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Herbs & Plants

Brassica napus

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Botanical Name :Brassica napus
Family: Brassicaceae
Tribe: Brassiceae
Genus: Brassica
Species: Brassica napus L.
Cladus: eurosids II
Order: Brassicales

Common NamesCanola oil rapeseed

Habitat :Brassica napus is grown throughout temperate regions. Cultivated in most European countries, but naturalized in most.

Description:
Annual or biennial, when sown late and flowering the following spring, with slender or stout, hard, long, fusiform tuberous taproot; stems erect, much-branched, up to 1.5 m tall, often purple toward base; leaves glaucous, the lower ones lyrate-pinnatifid or lobed, with petioles 10–30 cm long, glabrous or with a few bristly hairs, upper stem leaves lanceolate, sessile, clasping, more or less entire; flowers pale yellow, 1.2–1.5 cm long, open flowers not overtopping buds of inflorescence; inflorescence much-branched, up to 1 m tall as an elongating raceme; silique 5–11 cm long, 2.5–4 mm wide, with slender beak 0.5–3 mm long. Underground part curved or crooked for 5–7.5 cm and then dividing into stout horizontal branches. Fl. late spring to fall; fr. early summer to fall

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Cultivation:
Fall plowing and preparation of a good firm seedbed is desirable as rape seeds are small. Cultipacking before seeding make a firm even seedbed. Germination must be fast with uniform emergence for the crop to get ahead of the weeds. Seed of Polish and Argentine types germinate readily when moisture and temperature conditions are suitable. Seed rate and spacing of rows varies in different areas. Sow seed with a grain drill, in rows 30–40 cm apart. Because seed are so small, it is recommended to mix 50–50 with cracked grain, so as to spread out the rape seed; for a 10 kg/ha rate, calibrate the drill for 20 kg/ha of mixture. If fertilizer is used mixed with the seed when sowing, sow about 30 kg/ha of mixture and mix at the time of sowing. Seed may be sown with a grass-seed attachment, or broadcast and then harrowed or disced lightly. Depth of sowing should be 2.5 cm or less, but seedlings will emerge from 5 cm or more if soil does not crust on top. Seedlings develop slowly and are easily destroyed by drifting soil. Spreading manure where drifting might start helps trap drifting soil. Early sowings give higher yields, but crop is more susceptible when emerging, -4°C either killing or injuring seedlings, whereas -2°C has no affect when one month old. Sowing in late April or early May is best in northern areas; sowing as late as June or early July give rather good results. Rape may be planted after grains, flax, corn, potatoes, sugar beets or fallow, but not after rape, mustards or sunflowers (Reed, 1976).
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Medicinal Uses:
Folk Medicine
The seed, powdered, with salt is said to be a folk remedy for cancer. Rape oil is used in massage and oil baths, believed to strengthen the skin and keep it cool and healthy. With camphor it is applied for rheumatism and stiff joints. Medicinally, root used in chronic coughs and bronchial catarrh

Like soybean, canola contains both high oil content as well as high protein content. It contains about 40% oil and 23% protein compared to 20% and 40%, respectively, for soybean. Like soybean, when the oil is crushed out, it leaves a high quality, high protein (37%) feed concentrate which is highly palatable to livestock. Commercial varieties of canola were developed from two species; Brassica napus (Argentine type) and Brassica campestris (Polish type). Both species of canola produce seed that is high in polyunsaturated fatty acids (oleic, linoleic, and linolenic).

Other Uses:
Grown sparingly for young leaves used as potherb; more generally grown as forage for livestock feed, and as source of rapeseed oil. Rape oil used in food industry, as an illuminant and lubricant, and for soap manufacture. Residual rapeseed cake, though low in food value, used as livestock feed. Rapeseed oil has potential market in detergent lubrication oils, emulsifying agents, polyamide fibers, and resins, and as a vegetable wax substitute. According to the Chemical Marketing Reporter (April 26, 1982) “the most common use for the oil is still in the production or erucic acid, a fatty acid used in turn in the manufacture of other chemicals. Sprouts are used dietetically and as seasoning.

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.anniesremedy.com/herb_detail397.php
http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/duke_energy/brassica_napus.html
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Brassica_napus

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Herbs & Plants

Lolium temulentum

Botanical Name: Lolium temulentum
Family: Poaceae
Genus: Lolium
Species: L. temulentum
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Poales

Synonyms:
XWALK: Lolium temulentum var. leptochaeton
ICPN: Lolium temulentum ssp. temulentum

Common Names:Darnel or Cockle

Habitat:It has a global distribution.

