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Herbs & Plants

Devil’s Claw

Botanical Name: Harpagophytum
Family: Pedaliaceae
Genus: Harpagophytum
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Lamiales

Common Name:Devil’s claw

Other Names: Harpagophytum procumbens, Grapple Plant, Wood Spider

Habitat: Devil’s claw is native to southern Africa. It is mainly found in the eastern and south eastern parts of Namibia, Southern Botswana and the Kalahari region of the Northern Cape, South Africa. Harpagophytum zeyheri is found in the northern parts of Namibia (Ovamboland) and southern Angola.

Description:  Devil’s claw (Harpagophytum procumbens) is an African plant whose fruit looks like a giant claw. The plant grows in an arid climate and is found in Namibia, Madagascar, the Kalahari Desert, and other areas on the African continent. The tuberous roots are used in traditional medicine. The root is collected when the rainy season ends. The root is chopped and dried in the sun for three days……...click & see

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Its name comes from the small hooks on the plant’s fruit. The active ingredients in devil’s claw are believed to be iridoid glycosides called harpagosides, which are found in the secondary root.

Most of the world’s supply of devil’s claw comes from Namibia, with lesser amounts coming from South Africa and Botswana.

General Use
Devil’s claw has been used for thousands of years in Africa for fever, rheumatoid arthritis, skin conditions, and conditions involving the gallbladder, pancreas, stomach and kidneys.

In the early 1900’s, devil’s claw was brought to Europe. It is used to improve digestion, as the bitter taste of devil’s claw tea is thought to stimulate digestive juices.

However, the primary use of devil’s claw today is for conditions that cause inflammation and pain:
Back pain, Neck pain, Rheumatoid arthritis, Osteoarthritis and Tendinitis

According to a study in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, sales of devil’s claw in Germany were estimated to be $30 million euros in 2001, accounting for 74% of the prescriptions for rheumatism.

Devil’s claw has been used for numerous conditions in several areas of the world. In South Africa, the root and tuber have been used for centuries as an all-purpose folk remedy. Devil’s claw has been used to reduce fever and pain, to treat allergies and headache, and to stimulate digestion. Traditional healers also used devil’s claw to treat inflammatory conditions such as arthritis, rheumatism, and lower back pain. Devil’s claw has also been used as a remedy for liver and kidney disorders.

Devil’s claw root was also used in folk medicine as a pain reliever and for complications with pregnancies. In addition, an ointment made from devil’s claw was used for skin injuries and disorders.

European colonists brought the African plant back to their continent where it was used to treat arthritis. In the United States, use of devil’s claw dates back to the time of slavery. The slaves brought herbs and herbal knowledge with them to the new continent.

Devil’s claw has been used as an herbal remedy in Europe for a long time. Current uses for devil’s claw are much the same as they were centuries ago. In Europe, the herb is still a remedy for arthritis and other types of joint pain, such as rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, and gout (a painful joint inflammation disease).

Devil’s claw is also used for soft tissue conditions with inflammation, like tendinitis and bursitis. The bitter herb is also used as a remedy for loss of appetite and mildly upset stomach.

The herb is currently used for other conditions such as problems with pregnancy, menstruation, and menopause. Devil’s claw is also regarded as a remedy for headaches, heartburn, liver and gallbladder problems, allergies, skin disorders, and nicotine poisoning.

European research during the late 1990s indicated that devil’s claw relieved arthritis and joint pain conditions. The herb also helped with soft muscle pain such as tendinitis. However, there is no evidence that proves devil’s claw is an effective remedy for other conditions such as difficulties during pregnancy and skin disorders.

Preparations:

Several forms of devil’s claw are used. In Europe, doctors treat some conditions like arthritis with an injection of devil’s claw extract. The herb is taken internally as a tea or in capsule form. When taken for pain relief, devil’s claw must be taken regularly for up to one month before results are seen. An ointment form of devil’s claw can be applied to the skin to treat wounds or scars.

Research work on devil’s claw:
There is some evidence for the use of devil’s claw, however one larger, randomized controlled trial found only a modest benefit.
A German study examined the use of devil’s claw for slight to moderate back, neck, and shoulder muscle tension and pain. In the 4-week study, 31 people took 480 mg twice a day and 32 people took a placebo. The results showed there was a significant reduction in pain in the people taking devil’s claw compared to the placebo group.

