Categories
Herbs & Plants

Equisetum telmateia

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Botanical Name : Equisetum telmateia
Family: Equisetaceae
Genus: Equisetum
Species: E. telmateia
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Pteridophyta
Class: Equisetopsida
Order: Equisetales

Synonyms : Equisetum maximum. auct.

Common Names : Great horsetail or Northern giant horsetail

Habitat : Equisetum telmateia is native to Europe, including Britain, from Sweden south and east to N. Africa and W. Asia, N.W. N. America. It grows on damp shady banks etc, to 350 metres.

Description:
Equisetum telmateia is a herbaceous perennial plant, with separate green photosynthetic sterile stems, and pale yellowish non-photosynthetic spore-bearing fertile stems. The sterile stems, produced in late spring and dying down in late autumn, are 30–150 cm (rarely to 240 cm) tall (the tallest species of horsetail outside of tropical regions) and 1 cm diameter, heavily branched, with whorls of 14–40 branches, these up to 20 cm long, 1–2 mm diameter and unbranched, emerging from the axils of a ring of bracts. The fertile stems are produced in early spring before the sterile shoots, growing to 15–45 cm tall with an apical spore-bearing strobilus 4–10 cm long and 1–2 cm broad, and no side branches; the spores disperse in mid spring, with the fertile stems dying immediately after spore release. It also spreads by means of rhizomes that have been observed to penetrate 4 meters into wet clay soil, spreading laterally in multiple layers. Occasional plants produce stems that are both fertile and photosynthetic. It is hardy to zone (UK) 6. It is in flower in March, and the seeds ripen in April.

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There are two subspecies:
*Equisetum telmateia subsp. telmateia. Great Horsetail. Europe, western Asia, northwest Africa. Main stem between branch whorls pale greenish white.

*Equisetum telmateia subsp. braunii (Milde) Hauke. Northern Giant Horsetail. Western North America, from southeastern Alaska and western British Columbia south to California. Main stem between branch whorls green.

CLICK & SEE : Equisetum telmateia  & Spore-bearing strobilus

Cultivation:
Prefers a moist soil with a pH between 6.5 and 7.5. Plants are hardy to about -30°c. Plants have a deep and penetrating root system and can be invasive. If grown in the garden they are best kept in bounds by planting them in a large container which can be sunk into the ground.

Propagation:
Spores – best collected as soon as they are ripe in the spring and surface-sown immediately on a sterile compost. Keep moist and pot up as soon as the plants are large enough to handle. Very difficult. Division. The plants usually spread very freely when well sited and should not really need any assistance.

Edible Uses:
Strobil (the fertile shoots in spring) – raw or cooked. The tough outer fibres are peeled off, or can be chewed and then discarded. The vegetative shoots, produced from late spring onwards, were occasionally cleaned of their leaves, sheathing and branches and then eaten by native North American Indians, but only when very young and tightly compacted. Root – cooked.

Medicinal Uses:

Astringent; Diuretic; Poultice.

The plant is astringent and diuretic. A decoction has been used to treat ‘stoppage of urine’. A poultice of the rough leaves and stems is applied to cuts and sores.

Other Uses:
Basketry; Fungicide; Hair; Liquid feed; Polish; Sandpaper.

The stems are very rich in silica. They are used for scouring and polishing metal and as a fine sandpaper. The stems are first bleached by repeated wetting and drying in the sun. They can also be used as a polish for wooden floors and furniture. The infused stem is an effective fungicide against mildew, mint rust and blackspot on roses. It also makes a good liquid feed. Used as a hair rinse it can eliminate fleas, lice and mites. The black roots have been used for imbrication on coiled baskets.

Known Hazards : Large quantities of the plant can be toxic. This is because it contains the enzyme thiaminase, a substance that can rob the body of the vitamin B complex. In small quantities this enzyme will do no harm to people eating an adequate diet that is rich in vitamin B, though large quantities can cause severe health problems. The enzyme is destroyed by heat or thorough drying, so cooking the plant will remove the thiaminase. The plant also contains equisetic acid – see the notes on medicinal uses for more information.

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/Equisetum_telmateia
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Equisetum+telmateia

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Categories
Herbs & Plants Lentils

Masoor Dal

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Botanical Name : Lens Culinaris/Red Lentil
Family: Fabaceae
Subfamily: Faboideae
Tribe: Vicieae
Genus: Lens
Species: L. culinaris
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Fabales

Synonyms: Lens esculenta. Moench.

Common Name : Masoor  Dal  Masur Dal

Habitat :
Red Lentil (Lens culinaris L.) was first grown in southwest Asia about 7,000 BCE in the area that is now southern Turkey and northern Syria. It is best adapted to the cooler temperate zones of the world, or the winter season in Mediterranean climates.

