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Herbs & Plants

Kalmi (Ipomoea reptans)

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Botanical Name:Ipomoea reptans
Family: Convolvulaceae
Genus: Ipomoea subgenus
Genus:    Ipomoea
Species:    I. aquatica
Kingdom:    Plantae
Order:    Solanales
Vernacular names: Kangkong, kangkung, water convolvulus, water spinach, swamp spinach, swamp morning glory (En). Kangkong, liseron d’eau, patate aquatique (Fr). Cancon, batata aquática (Po). Mriba wa ziwa (Sw).

In Bengal  it is called Kalmi

Habitat :Ipomoea aquatica is widespread as a swamp weed in all tropical and many subtropical lowland areas. It is a declared aquatic or terrestrial noxious weed in the south-eastern United States. It occurs in nearly all countries of tropical Africa, from Mauritania and Senegal, east to Eritrea and Somalia, and south to South Africa, and also in the Indian Ocean islands. It is a popular cultivated vegetable in South-East Asia and southern China, but is rare in India. It is known as a leafy vegetable in tropical America, where people of Asian origin cultivate it. It is grown on a small scale under protected cultivation in France, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands for Vietnamese, Thai and Indonesian clients. In tropical Africa it is reported as a collected wild vegetable in Benin, DR Congo, Kenya and Tanzania. Asian cultivars are occasionally grown on a small scale for the Asian clientele near big cities. Kangkong can be found in market gardens, e.g. in Côte d’Ivoire and Nigeria.

DESCRIPTION: Water spinach is an herbaceous trailing vine that dwells in muddy stream banks, freshwater ponds, and marshes. This perennial aquatic vine is confined to the tropics and subtropics zones because it is susceptible to frosts and does not grow well when temperatures are below 23.9 C. Water spinach can reproduce sexually by producing one to four seeds in fruiting capsules or vegetatively by stem fragmentation. It is a member of the “morning-glory” family.

CLICK TO SEE THE PICTURES..>….(01)...(1).....(2).…....(3).…..(4)....(5).
Flowers: Funnel shaped, solitary or in few flowered clusters at leaf axils, two inches wide, pink to white in color, and darker in the throat (rarely nearly white).

Leaves: Arrowhead shaped, alternate, one to six inches long, and one to three inches wide

Stems: Vine like, trailing, with milky sap and roots at the nodes; usually to 9 ft. long but can be much longer.

Fruit: An oval or spherical capsule, woody at maturity, 1 cm long, holding 1 to 4 grayish seeds.

History:
The first historical record of W ater spinach is of its cultivation as a vegetable during the Chin Dynasty around 300 A.D. Native to India and Southeast Asia, but widely cultivated and naturalized in Asia, Africa, Australia, Pacific Islands, and South America. This aquatic vine is rich in iron, making it an ancient remedy for anemia. So people emigrating from Asian regions understandably wanted to take this nutritious vegetable along for use in traditional recipes. It is unclear when this plant was introduced in the United States, but this invasive and aggressive plant poses a serious threat to waterways in the Southern United States. W ater spinach has been introduced repeatedly to Florida waters since 1973, despite its state and federal listing as a prohibited plant and noxious weed.

Uses:-
Young shoots and leaves of water spinach are collected for use as a leafy vegetable. Often the whole above-ground plant part of cultivated water spinach , including the tender hollow stems, is consumed. Water spinatch can be stir-fried, steamed, boiled for a few minutes or lightly fried in oil and eaten in various dishes. It is often mixed with hot peppers and garlic, and prepared with meat or fish. In Asia the leaves are sometimes separated from the stems, and the stems are cooked a bit longer. In Africa only the leaves of wild plants are consumed, the stems are removed. The roots are occasionally eaten. Wild kangkong is often collected as fodder for cattle and pigs.

In Indonesia, kangkong or water spinach  is traditionally given at dinner to young children to make them quiet and help them sleep well. In Asia it is used in traditional medicine. The sap is used as an emetic, purgative and sedative, and flower buds are applied to ringworm. In Sri Lanka kangkong is used to treat diabetes mellitus.

