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Herbs & Plants

Prunus mahaleb

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Botanical Name : Prunus mahaleb
Family: Rosaceae
Genus: Prunus
Species: P. mahaleb
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Rosales

Common Names :Prunus mahaleb, aka mahaleb cherry, aka St Lucie cherry

Habitat :Prunus mahaleb  is native in the Mediterranean region, Iran and parts of central Asia. It is adjudged to be native in northwestern Europe or at  least it is naturalized there.The tree occurs in thickets and open woodland on dry slopes; in central Europe at altitudes up to 1,700 m, and in highlands at  1,200-2,000 m in southern Europe. It has become naturalised in some temperate areas, including Europe north of its native range (north to Great Britain and  Sweden), and locally in Australia and the United States.

Description:
Prunus mahaleb is a deciduous tree or large shrub, growing to 2–10 m (rarely up to 12 m) tall with a trunk up to 40 cm diameter.The tree’s bark is  grey-brown, with conspicuous lenticels on young stems, and shallowly fissured on old trunks. The leaves are 1.5-5 cm long, 1-4 cm. wide, alternate, clustered at the end of alternately arranged twigs, ovate to cordate, pointed, have serrate edges, longitudinal venation and are glabrous and green. The petiole is  5-20 mm, and may or may not have two glands. The flowers are fragrant, pure white, small, 8-20 mm diameter, with an 8-15 mm pedicel; they are arranged 3-10  together on a 3-4 cm long raceme. The flower pollination is mainly by bees. The fruit is a small thin-fleshed cherry-like drupe 8–10 mm in diameter, green at  first, turning red then dark purple to black when mature, with a very bitter flavour; flowering is in mid spring with the fruit ripening in mid to late  summer……....CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES.

Cultivation:  
Thrives in a well-drained moisture-retentive loamy soil, growing best in a poor soil. Prefers some lime in the soil but is likely to become chlorotic if too much lime is present. Succeeds in sun or partial shade though it fruits better in a sunny position. Most members of this genus are shallow-rooted and will produce suckers if the roots are damaged. Plants in this genus are notably susceptible to honey fungus.

Propagation:       
Seed – requires 2 – 3 months cold stratification and is best sown in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe. Sow stored seed in a cold frame as early in the year as possible. Protect the seed from mice etc. The seed can be rather slow, sometimes taking 18 months to germinate. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle. Grow them on in a greenhouse or cold frame for their first winter and plant them out in late spring or early summer of the following year. Cuttings of half-ripe wood with a heel, July/August in a frame. Softwood cuttings from strongly growing plants in spring to early summer in a frame. Layering in spring.

Edible Uses:
The fruit might be edible. The fruits of all members of this genus are more or less edible, may not be always of very good quality. However, if the fruit is bitter it should not be eaten in any quantity due to the presence of toxic compounds. The fruit is about 6mm in diameter and contains one large seed. Seeds are eaten  raw or cooked. The dried seed kernels are used as a flavouring in breads, sweet pastries, confectionery etc. They impart an intriguing flavour. Do not eat the seed if it is too bitter – see the notes above on toxicity.

Medicinal Uses:
The seed is tonic. Although no specific mention has been seen for this species, all members of the genus contain amygdalin and prunasin, substances which break down in water to form hydrocyanic acid (cyanide or prussic acid). In small amounts this exceedingly poisonous compound stimulates respiration, improves digestion and gives a sense of well-being.

Known Hazards:      Although no specific mention has been seen for this species, it belongs to a genus where most, if not all members of the genus produce hydrogen cyanide, a poison that gives almonds their characteristic flavour. This toxin is found mainly in the leaves and seed and is readily detected by its bitter taste. It is usually present in too small a quantity to do any harm but any very bitter seed or fruit should not be eaten. In small quantities, hydrogen cyanide has been shown to stimulate respiration and improve digestion, it is also claimed to be of benefit in the treatment of cancer. In excess, however, it can cause respiratory failure and even death.

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://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prunus_mahaleb
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Prunus+mahaleb

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Categories
Herbs & Plants

Cornus mas

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Botanical Name : Cornus mas
Family: Cornaceae
Genus: Cornus
Subgenus: Cornus
Species: C. mas
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Cornales

Common Name :European Cornel or Cornelian Cherry.

Habitat :  Cornus mas  is native to southern Europe (from France to Ukraine), Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Iran, Turkey, Lebanon and Syria. It grows in woodlands, especially in calcareous soils

Description:
It is a medium to large deciduous shrub or small tree growing to 5–12 m tall, with dark brown branches and greenish twigs. The leaves are opposite, 4–10 cm long and 2–4 cm broad, with an ovate to oblong shape and an entire margin. The flowers are small (5–10 mm diameter), with four yellow petals, produced in clusters of 10–25 together in the late winter, well before the leaves appear. The fruit is an oblong red drupe 2 cm long and 1.5 cm in diameter, containing a single seed….CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES

Bloom Color: Yellow. Main Bloom Time: Early spring, Early winter, Late winter, Mid spring, Mid winter. Form: Rounded.

Cultivation :
Landscape Uses:Border, Firewood, Pest tolerant, Hedge, Screen, Specimen, Woodland garden. An easily grown plant, it succeeds in any soil of good or moderate fertility, ranging from acid to shallow chalk. Grows well in heavy clay soils. Prefers a moist soil and a sunny position but also succeeds in light shade. Plants are fairly wind resistant. Plants grow and crop well in pots. A very hardy plant, tolerating temperatures down to about -25°c. At one time the cornelian cherry was frequently cultivated for its edible fruit, though it has fallen into virtual disuse as a fruit crop in most areas. It is still being cultivated in parts of C. Europe and there are some named varieties. ‘Macrocarpa’ has larger fruits than the type. ‘Nana’ is a dwarf form, derived from a yellow-fruited clone. ‘Variegata’ has been seen on a number of occasions with very large crops of fruit, even in years when the type species has not fruited well. ‘Jolico’ has well-flavoured fruits 3 times larger than the species. There are also a number of cultivars with yellow, white and purplish fruit. Seedlings can take up to 20 years to come into fruit. Plants produced from cuttings come into fruit when much younger, though they do not live as long as the seedlings. A very ornamental plant it flowers quite early in the year and is a valuable early food for bees. Plants in this genus are notably resistant to honey fungus.Special Features:Attracts birds, Not North American native, Attractive flowers or blooms.

