Herbs & Plants


Botanical Name: Ammi visnaga
Family: Umbelliferae/Apiaceae – Carrot family
Kingdom: Plantae – Plants
Subkingdom: Tracheobionta – Vascular plants
Superdivision: Spermatophyta – Seed plants
Division: MagnoliophytaFlowering plants
Class : Magnoliopsida – Dicotyledons
Subclass: Rosidae
Order : Apiales
Genus : Ammi L. – ammi
Species : Ammi visnaga (L.) Lam. – toothpickweed

Habitat: Fields and sandy places, Native in C.Europeto W. Asia and N.Africa

Annual/Biennial growing to 0.75m by 0.4m.
It is hardy to zone 0. It is in flower from July to September. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects. The plant is self-fertile.

The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and requires well-drained soil. The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils and can grow in very alkaline soil. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It requires moist soil.The seeds are harvested in late summer before they have fully ripened and are dried for later use.

Cultivation details
Prefers a well-drained soil in a sunny position, succeeding in ordinary garden soil. Tolerates a pH in the range 6.8 to 8.3. This species is not fully winter-hardy in the colder areas of Britain, though it should be possible to grow it as a spring-sown annual. This plant is sold as toothpicks in Egyptian markets.

Seed – sow spring in situ

Edible Uses
Edible Parts: Leaves.

Leaves – raw. Chewed for their pleasant aromatic flavour.

Medicinal Uses

Antiasthmatic; Diuretic; Lithontripic; Vasodilator.

Visnaga is an effective muscle relaxant and has been used for centuries to alleviate the excruciating pain of kidney stones. Modern research has confirmed the validity of this traditional use. Visnagin contains khellin, from which particularly safe pharmaceutical drugs for the treatment of asthma have been made. The seeds are diuretic and lithontripic.

They contain a fatty oil that includes the substance ‘khellin’. This has been shown to be of benefit in the treatment of asthma. Taken internally, the seeds have a strongly antispasmodic action on the smaller bronchial muscles, they also dilate the bronchial, urinary and blood vessels without affecting blood pressure. The affect last for about 6 hours and the plant has practically no side effects. The seeds are used in the treatment of asthma, angina, coronary arteriosclerosis and kidney stones. By relaxing the muscles of the urethra, visnaga reduces the pain caused by trapped kidney stones and helps ease the stone down into the bladder.

Visnaga is a relative of Queen Anne’s Lace and is commonly known to Arabs as “toothpick” plant. Centuries ago, Arabs found the small grayish fruits of this plant effective in treating numerous complaints such as the stabbing pain of angina pectoris. The main component of Visnaga is khellin, which acts as a selective coronary vasodilator. Khellin expands only the arteries that feed the heart, offering fast relief when angina is brought on by constricted or partly blocked coronary arteries. This substance is also a bronchodilator and was used by Arabs for treating the bronchial spasms that accompany asthma or severe allergies. The asthma drug Intal, is derived from khellin. Visnaga fruit also has diuretic properties.

Visnaga Uses & Scientific Evidence For
Today, Visnaga is used to help improve circulation to the heart, which eases angina. It does not; however, lower blood pressure. This plant is also used safely for treating asthma in children and adults, and even though it does not always relieve acute attacks, it does help prevent a recurrence. It is also used in treating bronchitis, emphysema, and whooping cough. Visnaga increases urine production and helps relax the muscles of the ureter, therefore, it works well in treating kidney stones. In Spain, this plant is used to clean the teeth.

Visnaga Dosage Information
Visnaga comes in many forms and can be found in various products. It is best to consult with your physician before using this herb if you want to use it to treat any of the above listed conditions.

Other Uses
The fruiting pedicel is used as a toothpick whilst the seeds have been used as a tooth cleaner.

Scented Plants
Plant: Crushed
The plant has an aromatic bitter scent and flavour.

Visnaga Safety & Interaction Information
Even though Visnaga is relatively safe for treating many conditions, it is not without its side effects. Prolonged use causes a build up of khellin in the body which can bring on nausea and vomiting. Again, it is best to consult with your physician for the treatment of your condition.

You may click to learn more about Ammi visnaga…………(1)...(2)..(3)(4)

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.


