Herbs & Plants

Acer circinatum

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Botanical Name ; Acer circinatum
Family: Sapindaceae
Genus: Acer
Species: A. circinatum
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Sapindales

Common Name :Vine Maple

Habitat :Acer circinatum is native to  western N. America – British Columbia to California.It grows in forests, along banks of streams and in rich alluvial soils of bottomlands up to 1200 metres

Acer circinatum is a deciduous Tree. It is most commonly grows as a large shrub growing to around 5-8 m tall, but it will occasionally form a small to medium-sized tree, exceptionally to 18 m tall. The shoots are slender and hairless. It typically grows in the understory below much taller forest trees, but can sometimes be found in open ground, and occurs at altitudes from sea level up to 1,500 m.

You may click to see the pictures of  Acer circinatum
The leaves are opposite, and palmately lobed with 7-11 lobes, almost circular in outline, 3-14 cm long and broad, and thinly hairy on the underside; the lobes are pointed and with coarsely toothed margins. The leaves turn bright yellow to orange-red in fall. The flowers are small, 6–9 mm diameter, with a dark red calyx and five short greenish-yellow petals; they are produced in open corymbs of 4-20 together in spring. The fruit is a two-seeded samara, each seed 8-10 mm diameter, with a spreading wing 2–4 cm long.

Vine Maple trees can bend over easily. Sometimes, this can cause the top of the tree to grow into the ground and send out a new root system, creating a natural arch.

It is occasionally cultivated outside its native range as an ornamental tree, from Juneau, Alaska   and Ottawa, Ontario  to Huntsville, Alabama, and also in northwestern Europe.

Of easy cultivation, it succeeds in most good soils, preferring a good moist well-drained soil on the acid side. Prefers a sunny position but tolerates some shade. Grows well in heavy clay soils. Plants are hardy to about -20°c. Chlorosis can sometimes develop as a result of iron deficiency when the plants are grown in alkaline soils, but in general maples are not fussy as to soil pH. A very ornamental tree, a number of varieties are in cultivation. The branches tend to coil around other trees in much the same way as vines. (A strange report because vines do not coil but climb by means of tendrils formed in the leaf axils.) The tree sends out long slender arching branches in the wild. These form roots when they touch the ground and the plant thereby forms large impenetrable thickets often several hectares in extent. Most maples are bad companion plants, inhibiting the growth of nearby plants.

Seed is usually of good quality when produced in gardens. It is best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame, it usually germinates in the following spring. Pre-soak stored seed for 24 hours and then stratify for 2 – 4 months at 1 – 8°c. It can be slow or very poor to germinate, especially if it has been dried. The seed can be harvested ‘green’ (when it has fully developed but before it has dried and produced any germination inhibitors) and sown immediately. It should germinate in late winter. If the seed is harvested too soon it will produce very weak plants or no plants at all. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on until they are 20cm or more tall before planting them out in their permanent positions. This tree often self-layers and can be propagated by this means. Cuttings of young shoots in June or July. The cuttings should have 2 – 3 pairs of leaves, plus one pair of buds at the base. Remove a very thin slice of bark at the base of the cutting, rooting is improved if a rooting hormone is used. The rooted cuttings must show new growth during the summer before being potted up otherwise they are unlikely to survive the winter. Cultivars of this species can be grafted onto A. palmatum, which makes a better rootstock than this species.

Edible Uses:   
Edible Parts: Sap.
Edible Uses: Sweetener.

The sap contains a certain amount of sugar and can either be used as a drink, or can be concentrated into a syrup by boiling off the water. The syrup is used as a sweetener on many foods. The concentration of sugar is considerably lower than in the sugar maples (A. saccharum). The tree trunk is tapped in the early spring, the sap flowing better on warm sunny days following a frost. The best sap production comes from cold-winter areas with continental climates.

Medicinal Uses:

The wood was burnt to charcoal and mixed with water and brown sugar then used in the treatment of dysentery and polio.
Coastal Aboriginal peoples have boiled the bark of the roots to make a tea for colds

Other Uses  :
Basketry;  Fuel;  Paint;  Preservative;  Wood.

The leaves are packed around apples, rootcrops etc to help preserve them. The young shoots are quite pliable and are used in basket making. Straight shoots can be used to make open-work baskets. A charcoal made from the wood can be mixed with oil and used as a black paint. Wood – hard, heavy, durable, close-grained, strong according to some reports, but not strong according to others. Too small to be commercially important, the wood is used for cart shafts, tool handles, small boxes etc. One report says that the wood is quite pliable and was used for making bows, snowshoe frames etc, whilst young saplings could be used as swings for baby cradles. The wood is almost impossible to burn when green and has served as a cauldron hook over the fire.

