Categories
Herbs & Plants (Spices)

Astragalus hamosus

Botanical Name: Astragalus hamosus
Family : Fabaceae
Subfamily : Faboideae
Tribe : Galegeae
United : Plantae
Division : magnoliophyta
Class : magnoliopsida
Subclass: Rosidae
Order : Fabales

Common Name : European milkvetch
Habitat : Astragalus hamosus is native to EuropeMediterranean to Armenia, Ukraine and the Caucasus. It grows on the dry grassland. Semidesert areas in foothills and the low montane belt, on clay, loess, sand and rock debris.

Description:
Astragalus hamosus is an annual herbiculas plant growing to 0.6 m (2ft) by 0.5 m (1ft 8in). The lives in dry fields and meadows terofíticos . It branches from the base but branches are applied to the soil. The leaves have many leaflets , but less and are smaller than in Astragalus boeticus .
It is in flower from May to July, and the seeds ripen from Jul to September.

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The flowers are white, are grouped at the end of a stalk . The fruits perfectly characterize this species as they are strongly curved, they are similar to some fishhooks. It blooms in the spring and the seeds ripen from Jul to September. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees, lepidIt is in flower from May to July, and the seeds ripen from Jul to September. optera.It can fix Nitrogen.
Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers dry soil.
Cultivation:
Requires a dry well-drained soil in a sunny position. Grows well in Cornwall. Plants are intolerant of root disturbance and are best sown in situ. 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. When removing plant remains at the end of the growing season, it is best to only remove the aerial parts of the plant, leaving the roots in the ground to decay and release their nitrogen. Many members of this genus can be difficult to grow, this may be due partly to a lack of their specific bacterial associations in the soil.

Propagation:
Seed – sow late winter in a greenhouse. Pre-soak the seed for 24 hours in warm water. If any seed does not swell up in this time then carefully prick it with a needle making sure that you do not damage the embryo, and re-soak for a further 24 hours. Germination usually takes place within 3 – 6 weeks at 13°c. As soon as it is large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out in early summer.
Edible Uses: Young seedpods – cooked. They quickly become tough and fibrous. The young seedpods are also used in salads. They have only a mediocre taste, but look very much like certain worms and so are used mainly for their novelty value.
Medicinal Uses:
The plant is demulcent, emollient, galactogogue and laxative. It is useful in treating irritation of the mucous membranes, nervous affections and catarrh.

Known Hazards: Many members of this genus contain toxic glycosides. All species with edible seedpods can be distinguished by their fleshy round or oval seedpod that looks somewhat like a greengage. A number of species can also accumulate toxic levels of selenium when grown in soils that are relatively rich in that element.
Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Resources:
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Astragalus+hamosus
https://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Astragalus_hamosus

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Herbs & Plants

Ajuga chamaepitys

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Botanical Name :Ajuga chamaepitys
Family: Lamiaceae
Genus:Ajuga
Species: A. chamaepitys
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Lamiales

 Common Names:  Ground Pine, Yellow bugle

Habitat: Ajuga chamaepitys is native to CentraL and souther Europe, including Britain, to N. Africa and E. Asia. It grows in very local in sandy and chalky arable fields and in open habitats in chalky grassland in southeastern England.

Description: A. chamaepitys is a small herbaceous perennial that reaches 10–40 cm in height. The leaves have an opposite arrangement. It’s flowering season is generally in late spring. Ground pine is a plant whose richness has been severely reduced by changes to downland farming. At first sight, A. chamaepitys looks like a tiny pine tree with a reddish purple four-cornered hairy stem. The leaves can get up to 4 cm long, and the leaves are divided into three linear lobes which, when crushed, has a smell similar to pine needles. Ground pine sheds its shiny black seeds close to the parent plant and the seeds can remain alive in the soil for up to 50 years. click to see…………..(01)………...(1).……..(2)...

Both in foliage and blossom it is very unlike its near relative, the Common Bugle, forming a bushy, herbaceous plant, 3 to 6 inches high, the four-cornered stem, hairy and viscid, generally purplish red, being much branched and densely leafy. Except the lowermost leaves, which are lanceshaped and almost undivided, each leaf is divided almost to its base into three very long, narrow segments, and the leaves being so closely packed together, the general appearance is not altogether unlike the long, needle-like foliage of the pine, hence the plant has received a second name- Ground Pine. The flowers are placed singly in the axils of leaf-like bracts and have bright yellow corollas, the lower lip spotted with red. They are in bloom during May and June. The whole plant is very hairy, with stiff hairs, which consist of a few long joints. It has a highly aromatic and turpentiny odour and taste.

