Categories
Fruits & Vegetables Herbs & Plants

Onion (Allium cepa)

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Botanical Name: Allium cepa
Family: Amaryllidaceae
Subfamily: Allioideae
Genus: Allium
Species: A. cepa
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Monocots
Order: Asparagales

Synonyms : Allium angolense, Allium aobanum, Allium ascalonicum, Cepa esculenta

Common Names: Onion, Garden onion , Bulb onion or Common onion

Habitat: Onion is believed to be native to W. Asia – Iran. The original habitat is obscure. It is unknown in the wild but has been grown and selectively bred in cultivation for at least 7,000 years.Now it is cultivated and grown through out the world and treated as vegetable.
Description:
The common onion is a biennial plant but is usually grown as an annual. Modern varieties typically grow to a height of 15 to 45 cm (6 to 18 in). The leaves are yellowish-green and grow alternately in a flattened, fan-shaped swathe. They are fleshy, hollow and cylindrical, with one flattened side. They are at their broadest about a quarter of the way up beyond which they taper towards a blunt tip. The base of each leaf is a flattened, usually white sheath that grows out of a basal disc. From the underside of the disc, a bundle of fibrous roots extends for a short way into the soil. As the onion matures, food reserves begin to accumulate in the leaf bases and the bulb of the onion swells…....CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES…> ....(1)......(2)…..

In the autumn the leaves die back and the outer scales of the bulb become dry and brittle, and this is the time at which the crop is normally harvested. If left in the soil over winter, the growing point in the middle of the bulb begins to develop in the spring. New leaves appear and a long, stout, hollow stem expands, topped by a bract protecting a developing inflorescence.It is in flower from Jun to July. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees, insects. The inflorescence takes the form of a globular umbel of white flowers with parts in sixes. The seeds are glossy black and triangular in cross section.
Cultivation:
Prefers a sunny sheltered position in a rich light well-drained soil. Prefers a pH of at least 6.5. Plants tolerate a pH in the range of 4.5 to 8.3. Onions are best grown in a Mediterranean climate, the hot dry summers ensuring that the bulbs are ripened fully. For best growth, however, cool weather is desirable at the early stages of growth. Plants are frost-tolerant but prolonged temperatures below 10°c cause the bulb to flower. Optimum growth takes place at temperatures between 20 and 25°c. Bulb formation takes place in response to long-day conditions. Plants are perennial but the cultivated forms often die after flowering in their second year though they can perennate by means of off-sets. The onion was one of the first plants to be cultivated for food and medicine. It is very widely cultivated in most parts of the world for its edible bulb and leaves, there are many named varieties capable of supplying bulbs all the year round. This species was derived in cultivation from A. oschaninii. Most forms are grown mainly for their edible bulbs but a number of varieties, the spring onions and everlasting onions, have been selected for their edible leaves. There are several sub-species:- Allium cepa ‘Perutile’ is the everlasting onion with a growth habit similar to chives, it is usually evergreen and can supply fresh leaves all winter. Allium cepa aggregatum includes the shallot and the potato onion. These are true perennials, the bulb growing at or just below the surface of the ground and increasing by division. Plants can be divided annually when they die down in the summer to provide bulbs for eating and propagation. Allium cepa proliferum is the tree onion, it produces bulbils instead of flowers in the inflorescence. These bulbils have a nice strong onion flavour and can be used raw, cooked or pickled. Onions grow well with most plants, especially roses, carrots, beet and chamomile, but they inhibit the growth of legumes. This plant is a bad companion for alfalfa, each species negatively affecting the other. Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer.
Propagation :
Seed. Early sowings can be made in February in a greenhouse to be planted out in late spring. The main sowing is made in March or April in an outdoor seedbed, this bed must be very well prepared. A sowing can also be made in an outdoor seedbed in August of winter hardy varieties (the Japanese onions are very popular for this). These overwinter and provide an early crop of onion bulbs in June of the following year. Onion sets can be planted in March or April. Sets are produced by sowing seed rather thickly in an outdoor seedbed in May or June. The soil should not be too rich and the seedlings will not grow very large in their first year. The plants will produce a small bulb about 1 – 2cm in diameter, this is harvested in late summer, stored in a cool frost-free place over winter and then planted out in April. A proportion of the bulbs will run quickly to seed but most should grow on to produce good sized bulbs.
Edible Uses:
Bulb – raw or cooked. A very versatile food, the bulb can be 10cm or more in diameter and is widely used in most countries of the world. Eaten raw, it can be sliced up and used in salads, sandwich fillings etc, it can be baked or boiled as a vegetable in its own right and is also commonly used as a flavouring in soups, stews and many other cooked dishes. Some cultivars have been selected for their smaller and often hotter bulbs and these are used for making pickles. Leaves – raw or cooked. There are some cultivars, the spring onions, that have been selected for their leaves and are used in salads whilst still young and actively growing – the bulb is much smaller than in other cultivars and is usually eaten with the leaves. By successional sowing, they can be available at any time of the year. Flowers – raw. Used as a garnish on salads. The flowers are somewhat dry and are less pleasant than many other species. The seeds are sprouted and eaten. They have a delicious onion flavour….CLICK & SEE ...

