Tag Archives: Greek

Asphodelus ramosus

Botanical Name :Asphodelus ramosus
Family: Asphodelaceae
Subfamily: Asphodeloideae
Genus: Asphodelus
Species: A. ramosus
Order: Asparagales
Kingdom: Plantae

Synonyms: White Asphodel. Asphodele Rameux. Royal Staff. Branched Asphodel. King’s Spear.

Common Name:Common Asphodel

Habitat: Asphodelus ramosus is native to the Mediterranean region of southern Europe, northern Africa, and the Middle East. It can also be found in the Canary Islands. It is particularly common on the Catalan coast, where it shows an affinity for acidic soils, mainly schist. It is to be found close to the sea on the slopes of the Albères massif, where it forms abundant colonies in April to May.
Description:
Life form: Hemicryptophyte
Stems: Erect, single, glabrous branched scape
Leaves: Basal rosette; sessile from an underground stem; parallel venation, ensiform, smooth margin
Flowers: White with pink, stellate; 6 tepals with central reddish-brown mid-vein; 6 anthers, white firm filament and an orange anther; superior ovary.
The plant is about 3 feet high, with large, white, terminal flowers, and radical, long, numerous leaves. It is only cultivated in botanical and ornamental gardens, though it easily grows from seeds or division of roots.

The roots must be gathered at the end of the first year.

The ancients planted the flowers near tombs, regarding them as the form of food preferred by the dead, and many poems refer to this custom. The name is derived from a Greek word meaning sceptre.
Edible Uses: The roots, dried and boiled in water, yield a mucilaginous matter that in some countries is mixed with grain or potato to make Asphodel bread. In Spain and other countries they are used as cattle fodder, especially for sheep. In Barbary the wild boars eat them greedily.

In Persia, glue is made with the bulbs, which are first dried and then pulverized. When mixed with cold water, the powder swells and forms a strong glue.

Hippocrates, Dioscorides, and Pliny said the roots were cooked in ashes and eaten. The Greeks and Romans used them in several diseases, but they are not employed in modern medicine.
Constituents: An acrid principle separated or destroyed by boiling water, and a matter resembling inuline have been found. An alcohol of excellent flavour has been obtained from plants growing abundantly in Algeria.

Medicinal Uses:
Acrid, heating, and diuretic. Said to be useful inmenstrual obstructions and as an antispasmodic. The bruised root has been recommended for rapidly dissolving scrofulous swellings.
Disclaimer: This information is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advise or help. It is always best to consult with a Physician about serious health concerns. This information is in no way intended to diagnose or prescribe remedies.This is purely for educational purpose.

Resources:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asphodelus_ramosus
http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/a/aspho080.html
http://www.flowersinisrael.com/Asphodelusaestivus_page.htm

 

Echinacea purpurea

Botanical name :Echinacea purpurea
Family: Asteraceae
Tribe: Heliantheae
Genus: Echinacea
Species: E. purpurea
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Asterales

Synonyms :  Brauneria purpurea. Echinacea intermedia. Echinacea serotina. Rudbeckia purpurea.

Common Names: Echinacea, Eastern purple coneflower, Hedge Coneflower, Black Sampson , Purple Coneflower

Habitat : Echinacea purpurea  is native to North America and it extends through the Great Plains from Michigan all the way down to northern Texas and Georgia. It grows in dry open woods, prairies and barrens

Description :
Echinacea purpurea is a  herbaceous  perennial plant. It  is 120 cm (47 in) tall by 50 cm (20 in) wide at maturity. Depending on the climate, it blooms throughout spring and summer. Its individual flowers (florets) within the flower head are hermaphroditic, having both male and female organs on each flower. It is pollinated by butterflies and bees. Its habitats include dry open woods, prairies and barrens, as well as cultivated beds. Although the plant prefers loamy or sandy, well-drained soils, it is little affected by the soil’s pH.

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A popular perennial with smooth, 2-5 ft. stems and long-lasting, lavender flowers. Rough, scattered leaves that become small toward the top of the stem. Flowers occur singly atop the stems and have domed, purplish-brown, spiny centers and drooping, lavender rays. An attractive perennial with purple (rarely white), drooping rays surrounding a spiny, brownish central disk.

