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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.

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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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7 Alternative Depression Treatments


1.Food fixes :-
Dietary changes can alter the brain both chemically and structurally. If you’re feeling blue, take a step toward recovery by ensuring that your diet includes the following:

*Fish oil contains high levels of the omega-3 fatty acid DHA (docosahexaenoic acid); a deficiency in DHA has been linked to depression. When DHA is plentiful, your mood isn’t the only thing that gets a boost—memory and learning are enhanced as well. Not a fish fan? Essential fatty acids are also found in a variety of seeds, nuts, oils and leafy vegetables.
Antioxidant-rich foods can also serve to bolster mental health. Try to include apricots, broccoli, carrots, pumpkin, spinach, sweet potato, blueberries, kiwi and oranges, among others, in your diet.
*Daily multivitamins are the final step in keeping your brain and body properly regulated. When selecting supplements, look for B vitamins, magnesium, folic acid, selenium, and the amino acids tyrosine and tryptophan. These brain boosters are important for curbing depression and anxiety due to their effects on the mood-regulating neurotransmitters serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine.

It is important to note that dietary supplements are exactly that—supplements. They do little good when used in lieu of healthy eating and exercise habits.

2. Herbal antidepressants………
St. John’s wort supplements are perhaps the most well-known herbal remedy for depression. It works by preventing the re-uptake of serotonin and norepinephrine, two brain chemicals that affect mood. A review of research on St. John’s wort, published in the Annals of General Psychiatry in 2008, found it to be as helpful as mainstream antidepressants (though should be avoided by those on blood-thinning medications.)

Produced in the seeds of the African legume shrub Griffonia simplicifolia, 5-hydroxytryptophan, or 5-HTP, is sold as a supplement which may help alleviate depression symptoms. This supplement purportedly works by increasing the brain’s serotonin production, thereby stabilizing mood as well as eating and sleeping patterns. Like most unconventional remedies, the evidence for 5-HTP’s safety and effectiveness is mixed. It’s best absorbed when taken in combination with vitamin B-6.

Extract of Rhodiola rosea root, or SHR-5, is another alternative to mainstream treatment. It is marketed primarily as an energy and mental performance booster, but may also improve mood by reducing stress levels. SHR-5 is a good alternative to St. John’s wort for those taking blood thinners.

Taking more than one antidepressant at a time is dangerous; don’t start an herbal regimen if you’re already medicated.

3. Meditation …………………….
Regular meditation has been shown to lower heart rate and blood pressure, strengthen the immune system, and decrease the amount of stress hormone released by the brain.

There are many different ways to meditate. You can focus for an extended period of time on breathing or mantra repetition, or you can practice “mindfulness,” which involves regarding the thoughts and feelings that come to you as though you were an objective observer. By allowing your thoughts to come and go without judging or reacting to them, they will slowly lose their power over you. Not only will this relieve the stress of worrying, it will also give you a sense of control over how you feel. This is important in alleviating the feelings of hopelessness associated with depression.

It may take practice to keep from mentally straying when engaged in meditative exercises, but if you meditate for as little as 10 minutes a day, you will start reaping its benefits.
4.Touch therapy …. …….
Physical contact is an important element in human communication and connection; we use it to show affection, seek comfort, and believe it or not, to maintain our mental health. Therapeutic massage is based on the concept that a more relaxed body can mean a more relaxed mind. A meta-analysis conducted in association with the Massage Therapy Foundation in 2008 reported that a single massage therapy session can temporarily reduce heart rate and stress hormone levels, as well as promote the release of endorphins. While research on long-term treatment is lacking, there is evidence that it may lower blood pressure.

Reflexology is a more specific form of touch therapy that focuses solely on pressure points in the hands and feet. Its practitioners believe in the connection of these points to different organs in the body, the stimulation of which promotes toxin release and blood flow.

If you don’t have the finances to hire a professional massage therapist, you may be still be able to reap the benefits of touch. Interpersonal contact with family, friends, and partners stimulates the release of oxytocin in the brain. Sometimes referred to as the “trust hormone,” oxytocin enhances feelings of love and closeness between individuals

5.Biofeedback…………..
Depression is not only a mental state—the body will often mirror the distress of the mind in depressed individuals. During a biofeedback session, the treatment-seeker is fitted with electrodes and her physiological activity is monitored. The machine alerts its user when the body shows signs of stress so that conscious efforts can be made to lessen physical tension. Biofeedback may base its feedback on muscle tension, sweat-gland emission, skin temperature, respiration, and/or heart rate. Upon being alerted of the body’s arousal, the user makes conscious efforts to calm herself, thereby returning the body to a state of relaxation.

