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Prunus persica

Botanical Name: Prunus persica
Family: Rosaceae
Genus: Prunus
Subgenus: Amygdalus
Species: P. persica
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Rosales

Synonyms: Amygdalis Persica (Linn.). Persica vulgaris Null.
(Chinese and Japanese) ‘Too’.

Common Name: Peach,Nectarine

Habitat: Prunus persica is native to Northwest China, in the region between the Tarim Basin and the north slopes of the Kunlun Shan mountains, where it was first domesticated and cultivated.

Description:
Prunus persica is a decidous tree. It grows to 4–10 m (13–33 ft) tall and 6 in. in diameter. The leaves are lanceolate, 7–16 cm (2.8–6.3 in) long, 2–3 cm (0.79–1.18 in) broad, pinnately veined. The flowers are produced in early spring before the leaves; they are solitary or paired, 2.5–3 cm diameter, pink, with five petals. The fruit has yellow or whitish flesh, a delicate aroma, and a skin that is either velvety (peaches) or smooth (nectarines) in different cultivars. The flesh is very delicate and easily bruised in some cultivars, but is fairly firm in some commercial varieties, especially when green. The single, large seed is red-brown, oval shaped, approximately 1.3–2 cm long, and is surrounded by a wood-like husk. Peaches, along with cherries, plums and apricots, are stone fruits (drupes). There are various heirloom varieties, including the Indian peach, which arrives in the latter part of the summer…….CLICK  &  SEE  THE  PICTURES

Cultivated peaches are divided into clingstones and freestones, depending on whether the flesh sticks to the stone or not; both can have either white or yellow flesh. Peaches with white flesh typically are very sweet with little acidity, while yellow-fleshed peaches typically have an acidic tang coupled with sweetness, though this also varies greatly. Both colours often have some red on their skin. Low-acid white-fleshed peaches are the most popular kinds in China, Japan, and neighbouring Asian countries, while Europeans and North Americans have historically favoured the acidic, yellow-fleshed kinds
Parts Used: Bark, leaves.

Cultivation:
The soil best suited for the Peach is three parts mellow, unexhausted loam, mixed with vegetable mould or manure. Peaches require a lighter soil than pears or plums.

To perpetuate and multiply the choicer varieties, both the Peach and the newly-allied nectarine are budded upon plums or almond stocks. For dry soil, the almond stocks are preferable; for damp or clayey loam, it is better to use certain kinds of plums.

The fruit is produced on the ripened shoots of the preceding year, and the formation of young shoots in sufficient abundance, and of requisite strength, is the great object of peach training and pruning.

In cold soils and bleak situations, it is considered best to cover the walls upon which the trees are trained with a casing of glass, so that the trees may be under shelter during uncongenial spring weather.

Various kinds of Aphis and the Acarus, or Red Spider, infest the leaves of the Peach.

Edible Uses
Edible Parts: Flowers; Fruit; Oil; Oil; Seed.
Edible Uses: Gum; Oil; Oil; Tea.

Fruit – raw, cooked or dried for later use. The fruit is often used in ice creams, pies, jams etc. When fully ripe, the fruits of the best forms are soft and juicy with a rich delicious flavour. The size of fruit varies between cultivars but can be up to 7cm in diameter and contains one large seed. Flowers – raw or cooked. Added to salads or used as a garnish. They can also be brewed into a tea. The distilled flowers yield a white liquid which can be used to impart a flavour resembling the seed. Seed – raw or cooked. Do not eat if it is too bitter, seed can contain high concentrations of hydrocyanic acid which is highly toxic. A semi-drying oil is obtained from the seed. Although the report does not mention edibility it can be assumed that it is edible. A gum is obtained from the stem. It can be used for chewing.

Medicinal Uses:
Alterative; Antiasthmatic; Antitussive; Astringent; Demulcent; Diuretic; Emollient; Expectorant; Febrifuge; Haemolytic; Laxative;
Sedative.