Description:
Lolium temulentum, a monocot, is an annual herb. The plant stem can grow up to 1 meter tall,

Spikes many-flowered, distichous, sessile, contrary to the rachis. Flowers beardless at the base. Glumes 2, nearly equal, herbaceous, lanceolate, channelled, awnless; the lower or inner ones very often deficient in the lateral spikelets. Paleae 2, herbaceous; the lower concave, awnless, or awned below the point; the upper bicarinate. Stamens 3. Ovary smooth; styles 2, very short, inserted below the point; stigmas feathery, with long, simple, finely-toothed, transparent hairs; scales 2, fleshy, smooth, acute, entire or two-lobed. Caryopsis smooth, adhering to the upper paleae (Kunth).

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Darnel usually grows in the same production zones as wheat and is considered a weed. The similarity between these two plants is so extensive that in some regions cockle is referred to as false wheat. It bears a close resemblance to wheat until the ear appears. The ears on the real wheat are so heavy that it makes the entire plant droop downward, but L. temulentum, whose ears are light, stands up straight. The wheat will also appear brown when ripe, whereas the darnel is black. When the Lolium matures, the spikelets turn edge ways to the rachis where the wheat spikelets remain as they grew previously.

The darnel can be infected by an endophytic fungus of the genus Neotyphodium, and the endophyte-produced, insecticidal loline alkaloids were first isolated from this plant. It parasitizes wheat fields. The French word for darnel is “ivraie” (from Latin ebriacus, ‘intoxicated’), which expresses that weed’s characteristic of making one feel poisoned with drunkenness, and can cause death. This characteristic is also alluded to in the scientific name (Latin temulentus = drunk).

Chemical Characteristics:
According to Ruspini , the presence of grains of Lolium temulentum in wheat-flour may be detected by digesting the suspected farina in rectified spirit. If the Lolium be present, the spirit immediately acquires a characteristic green tint, which gradually deepens; and the taste of the tincture is astringent, and so disagreeable that it may even excite vomiting. By evaporation it yields a green resin. But I have not succeeded in obtaining these results. By digesting bruised and coarsely powdered grains of Lolium temulentum in rectified spirit, the liquid had acquired in forty eight hours a pale yellow colour and scarcely any flavour, and yielded, by spontaneous evaporation, a minute portion of yellowish residue with a saline taste.

Medicinal Uses:
This grass was used medicinally by the ancient Greeks and Romans, though it is somewhat remarkable that it is mentioned neither by Hippocrates nor Celsus.

Darnel has been recently employed in headache, in rheumatic meningitis, and in sciatica. Fantoni used it with success in the case of a widow who, at the climacteric period, was affected with giddiness, headache, and epistaxis, which had resisted various other remedies. In a case of violent rheumatic meningitis, very great benefit was obtained by its use.

Occasionally used in folk medicine to treat headache, rheumatism, and sciatica.  It is occasionally used externally in cases of skin eruption and tumorous growth.  It is sometimes used by doctors to treat dizziness, insomnia, blood congestion, and stomach problems. It may also be used for skin problems like herpes, scurf, and sores.

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.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_DE.htm
http://www.henriettesherbal.com/eclectic/pereira/lolium.html
http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=LOTE2&photoID=lote2_001_avd.tif
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lolium_temulentum

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Herbs & Plants

Sorghum

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Botanical Name : Sorghum bicolor
Family: Poaceae
Genus: Sorghum
Species: S. bicolor
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Poales

Common Names: Broom Corn ,Sorghum,Durra , Jowari

Habitat:  Sorghum originated in northern Africa, and is now cultivated widely in tropical and subtropical regions.

Description:
Sorghum  is typically an annual, but some cultivars are perennial.It grows in clumps that may reach over 4 metres high. The grain is small, ranging from 3 to 4 mm in diameter. Sweet sorghums are sorghum cultivars that are primarily grown for foliage; they are shorter than those grown for grain.
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S. bicolor is the cultivated species of sorghum; its wild relatives make up the botanical genus Sorghum.

Cultivation:
The species can grow in arid soils and withstand prolonged droughts.  It has four features that make it one of the most drought-resistant crops of all.

*It has a very large root-to-leaf surface area.
*In times of drought it will roll its leaves to lessen water-loss by transpiration.
*If drought continues it will go into dormancy rather than dying.
*Its leaves are protected by a waxy cuticle.

Richard Pankhurst reports (citing Augustus B. Wylde) that in 19th-century Ethiopia, Durra was “often the first crop sown on newly cultivated land”, explaining that this cereal did not require the thorough ploughing other crops did, and its roots not only decomposed into a good fertilizer, but they also helped to break up the soil while not exhausting the subsoil.

Edible Uses:
Sorghum is cultivated in many parts of Asia and Africa, where its grains are used to make flat breads that form the staple food of many cultures.  The grains can also be popped in a similar fashion to popcorn.