Cultivation:
E. purpurea is also grown as an ornamental plant, and numerous cultivars have been developed for flower quality and plant form.Unable to grow in the shade, it thrives in either dry or moist soil and can tolerate drought once established. The following have gained the Royal Horticultural Society‘s Award of Garden Merit:-

*’Magnus’

*’Rubinstein’

*’Ruby Giant’

Propagation:
It can be propagated either vegetatively or from seeds. Useful vegetative techniques include division, root cuttings, and basal cuttings. Clumps can be divided, or broken into smaller bunches, which is normally done in the spring or autumn. Cuttings made from roots that are “pencil-sized” will develop into plants when started in late autumn or early winter. Cuttings of basal shoots in the spring may be rooted when treated with rooting hormones.

Medicinal Uses:
Preparations of this plant were used by the Plain Indians (Comanche and Sioux) for the treatment of upper respiratory infections, burns, snakebites, and cancers. The European settlers learned about these indications from the Indians. It has been demonstrated that plant extracts stimulate the immune system to combat bacterial and viral infections. It also possesses antibiotic properties. Echinacea’s name is derived from the Greek word for hedgehog and was inspired by the appearance of the flower’s central cone.

Echinacea should be of particular interest during the cold and flu season when you are exposed to these illnesses on a regular basis. When used correctly it is the closest thing to a cure for the common cold.

Echinacea stimulates the overall activity of the cells responsible for fighting all kinds of infection. Unlike antibiotics, which directly attack bacteria, echinacea makes our own immune cells more efficient at attacking bacteria, viruses and abnormal cells, including cancer cells. It increases the number and activity of immune system cells including anti-tumor cells, promotes T-cell activation, stimulates new tissue growth for wound healing and reduces inflammation in arthritis and inflammatory skin conditions.

The most consistently proven effect of echinacea is in stimulating phagocytosis (the consumption of invading organisms by white blood cells and lymphocytes). Extracts of echinacea can increase phagocytosis by 20-40%.

Echinacea also stimulates the production of interferon as well as other important products of the immune system, including “Tumor Necrosis Factor”, which is important to the body’s response against cancer.

Echinacea also inhibits an enzyme (hyaluronidase) secreted by bacteria to help them gain access to healthy cells. Research in the early 1950’s showed that echinacea could completely counteract the effect of this enzyme, helping to prevent infection when used to treat wounds.

Although echinacea is usually used internally for the treatment of viruses and bacteria, it is now being used more and more for the treatment of external wounds. It also kills yeast and slows or stops the growth of bacteria and helps to stimulate the growth of new tissue. It combats inflammation too, further supporting its use in the treatment of wounds

One study shows E. purpurea has antidepressant properties in white rats as it increased the stimulating action of L-DOPA. Echinacea is believed by many people to stimulate the immune system.

Known Hazards : Possible suppression of immunity with habitual use. High doses over 1000 mg may cause dizziness. Use of herb for 10-14 days recommended followed by a short break.

Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider

Resources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Echinacea_purpurea
http://www.piam.com/mms_garden/plants.html
http://www.herbwisdom.com/herb-echinacea.html

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Thymoma

Introduction
Thymoma, the most common neoplasm of the anterior mediastinum, originates within the epithelial cells of the thymus.

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The thymus is a lymphoid organ located in the anterior mediastinum. In early life, the thymus is responsible for the development and maturation of cell-mediated immunological functions. The thymus is composed predominantly of epithelial cells and lymphocytes. Precursor cells migrate to the thymus and differentiate into lymphocytes. Most of these lymphocytes are destroyed, with the remainder of these cells migrating to tissues to become T lymphocytes. The thymus gland is located behind the sternum in front of the great vessels; it reaches its maximum weight at puberty and undergoes involution thereafter.

In human anatomy, the thymus is an organ located in the upper anterior portion of the chest cavity just behind the sternum. The main function of the thymus is to provide an area for T cell maturation, and is vital in protecting against autoimmunity.