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News on Health & Science

Opening Your Heart

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The poets and songwriters deduced it correctly; the ultimate irrevocable act of love is giving your heart to someone else. The heart is the fulcrum on which the pendulum of life swings. Its continued non-stop, efficient, self-regulating pumping action supplies essential oxygen to all the tissues of the body. It looks rather unromantic though  it is made of muscle and is the size of a clenched fist. It is nurtured and oxygenated by the coronary arteries which snake over its surface.

………………………………………… & see
………………………Stents have reduced the need for bypass surgery to 1 per cent

At birth we have open, pliant coronary arteries, but a lifetime of abuse with a sedentary lifestyle, smoking, an unhealthy diet and obesity takes its toll. Fat deposits form plaques on the arterial walls making them irregular, narrow and stiff, eventually blocking them. The blood supply to the muscles of the heart is then compromised, causing ischemia with chest pain, sweating and a feeling of impending doom   the characteristic symptoms of angina. Heart disease is more likely to occur in diabetics, people with high blood pressure, smokers and those with elevated abnormal lipid profiles. The first attack can be fatal in 50 per cent of the people in the first two hours if they do not receive adequate emergency intervention.

Angina is the classic precursor to a heart attack. The pain can occur at night, or be precipitated by varying degrees of activity. It can initially be managed with medication like glyceryl trinitrate, sorbitrates, calcium channel blockers and clot-preventing medication like aspirin or clopidogrel. If you go to a cardiologist, he may opt for a coronary angiogram to outline the blood supply to the heart. This is performed by inserting a thin tube through an artery in the arm or leg and then guiding it into the heart. A dye is then injected, so that the arteries can be seen.

A catheter is inserted into a larger artery, usually the femoral artery in the groin. It has a tip called a balloon which can be dilated. This opens up the narrowed vessel and also pushes through the clot, dispersing it. This procedure can minimise or stop a heart attack if performed in time. This technique was first used in 1977. The results were not very encouraging. Restenosis (narrowing of the arterial walls once again) occurred in 30-40 per cent of the people within six months of the process. The procedure and technique have improved vastly in the last 30 years. Metal stents can now be inserted through the balloons. These are coiled springs which open up when released from the balloon. They function as a scaffold and hold the coronary vessel open. The bare metal stents reduce the risk of restenosis to less than 20 per cent.

Newer drug eluting stents  or medicated stents that slowly release their contents   are available. They are far more expensive, costing anything between Rs 70,000 and Rs 3.5 lakh, depending upon various factors such as the make of the stent, doctor’s fee, hospital charges, etc. There is still debate as to whether they are really worth the expense. At present the three major drugs present in the various stents are: paclitaxel, sirolimus or a drug called ABT580, depending on the manufacturer. Although each company claims that its stent is the best, they are all equally effective. The particular one used depends on the individual preference of the cardiologist. Restenosis occurs in less than 10 per cent of patients.

Stents once inserted cannot be removed. If blockage occurs in another part of the artery a new stent has to be placed there. The expertise of the cardiologist is necessary to estimate the size of the block and the vessel, choose a stent of the correct size, and insert it in the proper place. If any of these parameters are miscalculated there will be leaks, restenosis and inefficiency. The stents (drug eluting or bare metal) have reduced the need for bypass surgery to 1 per cent. Bypass surgery is still required in complicated cases especially when the left coronary artery is involved.

Survival after a heart attack before 1967 meant a lifetime of medication, restricted activity and a Damocles  sword of sudden death. This scenario changed when the first Coronary Artery Bypass Graft (CABG) surgery was performed in Cleveland Clinic in the US in the late 1960s. It became possible to surgically bypass the blocked, narrowed and inefficient areas of the coronary blood vessels, using the saphenous vein from the leg or the internal mammary artery from the chest wall. Depending on the number of blocks and the expertise of the surgical team, two, three, four and even five blocks can be bypassed.

The heart may have to be stopped and the entire circulation supported during the time of surgery with a heart lung machine. Today, surgical techniques have advanced, and minimally invasive CABG can be performed without stopping the heart.

Stents are not a miracle cure. For the best long-term results, patients still need to

Control diabetes and hypertension

Achieve their ideal body weight

Continue their anticlotting medication of aspirin and clopidogrel.

Sources: The Telegraph (Kolkata, India)

News on Health & Science

Medicated Stents Safe For Heart

Heart patients who have undergone angioplasty can breathe more easy.