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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Herbs & Plants

Clerodendrum trichotomum

Botanical Name : Clerodendrum trichotomum
Family: Verbenaceae (or Lamiaceae)
Genus: Clerodendrum
Species: C. trichotomum
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Lamiales

Common Names: Harlequin glorybower,Chou Wu Tong

Habitat :Clerodendrum trichotomum is native to E. Asia – China, Japan, Korea. It grows in thickets on mountain slopes, throughout most of China except Nei Mongol, below elevations of 2400 metres .

A decidious Tree growing to 6m by 3m.This large shrub offers a late-summer display of jasmine-like white flowers encased in red tepals and scent.The flowers  have white petals, held within a brown calyx. The fruits are bright blue drupes. Bright blue berries in autumn are accented by conspicuous bright, pinkish-red calyxes.The leaves are ovate, up to 12 cm long, soft and downy or hairy.

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It is hardy to zone 7.  The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects.

Noteworthy characteristics: When crushed, the foliage smells like unsweetened peanut butter, thought it is often described as “fetid.

The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It requires moist soil.

Cultivation :
Succeeds in a sunny position in ordinary garden soil but prefers a fertile humus-rich well-drained loam. The soil must not be allowed to dry out in the growing season. Requires a position sheltered from cold drying winds. Plants are generally hardy to about -15°c, they succeed outdoors at Kew though the branches are pithy and are apt to die back in winter. The sub-species C. trichotomum fargesii. (Dode.)Rehder. is somewhat hardier, tolerating temperatures down to about -20°c. Plants produce the occasional sucker. The leaves have a heavy unpleasant odour when crushed. Flowers are produced on the current seasons growth and are sweetly scented.

Seed – best sown as soon as possible in a greenhouse. Germination can be erratic but usually takes place within 20 – 60 days at 20°c. When 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 in late spring or early summer after the last expected frosts. Root cuttings, 6 – 8cm long, December in a greenhouse. High percentage. Division of suckers in the dormant season. Very easy, they can be planted out direct into their permanent positions if required.

Edible Uses:
Edible Parts: Leaves.

Young sprouts and leaves – cooked.

Medicinal Uses:
Analgesic; Antipruritic; Antirheumatic; Hypotensive; Parasiticide; Sedative.

The leaves are mildly analgesic, antipruritic, hypotensive and sedative. They are used externally in the treatment of dermatitis and internally for the treatment of hypertension, rheumatoid arthritis, joint pain, numbness and paralysis. When used in a clinical trial of 171 people, the blood pressure of 81% of the people dropped significantly – this effect was reversed when the treatment was stopped. The plant is normally used in conjunction with Bidens bipinnata. When used with the herb Siegesbeckia pubescens it is anti-inflammatory. The roots and leaves are antirheumatic and hypotensive. A decoction is used in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and hypertension. The pounded seed is used to kill lice.

Other Uses:

Scented Plants
Flowers: Fresh
The flowers are sweetly scented.
Leaves: Crushed
The leaves have a heavy unpleasant odour when crushed.

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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Herbs & Plants

Robinia pseudoacacia

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Botanical Name : Robinia pseudoacacia
Family: Fabaceae
Subfamily: Faboideae
Tribe: Robinieae
Genus: Robinia
Species: R. pseudoacacia
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Fabales

Common Name : Black Locust, Yellow Locust

Habitat : Robinia pseudoacacia is native to the southeastern United States, but has been widely planted and naturalized elsewhere in temperate North America, Europe, Southern Africa  and Asia and is considered an invasive species in some areas. A less frequently used common name is False Acacia, which is a literal translation of the specific epithet. It was introduced into Britain in 1636.It grows in woods and thickets, especially in deep well-drained calcareous soils.

A decidious Tree growing to 25m by 15m at a fast rate.With a trunk up to 0.8 m diameter (exceptionally up to 52 m tall and 1.6 m diameter in very old trees), with thick, deeply furrowed blackish bark. The leaves are 10–25 cm long, pinnate with 9–19 oval leaflets, 2–5 cm long and 1.5–3 cm broad. Each leaf usually has a pair of short thorns at the base, 1–2 mm long or absent on adult crown shoots, up to 2 cm long on vigorous young plants. The intensely fragrant (reminiscent of orange blossoms) flowers are white, borne in pendulous racemes 8–20 cm long, and are considered edible (dipped in batter; deep-fried). The fruit is a legume 5–10 cm long, containing 4–10 seeds


It is hardy to zone 3. It is in flower in June, and the seeds ripen from November to March. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees. It can fix Nitrogen. It is noted for attracting wildlife.