Properties:
The nutritional composition of raw kangkong per 100 g edible portion is: water 92.5 g, energy 80 kJ (19 kcal), protein 2.6 g, fat 0.2 g, carbohydrate 3.1 g, dietary fibre 2.1 g, Ca 77 mg, Mg 71 mg, P 39 mg, Fe 1.7 mg, Zn 0.2 mg, vitamin A 6300 IU, thiamin 0.03 mg, riboflavin 0.10 mg, niacin 0.90 mg, folate 57 ?g, ascorbic acid 55 mg (USDA, 2002). The nutritional value of leaf-blades is higher than that of petioles and stems; unfortunately, sources do not state whether stems and leaves or leaves only were analysed. Accumulation of heavy metals in kangkong has been reported for Asia because the plants often grow in polluted water.

Medicinal Uses:
Kangkong showed oral hypoglycaemic activity in tests with diabetic humans and rats; it was shown that an aqueous leaf extract can be as effective as tolbutamide in reducing blood glucose levels.

Health risk:
If harvested from contaminated areas, and eaten raw, I. aquatica may transmit Fasciolopsis buski, an intestinal fluke parasite of humans and pigs, causing fasciolopsiasis.

Study in animals;
Studies conducted with pregnant diabetes-induced rats have shown a blood sugar-lowering effect of Ipomoea aquatica by inhibiting the intestinal absorption of glucose.

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.ars-grin.gov/cgi-bin/npgs/html/taxon.pl?20218
http://www.discoverlife.org/mp/20o?search=Ipomoea+aquatica&guide=North_American_Invasives
http://database.prota.org/PROTAhtml/Ipomoea%20aquatica_En.htm
.

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Herbs & Plants

Eleuthero

Botanical Name:Eleutherococcus senticosus (formerly Acanthopanax senticosus)
Family :Araliaceae
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Apiales
Genus: Eleutherococcus
Species: E. senticosus

Habitat:It is native to Northeastern Asia. Eleuthero is a shrub that grows in Siberia, China, Korea, and Japan.In Chinese medicine it is known as cì wu jia
Common names: Siberian ginseng, Ci wu jia, Touch-me-not, Devil’s shrub,devil’s shrub, devil’s root, touch-me-not

Description :The herb grows in mixed and coniferous mountain forests, forming low undergrowth or is found in groups in thickets and edges. E. senticosus is sometimes found in oak groves at the foot of cliffs, very rarely in high forest riparian woodland. Its native habitat is East Asia, China, Japan and Russia. E. senticosus is broadly tolerant of soils, growing in sandy, loamy and heavy clay soils with acid, neutral or alkaline chemistry and including soils of low nutritional value. It can tolerate sun or dappled shade and some degree of pollution. E. senticosus is a decidious shrub growing to 2m at a slow rate. It is hardy to zone 3. It flowers in July in most habitats. The flowers are hermaphrodite and are pollinated by insect.

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The dried root and other underground parts of the plant are used in herbal remedies for a variety of conditions. It is a distant relative of true (Panax) ginseng (which includes Asian ginseng and American ginseng), but it does not belong to the Panax group of herbs. Previously sold in the United States as “Siberian ginseng,” a 2002 United States law forbade the “ginseng” label, and the name “eleuthero” is now more commonly used.

Active Constituents:The constituents in eleuthero that have been most studied are the eleutherosides.1 Seven primary eleutherosides have been identified, with most of the research attention focusing on eleutherosides B and E.2 Eleuthero also contains complex polysaccharides (complex sugar molecules).3 These constituents may play a critical role in eleuthero’s ability to support immune function.