A study published in the journal Rheumatology compared a devil’s claw extract providing 60 mg harpagosides a day and and 12.5 mg a day of the anti-inflammatory Vioxx (now off the market) for 6 weeks in 79 patients with an acute exacerbation of low back pain. Devil’s claw was as effective as Vioxx in reducing pain.

A study published in the journal Joint Bone Spine compared six 435 mg capsules of powdered devil’s claw extract a day (which provides about 60 mg per day of harpagosides) with 100 mg a day of a European osteoarthritis drug called diacerhein in 122 patients with osteoarthritis of the knee or hip. After four months, devil’s claw was as effective as the diacerhein at relieving pain, improving mobility, and reducing the need for back-up medication (such as anti-inflammatory and analgesic drugs). Although this sounds great, the results aren’t as impressive in light of a 3-year placebo-controlled study found diacerhein was ineffective at reducing osteoarthritis symptoms.

In a European Journal of Anaesthesiology 4-week study, 197 people with back pain rated at 5/10 or higher on a pain scale received a standardized daily dose of 50 mg or 100 mg harpagosides or placebo. Devil’s claw seemed to reduce pain more than placebo.
Devil’s claw appears to work in the same way as Cox-2 anti-inflammatory drugs such as Celebrex and also produce changes in leukotrienes, another group of molecules involved in inflammation.

Herbal Tea and Tincture:

Devil’s claw tea is prepared by pouring 1.25 cups (300 ml) boiling water over 1 tsp (4.5 g) of the herb. The mixture, which is also called an infusion, is steeped for eight hours and then strained. The daily dosage is 3 cups of warm tea.

For most conditions, the average daily dosage is 1 tsp (4.5 g) of devil’s claw herb. However, the amount is reduced to 1/3 tsp (1.5 g) when devil’s claw is taken for appetite loss.

In a tincture, the herb is preserved with alcohol. The tincture steeps for two weeks and is shaken daily. It is then strained and bottled. When devil’s claw tincture is used as a remedy, the dosage is 1 tsp (4.5 g) taken three times per day for a specified period.

Tea and tincture should be consumed 30 minutes before eating. This allows for better absorption of the herb.

Devil’s Claw Capsules:

The anti-inflammatory properties of devil’s claw are attributed to two constituents, harpagoside and beta sitoserol. If a person takes devil’s claw capsules or tablets as a remedy, attention should be paid to the harpagoside content. The daily amount of harpagoside in capsules should total 50 mg.

Combinations

For arthritis treatment, devil’s claw can be combined with anti-inflammatory or cleansing herbs. In addition, devil’s claw can be combined with bogbean or meadowsweet. An herbalist, naturopathic doctor, or traditional healer can provide more information on herb combinations appropriate for a specific condition.

Precautions

Devil’s claw is safe to use when proper dosage recommendations are followed, according to sources including the PDR (Physician’s Desk Reference) for Herbal Medicines, the 1998 book based on the 1997 findings of Germany’s Commission E.

Although devil’s claw has not undergone the FDA research required for approval as a remedy, other studies in Europe confirm that devil’s claw is safe for most people. However, people with ulcers should be cautious because the herb stimulates the production of stomach acid.

Furthermore, it is not known if devil’s claw is safe for people with major liver or kidney conditions. In addition, devil’s claw could cause an allergic reaction.

There is some debate in the alternative medicine community about whether pregnant women can use devil’s claw as a remedy. Some researchers say that the herb is safe to use; others say that not enough research has been done to prove that the herb is safe for pregnant women. There appears to be no scientific proof that using devil’s claw could result in miscarriages.

Side Effects
Devil’s claw has been known to trigger an allergic reaction.

Some studies have reported stomach upset, a sensation of fullness, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), and headache.

In animal studies, there is a small risk of changes in blood pressure, heart rhythm, and blood glucose. One study found that it enhanced the action of GABA in the brain and depressed the central nervous system. It is not known whether these effects may also occur in humans.

Devil’s claw could cause an allergic reaction or mild gastrointestinal difficulties.

Safety

Devil’s claw should not be used by people with gastric or duodenal ulcers.

People with gallstones should consult a doctor before using devil’s claw.

People with diabetes or who are taking medication that affects their blood sugar should only use devil’s claw under the supervision of a qualified health practitioner. In one study, devil’s claw extract resulted in reductions in blood glucose in fasted normal and diabetic animals.

