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Herbs & Plants

Quassia amara

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Botanical Name :Quassia amara
Family: Simaroubaceae
Genus: Quassia
Species: Q. amara
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Sapindales

Common Names :Amargo, Bitter-ash, Bitter-wood,Quassia, Jamaica Quassia

Habitat :Quassia amara is native to Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Panama, Brasilia, Peru, Venezuela, Suriname, Colombia, Argentinia, French Guiana and Guyana. Q. amara is widely planted outside its native range.

Description:
Amargo is a shrub or rarely a small tree, growing to 3 m tall (rarely 8 m). The leaves are compound and alternate, 15–25 cm long, and pinnate with 3-5 leaflets, the leaf rachis being winged. The flowers are produced in a panicle 15–25 cm long, each flower 2.5-3.5 cm long, bright red on the outside, and white inside. The fruit is a small drupe 1-1.5 cm long.  It has beautiful red flowers and fruits that turn red as they mature.

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Quassia amara is marketed and used interchangeably with another tree species, Picrasma excelsa. Sharing the common name of quassia (and many of Quassia amara’s constituents and uses), P. excelsa is much taller (up to 25 m in height) and occurs farther north in the tropics of Jamaica, the Caribbean, the Lesser Antilles, and northern Venezuela. In herbal medicine in the United States and Europe, very little distinction is made between the two species of trees; they are used identically and just called quassia. The name amargo means “bitter” in Spanish and describes its very bitter taste.

Chemical Constituents:
In the wood a share of 0.09 to 0.17% of quassin and 0.05 to 0.11% of neoquassin was detected in Costa Rician plants. Quassin is one of the most bitter substances found in nature.

Other identified components of bitterwood are: beta-carbolines, beta-sitostenone, beta-sitosterol, dehydroquassins, gallic acid, gentisic acid, hydroxyquassins, isoparain, isoparaines, isoquassins, malic acid, methylcanthins, methoxycanthins, methoxycantins, nigakilactone A, nor-neoquassin, parain, paraines, quassialactol, quassimarin, quassinol, quassol and simalikalactone D.

Medicinal Uses:
In the Amazon rainforest, Quassia amara is used much in the same manner as quinine bark: for malaria and fevers and as a bitter digestive aid. It grows at lower elevations (where quinine does not) and contains many of the same antimalarial phytochemicals (plant chemicals) as quinine. In addition, it is used as an insecticide and tonic, and for hepatitis. Brazilian Indians use the leaves in a bath for measles as well as in a mouthwash used after tooth extractions. Indians in Suriname use the bark for fever and parasites. Throughout South America, amargo is a tribal remedy for debility, digestion problems, fever, liver problems, parasites, malaria, snakebite, and back spasms. In the rainforests of Suriname, carved cups made out of amargo wood can be found in local markets. They are called “bitter cups” and they used medicinally in indigenous Saramaka traditional medicine systems. Drinking from these cups are thought to help digestion with the “bitters” leached from the wood.

In current Brazilian herbal medicine systems, Quassia amara is considered a tonic, digestion stimulant, blood cleanser, insecticide, and mild laxative. It is recommended for diarrhea, intestinal worms, dysentery, dyspepsia, excessive mucus, expelling worms, intestinal gas, stomachache, anemia, and liver and gastrointestinal disorders. In Peru, amargo is employed as a bitter digestive aid to stimulate gastric and other digestive secretions as well as for fevers, tuberculosis, kidney stones and gallstones. In Mexico, the wood is used for liver and gallbladder diseases and for intestinal parasites. In Nicaragua, amargo is used to expel worms and intestinal parasites as well as for malaria and anemia. Throughout South America, the bitter principles of amargo are used to stimulate the appetite and secretion of digestive juices, as well as to expel worms and intestinal parasites.

In herbal medicine in the United States and Europe, amargo is employed as a bitter tonic for stomach, gallbladder, and other digestive problems (by increasing the flow of bile, digestive juices, and saliva); as a laxative, amebicide, and insecticide; and to expel intestinal worms. In Europe, it is often found as a component in various herbal drugs that promote gallbladder, liver, and other digestive functions. In Britain, a water extract of the wood is used topically against scabies, fleas, lice, and other skin parasites. U.S. herbalist David Hoffman recommends it as an excellent remedy for dyspeptic conditions, to stimulate production of saliva and digestive juices, and to increase the appetite (as well as for lice infestations and threadworms). He also notes, “It may safely be used in all cases of lack of appetite such as anorexia nervosa and digestive sluggishness.”

