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Herbs & Plants

Lactuca debilis

 

Botanical Name: Lactuca debilis
Family: Asteraceae
Tribe: Cichorieae
Genus: Lactuca/Ixeris
Class :Magnoliopsida
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Asterales

Synonyms:
*Chondrilla debilis (Thunb.) Poir.
*Prenanthes debilis Thunb. ex Murray
*Youngia debilis (Thunb.) DC.

Common Names: ShaTanKuMaiCai (Chinese)

Habitat:Lactuca debilis is native to E. Asia – Japan, Korea.(Distribution: Heilongjiang, Jilin, Liaoning, Zhejiang, Fujian, Henan, Guangdong) It grows in the cultivated fields and waste ground in lowlands all over Japan.

Description:
Lactuca debilis is a perennial herb growing to 0.2 m (0ft 8in) by 0.5 m (1ft 8in). The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects.Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.

CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES
Cultivation:
We have very little information on this species and do not know if it will be hardy in this country, though judging by its native range it should succeed outdoors in many parts of the country. We suggest growing it in a sunny position and a well-drained soil.

Propagation :
Seed – we have no information on this species but suggest sowing the seed in a cold frame in spring and only just covering the seed. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the 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. Division can be tried in spring or autumn.

Edible Uses: Young plant – cooked

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://www.catalogueoflife.org/col/details/species/id/7cf42c4435ead3c7f10126700ea8fbbf/synonym/4c5e1ce197569dd01df2de2365c372cc
http://base.sp2000.cn/colchina_e15/show_species_details.php?name_code=d42d47c8-8b3d-4898-bc07-ca1d6ac74bf4
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Lactuca+debilis

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Herbs & Plants

Anacyclus pyrethrum

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Botanical Name: Anacyclus pyrethrum
Family: Asteraceae
Tribe: Anthemideae
Genus: Anacyclus
Species: A. pyrethrum
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Asterales

Synonyms: Anthemis Pyrethrum. Pyrethrum officinarum. Pyrethrum. Pyrethri Radix. Roman Pellitory. Pellitory of Spain. Spanish Chamomile. Pyrethre. Matricaria Pyrethrum.

Common Names: Pellitory, Akarkara, Spanish chamomile, or Mount Atlas daisy, Chamomile Spanish.

Habitat: Anacyclus pyrethrum is found in North Africa, elsewhere in the Mediterranean region, in the Himalayas, in North India, and in Arabian countries.

Description:
Anacyclus pyrethrum is a perennial plant, in habit and appearance like the chamomile, has stems that lie on the ground for part of their length, before rising erect. Each bears one large flower, the disk being yellow and the rays white, tinged with purple beneath. The leaves are smooth, alternate, and pinnate, with deeply-cut segments….CLICK & SEE  THE PICTURES

The root is almost cylindrical, very slightly twisted and tapering and often crowned with a tuft of grey hairs. Externally it is brown and wrinkled, with bright black spots. The fracture is short, and the transverse section, magnified, presents a beautiful radiate structure and many oleoresin glands. The taste is pungent and odour slight.

Cultivation-: Planting may be done in autumn, but the best time is about the end of April. Any ordinary good soil is suitable, but better results are obtained when it is well-drained, and of a stiff loamy character, enriched with good manure. Propagation is done in three ways, by seed, by division of roots and by cuttings. If grown by seed, sow in February or March, thin out to 2 to 3 inches between the plants, and plant out early in June to permanent quarters, allowing a foot or more between the plants and 2 feet between the rows, selecting, if possible, a showery day for the operation. The seedlings will quickly establish themselves. Weeding should be done by hand, the plants when first put out being small, might be injured by hoeing. To propagate by division, lift the plants in March, or whenever the roots are in an active condition, and with a sharp spade, divide them into three or five fairly large pieces. Cuttings should be made from the young shoots that start from the base of the plant, and should be taken with a heel of the old plant attached, which will greatly assist their rooting. They may be inserted at any time from October to May. The foliage should be shortened to about 3 inches, when the cuttings will be ready for insertion in a bed of light, sandy soil. Plant very firmly, surface the bed with sand, and water in well. Shade is necessary while the cuttings are rooting.

