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Herbs & Plants (Spices)

Zanthoxylum bungeanum

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Botanical Name : Zanthoxylum bungeanum
Family: Rutaceae
Subfamily: Rutoideae
Genus: Zanthoxylum
Species: Zanthoxylum bungeanum

Common Names: Szechuan Peppercorn

Habitat:Zanthoxylum bungeanum is native to E. Asia – China. It grows on waysides and thickets to 2000 metres in W. China.

Description:
Zanthoxylum bungeanum is a deciduous Shrub growing to 6 m (19ft 8in). The flowers are dioecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but only one sex is to be found on any one plant so both male and female plants must be grown if seed is required)The plant is not self-fertile.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.

CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES

It is not a true peppercorn, but rather the dried berry/seed of a deciduous prickly ash tree. The 3-4 mm berry has a rough reddish brown shell that is split open and a black seed inside. The black seed is bitter and can be discarded. The red shell can be added whole to stewed dishes or ground to a powder and used a seasoning. The spice has a unique aroma and flavor that is not as pungent as black pepper and has slight lemony overtones.
Szechuan peppercorns are one of the five spices in Chinese five-spice powder. Called sansho in Japan, they are used in the spice mixture shichimi togarashi, or Japanese seven-spice seasoning.
Cultivation:
It is said to be often cultivated for its edible fruit, especially in hot dry river valleys in China. There is some doubt over the correct name for this species, it might be no more than a synonym of Z. simulans. The following notes are based on the general needs of the genus. Prefers a good deep well-drained moisture retentive soil in full sun or semi-shade. Dioecious. Male and female plants must be grown if seed is required. Flowers are formed on the old wood.

Propagation:
Seed – best sown in a greenhouse as soon as it is ripe in the autumn. Stored seed may requires up to 3 months cold stratification, though scarification may also help. Sow stored seed in a cold frame as early in the year as possible. Germination should take place in late spring, though it might take another 12 months. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in a cold frame for their first winter. Plant them out in early summer. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, July/August in a frame. Root cuttings, 3cm long, planted horizontally in pots in a greenhouse. Good percentage. Suckers, removed in late winter and planted into their permanent positions.
Edible Uses:
Seed – used as a condiment, a pepper substitute. Highly prized. The fruit is rather small but is produced in clusters which makes harvesting easy. Each fruit contains a single seed.
Medicinal Uses:

Anaesthetic; Anthelmintic; Aromatic; Astringent; Carminative; Diaphoretic; Diuretic; Emmenagogue; Stimulant; Vasodilator; Vermifuge.

The fruit is anaesthetic, anthelmintic, aromatic, astringent, carminative, diuretic, emmenagogue, stimulant, sudorific, vasodilator and vermifuge. It is pulverised then mixed with water for internal application in the treatment of chills and pains in the abdomen, vomiting, cold-damp diarrhoea and dysentery, ascariasis-caused abdominal pain and moist sores on the skin. The pericarp is anaesthetic, anthelmintic, antibacterial and antifungal. It is effective against the pork tapeworm, Taenia solium, and is also used in the treatment of gastralgia, dyspepsia, diarrhoea, abdominal pain, ascariasis and dermal diseases. The pericarp contains geraniol. This lowers the blood pressure, is mildly diuretic in small doses but in large doses inhibits the excretion of urine, and also increases peristalsis of the abdomen at low doses though inhibits it at large doses

Known Hazards : The plant is toxic. No more details.