The preparation of a tea out of young leafs is used traditionally in French Guyana. Experiments showed a high inhibition of Plasmodium yoelii yoelii and Plasmodium falciparum.

Other Uses:
Insecticide:
Extracts of Quassia wood or bark act as a natural insecticide. For organic farming this is of particular interest. A good protection was shown against different insect pests (eg. aphids, Colorado potato beetle, Anthonomus pomorum, Rhagoletis cerasi, Caterpillars of Tortricidae).[3] Quassin extract works as a contact insecticide. Adverse effects on beneficial organism were not found.

For Switzerland, a licensed formulation available for organic farming.

Formulation:
Around 200 gramms of Quassia wood chips are put together with 2 liters of water. It is allowed to stand for 24 hours and then it is cooked for 30 min. It is then diluted with 10 to 20 liters of water and used as a spray.  The use of approximately 3-4.5 kg wood extract per hectare seems to be optimal to minimize the damage of Hoplocampa testudinea on apple trees.

Flavouring:
Extracts of Q. amara wood or bark are also used to flavor soft drinks, aperitifs and bitters which can be added to cocktails or to baked goods.

Contraindications:
•Amargo should not be used during pregnancy.

•Amargo has been documented to have an antifertility effect in studies with male rats. Men undergoing fertility treatment or those wishing to have children probably should avoid using amargo.

•Large amounts of amargo can irritate the mucous membrane of the stomach and can lead to nausea and vomiting. Do not exceed recommended dosages.

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/Quassia_amara
http://www.rain-tree.com/amargo.htm#.UgY4yL7D92Y
http://www.anniesremedy.com/herb_detail488.php

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Herbs & Plants

Adenanthera pavonina

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Botanical Name :Adenanthera pavonina
Family: Fabaceae
Genus:Adenanthera
Species:A. pavonina
Kingdom:Plantae
Class:Eudicots
Order:Fabales

Synonyms:  Adenanthera gersenii, Adenanthera polita.

Common Names:Saga Tree.Red sandalwood, coral bean tree, sagaseed tree, red – bead tree, raktakambal, kokriki, olho-de-pavão, bois de condori, lopa.It is also known as Barbados pride, Coral-wood, Coralwood, Peacock flower fence, Red beadtree, Red sandalwood tree, Red sandalwood, Sandalwood tree, Saga; syn. Adenanthera gersenii Scheff., Adenanthera polita Miq., Corallaria parvifolia Rumph. The tree is common within the tropics of the old world.The species has many names in various local languages throughout its range, for example in Kerala it is known as Manchadi.

Habitat:
Adenanthera pavonina is native to India, Southeast China, Southeast Asia.It is also introduced in the following countries of the Americas: Brazil, especially in Caatinga vegetation; Costa Rica, Honduras, Cuba, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Trinidad, Tobago, Venezuela, and the United States, specially in southern Florida.

Description: 
Adenanthera pavonina is a species of Leguminous tree, used for its timber. It is medium- to large-sized deciduous tree, it can grow to a height of 20 m. It has a rounded crown and smooth, greyish bark that turns flaky with age. It is hardy and fast-growing. Leaves are twice pinnate, 10-40 cm long, with 2-6 pairs of side-stalks, each with 9-15 pairs of oblong-elliptic, 1-4 x 0.7-2.5 cm leaflets and a terminal one. Flowers are bisexual, 2 mm long, star-shaped, cream-yellowish, growing in dangling flower heads that resemble cat tails. The flowers turn dull orange and have a faint orange blossom smell. The pods are curved and split into twisted halves when dry to expulse 8-12 bright red, hard, pill-shaped seeds.

You may click to see the picture->:...(01)...(1) (2) :….(3)...:

Cultivation:The Saga Tree grows well in neutral to slightly acidic soils.

Edible Uses:
In Java, the seeds can also be roasted, shelled, and eaten with rice. If eaten raw, the seeds could cause intoxication. The young leaves are also edible once cooked.

Medicinal Uses:
The seeds are also known to possess medicinal value. Powdered seeds are made into plasters to quicken the ripening of boils and to cure headaches and rheumatism in India.

You may click to see the pictures of seeds  ->:..(1)..   ….(2)  :

High doses of the seed extract show an anti-inflammatory effect in studies in rats and mice.

Other Uses:
The trees have been a type of popular ornamental tree and were planted along roadsides in Singapore during the 1970s to 1980s. Now it is planted more as a shade plant in parks and gardens.

