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Mangifera indica (Mango Tree)

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Agar-Agar

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Botanical Name: Gelidium amansii
Family:    Gelidiaceae
Genus:    Gelidium
Species:    G. amansii
Kingdom:    Archaeplastida
Phylum:    Rhodophyta
Class:    Florideophyceae
Order:    Gelidiales

Synonyms:   Japanese Isinglass.

Common names:   Agar-Agar,
Japansche scheleiachtige mos, Steen-or klipbloem, Hay tsay, Olus marinus, Sajur laut, Tschintschau, Tschoo-hoae (Madlener 1977).

Chinese: Niu mau tsai (Madlener 1977).

Japanese: Tengusa, Makusa, Genso (Madlener 1977), Kanten (Rhoads & Zunic 1978), Oyakusa (Chapman & Chapman 1980).

Common names used in commerce, often for edible algae:  Shie hua ts’ai {China}; Shima-ten-gusa {Jap}

Habitat :  Gelidium amansii grows  in  Japan, China, India,Indonesia,Taiwan,  Ceylon and Macassar.

Description:
A genus of about 20 species of red seaweeds, found mainly in waters off Japan, Spain, Portugal, W Scotland, Ireland, N, S, and W Africa, Madagascar, California, and Chile. They are collected with rakes from boats or by divers from deep water, and are now cultivated by the Japanese on poles in coastal waters. Gelidium amansii is a source of agar or Kanten, a collodial extract used in similar ways to gelatin. The earliers observations of the properties of G. amansii (tengusa) are attributed to a Japanese innkeeper, Minoya Tarozaemon, in 1660, though seaweed gels have been eaten in Japan for over 1,200 years. Its use as agar, a culture medium for bacteria, was developed in the 1880s by Robert Koch, who thereby discovered the organisms that cause tuberculosis. Some 30 species of algae, belonging to about ten different genera, are used worldwide for agar production; the main ones are G. amansii (Japan), G. cartilagineum (USA), Gracilaria verrucosa (Australia), and Pterocladia pinnata (New Zealand). The 20th century saw demand for Gelidium increase in many areas, including medicine, dentistry, forensic science, and the food industry. It is prepared as strips of solidified mucilaginous extract, which gels at 32°C (90°F) and melts at 85°C (185°F). The high melting point makes agar useful in food that might otherwise melt in warm temperatures. In addition, its constituents are non-toxic and not absorbed from the gut.
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Perennial, tuft-forming seaweed, with pinnately branched, rigid, cartilaginous fronds, divided into thread-like segments. Found in intertidal and subtidal zones around China, Japan, Korea, and Pacific coasts of Russia. Width 10-30cm (4-12in).

A seaweed gathered on the East Indian coast and sent to China, it is derived from the various species of Sphaerococcus Euchema and Gelidium. It is brownish-white in colour with thorny projections on its branches; the best variety, known as Japanese Isinglass, contains large quantities of mucilage. The seaweed after collection is spread out on the shore until bleached, and then dried; it is afterwards boiled in water and the mucilaginous solution strained, the filtrate being allowed to harden, and then it is dried in the sun. The time for collection of the Algae is summer and autumn when the bleaching and drying can take place, but the final preparation of Agar-Agar is carried out in winter from November to February. The Japanese variety is derived from several kinds of Algae and comes into European commerce in two forms: (1) In transparent pieces 2 feet long, the thickness of a straw, prepared in Singapore by treating it in hot water. (2) In yellowish white masses about 1 inch wide and 1 foot long. The latter is the form considered the more suitable for the culture of bacteria.

Edible Uses:  Powdered or flaked agar is used to set jellies. Kanten is a popular food in Japan, made into a firm jelly or into tokoroten (noodles).

Constituents:  Agar-Agar contains glose, which is a powerful gelatinizing agent. It is precipitated from solution by alcohol. Glose is a carbohydrate. Acetic, hydrochloric and oxalic acids prevent gelatinization of Agar-Agar.

Properties:  A nutritive, almost tasteless, gelatinous herb that acts as a bulk laxative.