In India, where it is commonly called Jwaarie, Jowar, Jola, or Jondhahlaa, sorghum is one of the staple sources of nutrition. An Indian Bread or Jowar Rotti or Jolada rotti is prepared from this grain. In this country and in other places, sweet sorghum stalks are used for producing biofuel by squeezing the juice and then fermenting into ethanol.  Texas A&M University in the United States is currently running trials to find the best varieties for ethanol production from sorghum leaves and stalks in the USA.

In Korea it is cooked with rice, or its flour is used to make cake that is called Susu bukkumi.

Mediucinal Uses:
Sorghum is a folk remedy for cancer, epilepsy, flux, and stomachache. The root is used for malaria in southern Rhodesia; the seed has been used for breast disease and diarrhea; the stem for tubercular swellings. In India, the plant is considered anthelminthic and insecticidal, and in South Africa, in combination with Erigeron canadense., it is used for eczema. In China, where the seeds are used to make alcohol, the seed husk is braised in brown sugar with a little water and applied to the chest of measles patients. The stomachic seeds are considered beneficial in fluxes. Curacao natives drink the leaf decoction for measles, grinding the seeds with those of the calabash tree (Cresentia) for lung ailments. Venezuelans toast and pulverize the seeds for diarrhea. Brazilians decoct the seed for bronchitis, cough and other chest ailments, possibly using the ash for goiter. Arubans poultice hot oil packs of the seeds on the back of those suffering pulmonary congestion. According to Grieve’s Herbal, a decoction of ca 50 g seed to a liter of water is boiled down to ca 1/2 liter as a folk medication for kidney and urinary complaints.   The inflorescence is astringent and hemostatic. Sorghum contains such hard-to-find nutrients as iron, calcium and potassium. Before the invention of the daily vitamins, many doctors prescribed sorghum as a daily supplement for those low in these nutrients.

Other Uses:
The species can be used as a source for making ethanol fuel, and in some environments may be better than maize or sugarcane, as it can grow under harsher conditions.[1] It typically has protein levels of around 9 percent, enabling dependent human populations to subsist on it in times of famine, in contrast to regions where maize has become the staple crop. It is also used for making a traditional corn broom.[5]

The reclaimed stalks of the sorghum plant are used to make a decorative millwork material marketed as Kirei board.

Sweet sorghum syrup is known as molasses in some parts of the U.S., although it is not true molasses.

In China, sorghum is fermented and distilled to produce maotai, which is regarded as one of the country’s most famous liquors. Sorghum was ground and the flour was the main alternative to wheat in north China for a long time.

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/Sorghum_bicolor
http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_AB.htm
http://www.about-garden.com/a/en/2343-sorghum-bicolor-broom-corn/

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Herbs & Plants Lentils

Cajanus cajan (Pegion pea)

Botanical Name :Cajanus cajan (Linn) Millsp.
Other scientific names:  Cystisus cajan, Cystisus pseudo-cajan  ,Cajan inodorum  ,Cajanus bicolor,Cajanus indicus
Family :Fabaceae

Genus: Cajanus
Species: C. cajan
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Fabales

Synonyms:Cajanus indicus Spreng. (Valder 1895) and Cytisus cajan (Crawfurd 1852)

Common Names :Arhar, Red gram, Pigeon pea, Gablos (Tag.) ,Kadios (Mang., Tag., P. Bis.) ,Kagyos (Tag.) ,Kaldis (Ig., Ilk.)   Kagyas (Tag.) ,Kalios (Tag.) , Kardis (Ibn., Ilk., Ig.) ,Kidis (Ilk., Bon.) ,Kusia (Ig., If.) , Tabios (Bik., C. Bis.) ,Guandu (Brazil) .Pigeon pea (Engl.),toor dal or arhar dal (India), Congo pea or gungo pea (in Jamaica), Pois Congo (in Haiti), gandul (in Puerto Rico), gunga pea, or no-eye pea.   arhar dal  in Bengali


Habitat :
Probably native to India, pigeon pea was brought millennia ago to Africa where different strains developed. These were brought to the new world in post-Columbian times. Truly wild Cajanus has never been found; they exist mostly as remnants of cultivations. In several places Cajanus persists in the forest. The closest wild relative, Atylosia cajanifolia Haines, has been found in some localities in East India. Most other Atylosias are found scattered throughout India, while in North Australia a group of endemic Atylosia species grow. In Africa Cajanus kerstingii grows in the drier belts of Senegal, Ghana, Togo, and Nigeria. Pigeon peas occur throughout the tropical and subtropical regions, as well as the warmer temperate regions (as North Carolina) from 30°N to 30°S (Duke, 1981a). In settled areas throughout the Philippines: cultivated, semicultivated, and in some places, spontaneous.