As the patient gains experience with biofeedback, she becomes more sensitive to her body’s signals, and may gain control over physical reactions that were once subconscious. In treating the physical manifestations of depression, the condition itself can be improved.

Biofeedback may be preferable to other alternative remedies if there is an anxiety component to your depression. A 2008 study by Robert Reiner, Ph.D., of the New York University Medical Center showed reduced anxiety and anger in 24 cognitive-behavioral-therapy patients who carried portable biofeedback devices for a period of three weeks.

6.Acupuncture ……………..
The Chinese practice of acupuncture is intended to unblock the flow of life energy known as qi. Needles are not inserted randomly, but target specific meridians (or qi channels) throughout the body. While some see this as a mystical concept, the hair-thin needles inserted during acupuncture do stimulate important nerves. This stimulation increases the brain’s release of norepinephrine, serotonin and endorphins, thereby boosting mood.

Once inserted, acupuncture needles are typically left in for about 20 to 40 minutes. They can be twisted, heated, or used to transmit small amounts of electricity into the skin to enhance nerve reactivity. This process is not usually painful, but will be felt to a greater or lesser extent depending on your sensitivity and the quality of your practitioner. Some insurance plans now cover acupuncture treatments, which can cost up to $100 per session.

7.Yoga ………….

Regular physical activity is important for maintaining both mental and physical health. Adopting a yoga regimen may be particularly beneficial for those suffering from depression, as the practice is considered by some to be a form of cognitive behavioral therapy. In mastering yoga postures, greater body awareness and self-efficacy is achieved. Concentration and self-control also improve. These tools translate to greater emotional control, which can help yoga practitioners maintain a stable mood despite negative external factors.

A 2007 review of the research on yoga, conducted by Kimberlee Bonura of Florida State University, reported that both short- and long-term practice can positively affect mental health. There is evidence that anxiety and depressed mood improve after just one yoga session, with benefits increasing the longer one continues to practice. Finally, yoga can serve to reduce stress hormone levels and relieve physical pains.

Sources: MSN Health.

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St. John’s Wort

Botanical Name: Hypericum perforatum
Family: Clusiaceae

Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Malpighiales
Genus: Hypericum
Species: H. perforatum

Common Names: St. John’s wort, hypericum, Klamath weed, goat weed

Other Names: Spotted St. John’s wort, Hypericum, Klamath Weed, Touch-and-heal, Goat weed, Rosin Rose

Habitat:
St. John’s Wort is a perennial herb native to North America and Canada from Nova Scotia, Ontario Quebec south to the United States, eastern states. Found growing in open sunny or partial shady areas, along roadsides in dry, gravelly soils.

Description:
St John’s wort is a perennial plant with extensive, creeping rhizomes. Its stems are erect, branched in the upper section, and can grow to 1 m high. It has opposing, stalkless, narrow, oblong leaves which are 12 mm long or slightly larger. The leaves are yellow-green in color, with transparent dots throughout the tissue and occasionally with a few black dots on the lower surface. Its flowers measure up to 2.5 cm across, have five petals, and are colored bright yellow with conspicuous black dots. The flowers appear in broad cymes at the ends of the upper branches. The sepals are pointed, with glandular dots in the tissue. There are many stamens, which are united at the base into three bundles.

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Identification
St John’s wort can be visually recognized by leaf and flower type. Yellow, five petaled flowers approximately 20 mm across occur between late Spring and early to mid Summer. Leaves exhibit obvious translucent dots when held up to the light, giving them a ‘perforated’ appearance, hence the plant’s Latin name. When flowers or seed pods are crushed, a reddish/purple liquid is produced.

Cultivation
St. John’s Wort is easy to grow from seed or root division in spring or autumn, in any well-drained but moisture retentive soil. Succeeds in dry soils, prefers sun or semi-shade.