Part Used in medicine : The Root.
Constituents: Analysis has shown a brown, resinous, acrid substance, insoluble in potassium hydroxide and probably containing pelletonin, two oils soluble in potassium hydroxide – one dark brown and acrid, the other yellow – tannin, gum, potassium sulphate and carbonate, potassium chloride, calcium phosphate and carbonate, silica, alumina, lignin, etc.

An alkaloid, Pyrethrine, yielding pyrethric acid, is stated to be the active principle.

Medicinal Uses:
Anacyclus pyrethrum root is widely used because of its pungent efficacy in relieving toothache and in promoting a free flow of saliva. The British Pharmacopoeia directs that it be used as a masticatory, and in the form of lozenges for its reflex action on the salivary glands in dryness of the mouth and throat. The tincture made from the dried root may be applied to relieve the aching of a decayed tooth, applied on cotton wool, or rubbed on the gums, and for this purpose may with advantage be mixed with camphorated chloroform. It forms an addition to many dentifrices.

A gargle of Anacyclus pyrethrum infusion is prescribed for relaxed uvula and for partial paralysis of the tongue and lips. To make a gargle, two or three teaspoonsful of Anacyclus pyrethrum should be mixed with a pint of cold water and sweetened with honey if desired. Patients seeking relief from rheumatic or neuralgic affections of the head and face, or for palsy of the tongue, have been advised to chew the Anacyclus pyrethrum root daily for several months.

Being a rubefacient and local irritant, when sliced and applied to the skin, it induces heat, tingling and redness.

The powdered Anacyclus pyrethrum root forms a good snuff to cure chronic catarrh of the head and nostrils and to clear the brain, by exciting a free flow of nasal mucous and tears.

Culpepper tells us that Anacyclus pyrethrum ‘is one of the best purges of the brain that grows’ and is not only ‘good for ague and the falling sickness’ (epilepsy) but is ‘an excellent approved remedy in lethargy.’ After stating that ‘the powder of the herb or root snuffed up the nostrils procureth sneezing and easeth the headache,’ he goes on to say that ‘being made into an ointment with hog’s lard it taketh away black and blue spots occasioned by blows or falls, and helpeth both the gout and sciatica,’ uses which are now obsolete.

In the thirteenth century we read in old records that Pellitory of Spain was ‘a proved remedy for the toothache’ with the Welsh physicians. It was familiar to the Arabian writers on medicine and is still a favourite remedy in the East, having long been an article of export from Algeria and Spain by way of Egypt to India.

It treats fluid retention, stones and gravel, dropsy and other urinary complaints.  In European herbal medicine, it is regarded as having a restorative action on the kidneys, supporting and strengthening their function.  It has been prescribed for nephritis, pyelitis (inflammation of the kidney,  kidney stones, renal colic (pain caused by kidney stones), cystitis, and edema (fluid retention).  It is also occasionally taken as a laxative.  It combines well with parsley or wild carrot seed or root.  It counteracts mucus and is useful for chronic coughs. The leaves may be applied as poultices.

In the East Indies the infusion is used as a cordial.

More recently Anacyclus pyrethrum has been noted for its anabolic activity in mice and suggests to give a testosterone-like effect, and also significantly increasing testosterone in the animal model.

The variety depressus (sometimes considered a separate species, Anacyclus depressus), called mat daisy or Mount Atlas daisy, is grown as a spring-blooming, low-water ornamental.

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://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/p/pellit19.html
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anacyclus_pyrethrum
https://www.ayurtimes.com/anacyclus-pyrethrum-akarkara-benefits-uses-side-effects/

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

Categories
Ailmemts & Remedies

Dupuytren’s contracture

Definition:
Dupuytren’s contracture is a painless thickening and contracture of tissue beneath the skin on the palm of the hand and fingers.
...CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES
It is  a disease of the palmar fascia (thin but tough layer of fibrous tissue between the skin of the palm and the underlying flexor tendons of the fingers) resulting in progressive thickening and contracture of fibrous bands on the palmar surface of the hand and fingers.  Fasciitis implies inflammation of the fascia, and contracture implies thickening and tightening of the diseased fascia.  Basically, the tissue on the palm side of the hand thickens (can become as thick as 0.5cm) and essentially “shrinks” and produces a tightness in the area of the hand which the diseased tissue overlies.  It occurs most often in the fourth and fifth digits (ring and small fingers).  It is a very common problem and often arises in the hands of middle aged persons;  however, it can be seen as early as the twenties.  This entity does run in families in some cases.  It is seven times more common in men than women.  It has been associated with diabetes and can be seen in alcoholics with cirrhosis of the liver.  It has also been associated with epilepsy but may be a result of the use of anticonvulsant drugs rather than the presence of epilepsy itself.  The underlying cause is unknown.