Constituents:
Composition :
Figures in grams (g) or miligrams (mg) per 100g of food.
Root (Fresh weight)

* 72 Calories per 100g
* Water : 79.8%
* Protein: 2.5g; Fat: 0.1g; Carbohydrate: 16.8g; Fibre: 0.7g; Ash: 0.8g;
* Minerals – Calcium: 37mg; Phosphorus: 60mg; Iron: 1.2mg; Magnesium: 0mg; Sodium: 12mg; Potassium: 334mg; Zinc: 0mg;
* Vitamins – A: 0mg; Thiamine (B1): 0.06mg; Riboflavin (B2): 0.02mg; Niacin: 0.2mg; B6: 0mg; C: 8mg;

Medicinal Uses;
Anthelmintic; Antiinflammatory; Antiseptic; Antispasmodic; Appetizer; Carminative; Diuretic; Expectorant; Febrifuge; Homeopathy; Hypoglycaemic;
Hypotensive; Lithontripic; Skin; Stings; Stomachic; Tonic.

Although rarely used specifically as a medicinal herb, the onion has a wide range of beneficial actions on the body and when eaten (especially raw) on a regular basis will promote the general health of the body. The bulb is anthelmintic, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, antispasmodic, carminative, diuretic, expectorant, febrifuge, hypoglycaemic, hypotensive, lithontripic, stomachic and tonic. When used regularly in the diet it offsets tendencies towards angina, arteriosclerosis and heart attack. It is also useful in preventing oral infection and tooth decay. Baked onions can be used as a poultice to remove pus from sores. Fresh onion juice is a very useful first aid treatment for bee and wasp stings, bites, grazes or fungal skin complaints. When warmed the juice can be dropped into the ear to treat earache. It also aids the formation of scar tissue on wounds, thus speeding up the healing process, and has been used as a cosmetic to remove freckles. Bulbs of red cultivars are harvested when mature in the summer and used to make a homeopathic remedy. This is used particularly in the treatment of people whose symptoms include running eyes and nose. The German Commission E Monographs, a therapeutic guide to herbal medicine, approve Allium cepa Onion for appetite loss, arteriosclerosis, dyspeptic complaints, fevers & colds, cough/bronchitis, hypertension, tendency to infection, inflammation of mouth and pharynx, common cold for critics of commission

Other Uses :
Cosmetic; Dye; Hair; Polish; Repellent; Rust.

The juice of the plant is used as a moth repellent and can also be rubbed onto the skin to repel insects. The plant juice can be used as a rust preventative on metals and as a polish for copper and glass. A yellow-brown dye is obtained from the skins of the bulbs. Onion juice rubbed into the skin is said to promote the growth of hair and to be a remedy for baldness. It is also used as a cosmetic to get rid of freckles. The growing plant is said to repel insects and moles. A spray made by pouring enough boiling water to cover 1kg of chopped unpeeled onions is said to increase the resistance of other plants to diseases and parasites.

Known Hazards:  There have been cases of poisoning caused by the consumption, in large quantities and by some mammals, of this plant. Dogs seem to be particularly susceptible. Hand eczema may occur with frequent handling. May interfere with drug control of blood sugar

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/Onion
http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/o/onion-07.html
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Allium+cepa

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Categories
Therapetic treatment Therapies

PUVA therapy

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Description:
PUVA is an acronym. The P stands for psoralen,(Psoralen is a photosensitizing agent found in plants ) the U for ultra, the V for violet, and the A for that portion of the solar spectrum between 320 and 400 nanometers in wavelength. Psoralens are chemicals found in certain plants that have the ability to absorb ultraviolet light in these wavelengths. Once the light energy is absorbed, these chemicals are energized to interact with DNA, ultimately inhibiting cell multiplication, which is their presumed mode of action.

CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES

Certain skin diseases are characterized by cells that are rapidly multiplying. Inhibiting this unrestrained multiplication can be useful in treating these diseases. So PUVA is a combination of an oral drug and subsequent ultraviolet light exposure. The treatment may affect certain blood cells and skin cells so that the skin disease improves.

It is a treatment for eczema, psoriasis, graft-versus-host disease, vitiligo, mycosis fungoides, large-plaque parapsoriasis and cutaneous T-cell lymphoma using the sensitizing effects of the drug psoralen. The psoralen is applied or taken orally to sensitize the skin, then the skin is exposed to UVA.

Photodynamic therapy is the general use of nontoxic light-sensitive compounds that are exposed selectively to light, whereupon they become toxic to targeted malignant and other diseased cells. Still, PUVA therapy is often classified as a separate technique from photodynamic therapy.

Plant sources   from where  we get psoralens:
Ficus carica (fig) is probably the most abundant source of psoralens. They are also found in small quantities in Ammi visnaga (bisnaga), Pastinaca sativa (parsnip), Petroselinum crispum (parsley), Levisticum officinale (lovage), Foeniculum vulgare (fruit, i.e., fennel seeds), Daucus carota (carrot), Psoralea corylifolia (babchi), and Apium graveolens (celery).

Types of PUVA therapy:
The most common form of therapy combines 8-methoxypsoralen taken by mouth followed 45-60 minutes later by exposure of the skin to UVA. Less commonly the drug is applied topically (the medication is occasionally diluted in bathtub water in which the patient is immersed) and then after a few minutes the ultraviolet exposure occurs.

Procedure:
Psoralens are taken systemically or can be applied directly to the skin. The psoralens allow a relatively lower dose of UVA to be used. When they are combined with exposure to UVA in PUVA, they are highly effective at clearing psoriasis and vitiligo. Like UVB light treatments, the reason remains unclear, though investigators speculate there may be similar effects on cell turnover and the skin’s immune response.

Choosing the proper dose for PUVA is similar to the procedure followed with UVB. The physician can choose a dose based on the patient’s skin type. The dose will increase in every treatment until the skin starts to respond.

Some clinics test the skin before the treatments, by exposing a small area of the patient’s skin to UVA, after ingestion of psoralen. The dose of UVA that produces uniform redness 72 hours later, called the minimum phototoxic dose (MPD), becomes the starting dose for treatment.

At the very least for vitiligo, narrowband ultraviolet B (UVB) phototherapy is now used more commonly than PUVA since it does not require the use of the Psoralen. As with PUVA, treatment is carried out twice weekly in a clinic or every day at home, and there is no need to use psoralen.

Narrowband UVB does not cure the legs and hands, compared to the face and neck. To the hands and legs PUVA may be more effective. The reason can be because UVA penetrates deeper in the skin, and the melanocytes in the skin of the hands and legs is deeper in the skin. The Narrowband UVB does not reach the melanocytes.

How maney PUVA  therapy is required:
There ought to be a significant improvement in the patient’s skin disease after about 15 treatments. Treatments are given no sooner than 48 hours apart because the burn induced by PUVA is often delayed for as long as two days (unlike ordinary sunburns). Unless there is a problem, the amount of energy administered to the patient is increased appropriately at each visit depending on the patient’s coloration. After about 30 treatments, a decision is made as to whether to continue treatments. PUVA is not always effective. If there is no improvement after these treatments, it is probably unlikely that continuing this form of treatment is worthwhile. On the other hand, if significant clearing has occurred, it is probably prudent to decrease the frequency of treatments in order to maintain the improvement. Since there is a relationship between the amount of light energy administered and the degree of photo-aging and the induction of skin cancers, it is wise to limit the light exposures as appropriate.

Advantages:
The major advantage to PUVA is that it is an effective therapy that becomes active only at the site of the disease, the skin. It can be used to treat large areas of skin, and the fact that the drug is only activated in the presence of UV light implies that it may be less toxic than other therapies that require systemic administration and whose effects are not localized to just the skin.

PUVA must be administered in a physician’s office under the control of a medical professional so it requires repeated visits to the office. PUVA may not cure psoriasis permanently so treatment can be required indefinitely.