Eleuthero is an “adaptogen” (an agent that helps the body adapt to stress). It is thought to help support adrenal gland function when the body is challenged by stress

Medicinal Uses:
E. senticosus is an adaptogen which has a wide range of health benefits attributed to its use. Currently, most of the research to support the medicinal use of E. senticosus is in Russian or Korean. E. senticosus contains eleutherosides, triterpenoid saponins which are lipophilic and which can fit into hormone receptors. Supporters of E. senticosus as medicine claim it possesses a variety of medicinal properties, such as:

*increased endurance

*memory improvement

*anti-inflammatory

*immunogenic

*chemoprotective

*radiological protection

Eleutherococcus senticosis is more tonifying than the true Ginsengs (Panax sp.) It is neutral energetically and so is appropriate for daily use. Taken regularly, it enhances immune function, decreases cortisol levels and inflammatory response, and it promotes improved cognitive and physical performance. In human studies Eleuthero has been successfully used to treat bone marrow suppression caused by chemotherapy or radiation, angina, hypercholesterolemia, and neurasthenia with headache, insomnia, and poor appetite.

The major constituents of E. senticosus are Ciwujianoside A-E, Eleutheroside B (Syringin), Eleutherosides A-M, Friedelin and Isofraxidin.[2][unreliable source?] Most of the active constituents in E. senticosus are triterpenoid saponins. Though all terpenoid compounds have bioactivity in mammals, it is the triterpenes that are most important to the adaptogenic effect. The majority of known triterpenoid compounds in E. senticosus are found as saponin glycosides which refers to the attachment of various sugar molecules to the triterpene unit. These sugars are usually cleaved off in the gut by bacteria, allowing the aglycone (triterpene) to be absorbed. Saponin glycosides have the characteristic of reducing surface tension of water and will strip the lipids. This allows them insert into cell membranes (Attele et al., 1999) and modify the composition, influence membrane fluidity,[8] and potentially affect signaling by many ligands and cofactors.

Eleutherococcus senticosus has been shown to have significant antidepressant effects in rats

Although not as popular as Asian ginseng, eleuthero use dates back 2,000 years, according to Chinese medicine records. Referred to as ci wu jia in Chinese medicine, it was used to prevent respiratory tract infections, colds and flu. It was also believed to provide energy and vitality. In Russia, eleuthero was originally used by people in the Siberian Taiga region to increase performance and quality of life and to decrease infections.

In more modern times, eleuthero has been used to increase stamina and endurance in Soviet Olympic athletes. Russian explorers, divers, sailors, and miners also used eleuthero to prevent stress-related illness. After the Chernobyl accident, many Russian and Ukrainian citizens were given eleuthero to counteract the effects of radiation.

Eleuthero has been shown to enhance mental acuity and physical endurance without the letdown that comes with caffeinated products. Research has shown that eleuthero improves the use of oxygen by the exercising muscle.6 This means that a person is able to maintain aerobic exercise longer and recover from workouts more quickly. Preliminary research from Russia indicates it may be effective for this purpose. Other trials have been inconclusive8 or have shown no beneficial effect.

Eleuthero may also support the body by helping the liver detoxify harmful toxins. It has shown a protective action in animal studies against chemicals such as ethanol, sodium barbital, tetanus toxoid, and chemotherapeutic agents. According to a test tube study eleuthero also helps protect the body during radiation exposure. Preliminary research in Russia has suggested that eleuthero may help alleviate side effects and help the bone marrow recover more quickly in people undergoing chemotherapy and radiation therapy for cancer.

Eleuthero may be useful as a preventive measure during the cold and flu season. However, it has not yet been specifically studied for this purpose. Preliminary evidence also suggests that eleuthero may prove valuable in the long-term management of various diseases of the immune system, including HIV infection and chronic fatigue syndrome. Healthy people taking teaspoons (10 ml) of tincture three times daily have been shown to have increased numbers of the immune cells (T4 lymphocytes) that have been found to decrease during HIV-infection and AIDS.13 Further human clinical trials are needed to confirm that eleuthero may be helpful for this disease.

Dosages: Dried, powdered root and rhizomes, 2–3 grams per day, are commonly used.14 Alternatively, 300–400 mg per day of concentrated solid extract standardized on eleutherosides B and E can be used, as can alcohol-based extracts, 8–10 ml in two to three divided dosages. Historically, eleuthero is taken continuously for six to eight weeks, followed by a one- to two-week break before resuming.