Description:

It is  is a perennial herb.An erect, branched, hairy shrub, 1-2 meters high. Leaves are oblong-lanceolate to oblanceolate with three leaflets. Flowers are yellow, in sparse peduncled racemes, about 1.5 cm long. Pod is hairy, 4-7 cm long, 1 cm wide, containing 2-7 seeds.

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Cultivation:
The cultivation of the pigeon pea goes back at least 3000 years. The centre of origin is most likely Asia, from where it traveled to East Africa and by means of the slave trade to the American continent. Today pigeon peas are widely cultivated in all tropical and semi-tropical regions of both the Old and the New World. Pigeon peas can be of a perennial variety, in which the crop can last 3–5 years (although the seed yield drops considerably after the first two years), or an annual variety more suitable for seed production.

Pigeon peas are an important legume crop of rainfed agriculture in the semi-arid tropics. The Indian subcontinent, Eastern Africa and Central America, in that order, are the world’s three main pigeon pea producing regions. Pigeon peas are cultivated in more than 25 tropical and sub-tropical countries, either as a sole crop or intermixed with cereals such as sorghum (Sorchum bicolor), pearl millet (Pennisetium glaucum), or maize (Zea mays), or with other legumes, such as peanuts (Arachis hypogaea). Being a legume, the pigeon pea enriches soil through symbiotic nitrogen fixation.

The crop is cultivated on marginal land by resource-poor farmers, who commonly grow traditional medium- and long-duration (5–11 months) landraces. Short-duration pigeon peas (3–4 months) suitable for multiple cropping have recently been developed. Traditionally, the use of such input as fertilizers, weeding, irrigation, and pesticides is minimal, so present yield levels are low (average = 700 kg/ha). Greater attention is now being given to managing the crop because it is in high demand at remunerative prices.

Pigeon peas are very drought resistant and can be grown in areas with less than 650 mm annual rainfall.

World production of pigeon peas is estimated at 46,000 km2. About 82% of this is grown in India. These days it is the most essential ingredient of animal feed used in West Africa, most especially in Nigeria where it is also grown

Edible Uses: Vegetable food crop ( seeds and pods) in South-East Asia.Pigeon peas are both a food crop (dried peas, flour, or green vegetable peas) and a forage/cover crop. They contain high levels of protein and the important amino acids methionine, lysine, and tryptophan.  In combination with cereals, pigeon peas make a well-balanced human food. The dried peas may be sprouted briefly, then cooked, for a flavor different from the green or dried peas. Sprouting also enhances the digestibility of dried pigeon peas via the reduction of indigestible sugars that would otherwise remain in the cooked dried peas.

In India, split pigeon peas (toor dal) are one of the most popular pulses, being an important source of protein in a mostly vegetarian diet. In regions where it grows, fresh young pods are eaten as vegetable in dishes such as sambhar.

In Ethiopia, not only the pods but the young shoots and leaves are cooked and eaten.

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In some places, such as the Dominican Republic and Hawaii, pigeon peas are grown for canning and consumption. A dish made of rice and green pigeon peas (called “Moro de Guandules”) is a traditional food in Dominican Republic. Pigeon peas are also made as a stew, with plantain balls. In Puerto Rico, arroz con gandules is made with rice and pigeon peas and is a typical dish.

In Thailand, pigeon peas are grown as a host for scale insects which produce lac.

Pigeon peas are in some areas an important crop for green manure, providing up to 40 kg nitrogen per hectare. The woody stems of pigeon peas can also be used as firewood, fencing and thatch.

Nutrition
Used mainly for its edible young pods and seeds.

Chemical constituents :
Roots are considered antihelminthic, expectorant, febrifuge, sedative, vulnerary.
Seeds are rich in carbohydrates (58%) and proteins (19%).
Fair source of calcium and iron; good source of vitamin B.
Chemical studies reveal: 2′-2’methylcajanone, 2′-hydroxygenistein, isoflavones, cajanin, cahanones, among many others.

