News on Health & Science

Octopus Venom as Medicine

Octopus venom can treat allergies, cancer

An understanding of the structure and mode of action of venom found in all octopuses, cuttlefish and some squid can help design drugs for  conditions like pain management, allergies and cancer.

“Venoms are toxic proteins with specialised functions such as paralysing the nervous system,” Bryan Fry, biochemist from the University of Melbourne, said.

While many creatures have been examined as a basis for drug development, cephalopods (octopuses, cuttlefish and squid) which are venomous- going back to a common, ancient ancestor- remain an untapped resource and their venom may represent a unique class of compounds.

Fry, who led the study, said that while the blue-ringed octopus species remain the only group that are dangerous to humans, other species have been quietly using their venom for predatory activities.

Fry obtained tissue samples from cephalopods ranging from Hong Kong, the Coral Sea, the Great Barrier Reef and Antarctica.

The team then analysed the genes for venom production from the different species and found that a venomous ancestor produced one set of venom proteins, but over time, additional proteins were added to the species’ chemical arsenal.

The origin of these genes also sheds light on the fundamentals of evolution, presenting a prime example of convergent evolution where species independently develop similar traits, said a Melbourne release.

The team will now work on understanding why very different types of venomous animals seem to consistently settle on the similar venom protein composition, and which physical or chemical properties make them predisposed to be useful as toxin.

These findings were published in the Journal of Molecular Evolution.

Sources: The Times Of India

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Herbs & Plants

Indian Mallow

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Botanical Name: Abutilan Indicum.
Family: Malvaceae
Genus: Abutilon
Species: A. indicum
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Malvales

Synonyms: Sida indica, Sida grandiflora, Abutilon graveolens, Sida rhombifolia

Common Names : Indian Abutilon, Indian Mallow

Vernacular Names:
Kanghi, Kangahi, Kakihiya, Kakahi, Nusht-ul-ghoul, Darakht-e-shaan (Unani); Thuthi (Siddha); Coongoonie (Hindi); Petaree (Bengali); Perin-tutte (Tamil); Nugubenda (Telagu) Thama-khyoke (Burmese); Anda (Cinghalese)
Sanskrit name: Atibalaa
Telugu name: Duvvena Kayalu “duvvena benda”

Nepal: Poti (Majhi); Kangiyo (Nepali)

China: Dong Kui Zi, Mi Lan Cao

Malaysia: Kembang Lohor

English: Country Mallow, Flowering Maples, Chinese Bell-flowers
Atibala, Kankatikaa, Rishyaproktaa, Vaatyaayani, Vaatyapushpi, Valikaa, Bhaaedwai, Uraksha gandhini, Naagbala, Vishvadevaa, Gavedhuka (Ayurvedic);

Habitat : Abutilan Indicum is native to tropic and subtropical regions. Present in sub-himalayan tract and hills upto 1,200 m and in hotter parts of india. It also occurs within parts of the Great Barrier Reef islands of the Coral Sea.

Abutilan Indicum is an annual shrub that can grow up to 2m high. It is an erect wood plant with velvet-like heart-shaped leaves. The leaves are stalked measuring 2.5-10cm long with 2-7.5cm wide, ovate or orbiculate to cordate, irregularly crenate or dentate, acuminated, minutely hoary tomentose on both surfaces. The flowers are orange-yellow in colour, solitary, axillary and bloom in the evening, with 4 cm diameter, maturing into button-shaped seed pods.The fruiting carpels 15-20 in number, flat-topped, forming a head, measuring 2-2.5cm across, black and hairy. The fruits are hispid, scarcely longer than the calyx and the awns are erect. The seeds are three to five in number, kidney-shaped, dark brown or black in colour, tubercled or with minutely stellate hairs.


.The plant is covered with an aromatic oily substance.This oil coating is pronounced in well grown plants. Its bark,roots, leaves and seeds are all used in medicine.The plant contains an alkaloids asparagin.

