanese.

Habitat :Osmunda japonica is native to E. Asia – China, Japan. It grows in moist places all over Japan.

Description:
Osmunda japonica is a deciduous herbaceous plant which produces separate fertile and sterile fronds. The sterile fronds are spreading, up to 80-100 cm tall, bipinnate, with pinnae 20-30 cm long and pinnules 4-6 cm long and 1.5-2 cm broad; the fertile fronds are erect and shorter, 20-50 cm tall.

It grows in moist woodlands and can tolerate open sunlight only if in very wet soil. Like other ferns, it has no flowers, but rather elaborate sporangia, that very superficially might suggest a flower, from which the alternative name derives.

Like its relative Osmundastrum cinnamomeum (Cinnamon fern), the fertile fronds become brown-colored and contain spores. The sterile (vegetative) fronds resemble in form, another relative, Osmunda regalis (Royal fern).

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Rhizome: erect, massive, forming a trunk, occasionally branching, hairs and old stipe bases woven together with black, fibrous roots.

Frond: 50 cm high by 40 cm wide, deciduous, dimorphic, fertile fronds earlier, erect, sterile later, arching, blade/stipe ratio: 5:4 for sterile fronds, 1:1 for fertile fronds.

Stipe: stipules (flared leaf base), unique to the family/genus, pale reddish brown, long lax hairs, but soon glabrous, vascular bundles: 1 in a U-shape where the top of the arms continue to curl.

Blade: 2-pinnate, sterile oblong, widest at the bottom, fertile consisting entirely of sporagia, papery, reddish to light brown hairs, soon falling.

Pinnae: 4 to 6 pair, catadromous; pinnules oblong, to 10 cm; margins minutely dentate; veins free, forked.

Sori: none, indusium: absent, sporangia: large, globose, tan or black when mature, spores green.
Cultivation:
Likes a soil of swamp mud and loamy or fibrous peat, sand and loam. Succeeds in most moist soils, preferring acid conditions. Requires a constant supply of water, doing well by ponds, streams etc. Plants thrive in full sun so long as there is no shortage of moisture in the soil and also in shady situations beneath shrubs etc. Plants are hardy to at least -20°c, they are evergreen in warm winter areas but deciduous elsewhere. Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer. Closely related to O. regalis.

Propagation :
Spores – they very quickly lose their viability (within 3 days) and are best sown as soon as they are ripe on the surface of a humus-rich sterilized soil in a lightly shaded place in a greenhouse. Keep the compost moist, preferably by putting a plastic bag over the pot. Plants develop very rapidly, pot on small clumps of plantlets as soon as they are large enough to handle and keep humid until they are well established. Do not plant outside until the ferns are at least 2 years old. Cultivars usually come true to type[200]. Division of the rootstock in the dormant season. This is a very strenuous exercise due to the mass of wiry roots

Edible Uses: the young frond of Osmunda japonica is used as a vegetable.

Medicinal  Uses: Not yet known.

Known Hazards: Although no reports of toxicity is yet found for this species, a number of ferns contain carcinogens so some caution is advisable. Many ferns also contain thiaminase, an enzyme that robs the body of its vitamin B complex. In small quantities this enzyme will do no harm to people eating an adequate diet that is rich in vitamin B, though large quantities can cause severe health problems. The enzyme is destroyed by heat or thorough drying, so cooking the plant will remove the thiaminase.
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/Osmunda_japonica
http://hardyfernlibrary.com/ferns/listSpecies.cfm?Auto=117
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Osmunda+japonica

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Herbs & Plants

Veronica chamaedrys

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Botanical Name : Veronica chamaedrys
Family:    Plantaginaceae
Genus:    Veronica
Species: V. chamaedrys
Kingdom:  Plantae
Order:    Lamiales

Synonyms: Fluellin the Male. Veronique petit Chêne. Paul’s Betony. Eye of Christ. Angels’ Eyes. Cat’s Eye. Bird’s Eye. Farewell,  Teucrium officinalis.

Common Names:  Germander speedwell, Bird’s-eye speedwell,Wall Germander, Germander

Habitat :   Veronica chamaedrys is native to Europe and northern Asia. It is found on other continents as an introduced species.It grows in sunny, rather dry places on waste ground and rocky outcrops, mainly on limestone soils  Naturalized on old walls in Britain