.Seedlings of St John’s wort-

Chemical Composition:
Herb and flowers contain different flavonoids (rutin, hyperoside, isoquercetin, quercitrin, quercetin, I3,II8-biapigenin, amentoflavone, astilbin, miquelianin). Phenolic acids (chlorogenic acid, 3-O-coumaroylquinic acid). Different naphtodianthrones (hypericin, pseudohypericin, protohypericin, protopseudohypericin), phloroglucinols (hyperforin, adhyperforin). And also essential oils (composed mainly of sesquiterpenes). The naphthodianthrones hypericin and pseudohypericin along with the Phloroglucinol derivative hyperforin are thought to be the active components.

Herbal Use and Medicinal Properties:-
There are 400 species of St. John’s Wort found throughout the world, it has been used as a medicinal for thousands of years, but has only recently been studied for its medicinal value. Now proven to have many highly active compounds including rutin, pectin, choline, sitosterol, hypericin and pseudohypericin. The flowers and leaves are medicinal as analgesic, antiseptic, antispasmodic, aromatic, astringent, cholagogue, digestive, diuretic, expectorant, nervine, resolvent, sedative, stimulant, vermifuge and vulnerary. Some compounds of the plant have been shown to have potent anti-retroviral activity without serious side effects and they are being researched in the treatment of AIDS.Hypericum perforatum is thought to be a mild antidepressant of the class “MAO inhibitor.” The mechanism by which St. John’s Wort acts as an antidepressant is not fully understood. Early research indicated that this it mildly inhibits the enzyme monoamine oxidase (MAO). MAO is responsible for the breakdown of two brain chemicals – serotonin and nor epinephrine. By inhibiting MAO and increasing nor epinephrine, it may exert a mild anti-depressive action. The antidepressant or mood elevating effects of Hypericum perforatum were originally thought to be due solely to hypericin, but hypericin does not act alone, it relies on the complex interplay of many constituents such as xanthones and flavonoids for its antidepressant actions. Hypericum perforatum may also block the receptors that bind serotonin and so maintain normal mood and emotional stability.

Hypericum perforatum is used in treating a wide range of disorders, including pulmonary complaints, bladder problems, diarrhea and nervous depression. It is also very effectual in treating bed wetting in children. It has a sedative and pain reducing effect, it is especially regarded as an herb to use where there are menopausal changes triggering irritability and anxiety. In addition to neuralgic pain, it will ease fibrosistis, sciatica and rheumatic pain. The oil extract of the plant can be taken for stomach ache, colic, intestinal problems, and as an expectorant for the congestion in the lungs. Externally, a medicinal infusion of the flowers in olive oil is applied to wounds, sores, burns, ulcers, swellings, cramps, rheumatism, tumors, caked breasts, and other skin problems. It is also valued in the treatment of sunburn and as a cosmetic preparation to the skin. Persons with fair skin should avoid exposure to strong sunlight and other sources of ultraviolet light, such as tanning beds, while taking St. John’s Wort. These individuals may suffer a dermatitis, severe burning, and possibly blistering of the skin. The severity of these effects will depend on the amount of the plant consumed and the length of exposure to sunlight.

Folklore
There are many ancient superstitions regarding this plant, its name Hypericum is derived from the Greek and means ‘over an apparition,’ a reference to the belief that it smelled so obnoxious to evil spirits that a whiff of it would cause them to fly. The plant was given to have magical powers. In ancient Greece, the herb was used to treat many ailments, including sciatica and poisonous reptile bites.

Recipes:-
For depression the usual dose is 300 mg 3 times a day. Timed release capsules are now on the market as well.One should remember to take it once a day. Effects should be felt within a few weeks.

“Medicinal” tea: Pour 1 cup of boiling water over l-2 teaspoonfuls of the dried herb and steep for l0-l5 minutes. This should be drunk three times a day.

Oil: Fill a pint jar loosely with dried herb, poor olive oil to top, seal tightly and allow to infuse for 4 to 5 weeks, shaking the jar occasionally.

What the Science Says:-
*There is some scientific evidence that St. John’s wort is useful for treating mild to moderate depression. However, two large studies, one sponsored by NCCAM, showed that the herb was no more effective than placebo in treating major depression of moderate severity.

*NCCAM is studying the use of St. John’s wort in a wider spectrum of mood disorders, including minor depression.

Side Effects and Cautions:-
*St. John’s wort may cause increased sensitivity to sunlight. Other side effects can include anxiety, dry mouth, dizziness, gastrointestinal symptoms, fatigue, headache, or sexual dysfunction.