One of the largest follow-up studies has come out with “reassuring” results that suggest medicated stents (used during angioplasty) are safe. This clears serious concerns raised on medicated stents with regard to blood-clot formation, leading to heart attacks.

Stents are spring-like devices inserted in the arteries after clearing the blockage during an angioplasty procedure to keep them open. Drug-coated or medicated stents, first introduced in 2003, incorporate medicines to prevent the artery from reclosing.

A huge debate has been raging over the last couple of years on the safety of medicated stents as against the bare-metal ones. Last year, reports started surfacing from studies on patients in Europe that drug-releasing stents carry a greater risk of blood clot formation (stent thrombosis), thus leading to heart attacks.

The study holds a great relevance for India where the use of medicated stents is growing rapidly, and in 2006 was about 70% — about 40% of patients had medicated stents the previous year. The latest study carried out in the US thus nullifies the findings of earlier follow-ups which had said that medicated stents were riskier to use and thus had safety concerns, doctors say.

Says Ashok Seth, chairman and chief cardiologist Max Heart and Vascular Institute: “Studies and follow up trials on patients suggest that medicated stents are as safe as the metal ones. The latest US study nullifies the concern on drug-eluting stents, and these are no different from the metal ones.”

In fact, stents made by some Indian companies such as Sahajanand are almost ona par with the American/German ones used here, doctors say. Amongst the American stents used in India are ones by Johnson & Johnson and Abbott-Guidant.

The latest US study, presented at the American Heart Association, analyzed data on 20,654 stent patients in a Massachusetts data-base. About 65% of patients received a stent-coated with a drug to reduce re-narrowing of the artery and about 35% were implanted bare metal stents without the drug coating.

The Massachusetts study followed patients whose stents were implanted between April 2003 and December 2004. The incidence of heart attacks was similar in both groups, at 10.8% for drug-coated stent patients and 11.8% for those receiving bare metal. “In India, the case has been slightly different with a rare incidence of stent thrombosis cases,” Seth adds.

Source: The Times Of India

Ailmemts & Remedies


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Atherosclerosis is a disease that results in the arteries becoming narrowed. the condition can affect arteries in any area of the body and is a major cause of stroke, heart attack and poor circulation in the legs. the arteries become narrowed when fatty substances, such as cholesterol, that are carried in the blood accumulate on the side lining of the arteries and form yellow deposits called artheroma. these deposits restrict the blood flow through the arteries. in addition, the muscle layer of the artery wall becomes thickened, narrowing the artery even more. platelets (tiny blood cells responsible for clothing) may collect in clumps on the surface of the deposits and initiate the formation of blood clots. a large clot may then completely block the artery and result on an organ being deprived of oxygen.


Atherosclerosis is much more common in the US and northern Europe than in developing countries in Africa and Asia. the condition also becomes more common with increasing age. In the US, autopsies on young men who have died in accidents reveal that nearly all have some artheroma in their large arteries, and most people who die in middle age are found to have widespread atherosclerosis when autopsied. however, the condition rarely causes Symptoms until age 45-50, and many people do not realize that they have Atherosclerosis until they experience a heart attack or stroke.

The female sex hormone estrogen helps protect against the development of atherosclerosis,, as a result, the incidence of atherosclerosis is much lower in women before menopause than in men. By age 60, the risk of women developing atherosclerosis has increased until it is equal with the risk for men. however, women who take hormone replacement therapy, which contains estrogen, may continue to be protected.

What are the causes?
The risk of developing atherosclerosis is determined largely by the level of cholesterol in the bloodstream, which depends on dietary and genetic factors. Since cholesterol levels are closely linked with diet, atherosclerosis is most common in western counties where people eat a diet high in fat. Some disorders such as diabetes mellitus can b associated with a high cholesterol level regardless of diet. Certain inherited disorders also result in a high level of fats in the blood.

In addition to high blood cholesterols levels, factors that make atherosclerosis more likely are smoking, not exercising regularly, having high blood pressure, and being overweight, especially if a lot of fat is around the waist.

What are the symptoms?
There are usually no symptoms in the early stages of atherosclerosis. later, symptoms are caused by the reduced or total absence of blood supply to the organs supplied by the affected arteries. If the coronary arteries, which supply the heart muscle, are partially blocked, symptoms may include the chest pain of angina. if there is a complete blockage in the coronary artery, there may be a sudden, often fatal, heart attack. Many strokes are a result of atherosclerosis in the arteries that supply blood to the brain. If atherosclerosis affects the arteries in the legs, the first symptom may be cramping pain when walking caused by poor blood flow to the leg muscles. If atherosclerosis is associated with an inherited lipid disorder, fatty deposits may develop on tendons or under the skin in visible lumps.

