Categories
Herbs & Plants Herbs & Plants (Spices)

Mastic

[amazon_link asins=’B000LQLIWM,B00S1L07KS,B00XSZZX5G,B0755TGZCP,B00YSO7KRA,B00YSO7KN4,B074M8MGMW,B074M8VXT5,B074M8JQRF’ template=’ProductCarousel’ store=’finmeacur-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’cdbb10ed-9a96-11e7-9718-fb0c8592c73c’]

Botanical Name : Pistacia lentiscus

Family: Anacardiaceae
Genus: Pistacia

Other Names: Lentisk
French: mastic
German: Mastix
Greek: masti(k)ha
Italian: lentischio, mastice
Spanish: lentisco, mastique
Arabic: aza
Species: Pistacia lentiscus
Bouquet: slightly piney. Mastic does not have a powerful bouquet, but purifies the breath.
Flavour: a cedar taste.
Hotness Scale: 0

Plant Description and Cultivation:
A Mediterranean shrub with dense twisted branches, 1-4m (3-l3ft) in height. The leaves are paripinnate with four to ten elliptical, glossy and leathery leaflets. It bears red berries in tightly packed clusters, which turn black on ripening. The resin occurs in the bark. Harvesting is from June to September. About 10 to 20 incisions (called “hurts’) are made in the trunk and main branches, and the resin is collected as It “weeps” in tears. About 100 cuts are made over the season, though “hurting” younger trees inhibits future yields. Over the month, the syrup coagulates as the gum mastic drips from the cuts and it is collected then rinsed in barrels and dried. A second cleaning is done by hand. At its prime, a tree will yield 4.5kg (l0 lbs) of mastic in one season.
Mastic (Pistacia lentiscus) is an evergreen shrub or small tree mainly cultivated for its aromatic resin on the Greek island of Chios,. It is native throughout the Mediterranean region, from Morocco and Iberia at the east through southern France and Turkey to Syria and Israel in the west; it is also native on the Canary Islands. The word mastic derives either from a Phoenician word or from the Greek verb mastichein (“to gnash the teeth”, origin of the English word masticate) or massein (“to chew”).

click to see…>……..(01).…...(1)…....(2).……..(3)……...(4)..

Though there a many varieties of mastic trees growing throughout the Mediterranean, it is on the Greek island of Chios that the production of gum mastic is centred with its Pistacia lentiscus chia variety. Chios became famous for its masticha, which derives from the Greek mastichon and is the root of the English word masticate, all meaning “to chew”. You’ve likely already figured out that mastic was the original chewing gum and mouth freshener. As a hardened gum, the flavour is initially bitter, but after a few minutes of chewing takes on its gummy consistency and releases a mouth freshening flavour which remains for about 15 to 20 minutes.

Mastic resin
A hard, brittle, transparent resin, also known as mastic (or mastix), is obtained from the tree. The resin is collected by bleeding from small cuts made in the bark. When chewed, the resin becomes bright white and opaque.

click to see

Mastic resin is a relatively expensive kind of spice, used in liquors (mastica alcoholic drink) and chewing gum pastilles. It is also a key ingredient in dondurma, a Turkish ice cream, and Turkish puddings granting that confection its unusual texture and bright whiteness. It was the Sultan’s privilege to chew mastic, and it was considered to have healing properties. Mastic is also used for pastry making, drinks, baked goods, chewing gum, cosmetics such as toothpaste, and lotions for the hair and skin and perfumes. It is also used in preparation of Turkish Delight.

It is used in cooking of many dishes in Egypt, ranging from soup to meats to dessert. It is also chewed as a gum to sooth the stomach.

The resin is harvested from incisions in the main branches of the tree dropping onto specially prepared ground under the branches. The harvesting is done during the summer months between June and September. After the mastic is collected it is washed manually and spread in the sun to dry.

The aromatic flavoured resin, used commercially, come from mastic trees grow in the south of the Greek island of Chios in the Aegean Sea, where it is also known by the name “Chios Tears”.

Spice Description
Mastic is a resin, the hardened sap from a tree. It appears as pea-sized globules, known as tears. They are rounded, pear shaped, sometimes oblong, with a brittle, crystalline texture. The resin is semi-translucent, pastel yellow or faint green at its best, white mastic being inferior. Sometimes the resin is frosted with a whitish powder. There are two grades of mastic: the immaculate, first-class crystals ware called ‘dahtilidopetres’ (flintstones) and the soft ones with spots which are called ‘kantiles’ (blisters). Mastic may also be sold in congealed chunks called ‘pitta’. Although well known in the Balkans and the Middle East, mastic is not widely available elsewhere.

Uses:
Besides being used in toothpaste, chewing gum and confectionery, mastic is an ingredient in the making of liqueurs. A Greek grape spirit, mastiha, is flavoured with the resin, as is the Turkish liqueur, raki. It is essential in rahat locum, the authentic Turkish delight, and it is found in recipes for breads and pastries, ice creams, sweet puddings and almond cake. Mastic is also used as a binding agent with oil, lemon juice and spices to coat the traditional Turkish doner kebab — as the meat cooks, thin slivers are sliced off and served in pita bread.