*Research shows that St. John’s wort interacts with some drugs. The herb affects the way the body processes or breaks down many drugs; in some cases, it may speed or slow a drug’s breakdown. Drugs that can be affected include:

*Antidepressants

*Birth control pills

*Cyclosporine, which prevents the body from rejecting transplanted organs

*Digoxin, which strengthens heart muscle contractions

*Indinavir and possibly other drugs used to control HIV infection

*Irinotecan and possibly other drugs used to treat cancer

*Warfarin and related anticoagulants

*When combined with certain antidepressants, St. John’s wort may increase side effects such as nausea, anxiety, headache, and confusion.

*St. John’s wort is not a proven therapy for depression. If depression is not adequately treated, it can become severe. Anyone who may have depression should see a health care provider. There are effective proven therapies available.

*Tell your health care providers about any complementary and alternative practices you use. Give them a full picture of what you do to manage your health. This will help ensure coordinated and safe care.

You may click to learn more about St. John’s Wort

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://nccam.nih.gov/health/stjohnswort/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St_John’s_Wort

 

Cornsilk (Zea mays)

Other names: Maize, mais

Description: Corn is a grass which can grow up to 3 meter. Corn forms thick stems with long leaves. The flowers of corn are monoecious: each corn plant forms male and female flowers. The male flowers form the tassel at the top and produce yellow pollen. The female flowers are situated in leave axils and form stigmas or corn silk (yellow soft threads). The purpose of the cornsilk is to catch the pollen. The cornsilk is normally light green but can have other colours such as yellow, yellow or light brown.

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The yellowish thread-like strands found inside the husks of corn. The stigmas are found on the female flower of corn, a grain that is also known as maize and is a member of the grass family (Gramineae or Poaceae). The stigmas measure 4–8 in (10–20 cm) long and are collected for medicinal use before the plant is pollinated. Cornsilk can also be removed from corn cobs for use as a remedy.

If fertilized, the stigmas dry and become brown. Then yellow corn kernels develop. Corn is native to North America and now grows around the world in warm climates.

Cornsilk is also known as mother’s hair, Indian corn, maize jagnog, Turkish corn, yu mi xu, and stigmata maydis.

Parts used: Only cornsilk (styles and stigmas) is harvested for medicinal properties. Cornsilk should be harvested just before pollination occurs. Cornsilk can be used fresh or dried. The corn kernels (or corn) are a well known food.

Phytochemicals: Maysin, Carvacrol, Flavonoids, Polyphenols

Medicinal properties: Cornsilk has detoxifying, relaxing and diuretic activity. Cornsilk is used to treat infections of the urinary and genital system, such as cystitis, prostatitis and urethritis. Cornsilk helps to reduce frequent urination caused by irritation of the bladder and is used to treat bed wetting problems.

Some historians believe that corn has grown for more than 7,000 years in North America. About the time that Christopher Columbus brought the first corn to Europe, the grain grew throughout North and South America. The venerable plant’s stigmas have long been used in folk medicine to treat urinary conditions including inflammation of the bladder and painful urination.

Cornsilk also served as a remedy for heart trouble, jaundice, malaria, and obesity. Cornsilk is rich in vitamin K, making it useful in controlling bleeding during childbirth. It has also been used to treat gonorrhea.

For more than a century, cornsilk has been a remedy for urinary conditions such as acute and inflamed bladders and painful urination. It was also used to treat the prostate. Some of those uses have continued into modern times; cornsilk is a contemporary remedy for all conditions of the urinary passage.

Drinking cornsilk tea is a remedy to help children stop wetting their beds, a condition known as enuresis. It is also a remedy for urinary conditions experienced by the elderly.

Cornsilk is used to treat urinary tract infections and kidney stones in adults. Cornsilk is regarded as a soothing diuretic and useful for irritation in the urinary system. This gives it added importance, since today, physicians are more concerned about the increased use of antibiotics to treat infections, especially in children. Eventually, overuse can lead to drug-resistant bacteria. Also, these drugs can cause complications in children.

Furthermore, cornsilk is used in combination with other herbs to treat conditions such as cystitis (inflammation of the urinary bladder), urethritis (inflammation of the urethra), and parostitis (mumps).

Cornsilk is said to prevent and remedy infections of the bladder and kidney. The tea is also believed to diminish prostate inflammation and the accompanying pain when urinating.

Since cornsilk is used as a kidney remedy and in the regulation of fluids, the herb is believed to be helpful in treating high blood pressure and water retention. Corn-silk is also used as a remedy for edema (the abnormal accumulation of fluids).

