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Betula nigra

Botanical Name : Betula nigra
Family: Betulaceae
Genus: Betula
Subgenus: Neurobetula
Species: B. nigra
Kingdom: Plantae
Order:Fagales

Synonyms: Betula americana, Betula lanulosa, Betula rubra.

Common Names: Black birch, River birch, Water birch, Red Birch

Habitat: Betula nigra is native to the Eastern United States from New Hampshire west to southern Minnesota, and south to northern Florida and west to Texas. It grows on the banks of streams, by swamps etc, in deep rich soil that is often inundated for weeks at a time.

Description:
Betula nigra is a deciduous tree growing to 25–30 meters (82–98 ft) with a trunk 50 to 150 centimeters (20 to 59 in) in diameter, often with multiple trunks. The bark is variable, usually dark gray-brown to pinkish-brown and scaly, but in some individuals, smooth and creamy pinkish-white, exfoliating in curly papery sheets. The twigs are glabrous or thinly hairy. The leaves are alternate, ovate, 4–8 centimeters (1.6–3.1 in) long and 3–6 centimeters (1.2–2.4 in) broad, with a serrated margin and five to twelve pairs of veins. The flowers are wind-pollinated catkins 3–6 centimeters (1.2–2.4 in) long, the male catkins pendulous, the female catkins erect. The fruit is unusual among birches in maturing in late spring; it is composed of numerous tiny winged seeds packed between the catkin bracts.

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Cultivation:
Landscape Uses:Firewood, Pest tolerant, Specimen, Woodland garden. Succeeds in a well-drained loamy soil in a sheltered position. Grows well in heavy clay soils. Likes its roots within reach of water. Dislikes wet soils according to another report. Shade tolerant. Hybridizes freely with other members of this genus. A good plant to grow near the compost heap, aiding the fermentation process. Trees are notably susceptible to honey fungus. Special Features: Attracts birds, North American native, Attracts butterflies, Inconspicuous flowers or blooms.

Propagation:
Seed – best sown as soon as it is ripe in a light position in a cold frame. Only just cover the seed and place the pot in a sunny position. Spring sown seed should be surface sown in a sunny position in a cold frame. If the germination is poor, raising the temperature by covering the seed with glass can help. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in a cold frame for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. If you have sufficient seed, it can be sown in an outdoor seedbed, either as soon as it is ripe or in the early spring – do not cover the spring sown seed. Grow the plants on in the seedbed for 2 years before planting them out into their permanent positions in the winter.
Edible Uses: 
Sap – raw or cooked. A sweet flavour. Harvested in early spring, before the leaves unfurl. The trunk is tapped by drilling a hole about 6mm wide and about 4cm deep. The sap flows best on warm sunny days following a hard frost. It makes a refreshing drink and can also be concentrated into a syrup or sugar. The sap can be fermented to make birch beer or vinegar. An old English recipe for the beer is as follows:- “To every Gallon of Birch-water put a quart of Honey, well stirr’d together; then boil it almost an hour with a few Cloves, and a little Limon-peel, keeping it well scumm’d. When it is sufficiently boil’d, and become cold, add to it three or four Spoonfuls of good Ale to make it work…and when the Test begins to settle, bottle it up . . . it is gentle, and very harmless in operation within the body, and exceedingly sharpens the Appetite, being drunk ante pastum.”

Native Americans used the boiled sap as a sweetener similar to maple syrup, and the inner bark as a survival food. It is usually too contorted and knotty to be of value as a timber tree.

Medicinal Uses:
A salve was made by boiling the buds until they were thick and pasty, sulphur was added and this was then applied externally to skin sores and ringworm. The leaves have been chewed, or used as an infusion, in the treatment of dysentery. An infusion of the bark has been used to treat stomach problems, ‘milky’ urine and difficult urination with discharge. The German Commission E Monographs, a therapeutic guide to herbal medicine, approve Betula species for infections of the urinary tract, kidney and bladder stones, rheumatism.

Other Uses:
Besom; Soil stabilization; Wood.

Young branches are used to make besoms, whisks etc. This species has an extensive root system and is sometimes planted for erosion control along the banks of streams. Wood – light, strong, close grained and hard, but it contains many knots because of the numerous branches along the trunk. It weighs 36lb per cubic foot. Of little use commercially, though it is sometimes used for furniture, turnery etc.

