Herbs & Plants


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Botanical Name : Veratrum sabadilla
Family: Melanthiaceae
Genus: Schoenocaulon
Order: Liliales

Synonyms: Cevadilla. Schoenocaulon officinale. Melanthium sabadilla. Veratrum officinale. Helonias officinalis. Sabadilla officinarum. Asagraea officinalis. Sabadillermer.

Common name: Cevadilla, sabadillermer, caustic barley, Schoenocaulon officinale, Melanthian sabadilla, Helonias officinalis, Sabadilla officinarum, Asagraea officinalis.

Habitat: Sabadilla is native to Southern North America, Guatemala and Venezuela.

The name Schcenocaulon indicates the habit of the scape, meaning ‘a rush’ and ‘a stem.’ The name Asagrcea commemorates Professor Asa Gray of Harvard University, the most distinguished of living American botanists. It is not quite certain whether the seeds are obtained from the Veratrum Sabadilla, a plant 3 or 4 feet high, or from the V. officinale, differing slightly in appearance and construction. Its leaves are radical, oval-oblong, obtuse, ribbed. Its stem is almost leafless. The panicle is nearly simple. The flowers have short pedicels, and are nodding.

The seeds are black, shining, flat, shrivelled and winged, odourless, with a bitter, acrid, persistent and disagreeable taste, the pale grey, amorphous powder being errhine and violently sternutatory. The seeds were known in Europe as early as 1752, but officially only as the source of veratrine. Its fruit and seeds are said to be brought from the Antilles, under the name of cebadilla, (semina sabadilla caribaeae).

Medicinal uses:
Parts used: The seeds. They contain several alkaloids including veratrine, sabadillie, sabadine, sabadinine and cevadine, which hydrolyzes to cevine. They also contain voatric acid, cevadic acid, resin and fat.

Constituents: Sabadilla contains several alkaloids, the most important being Cevadine, yielding cevine on hydrolysis; Veratrine, obtained from the syrupy liquor from which the cevadine has crystallized; and Cevadilline or Sabadillie, obtained after the extraction of the veratrine with ether.

Two other alkaloids have been isolated: Sabadine, which is less sternutatory than veratrine, and Sabadinine, which is not sternutatory. Sabadilla yields about 0.3 per cent of veratrine. The seeds also contain veratric acid, cevadic acid, fat and resin.
Drastic emetic and Cathartic, Vermifuge.

The powdered seeds have been used to expel parasitic worms and to kill and remove parasitic mites or other vermin from the hair. An extract called veratria is derived from the seeds and despite it being highly poisonous, it is occasionally taken internally in minute doses. When taken internally, it can ease acute rheumatic pain and gout and also help some inflammatory diseases. Veratria is more commonly used as an ointment for neuralgia and rheumatism. This drug has a powerful action on the heart causing it to slow and eventually stop beating entirely.

-Sabadilla, or cevadilla, is an acrid, drastic emeto-cathartic, in overdoses capable of producing fatal results. Cevine was found to be less poisonous than cevadine, though producing similar symptoms. The powdered seeds have been used as a vermifuge, and to destroy vermin in the hair, being the principal ingredient of the pulvis capucinorum used in Europe. Cevadilla was formerly used internally as an anthelmintic, and in rheumatic and neuralgic affections. The highly poisonous veratria, which is derived from it, has been given in minute doses internally in acute rheumatism and gout, and in some inflammatory diseases, but it must be used with caution. Veratria is useful as an ointment in rheumatism and neuralgia, but is regarded as being less valuable than aconite. The ointment is also employed for the destruction of pedicule. Applied to unbroken skin it produces tingling and numbness, followed by coldness and anaesthesia. Given subcutaneously, it causes violent pain and irritation, in addition to the symptoms following an internal dose. The principal reason against its internal use is its powerful action on the heart, the contractions of the organ becoming fewer and longer until the heart stops in systole.

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.


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Learn Music, Get Smart

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Training in music while still young effects changes in the brain that enhance one’s speech and sound abilities.
Practitioners of music therapy, like most members of the listening public, vouch for the healing qualities of music. Music soothes a stressed mind, elevates the soul, and helps cope with illnesses. What if it also improves intelligence? Can we say that learning the violin or piano would make you smarter? We could debate the meaning of “intelligence”, but many neuroscientists and psychologists are now beginning to answer the question in the affirmative.