Propagation:
Seed – best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame or in an outdoors seedbed if there is sufficient seed. The seed must be separated from the fruit flesh since this contains germination inhibitors. Stored seed should be cold stratified for 3 – 4 months and sown as early as possible in the year. Scarification may also help as may a period of warm stratification before the cold stratification. Germination, especially of stored seed, can be very slow, taking 18 months or more. Prick out the seedlings of cold-frame sown seeds into individual pots as soon as they are large enough to handle and grow the plants on for their first winter in a greenhouse, planting out in the spring after the last expected frosts. Cuttings of half-ripe side shoots, July/August in a frame. Cuttings of mature wood of the current year’s growth, taken with a heel if possible, autumn in a cold frame. High percentage. Layering of new growth in June/July. Takes 9 months
Uses:-

Fruit:
The berries when ripe on the plant bear a resemblance to coffee berries, and ripen in mid to late summer. The fruit is edible, but the unripe fruit is astringent. The fruit only fully ripens after it falls from the tree. When ripe, the fruit is dark ruby red. It has an acidic flavour which is best described as a mixture of cranberry and sour cherry; it is mainly used for making jam, makes an excellent sauce similar to cranberry sauce when pitted and then boiled with sugar and orange, but also can be eaten dried. In Azerbaijan and Armenia, the fruit is used for distilling vodka, while in Albania it is distilled into raki. In Turkey and Iran it is eaten with salt as a snack in summer, and traditionally drunk in a cold drink called kizilcik sherbeti. Cultivars selected for fruit production in Ukraine have fruit up to 4 cm long.

Flower:
The species is also grown as an ornamental plant for its late winter flowers, which open earlier than those of forsythia, and, while not as large and vibrant as those of the forsythia, the entire plant can be used for a similar effect in the landscape.

Wood:
The wood of C. mas is extremely dense, and unlike the wood of most other woody plant species, sinks in water. This density makes it valuable for crafting into tool handles, parts for machines, etc.  Cornus mas was used from the seventh century BC onward by Greek craftsman to construct spears, javelins and bows, the craftsmen considering it far superior to any other wood. The wood’s association with weaponry was so well known that the Greek name for it was used as a synonym for “spear” in poetry during the fourth and third centuries BC. In Italy, the mazzarella, uncino or bastone, the stick carried by the butteri or mounted herdsmen of the Maremma region, is traditionally made of cornel-wood, there called crognolo or grugnale, dialect forms of Italian: corniolo.

The red dye used to make fezzes was produced from its bark and tannin is produced from its leaves.

Garden history:
Cornus mas, the Male Cornel, was named to distinguish it from the true Dogberry, the Female Cornel, C. sanguinea, and so it appears in John Gerard’s Herbal. The shrub was not native to the British Isles. William Turner had only heard of the plant in 1548,  but by 1551 he had heard of one at Hampton Court Palace. John Gerard said that it was to be found in the gardens “of such as love rare and dainty plants” and by the 17th century, the fruits were being pickled in brine or served up in tarts.

The appreciation of the early acid yellow flowers, of little individual interest, is largely a 20th-century development.  The Royal Horticultural Society gave Cornus mas an Award of Merit in 1924.

Edible Uses:
Edible Parts: Fruit; Oil; Oil.
Edible Uses: Coffee; Oil; Oil.

Fruit – raw, dried or used in preserves. Juicy, with a nice acid flavour. The fully ripe fruit has a somewhat plum-like flavour and texture and is very nice eating, but the unripe fruit is rather astringent. It is rather low in pectin and so needs to be used with other fruit when making jam. At one time the fruit was kept in brine and used like olives. The fruit is a reasonable size, up to 15mm long, with a single large seed. A small amount of edible oil can be extracted from the seeds. Seeds are roasted, ground into a powder and used as a coffee substitute

Medicinal Uses:
The fruits have a mildly astringent action. The same fruits, when eaten fresh, are a good gastro-intestinal astringent and used for bowel complaints and fevers, while also used in the treatment of cholera.   Apart from its astringent properties, cornel bark can be used as a tonic and febrifuge.  The flowers are used in the treatment of diarrhea.

Other Uses
Dye; Hedge; Hedge; Oil; Oil; Tannin; Wood.

An oil is obtained from the seed. A dye is obtained from the bark. No more details are given. Another report says that a red dye is obtained from the plant, but does not say which part of the plant. The leaves are a good source of tannin. Wood – very hard, it is highly valued by turners. The wood is heavier than water and does not float. It is used for tools, machine parts, etc.

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/European_Cornel
http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_C.htm
http://www.bestplants.org/plantdetail.pl?ScientificName=Cornus%20mas

http://www.pfaf.org/user/plant.aspx?latinname=Cornus+mas

 

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Herbs & Plants Suppliments our body needs

Kava

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Botanical Name: Piper methysticum
Family:Pepper/ Piperaceae
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Piperales
Genus: Piper
Species: P. methysticum
Other names: kava kava, kawa, kew, yagona, sakau .awa (Hawaii), ‘ava (Samoa), yaqona (Fiji), and sakau (Pohnpei).
Parts Used:The part of the plant used medicinally is the root. Although the root was traditionally chewed or made into a beverage, kava is now available in capsule, tablet, beverage, tea, and liquid extract forms.