Cornsilk is used to treat urinary conditions in countries including the United Sates, China, Haiti, Turkey, and Trinidad. Furthermore, in China, cornsilk as a component in an herbal formula is used to treat diabetes.

In addition, cornsilk has some nonmedical uses. Cornsilk is an ingredient in cosmetic face powder. The herb used for centuries to treat urinary conditions acquired another modern-day use. Cornsilk is among the ingredients in a product advertised to help people pass their drug tests.

In China, cornsilk is traditionally used to treat oedema and jaundice. Studies indicate that cornsilk can reduces blood clotting time and reduce high blood pressure.

Preparations:
Some herbalists say that cornsilk is best used when fresh, but it is also available in dried form. Cornsilk can be collected from the female flower or from corn cobs. In addition, cornsilk is available commercially in powdered and capsule form and as an extract. Cornsilk is usually brewed as a tea, a beverage that is said to be soothing.

Cornsilk tea or infusion can be made by pouring 1 cup (240 ml) of boiling water over 2 tsp (2.5 g) of dried cornsilk. The mixture is covered and steeped for 10–15 minutes. The tea should be consumed three times daily.

In addition, a tincture of 1 tsp (3-6 ml) of cornsilk can be taken three times daily. Tincture can be purchased over the counter, or made at home by mixing the herb with water or alcohol at a ratio of 1:5 or 1:10.

Cornsilk is also available in capsule form. The usual dosage for 400-mg capsules is two capsules. These are taken with meals three times daily.

A Remedy for Bedwetting:
Herbal remedies can be part of the treatment when children wet their beds. Methods of stopping this behavior include having the child exercise during the day, drink fewer beverages in the evening, and drink a cup of cornsilk tea one hour before bedtime. Cornsilk could be the only ingredient in the tea. However, cornsilk can be part of an herbal combination if bedwetting is caused by lack of nervous control of the bladder.

Cornsilk Combinations:
Cornsilk combines well with other herbs to remedy a range of urinary conditions. One remedy for a bed-wetting tea is to combine one part of cornsilk, St. John’s wort, horsetail, wild oat, and lemon balm.

An herbal practitioner can recommend other combination remedies to treat more complicated conditions. For example, when a person has cystitis, cornsilk can be combined with yarrow, buchu, couchgrass, or bearberry.

Furthermore, cornsilk may be an ingredient in a commercial remedy taken to maintain the urinary tract system. Other ingredients could include yarrow and marsh mallow.

Other facts: Corn originates from Central America but is cultivated in many countries as a food crop and as fodder. In countries with colder climate the whole corn plant is used a cattle feed.

Precautions:
Cornsilk is safe when taken in proper dosages, according to sources including PDR (Physician’s Desk Reference) for Herbal Medicines,, the 1998 book based on the findings of Germany’s Commission E. The commission published its findings about herbal remedies in a 1997 monograph.

If a person decides to collect fresh cornsilk, attention should be paid to whether the plants were sprayed with pesticides.

Side Effects:
There are no known side effects when cornsilk is taken in designated therapeutic dosages.

Interactions:
Information is not available about whether there is an interaction when cornsilk is taken with medication. People taking medications should first check with their doctor or health practitioner before using cornsilk.

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.phytochemicals.info/plants/cornsilk.php
http://www.answers.com/topic/cornsilk

 

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Calendula

A Field Marigold flower (Calendula arvensis)Image via Wikipedia

Botanical Name : Calendula Officinalis
Family:    Asteraceae
Subfamily:Asteroideae
Tribe:    Calenduleae
Genus:    Calendula
Kingdom:    Plantae
Order:    Asterales

Common Names:  Garden marigold, Poet’s marigold, Pot marigold

Habitat : Calendula  is native to southwestern Asia, western Europe, Macaronesia, and the Mediterranean.

The petals of the calendula plant (Calendula officinalis) have been used for medicinal purposes for centuries. Often referred to as pot marigold or garden marigold, calendula is native to Mediterranean countries but is now grown as an ornamental plant throughout the world. It is important to note, however, that not all household plants called marigold are members of the calendula family.
Folk medicine healers in Europe used infusions, extracts, and ointments prepared with calendula petals to induce menstruation, produce sweat during fevers, and cure jaundice. Calendula preparations were also used in the United States during the 19th century to treat stomach ulcers, liver complaints, conjunctivitis (pink eye), and wounds. Researchers soon discovered that compounds in calendula petals help reduce inflammation and control bleeding. Today, the dried petals of the calendula plant are used in tinctures, ointments, and washes to speed the healing of burns, bruises, and cuts, as well as the minor infections they cause.