Etiology:-
The etiology of thymomas has not been elucidated; however, it has been associated with various systemic syndromes. As many as 30-40% of patients who have a thymoma experience symptoms suggestive of MG. An additional 5% of patients who have a thymoma have other systemic syndromes, including red cell aplasia, dermatomyositis, systemic lupus erythematous, Cushing syndrome, and syndrome of inappropriate antidiuretic hormone secretion.

History:-
The thymus was known to the Ancient Greeks, and its name comes from the Greek word ??µ?? (thumos), meaning heart, soul, desire, life – possibly because of its location in the chest, near where emotions are subjectively felt; or else the name comes from the herb thyme (also in Greek ??µ??), which became the name for a “warty excrescence”, possibly due to its resemblance to a bunch of thyme.

Galen was the first to note that the size of the organ changed over the duration of a person’s life.

Due to the large numbers of apoptotic lymphocytes, the thymus was originally dismissed as a “lymphocyte graveyard”, without functional importance. The importance of the thymus in the immune system was discovered in 1961 by Jacques Miller, by surgically removing the thymus from three day old mice, and observing the subsequent deficiency in a lymphocyte population, subsequently named T cells after the organ of their origin. Recently, advances in immunology have allowed the function of the thymus in T cell maturation to be more fully understood.

Function:-
In the two thymic lobes, lymphocyte precursors from the bone-marrow become thymocytes, and subsequently mature into T cells. Once mature, T cells emigrate from the thymus and constitute the peripheral T cell repertoire responsible for directing many facets of the adaptive immune system. Loss of the thymus at an early age through genetic mutation (as in DiGeorge Syndrome) or surgical removal results in severe immunodeficiency and a high susceptibility to infection.

The stock of T-lymphocytes is built up in early life, so the function of the thymus is diminished in adults. It is largely degenerated in elderly adults and is barely identifiable, consisting mostly of fatty tissue, but it continues to function as an endocrine gland important in stimulating the immune system.[8] Involution of the thymus has been linked to loss of immune function in the elderly, susceptibility to infection and to cancer.

The ability of T cells to recognize foreign antigens is mediated by the T cell receptor. The T cell receptor undergoes genetic rearrangement during thymocyte maturation, resulting in each T cell bearing a unique T cell receptor, specific to a limited set of peptide:MHC combinations. The random nature of the genetic rearrangement results in a requirement of central tolerance mechanisms to remove or inactivate those T cells which bear a T cell receptor with the ability to recognise self-peptides.

Iodine, thymus and immunity:-
Iodine has important actions in the immune system. The high iodide-concentration of thymus suggests an anatomical rationale for this role of iodine in immune system.

Phases of thymocyte maturation:-
The generation of T cells expressing distinct T cell receptors occurs within the thymus, and can be conceptually divided into three phases:

1.A rare population of hematopoietic progenitor cells enter the thymus from the blood, and expands by cell division to generate a large population of immature thymocytes.

2.Immature thymocytes each make distinct T cell receptors by a process of gene rearrangement. This process is error-prone, and some thymocytes fail to make functional T cell receptors, whereas other thymocytes make T cell receptors that are autoreactive. Growth factors include thymopoietin and thymosin.

3.Immature thymocytes undergo a process of selection, based on the specificity of their T cell receptors. This involves selection of T cells that are functional (positive selection), and elimination of T cells that are autoreactive (negative selection).

Anatomy:
The thymus is of a pinkish-gray color, soft, and lobulated on its surfaces. At birth it is about 5 cm in length, 4 cm in breadth, and about 6 mm in thickness. The organ enlarges during childhood, and atrophies at puberty. Unlike the liver, kidney and heart, for instance, the thymus is at its largest in children. The thymus reaches maximum weight (20 to 37 grams) by the time of puberty. It remains active only until puberty. Then with growing age, it starts to shrink. The thymus gland of older people is scarcely distinguishable from surrounding fatty tissue. As one ages the thymus slowly shrinks, eventually degenerating into tiny islands of fatty tissue. By the age of 75 years, the thymus gland weighs only 6 grams. In children the thymus is grayish-pink in colour and in adults it is yellow.
Presentation:-
Peak incidence of thymoma occurs in the fourth to fifth decade of life; mean age of patients is 52 years. No sexual predilection exists. Although development of a thymoma in childhood is rare, children are more likely than adults to have symptoms. Several explanations for the prevalence of symptoms in children have been proposed, including the following: (1) children are more likely to have malignancy, (2) lesions are more likely to cause symptoms by compression or invasion in the smaller thoracic cavity of a child, and (3) the most common location for mediastinal tumors in children is near the trachea, resulting in respiratory symptoms.