Cultivation:
Thrives in a poor dry soil in full sun. Prefers a humus-rich moisture-retentive soil. Plants are usually annual, but are sometimes short-lived perennials. The whole plant smells of pine trees when crushed.

Propagation:
Seed – sow spring in situ. Germination can be erratic

Medicinal Uses: A. chamaepitys has stimulant, diuretic and emmenagogue action and is considered by herbalists to form a good remedy for gout and rheumatism and also to be useful in female disorders. Ground pine is a plant well known to Tudor herbalists who exploited the resins contained within the leaves. The herb was formerly regarded almost as a specific in gouty and rheumatic affections. The plant leaves were dried and reduced to powder. It formed an ingredient of the once famous gout remedy, Portland Powder. It was composed of the leaves of A. Chamaepitys, which has a slightly turpentine-like smell and a rough taste, with properties described as being similar to diluted alcohol.

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/Ajuga_chamaepitys http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/b/bugley83.html

http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Ajuga+chamaepitys

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Herbs & Plants

Noni

Wild noni growing in Kuliouou Valley'', Hawaii
Image via Wik

Botanical Name:Morinda citrifolia
Family: Rubiaceae

Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Gentianales
Genus: Morinda
Species: M. citrifolia
Common Names:commonly known as great morinda, Indian mulberry, beach mulberry, Tahitian noni, cheese fruit or noni (from Hawaiian) is a tree in the family Rubiaceae.
Habitat: Morinda citrifolia is native to Southeast Asia but has been extensively spread throughout the Indian subcontinent, Pacific islands, French Polynesia, and recently the Dominican Republic. Tahiti remains the most prominent growing location.

Description:

It grows to a height of up to 10 feet high, and the leaves are dark green and oval shaped. The flower heads grow to become mature yellow fruit that have a strong odor.

You may click to see the picture of  the tree

Click to see the picture of the fruit
Noni grows in shady forests as well as on open rocky or sandy shores. It reaches maturity in about 18 months and then yields between 4-8 kg of fruit every month throughout the year. It is tolerant of saline soils, drought conditions, and secondary soils. It is therefore found in a wide variety of habitats: volcanic terrains, lava-strewn coasts, and clearings or limestone outcrops. It can grow up to 9 m tall, and has large, simple, dark green, shiny and deeply veined leaves.

The plant flowers and fruits all year round and produces a small white flower. The fruit is a multiple fruit that has a pungent odor when ripening, and is hence also known as cheese fruit or even vomit fruit. It is oval and reaches 4-7 cm in size. At first green, the fruit turns yellow then almost white as it ripens. It contains many seeds. It is sometimes called starvation fruit. Despite its strong smell and bitter taste, the fruit is nevertheless eaten as a famine food and, in some Pacific islands, even a staple food, either raw or cooked. Southeast Asians and Australian Aborigines consume the fruit raw with salt or cook it with curry. The seeds are edible when roasted.

The noni is especially attractive to weaver ants, which make nests out of the leaves of the tree. These ants protect the plant from some plant-parasitic insects. The smell of the fruit also attracts fruit bats, which aid in dispersing the seeds.

Propagation of Noni
Noni is propagated either from seed or stem cuttings. The primary disadvantage of seed propagation is that without seed treatment, germination takes 6-12 months or more, whereas stem cuttings can be rooted in approximately 1-2 months. The disadvantage of producing plants vegetatively from cuttings is that they may not be as strong and disease-resistant as seedlings, and the trunk and branches may split and break during the first years of fruit production.

Nutrients
Nutritional information for noni fruit is reported by the College of Tropical Agriculture, University of Hawaii at Manoa who published analyses of fruit powder and pure juice.

Macronutrients
Analyzed as a whole fruit powder, noni fruit has excellent levels of carbohydrates and dietary fiber, providing 55% and 100% of the Dietary Reference Intakes (DRI), respectively, in a 100 g serving. A good source of protein (12% DRI), noni pulp is low in total fats (4% DRI]).

These macronutrients evidently reside in the fruit pulp, as noni juice has sparse amounts of macronutrients.

Micronutrients
The main micronutrient features of noni pulp powder include exceptional vitamin C content (10x DRI) and substantial amounts of niacin (vitamin B3), iron and potassium. Vitamin A, calcium and sodium are present in moderate amounts.

When noni juice alone is analyzed and compared to pulp powder, only vitamin C is retained at a high level, 42% of DRI.

