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Rhododendron lapponicum

Botanical Name : Rhododendron lapponicum
Family: Ericaceae
Genus: Rhododendron
Species:R. lapponicum
Kingdom:Plantae
Order: Ericales

Synonyms:
*Azalea lapponica L.
*Rhododendron confertissimum Nakai
*Rhododendron lapponicum subsp. parvifolium (Adams) T. Yamaz.
*Rhododendron palustre Turcz.
*Rhododendron parviflorum F. Schmidt
*Rhododendron parvifolium Adams
*Rhododendron parvifolium subsp. confertissimum (Nakai) A.P. Khokhr.

Common Names: Lapland rosebay

Habitat : Rhododendron lapponicum is native to N. Europe, N. Asia. Northern N. AmericaAlaska to Quebec. It grows on the rocky barrens and sub-alpine woods.It is found in subarctic regions around the world, where it grows at altitudes ranging from sea level to 1900 meters.

Description:
Rhododendron lapponicum is an evergreen perennial Shrub growing to 1 m (3ft 3in) by 1 m (3ft 3in).Leaves are thick, leathery, evergreen, and 1 to 1.5 cm long, growing to 30 cm in height they are leathery, evergreen, elliptic, and covered with many small scales, much longer than wide. Flowers few, 1.5 cm wide, bright purple, bell-shaped, developing at the end of the branches. Fruits are 5 mm wide.

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It is in flower from Apr to May. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects
Cultivation:
Succeeds in a most humus-rich lime-free soils except those of a dry arid nature or those that are heavy or clayey[1]. Prefers a peaty or well-drained sandy loam. Succeeds in sun or shade, the warmer the climate the more shade a plant requires. A pH between 4.5 and 5.5 is ideal. Succeeds in a woodland though, because of its surface-rooting habit, it does not compete well with surface-rooting trees. Plants need to be kept well weeded, they dislike other plants growing over or into their root system, in particular they grow badly with ground cover plants, herbaceous plants and heathers[200]. Plants form a root ball and are very tolerant of being transplanted, even when quite large, so long as the root ball is kept intact. Plants in this genus are notably susceptible to honey fungus.
Propagation:
Seed – best sown in a greenhouse as soon as it is ripe in the autumn and given artificial light. Alternatively sow the seed in a lightly shaded part of the warm greenhouse in late winter or in a cold greenhouse in April. Surface-sow the seed and do not allow the compost to become dry[200]. Pot up the seedlings when they are large enough to handle and grow on in a greenhouse for at least the first winter. Layering in late July. Takes 15 – 24 months[78]. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, August in a frame. Easy

Edible Uses:: A tea is made from the leaves and flower tips.

Medicinal Uses: Not yet known.

Known Hazards: Although no specific mention of toxicity has been seen for this species, it belongs to a genus where many members have poisonous leaves. The pollen of many if not all species of rhododendrons is also probably toxic, being said to cause intoxication when eaten in large quantities.
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://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Rhododendron+lapponicum
http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/EndangeredResources/Plants.asp?mode=detail&SpecCode=PDERI150G0
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rhododendron_lapponicum

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Artemisia annua

Botanical Name ; Artemisia annua
Family: Asteraceae
Genus: Artemisia
Species: A. annua
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Asterales

Common Names :Sweet Wormwood,  Sweet Annie,  Sweet Sagewort or Annual Wormwood, Qing Hao

Habitat : Artemisia annua is native to temperate Asia, but naturalized throughout the world.
It occurs naturally as part of a steppe vegetation in the northern parts of Chahar and Suiyuan provinces in China, at 1000 to 1500 m above sea level.