Side effects and complications:
Some patients experience nausea and itching after ingesting the psoralen compound. For these patients PUVA bath therapy may be a good option.

Long term use of PUVA therapy has been associated with higher rates of skin cancer.

The most significant complication of PUVA therapy for psoriasis is squamous cell skin cancer. Two carcinogenic components of the therapy include the nonionizing radiation of UVA light as well as the psoralen intercalation with DNA. Both processes negatively contribute to genome instability.
History  :  Psoralens have been known since ancient Egypt but have only been available in a chemically synthesized form since the 1970s.

Resources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PUVA_therapy
http://www.medicinenet.com/puva_therapy_photochemotherapy/article.htm

Categories
Ailmemts & Remedies

Erythrasma

Definition:
Erythrasma is a bacterial infection caused by the bacteria Corynebacterium minutissimum. It occurs most often between the third and fourth toes, but it can also frequently be found in the groin, armpits, and under the breasts. Because of it’s color and location, it’s often confused with a fungal infection like jock itch. Erythrasma is more common in the following populations:

CLICK TO SEE.....(01)..…….....(1).……..(2)…….(3)…...(4).

It is prevalent among diabetics, the obese,elderly, and People in warm, moist climates   and is worsened by wearing occlusive clothing.

Symptoms:
The main symptoms are reddish-brown slightly scaly patches with sharp borders. The patches occur in moist areas such as the groin, armpit, and skin folds. They may itch slightly and often look like patches associated with other fungal infections, such as ringworm.

Erythrasmic patches are typically found in intertriginous areas (skin fold areas – e.g. armpit, groin, under breast) – with the toe web-spaces being most commonly involved.

The patient is commonly otherwise asymptomatic.

Causes:
Erythrasma is caused by the bacteria Corynebacterium minutissimum.

Erythrasma is more common in warm climates. You are more likely to develop this condition if you are overweight or have diabetes.

The patches of erythrasma are initially pink, but progress quickly to become brown and scaly (as skin starts to shed).

Diagnosis:
At times, your doctor can diagnose erythrasma based on its typical appearance. But more often, your doctor will need to perform other tests to help make the diagnosis. The best way for your doctor to tell the difference between erythrasma and a fungal infection is to do a Wood’s Lamp examination on the rash. Under the UV light of a Woods Lamp, erythrasma turns a bright coral red, but fungal infections do not.

Other tests that may help include:
*A simple side-room investigation with a Wood’s lamp:It is additionally useful in diagnosing erythrasma. The ultraviolet light of a Wood’s lamp causes the organism to fluoresce a coral red color, differentiating it from fungal infections and other skin conditions.

•Gram Stain: A way to identify bacteria from a sample of the scale. Unfortunately, this bacteria is difficult to get to stick to the slide so it requires a special technique.

•KOH Test: This is a test used to identify fungal elements. This test might be done to confirm that there is no fungus present.

•Skin Biopsy: A sample of tissue is removed and evaluated under a microscope. In erythrasma, the bacteria can be seen in the upper layer of the specimen.

Treatment:
Since this is a bacterial infection, erythrasma is best treated with antibiotics, and fortunately several antibiotics fit the bill.

The following are antibiotics that are typically prescribed for erythrasma:
•Erythromycin 250mg four times a day for 5 days
•Clarithromycin 1gm once
•The antifungal creams miconazole, clotrimazole and econazole, but not ketoconazole
•Topical antibiotics like clindamycin or erythromycin twice a day for 2 weeks

Gently scrubbing the skin patches with antibacterial soap may help them go away.

Prognosis:
Complete recovery is expected following treatment.

Prevention:
These measures may reduce the risk of erythrasma:

•Maintaining good hygiene
•Keeping the skin dry
•Wearing clean, absorbent clothing
•Avoiding excessive heat or moisture
•Maintaining healthy body weight

Disclaimer: This information is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advise or help. It is always best to consult with a Physician about serious health concerns. This information is in no way intended to diagnose or prescribe remedies.This is purely for educational purpose.