In Greece the best mastic comes from the island of Chios. It is used in the baking of bread and pastries, and also for one of the traditional ‘spoon sweets’, gliko tou koutaliou. A spoonful of this gooey sweet followed by a glass of ice-cold water is marvellous in hot weather. In Cyprus, small rings of mastic-flavoured bread are topped with sesame seeds. Mastic pounded with sugar and rose or orange blossom water is a popular flavouring in the Middle East, used in desserts, sweetmeats, ice cream, syrups and cordials.

For most cooking puposes, mastic is pounded with a little sugar and mixed with rose or orange blossom water. Only small amounts are necessary, a quarter to half teaspoon sufficing for a dish for four people.

Mastic gum is principally used either as a flavouring or for its gum properties, as in mastic chewing gum. Chios’s native drinks, Mastichato, a smooth sweet smelling mastic liqueur and mastic-flavored ouzo, are made from “Chios Tears”. In culinary uses, it can also be enjoyed in baking and in sweets such as biscuits, mastic ice cream, and mastic spoon sweets. In its refined form it is also used as the primary ingredient for toothpaste, shampoos and perfumes.

People in the Mediterranean region have used mastic as a medicine for gastrointestinal ailments for several thousand years. The first century Greek physician and botanist Dioscorides wrote about the medicinal properties of mastic in his classic treatise De Materia Medica (“About Medical Substances”). Some centuries later by Markellos Empeirikos and Pavlos Eginitis also noticed the effect of mastic in the digestive system.

Attributed Medicinal Properties
Stimulant and diuretic, mastic was widely used medicinally in the past and chewed to neutralise foul breath. Compound mastic paint is a plastic substance painted as a sealant over wounds. It has been used as a temporary tooth filling either by itself or as a cotton wool plug soaked with a mastic solution in alcohol. It is thought to have anti-microbial properties and Columbus believed it was a cure for cholera. The Gum Mastic Grower’s Association lists over 60 uses for mastic including its use in the treatment of duodenal ulcers, heartburn, its anti-cancer properties and extolling its aphrodisiac effects.

Medicinal use:

Stimulant, diuretic. It has many of the properties of the coniferous turpentines and was formerly greatly used in medicine. Of late years it has chiefly been used for filling carious teeth, either alone or in spirituous solution, and for varnishes, and in the East in the manufacture of sweets and cordials. In the East it is still used medicinally in the diarrhoea of children and masticated to sweeten the breath. The most effective oil for treating varicose veins is mastic (Pistacia lentiscus), but it is very expensive and ill smelling. A good substitute is cypress oil. A blend for external use can be made by combining several essential oils: 10 drops cypress or 5 drops mastic; 10 drops lavender or geranium; 5 drops rosemary or juniper; and 5 drops chamomile. A massage oil can be made by adding 15 drops of this essential oil blend to an ounce of carrier oil, which should be rubbed gently into the legs several times each day. Always massage above the varicose area. For hemorrhoids, mix one tablespoon KY jelly to 10 drops of the essential oil blend, then apply.
In recent years, university researchers have provided the scientific evidence for the medicinal properties of mastic. A 1985 study by the University of Thessaloniki and by the Meikai University discovered that mastic can reduce bacterial plaque in the mouth by 41.5 percent. A 1998 study by the University of Athens found that mastic oil has antibacterial and anti-fungal properties. Another 1998 University of Nottingham study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, claims that mastic can heal peptic ulcers by killing Helicobacter pylori, which causes peptic ulcers, gastritis, and duodenitis. However, a more recent study from 2003 shows that mastic gum has no effect on Helicobacter pylori. Another research from 2003 also shows similar findings.

Apart from its medicinal properties and culinary uses, it is also used in cosmetics and high grade varnish.

Click to buy Mastic on line

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/Mastic
http://www.theepicentre.com/Spices/mastic.html

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

Enhanced by Zemanta
Advertisements
Categories
Herbs & Plants

Anise

[amazon_link asins=’B003AYEHNE,B01F5IB4TC,B071WQTK9J,B000J5XPX0,B000EWMI5O,B072P6PCD3,B06XBCMN54,B01E7MTNFE’ template=’ProductCarousel’ store=’finmeacur-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’b6a778ce-7e67-11e8-9c7b-c7379d8ea66a’]

Botanical Name:Pimpinella anisum.
Family:
Apiaceae
Genus:
Pimpinella
Species:
P. anisum
Kingdom:
Plantae
Order:
Apiales

Habitat:
Anise is native to  Eastern Mediterranean or Western Asia.