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:
https://species.wikimedia.org/wiki/Zanthoxylum_bungeanum
http://florawww.eeb.uconn.edu/198501352.html
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Zanthoxylum+bungeanum

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Herbs & Plants

Tagetes lucida

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Botanical Name : Tagetes lucida
Family: Asteraceae
Genus: Tagetes
Species: T. lucida
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Asterales

Synonyms:
*Tagetes anethina Sessé & Moc.
*Tagetes florida Sweet
*Tagetes gilletii De Wild.
*Tagetes lucida f. florida (Sweet) Voss
*Tagetes pineda La Llave
*Tagetes schiedeana Less
*Tagetes seleri Rydb.
Common Names: Mexican Tarragon, Sweetscented marigold , Mexican marigold, Mexican mint marigold, Mexican tarragon, Spanish tarragon, sweet mace, Texas tarragon, pericón, yerbaniz, and cempaxóchitl.

Habitat : Tagetes lucida is native to Central and Southern America – Mexico to Guatemala. It grows on woods, hillsides and rocky slopes.

Description:
Tagetes lucida is a perennial plant. It grows 18-30 inches (46–76 cm) tall. Depending on land race, the plant may be fairly upright, while other forms appear bushy with many unbranching stems. The leaves are linear to oblong, about 3 inches (7.6 cm) long, and shiny medium green, not blue-green as in French tarragon (Artemisia dracunculus var. sativa). In late summer it bears clusters of small golden yellow flower heads on the ends of the stems. The flower heads are about 0.5 inches (1.3 cm) across and have 3-5 golden-yellow ray florets. The flowers are hermaphroditic (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by insects…..CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES
Cultivation:
Requires a well-drained moderately fertile soil in a sunny position. Grows well in heavy clay soils and in sandy soils. Plants in general are not very cold-hardy when grown outdoors in Britain, though some forms will survive outdoors at least in the milder areas of the country. We have plants grown from seed collected in Oregon that have proved hardy to at least -5°c. A very ornamental plant, there are some named varieties. ‘Huichol’ is a traditional clone used by the Huichol Indians that grows at an elevation of 1500 – 1800m in Mexico. The blooms are amongst the most sweetly-scented of all flowers. Removing dead flowers before the seed is formed will extend the flowering season. Plants are prone to slugs, snails and botrytis. Grows well with tomatoes.

Propagation
Seed – sow March in a greenhouse. Only just cover the seed. Germination usually takes place within 2 weeks. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out after the last expected frosts. Basal cuttings in spring. Remove young shoots when about 5 – 10 cm tall, making sure to get as much of the underground stem as possible. Pot up into a sandy soil and keep in light shade until roots are formed, which usually takes 2- 3 weeks.

Phytochemistry:
The plant contains the following compounds:

*Anethole
*Chavicol
*Coumarin
*Estragole
*Isorhamnetin
*Methyleugenol
*Quercitin

Edible Uses:
Fresh or dried leaves are used as a tarragon substitute for flavoring soups, sauces etc.A pleasant anise-flavored tea is brewed using the dried leaves and flower heads. The leaves are dried and ground into a powder then used as a tarragon substitute for flavouring soups, sauces etc. They have an anise-like flavour. The leaves were an important flavouring of ‘chocolatl’, the foaming cocoa-based drink of the Aztecs. The dried leaves and flowering tops are brewed into a pleasant anise-flavoured tea. This is a very popular drink in Latin America. The petals are used as a condiment.

Medicinal Uses:
This is primarily used medicinally in Mexico and Central America. The leaves and whole plant are digestive, diuretic, febrifuge, hypotensive, narcotic, sedative and stimulant. Use of the plant depresses the central nervous system, whilst it is also reputedly anaesthetic and hallucinogenic. It is used internally in the treatment of diarrhoea, nausea, indigestion, colic, hiccups, malaria and feverish illnesses. Externally, it is used to treat scorpion bites and to remove ticks. The leaves can be harvested and used as required, whilst the whole plant is harvested when in flower and dried for later use.
Other Uses:
A yellow dye can be obtained from the flowers.The dried plant is burnt as an incense and to repel insects.