While its native habitat is wet ground, it will grow on higher land, and its bark is quite distinctive, making it a favored ornamental tree for landscape use. A number of cultivars with much whiter bark than the normal wild type have been selected for garden planting, including ‘Heritage’ and ‘Dura Heat’; these are notable as the only white-barked birches resistant to the bronze birch borer Agrilus anxius in warm areas of the southeastern United States of America.
Known Hazards :The aromatic and aliphatic hydrocarbons in birch tar are irritating to the skin. Do not use in patients with oedema or with poor kidney or heart functions.
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=Betula+nigra
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Betula_nigra

San Francisco Circumcision Ban Struck From Ballot

A San Francisco judge has struck a proposed male circumcision ban from a November ballot, ruling that the city cannot regulate medical procedure and citing religious freedom protections

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The ruling was applauded by opponents of the proposed ban, who attacked it as anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim.

In May, advocates of a ban gathered enough voter signatures to put the measure on the city’s ballot.

They described the sacred rite for Jews and Muslims as “genital mutilation”.

The measure, which qualified in May for a spot on the ballot, would have made circumcision of a minor boy punishable by up to a year in jail and a $1,000 (£612) fine.

The US federal government already bans female circumcision.

Jewish and Muslim groups said the proposal was an assault on their ancient religious practice and likened the proposal to circumcision bans in the Soviet Union.

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Source :BBC NEWS : 28 July 2011

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Increased Levels Of Vitamin D3 For Optimum Health

Vitamin D is one of the most beneficial nutrients for your entire health from head to toe. But as you get older, you are no longer able to maintain the adequate amounts of vitamin D that you need. So how can individuals help support optimal bone mineral levels and enhance their bone strength, while preventing this from becoming a continuing cause of their deteriorating health?


Most experts agree that adding more vitamin D to the diet through foods and/or supplements can help increase your bone strength. And contrary to decades of warnings about overexposure to the sun, a moderate amount of daily sun exposure can flood the body with vitamin D from the sun’s rays.

Research from The Vitamin D Council states that as little as 20 minutes spent in the sun produces up to 10,000 International Units (IU) of vitamin D. This is close to 50 times the amount of the United States government’s recommended daily allowance (RDA) of 200 IU per day.

A vitamin D deficiency can not only lead to decreased bone strength, but according to the Council, medical studies show that ensuring optimal and adequate levels of this vitamin may promote heart and cardiovascular health, support strong immunity, enhance your mood and mental health, promote strong and healthy muscle function, and maintain healthy cellular function.

In fact, vitamin D is so important for the body that it helps maximize the use of other key nutrients including magnesium, zinc, vitamin K2, boron and vitamin A. However, obtaining and supplementing with the right kind of vitamin D can produce the greatest benefits for your health, as well. The Council states that vitamin D3, or cholecalciferol, is the most potent form of the nutrient and has strong health-promoting properties.

Source : BETTER Health Research :

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Abelmoschus Moschatus (Hibiscus Abelmoschus)

Botanical Name : Abelmoschus Moschatus
Family Name : Malvaceae
Order: Malvales
Genus: Abelmoschus
Species: A. moschatus
Kingdom: Plantae
Part Used : Seeds, Seeds Oil

Common Name : Ambrette Seeds, Hibiscus Abelmoschus, Musk Mallow, Musk Okra, Ornamental Okra, Annual Hibiscus, Yorka Okra, Galu Gasturi, Bamia Moschata,Tropical jewel hibiscus,Rose mallow seeds,Musk seeds,Muskdana,
synonyms. : Hibiscus abelmoschus L.
Habitat : Native in india,Now cultivated in many places.  It grows  on the open places in Nepal at elevations of 600 – 1100 metres. Flat areas, valleys, stream sides and scrub slopes in western and southern China

Description:Abelmoschus Moschatus is an aromatic and medicinal plant. The seeds have a sweet, flowery, heavy fragrance similar to that of musk. Despite its tropical origin the plant is frost hardy.

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Abelmoschus Moschatus is a soft, herbaceous trailing plant to 2 metres in diameter with soft hairy stems. It has an underground tuber and dies back to this tuber in the dry season, emerging again with the first substantial rains of the wet season. It is a relative of the edible okra and tubers and foliage formed a source of food for aborigines.

Cultivation:
Easily grown in a rich well-drained soil in a sunny position. Tolerates a pH in the range 6 to 7.8. This species is not hardy in the colder areas of the country, it tolerates temperatures down to about -5°c and can be grown outdoors in the milder areas of the country. The plant grows as a shrub in frost-free climates but is usually cut back to the ground in British winters. So long as these winters are not too cold, however, it can usually be grown as a herbaceous perennial with new shoots being produced freely from the root-stock. These flower in the summer. It is probably wise to apply a good mulch to the roots in the autumn. It is best to cut back the stems to about 15cm long in the spring even if they have not been killed back by the frost. This will ensure an abundance of new growth and plenty of flowers in the summer. The musk mallow is widely cultivated in tropical climates for its many uses. There is at least one named form, selected for its ornamental value. ‘Mischief’ is somewhat smaller than the species, reaching a height of 50cm.