Description:
Artemisia annua has fern-like leaves, bright yellow flowers, and a camphor-like scent. Its height averages about 2 m tall, and the plant has a single stem, alternating branches, and alternating leaves which range 2.5–5 cm in length. It is cross-pollinated by wind or insects. It is a diploid plant with chromosome number, 2n=18
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Cultivation:
An easily grown plant, succeeding in a well-drained circumneutral or slightly alkaline loamy soil, preferring a sunny position. Plants are longer lived, more hardy and more aromatic when they are grown in a poor dry soil. A fast-growing annual plant, it is tall but neat in habit with a handsome fragrant foliage and is useful for filling gaps at the back of a border. It has become a weed of waste places in many areas of the world. The plant is extremely vigorous and essentially disease and pest free. Qing Hao is a determinate short-day plant. Non-juvenile plants are very responsive to photoperiodic stimulus and flower about two weeks after induction. The critical photoperiod seems to be about 13.5 hours, but there are likely to be photoperiod x temperature interactions. In Lafayette Indiana, USA (40°21’N) plants flower in early September with mature seeds produced in October. The plant is not adapted to the tropics because flowering will be induced when the plants are very small. Most collections of artemisia derive from natural stands with highly variable artemisinin content, some as low of 0.01%. Selections from Chinese origin vary from 0.05 to 0.21%. Swiss researcher N. Delabays reports a clonal selection derived from Chinese material which produces 1.1% artemisin but is very late flowering; proprietary hybrids have been obtained with somewhat lower content but flower earlier. Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer.

Propagation:
Seed – sow spring in a cold frame and plant out in late spring or early summer. Alternatively, the seed can be sown late spring in situ

Edible Uses: An essential oil in the leaves is used as a flavouring in spirits such as vermouth.

Medicinal Uses:
Qing Ho, better known in the West as sweet wormwood, is a traditional Chinese herbal medicine. An aromatic anti-bacterial plant, recent research has shown that it destroys malarial parasites, lowers fevers and checks bleeding.  Also used for heat stroke. Used as an infusion.  Externally the leaves are poulticed for nose bleeds, bleeding rashes, and sores.  Research in Thailand and the US shows that A. annua, in the preparation Artesunate, is an effective antimalarial against drug-resistant strains of the disease. Clinical trials have shown it to be 90% effective and more successful than standard drugs. In a trial of 2000 patients, all were cured of the disease. The seeds are used in the treatment of flatulence, indigestion and night sweats.
TCM:
Indications: summer colds, sweatless fevers, malaria, nocturnal sweats, heat excess.  An excellent refrigerant remedy in ailments of “empty-hot” excess.

Sweet Wormwood was used by Chinese herbalists in ancient times to treat fever, but had fallen out of common use, but was rediscovered in 1970’s when the Chinese Handbook of Prescriptions for Emergency Treatments (340 AD) was found. This pharmacopeia contained recipes for a tea from dried leaves, prescribed for fevers (not specifically malaria).

Other Uses:
Essential; Herbicide; Miscellany.

The plant is used in China as a medium for growing Aspergillus which is used in brewing wine. The substances mentioned above in the medicinal uses, used in the treatment of malaria, also show marked herbicidal activity. The plant yields 0.3% essential oi. This has an agreeable, refreshing and slightly balsamic odour and has been used in perfumery.
Known Hazards  : Skin contact with the plant can cause dermatitis or other allergic reactions in some people. The pollen is extremely allergenic.

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/Artemisia_annua
http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_RST.htm

http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Artemisia+annua

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Gurmar, Merasingi(Gymnema sylvestre )

Botanical Name:Gymnema sylvestre R. Br. ex Schult (Asclepiadaceae)
Family: Asclepiadaceae

Genus: Gymnema

Species: G. sylvestre

Syn : Periploca sylvestris Willd., Gymnema melicida Edgew.

English names: Vine, Periploca of the the woods.

Sanskrit names:
Ajaballi, Ajagandini, Ajashringi, Bahalchakshu, Chakshurabahala, Grihadruma, Karnika, Kshinavartta, Madhunasini, Medhasingi, Meshashringi, Meshavishanika, Netaushadhi, Putrashringi, Sarpadanshtrika, Tiktadughdha, Vishani.