Devil’s claw should not be used by people who are or may be pregnant, as it is believed to cause uterine contractions.

Interactions

No interactions between other medications and devil’s claw have been reported according to the PDR for Herbal Medicines. However, the herb may possibly block the effect of medication taken to correct abnormal heart rhythms.

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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.

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Resources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harpagophytum
http://altmedicine.about.com/od/herbsupplementguide/a/DevilsClaw.htm
http://www.answers.com/topic/proboscidea-garden-annual

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Fruits & Vegetables Herbs & Plants

Watermelon

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Botanical Name:Citrullus lanatus
Family:
Cucurbitaceae
Genus:
Citrullus
Species:
C. lanatus
Variety:
lanatus
Kingdom:
Plantae
Order:
Cucurbitales

Watermelon (Citrullus lanatus, Family Cucurbitaceae) is both a fruit and a vegetable  and plant of a vine-like (climber and trailer) herb originally from southern Africa and one of the most common type of melon. This flowering plant produces a special type of fruit known by botanists as a pepo, which has a thick rind (exocarp) and fleshy center (mesocarp and endocarp); pepos are derived from an inferior ovary and are characteristic of the Cucurbitaceae. The watermelon fruit, loosely considered a type of melon (although not in the genus Cucumis), has a smooth exterior rind (green and yellow) and a juicy, sweet, usually red or yellow, but sometimes orange, interior flesh. The flesh consists of highly developed placental tissue within the fruit. The former name Citrullus vulgaris (vulgaris meaning “common”  Shosteck, 1974), is now a synonym of the accepted scientific name for watermelon, Citrullus lanatus.

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David Livingstone, an explorer of Africa, described watermelon as abundant in the Kalahari Desert, where it is believed to have originated. There, the ancestral melon grows wild and is known as the Tsamma melon (Citrullus lanatus var citroides).[citation needed] It is recognizable by its pinnatifid leaves and prolific fruit, up to 100 melons on a single vine. For this reason it is a popular source of water in the diet of the indigenous people. The flesh is similar to the rind of a watermelon and is often known as citron melon (distinct from the actual citron, of the citrus family); it is used for making pickles, and because of its high content of pectin is popular as a constituent of jams, jellies, and other gelled preserves. It has established itself in the wild in Baja California.

It is not known when the plant was first cultivated, but Zohary and Hopf note evidence of its cultivation in the Nile Valley from at least as early as the second millennium BC. Finds of the characteristically large seed are reported in Twelfth dynasty sites; numerous watermelon seeds were recovered from the tomb of Pharaoh Tutankhamun.

By the 10th century AD, watermelons were being cultivated in China, which is today the world’s single largest watermelon producer. By the 13th century, Moorish invaders had introduced the fruit to Europe; and, according to John Mariani’s The Dictionary of American Food and Drink, “watermelon” made its first appearance in an English dictionary in 1615.

Museums Online South Africa list watermelons as having been introduced to North American Indians in the 1500s. Early French explorers found Native Americans cultivating the fruit in the Mississippi Valley. Many sources list the watermelon as being introduced in Massachusetts as early as 1629. Southern food historian John Egerton has said he believes African slaves helped introduce the watermelon to the United States. Texas Agricultural Extension horticulturalist Jerry Parsons, Ph.D., lists African slaves and European colonists as having distributed watermelons to many areas of the world. Parsons also mentions the crop being farmed by Native Americans in Florida (by 1664) and the Colorado River area (by 1799). Other early watermelon sightings include the Midwestern states (1673), Connecticut (1747), and the Illiana region (1822).

SMALL SEEDLESS WATERMELON
Watermelon with yellow fleshUntil the 1940s, however, it was hard to find watermelons in good condition at grocery stores. Melon lovers had to grow their own, which tended not to keep for long, purchase them from local grocers supplied by truck farmers, or purchase them from roadside produce stands. Now they can be found in most any local grocery store, and if preferred in slices or whole, with seeds or without.

An American favorite for meals and snacks. People can’t seem to get enough of the sweet treat, and nutritionists have long appreciated the health benefits watermelon provides. Recently research has shed new light on its potential health benefits. Watermelon contains high concentrations of lycopene, an antioxidant that may help reduce the risks of cancer and other diseases. Watermelon is fat free, nutritionally low in calories and considered an ideal diet food, and is high in energy, making it a great energy boost!