Synonyms: Anisum vulgare (Gaertn.), A. officinarum (Moench.), Anise, Anisum, Anisi fructus, common aniseed

Parts used: Fruits (sometimes incorrectly called “seeds”).
Cultivated : Southern Europe, North Africa, Near East, China, Pakistan, Mexico, Chile, USA
Taste/smell:Sweet and very aromatic. A similar fragrance to that of cicely.( licorice-like, sweet)

Etymology: The spice gained its Latin name anisum as a result of confusion with dill, known in Greek as an?son. Names of anise in virtually all European languages are derived from anisum.
The Sanskrit name shatapushpa means “one hundred flowers” and refers to the flower cluster. The Hindi name saunf properly denotes fennel, of which anise is incorrectly thought to be a foreign variety. To distinguish anise clearly from fennel, the specialised terms patli saunf “thin fennel” or vilayati saunf “foreign fennel” are often used. Some languages refer to the sweetness of anise, e.g. Greek glykaniso “sweet anise”, or name anise as a sweet variant of other spices, e.g. Indonesian jinten manis and Arabic kamun halu “sweet cumin” (a name sometimes also used in English). Arabic has another, similar name habbu al-hulwa “sweet grains”. The Portuguese term erva doce “sweet herb” may denote anise, fennel or sweetleaf (stevia rebaudiana).
The genus name pimpinella is Late Latin for “narrow-ribbed fruit”.
Major Uses: pastries, candies, liquors

Description:

Anise, Pimpinella anisum, is an herbaceous annual plant in the family Umbelliferae grown primarily for its fruits which are used as a spice. The plant has a grooved stem and alternately arranged leaves. The lower leaves are round with a toothed edge and petioles which can be between 4 and 10 cm (1.6–3.9 in) in length. The upper leaves are feathered and become progressively shorter towards the top of the plant. The aniseed plant produces umbels of white flowers and an oval, flattened, hairy fruit with a single seed. Anise can reach a height of 45–60 cm (17.7–23.6 in) and is an annual plant, surviving only one growing season. Anise may also be referred to as aniseed and originates from the Mediterranean.

click to see the picture..>….(01)....(1)....…(2)....(3)…..…(4)….

Several spices have been called anise. The native of Egypt, Pimpinella anisum, is anise seed or aniseed, while China is the source of Illicum verum, star anise. In the past, dill, caraway and fennel seeds were confused with anise seed.
Useful Parts: The seeds have been used widely in cooking, and are popular in spicy cakes. The oil of anise  is often used in artificial licorice, and gives its distinctive taste to liqueurs such as anisette and raki. Anise is used in many processed foods and in cough medicines, and is often included in pet foods for the flavor it imparts.
Edible  Uses:In Western cuisine, anise is mostly restricted to bread and cakes although fruit products are occasionally aromatised with anise. In small dosage, anise seeds are sometimes contained in spice mixtures for sausages and stews. Their main applications are, however, anise-flavoured liqueurs, of which there are many in different Mediterranean countries including rak? in Turkey, ouzo in Greece and pernod in France. In many cases, oil of anise is partially or wholly substituted by oil of star anise in these products.

In the East, anise is less known and both fennel and star anise are more easily available and more popular. Anise may substitute for fennel in North Indian recipes, but it is a less suitable substitute for star anise in Chinese foods.
Anise appears occasionally in Mexican recipes, but native anise-flavoured herbs (Mexican tarragon and Mexican pepper-leaf) are more commonly used. Anise is an acceptable substitute for both, although tarragon is even better.
Several plants generate an aroma comparable to that of anise. Within the apiaceae (parsley) family, fennel and cicely copy the aroma of anise perfectly and chervil and dill also resemble anise, although their fragrance is less pure. In Far Eastern cuisines (India, Iran and Indonesia), no distinction is made between anise and fennel and the same name is usually given to both of them. In the Philippines star anise is very popular and is referred to as “anise” for short.

Constituents:
As with all spices, the composition of anise varies considerably with origin and cultivation method. These are typical values for the main constituents.

*Moisture: 9-13%
*Protein: 18%
*Fatty oil: 8-23%
*Essential oil: 2-7%
*Starch: 5%
*N-free extract: 22-28%
*Crude fibre: 12-25%
*Essential oil yielded by distillation is generally around 2-3% and anethole makes up 80-90% of this.

Medicinal Properties: Over the centuries, anise has been reported to have numerous medical benefits, but there is no evidence that it offers any pharmacologic benefit. It is thus a flavorful digestive spice that may be soothing, stimulating or carminative (relieving gas) in different individuals, and it is a popular taste in drinks, confections and simple proprietary medicines.

