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Herbs & Plants

Veronica beccabunga

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

Synonyms:  Water Pimpernel. Becky Leaves. Cow Cress. Horse Cress. Housewell. Grass. Limewort. Brooklembe. Limpwort. Wall-ink. Water-Pumpy. Well-ink.

Common NamesBrooklime, European speedwell

Habitat:  Brooklime is found in all parts of Great Britain, being very common and generally distributed, occurring as far north as the Shetlands, and in the Highlands ascending up to 2,800 feet. It is found in Ireland and the Channel Islands.

Description:
Veronica beccabunga is a perennial plant  growing to 0.6 m (2ft).  It grows abundantly in shallow streams, ditches, the margins of ponds, etc., flourishing in the same situations as Water Cress and Water Mint, throwing out stout, succulent, hollow stems that root and creep along the ground at the base, giving off roots at intervals, and then ascend, bearing pairs of short, stalked, oval-oblong leaves, smooth, about 1 1/2 inch long, slightly toothed on their margin and thick and leathery in texture. The whole plant is very smooth and shiny in appearance, turning blackish in drying. The flowers are rather numerous, in lax, axillary racemes, 2 to 4 inches long, given off in pairs, whereas in Germander, Speedwell, only one flower stem rises from each pair of leaves. They begin to open in May and continue in succession through the greater part of the summer, though are at their best in May and June. The corollas are bright blue, with darker veins and a white eye, the petals oval and unequal. Occasionally a pink form is found. …CLICK  &  SEE  THE  PICTURES

The flower is adapted for cross-fertilization in the same manner as Veronica chamaedrys, the stamens and style projecting from the flower and forming an alighting place for insects. The petals are wide open in the sun but only partly expanded in dull weather. The flowers are much visited by insects, especially by a fly, Syritta pipians. The Honey Bee is also a visitor and some other small wild bees. Two species of beetle and the larva of a moth, Athalia annulata, feed on the leaves. The capsule is round, flat notched and swollen and contains winged, smooth seeds.

The specific name of this plant seems to be derived from the German name, Bachbunge bach, signifying a brook, and bunge, a bunch. Another source given for the specific name is from the Flemish beckpunge meaning ‘mouth smart,’ a name suggested by the pungency of its leaves, which were formerly eaten in salads. Dr. Prior tells us that the name Brooklime is in old writers Broklempe or Lympe, from its growing in the lime or mud of brooks, the Anglo-Saxon word lime, coming from the Latin limus, a word that from mud used in the rude buildings of Anglo-Saxon times, has come to be applied to the calcareous stone of which mortar is now made.

Cultivation:     
Easily grown in a moderately fertile wet soil, growing best in water up to 15cm deep. Prefers cool summers. Plants do not demand high light levels. A good bee plant.

Propagation:  
Seed – sow autumn in a cold frame. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out in the summer. If you have sufficient, the seed can be sown in situ in the spring or the autumn. Division at almost any time in the growing season. Very easy, even a small part of the plant will root if put in water.

Edible Uses:   Leaves – raw or cooked. They can be added to salads, mixed with water cress or cooked with other strongly flavoured greens[9, 183]. A pungent flavour, although the leaves are wholesome they are not very palatable

Part Used in medicine: The whole Herb.

Constituents:  Tannin and a special bitter principle, a pungent volatile oil and some sulphur.

Medicinal  Uses:  Alterative, Diuretic. The leaves and young stems were once in favour as an antiscorbutic, and even now the young shoots are sometimes eaten in spring with those of Watercress, the two plants being generally found growing together. As a green vegetable, Brooklime isalso wholesome, but not very palatable.

In earlier days the leaves were applied to wounds, though their styptic qualities appear to be slight. They are sometimes bruised and put on burns.

The juice, with that of scurvy-grass and Seville oranges, formed the ‘spring juices’ once valued as an antiscorbutic.