The two main lentil market classes are red and green. Red lentil is marketed as whole seed, but 90-95 per cent of red lentil is dehulled before it is eaten. Dehulled lentil is consumed in whole form (footballs) or in split form.
Description:
Lens culinaris is an annual plant growing to typically short, compared to cereal crops, ranging from 20 – 65 cm (8 – 26 inches) in height depending on variety and growing conditions.
The leaves are alternate, with six pairs of oblong-linear leaflets about 15 mm (0.5 inch) long and ending in a spine. Two to four pale blue flowers are borne in the axils of the leaves in June or early July. The pods are about 15–20 mm long, broadly oblong, and slightly inflated and contain two seeds the shape of a doubly convex lens and about 4–6 mm in diameter. There are many cultivated varieties of the plant, differing in size, hairiness, and colour of the leaves, flowers, and seeds. The seeds may be more or less compressed in shape, and the colour may vary from yellow or gray to dark brown; they are also sometimes mottled or speckled.

CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES...>…....…(01) .....….(1) ......(2).

Because most red lentil is dehulled before consumption, the suitability of new red lentil varieties for secondary processing such as dehulling and splitting is of utmost importance. Dehulling and splitting yields in some processing plants are higher for more thick seeds which may be more desired for specific markets.
Cultivation:
An easily grown plant, it prefers a sandy soil in a warm sunny sheltered position. Another report says that it does best on clay. It produces most seed when grown on poorer soils. Lentils are widely cultivated in warm temperate and tropical zones for their edible and very nutritious seed, there are many named varieties. The plants are much hardier than is commonly supposed and many of these varieties can succeed in Britain, particularly in warm summers. There is at least one, called ‘WH2040’, that can withstand temperatures as low as -23°c in the seedling stage. ‘Chilean’ is a low-growing plant that can be grown in the winter in areas where winter vegetables can be grown. ‘HarLen’ tolerates temperatures down to -10°c and performs very well in gardens. The plants take the same time as peas to mature, so lentils are a potential commercial crop for Britain. Yields of up to 2 tonnes per hectare are possible. The main problem with growing them as a commercial crop is that they are produced by using cheap labour in many countries which makes it very difficult for British farmers to compete on prices. However, this does not preclude their being grown in the garden and allotment. Lentils are also beneficial to grow as part of a rotation on the farm or garden. They have a symbiotic relationship with certain soil bacteria, these bacteria form nodules on the roots and fix atmospheric nitrogen. Some of this nitrogen is utilized by the growing plant but some can also be used by other plants growing nearby and, if the roots are left in the ground when the seeds are harvested, this will provide a source of nitrogen for the next crop.

Propagation :
Seed – sow early April in situ. Some cultivars are probably suitable for sowing outdoors in the autumn, at least in the milder parts of the country

Edible Uses: Dehulled lentil is most commonly eaten as soup in the Mediterranean region or as dhal – a thick sauce in which spices are used as flavouring – in south Asia. It is an important source of dietary protein and carbohydrate.
Seed – cooked or sprouted and eaten raw. A very nutritious food, the seeds can be cooked on their own or added to soups, stews etc. The seed can be soaked for 12 hours in warm water and then allowed to sprout for about 5 days. They have a crunchy, fresh flavour. Lentils are more digestible than many legumes. The dried seed can also be ground into a powder and used with cereal flours in making bread etc, this greatly enhances the value of the protein in the bread. The seed stores better if it is left in its husk. Young seedpods – used fresh or cooked like green beans.

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Whole Red Lentils Nutritional Information Per 100 g dry
Amount……………………………… % Daily Value
Fat………………………….. 1.0 g………………..2 %
Carbohydrates…….59.1 g……………..20%
Total Fibre………… 14.2 g…………………..57%
Insoluble Fibre… 12.4 g
Soluble Fibre……… 1.81 g
Sucrose……………….. 1.79 g
Protein……………….28.4 g
Calcium……………. 97.3 mg………………10%
Iron…………………….. 7.3 mg………………41%
Potassium….. 1,135 mg………………….32%
Vitamin C…………. 0.73 mg……………….1%
Thiamin……………. 0.34 mg…………….23%
Riboflavin………… 0.31 mg………………18%
Niacin……………….. 1.73 mg………………..9%
Vitamin B6……… 0.28 mg………………14%
Folate…….. 186 mcg…………………………47%

Medicinal Uses :     The seeds are mucilaginous and laxative. They are considered to be useful in the treatment of constipation and other intestinal affections. Made into a paste, they are a useful cleansing application in foul and indolent ulcers.
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/Lentil
http://www.miltopexports.com/red_lentils.htm
http://www.agriculture.gov.sk.ca/Default.aspx?DN=a88f57f0-242b-40f6-8755-1fc6df4dfa14

 

Categories
Healthy Tips

Cup of Magic

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Probiotics, prebiotics, antibiotics. The words often cause confusion because they sound similar. But, of course, they mean very different things, although all three are derived from the Greek word “bios”, meaning “life”.