Tagetes lucida was used by the Aztecs in a ritual incense known as Yauhtli.The Aztecs allegedly used Tagetes lucida as one of the ingredients in a medicinal powder which was blown into the faces of those about to become the victims of human sacrifice and which may have possessed stupefying or anxiolytic properties.The plant was linked to the rain god Tlaloc. The plant is also used by the Huichol, mixed with Nicotiana rustica (a potent wild tobacco), for its claimed psychotropic and entheogenic effects.

In one study, methanolic extract from the flower inhibited growth of Staphylococcus aureus, E. coli, and Candida albicans cultures. This effect was enhanced with exposure to ultraviolet light. The roots, stems, and leaves also had the same effect when irradiated with UV light.

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:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tagetes_lucida
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Tagetes+lucida
http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_LMN.htm

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Herbs & Plants

Fennel

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Botanical Name :Foeniculum vulgare
Family: Apiaceae (Umbelliferae)
Genus: Foeniculum
Species: F. vulgare
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Apiales

Synonyms: Fenkel. Sweet Fennel. Wild Fennel.

Common Name :Fennel

Vernacular names:Fennel is known as(Saunf) in Hindi and  (Mouree) in Bengali. It is called (perunjeeragam) in Tamil and (perumjeeragam) in Malayalam. In Kannada (Dodda jeerige) or (Bade saunf) or(Badaa saunf).

Habitat :Fennel  grows wild in most parts of temperate Europe, but is generally considered indigenous to the shores of the Mediterranean, whence it spreads eastwards to India. It has followed civilization, especially where Italians have colonized, and may be found growing wild in many parts of the world upon dry soils near the sea-coast and upon river-banks. It flourishes particularly on limestone soils and is now naturalized in some parts of this country, being found from North Wales southward and eastward to Kent, being most frequent in Devon and Cornwall and on chalk cliffs near the sea. It is often found in chalky districts inland in a semi-wild state.

Description:
Fennel is a hardy, perennial, umbelliferous herb, with yellow flowers and feathery leaves.It is erect, glaucous green, and grows to heights of up to 2.5 m, with hollow stems. The leaves grow up to 40 cm long; they are finely dissected, with the ultimate segments filiform (threadlike), about 0.5 mm wide. (Its leaves are similar to those of dill, but thinner.) The flowers are produced in terminal compound umbels 5–15 cm wide, each umbel section having 20–50 tiny yellow flowers on short pedicels. The fruit is a dry seed from 4–10 mm long, half as wide or less, and grooved.

click to see the pictures
Edible Uses:
The bulb, foliage, and seeds of the fennel plant are widely used in many of the culinary traditions of the world. The small flowers of wild fennel (mistakenly known in America as fennel “pollen”  are the most potent form of fennel, but also the most expensive. Dried fennel seed is an aromatic, anise-flavoured spice, brown or green in colour when fresh, slowly turning a dull grey as the seed ages. For cooking, green seeds are optimal. The leaves are delicately flavoured and similar in shape to those of dill. The bulb is a crisp vegetable that can be sautéed, stewed, braised, grilled, or eaten raw. They are used for garnishes and to add flavor to salads. They are also added to sauces and served with pudding. The leaves used in soups and fish sauce and sometimes eaten raw as salad.

Fennel seeds are sometimes confused with those of anise, which are similar in taste and appearance, though smaller. Fennel is also used as a flavouring in some natural toothpastes. The seeds are used in cookery and sweet desserts.

Many cultures in India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran and the Middle East use fennel seed in their cookery. It is one of the most important spices in Kashmiri Pandit and Gujarati cooking. It is an essential ingredient of the Assamese/Bengali/Oriya spice mixture panch phoron[16] and in Chinese five-spice powders. In many parts of India and Pakistan, roasted fennel seeds are consumed as mukhwas, an after-meal digestive and breath freshener. Fennel leaves are used as leafy green vegetables either by themselves or mixed with other vegetables, cooked to be served and consumed as part of a meal, in some parts of India. In Syria and Lebanon, it is used to make a special kind of egg omelette (along with onions, and flour) called ijjeh.