Anise is a carminative and an expectorant. It is also a good source of iron. One tablespoon of anise seeds sprinkled on cookies, bread or cake provides 16% of the RDA for a woman and 24% of the RDA for a man. A 1990 study tested the effect of certain beverage extracts on the absorption of iron. The results showed that anise was the most effective of the extracts tested in promoting iron absorption. The authors recommended offering this as a preventive agent to iron deficiency anemia. To make a carminative tea that may relieve intestinal gas, crush 1 teaspoon of anise seeds per cup of boiling water. Steep for 10-20 minutes and strain. Drink up to 3 cups a day. In a tincture, take  1 teaspoon up to three times a day. Diluted anise infusions may be given cautiously to infants to treat colic. For older children and people over 65, begin with low-strength preparations and increase strength if necessary. Some people simply chew the anise seeds. Early English herbalist Gerard suggested anise for hiccups. It has also been prescribed as a milk promoter for nursing mothers and as a treatment for water retention, headache, asthma, bronchitis, insomnia, nausea, lice, infant colic, cholera and even cancer. America’s 19th century Eclectic physicians recommended anise primarily as a stomach soother for nausea, gas, and infant colic.

Modern uses: Science has supported anise’s traditional use as a treatment for coughs, bronchitis, and asthma. According to several studies the herb contains chemicals (creosol and alpha-pinene) that loosen bronchial secretions and make them easier to cough up. Another chemical (anethole) acts as a digestive aid. Anise also contains chemicals (dianethole and photoanethole) similar to the female sex hormone estrogen. Scientists suggest their presence probably accounts for the herb’s traditional use as a milk promoter and may help relieve menopausal discomfort. One report shows that anise spurs the regeneration of liver cells in laboratory rats, suggesting a possible value in treating hepatitis and cirrhosis. While there are no studies that support using anise to treat liver disease in humans, anise looks promising in this area.

Other Miscellaneous Uses:
*In the 1860s, American Civil War nurse Maureen Hellstrom used anise seeds as an early form of antiseptic. This method was later found to have caused high levels of toxicity in the blood and was discontinued shortly thereafter.

*According to Pliny the Elder, anise was used as a cure for sleeplessness, chewed with alexanders and a little honey in the morning to freshen the breath, and, when mixed with wine, as a remedy for asp bites (N.H. 20.72).

*The Biblical “anise” mentioned in some translations of Matthew 23 is dill (A. graveolens), rather than this plant.

*In 19th-century medicine, anise was prepared as aqua anisi (“Water of Anise”) in doses of an ounce or more and as spiritus anisi (“Spirit of Anise”) in doses of 5–20 minims.

*In Pakistani and Indian cuisines, no distinction is made between anise and fennel. Therefore, the same name (saunf) is usually given to both of them. Some use the term patli (thin) saunf or velayati (foreign) saunf to distinguish anise from fennel, although Gujarati has the term anisi or Sava.

*In the Middle East, water is boiled with about a tablespoon of aniseed per teacup to make a special hot tea called yansoon. This is given to mothers in Egypt when they are nursing.

*Builders of steam locomotives in Britain incorporated capsules of aniseed oil into white metal plain bearings, so the distinctive smell would give warning in case of overheating.

*Anise can be made into a liquid scent and is used for both drag hunting and fishing. It is put on fishing lures to attract fish.

*Anise is frequently used to add flavor to mu’assel, particularly the double apple flavor.

*Anise is one of the three odors used in K9 Nosework.

Historical View :
Oil of anise possesses the same aromatic, carminative, and stimulant properties as anise fruits, and as already noticed is commonly preferred to them as a medicine, and is alone official in the British Pharmacopoeia.

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:
unitproj.library.ucla.edu
http://www.aidanbrooksspices.blogspot.com/2007/10/anise.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anise

Categories
Herbs & Plants Herbs & Plants (Spices)

Saffron,the Costly Spice

[amazon_link asins=’B004OKTBVQ,B00EFIPV0C’ template=’ProductCarousel’ store=’finmeacur-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’2fe8f1f0-fa4d-11e6-81be-7df47ad492e9′]

[amazon_link asins=’B000T9Q0IS,B00MI548XA’ template=’ProductCarousel’ store=’finmeacur-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’484fbdd5-fa4d-11e6-aa4b-214892105014′]

Botanical Name :Crocus sativus
Family: Iridaceae
Subfamily: Crocoideae
Genus: Crocus
Species: C. sativus
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Asparagales

Common Name :Saffron

Habitat :Saffron  is native to Greece or Southwest Asia and was first cultivated in Greece. As a genetically monomorphic clone, it was slowly propagated throughout much of Eurasia and was later brought to parts of North Africa, North America, and Oceania.

Description:
The domesticated saffron crocus, Crocus sativus, is an autumn-flowering perennial plant unknown in the wild. Its progenitors are possibly the eastern Mediterranean autumn-flowering Crocus cartwrightianus, which is also known as “wild saffron” and originated in Greece. The saffron crocus likely resulted when C. cartwrightianus was subjected to extensive artificial selection by growers seeking longer stigmas. C. thomasii and C. pallasii are other possible sources

click to see the picture..