Four cases of patients who presented with severe chest pain secondary to infarction or hemorrhage of the tumor have been reported. Cases of invasion into the superior vena cava resulting in venous obstruction have also been reported.2  The clinician should be aware of these rare presentations of a thymoma.

The thymus will, if examined when its growth is most active, be found to consist of two lateral lobes placed in close contact along the middle line, situated partly in the thorax, partly in the neck, and extending from the fourth costal cartilage upward, as high as the lower border of the thyroid gland. It is covered by the sternum, and by the origins of the sternohyoidei and sternothyreoidei. Below, it rests upon the pericardium, being separated from the aortic arch and great vessels by a layer of fascia. In the neck, it lies on the front and sides of the trachea, behind the sternohyoidei and sternothyreoidei. The two lobes differ in size and may be united or separated

Problem:-
No clear histologic distinction between benign and malignant thymomas exists. The propensity of a thymoma to be malignant is determined by the invasiveness of the thymoma. Malignant thymomas can invade the vasculature, lymphatics, and adjacent structures within the mediastinum. The 15-year survival rate of a person with an invasive thymoma is 12.5%, and it is 47% for a person with a noninvasive thymoma. Death usually occurs from cardiac tamponade or other cardiorespiratory complications.

Frequency:-
Thymoma, the most common neoplasm of the anterior mediastinum, accounts for 20-25% of all mediastinal tumors and 50% of anterior mediastinal masses

Two primary forms of tumours originate in the thymus.

Tumours originating from the thymic epithelial cells are called thymomas, and are found in about 10-15% of patients with myasthenia gravis. Symptoms are sometimes confused with bronchitis or a strong cough because the tumor presses on the recurrent laryngeal nerve. All thymomas are potentially cancerous, but they can vary a great deal. Some grow very slowly. Others grow rapidly and can spread to surrounding tissues. Treatment of thymomas often requires surgery to remove the entire thymus. Tumours originating from the thymocytes are called thymic lymphomas.

Radiation Induced:-
People with enlarged thymus glands, particularly children, were treated with intense radiation in the years before 1950. There is an elevated incidence of thyroid cancer and leukemia in treated individuals.

Disclaimer: This information is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advise or help. It is always best to consult with a Physician about serious health concerns. This information is in no way intended to diagnose or prescribe remedies.This is purely for educational purpose.

Resources:
http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/193809-overview
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thymus

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Mastic

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”).

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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.

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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

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Marjoram

Botanical Name: Origanum vulgare (Labiatae),Origanum marjorana; Origanum majorana,Origanum vulgare (LINN.)
Family:
Labiatae/Lamiaceae (mint)
Genus:
Origanum
Species:
O. majorana
Kingdom:
Plantae
Order
: Lamiales

Other common names: Sweet Marjoram, Knotted Marjoram, Marjorana hortensis,
Majorana hortensis

Parts Used: Herb, oil.
Habitat :Generally distributed over Asia, Europe and North Africa; grows freely in England, being particularly abundant in calcareous soils, as in the south-eastern counties. It grows on the dry slopes and rocky places, occasionally in partial shade, to 1500 metres in Turkey.

Description—It is a perennial herb, with creeping roots, sending up woody stems about a foot high, branched above, often purplish. The leaves are opposite, petiolate, about an inch long, nearly entire hairy beneath. The flowers are in corymbs, with reddish bracts, a two-lipped pale purple corolla, and a five-toothed calyx, blooming from the end of June, through August. There is a variety with white flowers and light-green stalks, another with variegated leaves. It is propagated by division of roots in the autumn.