Habitat:South Pacific Isands.

Description:
Kava is a tall shrub in the pepper family that grows in the South Pacific islands.Kava kava belongs to the pepper family (Piperaceae) and is also known as kava, asava pepper, or intoxicating pepper. It grows to an average height of 6 ft (1.83 m) and has large heart-shaped leaves that can grow to 10 in (25.4 cm) wide. A related species is Piper sanctum, a native plant of Mexico that is used as a stimulant. It has been used there for thousands of years as a folk remedy and as a social and ceremonial beverage.

click to see the pictures…..(01)…..(1)…....(2)………(3)………..(4)..

The part of the plant used medicinally is the root. Although the root was traditionally chewed or made into a beverage, kava is now available in capsule, tablet, beverage, tea, and liquid extract forms.

Botany and agronomy
There are several cultivars of kava, with varying concentrations of primary and secondary psychoactive substances. The largest number are grown in the Republic of Vanuatu, and so it is recognised as the “home” of kava. Kava was historically grown only in the Pacific islands of Hawaii, Federated States of Micronesia, Vanuatu, Fiji, the Samoas and Tonga. Some is grown in the Solomon Islands since World War II, but most is imported. Kava is a cash crop in Vanuatu and Fiji.

The kava shrub thrives in loose, well-drained soils where plenty of air reaches the roots. It grows naturally where rainfall is plentiful (over 2,000 mm/yr). Ideal growing conditions are 20 to 35 degrees Celsius (70 to 95 °F), and 70–100% relative humidity. Too much sunlight is harmful, especially in early growth, so kava is an understory crop.

Kava cannot reproduce sexually. Female flowers are especially rare and do not produce fruit even when hand-pollinated. Its propagation is entirely due to human efforts by the method of striking.

Traditionally, plants are harvested around 4 years of age, as older plants have higher concentrations of kavalactones. But in the past two decades farmers have been harvesting younger and younger plants, as young as 18 months. After reaching about 2 m height, plants grow a wider stalk and additional stalks, but not much taller. The roots can reach 60 cm depth.

Composition
Fresh kava root contains on average 80% water. Dried root contains approximately 43% starch, 20% fibers, 15% kavalactones, 12% water, 3.2% sugars, 3.6% proteins, and 3.2% minerals. Kavalactone content is greatest in the roots and decreases higher up the plant. Relative concentrations of 15%, 10% and 5% have been observed in the root, stump, and basal stems, respectively.

The mature roots of the kava plant are harvested after a minimum of 4 years (at least five years ideally) for peak kavalactone content. Most kava plants produce around 50 kgs (110 lbs) of root when they are harvested. Kava root is classified into two categories: crown root (or chips) and lateral root. Crown roots are the large diameter pieces that look like big (1.5 inch to 5 inches diameter) wooden poker chips. Most kava plants consist of approximately 80% crown root upon harvesting. Lateral roots are smaller diameter roots that look more like a typical root. A mature kava plant is approximately 20% lateral roots. Kava lateral roots have the highest content of kavalactones in the kava plant. “Waka” grade kava is kava that is made of lateral roots only.
General use
Kava kava has been prescribed by healthcare providers to treat a wide range of ailments, including insomnia, nervousness, and stress-related anxiety and anxiety disorders. It is also reported to relieve urinary infections, vaginitis, fatigue, asthma, rheumatism, and pain.

The active ingredients in kava kava are called kavalactones and are found in the root of the plant. Kavalactones cause reactions in the brain similar to pharmaceutical drugs prescribed for depression and anxiety. Research has shown that kavalactones have a calming, sedative effect that relaxes muscles, relieves spasms, and prevents convulsions. Kavalactones also have analgesic (pain-relieving) properties that may bring relief to sore throats, sore gums, canker sores, and toothaches.

Kava kava is a strong diuretic that is reportedly beneficial in the treatment of gout, rheumatism, and arthritis. The diuretic effect of the herb relieves pain and helps remove waste products from the afflicted joints. Antispasmodic properties have shown to help ease menstrual cramps by relaxing the muscles of the uterus. Kava kava’s antiseptic and anti-inflammatory agents may help relieve an irritable bladder, urinary tract infections, and inflammation of the prostate gland.

Kava root...……………….....Kava root power…………….Cava in bottle as medicine

Medicinal Uses:
Kava kava has been used as a medicinal herb for hundreds of years and used by Pacific Islanders to treat rheumatism, asthma, worms, obesity, headaches, fungal infections,leprosy, gonorrhea, vaginal infections, urinary infections, menstrual problems, migraine headaches, and insomnia. It was also used as a diuretic, an aphrodisiac, to promote energy, and to bring about sweating during colds and fevers. Pacific Islanders consume a kava kava drink at social, ritual, and ceremonial functions. It is drunk at ceremonies to commemorate marriages, births, and deaths; in meetings of village elders; as an offering to the gods; to cure illness; and to welcome honored guests. Pope John Paul II, Queen Elizabeth II, and Hillary Rodham Clinton have all drunk kava kava during their island visits.

The drink is prepared by grinding, grating, or pounding the roots of the plant, then soaking the pulp in cold water or coconut milk. Traditionally the root was chewed, spit into a bowl, and mixed with coconut milk or water. That practice is no longer the standard.

Captain James Cook has been credited with the Western discovery of kava kava during his journey to the South Pacific in the late 1700s. The first herbal products made from kava kava appeared in Europe in the 1860s. Pharmaceutical preparations became available in Germany in the 1920s. Currently, kava kava has received widespread attention because of its reputation to promote relaxation and reduce stress.