Many egg, fish, and other dishes employ fresh or dried fennel leaves. Florence fennel is a key ingredient in some Italian and German salads, often tossed with chicory and avocado, or it can be braised and served as a warm side dish. It may be blanched or marinated, or cooked in risotto.

Fennel seeds are the primary flavor component in Italian sausage.

In Spain the stems of the fennel plant are used in the preparation of pickled eggplants, “berenjenas de Almagro”.

Cultivation: Fennel will thrive anywhere, and a plantation will last for years. It is easily propagated by seeds, sown early in April in ordinary soil. It likes plenty of sun and is adapted to dry and sunny situations, not needing heavily manured ground, though it will yield more on rich stiff soil. From 4 1/2 to 5 lb. of seed are sown per acre, either in drills, 15 inches apart, lightly, just covered with soil and the plants afterwards thinned to a similar distance, or sewn thinly in a bed and transplanted when large enough. The fruit is heavy and a crop of 15 cwt. per acre is an average yield.

Medicinal Uses:
Parts Used:  Seeds, leaves, roots.
Constituents:Fennel contains anethole, which can explain some of its medical effects: It, or its polymers, act as phytoestrogens.

The essence of fennel can be used as a safe and effective herbal drug for primary dysmenorrhea, but could have lower potency than mefenamic acid at the current study level.

Intestinal tract:  Fennel is widely employed as a carminative, both in humans and in veterinary medicine (e.g., dogs), to treat flatulence by encouraging the expulsion of intestinal gas. Anethole is responsible for the carminative action.

Mrs. Grieve‘s Herbal (1931) states:

On account of its aromatic and carminative properties, fennel fruit is chiefly used medicinally with purgatives to allay their tendency to griping and for this purpose forms one of the ingredients of the well-known compound Liquorice Powder. Fennel water has properties similar to those of anise and dill water: mixed with sodium bicarbonate and syrup, these waters constitute the domestic ‘gripe water’, used to correct the flatulence of infants. Volatile oil of Fennel has these properties in concentration. Fennel tea, formerly also employed as a carminative, is made by pouring half a pint of boiling water on a teaspoonful of bruised fennel seeds.

Fennel can be made into a syrup to treat babies with colic (formerly thought to be due to digestive upset), but long-term ingestion of fennel preparations by babies is a known cause of thelarche.

Eyes:  In the Indian subcontinent, fennel seeds are also eaten raw, sometimes with some sweetener, as they are said to improve eyesight. Ancient Romans regarded fennel as the herb of sight. Root extracts were often used in tonics to clear cloudy eyes. Extracts of fennel seed have been shown in animal studies to have a potential use in the treatment of glaucoma.

Blood and urine Fennel may be an effective diuretic and a potential drug for treatment of hypertension.

Breastmilk:  There are historical anecdotes that fennel is a galactagogue,[25] improving the milk supply of a breastfeeding mother. This use, although not supported by direct evidence, is sometimes justified by the fact that fennel is a source of phytoestrogens, which promote growth of breast tissue.[26] However, normal lactation does not involve growth of breast tissue. Two case reports resulted in illness for the newborn child: “Both mothers had both been drinking more than 2 liters daily of an herbal tea mixture reportedly containing licorice, fennel, anise, and goat’s rue ” “The authors attributed the maternal and infant symptoms to anethole, which is found in both fennel and anise; however, the anethole levels were not measured in breastmilk, nor were the teas tested for their content.”

Other uses:
Syrup prepared from fennel juice was formerly given for chronic coughs. It is one of the plants which is said to be disliked by fleas, and powdered fennel has the effect of driving away fleas from kennels and stables.