Analysis of dhal (without husk) gave the following values: moisture, 15.2; protein, 22.3; fat (ether extract), 1.7; mineral matter, 3.6; carbohydrate, 57.2; Ca, 9.1; and P, 0.26%; carotene evaluated as vitamin A, 220 IU and vitamin B1, 150 IU per 100 g. Sun-dried seeds of Cajanus cajan are reported to contain (per 100 g) 345 calories, 9.9% moisture, 19.5 g protein, 1.3 g fat, 65.5 g carbohydrate, 1.3 g fiber, 3.8 g ash, 161 mg Ca, 285 mg P, 15.0 mg Fe, 55 mg b-carotene equivalent, 0.72 mg thiamine, 0.14 mg riboflavin, and 2.9 mg niacin. Immature seeds of Cajanus cajan are reported to contain per 100 g, 117 calories, 69.5% moisture, 7.2 g protein, 0.6 g fat, 21.3 g total carbohydrate, 3.3 g fiber, 1.4 g ash, 29 mg Ca, 135 mg P, 1.3 mg Fe, 5 mg Na, 563 mg K, 145 mg b-carotene equivalent, 0.40 mg thiamine, 0.25 mg riboflavin, 2.4 mg niacin, and 26 mg ascorbic acid/100 g. Of the total amino acids, 6.7% is arginine, 1.2% cystine, 3.4% histidine, 3.8% isoleucine, 7.6% leucine, 7.0% lysine, 1.5% methionine, 8.7% phenylalanine, 3.4% threonine, 2.2% tyrosine, 5.0% valine, 9.8 aspartic acid, 19.2% glutamic acid, 6.4% alanine, 3.6% glycine, 4.4% proline, 5.0% serine with 0 values for canavanine, citrulline and homoserine. Methionine, cystine, and tryptophane are the main limiting amino acids. However, in combination with cereals, as pigeon peas are always eaten, this legume contributes to a nutritionally balanced human food. The oil of the seeds contains 5.7% linolenic acid, 51.4% linoleic, 6.3% oleic, and 36.6% saturated fatty acids. Seeds are reported to contain trypsin inhibitors and chymotrypsin inhibitors. Fresh green forage contains 70.4% moisture, 7.1 crude protein, 10.7 crude fiber, 7.9 N-free extract, 1.6 fat, 2.3 ash. The whole plant, dried and ground contains 1,1.2% moisture, 14.8 crude protein, 28.9 crude fiber, 39.9 N-free extract, 1.7 fat, and 3.5 ash. (Duke, 1981a)

Medicinal Uses:
Parts used
Leaves, roots.

Folkloric:-
*Decoction or infusionn of leaves for coughs, diarrhea, abdominal pains.
*Tender leaves are chewed for aphthous stomatitis and spongy gums.
*Pulped or poulticed leaves used for sores.
*In Peru, leaves are used as an infusion for anemial, hepatitis, diabetes, urinary infections and yellow fever.
*In Argentina, leaves used for genital and skin problems; flowers used for bronchitis, cough and pneumonia.
*In China, as vermifuge, vulnerary; for tumors.
*In Panama, used for treatment of diabetes (See study below).
*In Indian folk medicine, used for a variety of liver disorders.



Other Uses:

As forage or hay.
Branches and stems for basket and fuel. (Source)

Often grown as a shade crop for tree crops or vanilla, a cover crop, or occasionally as a windbreak hedge. In Thailand and N. Bengal, pigeon pea serves as host for the scale insect which produces lac or sticklac. In Malagasy the leaves are used as food for the silkworm. Dried stalks serve for fuel, thatch and basketry. (Duke, 1981a).

Studies:-
RBC Sickling Inhibition: StudyClinical studies have reported seed extracts to inhibit red blood cell sickling and potential benefit for people with sickle cell anemia.

• Antiplasmodial constituents of Cajanus cajan: Study isolated two stilbenes, longistylin A and C and betulinic acid from the roots and leaves of CC and showed moderately high in vitro activity against Plasmodium falcifarum strain.

• Stilbenes / Neuroprotective / Alzheimer’s Disease: Study of stilbenes containing extract-fraction from C cajan showed significant amelioration of cognitive deficits and neuron apoptosis. Findings suggest sECC has a potential in the development of therapeutic agent to manage cognitive impairment associated with Alzheimer’s disease through increase choline acetyltransferase activity and anti-oxidative mechanism.

• Hypocholesterolemic Effect: Study on the stilbenes containing extract-fraction of CC showed a hypocholesterolemic effect possibly through enhancement of hepatic LDL-receptor and cholesterol 7-alpha-hydroxylase expression levels and bile acid synthesis.

Hyperglycemic Effect: Evaluation of traditional medicine: effects of Cajanus cajan L. and of Cassia fistula L. on carbohydrate metabolism in mice: Contradicting its traditional use for diabetes, CC did not have a hypoglycemic effect on sugar, instead at higher doses, it produced a hyperglycemic effect.

Antimicrobial: Study shows the organic solvent extracts to inhibit E coli, S aureus and S typhi and the aqueous extract were inhibitory to E coli and S aureus.

• Antimicrobial / Antifungal: Nigerian study on the antimicrobial effects of the ethanol and aqueous extracts of locally available plants, including C cajan, showerd inhibition against S aureus, P aeruginosa, E coli and C albicans. The extracts of C cajam produced wider zones of inhibition against C albicans.

