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Vanilla planiforlia

Botanical Name : Vanilla planiforlia
Family: Orchidaceae
Subfamily: Vanilloideae
Tribes: Vanilleae
Class: Equisetopsida
Subclass: Magnoliidae
Superorder: Lilianae
Order: Asparagales
Genus: Vanilla
Species: Vanilla planifolia

Synonyms: Vanilla planifolia Jacks, Notylia planifolia

Common name: Vanilla
Habitat:Vanilla planiforlia is native to Mexico and Central America. It grows in the tropical forests.
Description:
Vanilla planifolia is a tropical vine, which can reach a length of over 30 m. It has thick, fleshy stems and greenish flowers that open early in the morning and are pollinated by bees. The flowers have only a slight scent, with no element of the vanilla flavour or aroma. Once pollinated, the ovaries swell and develop into fruits called ‘pods’ similar to long, thin runner beans over a period of four weeks. The pods contain thousands of tiny black seeds.
CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES :

Cultivation:
Chris Ryan of Kew’s Tropical Nursery has found that propagation of this orchid is relatively straightforward and is usually done from stem cuttings.

A piece of stem is taken, with a minimum of three sets of leaves. The cutting is placed on sphagnum moss and kept damp in a warm and humid environment until new growth starts from one of the nodes. The cuttings are then planted into hanging baskets, using a compost mix made of three parts bark chips, two parts pumice and one part charcoal. The compost is watered only when it dries out, but the aerial roots are misted once a day.

The plants are kept in a warm zone of the nursery, with a minimum winter temperature of 18?C, and shaded when necessary. When the plants become large they require some support due to their climbing habit. Flowering can be induced by tip-pruning established plants, which promotes flowering on lateral shoots.

Edible Uses:The tiny seeds, whole fruit, powder or fruit extract of vanilla are used as flavouring agents in food, particularly in confectionery and sweet foods, sometimes to reduce the amount of sugar necessary to sweeten food.

Medicinal Uses:
Vanilla is used medicinally as an aphrodisiac, as a stimulant, and to relieve fevers and gastric complaints, although there is no scientific evidence for its effectiveness in these cases. In the 16th and 17th centuries vanilla was believed to have various medicinal properties and was used as a stomach herb, a stimulant and aphrodisiac and an antidote to poisons. It was first included in European pharmacopoeias in the 18th century and was listed in the British and American ones for many years. It acts on the nervous system and used to be used to treat hysteria and high fevers.

Research has shown that vanillin, the main flavour molecule in vanilla, does have antimicrobial and antioxidant activities.
Other Uses:
Vanilla is among the most important ingredients in perfumery.

Vanilla: Essence and aroma

The mature, unripe fruits have no flavour when they are harvested. The aroma and flavour of vanilla are released when the fruit is dried and cured by steaming and fermentation. The finest quality vanilla pods turn dark brown and accumulate a frosting of glucose and vanillin on the surface during fermentation.

Vanillin was first synthesised in 1874 from a compound extracted from pine bark, and then in 1891 from a different compound extracted from cloves, and is widely used as a synthetic substitute for natural vanilla. The ‘vanilla essence‘ commonly used today is synthesised from wood pulp as a by-product of paper-making and from coal-tar (toluene). However, the characteristic aroma and flavour of natural vanilla comprises a cocktail of over 200 different molecules.
Known Hazards: Vanilla may cause allergic responses when applied topically or taken internally. ‘Vanillism’ is a condition sometimes experienced by workers handling vanilla, the symptoms of which are headache, dermatitis and insomnia.

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://species.wikimedia.org/wiki/Vanilla_planifolia
http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_UZ.htm
http://www.kew.org/science-conservation/plants-fungi/vanilla-planifolia-vanilla

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Aralia elata

Botanical Name: Aralia elata
Family: Araliaceae
Genus: Aralia
Species:A. elata
Kingdom:Plantae
Order: Apiales

Synonyms: Dimorphanthus elatus.

Common Name : Japanese Angelica Tree, Angelica Tree (In Japan it is known as tara-no-ki, and in Korea as dureup namu.)

Habitat: Aralia elata is native to E. Asia – China, Japan, Korea. It grows in thin woodland and thickets on rich well moistened slopes, 900 – 2000 metres in N. Hupeh.

Description:
Aralia elata is an upright deciduous small tree or shrub growing up to 10 m (33 ft) in height at a medium rate. The bark is rough and gray with prickles. The leaves are alternate, large, 60–120 cm long, and double pinnate. The flowers are produced in large umbels in late summer, each flower small and white. The fruit is a small black drupe…CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES

It is not frost tender. It is in flower from Aug to September. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects.Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. Suitable pH: acid and neutral soils.