Preparation & Consumption:
Traditional preparation
Kava is consumed in various ways throughout the Pacific Ocean cultures of Polynesia, Vanuatu, Melanesia and some parts of Micronesia and Australia. Traditionally it is prepared by either chewing, grinding or pounding the roots of the kava plant. Grinding is done by hand against a cone-shaped block of dead coral; the hand forms a mortar and the coral a pestle. The ground root/bark is combined with only a little water, as the fresh root releases moisture during grinding. Pounding is done in a large stone with a small log. The product is then added to cold water and consumed as quickly as possible.

Kava root drying in Lovoni village, Ovalau

The extract is an emulsion of kavalactone droplets in starch. The taste is slightly pungent, while the distinctive aroma depends on whether it was prepared from dry or fresh plant, and on the variety. The colour is grey to tan to opaque greenish.

Kava prepared as described above is much more potent than processed kava. Chewing produces the strongest effect because it produces the finest particles. Fresh, undried kava produces a stronger beverage than dry kava. The strength also depends on the species and techniques of cultivation. Many find mixing powdered kava with hot water makes the drink stronger. However the active ingredients of kava, such as Kavalactone, are ruined at 140 degrees. Most tea steeps at 180 degrees for at least a couple minutes which will reduce the potency of the kava.

In Vanuatu, a strong kava drink is normally followed by a hot meal or tea. The meal traditionally follows some time after the drink so that the psychoactives are absorbed into the bloodstream quicker. Traditionally no flavoring is added.

Fijians commonly share a drink called “grog”, made by pounding sun-dried kava root into a fine powder and mixing it with cold water. Traditionally, grog is drunk from the shorn half-shell of a coconut, called a “bilo.” Despite tasting very much like dirty water, grog is very popular in Fiji, especially among young men, and often brings people together for storytelling and socializing.

Modern preparation
In modernized countries Kava beverage is usually made from Kava root powder. The root is dried and then finely ground into powder before being exported. Generally one tablespoon of powder is added per cup of water, but sometimes as much as a half a cup of powder (eight tablespoons) is added per cup of water to increase potency. The powder is then soaked in water for approximately 30 minutes to allow the water to completely soak through the powdered fibers. Lecithin is often added to aid in the process of emulsifying the kavalactones with water. The Kava powder, water, and lecithin are blended in a blender for several minutes then strained into a straining cloth. Nylon, cheesecloth, and silk screen are common materials for straining. The remaining liquid is squeezed from the pulp and the pulp is discarded. As an alternative to the blender method, with the powdered pulp enclosed within the straining material, the pulp is massaged for five to ten minutes in water, then the liquid is wrung out. The more pressure that is applied to the wet powdered pulp while wringing it out, the more kavalactones will be released from it. Finally the pulp resin is discarded and the beverage is enjoyed. Often coconut water, coconut milk, lemongrass, cocoa, sugar, or soy milk is added to improve flavor.

Pharmacology
Kava’s active principal ingredients are the kavalactones, of which at least 15 have been identified and are all considered psychoactive. Only six of them produce noticeable effects, and their concentrations in kava plants vary. Different ratios can produce different effects. Kava has some abuse potential and some experts recommend cycling use over 1 to 3 months.

Pills
Pharmaceutical companies and herbal supplement companies extract kavalactones from the kava plant using solvents such as acetone and ethanol and produce pills standardized with between 30% and 90% kavalactones. Some kava herbal supplements have been accused of contributing to very rare but severe hepatotoxic reactions (see section on safety) such may have been due to the use of plant parts other than the root, such as stems or peelings that are known to have been exported to European manufacturers. A kava pill usually has anywhere from 60 mg to 150 mg of kavalactones. By comparison the typical bowl of traditionally prepared kava beverage has around 250 mg of kavalactones.

Uses: In some parts of the Western World, kava extract is marketed as herbal medicine against stress, insomnia, and anxiety. A Cochrane Collaboration systematic review of its evidence concluded that it was likely to be more effective than placebo at treating short-term social anxiety. Safety concerns have been raised over liver toxicity, although research indicates that this may be largely due to the use of stems and leaves in supplements, which were not used indigeneously

The word kava is used to refer both to the plant and the beverage produced from its roots. Kava is a tranquilizer primarily consumed to relax without disrupting mental clarity. Its active ingredients are called kavalactones.

Because kava can cause sedation, and in high amounts, intoxication, kava drinks are consumed in some parts of the world in much the same way as alcohol.

Although it’s not clear exactly how kava works, kavalactones may affect the levels of neurotransmitters (chemicals that carry messages from nerve cells to other cells) in the blood. Kava has been found to affect the levels of specific neurotransmitters, including norepinephrine, gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA) and dopamine

A number of well-designed studies have examined kava’s ability to relieve anxiety compared to anxiety medication or a placebo. The results have been promising.

In 2003, a review by the Cochrane Collaboration examined the existing research to see how kava fared compared to a placebo in treating anxiety. After analyzing the 11 studies (involving a total of 645 people) that met the criteria, the researchers concluded that kava “appears to be an effective symptomatic treatment option for anxiety.” However, they added that it seemed to be a small effect.

Effects:
A moderately potent kava drink causes effects within 20–30 minutes that last for about two and a half hours, but can be felt for up to eight hours. Because of this, it is recommended to space out servings about fifteen minutes apart. Some report longer term effects up to two days after ingestion, including mental clarity, patience, and an ease of acceptance. The effects of kava are most often compared to alcohol, or a large dose of Valium.

The sensations, in order of appearance, are slight tongue and lip numbing (the lips and skin surrounding may appear unusually pale); mildly talkative and sociable behavior; clear thinking; anxiolytic (calming) effects; relaxed muscles; and a very euphoric sense of well-being. The numbing of the mouth is caused by the two kavalactones kavain and dihydrokavain which cause the contraction of the blood vessels in these areas acting as a local topical anesthetic. These anesthetics can also make one’s stomach feel numb. Sometimes this feeling has been mistaken for nausea. Some report that caffeine, consumed in moderation in conjunction with kava can significantly increase mental alertness.