In a review paper published last week in Nature, Nina Kraus and Bharath Chandrasekaran, both of the School of Communication at Northwestern University near Chicago, claim that training in music changes the brain significantly. And that these changes would help specifically in skills like speech processing, and generally in many areas that involve the processing of sound. Musicians get better at remembering things, have better motor skills, and can also pay attention better in a sea of noise. “Music training improves auditory skills that are not exclusively related to music,” write the authors.

Music is a sophisticated art form that invokes several skills even to listen. From an auditory point of view, it has three aspects: pitch, timing and timbre. Timing is at the heart of rhythm, and timbre is involved in the quality of sound. At a deeper level, it involves a complex organisation of sound. Great musicians and highly sophisticated listeners, particularly of classical music, would often point to deep cultural facets as well.

Learning music would call into play basic skills as well higher cognitive abilities. Musical training is a complex task that involves several brain areas. At a basic level, it requires the ability to identify pitch, the frequency of a note. Even the most basic learner needs to tune the instrument first. This isn’t easy, and many people simply can’t identify the pitch of a note easily, no matter how hard they try. Good musicians need to have a great sense of timing. They also need to distinguish timbre, which actually conveys the richness of sound (while pitch is the basic frequency, timbre is the fine structure of a note). The ability to identify these three basic features needs considerable training.

A long history of training in music shows up in the brain structure. The brains of musicians show more grey matter in areas that are important for playing a specific instrument. In physiological terms, this change results in increased activation of neurons (brain cells) when exposed to sound. For example, the strength of activation when exposed to the sound of an instrument depends on the length of training on that instrument. What this shows, and Kraus and Chandrasekaran argue, is that the changes were acquired through training and are not innate differences in the brain.

Areas in the brain that get developed through musical training are involved in at least three faculties: sound processing, visual processing and motor control. This is why learning to perform music is different from listening, no matter how deep. “Listening to music does not involve motor control,” says Vinod Menon, professor at the department of psychiatry and behavioural sciences, Stanford University. Menon’s lab studies, among other things, show the brain processes music and also the similarities and differences between music and speech processing in the brain.

Language and music seem to be two different subjects, but there are many similarities between them. At a fundamental level, both involve the processing of sound. Some of the finer skills that musicians have are transferred easily to the processing of speech, which also uses attributes like pitch and timbre to convey information. “Musicians would be able to detect easily fine distinctions in speech like irony or sarcasm,” says T.S. Sridhar, professor of molecular medicine at St Johns Medical College, Bangalore. Sridhar has experience of working in auditory physiology.

This skill could translate to being able to identify emotions in speech much better than in the case of non-musicians. Musical training uses a high working memory, an ability that is extremely useful in language. It also involves paying close attention to sound, which also translates to a skill in language: the ability to listen carefully to a stream of sound amidst a sea of noise. Many experiments have shown that neurons in the brains of musicians indeed show a higher response when exposed to the sound of language when compared to non-musicians.

Since the strength of such response is dependent on the length of training, it always helps to start early. Kraus and Chandrasekaran argue that seven years is the best age to start. This in turn raises another question: can one get the benefits of musical training — in terms of translatable skills — when training in later life? Says Kraus, who is Hugh Knowles Professor of communication sciences, neurobiology and physiology and otolaryngology at Northwestern University, “There is evidence that the nervous system, and in particular the auditory system, continues to change throughout the life times of human and non-human animals. An important area for future research is to determine specifically the effects of musical experience — begun later in life — on the nervous system.”

So performers, play on, be it for your brain or your heart. As a commentary on the Nature article argues, music could be taught and learned for its own sake and not merely to improve the brain.

Source The Telegraph (Kolkata, India)

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Resveratrol Slows The Aging Process

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A natural compound that can help enhance your memory and restore your brain’s cell function is resveratrol. This nutrient is found in grapes, red wine, peanuts, seeds, nuts, various Chinese and Japanese herbs, raspberries, blueberries and cranberries.