Nutrient analyses for a major brand of noni juice (Tahitian Noni Juice, TNJ) were published in 2002 by the Scientific Committee on Food of the European Commission on Health and Consumer Protection during a test for public safety of TNJ. TNJ ingredients include noni purée and juice concentrates from grapes and blueberries.

For antimicrobial purposes, TNJ must be subjected to the high temperatures of pasteurization which essentially nullifies most of the nutrient content of the natural purée.

Excepting vitamin C content at 31% of DRI in each 100g, TNJ has limited nutritional content. 100g of juice provides 8% of the DRI for carbohydrates, only traces of other macronutrients and low or trace levels of 10 essential vitamins, 7 essential dietary minerals and 18 amino acids.

Although the most significant nutrient feature of noni pulp powder or juice is its high vitamin C content, this level in TNJ provides only about half the vitamin C of a raw navel orange. Sodium levels in TNJ (about 3% of DRI) are multiples of those in an orange. Although the potassium content appears relatively high for noni, this total is only about 3% of the Recommended Dietary Allowance and so would not be considered excessive. TNJ is otherwise similar in micronutrient content to a raw orange.

Phytochemicals
The history of published medical research on noni phytochemicals numbers only around a total of 120 reports which began appearing in the 1950s. Just since 2000, over 100 publications on noni have been published in medical literature (reviewed in August 2007), defining a relatively young research field. Noni research is at a preliminary stage, as it is mainly still in the laboratory as in vitro or basic animal experiments.

Noni fruit contains phytochemicals for which there are no established DRI values. Examples:

lignans – a group of phytoestrogens having biological activities shown by in vitro experiments.
oligo- and polysaccharides – long-chain sugar molecules that serve a prebiotic function as dietary fiber fermentable by colonic bacteria, yielding short chain fatty acids with numerous potential health properties not yet defined by scientific research on noni

flavonoids – phenolic compounds such as rutin and asperulosidic acid, common in several Rubiaceae plants
iridoids – secondary metabolites found in many plants
trisaccharide fatty acid esters, “noniosides” – resulting from combination of an alcohol and an acid in noni fruit
free fatty acids –
most prominent in noni fruit are caprylic and hexanoic acids, responsible for unique pungent (cheese-like) aroma of ripe noni fruit.
scopoletin – may have antibiotic activities; research is preliminary
catechin and epicatechin.
beta-sitosterol – a plant sterol with potential for anti-cholesterol activity not yet proven in human research
damnacanthal – a potentially toxic anthraquinone, putatively an inhibitor of HIV viral proteins
alkaloids – naturally occurring amines from plants. Some internet references mention xeronine or proxeronine as important noni constituents. However, as no reports on either of these substances exist in published medical literature, the terms are scientifically unrecognized. Further, chemical analysis of commercially processed juice did not reveal presence of any alkaloids.

Although there is evidence from in vitro studies and laboratory models for bioactivity of each of the above phytochemicals, the research remains at best preliminary and too early to conclude anything about human health benefits provided by noni or its juice. Furthermore, these phytochemicals are not unique to noni, as nearly all exist in various plant foods.

Laboratory experiments demonstrated that dietary noni juice increased physical endurance in mice. A pilot study in distance runners showed increased endurance capacity following daily intake of noni juice over three weeks, an effect the authors attributed to increased antioxidant status.

Uses:

Although noni’s reputation for uses in folk medicine extends over centuries, no medical applications as those discussed below have been verified by modern science.

In China, Samoa, Japan, and Tahiti, various parts of the tree (leaves, flowers, fruits, bark, roots) serve as tonics and to contain fever, to treat eye and skin problems, gum and throat problems as well as constipation, stomach pain, or respiratory difficulties. In Malaysia, heated noni leaves applied to the chest are believed to relieve coughs, nausea, or colic.

The noni fruit is taken, in Indochina especially, for asthma, lumbago, and dysentery. As for external uses, unripe fruits can be pounded, then mixed with salt and applied to cut or broken bones. In Hawaii, ripe fruits are applied to draw out pus from an infected boil. The green fruit, leaves and the root/rhizome have traditionally been used to treat menstrual cramps and irregularities, among other symptoms, while the root has also been used to treat urinary difficulties.

The bark of the great morinda produces a brownish-purplish dye for batik making; on the Indonesian island of Java, the trees are cultivated for this purpose. In Hawaii, yellowish dye is extracted from its root in order to dye cloth. The fruit is used as a shampoo in Malaysia, where it is said to be helpful against head lice.