Vernacular names: Ben: Meshashringi; Guj : Dhuleti, Mardashing; Hin : Gurmar, Gumar, Merashinghi; Kan : Karhasige, Sannagera-shehumbr; Mal: Cakkarakkolli, Madhunashini; Mar: Kavali, Kalikardor, Vakundi; Tam: Adigam, Cheorukurinja, Kannuminayamkodi, Pasaani, Sakkaraikkolli, Shirukurinja, Sirukurumkay; Tel: Podapatra.

Trade names: Gurmar, Merasingi.

Habitat: Gymnema sylvestre R.Br. is a herb native to the tropical forests of southern and central India where it has been used as a naturopathic treatment for diabetes for nearly two millennia. (Mainly in Deccan peninsula, also found in Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan; Sri Lanka.)

Description:
Large climbers, rooting at nodes, leaves elliptic, acuminate, base acute to acuminate, glabrous above sparsely or densely tomentose beneath; Flowers small, in axillary and lateral umbel like cymes, pedicels long; Calyx-lobes long, ovate, obtuse, pubescent; Corolla pale yellow campanulate, valvate, corona single, with 5 fleshy scales. Scales adnate to throat of corolla tube between lobes; Anther connective produced into a membranous tip, pollinia 2, erect, carpels 2,unilocular; locules many ovuled; Follicle long, fusiform1.

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Stout, woody, large climber; young branches slender and pubescent; leaves opposite, simple, petioles 0.6-1.2 cm, stout or slender, lamina 2.5-6.25 cm in length, elliptic or ovate, thinly coriaceous, upper surface rarely pubescent; cymes subglobose, ± 1.25 cm in diameter; flowers yellow, ±0.2 cm in diameter; follicles slender, ±5-7.5 by 0.8 cm; seeds pale brown, flat, ±1.25 cm long.

Flowering: August-March; Fruiting: Winter.

Ecology and Cultivation: Grows in the plains from the coast, in scrub jungles and in thickets; wild.

Chemical composition:
Leaf: conduritol A, gymnestrogenin, gymnamine, hentriacontane, nonacosane, penta-OH-triterpene.
The major bioactive constituents of Gymnema sylvestris are a group of oleanane type triterpenoid saponins known as gymnemic acids. The latter contain several acylated (tigloyl, methylbutyroyl etc.,) derivatives of deacylgymnemic acid (DAGA) which is 3-O-glucuronide of gymnemagenin (3, 16, 21, 22, 23, 28-hexahydroxy-olean-12-ene)2. The individual gymnemic acids (saponins) include gymnemic acids I-VII, gymnemosides A-F, gymnemasaponins

Extra Information
G. sylvestre leaves contain triterpene saponins belonging to oleanane and dammarene classes. Oleanane saponins are gymnemic acids and gymnemasaponins, while dammarene saponins are gymnemasides. Besides this, other plant constituents are flavones, anthraquinones, hentri-acontane, pentatriacontane, α and β- chlorophylls, phytin, resins, d-quercitol, tartaric acid, formic acid, butyric acid, lupeol, β-amyrin related glycosides and stigmasterol. The plant extract also tests positive for alkaloids. Leaves of this species yield acidic glycosides and anthroquinones and their derivatives.

Gymnemic acids have antidiabetic, antisweetener and anti-inflammatory activities. The antidiabetic array of molecules has been identified as a group of closely related gymnemic acids after it was successfully isolated and purified from the leaves of Gymnema sylvestre. Later, the phytoconstituents of Gymnema sylvestre were isolated, and their chemistry and structures were studied and elucidated.

Medicinal Uses:
Use as herbal medicine
While it is still being studied, and the effects of the herb are not entirely known, the herb has been shown to reduce blood sugar levels when used for an extended period of time. Additionally, Gymnema reduces the taste of sugar when it is placed in the mouth, thus some use it to fight sugar cravings. From extract of the leaves were isolated glycosides known as Gymnemic acids, which exhibit anti-sweet activity.