DESCRIPTION ::
Calendula is an annual plant that thrives in virtually any soil but can typically be found in Europe, Western Asia, and the United States. Its branching stems grow to a height of 30 to 60 cm. Calendula has a flowerhead situated on a well-defined green floral receptacle. The inner portion of the flowerhead consists of orange-yellow, tubular florets (often called petals).

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Different Species include:
*Calendula arvensis (Vaill.) L. – field marigold, wild marigold
*Calendula denticulata Schousb. ex Willd.
*Calendula eckerleinii Ohle
*Calendula incana Willd.
*Calendula incana subsp. algarbiensis (Boiss.) Ohle
*Calendula incana subsp. maderensis (DC.) Ohle – Madeiran marigold
*Calendula incana subsp. maritima (Guss.) Ohle – sea marigold
*Calendula incana subsp. microphylla (Lange) Ohle
*Calendula lanzae Maire
*Calendula maritima Guss. – sea marigold
*Calendula maroccana (Ball) Ball
*Calendula maroccana subsp. maroccana
*Calendula maroccana subsp. murbeckii (Lanza) Ohle
*Calendula meuselii Ohle
*Calendula officinalis L. – pot marigold, garden marigold, ruddles, Scottish marigold
*Calendula palaestina Boiss.
*Calendula stellata Cav.
*Calendula suffruticosa Vahl
*Calendula suffruticosa subsp. balansae (Boiss. & Reut.) Ohle
*Calendula suffruticosa subsp. boissieri Lanza
*Calendula suffruticosa subsp. fulgida (Raf.) Guadagno
*Calendula suffruticosa subsp. lusitanica (Boiss.) Ohle
*Calendula suffruticosa subsp. maritima (Guss.) Meikle
*Calendula suffruticosa subsp. monardii (Boiss. & Reut.) Ohle
*Calendula suffruticosa subsp. tomentosa Murb.
*Calendula tripterocarpa Rupr.

Edible Uses:
Calendula species have been used in cooking for centuries. The flowers were a common ingredient in German soups and stews, which explains the nickname “pot marigold”. The lovely golden petals were also used to add color to butter and cheese. The flowers are traditional ingredients in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern dishes. Calendula tea provides health benefits, as well as being delicious.
Meditional Uses:

Throughout the ages, tinctures made from calendula blossoms have been used to treat headaches, toothaches and even tuberculosis. The ancient Romans used calendula to treat scorpion bites and soldiers in the American Civil War found it helped stop wounds from bleeding. There is nothing better for sore or inflamed eyes than to bathe them in marigold water. Calendula is a popular salve and cream ingredient because it decreases the inflammation of sprains, stings, varicose veins and other swellings and soothes burns, sunburn, rashes and skin irritations. Laboratory studies show it kills bacteria and fungus such as ringworm, athlete’s foot. It is gentle enough to be applied as a tea to thrush in children’s mouths.

Taken internally, it has been used traditionally to promote the draining of swollen lymph glands, such as in tonsillitis and as part of the therapy for uterine or breast cancer, both as a poultice and as a tea. Herbalists report success in using a swab of calendula preparation or calendula boluses to treat abnormal cervical cells. Some antitumor activities have been observed in scientific studies. The infusion or tincture helps inflammatory problems of the digestive system such as gastritis, peptic ulcers, regional ileitis and colitis. Calendula has long been considered a detoxifying herb, and helps to treat the toxicity that underlies many fevers and infections and systemic skin disorders such as eczema and acne. The herb is also considered cleansing for the liver (promotes bile production) and gallbladder and can be used to treat problems affecting these organs. Makes a healing mouthwash for gums after tooth extraction.

Calendula has a mild estrogenic action and is often used to help reduce menstrual pain and regulate menstrual bleeding. The infusion makes an effective douche for yeast infections.

Ancient cultures recognized and used the healing properties of calendula. In some of the earliest medical writings, calendula was recommended for treating ailments of the digestive tract. It was used to detoxify the liver and gall bladder. The flowers were applied to cuts and wounds to stop bleeding, prevent infection and speed healing. Calendula was also used for various women’s ailments, and to treat a number of skin conditions. During the American Civil War, calendula flowers were used on the battlefields in open wounds as antihemorrhagic and antiseptic, and they were used in dressing wounds to promote healing. Calendula also was used in this way during World War I. Calendula has been historically significant in medicine in many cultures, and it is still important in alternative medicine today.