There have been recent applications also for the use of oil from noni seeds. Noni seed oil is abundant in linoleic acid that may have useful properties when applied topically on skin, e.g., anti-inflammation, acne reduction, moisture retention.

In Surinam and some other countries, the tree serves as a wind-break, as support for vines and as shade for coffee trees.

In traditional Polynesian medicine, noni (Morinda citrifolia) fruit has been used for many health conditions, such as constipation, diarrhea, skin inflammation, infection, and mouth sores. It has an unpleasant odor and taste, so it is believed to be a last resort fruit by many cultures. Manufacturers today sweeten noni juice to improve the taste.

Traditionally, the leaves of the noni tree were used topically for healing wounds.

Noni juice, like the juice of many other fruits, is a source of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. The antioxidants may help to prevent certain diseases and help slow age-related changes in the body.

Animal studies evaluating the effects of noni suggest that it may have anti-cancer, pain-relieving, and immune system-enhancing effects. However, these studies mostly used extremely high doses that would be difficult to obtain from taking the juice. More importantly, there’s insufficient reliable evidence about the safety or effectiveness of noni for any health condition in humans.

Noni is heavily promoted for a very wide variety of conditions, such as arthritis, atherosclerosis, bladder infections, boils, bowel conditions, burns, cancer, chronic fatigue syndrome, circulatory weakness, colds, cold sores, constipation, diabetes, drug addiction, eye inflammation, fever, fractures, gastric ulcers, gingivitis, headaches, heart disease, hypertension, improved digestion, immune weakness, indigestion, kidney disease, malaria, menstrual cramps, menstrual disorders, mouth sores, respiratory disorders, ringworm, sinusitis, skin inflammation, sprains, strokes, thrush, and wounds. There is no real evidence, however, that noni is effective for these conditions.

The Noni tree produces a tropical fruit that helps the body heal itself. For over 2000 years, Pacific Islanders have used the juice of the Noni fruit to improve their health in a multitude of ways. Western researchers have begun to confirm this ancient wisdom.

Safety:
There are no formally established side effects of noni juice. Due to the lack of evidence, noni should not be used by pregnant or nursing women, children, or people with liver or kManageidney disease.

Noni juice is high in potassium, so it should be avoided by people with kidney disease or those taking ,potassium-sparing diuretics, angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors or angiotensin II receptor blockers, because it may result in hyperkalemia, the dangerous elevation of potassium levels.

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/Noni
http://altmedicine.about.com/cs/herbsvitaminsad/a/Noni.htm
http://www.ctahr.hawaii.edu/noni/horticulture_production.asp
http://www.e-village.jp/opc/03evc/03tree00/40/index.html

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News on Health & Science

Breakthrough in allergy, asthma therapy

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Researchers working on two European Union-funded research projects have unravelled the structure of a key enzyme that can trigger allergies and asthma, giving hopes for more effective therapies, said the European Commission.

The enzyme, termed LTC4 synthase, is part of a complex process that leads to the production of leukotrienes, which cause allergic symptoms, and motors the inflammatory reaction, which causes asthma attacks.

Some of the existing medicines block the effect of this enzyme after the process has taken place. Thanks to these latest findings, scientists will now be able to tailor new molecules that block LTC4 before it can act.

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The breakthrough was published in the leading scientific magazine Nature on Sunday.

The two projects, named EICOSANOX and E-MeP, are headed by professors from Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm and received 20 million euros ($27 million) of funding from EU’s research programme.

The EU-funded teams have developed the highest ever resolution picture of the structure of LTC4 synthase. This greater clarity of the structure of the enzyme means that scientists now have a much better understanding of how it is formed and how it works. This knowledge can then be used to develop more effective therapies.

Scientists from around the world have been working on unravelling the structure of LTC4 synthase and the results of two such projects are described in Nature this week.

The European team, however, has managed to produce the highest resolution information, therefore providing a much better template for drug design.

Source:The Times Of India

Categories
Herbs & Plants

Indian Barberry

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Botanical Name: Berberis asiatica
Family:Berberidaceae
Genus:Berberis
Kingdom:    Plantae
Order:Ranunculales

Common Name:Chutro, Rasanjan (Nep); marpyashi (Newa); Daruharidra, Darbi (Sans)

Habitat:Indian Barberry is native to E. Asia – Himalayas (Nepal)
It is normally found in  shrubberies, grassy and rocky slopes up to 2500 metres. Found in heavy shade, on north-facing slopes  and on open hillsides in the drier areas .