This effect, however, is short-lived, lasting a mere fifteen minutes. Some postulate that the herb actually reduces cravings for sugar by blocking sugar receptors in the tongue, but no scientific studies have supported this hypothesis. It is currently being used in an all natural medication for diabetes with other ingredients such as cinnamon, chromium, zinc, biotin, banaba, huckleberry and bitter melon.

The active ingredient is thought to be gurmenic acid which has structure similar to saccharose. Extracts of Gymnema is not only claimed to curb sweet tooths but also for treatment of as varied problems as hyperglycemia, obesity, high cholesterol levels, anemia and digestion. According to the Sushruta of the Ayurveda it helps to treat Madhumeha ie glycosuria.

In 2005, a study made by King’s College, London, United Kingdom, showed that a water-soluble extract of Gymnema Sylvestre, caused reversible increases in intracellular calcium and insulin secretion in mouse and human β-cells when used at a concentration (0.125 mg/ml) without compromising cell viability. Hence forth these data suggest that extracts derived from Gymnema Sylvestre may be useful as therapeutic agents for the stimulation of insulin secretion in individuals with T2DM.
Mechanism of Action
Gymnemic acid formulations have also been found useful against obesity, according to recent reports. This is attributed to the ability of gymnemic acids to delay the glucose absorption in the blood. The atomic arrangement of gymnemic acid molecules is similar to that of glucose molecules. These molecules fill the receptor locations on the taste buds thereby preventing its activation by sugar molecules present in the food, thereby curbing the sugar craving. Similarly, gymnemic acid molecules fill the receptor location in the absorptive external layers of the intestine thereby preventing the sugar molecules absorption by the intestine, which results in low blood sugar level.

Gymnema sylvestre leaves have been found to cause hypoglycemia in laboratory animals and have found a use in herbal medicine to help treat adult onset diabetes mellitus (NIDDM). When Gymnema leaf extract is administered to a diabetic patient, there is stimulation of the pancreas by virtue of which there is an increase in insulin release. These compounds have also been found to increase fecal excretion of cholesterol, but further studies to prove clinical significance in treating hypercholesterolemia (high serum cholesterol) are required. Other uses for Gymnema leaf extract are its ability to act as a laxative, diuretic, and cough suppressant. These other actions would be considered adverse reactions when Gymnema is used for its glucose lowering effect in diabetes.

Gymnema leaf extract, notably the peptide ‘Gurmarin’, has been found to interfere with the ability of the taste buds on the tongue to taste sweet and bitter. Gymnemic acid has a similar effect. It is believed that by inhibiting the sweet taste sensation, people taking it will limit their intake of sweet foods, and this activity may be partially responsible for its hypoglycemic effect.

There are some possible mechanisms by which the leaves and especially Gymnemic acids from Gymnema sylvestre exert its hypoglycemic effects are:

1. It increases secretion of insulin.
2. It promotes regeneration of islet cells.
3. It increases utilization of glucose: it is shown to increase the activities of enzymes responsible for utilization of glucose by insulin-dependant pathways, an increase in phosphorylase activity, decrease in gluconeogenic enzymes and sorbitol dehydrogenase.
4. It causes inhibition of glucose absorption from intestine.

The gymnemic acid components are believed to block the absorption of glucose in the small intestine, the exact action being unknown. It could involve one or more mechanisms.

One of the mechanisms responsible for adult onset diabetes mellitus is a form of insulin resistance, which is attributed to the inability of insulin to enter cells via the insulin receptor. Gymnema may overcome this resistance, but require further studies to confirm its validity and also whether the effect is clinically relevant. Should this effect be proven, Gymnema may prove useful in both adult onset (NIDDM) and juvenile onset diabetes mellitus (IDDM) to help insulin enter cells. In the case of IDDM, the insulin is injected by syringe and is not secreted from the pancreas.