Saffron crocus grows to 20–30 cm (8–12 in) and bears up to four flowers, each with three vivid crimson stigmas, which are the distal end of a carpel. Together with the styles, or stalks that connect the stigmas to their host plant, the dried stigmas are used mainly in various cuisines as a seasoning and colouring agent. Saffron, long among the world’s most costly spices by weight,

Saffron : is a spice derived from the flower of the saffron crocus (Crocus sativus), a species of crocus in the family Iridaceae. The flower has three stigmas, which are the distal ends of the plant’s carpels. Together with its style, the stalk connecting the stigmas to the rest of the plant, these components are often dried and used in cooking as a seasoning and colouring agent. Saffron, which has for decades been the world’s most expensive spice by weight, is native to Southwest Asia. It was first cultivated in the vicinity of Greece.

CLICK TO SEE THE PICTURES….>...(01)...(1).(2)….…(3)....(4)...…..(5)....(6).…..(7)......

Saffron is characterised by a bitter taste and an iodoform- or hay-like fragrance; these are caused by the chemicals picrocrocin and safranal. It also contains a carotenoid dye, crocin, that gives food a rich golden-yellow hue. These traits make saffron a much-sought ingredient in many foods worldwide. Saffron also has medicinal applications.

The word saffron originated from the 12th-century Old French term safran, which derives from the Latin word safranum. Safranum is also related to the Italian zafferano and Spanish azafrán. Safranum comes from the Arabic word aá¹£far (أَصْفَر‎), which means “yellow,” via the paronymous zaÊ»farān (زَعْفَرَان‎), the name of the spice in Arabic. Yet, some others believe it has a Persian root, i.e “Zarparan”زَرپَران. Zarزر meaning gold + parپر meaning feather, or stigma. Proponents of this theory cite the cultivation in the plateau of Iran as evidence.

The most precious and expensive spice in the world is saffron. The Saffron
filaments, or threads, are actually the dried stigmas of the saffron flower, “Crocus Sativus Linneaus”. Each flower contains only three stigmas. These threads must be picked from each flower by hand, and more than 75,000 of these flowers are needed to produce just one pound of Saffron filaments, making it the world’s most precious spice.
But, because of saffron’s strong coloring power and intense flavor, it can be used sparingly. Saffron is used both for its bright orange-yellow color and for its strong, intense flavor and aroma.
“Crocus Sativus Linneaus” contains crocin, the source of its strong coloring property, bitter-crocin, which offers the distinctive aroma and taste and essential oils, which are responsible for its therapeutic properties.
Saffron is available both in filaments and powder, though the long, deep red filaments are usually preferable to the powder as the latter can be easily adulterated.
Today, the greatest saffron producing countries are Greece, Spain, Turkey, Iran, India, and Morocco. The largest saffron importers are Germany, Italy, U.S.A., Switzerland, U.K., and France.

Cultivation:
Prefers a well-drained sandy or loamy soil that is free from clay. Prefers a sunny position. Grows well on calcareous soils and on hot sheltered stony banks. Plants are very frost hardy. They also thrive in areas with poor summers, though they usually fail to flower in such conditions. Plants produce less saffron when grown on rich soils. They do not flower very freely in Britain. Saffron has been cultivated for over 4,000 years for the edible dye obtained from the flower stigmas. It was at one time commercially grown in Britain and the town Saffron Walden obtained its name because of this. There is at least one named form. ‘Cashmirianus’ comes from Kashmir and has large high quality corms. It yields about 27 kilos of rich orange stigmas per hectare. When inhaled near to, the flowers have a delicate perfume. Unlike most members of this genus, the flowers do not close of a night time or in dull weather. The flowers are only produced after hot, dry summers. Plants tend to move considerably from their original planting place because of their means of vegetative reproduction, it is therefore wise not to grow different species in close proximity. Any planting out is best done in late spring or early summer. Plants take 4 – 5 years to come into flowering from seed.
Propagation:
Seed – according to some reports this species is a sterile triploid and so does not produce fertile seed. However, if seed is obtained then it is best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame. Stored seed can be sown in the spring in a cold frame. Germination can take 1 – 6 months at 18°c. Unless the seed has been sown too thickly, do not transplant the seedlings in their first year of growth, but give them regular liquid feeds to make sure they do not become deficient. Divide the small bulbs once the plants have died down, planting 2 – 3 bulbs per 8cm pot. Grow them on for another 2 years in a greenhouse or frame and plant them out into their permanent positions when dormant in late summer. It takes 3 years for plants to flower from seed. Division of the clumps in late summer after the plant has died down. The bulbs can be planted out direct into their permanent positions.
A brief Histry:
It was not defined well when saffron cultivation began, but it is believed that this might have happened during Prehistoric Greek times. The excavations in Knossos, Crete, and Akrotiri in the island of Santorini brought to light some frescoes where saffron is depicted.
The most famous of these frescoes is the ’saffron gatherer’, where it was depicted that there was a monkey amongst the yellow saffron flowers. Etymologically, the word crocus has its origin from the Greek word “croci” which means the weft, thread used for weaving on a loom. Mythologically, according to Ovidius, the plant took its name from the youth Crocus, who after witnessing in despair the death of fair Smilax was transformed into this flower.