The seeds are used as beads. Children would collect the seeds to make into playthings. Due to their consistent mass (4 seeds make up 1 gram), the seeds were also used in the past as weights in many parts of Asia for weighing gold and even silver.

Its beads have long been a symbol of love in China, and its name in Chinese is xiang si dou (Chinese), or “mutual love bean”. This tree is useful for nitrogen fixation, and it is often cultivated for forage, as a medicinal plant, and as an ornamental garden plant and urban tree. The beauty of the seeds, their use as beads for jewelry, and their nourishing qualities (the raw seeds are toxic but can be eaten when cooked), have combined to cause the plant to be widespread. E. J. H. Corner states that in India, the seeds have been used as units of weight for fine measures, of gold for instance, throughout recorded history. The Malay name for the tree, saga, has been traced to the Arabic for ‘goldsmith’.

The small, yellowish flower grows in dense drooping rat-tail flower heads, almost like catkins. The curved hanging pods, with a bulge opposite each seed, split open into two twisted halves to reveal the hard, scarlet seeds. The young leaves can be cooked and eaten. The wood, which is extremely hard, is used in boat-building, making furniture and for firewood.

This tree is used for making soap, and a red dye can be obtained from the wood.

The wood of the Saga Tree is a type of hardwood timber used in house-building and furniture-making. It is also used as fuel wood. In powdered form, heartwood can be used as red dye.

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://rmbr.nus.edu.sg/dna/organisms/details/408
http://www.ask.com/wiki/Adenanthera_pavonina?o=3986&qsrc=999
http://www.tropilab.com/adenan-pav.html

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Herbs & Plants

Tagetes filifolia

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Botanical Name : Tagetes filifolia
Family: Asteraceae
Genus: Tagetes
Species: filifolia

Common Name : Irish Lace

Habitat :Tagetes filifolia is native to Central and South AmericaMexico to Costa Rica . It best grown  on cultivated bed.

Description:
Tagetes filifolia is an annual plant growing to 12-18 in. (30-45 cm).
It is hardy to zone 9. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects.
CLICK &  SEE THE PICTURES.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in heavy clay soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers dry or moist soil.

Cultivation:  
Requires a well-drained moderately fertile soil in a sunny position. Grows well in heavy clay soils and in sandy soils. Grows well with tomatoes. Removing dead flowers before the seed is formed will extend the flowering season. Plants are prone to slugs, snails and botrytis.

Propagation:  
Seed – sow March in a greenhouse. Only just cover the seed. Germination usually takes place within 2 weeks. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out after the last expected frosts.

Edible Uses :    
Edible Parts:
Edible Uses: Condiment.

The plants are used as a food flavouring.

Medicinal Uses:
The tea is said to be drunk as a refreshing beverage and to relieve minor ills.  Bolivians drink the decoction as a digestive.  Venezuelans employ it as an emollient and treatment for syphilis.  In Costa Rica, it is taken as a carminative to relieve colic and as a diuretic. Also used for prostate problems and difficulties associated with urination

Other Uses :
Insecticide;  Repellent.

Although no specific mention of the following use has been seen for this species, most if not all members of this genus probably have a similar effect to a greater or lesser degree. Secretions from the roots of growing plants have an insecticidal effect on the soil, effective against nematodes and to some extent against keeled slugs. These secretions are produced about 3 – 4 months after sowing. The growing plant is also said to repel insects and can be grown amongst crops such as potatoes and tomatoes.

Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider

Resources:
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Tagetes+filifolia
http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_LMN.htm
http://davesgarden.com/guides/pf/go/185096/
http://www.conabio.gob.mx/malezasdemexico/asteraceae/tagetes-filifolia/fichas/ficha.htm
http://www.conabio.gob.mx/malezasdemexico/asteraceae/tagetes-filifolia/imagenes/habito.jpg

 

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Herbs & Plants

Calea zacatechichi

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Botanical Name : Calea zacatechichi
Family: Asteraceae
Genus: Calea
Species: C. ternifolia
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Asterales

Common Name:Dream Herb, Bitter Grass,Calea zacatechichi

Habitat:The plant naturally occurs from southern Mexico to northern Costa Rica. It has been scientifically demonstrated that extracts of this plant increase reaction times and the frequency and/or recollection of dreams versus placebo and diazepam.

Description:
Calea zacatechichi is a medium sized shrub that has reportedly been used by the Chontal indians of Mexico as a hallucinogen. Its dried leaves are used before sleep to increase dreaming. Its effects are not well documented.