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Most people would love a magic pill that would put an end to all their health problems. Preferably one that contains prebiotics (meaning “before life”) and probiotics (“helping life”), along with a few trace elements, minerals, antioxidants and vitamins.

Probiotics are defined by the World Health Organization as microorganisms, which when administered alive in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit to the host. They are advertised by the pharma industry as protective, anti-infection agents that give the body’s natural reserves a boost against disease. They are sold as capsules and powders containing organisms like Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus. The products are much hyped, and have fancy names and expensive packaging.

However, what advertisements do not mention is that to be effective, there should be at least 75 million live organisms in each capsule. Food and chlorine in water kill these organisms. They therefore have to be swallowed with non-chlorinated water on an empty stomach
.
The intestines need to be populated with these organisms. So initially, the capsules have to be swallowed four to six times a day. The minuscule numbers contained in commercially available capsules are insufficient and do not confer any real health benefit.

Probiotics are not new products; they have been around for centuries. Fermented dough and curd (yogurt) contain natural, healthy probiotics. Commercially available yogurt may not contain live lactobacillus (probiotics) unless specifically mentioned on the package.

Natural probiotics like curd have many medicinal properties that are being rediscovered now. Curd starts to act in the mouth itself. It reduces the number of plaque forming bacteria, and prevents bad breath, tooth decay and mouth ulcers.

In the stomach, curd helps neutralise gastric acidity, reducing belching, burning and dyspepsia. It prevents infections, particularly the growth and multiplication of H. pylori, which is implicated in gastric ulcers and stomach cancer.

In the intestine, probiotics live with other protective intestinal flora, reducing gas formation and diarrhoea. The immunological effects reduce the incidence and symptoms of Crohn’s disease (inflammatory condition of the intestines that may affect any part from the mouth to the anus) and ulcerative colitis. Bowel habits become regular and the incidence of colon cancer reduces in those who eat curd regularly.

The action of the probiotics on digested food results in the synthesis of B-complex vitamins. This reduces vitamin deficiencies. Children who are given curd in addition to milk have less diarrhoea than those given milk alone.

Many Indians are relatively lactose intolerant and develop bloating, abdominal pain and diarrhoea when given to drink milk. They thus tend to curtail their milk intake and in the absence of calcium supplementation become susceptible to osteoporosis. In curd, however, the milk is already partially digested, and this reduces the symptoms of intolerance. As little as one cup of curd a day is beneficial in the prevention of osteoporosis.

Studies have also shown that eating curd regularly prevents the development of candidiasis, a common vaginal fungal infection. Other studies have shown conflicting results with no real benefit. But this has not prevented pharmaceutical companies from advocating lactobacillus capsules and vaginal pessaries for candidial infection. Curd also boosts the immune system. Regular eaters swear by it, saying it reduces infections as well as the duration of illnesses.

Prebiotics, on the other hand, are soluble fibres and non-digestible food ingredients that remain in the colon. They selectively stimulate the growth and activity of beneficial microorganisms already present in the large intestine. Prebiotics are found in oats, wheat, onions and garlic. When probiotics and prebiotics are combined, they form “synbiotics”. This probably confers the best health benefits with probiotics acting in the small intestine and prebiotics in the large.

Antibiotics are used to kill harmful microorganisms in the intestine, bloodstream and the various organs. They should be used appropriately in the correct dosage and duration. Unlike probiotics and prebiotics, antibiotics are specific for a particular infection. They are not health supplements.

Antioxidants are found in coloured fruits and vegetables. Oxidation is essential for cell metabolism. During this process a few cells die releasing harmful free radicals. This is prevented by antioxidants.

All said and done, health does not come packaged as an expensive magic capsule containing probiotics and antioxidants to be drunk with a glass of artificial fibre. For good health,

Eat four to five helpings of fresh fruits and vegetables daily. The green, yellow, orange and red ones contain antioxidants

Curd reduces infections as well as the duration of illnesses

Eat one tablespoon of homemade curd first thing in the morning on an empty stomach

Eat chappatis four or five times a week

Give these health ingredients an extra boost by exercising one hour everyday.


Source
: The Telegraph (Kolkata)

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