The plant has always been a popular simple for scrofulous affections, especially of the skin. An infusion of the leaves is recommended for impurity of the blood, an ounce of them being infused in a pint of boiling water.

In the fourteenth century, Brooklime was used for many complaints, including swellings, gout, etc

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/Veronica_beccabunga
http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/b/brookl69.html
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Veronica+beccabunga

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Herbs & Plants

Lotus corniculatus

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Botanical Name :Lotus corniculatus
Family: Fabaceae
Subfamily: Faboideae
Tribe: Loteae
Genus: Lotus
Species: L. corniculatus
Kingdom: Plantae

Order: Fabales

Common Name:Bird’s-foot,  Trefoil,Upright trefoil, Common lotus.

The plant has had many common English names in Britain, which are now mostly out of use. These names were often connected with the yellow and orange colour of the flowers, e.g. ‘eggs and bacon‘, ‘butter and eggs’.

Habitat :Lotus corniculatus   is native toEurope, including Britain, from Scandanavia south and east to N. Africa and temperate Asia. It grows in the pastures and sunny banks of streams, especially on calcareous soils.

Description:
It is a perennial herbaceous plant, similar in appearance to some clovers. The flowers develop into small pea-like pods or legumes. The name ‘bird’s foot’ refers to the appearance of the seed pods on their stalk. There are five leaflets, but with the central three held conspicuously above the others, hence the use of the name trefoil.

CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES

The height of the plant is variable, from 5-20 cm, occasionally more where supported by other plants; the stems can reach up to 50 cm long. It is typically sprawling at the height of the surrounding grassland. It can survive fairly close grazing, trampling and mowing. It is most often found in sandy soils. It Flowers from June until September.

Cultivation:
Landscape Uses:Border, Erosion control, Rock garden. Requires a well-drained soil in a sunny position. Dislikes shade Does well on poor soils. An important food plant for many caterpillars. It is also a good bee plant, the flowers providing an important source of nectar. The flowers are powerfully scented, even though they are able to pollinate themselves. The plant spreads very freely at the roots. This species has a symbiotic relationship with certain soil bacteria, these bacteria form nodules on the roots and fix atmospheric nitrogen. Some of this nitrogen is utilized by the growing plant but some can also be used by other plants growing nearby. Special Features:Attracts butterflies.

Propagation:
Pre-soak the seed for 24 hours in warm water and then sow in the spring or autumn in situ. The seed usually germinates in 2 – 4 weeks at 15°c. If seed is in short supply, it can be sown in pots in a cold frame. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out in late spring or early summer.

Edible Uses:    The young seedpods are ‘nibbled’. Caution is advised, see notes above on toxicity.

Medicinal Uses;

Carminative, febrifuge, hypoglycaemic, restorative, vermifuge. The flowers are antispasmodic, cardiotonic and sedative. The root is carminative, febrifuge, restorative and tonic. The plant is used externally as a local anti-inflammatory compress in all cases of skin inflammation.
Recommended for the treatment of heart palpitations, nervousness, depression and insomnia.

Other Uses:
It is used in agriculture as a forage plant, grown for pasture, hay, and silage. Taller growing cultivars have been developed for this. It may be used as an alternative to alfalfa in poor soils. It has become an invasive species in some regions of North America and Australia

A double flowered variety is grown as an ornamental plant. The plant is an important nectar source for many insects and is also used as a larval food plant by many species of Lepidoptera such as Six-spot Burnet. It is regularly included as a component of wildflower mixes in Europe. Fresh birdsfoot trefoil contains cyanogenic glycosides   and is thus poisonous to humans.

The plant is one of the few flowers in the language of flowers that has a negative connotation, symbolizing revenge or retribution.

An orange-yellow dye is obtained from the flowers. A useful green manure plant, fixing atmospheric nitrogen. It is difficult to see this plant as a useful green manure, it is fairly slow growing with us and does not produce much bulk.