 

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Cultivation:
Generally Calea is a southern plant. Growing Calea from fresh seed is easy; also cloning this plant is extremely simple. The most common way to grow it is propagation from cuttings or layers, the latter of which is very easy in late summer. The Calea plant likes full sun, well drained soils, and medium irrigation. Anecdotal evidence suggests the flowering or post flowering plant harvested in the dry or cold season yields the best herbal product. A good soil mix for calea cultivation is: 1/3 of a rich substrate, 1/3 vermiculite and 1/3 of humus, or a light garden soil.

Propagation:
Propagation from seeds can be tried with the following method: Sow the seeds in a pot with the soil mix indicated as above. Don’t cover the seeds, moisten the seeds with water and cover with a plastic bag. This little greenhouse needs from 4 to 6 hours of light to germinate. If the seeds dry out during this period, the plants will not germinate.

Medicinal Uses:
The Chontal medicine men, who assert that this plant is capable of “clarifying the senses” causing euphoria, call it thle-pela-kano, meaning “leaf of God”. Whenever they desire to know the cause of an illness or the location of a distant or lost person, the common ritual is to smoke a cigarette, whilst drinking a tea, both made of Calea Zacatechichi, right before going to sleep. Some also report placing the leaf of God under their pillow before sleeping. Reportedly, the answer to the question comes in a dream

Calea zacatechichi is a plant used by the Chontal Indians of Mexico to obtain divinatory messages during dreaming. At human doses, organic extracts of the plant produce the EEG and behavioral signs of somnolence and induce light sleep in cats. Large doses elicit salivation, ataxia, retching and occasional vomiting. The effects of the plant upon cingulum discharge frequency were significantly different from hallucinogenic- dissociative drugs (ketamine. quipazine, phencyclidine and SKF-10017). In human healthy volunteers, low doses of the extracts administered in a double-blind design against placebo increased reaction time end time-lapse estimation. A controlled nap sleep study in the same volunteers showed that Calea extracts increased the superficial stages of sleep and the number of spontaneous awakenings. The subjective reports of dreams were significantly higher than both placebo and diazepam, indicating an increase in hypnagogic imagery occurring during superficial sleep stages. Sources: Crimson Sage

Chemical composition:
Several compounds have been isolated from the plant, including the sesquiterpenes calaxin, ciliarin (Ortega et al.), the germacranolides 1-beta-acetoxy zacatechinolide and 1-oxo zacatechinolide (Bohlmann and Zdero), caleochromene A and B, calein A and B (Quijano et al.), caleicine I and II (Ramos, 1979), as well as acacetin, o-methyl acacetin, zexbrevin and an analogue, and several analogues of budlein A and neurolenin B, including calein A (Herz and Kumar).

Preparation and dosage:
Crushed dried leaves are steeped in hot water, and the resulting tea is drunk slowly, after which the user lies down in a quiet place and smokes a cigarette of the dried leaves of the same plant. The human dose for divinatory purposes reported by the Chontal people is a handful of dried plant, but effects can be felt with as little as two to three grams of dried leaf matter. The user knows that he or she has taken a large enough dose when a sense of tranquility and drowsiness is experienced and when he or she hears the beats of his or her own heart and pulse. Calea is an extremely bitter herb and is known to induce strong nausea when drunk. Many users prefer to smoke it rather than drinking the tea. Alternatively alcoholic tinctures and placing the leaf matter in algae capsules can be as effective as tea while being much less bitter and much more palatable. There are no reports of hangover or other undesirable side effects. Many report an extremely mild cannabis like state of relaxation from smoking calea leaf or taking calea tincture.

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/Calea_zacatechichi
http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_C.htm
http://www.shamansgarden.com/p-150-calea-zacatechichi-dream-herb.aspx
http://www.erowid.org/plants/calea_zacatechichi/
http://naturalhealingherbs.org/product_info.php?products_id=273

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Herbs & Plants

Sarsaparilla (Smilax sarsaparilla )

Botanical Name : Smilax sarsaparilla
FamilySmilacaceae
Genus: Smilax
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Liliales
Species: S. regelii
Common NamesSarsaparilla , zarzaparrilla,  Honduran Sarsaparilla,  Jamaican Sarsaparilla., khao yen, saparna, smilace, smilax, zarzaparilla, jupicanga

Habitat :Smilax sarsaparilla is native to Central America.