You may click to see the picture

Dupuytren contracture varies in its rate of progression from minor skin puckering for many years to rapid contracture (fixed flexed position) of fingers.

People of northern European descent are more often affected and it can run in families. Men are affected more often than women and the condition is most likely to occur over the age of 40.

Causes:
The cause is unknown, but minor injury and your genes may make you more likely to develop this condition. It can run in families. It’s not caused by a person’s type of job or work environment, manual work or vibrating tools.

One or both hands may be affected. The ring finger is affected most often, followed by the little, middle, and index fingers.

A small, painless nodule develops in the connective tissue on the palm side of the hand and eventually develops into a cord-like band. In severe cases, it’s difficult or even impossible to extend the fingers.

The condition becomes more common after the age of 40. Men are affected more often than women. Risk factors are alcoholism, epilepsy, pulmonary tuberculosis, diabetes, and liver disease.

Symptoms:
Dupuytren contracture initially may cause only a minor painless lump in the palm of the hand near the base of the finger(s). Dupuytren contracture most commonly affects the ring (fourth) finger, but it can affect any and all fingers.Pain and the position of the fingers may make it difficult to perform everyday activities with the hand.The appearance of the deformity can cause distress.Dupuytren contracture can also affect one or both hands.

CLICK TO SEE PICTURE

Dupuytren contracture is seldom associated with much, if any, pain unless the affected fingers are inadvertently forcefully hyperextended.

The ring finger is affected most often, although any finger can be involved. In 50 per cent of cases both hands are affected. It can affect the toes and soles of the feet, but this is rare.

Diagnosis:
Dupuytren’s contracture is diagnosed by the doctor during the physical examination of the affected hand.

A physical examination of the palm by touch (palpation) confirms the presence of thickened scar tissue (fibrosis) and contracture. Restriction of motion is common.

Previous burns or hand injury can lead to scar formation in the palm of the hand which can mimic true Dupuytren contracture.

Treatment:
Often, treatment isn’t needed if the symptoms are mild. Exercises, warm water baths, or splints may be helpful.

If normal hand function is affected, surgery is usually recommended to release the contracture and improve the hand’s function.

There are three main surgical options:
•Open fasciotomy – opening the skin and cutting the thickened tissue
•Needle fasciotomy – pushing a needle through the skin to cut the thickened tissue
•Open fasciectomy – cutting open the skin and removing the thickened tissue

Prognosis: The disorder progresses at an unpredictable rate. Surgical treatment can usually restore normal movement to the fingers. The disease can recur following surgery in some cases.

Prevention:
Since the precise cause of Dupuytren’s contracture is unknown, it’s difficult to prevent.
Awareness of risk factors may allow early detection and treatment.
Avoiding excessive intake of alcohol may help to reduce the risk of it developing in susceptible individuals.

Disclaimer: This information is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advise or help. It is always best to consult with a Physician about serious health concerns. This information is in no way intended to diagnose or prescribe remedies.This is purely for educational purpose.

Resources:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/health/physical_health/conditions/dupuytrens1.shtml
http://www.med.und.edu/users/jwhiting/dupdef.html
http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001233.htm
http://www.medicinenet.com/dupuytren_contracture/article.htm

http://www.prlog.org/10501551-who-first-described-dupuytrens-contracture.html

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Categories
Ailmemts & Remedies

Blindness

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Blindness is the condition of lacking visual perception due to physiological or neurological factors.

Various scales have been developed to describe the extent of vision loss and define “blindness.” Total blindness is the complete lack of form and light perception and is clinically recorded as “NLP,” an abbreviation for “no light perception.” Blindness is frequently used to describe severe visual impairment with residual vision. Those described as having only “light perception” can see no more than the ability to tell light from dark. A person with only “light projection” can tell the general direction of a light source.