Known Hazards:   All parts of the plant are poisonous, containing cyanogenic glycosides(hydrogen cyanide). In small quantities, hydrogen cyanide has been shown to stimulate respiration and improve digestion, it is also claimed to be of benefit in the treatment of cancer. In excess, however, it can cause respiratory failure and even death. This species is polymorphic for cyanogenic glycosides. The flowers of some forms of the plant contain traces of prussic acid and so the plants can become mildly toxic when flowering. They are completely innocuous when dried.

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.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_AB.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lotus_corniculatus

http://www.agroatlas.ru/en/content/cultural/Lotus_corniculatus_K/

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Herbs & Plants

Bear’s Breeches(Acanthus mollis – L.)

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Botanical Name:Acanthus mollis – L.
Family : Acanthaceae
Synonyms: Acanthus latifolius – Hort. ex Goeze.
Common Name :Bear’s Breeches,
Genus: Acanthus
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Lamiales
Family: Acanthaceae
Species: A. mollis

Habitat : South-western Europe – Portugal to the Balkans. Naturalized in Britain in W. Cornwall.  Woodland scrub and stony hillsides.Woodland Garden; Sunny Edge; Dappled Shade; Ground Cover; Meadow;

Description:
It is a herbaceous perennial plant .It grows to 2 m tall, with basal clusters of deeply lobed and cut, shining dark green leaves up to 1 m long and 20 cm broad. The flowers are tubular, whitish, lilac or rose with spiny green or purplish bracts, and produced on stout spikes which grow up to 2.5 m (8 ft) above the leaves. It flowers in late spring or early summer. It grows in dry areas, and is tolerant of drought and shade. The plants are propagated from tubers and tend to form large, localized clumps which can survive for several decades. The leaves of this plant are generally considered by historians[who?] to have been the design inspiration for the Corinthian column capitals of Roman architecture.
CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES….>…....(01)…..…(1).
It is hardy to zone 0. It is in flower from June to August. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees.

Cultivation :
Prefers a deep loamy soil in a sheltered position in full sun but tolerates partial shade. Grows well in heavy clay soils if they are well-drained but dislikes heavy damp soils and will not overwinter in wet soils. Established plants are fairly drought tolerant. Hardy to about -15°c, though young plants may require protection in the winter and even older ones may need protection in cold winters. A very ornamental plant. The leaves can wilt on hot summer days when plants are grown in full sun. Plants can become invasive, spreading by suckers, and they are difficult to eradicate due to their deep roots. Does well in the lawn or wild garden. Plants can be grown in quite coarse grass, which can be cut in the autumn. Members of this genus are not usually browsed by deer.

Propagation:-
Seed – sow spring in a cold frame or outside as soon as the seed is ripe. It usually germinates in 3 – 4 weeks at 10°c. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on for two years before planting out in late spring or early summer. Division in spring or autumn. Very easy, they can be planted straight out into their permanent positions. Root cuttings – winter in a coldframe

Medicinal Actions & Uses:

Astringent; Detergent; Emollient; Vulnerary.
The leaves and roots are astringent, detergent, emollient and vulnerary. The plant contains appreciable quantities of mucilage and tannin. Traditionally it was used as a treatment for dislocated joints and for burns. A paste made from the plant, when applied to a dislocated joint, tends to normalize the affected muscles and ligaments, simultaneously relaxing and tightening them to encourage the joint back into its proper place. The crushed leaves have been used as a poultice to soothe burns and scalds. For internal use, the plant’s emollient properties are useful in treating irritated mucous membranes within the digestive and urinary tracts.

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.

Other Uses:-
Ground cover.

The sub-species A. mollis latifolia makes a good ground cover plant. Relatively slow to cover the ground at first but it can eventually become invasive.


Source:

http://www.pfaf.org/database/plants.php?Acanthus+mollis
http://www.floradecanarias.com/acanthus_mollis.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acanthus_mollis

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Healthy Tips

What’s in a Healthy Lunchbox?