• Hyperglycemic Effect: Study of the aqueous extract of C cajan leaves showed a hyperglycemic effect, suggesting a usefulness incontrolling hypoglycemia that may be due to excess of insulin or other hypoglycemic drugs.

• Hepatoprotective: (1) Study of the methanol-aqueous fraction of C cajan leaf extract showed it could prevent the chronically treated alcohol induced rat liver damage and presents a promise as a non-toxic herb for therapeutic use in alcohol-induced liver dysfunction. (2) Study in mice with carbon tetrachloride-induced liver damage showed the methanol extracts of B orellana, C cajan, G pentaphylla and C equisetifolia showed significant decrease in levels of serum markers, indicating the protection of hepatic cells in a dose-dependent manner.

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/Pigeon_pea
http://www.stuartxchange.com/Kadios.html
http://vaniindia.org.whbus12.onlyfordemo.com/herbal/plantdir.asp

http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/duke_energy/Cajanus_cajun.html

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Trifolium pratense

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Botanical Name:Trifolium pratense
Family: Fabaceae
Subfamily: Faboideae
Genus: Trifolium
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Fabales
Species: T. pratense

Common Name : Red Clover

Habitat : Trifolium pratense  is native to  Europe, including Britain, from Norway south and east to Spain and W. Asia. It grows on the meadows, pastures and other grassy places, especially on calcareous soils. Usually found on circumneutral soils.

Description:
It is an herbaceous, short lived perennial plant, variable in size, growing to 20–80 cm tall. The leaves are alternate, trifoliate (with three leaflets), each leaflet 15–30 mm long and 8–15 mm broad, green with a characteristic pale crescent in the outer half of the leaf; the petiole is 1–4 cm long, with two basal stipules. The flowers are dark pink with a paler base, 12–15 mm long, produced in a dense inflorescence.

You may click to see the pictures  of  Trifolium pratense :

The plant was named Trifolium pratense by Carolus Linnaeus in 1753. Pratense is Latin for “found in meadows”.

There are seven varieties:

Trifolium pratense pratense – widespread
Trifolium pratense americanum – southeastern Europe (despite the name)
Trifolium pratense frigidum – mountains of central and southern Europe (Pyrenees, Alps, Balkans)
Trifolium pratense maritimum – southern Baltic Sea coast.
Trifolium pratense parviflorum – Europe.
Trifolium pratense sativum – Mediterranean region, robust-growing, with hairless or nearly hairless foliage
Trifolium pratense villosum – Alps, densely hairy foliage.

Cultivation
In northeastern United States and Canada, and at higher elevation in southeastern and western United States, red clover grows as a biennial or short-lived perennial; at lower elevations in southeastern United States, it grows as a winter annual, and at lower elevation in western United States and Canada, it grows under irrigation as a biennial. Most red clover is spring seeded in a crop of fall- or spring-sown small grain. In the early spring the soil alternately freezes and thaws, thus covering the seed with soil. The small grain holds weeds in check while the clover is getting started. At lower elevations in southeastern and western United States, red clover is sown ca Oct. 15, no later than Dec. 15. In these areas it is most frequently sown without a companion crop. In south-eastern United States, late-summer seedlings can be successful on a seedbed, fallowed to prevent weed growth. Grass is extensively seeded with red clover. Clover-grass mixtures are usually superior to clover. In vitro and vivo experiments show that some lines of red clover perform better with ryegrass (Lolium multiflorum). Clover-grass yields better hay that cures more rapidly than pure clover hay. Animals are more likely to bloat on pure clover than on clover-grass pasture. Timothy has a high yield, and is ready to cut for hay with the red clover. Sow the grass in the early fall in the small-grain crop; sow the red clover in the small grain-grass in the spring. When the grain is harvested, remove the straw and stubble, as they tend to smother the clover and favor disease. Clover-hay yields from fields where the straw and stubble have been left are only about one-half as large as the yields from fields where they have been removed immediately after combining. Small-grain companion crops compete with red clover for mineral nutrients, moisture, and light. This competition can be reduced by grazing or clipping the small grain in late winter or early spring, just before stems begin growth., Grazing or clipping after clover stems have begun to branch will reduce small-grain yield.