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When cultivated, the leaves are more elliptical in shape than the Wild Marjoram, and the flower-spikes thinner and more compact. Marjoram has an extensive use for culinary purposes, as well as in medicine, but it is the cultivated species, Origanum Onites (Pot Marjoram), O. Marjorana (Sweet or Knotted Marjoram), and O. Heracleoticum (Winter Marjoram) that are employed in cookery as a seasoning. They are little used for medicinal purposes for which the Wild Marjoram is employed.

Marjoram (Origanum majorana, Lamiaceae) is a somewhat cold-sensitive perennial herb or undershrub with sweet pine and citrus flavors. It is also called Sweet Marjoram or Knotted Marjoram and Majorana hortensis.

The name marjoram (Old French majorane, Medieval Latin majorana) does not directly derive from the Latin word maior (major).Marjoram is cultivated for its aromatic leaves, either green or dry, for culinary purposes; the tops are cut as the plants begin to flower and are dried slowly in the shade. It is often used in herb combinations such as Herbes de Provence and Za’atar.
Native from Asia, marjoram cultivated commercially in several regions. Much used by the ancient Greeks, wild marjoram has had a more significant role in medicine than sweet marjoram (O. majorana). Marjoram tea is an age-old remedy to aid digestion, increase sweating and encourage menstruation. As a steam inhalant, marjoram clears the sinuses and helps relieve laryngitis. Wild marjoram helps settle flatulence and stimulates the flow of bile. Strongly antiseptic, it may be taken to treat respiratory conditions such as coughs, tonsillitis, bronchitis and asthma. The diluted oil can be applied to toothache or painful joints.

Related species
Oregano (Origanum vulgare, sometimes listed with Marjoram as Origanum majorana) is also called Wild Marjoram. It is a perennial common in southern Europe in dry copses and on hedge-banks, with many stout stems 30-80 cm high, bearing short-stalked somewhat ovate leaves and clusters of purple flowers. It has a stronger flavor and a more penetrating quality.

Pot Marjoram or Cretan Oregano (Origanum onites) has similar uses to marjoram.

Hardy Marjoram or Italian marjoram is a cross of marjoram with oregano that is much more resistant to cold, but is slightly less sweet.

Origanum pulchellum, Showy Marjoram or Showy Oregano.

(Catalan marduix; Spanish mejorana)

Marjoram Leaf is an aromatic tonic (and important condiment) that is a pleasant means to good digestion. It eases colic, sour stomach, stomach pains and menstrual cramps and is also an effective expectorant that loosens phlegm in the lungs and alleviates sinus headache, bronchitis, dry coughs and the symptoms of colds and flu. Marjoram is also a natural disinfectant, anti-inflammatory, antifungal and antioxidant that effectively relieves pains and aches.

Cultivation—The Marjorams are some of the most familiar of our kitchen herbs, and are cultivated for the use of their aromatic leaves, either in a green or dried state, for flavouring and other culinary purposes, being mainly put into stuffings. Sweet Marjoram leaves are also excellent in salads. They have whitish flowers, with a two-lipped calyx, and also contain a volatile oil, which has similar properties to the Wild Marjoram.

Winter Marjoram is really a native of Greece, but is hardy enough to thrive in the open air in England, in a dry soil, and is generally propagated by division of the roots in autumn.

Pot Marjoram, a native of Sicily, is also a hardy perennial, preferring a warm situation and dry, light soil. It is generally increased by cuttings, taken in early summer, inserted under a hand-glass, and later planted out a space of 1 foot between the rows and nearly as much from plant to plant, as it likes plenty of room. It may also be increased by division of roots in April, or by offsets, slipping pieces off the plants with roots to them and planting with trowel or dibber, taking care to water well. In May, they grow quickly after the operation. May also be propagated by seed, sown moderately thin, in dry, mild weather in March, in shallow drills, about 1/2 inch deep and 8 or 9 inches apart, covered in evenly with the soil. Transplant afterwards to about a foot apart each way. The seeds are very slow in germinating.
Propagation:
Seed – sow early spring at 10 – 13°c and only just cover the seed. Germination usually takes place within 2 – 4 weeks. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and plant them out into their permanent positions in early summer. The seed can also be sown in situ in April or early May and, although it can be slow to germinate, usually does well[4]. Division in March or October. Very easy, larger divisions can be planted out direct into their permanent positions. We have found that it is better to pot up the smaller divisions and grow them on in light shade in a cold frame until they are well established before planting them out in late spring or early summer. Basal cuttings of young barren shoots in June. Very easy. Harvest the shoots with plenty of underground stem when they are about 8 – 10cm above the ground. Pot them up into individual pots and keep them in light shade in a cold frame or greenhouse until they are rooting well. Plant them out in the summer.