It prefers deep loamy soils in partial shade, but will grow in poorer soils and in full sun. The plant is sometimes cultivated, often in a variegated form, for its exotic appearance.

Aralia elata is closely related to the American species Aralia spinosa, with which it is easily confused.
Cultivation:
Landscape Uses:Specimen. Prefers a good deep loam and a position in semi-shade but it also succeeds in a sunny position. Requires a sheltered position. Plants are hardier when grown on poorer soils. Prefers an acid soil. Dormant plants are hardy to at least -15°. The young growth in spring, even on mature plants, is frost-tender and so it is best to grow the plants in a position sheltered from the early morning sun. A very ornamental species, there are a number of named varieties. It is usually a single stemmed shrub, spreading by means of suckers. This species is closely allied to A. chinensis. Special Features: Not North American native, Blooms are very showy.

Propagation: 
Seed – best sown as soon as ripe in a cold frame. Stored seed requires 3 – 5 months of cold stratification. Germination usually takes place within 1 – 4 months at 20°c. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in light shade in a greenhouse for at least their first winter. Once the plants are 25cm or more tall, they can be planted out into their permanent positions, late spring or early summer being the best time to do this. Root cuttings 8cm long, December in a cold frame. Store the roots upside down in sand and pot up in March/April. High percentage. Division of suckers in late winter. Very easy, the suckers can be planted out direct into their permanent positions if required.
Edible Uses: Young shoots – cooked. They can also be blanched and used in salads.

In Japan, the shoots (taranome) are eaten in the spring. They are picked from the end of the branches and are fried in a tempura batter.

In Korean cuisine, its shoots called dureup are used for various dishes, such as dureup jeon, that is a variety of jeon (pancake-like dish) made by pan-frying the shoots covered with minced beef and batter.

Dureup namul, also called dureup muchim is a dish made by blanching dureup seasoned with chojang (chili pepper and vinegar sauce).

It is also common to eat Aralia elata as Dureup bugak, fried shoots of the plant coated with glutinous rice paste, usually served along with chal jeonbyeong, a kind of pancake made by pan-frying glutinous rice flour. …...CLICK & SEE : 
Medicinal Uses:
Anodyne; Cancer; Carminative.

The roots and stems are anodyne and carminative. All parts of the plant are used for the treatment of rheumatoid arthralgia, coughs, diabetes, jaundice, stomach ulcers and stomach cancers.

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/Aralia_elata
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Aralia+elata

Ceratonia siliqua

Botanical Name :Ceratonia siliqua
Family: Fabaceae
Genus: Ceratonia
Species: C. siliqua
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Fabales

Common Names:  carob tree, St John’s-bread, Locust Bean

Habitat  :Ceratonia siliqua is native to the Mediterranean region including Southern Europe, Northern Africa, the larger Mediterranean islands; to the Levant and Middle-East of Western Asia into Iran; and to the Canary Islands and Macaronesia. It grows in the  rocky places near the sea shore.

Description:
The Ceratonia siliqua tree grows up to 15 metres (49 ft) tall. The crown is broad and semi-spherical, supported by a thick trunk with brown rough bark and sturdy branches. Leaves are 10 to 20 centimetres (3.9 to 7.9 in) long, alternate, pinnate, and may or may not have a terminal leaflet. It is frost-tolerant.

Click to see the pictures..>....(01)...(1)....(2)....(3).....(4)....(5)..….(6)..

Most carob trees are dioecious. The trees blossom in autumn. The flowers are small and numerous, spirally arranged along the inflorescence axis in catkin-like racemes borne on spurs from old wood and even on the trunk (cauliflory); they are pollinated by both wind and insects. Male flowers produce a characteristic odour, resembling semen.

The fruit is a pod that can be elongated, compressed, straight or curved, and thickened at the sutures. The pods take a full year to develop and ripen. The ripe pods eventually fall to the ground and are eaten by various mammals, thereby dispersing the seed.

The seeds of Ceratonia siliqua contains leucodelphinidin, a colourless chemical compound

Cultivation:
Ceratonia siliqua is widely cultivated in the horticultural nursery industry as an ornamental plant for planting in Mediterranean climate and other temperate regions around the world, as its popularity in California and Hawaii shows. The plant develops a sculpted trunk and ornamental tree form when ‘limbed up’ as it matures, otherwise it is used as a dense and large screening hedge. When not grown for legume harvests the plant is very drought tolerant and part of ‘xeriscape’ landscape design for gardens, parks, and public municipal and commercial landscapes.