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Ninety-nine out of every 100 packed lunches being eaten by primary school children are reported to be unhealthy and failing to meet nutritional standards.

click & see the pictures

So what should a healthy lunch contain and what foods should be left out?

According to advice from the Food Standards Agency,a healthy packed lunch should include:

• Meat, fish or a dairy source of protein

• Starchy carbohydrate, such as a wholegrain sandwich, to provide energy

• At least one portion each of a fruit and vegetable or salad

• Water or milk to drink, but diluted fruit juice and yoghurt drinks or smoothies are acceptable

 

The key foods to avoid are:-

• Sweets and chocolate

• Snacks, like crisps, with added salt/sugar/fat

Sugary and fizzy drinks

Deep-fried foods and processed meats

• White bread – if children won’t eat brown, try whole white sliced bread

Nutritional standards for school meals were introduced in 2006 and standards for vending machines, breakfast clubs and tuck shops came into force a year later.

In 2008, strict nutrition content guidelines for primary schools were introduced and extended to secondary schools in September 2009.

They include maximum/minimum levels of energy or calories and 13 different nutrients, including fat, salt and sugars.

SUGAR, FAT AND SALT (As per  Food Standards Agency)
Sugar: 15g sugar per 100g is high in sugar, 5g or less is low
Fat: 20g fat per 100g is high in fat, 3g or less is low

Salt: 1.5g salt per 100g is high in salt, 0.3g or less is low


The Schools Food Trust – an independent body set up to advise schools on healthy eating – says there are no plans to issue statutory guidance on packed lunches, but it has produced some sample lunchbox menus

You may click to see:

SAMPLE MENU  in a packed standard lunch (526.29 K

Children’s lunchboxes ‘unhealthy’
Pupils are to face lunchbox exams
Charity seeks end to lunchbox ham
Food Standards Agency
School Food Trust

Source: BBC News:12Th. January. 2010

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Herbs & Plants

Sea-Buckthorn

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Botanical Name: Hippophae Rhamnoides
Family: Elaeagnaceae

Kingdom: Plantae
Phylum: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Rosales
Genus: Hippophae

Other Names: Espino Falso, Oblebicha, Olivella Spinosa, Sallow Thorn, Duindoorn, Seabuckthorn

Parts used: The sea buckthorn berries are used to make juice but also bark and leaves are used for the production of pharmaceuticals or to make sea buckthorn tea. Sea buckthorn oil is produced from the fruits and seeds.

Habitat:There are 6 species and 12 subspecies native over a wide area of Europe and Asia, including China, Mongolia, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Russia, Great Britain, France, Denmark, Netherlands, Germany, Poland, Finland, Sweden and Norway.More than 90 percent or about 1.5 million hectares of the world’s sea buckthorn resources can be found in China where the plant is exploited for soil and water conservation purposes.

The name sea-buckthorn is hyphenated here to avoid confusion with the buckthorns (Rhamnus, family Rhamnaceae). It is also referred to as “sea buckthorn”, seabuckthorn, sandthorn or seaberry

Description:
Sea buckthorn is a deciduous winter-hardy shrub with yellow to orange 6 to 8 mm small berries, which remain on the shrubs throughout the winter . Sea buckthorn reaches 2 to 5 m in height. The sea buckthorn?s leaves are alternate and narrow are silver-grey colored. The small, yellow flowers appear in spring before leaves. Both male and female sea buckthorn plants are needed for fruit production.
Sea buckthorn is used for land reclamation and to prevent soil erosion because of its extensive root system and its ability to fix nitrogen and other nutrients.

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The shrubs reach 0.5–6 m tall, rarely up to 10 m in central Asia, and typically occur in dry, sandy areas. They are tolerant of salt in the air and soil, but demand full sunlight for good growth and do not tolerate shady conditions near larger trees.