Harvesting
The first year, graze or mow the clover 4 to 6 weeks before the first frost in the fall. If the stand is mowed, remove the clippings unless the total amount is quite small. The first crop of red clover, harvested early the second year is almost always harvested for hay or silage. In early bloom, red clover is leafy and produces its largest yield of protein per hectare. Cut red clover about 15 days after the first blooms appear. Cut stands grown with grass when clover is ready, not when grass is ready. Usually the second crop of red clover is pastured, harvested for seed, or grown for soil improvement and green manure. To harvest for hay, cut in early bloom; however, hay from this crop is occasionally unpalatable to cattle and sheep. A medium stand of red clover will produce two or three crops of hay the harvest year. Mammoth clover will produce one crop. After the crop is cut, allow it to wilt in swath and then rake it into small, loose windrows. It will cure about as rapidly in the windrows as in the swath, and fewer leaves will be lost in baling. Better, it can also be forced-air dried, which preserves the green color, lessens leaf shattering, and practically eliminates spoilage. Red clover and red clover-grass mixtures are frequently ensilaged. These crops make good ensilage if they are wilted slightly before ensiled, or if carbohydrate or chemical preservatives are added as they are ensiled. Red clover is one of the best legume pasture plants for livestock and poultry. Red clover and red clover-grass mixture pastures can be grazed or they can be cut green and fed to livestock and poultry. Red clover is also one of the better legumes for renovating old pastures. Clip or graze the old pasture closely. Chop up the sod with a disk or harrow before sowing the red clover seed. Red clover may be turned under as green manure to improve soil properties and increase yields of succeeding crops. Many crop rotations are possible for red clover, the oldest being a 3-year rotation of corn, oats or wheat and red dover. Other common rotations are: corn, soybeans, small grain, red clover; corn, small grain, red clover, rice, red clover; sugar beets, small grain, red clover; tobacco, rye or wheat, red clover-grass, grass, grass; potatoes, small grain, red clover. For seed production, the first crop of the second-year stand is usually harvested for hay or silage, the second crop may be harvested for seed. In most areas it is necessary to pollinate with bees, using 5 to 8 strong colonies of bees per hectare. Best seed yields occur when there is an abundance of bees, and soil fertility and moisture are adequate to promote good growth, and when the weather is warm and clear during the flowering period. Harvest the seed crop when the greatest number of seed heads are brown, usually 25–30 days after full bloom. Cut seed crop with mower. Let it cure in the swath or in small windrows. During rainy weather, the mowed crop cures better in swaths than in windrows. Windrowing is better during clear, warm weather because it reduces harvesting losses. Harvest the swathed or windrowed crops with a combine with a pickup attachment. Operate combine carefully to do a good harvesting job and to reduce harvesting losses. Artificial drying or drying by spreading seed thinly on a floor may improve the quality of the seed. Seed should be turned every few days until completely dry. Rough cleaning immediately after combining reduces the drying time and improves seed quality.

Chemical constituents:
Seeds are reported to contain trypsin inhibitors and chymotrypsin inhibitors. Green forage of red clover is reported to contain: 81% moisture, 4.0% protein, 0.7% fat, 2.6% fiber, 2.0% ash. Hay of red clover contains 12.0% moisture, 11.8% protein, 2.6% fat, 27.2% fiber, and 6.4% ash. On the basis of more than 500 analyses, Miller (1958) reported the hay contained on a moisture free basis: 8.3–24.7% protein (avg 14.9%), 1.0–6.6% fat (avg. 2.9%), 12.5–39.3% crude fiber (avg. 30.1%), 3.1–14.0% ash (avg. 7.9), and 33.4–59.1% N-free extract (avg. 44.2). For green red clover forage he reported 12.4–34.87. protein (avg. 18.2), 3.2–5.9% fat (avg. 4.0%), 12.7–30.8% crude fiber (avg. 24.2), 7.0–13.6% ash (avg. 8.8), and 37.1–49.7% N-free extract (avg. 44.8%). The hay (dry matter averaging 87.7%) contained 0.97–2.29% Ca (avg. 1.61), 0.09–0.45% P (avg. 0.22), 0.57–2.67% K (avg. 17.6%), 0.24–0.81% Mg (avg. 0.45%), 0.001–0.185% Fe (avg. 0.013%), 9.9–17.6 ppm Cu (avg. 11.2 ppm), and 24.9–120.8 ppm Mn (avg. 65.6). The green forage contained 0.58–3.21% Ca (avg. 1.76), 0.24–0.53% P (avg. 0.29), 1.49–2.94% K (avg. 2.10%), 0.36–0.57% Mg (avg. 0.45), 0.016–0.032% Fe (avg. 0.03), 7.3-10-3 ppm Cu (avg. 8.8 ppm), 121–464 ppm Mn (avg. 159 ppm). The leaf-protein concentrate (59% protein) contains 6.4% arginine, 2.5% histidine, 5.4% threonine, 1.7% tryptophan, 9.5% leucine, 5.3% isoleucine, 1.7% methionine, 6.87. lysine, 6.1% phenylalanine, and 6.8%. valine. Estrogenic disorders have been reported in cattle grazing largely on red clover, apparently due to activity of the isoflavones formononetin, biochanin A, and to some small extent daidzein and genistein. the flowers contain a number of phenolic compounds: daidzein, genistein, isotrifolin, isorhamnetin, pratol, pratensol, trifolin, and an antifungal compound trifolirhizin. They also contain coumaric acid, hentriacontane, heptacosane, myricyl alcohol, and b-sitosterol. On a dry basis flowers yield 0.028% of an oil containing furfural (Duke, 1981a).
Edible Uses:
Edible Parts: Flowers; Leaves; Root; Seed.
Edible Uses: Condiment; Tea.