Known since antiquity, saffron it was one of the most desired and expensive spices of ancient Greeks, Egyptians and Romans for its aroma, color and aphrodisiac properties. It was quite popular among the Phoenician traders, who carried it wherever they traveled. The ancient Assyrians used saffron for medical purposes.

Hippocrates and other Greek doctors of his time, like Dioskourides and Galinos mention crocus as a drug or a therapeutical herb. From the writings of Homer who calls dawn, “crocus veil”, Aeschylus, Pindaros, and others, we know that the crocus was considered a rare pharmaceutical plant of ancient Greece with unique properties. It is referred throughout ancient history and in the course of many medical writings of the classical Greek and Roman times all the way to the Middle Ages. Another saffron use in ancient Greece was that of perfumery. The history of red saffron in modern Greece starts in the 17th century when red saffron was cultivated in the area of Kozani in Macedonia. For more than 300 years, Greek red saffron is systematically cultivated under the warmth of the Greek sun, in the rich soil of a unique area including many small towns of Kozani in West Macedonia
USES:
As a therapeutical plant, saffron it is considered an excellent stomach ailment and an antispasmodic, helps digestion and increases appetite. It is also relieves renal colic, reduces stomachaches and relieves tension. During the last years it was used as a drug for flu-like infections, depression, hypatomegaly and as a sedative for its essential oils. It is also considered that in small quantities it regulates women’s menstruation, and helps conception.

It is a fact that even since antiquity, crocus was attributed to have aphrodisiac properties. Many writers along with Greek mythology sources associate crocus with fertility. Crocus in general is an excellent stimulant.
SAFFRON IN DYEING
The basic ingredient of crocus is crocin, the source of its strong coloring property. In antiquity it was a very rare and expensive substance and the color it produced and signified a high status or royalty. Romans used it to dye their hair and the “purple carpet” of saffron of Irish kings was such impressive examples.
.SAFFRON IN COOKING
As a spice it is used for colouring and flavor improving while giving a distinct aroma and a beautiful golden color. There is a great list of foods where saffron is added including cheese products such as cottage cheese and parmesan, soups, chicken and meat, various spirits, pasta and rice. To use saffron, either infuse a few threads in a cup of hot water and add the coloured liquid towards the end of cooking, or crumble the threads and add directly to the pot.

Alternatively, dry roast, crumble and then steep the crumbled threads. Unlike other spices, a good pinch will suffice to add flavor and color most dishes. Cook with red Greek saffron and indulge in its excellent flavor.
Greek Red Saffron, is distinguished for its excellent quality, which places it in the top quality of Saffron in the world. A small quantity of saffron adds an exquisite flavor, color and aroma in all your dishes such as pasta, rice, soups, sauces, poultry, meat, fish. Krokos Kozanis is perfectly pure and combined with coffee or tea forms an excellent beverage.
Here you can find some indicative recipes where the use of Greek Saffron adds its special characteristics to your dish.
Medicinal Uses:
Saffron is a famous medicinal herb with a long history of effective use, though it is little used at present because cheaper and more effective herbs are available. The flower styles and stigmas are the parts used, but since these are very small and fiddly to harvest they are very expensive and consequently often adulterated by lesser products. The styles and stigmas are anodyne, antispasmodic, aphrodisiac, appetizer, carminative, diaphoretic, emmenagogue, expectorant, sedative and stimulant. They are used as a diaphoretic for children, to treat chronic haemorrhages in the uterus of adults, to induce menstruation, treat period pains and calm indigestion and colic. A dental analgesic is obtained from the stigmas. The styles are harvested in the autumn when the plant is in flower and are dried for later use, they do not store well and should be used within 12 months. This remedy should be used with caution, large doses can be narcotic and quantities of 10g or more can cause an abortion.
SAFRON IN AYURVEDA:
The legendary ayurvedic physician Charaka compiled the first Indian medical and botanical encyclopaedia in the first century AD. Since then voluminous documentation has been done on herbal medicine as well as saffron’s therapeutic properties. Both the Ayurvedic and Unani schools of medicine propagate the use of saffron:

* For curing respiratory problems
* To treat alcoholism
* To treat acne and skin diseases
* Used in medicines that reduce inflamation
* For treatment of enlarged liver and infection of urinary bladder and kidneys
* As an ingredient in recipes for treating menstrual disorders
* For strengthening the heart and as a refrigerant for the brain
* As a diuretic
* For treating diabetic patients
* As an anti-depressant and relaxant
* As aphrodisiac for impotency
* Prolonging vitality

Other Uses: …Dye…..The yellow dye obtained from the stigmas has been used for many centuries to colour cloth. It is the favoured colouring for the cloth of Indian swamis who have renounced the material world. A blue or green dye is obtained from the petals.

Known Hazards:  The plant is poisonous. The plant is perfectly safe in normal usage but 5 – 10 grams of saffron has been known to cause death.