 Indications:
Burns, Cuts and Bruises
Calendula tinctures, ointments, and washes are commonly used to speed the healing of burns, bruises, and cuts, as well as the minor infections they cause.

Professional homeopaths often recommend ointments containing homeopathic doses of calendula to heal first-degree burns and sunburns. In fact, some homeopaths consider this remedy the treatment of choice for children. Homeopathic calendula ointments may also be used in the healing stages of second- and third-degree burns to stimulate regrowth of skin and to diminish scar formation.
Ear Infection
Homeopathic doses of calendula also appear to reduce pain caused by ear infections in children. In a study conducted in Israel, 103 children with ear infections were given herbal ear drops or drops containing pain-relieving medications. The herbal ear drops contained a variety of herbal extracts including calendula, St. John’s wort, mullein flower, and garlic. The researchers found that the combination of herbs in the ear drops were as effective as the medication ear drops in reducing the children’s ear pain

HIV
Preliminary laboratory studies also suggest that extracts of dried calendula petals inhibit the activity of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in test tubes. Calendula has not been studied in people with HIV, however, so it is not clear whether this herb is safe or effective for people with this condition.
Available Forms :
Fresh or dried calendula petals are available in tinctures, liquid extracts, infusions, ointments, and creams.
Calendula products should always be protected from light and moisture, and should not be used after three years of storage.
How to Take It

Pediatric
Use only topical and homeopathic preparations for children.
Calendula can be used externally in the form of creams and ointments in dosages of 2 to 5 g calendula per 100 g cream or ointment.
For homeopathic dosages follow instructions on product labeling or consult an experienced and licensed homeopath.
Adult
Recommended adult doses are as follows:
Infusion: 1 tsp dried florets in 8 oz water; steep 30 to 40 minutes; drink two to three cups per day
Fluid extract (1:1 in 40% alcohol): 0.5 to 1.0 mL three times per day
Tincture (1:5 in 90% alcohol): 2 to 4 mL three times per day
Ointment: 2 to 5 g crude drug in 100 g ointment
Precautions

The use of herbs is a time-honored approach to strengthening the body and treating disease. Herbs, however, contain active substances that can trigger side effects and that can interact with other herbs, supplements, or medications. For these reasons, herbs should be taken with care, under the supervision of a practitioner knowledgeable in the field of botanical medicine.

Frequent skin contact may result in an allergic reaction to the herb.

Calendula is also known to affect the menstrual cycle and should not be used during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
Possible Interactions
There are no known scientific reports of interactions between calendula and conventional medications.

Ayurvedic uses of Calendula:    An anti-inflammatory component flavonoids, triterpene saponins are found. The flowers contain calenduline, and oleanolic acid glycoside, sterol glycosides, a- and ß-amyrin, taraxasterol, y – taraxasterol, lupeol, brein, faradiol, arnidiol, erythrodiol, calenduladiol, coflodiol (ursadiol) and manilladiol.. They also contain Calendula also contains carotenoids. Investigations into anticancer and antiviral actions of calendula are continuing. There is evidence suggesting use of calendula for some viral infections
Medicinal propertie from Ayurvedic view
: It has stimulant, bitter, tonic, sudorific, febrifuge, carminative, anti-emetic and anthelmintic properties. Calendulas have been used to treat conjunctivitis, blepharitis, eczema, gastritis, minor burns including sunburns, warts, and minor injuries such as sprains and wounds. Calendula flowers have been considered beneficial in reducing inflammation, wound healing, and used as an antiseptic. Calendula has been used to treat a variety of skin diseases and has been seen effective in treatment of skin ulcerations and eczema.

If taken internally through a tea, it has been used for treatment of stomach ulcers, and inflammation. Calendula has been effective in treating juvenile acne and dry phthiriasis. It has also been used to treat cramps, coughs, and snake bites. Research continues into the healing properties of Calendula.

Other Uses:
The beautiful flowers were once used as a source of dye for fabrics. By using different mordants, a variety of yellows, oranges and browns could be obtained

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.umm.edu/altmed/ConsHerbs/Calendulach.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Calendula

 

 


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