Description:
Veronica chamaedrys is a herbaceous perennial plant with hairy stems and leaves. It can grow to 25 cm tall, but is normally about 12 cm tall. The flowers are deep blue, 8 to 12 mm wide with a zygomorphic (bilaterally-symmetrical) four-lobed corolla.This little plant has a creeping, branched root-stock, passing insensibly into the stem, which is weak and decumbent to the point where the leaves commence, and then raises itself about a foot, to carry up the flowers. The leaves are in pairs, nearly stalkless, 1/2 to 1 1/2 inches long, egg-shaped to heart-shaped, deeply furrowed by the veins, the margins coarsely toothed. On the whole length of the stem are two lines of long hairs running down between each pair of leaves, shifting from side to side wherever they arrive at a fresh pair of leaves. These hairy lines act as barriers to check the advance of unwelcome crawling insects. The leaves themselves bear jointed hairs, and the flower-stalks, calyx and capsule also have long, gland-tipped hairs. The leaves are sometimes attacked by a gall mite, Cecidomyia Veronica, and white galls like white buttons are the result on the ends of the shoots.
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The numerous flowers are in loose racemes, 2 to 6 inches long in the axils of the leaves, the flowers are rather close together on first expanding, but become distant after the fall of the corolla, which is 1/2 inch across, bright blue with darker lines, and a white eye in the centre, where the four petals join into the short tube. The corolla is so lightly attached that the least jarring causes it to drop, so that the plant at the slightest handling loses its bright blossom – hence, perhaps, its name Speedwell and similar local names, ‘Fare well’ and ‘Good-bye.’ The under lip of the corolla covers the upper in bud. The flower closes at night and also in rainy weather, when the brightness of the blossoms quite disappears, only the pale and pearly underside of its petals being visible.
Edible Uses : The plant is widely used in making alcoholic drinks with a bitter base, which have digestive or appetite-promoting qualities.
Medicinal Uses:

Antiinflammatory; Antirheumatic; Aperient; Aromatic; Astringent; Bitter; Carminative; Diaphoretic; Digestive; Diuretic; Stimulant;
Tonic.

Wall germander is a specific for the treatment of gout, it is also used for its diuretic properties, and as a treatment for weak stomachs and lack of appetite[9]. It has also been taken as an aid to weight loss and is a common ingredient in tonic wines. Some caution is advised when using this plant internally, it can cause liver damage[238] The whole herb is anti-inflammatory, antirheumatic, aperient, aromatic, astringent, bitter, carminative, diaphoretic, digestive, diuretic, stimulant and tonic. It is harvested in the summer and can be dried for later use. It is used externally as an astringent infusion on the gums and also in the treatment of wounds.

Other Uses
Essential; Hedge; Hedge.

Amenable to light trimming so can be grown as a low edging border in the garden. Any trimming is best done in the spring. The plant contains 0.6% of an essential oil. Plants can be grown as a ground cover when planted about 30cm apart each way

 

 

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/Veronica_chamaedrys
http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/s/speger76.html

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Herbs & Plants

Holly

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Botanical Name : Ilex aquifolium
Family: Aquifoliaceae
Genus:     Ilex
Species: I. aquifolium
Kingdom: Plantae
Order:     Aquifoliales

Synonyms: Hulver Bush. Holm. Hulm. Holme Chase. Holy Tree. Christ’s Thorn.

Common Names :Holly, Common holly, English holly, European holly, or occasionally Christmas holly

Habitat: The Holly is a native of most of the central and southern parts of Europe. It grows very slowly: when planted among trees which are not more rapid in growth than itself, it is sometimes drawn up to a height of 50 feet, but more frequently its greatest height in this country is 30 to 40 feet, and it rarely exceeds 2 feet in diameter. In Italy and in the woods of France, especially in Brittany, it attains a much larger size than is common in these islands.

Description:
Holly is an evergreen tree growing to 10–25 m tall with a woody stem as large as 40–80 cm, rarely 1 m or more, in diameter The leaves are 5–12 cm long and 2–6 cm broad; they are evergreen, lasting about five years, and are dark green on the upper surface and lighter on the underside, oval, leathery, shiny, and about 5 to 9 cm long. In the young and in the lower limbs of mature trees, the leaves have three to five sharp spines on each side, pointing alternately upward and downward, while leaves of the upper branches in mature trees lack spines.
CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES.>……….(1)..…(2).
The flowers are white, four-lobed, and pollinated by bees. Holly is dioecious, meaning that there are male plants and female plants. The sex cannot be determined until the plants begin flowering, usually between 4 and 12 years of age. In male specimens, the flowers are yellowish and appear in axillary groups. In the female, flowers are isolated or in groups of three and are small and white or slightly pink, and consist of four petals and four sepals partially fused at the base.

The fruit is a red drupe, about 6–10 mm in diameter, a bright red or bright yellow, which matures around October or November; at this time they are very bitter due to the ilicin content and so are rarely eaten until late winter after frost has made them softer and more palatable. They are eaten by rodents, birds and larger herbivores. Each fruit contains 3 to 4 seeds which do not germinate until the second or third spring. The fruit only appears on female plants, which require male plants nearby to fertilise them.