Antihalitosis. The leaves are astringent, demulcent, diuretic, expectorant, febrifuge, laxative, parasiticide and mildly sedative. They are used internally in the treatment of gastritis, whooping cough, coughs and bronchitis. They also help to relieve vomiting and morning sickness during pregnancy, though the dose must be carefully monitored because of their diuretic action. The dried and powdered leaves have sometimes been used to help heal sores and wounds. The leaves are harvested in June and July then dried for later use. The flowers are diuretic, sedative and vermifuge. They are used internally in the treatment of constipation and oedema. A gum from the stems is alterative, astringent, demulcent and sedative. The seed is antiasthmatic, antitussive, emollient, haemolytic, laxative and sedative. It is used internally in the treatment of constipation in the elderly, coughs, asthma and menstrual disorders. The bark is demulcent, diuretic, expectorant and sedative. It is used internally in the treatment of gastritis, whooping cough, coughs and bronchitis. The root bark is used in the treatment of dropsy and jaundice. The bark is harvested from young trees in the spring and is dried for later use. The seed contains ‘laetrile’, a substance that has also been called vitamin B17. This has been claimed to have a positive effect in the treatment of cancer, but there does not at present seem to be much evidence to support this. The pure substance is almost harmless, but on hydrolysis it yields hydrocyanic acid, a very rapidly acting poison – it should thus be treated with caution. In small amounts this exceedingly poisonous compound stimulates respiration, improves digestion and gives a sense of well-being.

Other Uses
Adhesive; Cleanser; Dye; Gum; Oil; Oil.

A green dye can be obtained from the leaves. A dark grey to green dye can be obtained from the fruit. A semi-drying oil is obtained from the seed. It is used as a substitute for almond oil in skin creams. The bruised leaves, when rubbed within any container, will remove strong odours such as garlic or cloves so long as any grease has first been fully cleaned off. A gum obtained from the stem is used as an adhesive.

Cultural Significance:
Peaches are not only a popular fruit, but are symbolic in many cultural traditions, such as in art, paintings and folk tales such as Peaches of Immortality.

Peach blossoms are highly prized in Chinese culture. The ancient Chinese believed the peach to possess more vitality than any other tree because their blossoms appear before leaves sprout.

The Chinese also considered peach wood (t’ao-fu) protective against evil spirits, who held the peach in awe. In ancient China, peach-wood bows were used to shoot arrows in every direction in an effort to dispel evil. Peach-wood slips or carved pits served as amulets to protect a person’s life, safety, and health.

Aroma: Some 110 chemical compounds contribute to peach aroma, including alcohols, ketones, aldehydes, esters, polyphenols and terpenoids.

Known Hazards:
The seed can contain high levels of hydrogen cyanide, a poison that gives almonds their characteristic flavour. This toxin is readily detected by its bitter taste. Usually present in too small a quantity to do any harm, 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 supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Resources:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peach
http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/p/peach-17.html
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Prunus+persica+nucipersica

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Maitake Mushroom (Grifola frondosa)

Botanical Name :Grifola frondosa
Family: Meripilaceae
Genus: Grifola
Kingdom: Fungi
Phylum: Basidiomycota
Class: Agaricomycetes
Order: Polyporales
Species: G. frondosaDietary supplement
Common Names:    Maitake mushroom , Hen of the Woods

The mushroom is commonly known among English speakers as Hen-of-the-Woods, Ram’s Head and Sheep’s Head. In the United States‘ supplement market, as well as in Asian grocery stores, the mushroom is known by its Japanese name “Maitake”, which means “dancing mushroom”. G. frondosa should not be confused with Laetiporus sulphureus, another edible bracket fungus that is commonly called chicken of the woods or “sulphur shelf“. The fungus becomes inedible like all polypores when they are older, because it is too tough to eat.


Habitat
: The fungus is native to the northeastern part of Japan and North America, and is prized in traditional Chinese and Japanese herbology as a medicinal mushroom, an aid to balance out altered body systems to a normal level. Grifola frondosa is a polypore mushroom that grows in clusters at the base of  old trees, particularly oaks.