The common sea-buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides) is by far the most widespread, with a range extending from the Atlantic coasts of Europe right across to northwestern China. In western Europe, it is largely confined to sea coasts where salt spray off the sea prevents other larger plants from out-competing it, but in central Asia it is more widespread in dry semi-desert sites where other plants cannot survive the dry conditions; in central Europe and Asia it also occurs as a subalpine shrub above tree line in mountains, and other sunny areas such as river banks.

Common sea-buckthorn has branches that are dense and stiff, and very thorny. The leaves are a distinct pale silvery-green, lanceolate, 3–8 cm long and less than 7 mm broad. It is dioecious, with separate male and female plants. The male produces brownish flowers which produce wind-distributed pollen.

Berries and leaves
The female plants produce orange berries 6–9 mm in diameter, soft, juicy and rich in oils. The berries are an important winter food resource for some birds, notably fieldfares.

Leaves are eaten by the larva of the coastal race of the ash pug moth and by larvae of other Lepidoptera including brown-tail, dun-bar, emperor moth, mottled umber and Coleophora elaeagnisella.

Uses
Harvesting and landscaping

Harvesting is difficult due to the dense thorn arrangement among the berries on each branch. A common harvesting technique is to remove an entire branch, though this is destructive to the shrub and reduces future harvests. A branch removed in this way is next frozen, allowing the berries to be easily shaken off. The branches are cut, deep frozen to ?32°C, then shaken or abraded for removal of the berries.

The worker then crushes the berries to remove up to 95% of the leaves and other debris. This causes the berries to melt slightly from the surface as the work takes place at ambient temperature (about 20°C). Berries or the crushed pulp are later frozen for storage.

The most effective way to harvest berries and not damage branches is by using a berry-shaker. Mechanical harvesting leaves up to 50% in the field and the berries can be harvested only once in two years. They only get about 25% of the yield that could be harvested with this relatively new machinery.

During the Cold War, Russian and East German horticulturists developed new varieties with greater nutritional value, larger berries, different ripening months and a branch that is easier to harvest. Over the past 20 years, experimental crops have been grown in the United States, one in Nevada and one in Arizona, and in several provinces of Canada.

Sea-buckthorn is also a popular garden and landscaping shrub, particularly making a good vandal-proof barrier hedge with an aggressive basal shoot system exploited in some parts of the world as wind breaks and to stabilize riverbanks and steep slopes. They have value in northern climates for their landscape qualities, as the colorful berry clusters are retained through winter.[5] Branches may be used by florists for designing ornaments. The plant is the regional flora of the Finnish region of Satakunta.

Nutrients and potential health effects

Sea-buckthorn berries are multipurposed, edible and nutritious, though very acidic and astringent, unpleasant to eat raw, unless ‘bletted’ (frosted to reduce the astringency) and/or mixed as a juice with sweeter substances such as apple or grape juice.

When the berries are pressed, the resulting sea-buckthorn juice separates into three layers: on top is a thick, orange cream; in the middle, a layer containing sea-buckthorn’s characteristic high content of saturated and polyunsaturated fats; and the bottom layer is sediment and juice.  Containing fat sources applicable for cosmetic purposes, the upper two layers can be processed for skin creams and liniments, whereas the bottom layer can be used for edible products like syrup.

Nutrient and phytochemical constituents of sea-buckthorn berries have potential value as antioxidants that may affect inflammatory disorders, cancer  or other diseases,  although no specific health benefits have yet been proved by clinical research in humans.

The fruit of the plant has a high vitamin C content—in a range of 114 to 1550 mg per 100 grams with an average content (695 mg per 100 grams) about 12 times greater than Oranges— placing sea-buckthorn fruit among the most enriched plant sources of vitamin C. The fruit also contains dense contents of carotenoids, vitamin E, amino acids, dietary minerals, ?-sitosterol and polyphenolic acids.