A potent drink results in a faster onset with a lack of stimulation, the user’s eyes become sensitive to light, they soon become somnolent and then have deep, dreamless sleep within 30 minutes. Sleep is often restful and there are pronounced periods of sleepiness correlating to the amount and potency of kava consumed. Unlike alcohol-induced sleep, after wakening the drinker does not experience any mental or physical after effects. However, this sleep has been reported as extremely restful and the user often wakes up more stimulated than he or she normally would. Although excessive consumption of exceptionally potent brew has been known to cause pronounced sleepiness into the next day. Although heavy doses can cause deep dreamless sleep, it is reported that many people experience lighter sleep and rather vivid dreams after drinking moderate amounts of kava.

After thousands of years of use by the Polynesians and decades of research in Europe and the U.S., the traditional use of kava root has never been found to have any addictive or permanent adverse effects. Users do not develop a tolerance. While small doses of kava have been shown to slightly improve memory and cognition, large amounts at one time have been shown to cause intoxication. In Utah, California, and Hawaii there have been cases where people were charged with driving under the influence of alcohol after drinking a significant amount of kava (eight cups or more) although some of them were acquitted due to the laws not being broad enough to cover kava consumption.

Kava Culture:
Kava is used for medicinal, religious, political, cultural and social purposes throughout the Pacific. These cultures have a great respect for the plant and place a high importance on it. Correspondingly, the paraphernalia surrounding the traditional kava ceremony are expertly crafted. Traditionally designed kava bowls are bowls made from a single piece of wood, with multiple legs. More modern examples are also highly decorated, often carved and inlayed with mother of pearl and shell.CLICK & SEE

Kava root being prepared in Asanvari, a village on Maewo Island in the Pacific nation of Vanuatu. Photo taken in September, 2002 by Jordan Bigel.

Kava is used primarily at social gatherings to increase amiability and to relax after work. It has great religious significance, being used to obtain inspiration. Among some fundamentalist Christian sects in the Western Pacific, the drink has been demonized and seen as a vice, and young members of these religions often reject its traditional use. However, among most mainline Christian denominations, i.e. the Roman Catholic, Methodist, and Anglican churches, kava drinking is encouraged where it replaces the greater danger of alcohol.

Basic research on anti-cancer potential
On 15 February 2006, the Fiji Times and Fiji Live reported that researchers at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland and the Laboratoire de Biologie Moleculaire du Cancer in Luxembourg had discovered that kava may treat ovarian cancer and leukemia. Kava compounds inhibited the activation of a nuclear factor that led to the growth of cancer cells. The Aberdeen University researchers published in the journal The South Pacific Journal of Natural Science that kava methanol extracts had been shown to kill leukemia and ovarian cancer cells in test tubes.The kava compounds were shown to target only cancerous cells; no healthy cells were harmed. This may help explain why kava consumption is correlated with decreased incidence of cancer.

Fiji Kava Council Chairman Ratu Josateki Nawalowalo welcomed the findings, saying that they would boost the kava industry. For his part, Agriculture Minister Ilaitia Tuisese called on the researchers to help persuade members of European Union to lift their ban on kava imports.

Liver damage incidents and regulation
In 2001 concerns were raised about the safety of commercial kava products. There have been allegations of severe liver toxicity, including liver failure in some people who had used dietary supplements containing kava extract (but not in anyone who had drunk kava the traditional way). Out of the 50 people worldwide taking kava pills and extracts that have had some type of problem, almost all of them had been mixing them with alcohol and pills that could have effects on the liver.[16] The fact that different kava strains have slightly different chemical composition made testing for toxicity difficult as well.

The possibility of liver damage consequently prompted action of many regulatory agencies in European countries where the legal precautionary principle so mandated. In the UK, the Medicines for Human Use (Kava-kava) (Prohibition) Order 2002 prohibits the sale, supply or import of most derivative medicinal products. Kava is banned in Switzerland, France, Germany and The Netherlands[17]. The health agency of Canada issued a stop-sale order for kava in 2002. But legislation in 2004 made the legal status of kava uncertain. The United States CDC has released a report[18] expressing reservations about the use of kava and its possibly adverse side effects (specifically severe liver toxicity), as has the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration has recommended that no more than 250 mg of kavalactones be taken in a 24 hour period.[20] According to the Medicines Control Agency in the U.K., there is no safe dose of kava, as there is no way to predict which individuals would have adverse reactions.

Potential Side Effects of Kava:
Side effects include indigestion, mouth numbness, skin rash, headache, drowsiness and visual disturbances. Chronic or heavy use of kava has linked to pulmonary hypertension, skin scaling, loss of muscle control, kidney damage, and blood abnormalities.

Kava may lower blood pressure and it also may interfere with blood clotting, so it shouldn’t be used by people with bleeding disorders. People with Parkinson’s disease shouldn’t use kava because it may worsen symptoms.

Kava should not be taken within 2 weeks of surgery. Pregnant and nursing women, children, and people with liver or kidney disease shouldn’t use kava.

Possible Drug Interactions:
Kava shouldn’t be taken by people who are taking Parkinson’s disease medications, antipsychotic drugs, or any medication that influences dopamine levels.

Kava shouldn’t be combined with alcohol or medications for anxiety or insomnia, including benzodiazepines such as Valium (diazepam) or Ativan (lorazepam). It may have an additive effect if taken with drugs that cause drowsiness.

Kava may have an additive effect if combined with antidepressant drugs called monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOI).