Propagation:
Seed – pre-soak for 24 hours in warm water prior to sowing. If the seed has not swollen then give it another soaking in warm water until it does swell up. Sow in a greenhouse in April[200]. Germination should take place within 2 months. As soon as they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual deep pots and grow them on in a greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Give them some protection from the cold for their first few winters outdoors.

Edible Uses:
Carob consumed by humans is the dried (and sometimes roasted) pod, and not the ‘nuts’ or seeds. Carob is mildly sweet and is used in powdered, chip, or syrup form as an ingredient in cakes and cookies, and as a substitute for chocolate.

Chocolate contains theobromine, which is poisonous to some mammals, but carob does not, and is used to make chocolate-flavored treats for dogs.

The seeds, also known as locust beans, are used as animal feed, and are the source of locust bean gum — a food thickening agent. Crushed pods may be used to make a beverage; compote, liqueur, and syrup are made from carob in Turkey, Malta, Portugal, Spain and Sicily. Several studies suggest that carob may aid in treating diarrhea in infants.[13] In Libya, carob syrup (there called rub) is used as a complement to Asida. The so-called carob syrup made in Peru is actually from the fruit of the Prosopis nigra tree.

Carob is rich in sugars – Sucrose = 531g ± 93 g/kg dry weight for cultivated varieties and 437 ± 77 g/kg in wild type varieties. Fructose and glucose levels do not differ between cultivated and wild type carob

Carob is a healthy substitute for  chocolate that is lower in calories. Roasted carob is naturally sweeter, (or not as bitter), as unsweetened chocolate, so it can be made palatable with less added sugar in recipes. Carob has a number of advantages over chocolate: it is hypoallergenic, and hypoglycemic. 55 The true trick to enjoying carob is to not expect it to taste exactly like chocolate,(and be forever disappointed), but to learn to appreciate carob for its own unique taste.

Traditional uses:
Carob was eaten in Ancient Egypt. Carob juice drinks are traditionally drunk during the Islamic month of Ramadan. It was also a common sweetener and was used in the hieroglyph for “sweet” (nedjem). Dried carob fruit is traditionally eaten on the Jewish holiday of Tu Bishvat. Also it is believed to be an aphrodisiac.

In Cyprus, carob syrup is known as Cyprus’s black gold, and is widely exported.

In Malta, a syrup (?ulepp tal-?arrub) is made out of carob pods. This is a traditional medicine for coughs and sore throat. A traditional sweet, eaten during Lent and Good Friday, is also made from carob pods in Malta. However, carob pods were mainly used as animal fodder in the Maltese Islands, apart from times of famine or war when they formed part of the diet of many Maltese.

In the Iberian Peninsula, carob pods were used mainly as animal fodder, especially to feed donkeys.

Carob pods were an important source of sugar before sugarcane and sugar beets became widely available.

Cultivation:
Landscape Uses:Aggressive surface roots possible. Requires a very sunny position in any well-drained moderately fertile soil[200]. Does well in calcareous, gravelly or rocky soils. Tolerates salt laden air. Tolerates a pH in the range 6.2 to 8.6. The tree is very drought resistant, thriving even under arid conditions, the roots penetrating deep into the soil to find moisture. This species is not very hardy in Britain but it succeeds outdoors in favoured areas of S. Cornwall[1], tolerating temperatures down to about -5°c when in a suitable position. The young growth in spring, even on mature plants, is frost-tender and so it is best to grow the plants in a position sheltered from the early morning sun. The carob is frequently cultivated in warm temperate zones for its edible seed and seed pods. Mature trees in a suitable environment can yield up to 400 kilos of seedpods annually. There are named varieties with thicker pods. Seeds are unlikely to be produced in Britain since the tree is so near (if not beyond) the limits of its cultivation. The seed is very uniform in size and weight, it was the original ‘carat’ weight of jewellers. This species has a symbiotic relationship with certain soil bacteria, these bacteria form nodules on the roots and fix atmospheric nitrogen. Some of this nitrogen is utilized by the growing plant but some can also be used by other plants growing nearby. Special Features:Edible, Not North American native, Inconspicuous flowers or blooms.

Propagation:
Seed – pre-soak for 24 hours in warm water prior to sowing. If the seed has not swollen then give it another soaking in warm water until it does swell up. Sow in a greenhouse in April[200]. Germination should take place within 2 months. As soon as they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual deep pots and grow them on in a greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Give them some protection from the cold for their first few winters outdoors.