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.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/f/fennel01.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fennel
http://health-from-nature.net/Fennel.html

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Herbs & Plants Herbs & Plants (Spices)

CASSIA

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Botanical Name: Cassia Augustifolia
Family:    Lauraceae
Genus:    Cinnamomum
Species:C. cassia
Kingdom:Plantae
Order:    Laurales

Popular Name(s): Senna, Indian Senna, Tinnervelly Senna, Cassia Senna, Locust Plant, Rajavriksha
Parts Used: Pods, Stems and Leaves
Habitat: Cultivated in dry lands of Southern & Western India, Burma  and indigenous to Arabia.

Genus Species: Cassia senna or Cinnamonum cassia
Cultivated: Hot wet tropics of China, Indochina, East and West Indies, and Central America

Other Names:Chinese cassia or Chinese cinnamon,Malabathrum,Cinnamomum tamala ,Malobathrum or Malabar leaf

Description :
Cassia is an aromatic bark, similar to cinnamon, but differing in strength and quality. Cassia bark is darker, thicker and coarser, and the corky outer bark is often left on. The outer surface is rough and grayish brown, the inside bark is smoother and reddish-brown. Cassia is less costly than cinnamon and is often sold ground as cinnamon. When buying as sticks, cinnamon rolls into a single quill while cassia is rolled from both sides toward the centre so that they end up resembling scrolls.

CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES

Characteristics:
The leaves, known as tejpat in Nepali,  Tejpatta  in Hindi, Tejpat in Assamese and Tamalpatra in Marathi and in original Sanskrit, are used extensively in the cuisines of India, Nepal, and Bhutan, particularly in the Moghul cuisine of North India and Nepal and in Tsheringma herbal tea in Bhutan. It is called Biryani Aaku or Bagharakku in Telugu. They are often erroneously labeled as “Indian bay leaves,” though the bay leaf is from the Bay Laurel, a tree of Mediterranean origin in a different genus, and the appearance and aroma of the two are quite different. Bay leaves are shorter and light to medium green in color, with one large vein down the length of the leaf;photo while tejpat are about twice as long and wider than laurel leaves. They are usually olive green in color, may have some brownish spots and have three veins down the length of the leaf.photo True tejpat leaves impart a strong cassia- or cinnamon-like aroma to dishes, while the bay leaf’s aroma is more reminiscent of pine and lemon. Indian grocery stores usually carry true tejpat leaves. Some grocers may only offer Turkish bay leaves, in regions where true tejpat is unavailable.

Cassia buds resemble cloves. They are the dried unripe fruits about 14 mm (1/2 in) long and half as wide. It is native to Burma and grown in China, Indo-China, the East and West Indies and Central America. Cassia is called kwei in the earliest Chinese herbal by Shen-nung (2700 B.C.). It reached Europe in classical times with Arabian and Phoenician traders and the buds were known in Europe in the Middle Ages.


There are many varieties of cassia, including:

Chinese cassia (Cinnamomum cassia) or cassia, is from Burma and South China, coming in quills or rolled. This variety is also the source of cassia buds.
Indian cassia (Cinnamomum tamala) is native to India where its leaves are also used as an herb (tejpat).
Indonesian cassia (Cinnamomum burmanni) or Padang cassia has a smoother bark and double quills. This is usually the cassia that is imported to North America.
Saigon cassia (Cinnamomum loureirii) is native to Indonesia and is also grown in Japan and Korea.
Oliverâ’s Bark (Cinnamomum oliveri) is an Australian substitute of cassia and cinnamon.
Mossoia Bark (Cinnamomum) is an inferior substitute for cassia and cinnamon from Papua New Guinea.
Bouquet: The buds have a slight aroma. the bark is sweet-spicy like cinnamon, but more pungent.
Flavour: The bark and the buds have similar flavours: warm, sweet and pungent.