History:
Native from Asia, marjoram cultivated commercially in several regions. Much used by the ancient Greeks, wild marjoram has had a more significant role in medicine than sweet marjoram (O. majorana). Marjoram tea is an age-old remedy to aid digestion, increase sweating and encourage menstruation. As a steam inhalant, marjoram clears the sinuses and helps relieve laryngitis. Wild marjoram helps settle flatulence and stimulates the flow of bile. Strongly antiseptic, it may be taken to treat respiratory conditions such as coughs, tonsillitis, bronchitis and asthma. The diluted oil can be applied to toothache or painful joints.

Sweet Marjoram is a half-hardy annual that is native to southern Europe (probably Portugal) and can be found in North Africa, the Balkans and the Middle East, and has also been introduced throughout Europe and into North America. Sweet Marjoram Leaf has a more delicate flavor than its close cousin, Origanum vulgare (oregano or wild marjoram), and possesses very similar medicinal properties, often being used in a similar manner. Sweet Marjoram is even sometimes confused with it. Marjoram Leaf is a bushy plant with small, dark green leaves and flowers that resemble little knots, hence, one of its common names, Knotted Marjoram, and the plant generally reaches about one foot in height, thriving in well-drained-to-dry, neutral-to-alkaline soil in full sun. The Greeks gave us its botanical name, Origanum, which is derived from oros and ganos , meaning “joy of the mountain,” and those traveling through Greece will find it (and wild Marjoram) covering the hillsides and scenting the summer air. Legend tells us that sweet Marjoram was created by Aphrodite as a symbol of happiness, and bridal couples in Greece and Rome were crowned with its garlands to ensure a happy marriage. This highly fragrant herb was also placed on tombs to give peace to departed spirits. In ancient Greece Marjoram was used in oils to massage into the skin to relieve pain, and Aristotle recommended it as an antidote for poisoning, claiming that tortoises swallowing a snake would immediately eat wild Marjoram as an antidote to prevent death. The ancient Egyptians also knew of its power to heal, using it to disinfect, preserve and heal wounds, and it is used in that country for the same purposes to this day. In medieval times, herbalists prescribed Marjoram oil for toothache, and sixteenth and seventeenth-century herbalists recommended it as an internal aid to digestion and as a diuretic. Throughout history, Marjoram Leaf has been used in preserving food and in remedies for colds and sore throats, and dried Marjoram Leaf was popular as snuff. Sweet or Knotted Marjoram is considered by many cooks to be far better than wild Marjoram (oregano), and the leaves are highly popular in Italian and Greek cuisine and also used to flavor oil and vinegar. It is often infused in healthful teas, and its fragrance is placed on pillows to promote sleep, in mothbags to deter moths, in potpourris for it fragrance, on hair and skin for its sweet scent and added to bathwater to relieve tension and rheumatic pains. Marjoram Leaf is rich in flavonoids and volatile oils, notably carvacrol and the powerful antiseptic, thymol, gallic acid, caffeic acid, saponins and tannin.

Edible Uses: Leaves  are eaten raw or cooked. Sweet marjoram is widely used as a flavouring for salad dressings, vegetables, legumes and oils. It has a more delicate flavour than the closely related oregano (Origanum vulgare), and is best when used fresh and only added towards the end of cooking. The aromatic seeds are used as a flavouring in sweets, drinks etc.  A herb tea is made from the fresh or dried leaves. The flavour resembles a blend of thyme, rosemary and sage.Marjoram is used for seasoning soups, stews, dressings and sauce

 MAIN PROPERTIES: Antiseptic, anti-spasmodic, digestive.