Resources:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/health/physical_health/conditions/erythrasma1.shtml
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erythrasma
http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001470.htm
http://dermatology.about.com/od/infectionbacteria/a/erythrasma.htm

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Categories
Herbs & Plants

Allium Aflatunense

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Botanical Name: Allium aflatunense
Family   : Alliaceae
Genus  : Allium
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Asparagales
Species: A. aflatunense
Common Name :Flowering onion, Persian Onion, Ornamental Onion

Habitat :  Allium aflatunense  id native to W. Asia – Soviet mid Asia., it is commonly grown as a garden plant. Cultivated Beds;

Description:-
Allium aflatunense is a 36″ tall bulbous perennial plant with basal, straplike leaves, and hollow, slightly ribbed scapes (flower stems). The flower heads are dense, globular umbels, about 4″ across, made up of numerous star-shaped purplish pink flowers. It flowers in May and June, with seeds ripening in August. It is commonly sold as a bulb.  It is often confused with A. hollandicum.
CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES

It is in flower from May to July. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees, insects.

The plant prefers light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils and requires well-drained soil. The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It requires moist soil.

Cultivation:
Prefers a sunny position in a light well-drained soil. The bulbs should be planted fairly deeply. Most members of this genus are intolerant of competition from other growing plants. This species does not have the characteristic garlic smell of most members of the genus. Grows well with most plants, especially roses, carrots, beet and chamomile, but it inhibits the growth of legumes. This plant is a bad companion for alfalfa, each species negatively affecting the other. Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer.

Propagation:-
Seed – sow spring in a cold frame. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle – if you want to produce clumps more quickly then put three plants in each pot. Grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter and plant them out into their permanent positions in spring once they are growing vigorously and are large enough. Division in spring. The plants divide successfully at any time in the growing season, pot up the divisions in a cold frame or greenhouse until they are growing well and then plant them out into their permanent positions.

Edible Uses:-.
Edible Parts: Flowers; Leaves; Root.
Bulb – raw or cooked. The bulb varies greatly in size, from 2 – 6cm. Leaves – raw or cooked. Flowers – raw. Used as a garnish on salads.

Medicinal Actions & Uses:-
Antibiotic.
The plant possesses outstanding germicidal properties, all cultures being destroyed under its influence. Although no other specific mention has been seen for this species, members of this genus are in general very healthy additions to the diet. They contain sulphur compounds (which give them their onion flavour) and when added to the diet on a regular basis they help reduce blood cholesterol levels, act as a tonic to the digestive system and also tonify the circulatory system.

Other Uses:-
Repellent.

The growing plant is said to repel insects and moles.

Known Hazards :   Although no individual reports regarding this species have been seen, there have been cases of poisoning caused by the consumption, in large quantities and by some mammals, of certain members of this genus. Dogs seem to be particularly susceptible.

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.pfaf.org/database/plants.php?Allium+aflatunense
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allium_aflatunense
http://davesgarden.com/guides/pf/go/65494/

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Categories
News on Health & Science

Low-Energy Bulbs ‘Cause Migraine’

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Energy-saving light bulbs could trigger migraines, say campaigners.
The Migraine Action Association says members have told them how fluorescent bulbs have led to attacks…..click & see

The government is set to prevent the sale of conventional light bulbs within the next four years in a bid to cut carbon dioxide emissions.

Concerns have already been raised by epilepsy charities about an increased risk of seizures from energy-saving bulbs.

The lighting industry says that the latest bulbs do not flicker

Some bulbs use similar technology to fluorescent strip lights, and some users have complained that there can be a “flickering” effect.

They use approximately a quarter of the energy of conventional bulbs, and in September, Environment Secretary Hilary Benn said that a voluntary agreement with retailers would remove all conventional bulbs from the shops by December 2011.

However, Karen Manning, from the Migraine Action Association, said this could be damaging to some sufferers.

She said that up to six million people in the UK suffer from some sort of migraine attack.

“These bulbs do trigger migraines for some of our members – it’s either the flickering, or the low intensity of the light, causing eye strain.

“We would ask the government to avoid banning them completely, and still leave some opportunity for conventional bulbs to be purchased.”

Old technology :

However, the Lighting Association, which represents bulb manufacturers, said that the latest energy-saving bulbs did not produce a flicker.

A spokesman said: “A small number of cases have been reported by people who suffer from reactions to certain types of linear fluorescent lamps.

“These were almost certainly triggered by old technology.”

Last year the charity Epilepsy Action reported that a small number of people with the illness could have seizures triggered by low-energy bulbs.

Click to visit the sites:

Alternative approach to tackling migraine misery
Clue to migraine headache cause
Pharmacies to sell migraine drug
Can acupuncture cure my migraine?

Sources: BBC NEWS:2nd. Jan’08