Cultivation and uses:

Velvet leaf has been grown in China since around 2000 BCE for its strong, jute-like fibre. The seeds are eaten in China and Kashmir in India.

Velvet leaf grows primarily in cropland, especially corn fields, and it can also be found on roadsides and in gardens . Velvet leaf prefers rich and cultivated soils, such as those used in agriculture.

After being introduced to North America in the 1700s, velvetleaf has become an invasive species in agricultural regions of the eastern and midwestern United States. It is one of the most detrimental weeds to corn, costing hundreds of millions of dollars per year in control and damage. Velvetleaf is an extremely competitive plant, so much so that it can steal nutrients and water away from crops.

The roots and the bark of the plant increases the secretion and discharge of urin, besides providing to be pulmonary sedative.The herb is laxtative and tonic. It promotes libido and is useful in relieving feverishness and producing a feeling of coolness.

Chemical Constituents:

Gallic acid, asparagine, fructose, galactose, glucose, beta-sitosterone, vanillic acid, p-coumaric acid, p-hydroxybenzoic acid, caffeic acid, fumaric acid, p-beta-D-glycosyloxybenzoic acid, leucine, histidine, threonine, serine, glutamic acid, aspartic acid and galacturonic acid, alantolactone, isoalantolactone, threonine, glutamine, serine, proline, glycine, alanine, cycteine, methionine, isoleucine, valine, leucine, tyrosine, phenylalanine, histidine, lysine, arginine.

Medicinal uses:

Used in much the same way as marsh mallow as a demulcent.  The root and bark of Indian mallow are mucilaginous and are used to soothe and protect the mucous membranes of the respiratory and urinary systems.  A decoction of the root is given for chest conditions such as bronchitis.  The mucilaginous effect benefits the skin; an infusion, poultice, or paste made from the powdered root or bark is applied to wounds and used for conditions such as boils and ulcers.  The seeds are laxative and useful in killing threadworms, if the rectum of the affected child be exposed to the smoke of the powdered seeds (Herbs that Heal, H.K Bakhru, 1992)  The plant has an antiseptic effect within the urinary tract and can be used to treat and can be used to treat infections.

Traditional medicine:
In traditional medicine, A. indicum various parts of the plant are used as a demulcent, aphrodisiac, laxative, diuretic, sedative, astringent, expectorant, tonic, anti-inflammatory, anthelmintic, and analgesic and to treat leprosy, ulcers, headaches, gonorrhea, and bladder infection. The whole plant is uprooted, dried and is powdered. In ancient days, maidens were made to consume a spoonful of this powder with a spoonful of honey, once in a day, for 6 months until the day of marriage, for safe and quick pregnancy.

The plant is very much used in Siddha medicines. The root, bark, flowers, leaves and seeds are all used for medicinal purposes by Tamils.[citation needed] The leaves are used as adjunct to medicines used for pile complaints. The flowers are used to increase semen in men.

Fevers:The leaves should be dried in the shade and powdered for use when required for any kind of fever. A decoction can also be extyracted from the herb.

Respiratory Disorders: A decoction of the herb can be given in bronchitis,catarrh and biliousness.

Skin Problems: The drug made from Indian Mallow has a very soothing effect on the skin and the mucous membranes.Its paste can be applied either by itself or mixed with coconut oil on the affected parts in case of abscess, carbuncle,scabies and itches.

Boils and Ulcers: A poultice of the leaves can alsop be applied on boils and ulcers. Its seeds are laxative and very effective in curing piles.

Threadworms: The seeds are useful in killing thread worms, if the rectum of the affected child be exposed to the smoke of the powdered seeds.

Other Uses:Indian mellow is useful in allaying irritation of the skin and in alleviatimng swelling and pain. Its decoction can be used effectively as fomentation on the painful parts of the body.It can also be used as a mouthwash for toothache and soft gums.

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.

Miracle Of Herbs,

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