The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, requires well-drained soil and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It requires dry or moist soil and can tolerate drought. It can tolerate atmospheric pollution.

Cultivation :  Succeeds in any well-drained soil, preferring one that is not too rich. Succeeds in dry barren sites, tolerating drought and atmospheric pollution[60, 200]. Succeeds in a hot dry position. The plant is reported to tolerate an annual precipitation in the range of 61 to 191cm, an annual temperature in the range of 7.6 to 20.3°C and a pH of 6.0 to 7.0. A fast-growing tree for the first 30 years of its life, it can begin to flower when only 6 years old, though 10 – 12 years is more normal. The flowers are a rich source of nectar and are very fragrant  with a vanilla-like scent. The branches are brittle and very liable to wind damage. When plants are grown in rich soils they produce coarse and rank growth which is even more liable to wind damage. The plants sucker freely and often form dense thickets, the suckers have vicious thorns. There are some named varieties selected for their ornamental value, some of these are thornless. Any pruning should be done in late summer in order to reduce the risk of bleeding. The leaves are rich in tannin and other substances which inhibit the growth of other plants. A very greedy tree, tending to impoverish the soil. (Although a legume, I believe it does not fix atmospheric nitrogen) A very good bee plant . This species is notably resistant to honey fungus.

Propagation : Seed – pre-soak for 48 hours in warm water and sow the seed in late winter in a cold frame. A short stratification improves germination rates and time. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in the greenhouse for their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in the following summer. Other reports say that the seed can be sown in an outdoor seedbed in spring. The seed stores for over 10 years. Suckers taken during the dormant season.

Edible Uses:
Edible Parts: Flowers; Seed; Seedpod.

Edible Uses: Condiment; Drink; Oil.

Seed – cooked. Oily. They are boiled and used like peas. After boiling the seeds lose their acid taste. The seed is about 4mm long and is produced in pods up to 10cm long that contain 4 – 8 seeds. A nutritional analysis is available. Young seedpods – cooked. The pods contain a sweetish pulp that is safe to eat and is relished by small children. (This report is quite probably mistaken, having been confused with the honey locust, Gleditsia spp.) A strong, narcotic and intoxicating drink is made from the skin of the fruit. Piperonal is extracted from the plant, it is used as a vanilla substitute. No further details. All the above entries should be treated with some caution, see the notes at the top of the page regarding toxicity. Flowers – cooked. A fragrant aroma, they are used in making jams and pancakes. They can also be made into a pleasant drink

Chemical Constituents:
Figures in grams (g) or miligrams (mg) per 100g of food.

*Seed (Dry weight) : 0 Calories per 100g
*Water: 0%
*Protein: 21g; Fat: 3g; Carbohydrate: 0g; Fibre: 28g; Ash: 6.8g;
*Minerals – Calcium: 1400mg; Phosphorus: 0.3mg; Iron: 0mg; Magnesium: 0mg; Sodium: 0mg; Potassium: 0mg; Zinc: 0mg;
*Vitamins – A: 0mg; Thiamine (B1): 0mg; Riboflavin (B2): 0mg; Niacin: 0mg; B6: 0mg; C: 0mg;

Medicinal Uses:
Antispasmodic; Antiviral; Aromatic; Cancer; Cholagogue; Diuretic; Emetic; Emollient; Febrifuge; Laxative; Narcotic; Purgative; Tonic.

Febrifuge. The flowers are antispasmodic, aromatic, diuretic, emollient and laxative. They are cooked and eaten for the treatment of eye ailments. The flower is said to contain the antitumor compound benzoaldehyde. The inner bark and the root bark are emetic, purgative and tonic. The root bark has been chewed to induce vomiting, or held in the mouth to allay toothache, though it is rarely if ever prescribed as a therapeutic agent in Britain. The fruit is narcotic. This probably refers to the seedpod. The leaves are cholagogue and emetic. The leaf juice inhibits viruses

Other Uses:
Dye; Essential; Fibre; Fuel; Soil stabilization; Wood.