Kava shouldn’t be taken with any drug or herb that impairs liver function. Kava also may interfere with blood clotting, so people taking Coumadin (warfarin) or any drug that influences blood clotting should avoid it unless under a doctor’s supervision.

Kava is a diuretic, so it may have an additive effect if combined with drugs or herbs that have diuretic properties.

Allergy
Literature suggests that <0.5% of people that take kava have an allergic reaction to it. Allergic reactions are usually mild and include itchy skin or itchy throat, and hives on the skin usually prevalent on the user’s belly region. If someone has an allergy to any relative of the pepper family, such as black pepper, they have a higher chance of having a kava allergy.

Click to learn more about Kava.:-.>………(1)….(2)……(3).…..(4)….(5)

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://altmedicine.about.com/od/kava/p/kava.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kava

http://www.healthline.com/galecontent/kava-kava

 

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Hamartomas

Definition:-
A benign (noncancerous) tumor-like growth consisting of a disorganized mixture of cells and tissues normally found in the area of the body where the growth occurs. It is focal malformation that resembles a neoplasm in the tissue of its origin. This is not a malignant tumor, and it grows at the same rate as the surrounding tissues. It is composed of tissue elements normally found at that site, but which are growing in a disorganized mass. They occur in many different parts of the body and are most often asymptomatic and undetected unless seen on an image taken for another reason.

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Hamartomas result from an abnormal formation of normal tissue, although the underlying reasons for the abnormality are not fully understood. They grow along with, and at the same rate as, the organ from whose tissue they are made, and, unlike cancerous tumors, only rarely invade or compress surrounding structures significantly. The International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (commonly known by the abbreviation ICD) is a detailed description of known diseases and injuries. … The following codes are used with International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems. … The International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (commonly known by the abbreviation ICD) is a detailed description of known diseases and injuries. … The following is a list of codes for International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems. … Tumor (American English) or tumour (British English) originally means swelling, and is sometimes still used with that meaning.

A hamartoma, while generally benign, can cause problems due to their location. When located on the skin, especially the face or neck, they can be extremely disfiguring, as in the case of a man with a hamartoma the size of a small orange on his eyelid. They may obstruct practically any organ in the body, such as the eye, the colon, etc. They are particularly likely to cause major health issues when located in the hypothalamus, spleen or kidneys.

.Cowden syndrome
Cowden Syndrome or Cowden Disease is a serious genetic disorder characterized by multiple hamartomas. Usually skin hamartomas exist, and commonly (about 66% of cases) hamartoma of the thyroid gland exists. Additional growths can form in many parts of the body, especially in mucosa, the GI tract, bones, CNS, the eyes, and the genourinary tract. The hamartomas themselves may cause symptoms or even death, but morbidity is more often associated with increased occurrence of malignancies, usually in the breast or thyroid. Cowden syndrome is an inherited disorder characterized by multiple tumor-like growths called hamartomas, and an increased risk of certain cancers. …

Types:-

Lung
The most common hamartomas occur in the lungs. (Click to see different pictures of hamartomas in the lungs) About 5-8% of all solitary lung tumors, about 75% of all benign lung tumors, are hamartomas. They almost always arise from connective tissue and are generally formed of cartilage, fat, and connective tissue cells, although they may include many other types of cells. The great majority of them form in the connective tissue on the outside of the lungs, although about 10% form deep in the linings of the bronchii. They can be worrisome, especially if situated deep in the lung, as it is important and sometimes difficult to distinguish them from malignancies. An X-ray will often not provide definitive diagnosis, and even a CT scan may be insufficient if the hamartoma atypically lacks cartilage and fat cells. Lung hamartomas are more common in men than in women, and may present additional difficulties in smokers.

Some lung hamartomas can compress surrounding lung tissue to a degree, but this is generally not debilitative or even noticed by the patient, especially for the more common peripheral growths. They are treated, if at all, by surgical resection, with an excellent prognosis: generally, the only real danger is the inherent possibility of surgical complications.

Heart.
Cardiac rhabdomyomas are hamartomas comprised of altered cardiac myocytes that contain large vacuoles and glycogen. They are the most common tumor of the heart in children and infants. There is a strong association between cardiac rhabdomyomas and tuberous sclerosis (characterized by hamartomas of the central nervous system, kidneys and skin, as well as pancreatic cysts; 25-50% of patients with cardiac rhabdomyomas will have tuberous sclerosis, and up to 100% of patients with tuberous sclerosis will have cardiac masses by echocardiography. Symptoms depend on the size of the tumor, its location relative to the conduction system, and whether it obstructs blood flow. Symptoms are usually from congestive heart failure; in utero heart failure may occur. If patients survive infancy, their tumors may regress spontaneously; resection in symptomatic patients has good results.

Hypothalamus
One of the most troublesome hamartomas occurs on the hypothalamus. Unlike most such growths, a hypothalamic hamartoma is symptomatic; it most often causes gelastic seizures, and can cause visual problems, other seizures, rage disorders associated with hypothalamic diseases, and early onset of puberty. The symptoms typically begin in early infancy and are progressive, often into general cognitive and/or functional disability. Moreover, resection is usually difficult, as the growths are generally adjacent to, or even intertwined with, the optic nerve; however, the symptoms are resistant to medical control. Luckily, surgical techniques are improving and can result in immense improvement of prognosis.

...Click for Hypothalamic Hamartoma Treatment

Kidneys, spleen, and other vascular organs
One general danger of hamartoma is that they may impinge into blood vessels,(click to see different pictures of Kidneys, spleen, and other vascular organs Hamartoma). resulting in a risk of serious bleeding. Because hamartoma typically lacks elastic tissue, it may lead to the formation of aneurysms and thus possible hemorrhage. Where a hamartoma impinges into a major blood vessel, such as the renal artery, hemorrhage must be considered life-threatening.