Buy Cassia on the Internet
For online purchases we recommend buying through one of the reputable dealers associated with Amazon and their trusted and secure online ordering system. Click here to shop for cassia products.
Cassia is the name given to the bark of several trees such as Cinnamonum cassia, C. aromatium, C. loureirii, C. burmannii, etc. These varieties have a wide distribution, but in ancient trade cassia used to come mainly from China, hence the name Chinese cinnamon or bastard cinnamon. The bark is coarser than that of true cinnamon, and the taste is more astringent and harsh, although a variety C. burmannii from Indonesia is similar to the Sri Lanka product.

Cassia is more widely used today than is cinnamon, although most people are unfamiliar with the name cassia; moreover, the word can be confused with Cassia angustifolia – a very different plant, namely senna! Cassia as a spice is favored by the Chinese for incorporation in Five Spice Powder (along with Szechuan pepper, cloves, fennel and star anise). Cassia leaves (tejpat) are currently used as a spice in Indian cooking, while cassia leaves and buds were a favored import (with the name malabathrum) in ancient Rome and also during the Middle Ages. See a list of spices by Taste and Hotness.


Useful Parts
:The spice in the case of both cinnamon and cassia come from bark of the plants.

Medicinal Properties:It is useful in habitual costiveness. It lowers bowels, increases peristaltic movements of the colon by its local action upon the intestinal wall.

Cinnamon and cassia extracts have been used medically to treat gastrointestinal problems and as a specific for diarrhea, but their value is marginal. Their use as antimicrobials is of limited relevance, and it is dubious if the presence of cinnamon or cassia in cooked foods retards spoilage if left unrefrigerated in a tropical climate. Nevertheless, cinnamon along with many other spices has antibacterial properties that may be worth exploiting.

The properties of cassia and cassia oil are similar to those of cinnamon and comprised largely of cinnamaldehyde.. Cassia is a tonic, carminative and stimulant. It is used to treat nausea and flatulence. It is also used alone or in combination to treat diarrhea.
Cassia (called ròu gùi; 肉桂 in Chinese) is used in traditional Chinese medicine, where it is considered one of the 50 fundamental herbs.

A 2003 study published in the DiabetesCare journal followed Type 2 diabetics ingesting 1, 3 or 6 grams of cassia daily. Those taking 6 grams shows changes after 20 days, and those taking lesser doses showed changes after 40 days. Regardless of the amount of cassia taken, they reduced their mean fasting serum glucose levels 18–29%, their triglyceride levels 23–30%, their LDL cholesterol 7–27%, and their total cholesterol 12–26%, over others taking placebos.

The effects, which may even be produced by brewing a tea from cassia bark, may also be beneficial for non-diabetics to prevent and control elevated glucose and blood lipid levels. Cassia’s effects on enhancing insulin sensitivity appear to be mediated by polyphenols . Despite these findings, cassia should not be used in place of anti-diabetic drugs, unless blood glucose levels are closely monitored and its use is combined with a strictly controlled diet and exercise program.

There is also much anecdotal evidence that consumption of cassia has a strong effect in lowering blood pressure, making it potentially useful to those suffering from hypertension. The USDA has three ongoing studies that are monitoring the blood pressure effect.

Though the spice has been used for thousands of years, there is concern that there is as yet no knowledge about the potential for toxic buildup of the fat-soluble components in cassia, as anything fat-soluble could potentially be subject to toxic buildup. There are no concluded long term clinical studies on the use of cassia for health reasons.

FOR MORE KNOWLEDGE CLICK TO SEE……..(1)……..(2)..

Historical View : The properties of cassia are similar to those of cinnamon; but it is commonly regarded as somewhat more astringent. Its uses are the same as those of cinnamon.

Bentley, Robert and Henry Trimen. Medicinal Plants; being descriptions with original figures of the principal plants employed in medicine and an account of the characters, properties, and uses of their parts and products of medicinal value. London, Churchill, 1880. (WZ 295 B556m 1880)

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.

Sources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cinnamomum_cassia

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malabathrum

www.theepicentre.com and en.wikipedia.org

http://www.iloveindia.com/indian-herbs/cassia-angustifolia.html