Description:
It is a perennial trailing vine with prickly stems that . Common names include It is known in Spanish as zarzaparrilla, which is derived from the words zarza, meaning “shrub,” and parrilla, meaning “little grape vine.”

click to see the pictures

Subshrubs or vines ; rhizomes black, knotted, 5-6 × 2 cm, often with white to pinkish stolons. Stems perennial , prostrate to clambering , branching, slender, to 1 m , ± woody, densely woolly-pubescent, usually prickly (especially at base ). Leaves mostly evergreen , ± evenly disposed; petiole 0.05-0.25 cm, often longer on sterile shoots ; blade gray-green, drying to ashy gray-green, obovate to ovate-lanceolate, with 3 prominent veins, 6-10.5 × 5-8 cm, glabrous adaxially, densely puberulent abaxially, base cordate to deeply notched , margins entire, apex bluntly pointed . Umbels 1-7, axillary to leaves, 5-16-flowered, loose , spherical ; peduncle 0.2-0.8 cm, shorter than to 1.5 as long as petiole of subtending leaf. Flowers: perianth yellowish; tepals 3-4 mm; anthers much shorter than filaments ; ovule 1 per locule; pedicel thin, 0.1-0.4 cm. Berries red, ovoid , 5-8 mm, with acute beaks , not glaucous. (source   :Flora of North America)

The red, pointed fruits and densely pubescent herbage of Smilax pumila are distinctive.

The name Smilax humilis Miller, which predates S. pumila by 20 years and recently has been determined to apply also to this species, has been proposed for rejection (J. L. Reveal 2000). If that proposal is not adopted, the correct name will be S. humilis.

Medicinal Uses:
Common Uses: Eczema * Psoriasis * Rheumatoid Arthritis *
Properties:  Depurative* Antibacterial* AntiViral* Tonic* Anti-inflammatory* Appetite Depressant/Obesity* Antiscrofulous*
Parts Used: Root
Constituents: parillin (smilacin), glucoside, sarsapic acid, saponins: sarsasaponin, sarsaparilloside, many flavonioids and starch

For many years, people thought sarsaparilla had testosterone in it, but there is none present, or for that matter in any plant studied so far. The spicy, pleasant smelling root is what gave old fashioned root beer its bite and is the part used medicinally. The exact mechanism of action has not been identified, however it is thought that the phytosterols it contains stimulate hormone-like activity in the body. However most modern herbalists no longer believe that sarsaparilla cures syphilis, build muscles or cure a flagging libido. There is research to substantiate its use. for gout, arthritis, psoriasis, ulcerative colitis and eczema. Certain root phytochemicals, called saponins, have soothed psoriasis, most likely by disabling bacterial components called endotoxins. Endotoxins show up in the bloodstreams of people with psoriasis, arthritis and gout.If you have any of these conditions, and feel the need for an all-around tonic to help you fight stress sarsaparilla could certainly play a beneficial role.

It was thought by Central Americans to have medicinal properties, and was a popular European treatment for syphilis when it was introduced from the New World. From 1820 to 1910, it was registered in the U.S. Pharmacopoeia as a treatment for syphilis. Modern users claim that it is effective for eczema, psoriasis, arthritis, herpes, and leprosy, along with a variety of other complaints. No peer reviewed research is available for these claims. However, there is peer reviewed research suggesting that it has anti-oxidant properties, like many other herbs.

Other Uses
Sarsaparilla is used as the basis for a soft drink sold for its taste, frequently of the same name, or called Sasparilla. It is also a primary ingredient in old fashioned root beer, in conjunction with Sassafras, more widely available prior to studies of the potential health risks of sassafras.

Sarsaparilla is not readily available in most countries, although many pubs and most major supermarket chains in Malaysia, The United Kingdom and Australia stock sarsaparilla flavored soft drinks. In Malaysia, it is called “Sarsi” amongst many other names. In America, the prevalent brand is Sioux City Sarsaparilla.[citation needed] In Taiwan, HeySong Sarsaparilla soda is also commonly available for purchase from convenience stores and street vendors.

Sarsaparilla was a popular drink in the Old West.

Research:
Sarsaparilla contains steroidal saponins, such as sarsasapogenin, which some researcher claim can duplicate the action of some human hormones. However, this purported property of sarsaparilla remains has not been substantiated by empirical evidence.

Sarsaparilla also contains beta-sitosterol, a phytosterol, which may contribute to the anti-inflammatory property of this herb. A few reports suggest that sarsaparilla has both anti-inflammatory and liver-protecting effects. Similar findings on the effect of sarsaparilla on psoriasis can also be found in European literature.

Click to learn more :

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.houseofnutrition.com/sarsaparilla.html
http://zipcodezoo.com/Plants/S/Smilax_pumila/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smilax_regelii
http://www.anniesremedy.com/herb_detail297.php