Watermelon, the fruit that is really a Vegetable. Watermelon can be traced back to Africa and is part of the cucumber and squash family. Early watermelons were mainly rind and seeds. Today’s varieties are larger, the flesh sweeter, the seeds smaller and the rind thinner. It is perhaps the most refreshing, thirst quenching fruit of all. Watermelon consists of 92% water and 8% sugar, so it is aptly named. Americans eat over 17 lbs of watermelon each year. The largest one on world record (Guinness Book of World Records) weighed 262 pounds.

Then Charles Fredric Andrus, a horticulturist at the USDA Vegetable Breeding Laboratory in Charleston, South Carolina, set out to produce a disease-resistant and wilt-resistant watermelon. The result was “that gray melon from Charleston.” Its oblong shape and hard rind made it easy to stack and ship. Its adaptability meant it could be grown over a wide geographical area. It produced high yields and was resistant to the most serious watermelon diseases: anthracnose and fusarium wilt. Today, farmers in approximately 44 states in the U.S. grow watermelon commercially, and almost all these varieties have some Charleston Gray in their lineage. Georgia, Florida, Texas, California and Arizona are the USA‘s largest watermelon producers.

This now-common watermelon is large enough that groceries often sell half or quarter melons. There are also some smaller, spherical varieties of watermelon, both red- and yellow-fleshed, sometimes called “icebox melons.”

For commercial plantings, one beehive per acre (4,000 m² per hive) is the minimum recommendation by the US Department of Agriculture for pollination of conventional, seeded varieties. Because seedless hybrids have sterile pollen, pollinizer rows of varieties with viable pollen must also be planted. Since the supply of viable pollen is reduced and pollination is much more critical in producing the seedless variety, the recommended number of hives per acre, or pollinator density, increases to three hives per acre (1,300 m² per hive).

In Japan, farmers of the Zentsuji region found a way to grow cubic watermelons, by growing the fruits in glass boxes and letting them naturally assume the shape of the receptacle. The square shape supposedly makes the melons easier to stack and store, but the square watermelons are often more than double the price of normal ones. Pyramid shaped watermelons have also been developed.


Click for more knowledge on Watermelon Nutrition Facts. Health, Food & Diet

Varieties
There are more than 50 varieties of watermelon. Most have red flesh, but there are orange and yellow-fleshed varieties. Of the 50 varieties of watermelon throughout the United States, there are four general categories: Allsweet, Ice-Box, Seedless and Yellow Flesh.

Nutritional Facts:
Fat-free , Saturated fat-free , Very low sodium , Cholesterol-free , A good source of vitamin A, High in vitamin C

MEDICINAL USES:

Watermelon is best known as a thirst-quenching fruit that comes into season when temperature are at their hottest.  In traditional Chinese medicine it is used precisely to counter summer heat patterns characterized by excessive sweating, thirst, raised temperature, scanty urine, diarrhea, and irritability or anger. Watermelon fruit and juice soothe these symptoms, increasing urine flow and cleansing the kidneys.  The fruit’s refreshing properties extend to the digestive system, where it clears gas. Watermelon may be used in the treatment of hepatitis.  In hot weather it is helpful for those suffering from bronchitis or asthma. The cooling fruit pulp may be applied to hot and inflamed skin and to soothe sunburn.  The fruit, eaten when fully ripe or even when almost putrid, is used as a febrifuge The fruit is also diuretic, being effective in the treatment of dropsy and renal stones. The fruit contains the substance lycopine (which is also found in the skins of tomatoes). This substance has been shown to protect the body from heart attacks and, in the case of the tomato at least, is more effective when it is cooked.  The seeds can be mashed and used to expel worms.  The seed is sometimes used in the treatment of the urinary passages and has been used to treat bed wetting. It also has a hypotensive action. The dried pulp was once used as a powerful purgative.  It contains a cucurbitacin glycoside with antitumor properties. A fatty oil in the seed, as well as aqueous or alcoholic extracts, paralyze tapeworms and roundworms.  The rind of the fruit is prescribed in cases of alcoholic poisoning and diabetes.  The root is purgative and in large dose is said to be a certain emetic.