Side Effects:Reported side effects have been minimal with use of eleuthero.15 Mild, transient diarrhea has been reported in a very small number of users. Eleuthero may cause insomnia in some people if taken too close to bedtime. Eleuthero is not recommended for people with uncontrolled high blood pressure. There are no known reasons to avoid eleuthero during pregnancy and breast-feeding. However, pregnant or breast-feeding women should be aware that some products may be adulterated with herbs that should not be taken in pregnancy, such as Asian ginseng. Only eleuthero from a trusted source should be used.

In one case report, a person taking eleuthero with digoxin developed dangerously high serum digoxin levels.16 Although a clear relationship could not be established, it is wise for someone taking digoxin to seek the advise of a doctor before taking eleuthero.

Drug interactions:
Certain medicines may interact with eleuthero. Refer to drug interactions for a list of those medicines.

*People with medicated high blood pressure should consult their doctor before taking E. senticosus as it may reduce their need for medication.

*E. senticosus may cause light sleep in some people, principally those who are “wired”. Users are recommended not to take it in the evening.

*E. senticosus will enhance the effectiveness of mycin class antibiotics.

*E. senticosus when purchased from non-GMP sources has occasionally been adulterated with Periploca graeca which can potentiate digoxin or similar drugs: however this is not an interaction of E. senticosus

You may click to learn more about Eleuthero->………………………….(1).(2)..(3)

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/Eleutherococcus_senticosus
http://www.revolutionhealth.com/articles/eleuthero/hn-herb_eleuthero
http://www.cancer.org/docroot/ETO/content/ETO_5_3x_Siberian_Ginseng.asp

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Fruits & Vegetables Herbs & Plants

Ash gourd(Winter Melon)

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Botanical Name :  Benincasa Hispada
Family: Cucurbitaceae
Subfamily: Cucurbitoideae
Tribe:     Benincaseae
Subtribe: Benincasinae
Genus:     Benincasa
Kingdom: Plantae
Order:     Cucurbitales

Common Names : winter melon, white gourd, winter gourd, tallow gourd, Chinese preserving melon, or ash gourd

It is called  in Hindi, Boodagumbala in Kannada or Kumbalanga in Malayalam, Upo in Tagalog), also called white gourd or ash gourd or petha, is a vine grown for its very large fruit, eaten as a vegetable. In Bengali “Chal Kumro“The fruit is fuzzy when young, giving rise to the name fuzzy melon . By maturity, the fruit loses its hairs and develops a waxy coating, giving rise to the name wax gourd, and providing a long shelf life. The melon may grow as large as 1-2 metres in length. The word “melon” in the name is somewhat misleading, as the fruit is not sweet.

Habitat : Originally domesticated in Southeast Asia, the winter melon is now widely grown in East Asia and South Asia as well. In North India it is cut into rectangular pieces and boiled in a sugar syrup to create a translucent, almost clear candy or sweet, and is often flavored with rose water. In this form it keeps and cans well allowing it to be sold in canned form around the world. In South India it is used to make curries.

The winter melon requires very warm weather to grow but can be kept through the winter much like winter squash. The winter melon can typically be stored for 12 months. The melons are used in stir fry or to make winter melon soup, which is often served in the scooped out melon, which has been intricately decorated by scraping off the waxy coating.

Occasionally, it’s used to produce a fruit drink which has a very distinctive taste. It is usually sweetened with caramelised sugar, which enhances the taste.

The shoots, tendrils, and leaves of the plant may also be eaten as greens.

Winter melon is a common name for the inodorus cultivar group of the muskmelon (Cucumis melo L), or one of its members alternatively known as casaba, honeydew, or Persian.