Apart from being nourishing, the juice has a freezing point of ?22 degrees Celsius allowing it to remain a liquid even in sub-zero temperatures.[citation needed]

Consumer products
Sea-buckthorn fruit can be used to make pies, jams, lotions and liquors. The juice or pulp has other potential applications in foods or beverages. For example, in Finland, it is used as a nutritional ingredient in baby food.[citation needed] Fruit drinks were among the earliest seabuckthorn products developed in China. Seabuckthorn based juice is even popular in Germany and Scandinavian countries.It provides a nutritious beverage, rich in Vitamin C and carotenes. For its troops confronting extremely low temperatures (see Siachen), India’s Defence Research Development Organization established a factory in Leh to manufacture a multi-vitamin herbal beverage based on sea-buckthorn juice.

The seed and pulp oils have nutritional properties that vary under different processing methods. Sea-buckthorn oils are used as a source for ingredients in several commercially available cosmetic products and nutritional supplements.
Traditional medicine

Different parts of sea-buckthorn have been used as traditional therapies for diseases. As no applications discussed in this section have been verified by Western science and sufficient clinical trial evidence, such knowledge remains mostly unreferenced outside of Asia and is communicated mainly from person to person.

Grown widely throughout its native China and other mainland regions of Asia, sea-buckthorn is an herbal medicine used over centuries to relieve cough, aid digestion, invigorate blood circulation and alleviate pain. In Mongolia, extracts of sea-buckthorn branches and leaves are used to treat gastrointestinal distress in humans and animals.

Phytochemicals:    Isorhamnetin, Flavonoids, Carotenoids, Phytosterols
Medicinal properties: Although sea buckthorn has other benefits, it is most frequently used for the treatment of diseases of skin and digestive tract. It has anti-inflammatory and anti-microbiological activity, relieves pain and promotes tissue regeneration. Sea buckthorn oil is traditionally used to treat vaginal mucositis, cervical erosion, radiation damage, burns, ulcers and skin damage. Recent studies have shown that sea buckthorn may also improve heart health.
Wound healing
The best know but also most studied property of sea buckthorn is the improvement of wound healing. Topical treatment of wounds with extracts or oil from sea buckthorn relieves pain and accelerates wound healing. Animal studies showed that sea buckthorn stimulates the healing of gastric ulcers.
Heart health
Flavonoids are linked to a lower risk of heart disease. Studies on humans show no or only a small effect of sea buckthorn on heart health parameters.

Bark and leaves are used for treating diarrhea and gastrointestinal and dermatologic disorders. Topical compressions are used for rheumatoid arthritis. Flowers may be used as a skin softener.

For its hemostatic and anti-in?ammatory effects, berry fruits are added to medications for pulmonary, gastrointestinal, cardiac, blood and metabolic disorders in Indian, Chinese and Tibetan medicines. Sea-buckthorn berry components have potential anticarcinogenic activity.

Fresh juice, syrup and berry or seed oils are used for colds, fever, exhaustion, as an analgesic or treatment for stomach ulcers, cancer, and metabolic disorders.

Called ‘Chharma’ in some native languages, oil from fruits and seeds is used for liver diseases, in?ammation, disorders of the gastrointestinal system, including peptic ulcers and gastritis, eczema, canker sores and other ulcerative disorders of mucosal tissues, wounds, in?ammation, burns, frostbite, psoriasis, rosacea, lupus erythematosus, and chronic dermatoses. In ophthalmology, berry extracts have been used for keratosis, trachoma, eyelid injuries and conjunctivitis. The sea-buckthorn is also known to kill tiny parasitic mites called Demodex.

Other facts:    The berries have very high levels of beta-carotene, vitamin C, vitamin E and flavonoids. The vitamin C level of 3600 ppm is about 10 times higher than that of oranges. The seabuckthorn berries are also rich in vitamins B1, B2, K and P. Because of sea buckthorn’s thorny nature, it is becoming popular for planting to deter trespassing animals and people.
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Discover Today How the Many Marvelous Qualities of Sea Buckthorn Oil Promote Your Youthful-Looking Skin

.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/Sea-buckthorn
http://www.phytochemicals.info/plants/sea-buckthorn.php

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