Watermelon as health food and drink.
Fresh watermelon may be eaten in a variety of ways and is also often used to flavor summer drinks and smoothies.

GOLDEN POT OF MINERALS :-
The growth of modern medicine/allopathy may well be enormous and tremendous in a short span of time but in some areas of medical aid modern medicine miserably failed and it has not achieved any remarkable success in curing many chronic ailments.Patients, alienated from traditional practices, are often over druged for the most trivial of health problems. Herbal remedies, particularly unani medicines offer effective cures, says Hakeem Hashmi, a prominent physician by rejuvenating body systems to fight disease; modern medicine directly attacks the disease and in the process weakens the system Hakeem Hashmi insists on eating available vegetable and fruit to keep a healthy life free from ailments. Hakeem Hashmi gives us valuable tips about one such fruit watermelon /Tarbooz which mineral rich with curative and nutritive qualitie Watermelon is a popular fruit of summer. It is the only fruit supposed to provide drink and food both. It is know in various names in different countries. In Arabic it is Tarbooz and also bateekh in Persian hindwana in Hindi it retains the name Tarbooz in Latin citrulis vulagris as its name suggests Tarbooz or watermelon appears to have their origin in the Middle East. From the Middle East countries and turkey watermelon spread out to the many parts of the world today even in U.S.A Europe watermelon is a popular fruit.
The fruit is growth on a creeper, which is normally grown in sandy places even in the sany banks of the rivers. The leaves of this creeper are artistically cut at the edges and quite broad in shape. Its flowers are whitish yellows. Watermelon appears dark green with many stripes. It is quite big at times more than a foot in diameter and about a kilo or more than in weight. Its pulp is a variety of colours from dark red to light yellow and even white. Its seeds are also are of various colours red to somewhat yellowish mostly black. Although they contain basically only mineral water yet that water has such mighty combination of certain necessary salts that their regular in take cures a lot of disease. It is a very tasty fruit, which produces instant coolness in the body its pulp is after removing the seeds. The water oozed out while cutting the fruit is also very good for digestive system. Its pulp is supposed to be rich in iron and magnesium and hence a very good food for those having weak liver and we all know that liver is one of the vital organs and its sluggishness or malfunctioning can cause score of other ailments. Liver if not be functioning well the whole of body becomes a mine of all sorts of weakness and a breeding ground for a number of ailments. Hence it is essential that liver must always be functioning well for keeping your liver in good condition watermelon helps in many ways.

HIGH BLOOD-PRESSURE: –
Juice extracted from seeds which contains cucurbocitrin helps in dialating the blood vessels activates the kidneys, brings down high blood-pressure and reduces oedema of the ankles juice is extracted by drying the seeds in shade powdered two spoonful of powder is put in 1 cup of boiling water for one hour strained taken 4 times relieves high blood-pressure.

JAUNDICE:
Watermelon helps in curing enlarged liver and Jaundice while the patient may be treated by any branch of medicine he or she must be asked to regularly take watermelon juice / sherbet, given earlier after mixing it in the juice of sugar lane every morning and after noon till the yellow colour of the body is removed.

HEART DISEASE: –
Sherbat made with watermelon seeds mixed with rose petal black pepper poppy seeds and almonds in watermelon or milk very nourishing and imparts strength to heart and brain.

KIDNEY PROBLEMS: –
One cup of watermelon juice kept overnight in the open & taken with sugar candy in the morning helps in cleansing the kidneys.

HEAT STROKE: –
300 to 500 grams of watermelon taken with breakfast prevent & cure heat strokes.

STOMACH & DIGESTIVE PROBLEMS:

Watermelon taken with little salt and pepper helps in removing constipation & other problems of indigestion.

HEADACHE: –

One class of watermelon juice mixed with sugar candy taken before breakfast cures chronic headaches.

NAUSEA:
One cup of watermelon juice mixed with sugar candy checks nausea and control bile. A part these, watermelon is found to be a very curative for mental disorder, phobia, hysteria, sore lips, cough, short of breath, blood in spittle, vomiting, gonorrhoea, stone in kidney or bladder, anaemia, T.B, blood impurity impotency ulcers and Leucoderma. So improve your health eating more and more watermelon.

Health benefits of watermelon……...(A).…………....(B.)…………(C)

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.

References:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water-melon

http://www.hashmi.com/watermelon.html

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