How is it diagnosed?
Since atherosclerosis has no symptoms until blood flow has been restricted, it is important to screen for the disorder before it becomes advanced and damages organs. Routine medical checkups include screening for the major risks factors of atherosclerosis, particularly raised blood cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, and diabetes mellitus. Some current recommendations suggest that all adults should have their cholesterol levels measured at intervals of at least every 5 years after age 20.

If you develop symptoms of atherosclerosis, your doctor may arrange tests to assess the damage both to the arteries and to the organs they supply. Blood flow in affected blood vessels can be imaged by doppler ultrasound scanning or coronary angiography. If your doctor thinks that the coronary arteries are affected, an ecg may be carried out to monitor the electrical activity of the heart and imaging techniques, such as angiography and radionuclide scanning may be used to look at the blood supply to the heart. Some of these tests may be done as you exercise to check how the heart functions when it is put under stress.(TMT)

What is the treatment?
The best treatment is to prevent atherosclerosis from progressing. preventive measures include following a healthy lifestyle by eating a low-fat diet, not smoking, exercising regularly, and maintaining the recommended weight for your height. These measures led to lower than average risk of developing significant atherosclerosis.

If you are in a good state of health but have been found to have a high blood cholesterol level, your doctor will advise you to adopt a low-fat diet. You may also be offered drugs that decrease your blood cholesterol level. For people who have had a heart attack, research has shown that there may be a benefit in lowering blood cholesterol levels, even if the cholesterol level is within the average range for healthy people.

If you have atherosclerosis and are experiencing symptoms of the condition, your doctor may describe a drug such as aspirin to reduce the risk of blood clots forming on the damaged artery lining.

Ayurvedic Recomendation: Arjunin , Cholecurb
Ayurvedic Recommended Therapy: Virechan

What is the prognosis?
A healthy diet and lifestyle can slow the development of atherosclerosis in most people. if you do have a myocardial infarction or a stroke, you can reduce risk of having further complications by taking preventive measures.

Click to learn about Atherosclerosis

Meditation Helps Reduce Heart Disease Risks

Reduce the risks of heart disease through meditation

Care Your Heart With Herbs


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.


Healthy Tips

Ways To Keep Healthy Heart

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A chat with Dr.Devi Shetty, Narayana Hrudayalaya
(Heart Specialist) Bangalore was arranged by WIPRO for its employees.
The transcript of the chat is given below. May be useful for most of us

Qn: What are the thumb rules for a layman to take care of his heart?

1. Diet – Less of carbohydrate, more of protein, less oil
2. Exercise – Half an hour’s walk, at least five days a week; avoid lifts and avoid sitting for a longtime
3. Quit smoking
4. Control weight
5. Control blood pressure and sugar

Qn: Is eating non-veg food good for the heart?

Ans: No

Qn: It’s still a grave shock to hear that some apparently healthy person
gets a cardiac arrest. How do we understand it in perspective?

Ans: This is called silent attack; that is why we recommend everyone past the age of 30 to undergo routine health checkups.

Qn: Are heart diseases hereditary?

Ans: Yes

Qn: What are the ways in which the heart is stressed? What practices do you suggest to de-stress?

Ans: Change your attitude towards life. Do not look for perfection in everything in life.

Qn: Is walking better than jogging or is more intensive exercise required to keep a healthy heart?

Ans: Walking is better than jogging since jogging leads to early fatigue and injury to joints.

Qn: You have done so much for the poor and needy. What has inspired you to do so?

Ans: Mother Theresa, who was my patient.

: Can people with low blood pressure suffer heart diseases?

Ans: Extremely rare

Qn: Does cholesterol accumulates right from an early age
(I’m currently only 22) or do you have to worry about it only after you are above 30 years of age?

Ans: Cholesterol accumulates from childhood.

Qn: How do irregular eating habits affect the heart?

Ans: You tend to eat junk food when the habits are irregular and your body’s enzyme release for digestion gets confused.

Qn: How can I control cholesterol content without using medicines?

Ans: Control diet, walk and eat walnut.