The leaves are also noted for lowering serum cholesterol and triglycerides. The primary chemical constituents of Gymnema include gymnemic acid, tartaric acid, gurmarin, calcium oxalate, glucose, stigmasterol, betaine, and choline. While the water-soluble acidic fractions reportedly provide the hypoglycemic action, it is not yet clear what specific constituent in the leaves is responsible for the same. Some researchers have suggested gymnemic acid as one possible candidate, although further research is needed. Both gurmarin (another constituent of the leaves) and gymnemic acid have been shown to block sweet taste in humans. The major constituents of the plant material 3B glucuronides of different acetylated gymnemagenins, gymnemic acid a complex mixture of at least 9 closely related acidic glucosides.

The following figure could provide a diagrammatic representation for explaining the action of gymnemic acids on the intestinal receptors. The basic function of the acids is to bind to the receptor on the intestine, and stop the glucose molecule from binding to the receptor. Thus, gymnemic acids prevent the absorption of excess glucose.

Traditional use: KOL : Leaf: in gastric troubles; ETHNIC COMMUNITIES OF RAJASTHAN and DHASAN VALLEY: Leaf: in diabetes; ETHNIC COMMUNITIES OF KANDALA (Maharashtra) : Leaf: in urinary complaints; GOND: Leaf: in diabetes, stomachache; ETHNIC COMMUNITIES OF MADHYA PRADESH: Leaf: in cornea opacity and other eye diseases; ETHNIC COMMUNITIES OF GODAVARI DISTRICT (Andhra Pradesh) : Leaf: in diabetes, glycosuria; IRULAR : Leaf: in diabetes; CHARAKA SAMHITA: removes bad odour from breast milk, aperitive; SUSHRUTA SAMHITA : plant useful as purgative, in eye troubles; leaf extract and also the same of flower beneficial for eyes; bark useful in the diseases caused by vitiated kapha (phlegm); BAGBHAT : rootbark useful in piles; BHAVAPRAKASHA: it is bitter, appetiser, gastric stimulant, removes cough, alleviates breathing troubles, useful in curing phlegm, eyetroubles, wounds; RAJA NIGHANTU : appetiser, removes phlegm, piles, colic pain, cures dropsy, useful in eye troubles, cardiotonic, beneficial in respiratory diseases, wounds, detoxicant; fruits are bitter, sialagogue, thermogenic, cures the diseases caused by vitiated kapha (phlegm) or vata (wind); NIGHANTU RATNAKARAM : removes cough, vitiated wind, detoxicant, appetiser, useful in eye troubles. AYURVEDA : acrid, alexipharmic, anodyne, anthelmintic, antipyretic, astringent, bitter, cardiotonic, digestive, diuretic, emetic,expectorant, laxative, stimulant, stomachic, uterine tonic; useful in amennorrhoea, asthma, bronchitis, cardiopathy, conjunctivitis, constipation, cough, dyspepsia, haemorroids, hepatosplenomegaly, inflammations, intermittant fever, jaundice and leucoderma; root emetic and removes phlegm; external application is useful in insectbite;

SIDDHA : an ingredient of ‘Cirukuricinver’; UNANI : an ingredient of ‘Gurmarbuti’.

The fresh leaves, when chewed, paralyse the sense of sweet for sometime; for this reason it is called gur-mar, thereby meaning sugar-killer and impression has become prevalent in some parts of the country that it is useful in diabetes mellitus. Chewing fresh leaves also paralyse the taste of bitter for a while.

Modern use: Aerial parts (50% EtOH extract) : spasmolytic, hypyoglycaemic, in vitro antiviral against influenza A2 virus.

Remark: In Sri Lanka, plant used in bone fractures.

Click to learn more about Gynmenea sylvestre.:->…...(1)…..(2).(3)….(4)

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/Gymnema_sylvestre
http://www.bsienvis.org/medi.htm#Euphorbia%20tirucalli