Leaves and young flowering heads – raw or cooked. The young leaves are harvested before the plant comes into flower, and are used in salads, soups etc[9]. On their own they can be used as a vegetable, cooked like spinach.The leaves are best cooked. They can be dried, powdered and sprinkled on foods such as boiled rice. The leaves contain 81% water, 4% protein, 0.7% fat, 2.6% fibre and 2% ash. The seed can be sprouted and used in salads. A crisp texture and more robust flavour than alfalfa (Medicago sativa). The seeds are reported as containing trypsin inhibitors. These can interfere with certain enzymes that help in the digestion of proteins, but are normally destroyed if the seed is sprouted first. Flowers and seed pods – dried, ground into a powder and used as a flour. The young flowers can also be eaten raw in salads. Root – cooked. A delicate sweet herb tea is made from the fresh or dried flowers. The dried leaves impart a vanilla flavour to cakes etc.

Properties:  Depurative* Antispasmodic* Diuretic* Expectorant* phytoestrogen* Tonic* Antifungal*

Medicinal Actions &  Uses:

Common Uses: Bronchitis * Cancer Prevention * General Health Tonics * Menopause * Osteoporosis * Women’s Tonics *

Red Clover has been used traditionally to treat respiratory and skin problems, today it is of most interest in menopause(Red clover is often combined
with black cohosh in herbal  formulas for menopause) and in the prevention of breast cancer because of its strong concentration of natural plant estrogen. Red clover’s phytoestrogens, the plant world’s equivalents of human female estrogen, preform functions in the body similar to those of natural and synthetic estrogens, relieving menopause and menstruation related problems and perhaps protecting against osteoporosis and cancer of the breast, colon and prostate. At the root of red clovers attributes are an impressive array of vitamins, and trace minerals in synergy with many active medical compounds.

Although red clover has a strong following among herbalists as a blood purifying alterative and anticancer agent and has been used safely and effectively for hundreds, if not thousands of years, little scientific study has been done.

Red clover contains isoflavones (estrogen-like compounds) which can mimic the effect of endogenous estrogen. The use of red clover to relieve menopausal symptoms has been shown to be sometimes ineffective, but safe. Red clover contains calcium and magnesium, which can relax the nervous system and improve fertility. Traditionally, red clover has been administered to help restore irregular menses and to balance the acid-alkaline level of the vagina to promote conception.

The isoflavones (like irilone and pratensein) from red clover have been used to treat the symptoms of menopause. It has also been reported that red clover has been used for a variety of medicinal purposes, such as bronchitis, burns, cancers, ulcers, sedation, asthma, and syphilis.

It is an ingredient in eight-herb essiac tea.

How to Use: Red Clover
Preparation Methods :Red clover makes an excellent tea, especially sweetened with clover honey. You can also take red clover as an extract, or in capsule form. Red clover is often combined with black cohosh in herbal formulas for menopause. Externally a cooled tea or poultice can be applied to dry, itching skin.

Side Effects:
Safe in normal amounts, but consult a physician if you are pregnant or nursing. Pregnant animals have had miscarriages after grazing heavily on clover.

Other Uses:
Dye; Green manure; Miscellany; Soil reclamation.

A yellow dye is obtained from the flowers. The plant makes a good green manure, it is useful for over-wintering, especially in a mixture with Lolium perenne. Deep rooting, it produces a good bulk. It is a host to ‘clover rot’ however, so should not be used too frequently. It can be undersown with cereals though it may be too vigorous. It is also grown with grass mixtures for land reclamation.
It is widely grown as a fodder crop, valued for its nitrogen fixation, which increases soil fertility. For these reasons it is used as a green manure crop. Several cultivar groups have been selected for agricultural use, mostly derived from var. sativum. It has become naturalised in many temperate areas, including the Americas and Australasia as an escape from cultivation.

Known Hazards  : Diseased clover, even if no symptoms of disease are visible, can contain toxic alkaloids.

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/Trifolium_pratense
http://www.anniesremedy.com/herb_detail124.php
http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/duke_energy/Trifolium_pratense.html

http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Trifolium+pratense