Medicinal  Uses::
Parts Used: Seed Pod
Constituents:  arginine, benzoic-acid , gallic-acid , glucose , pectin ,starch, sucrose ,tannin,tocopherol,tyrosine

Antidiarrhoeal;  Antiemetic;  Astringent;  Demulcent;  Emollient;  Purgative.

The pulp in the seedpods of carob is very nutritious and, due to its high sugar content, sweet-tasting and mildly laxative. However, the pulp in the pods is also astringent and, used in a decoction, will treat diarrhoea and gently help to cleanse and also relieve irritation within the gut. Whilst these appear to be contradictory effects, carob is an example of how the body responds to herbal medicines in different ways, according to how the herb is prepared and according to the specific medical problem. The seedpods are also used in the treatment of coughs. A flour made from the ripe seedpods is demulcent and emollient. It is used in the treatment of diarrhoea.   The seed husks are astringent and purgative. The bark is strongly astringent. A decoction is used in the treatment of diarrhoea.

Other Uses:  A flour made from the seedpods is used in the cosmetic industry to make face-packs. Tannin is obtained from the bark. Wood – hard, lustrous. Highly valued by turners, it is also used for marquetry and walking stick.

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/Ceratonia_siliqua
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Ceratonia+siliqua
http://www.anniesremedy.com/herb_detail462.php

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Eat Slow and Cut Your Calories

For ages, mothers have admonished children to slow down and chew their food. It turns out they’re onto something.

………………….

Researchers have found evidence that when people wolf their food, they end up consuming more calories than they would at a slower pace. One reason is the effect of quicker ingestion on hormones.

In one recent study, scientists found that when a group of subjects were given an identical serving of ice cream on different occasions, they released more hormones that made them feel full when they ate it in 30 minutes instead of 5.

In other words, it can’t hurt to slow down and savor your meals.

Sources: New York Times February 22, 2010

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Curare

 

Botanical Name: Chondrodendron tomentosum
Family:Menispermaceae
Genus: Chondrodendron
Species: Tomentosum
Parts Used: Leaf, Root

Synonyms: Pereira Brava. Cissampelos Pareira. Velvet Leaf. Ice Vine.
Parts Used: Dried root, bark, bruised leaves.

Common Names: Curare, Grieswurzel, Pareira Brava, Pareira, Vigne Sauvage,  pareira, uva-da-serra, uva-do-mato, ampihuasca blanca, antinupa, antinoopa, comida de venados, curari, ourari, woorari, worali, velvet leaf

Habitat: Curare is native to   West Indies, Spanish Main Brazil, Peru.  It grows in  Amazon Basin of South America.(In El Salvador and other parts of Central America)

Description:
This deciduous plant will flower in a container just prior to leafing out. The flowers are attractive red “spikes”. Zone 9+ The bright red seeds contain a number of poisonous alkaloids that have a curare-like action.

CLICK TO SEE THE PICTURES

Curare grows as a large liana, or vine, found in the canopy of the South American rainforest. The vine may get as thick as 4 inches in diameter at its base. It has large alternate, heart-shaped leaves which may be 4-8 inches long and almost as wide, with a 2-6 inches long petiole. The leaves are smooth on top with a hairy white bottom, and deeply indented veins radiating from the leaf base. Clusters of small (1/16-1/8 inches), greenish-white flowers are made up of separate male and female flowers. The fleshy fruits are oval, narrow at the base, and approximately 1-2 mm long.

Edible Uses:

The fruit of this vine is edible with a bitter-sweet taste.
Some Indians of South America crush and cook the roots and stems, and add other plants and venomous animals, mixing it until it becomes a light syrup. They call this mixture “ampi”, or “curaré”, which they use on the tip of their arrows and darts to hunt wild game. Crude curare is a dark brown or black mass with a sticky to hard consistency and an aromatic, tarry odor. The name comes from Indian word meaning “poison.”

Curare, in large doses, paralyses the motor nerve-endings in striped muscle, and death occurs from respiratory failure. Curare is very bitter, and is actually a common name for various dart poisons originating from South America.

The young flowers and new growth are added to soups and other food preparations as a soporific vegetables.

Curare has differing effects depending upon dosage, whether it is injected into muscle tissue, or ingested. Curare is used internally in tribal medicine for edema, fever, kidney stones and testicular inflammation. It is also known to relax muscles into a state of inactivity.

Under appropriate medical care and attention, curare is also used to relieve spastic paralysis, to treat some mental disorders, and to induce muscle relaxation for setting fractures. Curare is now used extensively in modern medicine. It is only toxic if it enters the bloodstream. Curare is not for sale to the general public.