Description:
Like the sulphur shelf mushroom, G. frondosa is a perennial fungus that often grows in the same place for a number of years in succession. It occurs most prolifically in the northeastern regions of the United States, but has been found as far west as Idaho.
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Plant Class:perennial fungus – (edible mushroom)

Fruit: The fruiting body rises up from a underground tuber-like structure, about the size of a potato. Maitake mushrooms are very large, can grow up to over 50 pounds, occurring as large as 60 cm. The small multiple grayish-brown caps are fused together in a clusterand are often curled or spoon-shaped,overlapping with wavy margins and 2-7 cm broad.
G. frondosa grows from an underground tuber-like structure, about the size of a potato. The fruiting body, occurring as large as 60 cm, is a cluster consisting of multiple grayish-brown caps which are often curled or spoon-shaped, with wavy margins and 2-7 cm broad. The undersurface of each cap bears approximately one to three pores per millimeter, with the tubes rarely deeper than 3 mm. The milky-white stipe (stalk) has a branchy structure and becomes tough as the mushroom matures.

In Japan, the Maitake can grow to more than 50 pounds (20 kilograms), earning this giant mushroom the title “King of Mushrooms.” Maitake is one of the major culinary mushrooms used in Japan, the others being shiitake, shimeji and enoki. They are used in a wide variety of dishes, often being a key ingredient in nabemono or cooked in foil with butter.

Most Japanese people find its taste and texture enormously appealing,  though the mushroom has been alleged to cause allergic reactions in rare cases.

Use in traditional Oriental medicine:

Common Uses: Cancer Prevention * General Health Tonics * Hypertension HBP * Immune System * Liver *
Properties:  Adaptogens* Immunostimulant* Hepatic* Hypotensive*
Parts Used: whole mushroom
Constituents: complex immunostimulant polysaccharides,including beta-glucan starch, amino acids, water, minerals: potassium, calcium, and magnesium, vitamins (b2, d2 and niacin)

The underground tubers from which hen of the woods arises have been used in traditional Chinese and Japanese medicine to enhance the immune system. Researchers have also indicated that whole maitake has the ability to regulate blood pressure, glucose, insulin, and both serum and liver lipids, such as cholesterol, triglycerides, and phospholipids, and may also be useful for weight loss.

Maitake is rich in minerals (such as potassium, calcium, and magnesium), various vitamins (B2, D2 and niacin), fibers and amino acids. One active constituent in Maitake for enhancing the immune activity was identified in the late 1980s as a protein-bound beta-glucan compound.

Maitake’s use as an adaptogen?an herb arose in classic Chinese and Japanese medicine. Maitake and its extracts have been shown to significantly boost the immune system and build immune reserves. It also contains a number of polysaccharides ( beta-glucan) that have been shown to fight the formation and growth of tumors, putting maitake in use in cancer prevention strategies. Maitake helps to protect and support the liver and can lower blood pressure and blood-glucose levels, and may also be useful for weight loss.

Maitake mushroom for :Cancer

Maitake is a proven cancer fighter. In laboratory tests, powdered maitake increased the activity of three types of immune cell–macrophages, natural killer (NK) cells, and T cells–by 140, 186, and 160 percent, respectively. The anticancer compound in maitake, sold commercially as the maitake D-fraction, has shown positive results in American studies on breast and colorectal cancer.

Maitake research:
In 2009, a phase I/II human trial, conducted by Memorial Sloan–Kettering Cancer Center, showed Maitake could stimulate the immune systems of breast cancer patients. Small experiments with human cancer patients, have shown Maitake can stimulate immune system cells, like NK cells.In vitro research has also shown Maitake can stimulate immune system cells. An in vivo experiment showed that Maitake could stimulate both the innate immune system and adaptive immune system.