Medicinal Action and Uses—Marjoram yields about 2 per cent of a volatile oil which is separated by distillation. This must not be confused with oil of Origanum, which is extracted from Thyme. Its properties are stimulant, carminative, diaphoretic and mildly tonic; a useful emmenagogue. It is so acrid that it has been employed not only as a rubefacient, and often as a liniment, but has also been used as a caustic by farriers. A few drops, put on cotton-wool and placed in the hollow of an aching tooth frequently relieves the pain. In the commencement of measles, it is useful in producing a gentle perspiration and bringing out the eruption, being given in the form of a warm infusion, which is also valuable in spasms, colic, and to give relief from pain in dyspeptic complaints.

Externally, the dried leaves and tops may be applied in bags as a hot fomentation to painful swellings and rheumatism, as well as for colic. An infusion made from the fresh plant will relieve nervous headache, by virtue of the camphoraceous principle contained in the oil.Marjoram oil is said relieve toothache as well.
Marjoram Leaf is an expectorant that has long been used to loosen and expel phlegm from the lungs. Because of its saponin content, it is a fine decongestant that is very useful for bronchial complaints, especially relieving congestion and mucus in the chest and sinuses. Marjoram Leaf helps to ease asthma, bronchitis, dry coughs, sinusitis and sinus headaches.

As a mild tonic for the nervous system, Marjoram Leaf is thought to be more relaxing than oregano, and it is used to soothe the nerves, reduce tension and mitigate stress, especially environmental stress. The flavonoids possess sedative qualities that help to relieve insomnia, tension headaches and migraines.

Marjoram Leaf promotes healthy digestion and treats simple gastrointestinal disorders, such as loss of appetite, indigestion, nausea and flatulence. It is said to act like peppermint in the way it soothes minor digestive upsets and colic.

The flavonoids and saponins in Marjoram Leaf are thought to promote healthy arteries and heart. Laboratory experiments claim that it prevents cholesterol buildup, improves blood circulation and may reduce high blood pressure. These properties may also be helpful in combating Alzheimer’s disease.

Marjoram Leaf contains caffeic acid, a phenylpropanoid, which is an analgesic and anti-inflammatory, and when used internally or externally, the leaf eases pain, confirming its age-old use for alleviating aches and pains. Used externally, it eases toothache pain, rheumatic pain, muscular pain, bruises, arthritis, sprains and stiff joints.

Used internally, Marjoram Leaf eases severe stomach cramps, spasms and painful menstruation (and will also stimulate suppressed menstruation).

As a mild diuretic, Marjoram Leaf will promote the flow of urine, helping to relieve stomach bloating and clearing the body of toxins and cleansing the blood. This action is also said to benefit eruptive diseases and skin disorders, particularly eczema.

Marjoram Leaf is also a diaphoretic and stimulates perspiration, which also helps to rid the body of toxins through the skin. Moreover, this quality assists in reducing fevers and helps to relieve cold and flu symptoms.

Marjoram Leaf is considered a natural disinfectant, antiseptic, antifungal and antibacterial that possesses healing qualities and combats infection. The saponins are said to help heal wounds and prevent scarring.

The flavonoids in Marjoram Leaf are believed to have an antioxidant effect against the free radicals that can damage important cellular molecules or other parts of the cell.

Marjoram Leaf can be infused as an aromatic tea for colds, headaches, simple gastronintestinal disorders and tension.

Recommended Dosage:
Take two (2) capsules, two (2) to three (3) times each day with water at mealtimes.

Other Uses:  The leaves and flowers yield 0.3 – 0.4% essential oil by steam distillation. Called ‘Oil of Sweet Marjoram’, it is used as a food flavouring and in perfumery, soaps, hair products etc. The plant is often used to disinfect bee hives.

Contraindications:
Pregnant and nursing women should not use Marjoram Leaf. Those who are allergic to members of the mint family (thyme, basil, sage, oregano, etc.) should avoid this herb.

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.herbalextractsplus.com/marjoram-leaf.cfm?gclid=COrigMSwho0CFQ1dPgodqQSTog
http://botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/m/marwil20.html

http://world.std.com/~krahe/html2a.html#MALVA

http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Origanum+majorana

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