CLICK & SEE

In order to determine which people may need special assistance because of their visual disabilities, various governmental jurisdictions have formulated more complex definitions referred to as legal blindness.[2] In North America and most of Europe, legal blindness is defined as visual acuity (vision) of 20/200 (6/60) or less in the better eye with best correction possible. This means that a legally blind individual would have to stand 20 feet (6 m) from an object to see it with the same degree of clarity as a normally sighted person could from 200 feet (60 m). In many areas, people with average acuity who nonetheless have a visual field of less than 20 degrees (the norm being 180 degrees) are also classified as being legally blind. Approximately ten percent of those deemed legally blind, by any measure, have no vision. The rest have some vision, from light perception alone to relatively good acuity. Low vision is sometimes used to describe visual acuities from 20/70 to 20/200.

By the 10th Revision of the WHO International Statistical Classification of Diseases, Injuries and Causes of Death, low vision is defined as visual acuity of less than 6/18, but equal to or better than 3/60, or corresponding visual field loss to less than 20 degrees, in the better eye with best possible correction. Blindness is defined as visual acuity of less than 3/60, or corresponding visual field loss to less than 10 degrees, in the better eye with best possible correction.

Legal blindness:
In 1934, the American Medical Association adopted the following definition of blindness:

“Central visual acuity of 20/200 or less in the better eye with corrective glasses or central visual acuity of more than 20/200 if there is a visual field defect in which the peripheral field is contracted to such an extent that the widest diameter of the visual field subtends an angular distance no greater than 20 degrees in the better eye.” The United States Congress included this definition as part of the Aid to the Blind program in the Social Security Act passed in 1935. In 1972, the Aid to the Blind program and two others combined under Title XVI of the Social Security Act to form the Supplemental Security Income program[4] which currently states:

“An individual shall be considered to be blind for purposes of this title if he has central visual acuity of 20/200 or less in the better eye with the use of a correcting lens. An eye which is accompanied by a limitation in the fields of vision such that the widest diameter of the visual field subtends an angle no greater than 20 degrees shall be considered for purposes of the first sentence of this subsection as having a central visual acuity of 20/200 or less. An individual shall also be considered to be blind for purposes of this title if he is blind as defined under a State plan approved under title X or XVI as in effect for October 1972 and received aid under such plan (on the basis of blindness) for December 1973, so long as he is continuously blind as so defined.”
Kuwait is one of many nations that share the same criteria for legal blindness.

Epidemiology:
In 1987, it was estimated that 598,000 people in the United States met the legal definition of blindness. Of this number, 58% were over the age of 65. In 1994-1995, 107.3 million Americans reported legal blindness.

In November 2004 article Magnitude and causes of visual impairment, the WHO estimated that in 2002 there were 161 million (about 2.6% of the world population) visually impaired people in the world, of whom 124 million (about 2%) had low vision and 37 million (about 0.6%) were blind.

Causes of blindness:

Serious visual impairment has a variety of causes:

Diseases

Most visual impairment is caused by disease and malnutrition. According to WHO estimates in 2002, the most common causes of blindness around the world are:

click to see
………………. Artist’s depiction of blind people

People in developing countries are significantly more likely to experience visual impairment as a consequence of treatable or preventable conditions than are their counterparts in the developed world. While vision impairment is most common in people over age 60 across all regions, children in poorer communities are more likely to be affected by blinding diseases than are their more affluent peers.

The link between poverty and treatable visual impairment is most obvious when conducting regional comparisons of cause. Most adult visual impairment in North America and Western Europe is related to age-related macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy. While both of these conditions are subject to treatment, neither can be cured. Another common cause is retinopathy of prematurity.

In developing countries, wherein people have shorter life expectancies, cataracts and water-borne parasites—both of which can be treated effectively—are most often the culprits. Of the estimated 40 million blind people located around the world, 70–80% can have some or all of their sight restored through treatment.

In developed countries where parasitic diseases are less common and cataract surgery is more available, age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma, and diabetic retinopathy are usually the leading causes of blindness.

Abnormalities and injuries:
Eye injuries, most often occurring in people under 30, are the leading cause of monocular blindness (vision loss in one eye) throughout the United States. Injuries and cataracts affect the eye itself, while abnormalities such as optic nerve hypoplasia affect the nerve bundle that sends signals from the eye to the back of the brain, which can lead to decreased visual acuity.

People with injuries to the occipital lobe of the brain can, despite having undamaged eyes and optic nerves, still be legally or totally blind.

Genetic defects:
People with albinism often suffer from visual impairment to the extent that many are legally blind, though few of them actually cannot see. Leber’s congenital amaurosis can cause total blindness or severe sight loss from birth or early childhood.