A drying oil is obtained from the seed. An essential oil is obtained from the flowers. Highly valued, it is used in perfumery. A yellow dye is obtained from the bark. Robinetin is a strong dyestuff yielding with different mordants different shades similar to those obtained with fisetin, quercetin, and myricetin; with aluminum mordant, it dyes cotton to a brown-orange shade. The bark contains tannin, but not in sufficient quantity for utilization. On a 10% moisture basis, the bark contains 7.2% tannin and the heartwood of young trees 5.7%. The bark is used to make paper and is a substitute for silk and wool. Trees sucker freely, especially if coppiced, and they can be used for stabilizing banks etc. Wood – close-grained, exceedingly hard, heavy, very strong, resists shock and is very durable in contact with the soil. It weighs 45lb per cubic foot and is used in shipbuilding and for making fence posts, treenails, floors etc. A very good fuel, but it should be used with caution because it flares up and projects sparks. The wood of Robinia pseudoacacia var. rectissima, the so called ‘Long Island‘ or ‘Shipmast’ locust, has a greater resistance to decay and wood borers, outlasting other locust posts and stakes by 50 – 100%.

Scented Plants:

Flowers: Fresh
The flowers are very fragrant with a vanilla-like scent

Known Hazards: All parts of the plant (except the flowers) and especially the bark, should be considered to be toxic. The toxins are destroyed by heat

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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Herbs & Plants

Styphnolobium japonicum

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Botanical Name : Styphnolobium japonicum
Family: Fabaceae
Subfamily: Faboideae
Genus: Styphnolobium
Tribe: Sophoreae
Species: S. japonicum
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Fabales
Syn. Sophora japonica
Common Names :Pagoda Tree,Chinese Scholar, Japanese pagodatree or Scholar tree.

Habitat :Styphnolobium japonicum is native to eastern Asia (mainly China; despite the name, it is introduced in Japan), is a popular ornamental tree in Europe, North America and South Africa, grown for its white flowers, borne in late summer after most other flowering trees have long finished flowering.Open country between 300 and 1000 metres in W. China.

A decidious Tree growing  into a lofty tree 10-20 m tall with an equal spread, and produces a fine, dark brown timber.
It is hardy to zone 5 and is not frost tender. It is in flower in September, and the seeds ripen in November. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects.It can fix Nitrogen. Compound leaves with small leaflets.  Medium to dark green, with yellowish fall color.Stems are  Green, flowers are creamy white, bloom in late summer.  Flowers are shaped like flowers of pea plants and have a faint fragrance.

Click for more pictures

The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, requires well-drained soil and can grow in nutritionally poor soil.The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils..It cannot grow in the shade.It requires moist soil and can tolerate drought.It can tolerate atmospheric pollution.

Succeeds in a well-drained moderately fertile soil in full sun. Tolerates poor soils, atmospheric pollution, heat and, once established, drought. Hardy to about -25° when mature, but it can be damaged by severe frosts when it is young[200]. A very ornamental and fast growing tree, it grows best in hot summers. It grows best in the warmer areas of the country where the wood will be more readily ripened and better able to withstand winter cold. Trees take 30 years to come into flower from seed, but they do not often ripen their seed in Britain. Cultivated in China for the rutin contained in its leaves and ovaries. Plants should be container-grown and planted out whilst young, older plants do not transplant well. Plants in this genus are notably resistant to honey fungus. 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.

Seed – best sown as soon as it is ripe in a greenhouse. Pre-soak stored seed for 12 hours in hot (not boiling) water and sow in late winter in a greenhouse. Prick out the seedlings as soon as they are large enough to handle into individual pots in the greenhouse, and grow them on for 2 years under protected conditions. Plant them out into their permanent positions in early summer of their third year. Cuttings of young shoots with a heel, July/August in a frame. Air-layering.

Edible Uses:-
Edible Parts: Flowers;  Leaves.

Young leaves and flowers – cooked. The leaves need to be cooked in three lots of water in order to remove the bitterness. This will also remove most of the vitamins and minerals. The leaves are a rich source of rutin, they contain much more than the usual commercial source, buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum). The ovaries, before the flowers open, contain up to 40% rutin. A tea can be made from the young leaves and flowers. An edible starch is obtained from the seed.

Medicinal Uses :
Abortifacient;  Antibacterial;  Anticholesterolemic;  Antiinflammatory;  Antispasmodic;  Diuretic;  Emetic;  Emollient;  Febrifuge;  Hypotensive;  Purgative;
Skin;  Styptic;  Tonic.