It has been stated by M. J. Pierre, that the young stems are gathered in Morbihan by the peasants, and made use of as a cattle-food from the end of November until April, with great success. The stems are dried, and having been bruised are given as food to cows three times daily. They are found to be very wholesome and productive of good milk, and the butter made from it is excellent.

It is also well known to rabbit-breeders that a Holly-stick placed in a hutch for the rabbits to gnaw, will act as a tonic, and restore their appetite.

The wood of Holly is hard, compact and of a remarkable even substance throughout. Except towards the centre of very old trees, it is beautifully white, and being susceptible of a very high polish, is much prized for ornamental ware, being extensively used for inlaying, as in the so-called Tunbridge ware. The evenness of its grain makes it very valuable to the turner. When freshly cut, it is of a slightly greenish hue, but soon becomes perfectly white, and its hardness makes it superior to any other white wood. As it is very retentive of its sap and warps in consequence, it requires to be well dried and seasoned before being used. It is often stained blue, green, red or black; when of the latter colour, its principal use is as a substitute for ebony, as in the handles of metal teapots. Mathematical instruments are made of it, also the blocks for calico printing, and it has been employed in wood engraving as a substitute for boxwood, to which, however, it is inferior. The wood of the silver-striped variety is said to be whiter than that of the common kind.

A straight Holly-stick is much prized for the stocks of light driving whips, also for walking-sticks.

The common Holly is the badge of the Drummonds.

Edible Uses:
“The leaves of Holly have been employed in the Black Forest as a substitute for tea”

Cultivation:
The Holly will grow in almost any soil, provided it is not too wet, but attains the largest size in rich, sandy or gravelly loam, where there is good drainage, and a moderate amount of moisture at the roots, for in very dry localities it is usually stunted in its growth, but it will live in almost any earth not saturated with stagnant water. The most favourable situation seems to be a thin scattered wood of Oaks, in the intervals of which it grows up at once. It is rarely injured by even the most severe winters.

Holly is raised from seeds, which do not germinate until the second year, hence the berries are generally buried in a heap of earth for a year previously to being sown. The young plants are transplanted when about a foot or 18 inches high, autumn being the best time for the process. If intended for a hedge, the soil around should be previously well trenched and moderately manured if necessary. Holly exhausts the soil around it to a greater extent than most deciduous trees. At least two years will be needed to recover the check given by transplanting. Although always a slow grower, Holly grows more quickly after the first four or five years.

The cultivated varieties of Holly are very numerous: of these one is distinguished by the unusual colour of its berries, which are yellow. Other forms are characterized by the variegated foliage, or by the presence of a larger or smaller number of prickles than ordinary.

In winter the garden and shrubbery are much indebted to the more showy varieties for the double contrast afforded by their leaves and berries. They are propagated by grafting on four- or five-year-old plants of the common sort and by cuttings.

The best time to cut down Holly is early in the spring, before the sap rises. A sloping cut is preferable to a straight one, as moisture is thus prevented from remaining on the cut portion, and as an additional precaution the wound should be covered with a coating of tar. The side growths should be left, as they will help to draw up the sap.

Medicinal Uses:

-Parts Used: Leaves, berries, bark.
Holly is rarely used medicinally, but is diuretic, relieves fevers, and has a laxative action.Ilex aquifolium also contains saponins, theobromine (a xanthine), ilicin, caffeine, caffeic acid, and a yellow pigment, ilexanthin.

Holly leaves were formerly used as a diaphoretic and an infusion of them was given in catarrh, pleurisy and smallpox. They have also been used in intermittent fevers and rheumatism for their febrifugal and tonic properties, and powdered, or taken in infusion or decoction, have been employed with success where Cinchona has failed, their virtue being said to depend on a bitter principle, an alkaloid named Ilicin. The juice of the fresh leaves has been employed with advantage in jaundice.

The berries possess totally different qualities to the leaves, being violently emetic and purgative, a very few occasioning excessive vomiting soon after they are swallowed, though thrushes and blackbirds eat them with impunity. They have been employed in dropsy; also, in powder, as an astringent to check bleeding.

Other uses:
Many hundreds of hybrids and cultivars have been developed for garden use, among them the very popular “Highclere holly”, Ilex × altaclerensis (I. aquifolium × I. perado) and the “blue holly”, Ilex × meserveae (I. aquifolium × I. rugosa). Hollies are often used for hedges; the spiny leaves make them difficult to penetrate, and they take well to pruning and shaping.

Between the thirteenth and eighteenth centuries, before the introduction of turnips, Ilex aquifolium was cultivated for use as winter fodder for cattle and sheep. Less spiny varieties of holly were preferred, and in practice the leaves growing near the top of the tree have far fewer spines making them more suitable for fodder.