Recent advances in mapping the human genome have identified other genetic causes of low vision or blindness. One such example is Bardet-Biedl syndrome.

Poisoning:
A small portion of all cases of blindness are caused by the intake of certain chemicals. A well-known example is methanol , found in methylated spirits, which are sometimes used by alcoholics as a cheap substitute for regular alcoholic beverages.

Willful actions:
Blinding has been used as an act of vengeance and torture in some instances, to deprive a person of a major sense by which they can navigate or interact within the world, act fully independently, and be aware of events surrounding them. An example from the classical realm is Oedipus, who gouges out his own eyes after realizing that he fulfilled the awful prophecy spoken of him.

Blindness prevention:
There exist a number of organizations, such as International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness, ORBIS International, and Seva Foundation, who have developed programs aimed at preventing blindness.

On September 10, 2007, in a 6-year study, researchers, led by John Paul SanGiovanni of the National Eye Institute, Maryland found that Lutein and zeaxanthin (nutrients in eggs, spinach and other green vegetables) protect against blindness (macular degeneration), affecting 1.2 million Americans, mostly after age 65. Lutein and zeaxanthin reduce the risk of AMD (journal Archives of Ophthalmology). Foods considered good sources of the nutrients also include kale, turnip greens, collard greens, romaine lettuce, broccoli, zucchini, corn, garden peas and Brussels sprouts.

Adaptive techniques:

Visually impaired and blind people have devised a number of techniques that allow them to complete daily activities using their remaining senses. These might include the following:

click & see
.A tactile feature on a Canadian banknote.

  • Adaptive computer software that allows people with visual impairments to interact with their computer via audio or screen magnifiers.
  • Adaptive mobile phones that allows people with visual impairments to interact with their phones via audio or screen magnifiers. These mobile phones uses software called Mobile Speak a screen reader from Code Factoryhttp://www.codefactory.es. It provides audio feedback to every functionality on the phone.
  • Adaptations of banknotes so that the value can be determined by touch. For example:
    • In some currencies, such as the euro, and pound sterling,the size of a note increases with its value.
    • Many blanknotes from around the world have a tactile feature to indicate denomination in the upper right corner. This tactile feature is a series of raised dots, but it is not standardBraille
    • It is also possible to fold notes in different ways to assist recognition.
  • Labeling and tagging clothing and other personal items
  • Placing different types of food at different positions on a dinner plate
  • Marking controls of household appliances

Most people, once they have been visually impaired for long enough, devise their own adaptive strategies in all areas of personal and professional management.

For corrective surgery of blindness, see acquired vision.

Tools:
Designers, both visually impaired and sighted, have developed a number of tools for use by blind people.

Mobility:
Many people with serious visual impairments can travel independently assisted by tactile paving and/or using a white cane with a red tip – the international symbol of blindness.

A long cane is used to extend the user’s range of touch sensation, swung in a low sweeping motion across the intended path of travel to detect obstacles. However, some visually impaired persons do not carry these kinds of canes, opting instead for the shorter, lighter identification (ID) cane. Still others require a support cane. The choice depends on the individual’s vision, motivation, and other factors.

……………………………..click & see
………………………...Watch for the blind

Each of these is painted white for maximum visibility, and to denote visual impairment on the part of the user. In addition to making rules about who can and cannot use a cane, some governments mandate the right-of-way be given to users of white canes or guide dogs.

A small number of people employ guide dogs. Although the dogs can be trained to navigate various obstacles, they are not capable of interpreting street signs. The human half of the guide dog team does the directing, based upon skills acquired through previous mobility training. The handler might be likened to an aircraft’s navigator, who must know how to get from one place to another, and the dog is the pilot, who gets them there safely.

Orientation and Mobility Specialist are professionals who are specifically trained to teach people with visual impairments how to travel safely, confidently, and independently in the home and the community.

Reading and magnification:
Most blind and visually impaired people read print, either of a regular size or enlarged through the use of magnification devices. A variety of magnifying glasses, some of which are handheld, and some of which rest on desktops, can make reading easier for those with decreased visual acuity.

The rest read Braille (or the infrequently used Moon type), or rely on talking books and readers or reading machines. They use computers with special hardware such as scanners and refreshable Braille displays as well as software written specifically for the blind, like optical character recognition applications and screen reading software.