Hamartomas of the spleen are uncommon, but can be dangerous. About 50% of such cases manifest abdominal pain and they are often associated with hematologic abnormalities and spontaneous rupture.

Angiomyolipoma of the kidney was previously considered to be a hamartoma or choristoma, but is now known to be neoplastic.

General danger of hamartoma is that they may impinge into blood vessels, resulting in a risk of serious bleeding. Because hamartoma typically lacks elastic tissue, it may lead to the formation of aneurysms and thus possible hemorrhage. Where a hamartoma impinges into a major blood vessel, such as the renal artery, hemorrhage must be considered life-threatening. Image File history File links Spleen. …

Hamartoma of the kidney is also called angiomyolipoma and can be associated with tuberous sclerosis. It is one of the more frequently seen hamartomas. The condition is more prevalent in women than men, and generally occurs in the right kidney. Hamartomas of the spleen are uncommon, but can be dangerous. About 50% of such cases manifest abdominal pain and they are often associated with hematologic abnormalities and spontaneous rupture. Angiomyolipoma is a benign renal lesion. … Tuberous sclerosis, (meaning hard potatoes), is a rare genetic disorder primarily characterized by a triad of seizures, mental retardation, and skin lesions (called adenoma sebaceum). …

Angiomyolipoma is not a hamartoma by definition, because fat and smooth muscles are not normal constituents of renal parenchyma. It is a Choristoma (microscopically normal cells or tissues in abnormal locations).

Cowden syndrome
Cowden syndrome is a serious genetic disorder characterized by multiple hamartomas. Usually skin hamartomas exist, and commonly (about 66% of cases) hamartoma of the thyroid gland exists. Additional growths can form in many parts of the body, especially in mucosa, the GI tract, bones, CNS, the eyes, and the genitourinary tract. The hamartomas themselves may cause symptoms or even death, but morbidity is more often associated with increased occurrence of malignancies, usually in the breast or thyroid.

Causes
Hamartomas result from an abnormal formation of normal tissue, although the underlying reasons for the abnormality are not fully understood. They grow along with, and at the same rate as, the organ from whose tissue they are made, and, unlike cancerous tumors, only rarely invade or compress surrounding structures significantly.

Prognosis
Hamartomas, while generally benign, can cause problems due to their location. When located on the skin, especially the face or neck, they can be extremely disfiguring, as in the case of a man with a hamartoma the size of a small orange on his eyelid. They may obstruct practically any organ in the body, such as the eye, the colon, etc. They are particularly likely to cause major health issues when located in the hypothalamus, spleen or kidneys.

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://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hamartomas
http://www.nationmaster.com/encyclopedia/Hamartoma

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Diptheria

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Diphtheria , is an upper respiratory tract illness characterized by sore throat, low-grade fever, and an adherent membrane (a pseudomembrane) on the tonsils, pharynx, and/or nasal cavity. A milder form of diphtheria can be restricted to the skin. It is caused by Corynebacterium diphtheriae, a facultatively anaerobic Gram-positive bacterium.

Diphtheria is a highly contagious disease spread by direct physical contact or breathing the aerosolized secretions of infected individuals. Once quite common, diphtheria has largely been eradicated in developed nations through wide-spread vaccination. In the United States for instance, between 1980 and 2004 there have been 57 reported cases of diphtheria (and only five cases since 2000) as the DPT (Diphtheria–Pertussis–Tetanus) vaccine is given to all school children. Boosters of the vaccine are recommended for adults since the benefits of the vaccine decrease with age; they are particularly recommended for those traveling to areas where the disease has not been eradicated.

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Signs and Symptoms:
In its early stages, diphtheria can be mistaken for a bad sore throat. A low-grade fever and swollen neck glands are the other early symptoms.

The toxin, or poison, caused by the bacteria can lead to a thick coating in the nose, throat, or airway. This coating is usually fuzzy gray or black and can cause breathing problems and difficulty in swallowing. The formation of this coating (or membrane) in the nose, throat, or airway makes a diphtheria infection different from other more common infections (such as strep throat-it is an infection caused by group A streptococcus bacteria,) that cause sore throat.

As the infection progresses, the person may:

have difficulty breathing or swallowing

complain of double vision

have slurred speech

even show signs of going into shock (skin that’s pale and cold, rapid heartbeat, sweating, and an anxious appearance)

In cases that progress beyond a throat infection, diphtheria toxin spreads through the bloodstream and can lead to potentially life-threatening complications that affect other organs of the body, such as the heart and kidneys. The toxin can cause damage to the heart that affects its ability to pump blood or the kidneys’ ability to clear wastes. It can also cause nerve damage, eventually leading to paralysis. Up to 40% to 50% of those who don’t get treated can die.

The respiratory form has an incubation period of 2-5 days. The onset of disease is usually gradual. Symptoms include fatigue, fever, a mild sore throat and problems swallowing. Children infected have symptoms that include nausea, vomiting, chills, and a high fever, although some do not show symptoms until the infection has progressed further. In 10% of cases, patients experience neck swelling. These cases are associated with a higher risk of death.

In addition to symptoms at the site of infection (sore throat), the patient may experience more generalized symptoms, such as listlessness, pallor, and fast heart rate. These symptoms are caused by the toxin released by the bacterium. Low blood pressure may develop in these patients. Longer-term effects of the diphtheria toxin include cardiomyopathy and peripheral neuropathy (sensory type).

The cutaneous form of diphtheria is often a secondary infection of a preexisting skin disease. Signs of cutaneous diphtheria infection develop an average of seven days after the appearance of the primary skin disease
.A diphtheria skin lesion on the leg.

Causes:
Diphtheria is an infectious disease caused by bacterial microorganisms known as Corynebacterium diphtheriae. Other Corynebacterium species are responsible, too, but rarely.