The power of resveratrol was first discovered in association with French diets. Longevity and increased heart health were abundant among the Europeans even though they consumed high levels of saturated fats and wine. The key to the French peoples’ life expectancy, razor-sharp mind and low rate of coronary heart disease was linked with the nutrient resveratrol.

In his book, The Longevity Factor: How Resveratrol and Red Wine Activate Genes For A Longer and Healthier Life, Joseph Maroon, M.D., explains the power of resveratrol. During testing on mice at Harvard University, he observed results that show a reduction in the occurrence of Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases in those mice that received resveratrol.

Testing conducted at Harvard University by Joseph Baur, Ph.D., and David Sinclair, Ph.D., found that the compound resveratrol can slow down the aging process by repairing and protecting your cell membranes. By increasing the strength of your cells—especially your brain cells—you can virtually extend your life expectancy and sharpen your mind because you won’t have lost those essential cells.

In the book How Can the New Discovery of the Anti-aging Gene and Resveratrol Benefit You?, author Brook Henderson indicates resveratrol attacks genes that are harmful to your body. When this happens, abnormal cell growth decreases… dying and decaying cells are repaired… and the cells’ natural ability to repair themselves is restored.

Source : Better Health Research. July 5. 2010

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Music is Good for You at any Age

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It may be easier to learn young, but it may be more fun to learn later.
Let’s face it: Many of us looking to sharpen our intellectual edges have already passed the age when becoming a prodigy is an option. We missed the opportunity to start clarinet lessons at 5. We lacked the discipline to practice for hours on end. We were told we couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket.

It’s never too late, say researchers.

Just as second languages are more easily learned young, neuroscientists point to periods of heightened sensitivity — particularly before the age of 8 or 9 — when minds are more readily shaped by musical instruction.

With age, the “plasticity” that allows experience to mold the brain so easily declines. But it doesn’t disappear. At any age, learning a challenging new set of skills such as instrumental music is likely to return cognitive dividends, says Harvard University neurologist Gottfried Schlaug. And for adults, he added, the prospect of making music can be a far more effective motivator to practice than nagging parents are to younger musicians.

“Music is sort of the perfect activity that people can engage in from young to older years. It affects how the brain develops and affects how the brain changes in structure” at any age, Schlaug says.

For the mature brain, even listening to beloved music may have what scientists call a “neuroprotective” effect.

Dr. Antonio Damasio, director of USC’s Brain and Creativity Institute, is an expert on emotion and a committed musicophile. Even if music did little more than lift our spirits, he says, it would be a powerful force in maintaining physical and mental health. The pleasure that results from listening to music we love stimulates the release of neural growth factors that promote the vigor, growth and replacement of brain cells.

In that way, Damasio says, just the simple act of absorbing music may help keep older minds healthy, active and resilient against injury and illness.

Source :Los Angeles Times,March 1, 2010
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Red Wine Nutrient Helps Fight Aging and Abnormal Cell Growth

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Recent scientific studies have discovered a simple compound that can help enhance, improve and even lengthen your life—without any negative side effects. Imagine living five… 10… or 15 years longer than the average-age man or woman.


Specialists from the Mayo Clinic and Harvard University state that a miracle nutrient called resveratrol found in red wine could be the elixir to extend your life. Resveratrol can also be found in grapes, peanuts, seeds, various Chinese and Japanese herbs, raspberries, blueberries, and cranberries.

When it comes to protecting your cells from abnormal growth that can lead to cancer, clinical studies show resveratrol can boost the health and lifespan of your cells. Researchers at the University of Illinois in Chicago found that resveratrol interfered with the three major stages of cancer production. Resveratrol was found to neutralize free radical damage in the initiation of the disease, reduce inflammation during the promotion of the disease and inhibit further abnormal cell growth during the progression of the disease. According to the results published in Science, the data suggest that resveratrol is a highly effective nutrient that may present itself as a potential cancer chemopreventive agent in humans, as well.

By supplementing with resveratrol, not only can you fight abnormal cell growth, you can help shut down sick cells and prevent them from multiplying… repair cells faster and keep healthy cells living longer and stronger… increase your lifespan by decades… and virtually wipe out old-age health concerns including blood sugar imbalances, memory loss and cholesterol problems.

Source:  Better Health Research. Dec 14. 2009

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