Some people access these materials through agencies for the blind, such as the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped in the United States, the National Library for the Blind or the RNIB in the United Kingdom.

Closed-circuit televisions, equipment that enlarges and contrasts textual items, are a more high-tech alternative to traditional magnification devices. So too are modern web browsers, which can increase the size of text on some web pages through browser controls or through user-controlled style sheets.
Computers:
Access technology such as Freedom Scientific’s JAWS for Windows screen reading software enable the blind to use mainstream computer applications. Most legally blind people (70% of them across all ages, according to the Seattle Lighthouse for the Blind) do not use computers. Only a small fraction of this population, when compared to the sighted community, have Internet access. This bleak outlook is changing, however, as availability of assistive technology increases, accompanied by concerted efforts to ensure the accessibility of information technology to all potential users, including the blind. Linux distributions (as Live CDs) for the blind include Oralux and Adriane Knoppix, the latter developed in part by Adriane Knopper who has a visual impairment. The Macintosh OS also comes with a built-in screen reader, called VoiceOver. Later versions of Microsoft Windows include an Accessibility Wizard & Magnifier for those with partial vision.

The movement towards greater web accessibility is opening a far wider number of websites to adaptive technology, making the web a more inviting place for visually impaired surfers.

Experimental approaches in sensory substitution are beginning to provide access to arbitrary live views from a camera.

Other aids
People may use talking thermometers, enlarged or marked oven dials, talking watches, talking clocks, talking scales, talking calculators, talking compasses and other talking equipment.

Social attitudes towards blindness:
The story of the Blind Men and an Elephant uses blindness as a symbol of limited perception and perspective. Stories such as The Cricket on the Hearth by Charles Dickens provided yet another view of blindness, wherein those affected by it were ignorant of their surroundings and easily deceived. H. G. Wells’ story The Country of the Blind explores what would happen if a sighted man found himself trapped in a country of blind people to emphasise societies atttitude to blind people by turning the situation on its head.

The authors of modern educational materials (see: blindness and education for further reading on that subject), as well as those treating blindness in literature, have worked to paint a different picture of blind people as three-dimensional individuals with a range of abilities, talents, and even character flaws.

The Moche people of ancient Peru depicted the blind in their ceramics.

Young mammals:
Statements that this or that species of mammals are “born blind” refers to them being born with their eyes closed and their eyelids fused together; the eyes open later. One example is the rabbit.

In humans the eyelids are fused for a while before birth, but open again before the normal birth time, but very premature babies are sometimes born with their eyes fused shut, and opening later.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blindness

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News on Health & Science

New Anti-Aging Methods Found

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Researchers said on Thursday they had found more ways to activate the body’s own anti-aging defenses – perhaps with a pill that could fight multiple diseases at once.

Their study, published in the journal Cell, helps explain why animals fed very low-calorie diets live longer, but it also offers new ways to try to replicate the effects of these diets using a pill instead of hunger, the researchers said.

“What we are talking about is potentially having one pill that prevents and even cures many diseases at once,” said David Sinclair, a pathologist at Harvard Medical School who helped lead the research.

Sinclair helped found a company that is working on drugs based on this research, Sirtris Pharmaceuticals. The key is a family of enzymes called sirtuins. They are controlled by genes called SIRT1, SIRT2 and so on.

Last year, researchers showed that stimulating SIRT1 can help yeast cells live longer.

Sinclair, working with colleagues at his company, at Cornell University in New York and the US National Institutes of Health, identified the actions of two more sirtuin genes called SIRT3 and SIRT4.

They found the enzymes controlled by these genes help preserve the mitochondria – little organs inside of cells that provide their energy.

“These two genes, SIRT3 and SIRT4, they make proteins that go into mitochondria. … These are little energy packs inside our cells that are very important for staying healthy and youthful and, as we age, we lose them and they get less efficient,” Sinclair said in a videotaped statement.

“They are also very important for keeping the cells healthy and alive when they undergo stress and DNA damage, as we undergo every day during the aging process.”

Sinclair and colleagues have found in other studies that even if the rest of a cell is destroyed – the nucleus and other parts – it can still function if the mitochondria are alive. His team found that fasting raises levels of another protein called NAD. This, in turn, activates SIRT3 and SIRT4 in the mitochondria of the cell and these help keep the mitochondria youthful.

Source: The Times Of India