Qn: Can yoga prevent heart ailments?

Ans: Yoga helps.

Qn: Which is the best and worst food for the heart?

Ans: Fruits and vegetables are the best and the worst is oil.

Qn: Which oil is better – groundnut, sunflower, olive?

Ans: All oils are bad .

Qn: What is the routine checkup one should go through? Is there any specific test?

: Routine blood test to ensure sugar, cholesterol is ok. Check BP, Treadmill test after an echo.

Qn: What are the first aid steps to be taken on a heart attack?

Ans: Help the person into a sleeping position , place an aspirin tablet under the tongue with a sorbitrate tablet if available, and rush him to a coronary care unit since the maximum casualty takes place within the first hour.

Qn: How do you differentiate between pain caused by a heart attack and that caused due to gastric trouble?

Ans: Extremely difficult without ECG.

Qn: What is the main cause of a steep increase in heart problems amongst youngsters? I see people of about 30-40 yrs of age having heart attacks and serious heart problems.

Ans: Increased awareness has increased incidents. Also, sedentary lifestyles, smoking, junk food, lack of exercise in a country where people are genetically three times more vulnerable for heart attacks than Europeans and Americans.

Qn: Is it possible for a person to have BP outside the normal range of 120/80 and yet be perfectly healthy?

Ans: Yes.

Qn: Marriages within close relatives can lead to heart problems for the child. Is it true?

Ans: Yes, co-sanguinity leads to congenital abnormalities and you may not have a software engineer as a child

Qn: Many of us have an irregular daily routine and many a times we have to stay late nights in office. Does this affect our heart? What precautions would you recommend?

Ans: When you are young, nature protects you against all these irregularities. However, as you grow older, respect the biological clock.

Qn: Will taking anti-hypertensive drugs cause some other complications (short / long term)?

Ans: Yes, most drugs have some side effects. However, modern anti-hypertensive drugs are extremely safe.

Qn: Will consuming more coffee/tea lead to heart attacks?

Ans: No.

Qn: Are asthma patients more prone to heart disease?

Ans: No.

Qn: How would you define junk food?

Ans: Fried food like Kentucky, McDonalds, samosas, and even masala dosas.

You mentioned that Indians are three times more vulnerable. What is the reason for this, as Europeans and Americans also eat a lot of junk food?

Ans: Every race is vulnerable to some disease and unfortunately, Indians are vulnerable for the most expensive disease.

Qn: Does consuming bananas help reduce hypertension?

Ans: No.

Qn: Can a person help himself during a heart attack (Because we see a lot of forwarded emails on this)?

Ans: Yes. Lie down comfortably and put an aspirin tablet of any description under the tongue and ask someone to take you to the nearest coronary care unit without any delay and do not wait for the ambulance since most of the time, the ambulance does not turn up.

Qn: Do, in any way, low white blood cells and low hemoglobin count lead to heart problems?

No. But it is ideal to have normal hemoglobin level to increase your exercise capacity.

Qn: Sometimes, due to the hectic schedule we are not able to exercise. So, does walking while doing daily chores at home or climbing the stairs in the house, work as a substitute for exercise?

Ans: Certainly. Avoid sitting continuously for more than half an hour and even the act of getting out of the chair and going to another chair and sitting helps a lot.

Qn: Is there a relation between heart problems and blood sugar?

Ans: Yes , a strong relationship , since diabetics are more vulnerable to heart attacks than non-diabetics.

Qn: What are the things one needs to take care of after a heart operation?

Ans: Diet, exercise, drugs on time , Control cholesterol, BP, weight.

Qn: Are people working on night shifts more vulnerable to heart disease when compared to day shift workers?

Ans: No.

What are the modern anti-hypertensive drugs?

Ans: There are hundreds of drugs and your doctor will chose the right combination for your problem, but my suggestion is to avoid the drugs and go for natural ways of controlling blood pressure by walk, diet to reduce weight and changing attitudes towards lifestyles.

Qn: Does dispirin or similar headache pills increase the risk of heart attacks?

Ans: No.

Qn: Why is the rate of heart attacks more in men than in women?

Ans: Nature protects women till the age of 45.

Qn: How can one keep the heart in a good condition?

Ans: Eat a healthy diet, avoid junk food, exercise everyday, do not smoke and, go for health checkup s if you are past the age of 30 (once in six months recommended) …