.
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/Saffron

Safron has many other uses in Ayurveda
(Partly extracted from: http://www.saffron.gr/recipes.html)

http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Crocus+sativus

Categories
Ailmemts & Remedies

Psoriasis

Psoriasis is a disease/disorder, where angry red lesions on the skin , multiply, and scale over with silvery patches, Of course this is an over simplification.

But Psoriasis is non contagious, Usually inherited. It is an Autoimmune disorder and very rarely life threatening.

CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES

The word Psoriasis has come from ancient Greece and it means itch. Red eruptions appear on the surface of the skin and begin to eatch.These areas form plaques over the reddendend lesions. The plaques resemble multi-layered scales of skin. Psoriasis varies in intensity from a few random spots to a massive outbreak sometimes covering the entire body and requiring hospitalization too.

Psoriasis has a tendency to be genetically inherited.Recently it has been classified as being an autoimmune disorder.This disorder can originate in juveniles or not be evident until adulthood.It has been reported to initiate as early as birth or not occur until very late in life.Once Psoriasis begins, there are only remissions and replaces of varying degree of intesity..There is no known cure yet,only possible control over the severity.

Psoriasis reacts.It has triggers(such as systematic step infection) which can cause the body to go from mild to severe case within days.There are also other factors,such as sunlight,which may help to decrease the severity.

Psoriasis occurs in 2% of the total population.It can be mildly annoying problem or can destroy the self-esteem and life of the victim.Although it is not at al contagious, it definitely an ugly disease that can alenate coworkers and acquitances.

Arthritis can sometimes stem from psoriasis, attacking the joint spaces,giving the victim another disease to deal with.This disease can be consuming.The ugliness of the patches,the chronic eatching and flaking(although not life threatening) impact the self-esteem and life style of the victim.Time and money are spent to keep it under control.

Treatment Advances Improve Outlook
With the emergence of several new therapies, including the biologic agents, more people are experiencing substantial improvements and reporting a greatly improved quality of life.

References:
American Academy of Dermatology. “American Academy of Dermatology’s Psoriasis Public Awareness Campaign Provides Latest Information About this Skin Condition.” Available at: http://www.newswire1.net/NW2004/C_AAD_CH/111504/index.html. Accessed April 26, 2005. American Academy of Dermatology. Psoriasis. Available at: http://www.aad.org/public/Publications/pamphlets/Psoriasis.htm. Accessed April 26, 2005

Topical treatment

Bath solutions and moisturizers help sooth affected skin and reduce the dryness which accompanies the build-up of skin on psoriasis plaques. Medicated creams and ointments applied directly onto psoriasis plaques can help reduce inflammation, remove built-up scale, reduce skin turn over, and clear affected skin of plaques. Ointment and creams containing coal tar, anthralin, corticosteroids, vitamin D3 analogues (for example, calcipotriol), and retinoids are routinely used. The mechanism of action of each is probably different but they all help to normalise skin cell production and reduce inflammation.

The disadvantages of topical agents are variabily that they can often irritate normal skin, can be awkward to apply, cannot be used for long periods, can stain clothing or have a strong odour. As a result, it is sometimes difficult for people to maintain the regular application of these medications. Abrupt withdrawal of some topical agents, particularly corticosteroids, can cause an aggressive recurrence of the condition. This is known as a rebound of the condition.

Some topical agents are used in conjunction with other therapies, especially phototherapy.

Phototherapy

It has long been recognised that daily, short, nonburning exposure to sunlight helped to clear or improve psoriasis. Niels Finsen was the first physician to investigate the theraputic effects of sunlight scientifically and to use sunlight in clinical practice. This became known as phototherapy.

Sunlight contains many different wavelengths of light. It was during the early part of the 20th century that it was recognised that for psoriasis the therapeutic property of sunlight was due to the wavelengths classified as ultraviolet (UV) light.

Ultraviolet wavelengths are subdivided into UVA (380–315 nm), UVB (315–280 nm), and UVC (< 280 nm). Ultraviolet B (UVB) (315–280 nm) is absorbed by the epidermis and has a beneficial effect on psoriasis. Narrowband UVB (311 to 312 nm), is that part of the UVB spectrum that is most helpful for psoriasis. Exposure to UVB several times per week, over several weeks can help people attain a remission from psoriasis.

Ultraviolet light treatment is frequently combined with topical (coal tar, calcipotriol) or systemic treatment (retinoids) as there is a synergy in their combination. The Ingram regime, involves UVB and the application of anthralin paste. The Goeckerman regime, combines coal tar ointment with UVB.

A form of phototherapy called Grenz Rays (also called ultrasoft X-rays or Bucky rays) was a popular treatment of psoriasis during the middle of the 20th century. This type of therapy was superseded by ultraviolet therapy and is no longer commonly used.

Photochemotherapy

Psoralen and ultraviolet A phototherapy (PUVA) combines the oral or topical administration of psoralen with exposure to ultraviolet A (UVA) light. Precisely how PUVA works is not known. The mechanism of action probably involves activation of psoralen by UVA light which inhibits the abnormally rapid production of the cells in psoriatic skin. There are multiple mechanisms of action associated with PUVA, including effects on the skin immune system.