Some strains of this bacterium produce a toxin – and infection with these toxigenic diphtheria bacilli is what leads to the most serious complications of diphtheria. The bacteria are toxigenic because they have become infected themselves by a certain type of virus.

The toxin that is released:

*Inhibits the production of proteins by cells

*Destroys the tissue at the site of the infection

*Leads to membrane formation – which leads to the telltale sign at the back of the throat

*Gets taken up into the bloodstream and distributed around the body’s tissues

*Causes myocarditis (inflammation of the heart) and neuritis (nerve damage)

*Can cause low platelet counts (thrombocytopenia) and produce protein in the urine (proteinuria).

Diphtheria is an infection spread only among humans – people are the only known reservoir for it. It is contagious via direct physical contact with:
*Airborne droplets. When an infected person’s sneeze or cough releases a mist of contaminated droplets, people nearby may inhale C. diphtheriae. Diphtheria spreads efficiently this way, particularly in crowded conditions.

*Contaminated personal items. People occasionally catch diphtheria from handling an infected person’s used tissues, drinking from the person’s unwashed glass, or coming into similarly close contact with other items on which bacteria-laden secretions may be deposited.

*Contaminated household items. In rare cases, diphtheria spreads on shared household items, such as towels or toys.
You can also come in contact with diphtheria-causing bacteria by touching an infected wound.

People who have been infected by the diphtheria bacteria and who haven’t been treated can infect nonimmunized people for up to six weeks — even if they don’t show any symptoms.

Diagnosis:
The current definition of diphtheria used by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is based on both laboratory and clinical criteria.

Laboratory criteria
Isolation of Corynebacterium diphtheriae from a clinical specimen, or
Histopathologic diagnosis of diphtheria.

Clinical criteria
Upper respiratory tract illness with sore throat
Low-grade fever, and
An adherent pseudomembrane of the tonsil(s), pharynx, and/or nose.

Case classification

Probable: a clinically compatible case that is not laboratory-confirmed and is not epidemiologically linked to a laboratory-confirmed case
Confirmed: a clinically compatible case that is either laboratory-confirmed or epidemiologically linked to a laboratory-confirmed case
Empirical treatment should generally be started in a patient in whom suspicion of diphtheria is high.

Treatment:
The disease may remain manageable, but in more severe cases lymph nodes in the neck may swell, and breathing and swallowing will be more difficult. People in this stage should seek immediate medical attention, as obstruction in the throat may require intubation or a tracheotomy. In addition, an increase in heart rate may cause cardiac arrest. Diphtheria can also cause paralysis in the eye, neck, throat, or respiratory muscles. Patients with severe cases will be put in a hospital intensive care unit (ICU) and be given a diphtheria anti-toxin. Since antitoxin does not neutralize toxin that is already bound to tissues, delaying its administration is associated with an increase in mortality risk. Therefore, the decision to administer diphtheria antitoxin is based on clinical diagnosis, and should not await laboratory confirmation.

Antibiotics have not been demonstrated to affect healing of local infection in diphtheria patients treated with antitoxin. Antibiotics are used in patients or carriers to eradicate C. diphtheriae and prevent its transmission to others. The CDC recommends either:

Erythromycin (orally or by injection) for 14 days (40 mg/kg per day with a maximum of 2 g/d), or

Procaine penicillin G given intramuscularly for 14 days (300,000 U/d for patients weighing <10 kg and 600,000 U/d for those weighing >10 kg). Patients with allergies to penicillin G or erythromycin can use rifampin or clindamycin.

Diphtheria – Ayurvedic and Herbal Treatment

Diphtheria in Ayurveda

Homeopathic Treatment, Cure & Medication

Homeopathic Treatment of Diphtheria and Sore Throats.

Epidemiology:
Diphtheria is a serious disease, with fatality rates between 5% and 10%. In children under 5 years and adults over 40 years, the fatality rate may be as much as 20%. Outbreaks, though very rare, still occur worldwide, even in developed nations. After the breakup of the former Soviet Union in the late 1980s, vaccination rates in its constituent countries fell so low that there was an explosion of diphtheria cases. In 1991 there were 2,000 cases of diphtheria in the USSR. By 1998, according to Red Cross estimates, there were as many as 200,000 cases in the Commonwealth of Independent States, with 5,000 deaths. This was so great an increase that diphtheria was cited in the Guinness Book of World Records as “most resurgent disease”.

Contagiousness:
Diphtheria is highly contagious. It’s easily passed from the infected person to others through sneezing, coughing, or even laughing. It can also be spread to others who pick up tissues or drinking glasses that have been used by the infected person.

People who have been infected by the diphtheria bacteria can infect others for up to 4 weeks, even if they don’t have any symptoms. The incubation period (the time it takes for a person to become infected after being exposed) for diphtheria is 2 to 4 days, although it can range from 1 to 6 days.

Prevention:
Preventing diphtheria depends almost completely on immunizing children with the diphtheria/tetanus/pertussis (DTP or DTaP) vaccine and non-immunized adults with the diphtheria/tetanus vaccine (DT). Most cases of diphtheria occur in people who haven’t received the vaccine at all or haven’t received the entire course.

The immunization schedule calls for:

DTaP vaccines at 2, 4, and 6 months of age
booster dose given at 12 to 18 months
booster dose given again at 4 to 6 years
booster shots given every 10 years after that to maintain protection .
Although most children tolerate it well, the vaccine sometimes causes mild side effects such as redness or tenderness at the injection site, a low-grade fever, or general fussiness or crankiness. Severe complications, such as an allergic reaction, are rare.

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://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diptheria
http://kidshealth.org/parent/infections/bacterial_viral/diphtheria.html
http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/159534.php
http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/diphtheria/basics/causes/CON-20022303

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