In vitro research has shown Maitake can induce apoptosis in cancer cell lines (human prostatic cancer cells, Hep 3B cells, SGC-7901 cells, murine skin carcinoma cells) as well as inhibit the growth of various types of cancer cells (canine cancer cells, bladder cancer cells).Small studies with human cancer patients, revealed a portion of the Maitake mushroom, known as the “Maitake D-fraction”, possess anti-cancer activity. In vitro research demonstrated the mushroom has potential anti-metastatic properties. In 1997, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved an Investigational New Drug Application for a portion of the mushroom.

Research has shown Maitake has a hypoglycemic effect, and may be beneficial for the management of diabetes. The reason Maitake lowers blood sugar is due to the fact the mushroom naturally contains a alpha glucosidase inhibitor.

Maitake contains antioxidants and may partially inhibit the enzyme cyclooxygenase. An experiment showed that an extract of Maitake inhibited angiogenesis via inhibition of the vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF).

Lys-N is a unique protease found in Maike. Lys-N is used for proteomics experiments due to its protein cleavage specifity.

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/Grifola_frondosa
http://www.anniesremedy.com/herb_detail432.php

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Washing Fruits and Vegetables

Washing fruits and vegetables does reduce the risk of food poisoning. However, washing alone may not be enough.

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Studies show that some disease-causing microbes can evade even chemical sanitizers. These bacteria can make their way inside the leaves of lettuce, spinach and other vegetables and fruit, where surface treatments cannot reach them. Microbes can also organize themselves into tightly knit packs called biofilms to protect themselves from harm.

Biofilms can harbor multiple versions of infectious, disease-causing bacteria, such as Salmonella and E. coli.

Researchers suggested that irradiation, a food treatment that exposes food to a source of electron beams, could effectively kill internalized pathogens that are beyond the reach of conventional chemical sanitizers.

Irradiation disrupts the genetic material of living cells, inactivating parasites and destroying pathogens and insects in food.
Sources:
Science Daily April 16, 2008

How to shop for organic foods without breaking your budget.

Most of us would love to have a fridge full of fresh organic produce and meats. But because pesticide and hormone-free products often have a premium price tag, going organic can seem like a luxury for anyone on a tight budget. So how do you make sure the green on your table doesn’t drain the green from your wallet?

Craig Minowa, environmental scientist with the Organic Consumers Association, has these tips: First, learn to buy big. Many health-food stores have bulk sections, and if you fill a bag with, say, organic cereal, you may end up paying less for it than you would for the nonorganic variety, since you’re not paying for packaging costs. Second, form a buying club. If a bunch of people pool their grocery lists, they can often special-order directly with the store, he said, and that, in turn, can lead to much lower costs.

Another path to frugal but healthy shopping is to choose your battles carefully. If you can’t afford to fill your entire shopping cart with organic food, you can still feel good about what you buy. Sarah Bratnober, communications director at the Organic Valley Family of Farms, advises following the 80/20 rule  80 percent of the benefits come from 20 percent of the purchases. Think about what your family eats the most of, then go from there. For example, if you have a choice between organic milk and organic mayonnaise, and your kids go through a gallon of milk in a week but only two tablespoons of mayo, go for the milk. Fruits and vegetables are also good choices, especially the ones your family eats lots of. And if you have the option, get into community-supported agriculture, where you own shares in a farm and get a share of whatever it produces.

Finally, buy fruits and vegetables in season and focus on what’s easily available, says Barbara Houmann, spokeswoman for the Organic Trade Association. That way, she said, you may find that the prices are just about comparable with nonorganic fruits and veggies.

If you do manage to get more organic into your diet, you won’t regret the extra effort. Organic produce isn’t just healthy and better for the environment, it tastes better, too, according to Charles Benbrook, chief scientist for The Organic Center. And that flavor boost might just make it easier to convince your children to eat their veggies, or to introduce them to new foods.

As for cooking, Bratnober says some people are afraid to go organic because they think those products need special preparation. But no worries—she said that the cooking process is exactly the same as it is for regular groceries. There is one caveat: While most organic items, like produce and milk, have a similar shelf-life to their nonorganic counterparts, bear in mind that organic breads and pastries tend to go bad faster than nonorganic baked goods because of the lack of preservatives.

Source: Newsweek