Ilex aquifolium was once among the traditional woods for Great Highland bagpipes before tastes turned to imported dense tropical woods such as cocuswood, ebony, and African blackwood.

Known Hazards:
Holly berries contain alkaloids, caffeine, and theobromine and are generally regarded as toxic to humans, though their poisonous properties are overstated and fatalities almost unknown. Accidental consumption may occur by children or pets attracted to the bright red berries. The berries are emetic. This is described as being due to the drug ilicin, though caffeine and theobromine found throughout the plant are much more toxic, generally, to dogs and cats

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/h/holly-28.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ilex_aquifolium

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If You’re in Pain, Think UTI

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Pain while passing urine, a desire to urinate every few minutes, an inability to pass urine despite the urge, high-coloured, cloudy urine, abdominal pain, high fever, shivering and vomiting — a few or all of these are symptoms of an infection somewhere along the urinary tract. In the elderly, the only symptom may be a change in mental status. In men, the pain may be felt in the rectal area. In children, after a period of dryness, bedwetting may recur. In babies, the temperature can fall instead of rise, and there may be jaundice. Almost 25 per cent of visits to a physician is due to this very common infection.
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Urinary tract infection (UTI) affects all age groups and both sexes. It is much more common in women, because of the shorter urethra, its proximity to the anus, pregnancy (when the uterus obstructs the free flow of urine) and minor trauma during sexual intercourse. Thirty five per cent of women have one episode of UTI before the age of 30. Men tend to develop UTI if their prostrate gland is enlarged as this obstructs the flow of urine. In both sexes kidney stones, structural abnormalities of the urinary tract, diabetes or lack of immunity (HIV, cancer medication) can increase susceptibility to infection. Pregnant women can develop asymptomatic UTI with bacteria detected in their urine on routine examination. This condition, called “asymptomatic bactinuria” of pregnancy, needs to be treated.
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Physicians suspect that UTI exists based on the symptoms. A routine urine examination shows abnormalities like pus cells or blood in the urine. A culture can be done to determine the organism responsible so that the appropriate antibiotic can be administered.

Untreated patients of UTI can sometimes recover spontaneously without treatment in a few months. But the infection can also enter the blood stream, causing potentially fatal septicaemia. The kidneys may become scarred, too. This leads to high blood pressure and kidney failure. During pregnancy, recurrent or chronic UTI or asymptomatic UTI compromises the placental blood supply. This affects the baby’s nutrition, leading to low birth weight and sometimes causing the mother to go into premature labour.

There are several regimens for treating UTI. Depending on the organism and antibiotic, in adult women a three-day course is usually sufficient for mild infection. In most cases and in the case of men, however, a 7-10 or 14-day course is required. Oral medication is usually sufficient. If the infection has affected the kidney, hospitalisation and intravenous medication may be required. It is important to follow the doctor’s instructions and complete the course of antibiotics even if you are symptomatically better. In women, if the symptoms do not respond and there is also white discharge, there may be an underlying pelvic infection. In men, non-responsiveness to treatment may be due to unrecognised prostatitis.

One of the ways to prevent UTI is to drink plenty of water. The urine becomes dilute and the bladder gets flushed regularly. An adult needs around 2.5 litres of water a day. In hot, humid climates and in people who exercise vigorously the requirement may go up to 4-6 litres a day. Also, drink a glass of water before going to bed. Empty the bladder before and after intercourse. Drink a glass of water after intercourse.

A few studies have shown that cranberry juice (available in India, Hindi name karaunda) and blueberry juice (not available) helps reduce the frequency and duration of UTI. This is because the juice contains vitamin C which acidifies the urine. It also contains natural chemicals that make the bladder wall slippery and prevent bacteria from sticking to it and initiating an infection. Other citrus juices and tablets of vitamin C are effective but not as efficient. A tablespoon of home-made curd taken on an empty stomach first thing in the morning naturally repopulates the intestines with “good lactobacillus”. This decreases the likelihood of the growth of disease-causing bacteria in the rectum, from where they can enter the urethra.

The pelvic muscles become lax after childbirth. This increases the possibility of the bladder and uterus descending downwards while straining. “Accidents” with leakage of urine and urgency can also occur.

All these increase the chances of infection. Keegles exercises should be done regularly soon after childbirth. Also while passing urine, consciously stop and start. This tones the pelvic muscles.

Women tend to lean forward while urinating. This position is inefficient as it increases the angle between the bladder and the urethra, creating an obstruction to the flow of urine. Women should consciously lean backwards. Also, when the area is being washed after urination or passing motion, wash from front to back. This decreases the likelihood of contamination of the urethra with rectal bacteria

Source: The Telegraph ( Kolkata, India)

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