Description:
Benincasa hispida is an annual plant growing to 6 m (19ft 8in).
It is hardy to zone 10 and is frost tender. It is in leaf 10-Jun It is in flower from Jul to September, and the seeds ripen from Aug to November. 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 Bees.The plant is self-fertile.
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Cultivation:   
Requires a warm sunny position in a rich well-drained soil and plenty of moisture in the growing season[1, 200, 238]. Established plants are reasonably drought tolerant[206]. Tolerates a pH in the range 5.8 to 6.8. This species is not very frost hardy, it is best grown in a greenhouse in Britain[86] but can succeed outdoors in good summers if started off in a greenhouse and planted out after the last expected frosts. Plants require stable temperatures in excess of 25°c if they are to do well. Short daylengths and lower temperatures stimulate female flower development, higher temperatures stimulate male flower production. Plants take 5 months from seed to produce a mature crop, though the fruits can be eaten when immature. The wax gourd is frequently cultivated for its edible fruit in the tropics, there are many named varieties. One group, sometimes classified as B. hispids chieh-gua, is known as the hairy melon or jointed gourd. This form is grown for its immature fruit in much the same way as courgettes are used. Mature fruits of this form do not develop a waxy coating. The fruit can be harvested about 3 months after sowing.

Propagation:  
Seed – sow March/April in a greenhouse. Germination should take place within 3 weeks. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on fast in a rich compost in the greenhouse. Try to maintain a minimum night temperature of at least 10°c for the seedlings first few weeks. Plant out in May/June after the last expected frosts

Edible Uses  
Edible Parts: Flowers;  Fruit;  Leaves;  Seed.
Edible Uses:

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Fruit – raw or cooked. Used as a vegetable, and in pickles, curries and preserves. The fruit can be eaten when it is young or old, it can be picked as early as one week after fertilization. A juicy texture with a mild flavour, the flavour is somewhat stronger in younger fruits. Because of its waxy coating, it will store for several months, sometimes as long as a year. Mature fruits can vary in weight from 2 – 50 kg. A nutritional analysis is available. Young leaves and flower buds are steamed and eaten as a vegetable, or are added as a flavouring to soups. Seed – cooked. Rich in oil and protein.

Medicinal Uses:

The wax gourd has been used as a food and medicine for thousands of years in the Orient. All parts of the fruit are used medicinally. The rind of the fruit is diuretic. It is taken internally in the treatment of urinary dysfunction, summer fevers etc. The ashes of the rind are applied to painful wounds. The seed is anthelmintic, anti-inflammatory, demulcent, diuretic, expectorant, febrifuge, laxative and tonic. A decoction is used internally in the treatment of vaginal discharges and coughs. In combination with Rheum palmatum it is used to treat intestinal abscesses. In Ayurvedic medicine the seed is used in the treatment of coughs, fevers, excessive thirst and to expel tapeworms. The oil from the seed is also used as an anthelmintic. The fruit is antiperiodic, aphrodisiac, diuretic, laxative and tonic. It is used in Ayurvedic medicine in the treatment of epilepsy, lung diseases, asthma, coughs etc. The fruit juice is used in the treatment of insanity, epilepsy and other nervous diseases. Recent research has shown that the fruits contain anti-cancer terpenes. An infusion of the root is used in the treatment of gonorrhoea. Demulcent, salve. Facilitates pus drainage.

Asafoetida is extensively used in the treatment of nervous disorders of children.It is useful for alivating toothache.

It is useful for treating Respiratory disorders, Impotency,Hysteria,Spermatorrhoea and Stomac Disorders.

It is considered to be very useful in the treatment of several problems concerning premature labour, unusual pain,leucorrhoea,sterility,unwanted abortion and excessive manstruation. It excites the secretion of progesterone hormone.The herb is very useful for women after child birth.It can be taken with beneficial results during the post delivery period. It is also used as an antidote of opium.It counteracts the effect of the drug.

Other Uses:
Rootstock.

A wax that coats the fruit is used to make candles. The roots have considerable resistance to soil-borne diseases and they are sometimes used as a rootstock for melons and other cucurbits

Resources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Winter_melon
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Benincasa+hispida