This species is commonly used in Chinese medicine and is considered to be one of the 50 fundamental herbs. It came second in a study of 250 potential antifertility agents. Diuretic, emollient, febrifuge, tonic. The flowers and flower buds are antibacterial, anticholesterolemic, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, haemostatic and hypotensive. The ovaries, especially just before the plant flowers, are a rich source of rutin and this is a valuable hypotensive agent. The buds, flowers and pods are concocted and used in the treatment of a variety of ailments including internal haemorrhages, poor peripheral circulation, internal worms etc. This remedy should not be prescribed for pregnant women. The seedpods are abortifacient. The seed is emetic and haemostatic. It is used in the treatment of haemorrhoids, haematuria, uterine bleeding, constipation, stuffy sensation in the chest, dizziness, red eyes, headache and hypertension.It should be used with caution since it is toxic. The leaves are laxative. They are used in the treatment of epilepsy and convulsions. A decoction of the stems is used in the treatment of piles, sore eyes and skin problems.

S. japonicum is one of the 50 fundamental herbs used in traditional Chinese medicine.

Other Uses :-
Dye;  Wood.

A yellow dye is obtained from the seedpods and the flowers. It is green when mixed with indigo. Wood – tough, light, strong, of superior quality. Used in carpentry.

The Guilty Chinese Scholartree was a historic Pagoda Tree in Beijing, on which the last emperor of the Ming Dynasty, Chongzhen, hanged himself.

Known Hazards : The plant contains cytosine, which resembles nicotine and is similarly toxic.

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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Herbs & Plants

Pseudolarix amabilis

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Botanical Name :Pseudolarix amabilis
Family: Pinaceae
Genus: Pseudolarix
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Pinophyta
Order: Pinales
Synonyms :  P. fortunei. Mayr. P. kaempferi. Gord.

Common Name :Golden Larch

Habotat : It is native to eastern China, occurring in small areas in the mountains of southern Anhui, Zhejiang, Fujian, Jiangxi, Hunan, Hubei and eastern Sichuan, at altitudes of 100-1500 m. Golden Larch is sometimes known under an old scientific name Pseudolarix kaempferi, but this may cause confusion with Larix kaempferi, the Japanese Larch.

Description :
It is a deciduous tree reaching 30-40 m tall, with a broad conic crown. The shoots are dimorphic, with long shoots and short shoots similar to a larch, though the short shoots are not so markedly short, lengthening about 5 mm annually. The leaves are bright green, 3-6 cm long and 2-3 mm broad, with two glaucous stomatal bands on the underside; they turn a brilliant golden yellow before falling in the autumn, whence the common name. The leaves are arranged spirally, widely spaced on long shoots, and in a dense whorl on the short shoots.
It is hardy to zone 6. The flowers are monoecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but both sexes can be found on the same plant) and are pollinated by Wind.

The cones are distinctive, superficially resembling a small globe artichoke, 4-7 cm long and 4-6 cm broad, with pointed triangular scales; they mature about 7 months after pollination, when (like fir and cedar cones) they disintegrate to release the winged seeds. The male cones, as in Keteleeria, are produced in umbels of several together in one bud.

The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils.The plant prefers acid soils. and can grow in very acid soils.
It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade.It requires moist soil.

Cultivation :
Best grown in a warm sheltered site on a deep fertile soil with a pH between 5 and 6 and an annual rainfall of around 1000mm. Plants dislike dry winds and soils that dry out readily.  Slow-growing. A difficult tree to grow well in cool temperate regions, if planted out when small it is easily scorched and can be killed by temperatures of -5°c. In Britain good trees are only found in the southern part of the country. Plants prefer a continental climate with hot summers – they are then much hardier and tolerate cold winters. Best planted out when 30 – 80cm tall, it needs to be kept weed free until established and might require winter protection for its first few years. There are several named forms, selected for their ornamental value.

Seed – sow late winter in a cold greenhouse. 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.

Medicinal uses:
Golden Larch is one of the 50 fundamental herbs used in Chinese herbology, where it is called j?n qián s?ng .The stem bark is used in the treatment of ringworm. The bark shows fungicidal activity against the parasitic Epidermophyton and Trichphyton fungi that cause ringworm.

Other Uses:
Golden Larch is a very attractive ornamental tree for parks and large gardens. Unlike the larches, it is very tolerant of summer heat and humidity, growing very successfully in the southeastern United States where most larches and firs do not succeed. In Europe growth is most successful in the Mediterranean region with notable specimens in northern Italy; further north in Britain it will grow, but only very slowly due to the cooler summers there.

The wood is used for furniture, boat building, and bridges.

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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