Dark glasses must be worn during PUVA treatment because there is a risk of cataracts developing from exposure to sunlight. PUVA is associated with nausea, headache, fatigue, burning, and itching. Long-term treatment is associated with squamous-cell and melanoma skin cancers.

Systemic treatment

Psoriasis which is resistant to topical treatment and phototherapy is treated by medications that are taken internally by pill or injection. This is called systemic treatment. Patients undergoing systemic treatment are required to have regular blood and liver function tests because of the toxicity of the medication. Pregnancy must be avoided for the majority of these treatments. Most people experience a recurrence of psoriasis after systemic treatment is discontinued.

The three main traditional systemic treatments are the immunosupressant drugs methotrexate and ciclosporin, and retinoids, which are a synthetic forms of vitamin A. Other additional drugs, not specifically licensed for psoriasis, have been found to be effective. These include the antimetabolite tioguanine, the cytotoxic agent hydroxyurea, sulfasalazine, the immunosupressants mycophenolate mofetil, azathioprine and oral tacrolimus. These have all been used effectively to treat psoriasis when other treatments have failed. Although not licensed in many other countries fumaric acid esters have also been used to treat severe psoriasis in Germany for over 20 years.

Biologics[4] are the newest class of systemic treatment for psoriasis. These are manufactured proteins that interrupt the immune process involved in psoriasis. Unlike generalised immunosuppressant therapies such as methotrexate, biologics focus on specific aspects of the immune function leading to psoriasis. These drugs are relatively new, and their long-term impact on immune function is unknown. Examples include Amevive®, etanercept (Enbrel®), Humira®, infliximab (Remicade®) and Raptiva.

Alternative Therapy

  • Antibiotics are not indicated in routine treatment of psoriasis. However, antibiotics may be employed when an infection, such as that caused by the bacteria Streptococcus, triggers an outbreak of psoriasis, as in certain cases of guttate psoriasis.
  • Climatotherapy involves the notion that some diseases can be successfully treated by living in particular climate. Several psoriasis clinics are located throughout the world based on this idea. The Dead Sea is one of the most popular locations for this type of treatment.
  • In Turkey, doctor fish which live in the outdoor pools of spas, are encouraged to feed on the psoriatic skin of people with psoriasis. The fish only consume the affected areas of the skin. The outdoor location of the spa may also have a beneficial effect. This treatment can provide temporary relief of symptoms. A revisit to the spas every few months is often required.
  • Some people subscribe to the view that psoriasis can be effectively managed through a healthy lifestyle. This view is based on anecdote, and has not been subjected to formal scientific evaluation. Nevertheless, some people report that minimizing stress and consuming a healthy diet, combined with rest, sunshine and swimming in saltwater keep lesions to a minimum. This type of “lifestyle” treatment is suggested as a long-term management strategy, rather than an initial treatment of severe psoriasis.
  • Some psoriasis patients use herbology as a holistic approach that aims to treat the underlying causes of psoriasis.
  • A psychological symptom management programme has been reported as being a helpful adjunct to traditional therapies in the management of psoriasis.
  • It is possible that Epsom salt may have a positive effect in reducing the effects of psoriasis.

Future Drug Development

Historically, agents used to treat psoriasis were discovered by experimentation or by accident. In contrast, current novel therapeutic agents are designed from a better understanding of the immune processes involved in psoriasis and by the specific targeting of molecular mediators. Examples can be seen in the use of biologics which target T cells and TNF inhibitors. Future innovation should see the creation of additional drugs that refine the targeting of immune-mediators further.

Research into antisense oligonucleotides is in its infancy but carries the potential to provide novel theraputic strategies for treating psoriasis.

Prognosis

Psoriasis is a chronic lifelong condition. There is currently no cure but various treatments can help to control the symptoms. Many of the most effective agents used to treat severe psoriasis carry an increased risk of significant morbidity including skin cancers, lymphoma and liver disease. However, the majority of people’s experience of psoriasis is that of minor localised patches, particularly on the elbows and knees, which can be treated with topical medication. Psoriasis does get worse over time but it is not possible to predict who will go on to develop extensive psoriasis or those in whom the disease may appear to vanish. Individuals will often experience flares and remissions throughout their life. Controlling the signs and symptoms typically requires lifelong therapy.

“The heartbreak of psoriasis”

The phrase “the heartbreak of psoriasis” is often used both seriously and ironically to describe the emotional impact of the disease. It can be found in various advertisements for topical and other treatments; conversely, it has been used to mock the tendency of advertisers to exaggerate (or even fabricate) aspects of a malady for financial gain. (In Bloom County, the character of Opus once considered the possibility of his suffering from “the heartbreak of nose hemorrhoids.”) While many products today use the phrase in their advertising, it originated in a 1960s advertising campaign for Tegrin, a coal tar-based medicated soap.

Partly extracted from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psoriasis

Enhanced by Zemanta