Description:
Indian Barberry  is an evergreen Shrub growing to 3.5 m (11ft 6in) at a medium rate. It is a large thorny shrub with yellow wood & whitish or pale Grey branches.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 8 and is not frost tender. It is in leaf 12-Jan It is in flower in May. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects, self.The plant is self-fertile.

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The root-bark is light coloured, corky, almost inodorous, with a bitter, mucilaginous taste. It contains much Berberine, and a dark-brown extract is made from it employed in India under the name of ‘Rusot.’ This extract is sometimes prepared from the wood or roots of different species of Barberry. It has the consistency of opium and a bitter, astringent taste.

Cultivation & Propagation:
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and can grow in heavy clay and nutritionally poor soils. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in full shade (deep woodland) semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers dry or moist soil.

Seed – best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame, when it should germinate in late winter or early spring. Seed from over-ripe fruit will take longer to germinate , whilst stored seed may require cold stratification and should be sown in a cold frame as early in the year as possible. The seedlings are subject to damping off, so should be kept well ventilated . When the seedlings are large enough to handle, prick them out into individual pots and grow them on in a cold frame. If growth is sufficient, it can be possible to plant them out into their permanent positions in the autumn, but generally it is best to leave them in the cold frame for the winter and plant them out in late spring or early summer of the following year. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, July/August in a frame. Cuttings of mature wood of the current season’s growth, preferably with a heel, October/November in a frame

Edible Uses:
Fruit  is eaten  raw or dried and used like raisins. This species is said to make the best Indian raisins. Fully ripe fruits are fairly juicy with a pleasantly acid flavor, though there are rather a lot of seeds. The fruit is abundantly produced in Britain. The fruit is about 8mm long.

Medicinal Uses:
Antibacterial;  Cancer;  Laxative;  Odontalgic;  Ophthalmic;  Tonic.

The roots  are used in treating ulcers, urethral discharges, ophthalmia, jaundice, fevers etc. The roots contain 2.1% berberine, the stems 1.3%. The bark and wood are crushed in Nepal then boiled in water, strained and the liquid evaporated until a viscous mass is obtained. This is antibacterial, laxative and tonic. It is taken internally to treat fevers and is used externally to treat conjunctivitis and other inflammations of the eyes. Tender leaf buds are chewed and held against affected teeth for 15 minutes to treat dental caries. The fruit is cooling and laxative. Berberine, universally present in rhizomes of Berberis species, has marked antibacterial effects. Since it is not appreciably absorbed by the body, it is used orally in the treatment of various enteric infections, especially bacterial dysentery. It should not be used with Glycyrrhiza species (Liquorice) because this nullifies the effects of the berberine. Berberine has also shown antitumour activity.

Indian berberry has been made official in the Pharmacopoeia of India.It is an amportant indigenous medicine.The bark is useful in restoring the disordered process of neutrition and restores the normal function of the system.It helps open the natural pores of the body, arrest bleeding and induces copious perepiration despite the astrigent properties.The drug also constitute anti-tubercular activities.

Fever: Indian barberry is as valuable as quinine in maleria fevers.It is particularly useful in relieving pyrexia and checking the return of the violent intermittent fevers.The herb’s- bark and the root- bark are given as a decoction. It should be given twice or thrice a day.The decoction is given in doses of 150 grams between paroxysms of fever.

Monorrhagia: Indian barberry arrestes excessieve bleed loss during the monthly period.In skin diseases the decoction of the bark and the root-bark is efficacious as a cleanser for ulcers ans sores, as it helps formation of scar over the wounds.

Stomach Disorders :  Indian barberry is very useful in all kinds of stomach disorders.It is also effective in the treatment of Cholera.It is a popular remedy of diarrhoea and dysentery in Northwern India.It is useful in bleeding piles treatment. It is given with butter. A dilute solution can also be externally applied on the piles.

Eye Problems: The drug is highly beneficial in the treatment of all kinds of eye disorder.
It is mixed with butter and alum or with opium or lime juice and applied externally on the eye lids to cure opthalmia and other eye diseases. Mixed with milk, it can be used effectively as a lotion of Conjunctivitis.

Other Uses: A yellow dye is obtained from the roots and stems. The spiny branches are used to make fencing around fields in Nepal.
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:
Miracle of Herbs
http://www.pfaf.org/user/plant.aspx?LatinName=Berberis+asiatica
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Berberis