Propagation:
Seed – sow April in a greenhouse. The seed germinates best at a temperature around 24 – 24°c. When large enough to handle, prick out the seedlings into individual pots of rich soil and plant them out after the last expected frosts. The seed can also be sown in situ in late April in areas with warm summers. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, July in a frame.

Edible Uses:
Young leaves and shoots – cooked in soups. Used as a vegetable. The leaves are also used to clarify sugar. Unripe seedpods – cooked as a vegetable in much the same way as okra (A. esculentus). Seed – cooked. It is fried or roasted and has a flavour similar to sesame seeds. The seed is also used as a flavouring for liqueurs or to scent coffee. An essential oil is obtained from the plant and is used to flavour baked goods, ice cream, sweets and soft drinks. Root. No more details are given, though the root is likely to have a bland flavour and a fibrous texture.

Uses (General & Midicinal) : Ambrette seeds come from a tropical hibiscus. The seeds contain an oil with a fatty-musky, slightly ambery odour. Its most important odoriferous components are the macrocyclic musks 5(Z)-tetradecen-14-olide and 7(Z)-hexadecen-16-olide, also called ambrettolide . The oil was formerly highly appreciated in perfumery, but has now been largely replaced by synthetic musks. The seeds have a strong aroma of musk, and have been known as grani moschi. Relaxing and stimulating powers are attributed to them; and some cases, apparently authentic, have been recorded, in which they seemed to have a decided influence in casting out the poison of snakes. Possibly a further and more careful investigation of their properties, would show them to be an agreeable and useful article in cases where mild nervous prostration required a diffusible stimulant and relaxant. At present, they seem to be used for nothing beyond giving flavor to the coffee of the Arabs.Seeds are used as an inhalation in hoarseness and dryness of throat.Leaves and roots are used in gonorrhoea and venereal diseases.

Abelmoschus moschatus  seeds…..Internally as a digestive and breath-freshener .  Externally for cramps, poor circulation, and aching joints, and in aromatherapy for anxiety and depression (oil)

Musk mallow oil was once used as a substitute for animal musk; however this use is now mostly discontinued as it can cause photosensitivity.

Different parts of the plant have uses in traditional and complementary medicine, not all of which have been scientifically proven. It is used externally to relieve spasms of the digestive tract, cramp, poor circulation and aching joints. It is also considered an insecticide and an aphrodisiac.

In industry the root mucilage provides sizing for paper; tobacco is sometimes flavoured with the flowers.
An emulsion made from the seed is antispasmodic and is especially effective in the digestive system. The seeds are also chewed as a nervine, stomachic and to sweeten the breath. They are also said to be aphrodisiac. The seeds are valued medicinally for their diuretic, demulcent and stomachic properties. They are also said to be stimulant, antiseptic, cooling, tonic, carminative and aphrodisiac. A paste of the bark is applied to cuts, wounds and sprains. The essential oil is used in aromatherapy for the treatment of depression and anxiety. It is also applied externally to treat cramp, poor circulation and aching joints.

Other Uses:
Essential; Fibre; Insecticide; Oil; Size.

An essential oil is obtained from the plant. It is used as a food flavouring and in perfumery as a musk substitute. However, it has been known to cause photosensitivity so this use has been largely discontinued. An oil obtained from the seed contains 18.9% linoleic acid. The oil is f high econmic value. Total yields of oil are not given. The seeds are used as an insecticide. Another report says that extracts of the fruits and upper parts of the plant show insecticidal activity. A fibre is obtained from the stem bark. It is used to make ropes. A mucilage obtained from the roots is used as a size for paper.

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.motherherbs.com/abelmoschus-moschatus.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abelmoschus_moschatus
http://www.iloveindia.com/indian-herbs/abelmoschus-oschatus.html
http://toptropicals.com/pics/garden/m1/Podarki3/Abelmoschus_L1MKh.jpg

http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_AB.htm

http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Abelmoschus+moschatus

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No Cold-Cough Drugs for Kids Under 4

Newborn Examination

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Children under four years of age should not be given cough and cold medicines, US companies that make such products said on Tuesday in an nouncing new guidelines for their use.

The industry has been criticised by pediatricians for marketing over-the-counter cough and cold remedies for children under six years of age despite a lack of evidence that they work, and reports of safety problems.

Linda Suydam, president of the Consumer Healthcare Products Association, said the companies were voluntarily making the change “out of an abundance of caution.” The association represents leading manufacturers and distributors of nonprescription, over-the-counter medicines and nutritional supplements.

The companies will also add a warning to their product labels saying parents should not give young children antihistamines to make them sleepy. Antihistamines are used to relieve allergies.

US government health officials said last week the issue needed additional study.

Sources: The Times Of India

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