As with many Amazonian tribal plant history and legend, curare is prepared by old women. In some traditions, the witch doctor has a monopoly of the business, but generally, wise old men get together to brew a batch. Extra curare was usually carried by tribal members in a gourd or calabash, and stored with weapons.

Medicinal Uses:

The active ingredient in “curaré”, D-tubocurarine, is used in medicine. Brazilians consider the root a diuretic, and use it internally in small quantities for madness and dropsy, and externally for bruises. It is also used for edema, fever, and kidney stones.

Curare is an alkaloid, and acts as a neuromuscular blocking agent to produce paralysis in muscles. It first affects the muscles of the toes, ears, and eyes, then those of the neck, arms and legs, and finally, those involved in breathing. In fatal doses, death is caused by respiratory paralysis. Curare must get into the blood system for it to work. It doesn’t hurt to eat something killed by a poisoned curare arrow, for instance.

The therapeutical employment of curare has been suggested in certain severe and obstinate spasmodic affections, as in epilepsy, chorea, hydrophobia, and, more particularly, in tetanus. It is used by subcutaneous injections of its filtered aqueous solution, thus: Add curare 1 grain, to distilled water 24 minims; dissolve, let the solution stand 48 hours, and filter; of this, from 2 minims (1/12 grain) to 6 minims (1/4 grain) may be used at one injection, carefully repeating the injections until relaxation of the muscles has been effected. Curarine, dissolved in water, with a few drops of sulphuric acid added, to facilitate its solution, is to be used in still smaller doses—from the 1/240 to the 1/120 part of a grain. It is doubtful whether this agent will ever come into general use as a medicinal remedy; at least, not so long as other medicines are known in which greater confidence can be placed. The diversity of action, attributable, in some instances, to its difference of composition, in others to its inertness, or to its highly active qualities, render it an uncertain, as well as an unsafe, remedy.

It is used in modern medicine primarily as an auxiliary in general anesthesia, frequently with cyclopropane, especially in abdominal surgery. Upon injection, curare acts as a neuromuscular blocking agent to produce flaccidity in striated (striped) muscle (it competes with acetylcholine at the nerve ending, preventing nerve impulses from activating skeletal, or voluntary, muscles). It first affects the muscles of the toes, ears, and eyes, then those of the neck and limbs, and, finally, those involved in respiration. In fatal doses, death is caused by respiratory paralysis.
Practitioners commonly rely on velvet leaf as an excellent natural remedy for menstrual difficulties, including cramping and pain, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), excessive bleeding, and fibroid tumors. Its ability to curb excessive menstrual bleeding very quickly can be quite remarkable. It is often employed in overall female balancing formulas, in kidney formulas (for its diuretic and smooth-muscle relaxant effects), and, in combination with other plants, in heart tonics and hypertension remedies. It is also considered effective against malaria, fever, hepatic ailments, gastric ulcers, diabetes, anemia, high cholesterol, cerebral tonic, fever, typhoid, stomach ulcers, pain killer, chronic inflammation of the urinary passages, good diuretic, etc. In North American herbal medicine, velvet leaf is used for many of the same conditions as in South America as well as for inflammation of the testicles and minor kidney problems. Pereira root also acts as an antiseptic to the bladder and is therefore employed for the relief of chronic inflammation of the urinary passages. It is also a good diuretic. The decoction of the stems and roots mixed with wild bee honey is used to treat sterile women. Root decoction used for post-menstrual hemorrhages, the alcoholic maceration, for rheumatism. Macerated leaves, bark and root, mixed with rum, are used by as aphrodisiac. Root decoction used as a cardio tonic, anti-anemic, anti-malarial. One tribe use a leaf decoction for fever and another use the decoction of the bark and stem as a dental analgesic. Some Ecuadorian tribes use the leaf decoction for conjunctivitis and snakebite. Others use the root tea for difficult delivery and nervous or weak children with colic. Also used in homeopathy, in the form of a mother tincture.

Abutua is a very useful herb for women’s affections. Its antispasmodic action makes it influential in treating cramps, painful menstruation and pre and post-natal pain. Brazilian Indian women have for centuries valued its analgesic powers, and the satchels of almost all midwives contain the root of this plant. Helpful for menstrual cramps and difficult menstruation, pre- and post-natal pain Aids poor digestion, drowsiness after meals and constipation.

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.blueplanetbiomes.org/curare.htm
http://ezinearticles.com/?Rainforest-Plants—Curare&id=1030007
http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/146779/curare

http://www.henriettesherbal.com/eclectic/kings/curare.html

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