Medicinal Uses:
Agar-Agar is widely used as a treatment for constipation, but is usually employed with Cascara when atony of the intestinal muscles is present. It does not increase peristaltic action. Its therapeutic value depends on the ability of the dry Agar to absorb and retain moisture. Its action is mechanical and analogous to that of the cellulose of vegetable foods, aiding the regularity of the bowel movements.

Other Uses:   Used in invalid foods, and as a gelling and stabilizing agent in canned meats, ice cream, sauces, deserts, and dairy products.

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.algaebase.org/search/species/detail/?species_id=1830
http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/a/agara012.html
http://www.prcupcc.com/herbs/herbsa/agaragar.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gelidium_amansii

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Mangoes are High on Health

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The King of Fruits has several benefits, so indulge your senses this season in some mangoes.

Not only do they taste great, but mangoes are also loaded with several qualities that are excellent for your health. They are rich in powerful antioxidants that are known to neutralise free radicals that cause damage to cells and lead to health problems like heart disease, premature aging and cancer among other things. Here’s why you should consume them…...CLICK & SEE

– With its high iron content, mangoes are excellent for pregnant women and those who suffer from anaemia. But do consult with your doctor beforehand on how much is suitable.

– Constantly complaining about clogged pores? Place mango slices on your skin and then wash off after 10 minutes.

– If you suffer from indigestion problems, nothing will help you as much as a mango. They’re known to give relief from acidity and aid proper digestion since they contain digestive enzymes that help break down proteins.

– Rich in potassium, mangoes reduce high blood pressure. They also contain pectin, a soluble dietary fibre that is known to lower blood cholesterol levels.

– Trying to put on weight? Include mangoes in your diet. Since it is rich in calories as well as carbohydrates, it could be the perfect fruit to have.

– Some studies say that eating mangoes reduces the risk of kidney stone formation.

– In Chinese medicine, mangoes are considered sweet and sour with a cooling energy. They are useful for those suffering from anaemia, bleeding gums, cough, fever, nausea and even sea sickness.

– Studying for exams? This fruit is rich in glutamine acid— an important protein for concentration and memory. Instead of snacking on unhealthy chips and cookies, why not feast on slices of mangoes instead.

– Though they are traditionally not considered as aphrodisiacs, mangoes contain Vitamin E which helps boost one’s sex life. The vitamin works to regulate the body’s sex hormones.

If nothing else, eat a mango just because it won’t be in season forever.

Source : The Times Of India

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Herbs & Plants

Indian Barberry

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Botanical Name: Berberis asiatica
Family:Berberidaceae
Genus:Berberis
Kingdom:    Plantae
Order:Ranunculales

Common Name:Chutro, Rasanjan (Nep); marpyashi (Newa); Daruharidra, Darbi (Sans)

Habitat:Indian Barberry is native to E. Asia – Himalayas (Nepal)
It is normally found in  shrubberies, grassy and rocky slopes up to 2500 metres. Found in heavy shade, on north-facing slopes  and on open hillsides in the drier areas .

Description:
Indian Barberry  is an evergreen Shrub growing to 3.5 m (11ft 6in) at a medium rate. It is a large thorny shrub with yellow wood & whitish or pale Grey branches.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 8 and is not frost tender. It is in leaf 12-Jan It is in flower in May. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects, self.The plant is self-fertile.

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The root-bark is light coloured, corky, almost inodorous, with a bitter, mucilaginous taste. It contains much Berberine, and a dark-brown extract is made from it employed in India under the name of ‘Rusot.’ This extract is sometimes prepared from the wood or roots of different species of Barberry. It has the consistency of opium and a bitter, astringent taste.

Cultivation & Propagation:
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and can grow in heavy clay and nutritionally poor soils. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in full shade (deep woodland) semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers dry or moist soil.

Seed – best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame, when it should germinate in late winter or early spring. Seed from over-ripe fruit will take longer to germinate , whilst stored seed may require cold stratification and should be sown in a cold frame as early in the year as possible. The seedlings are subject to damping off, so should be kept well ventilated . When the seedlings are large enough to handle, prick them out into individual pots and grow them on in a cold frame. If growth is sufficient, it can be possible to plant them out into their permanent positions in the autumn, but generally it is best to leave them in the cold frame for the winter and plant them out in late spring or early summer of the following year. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, July/August in a frame. Cuttings of mature wood of the current season’s growth, preferably with a heel, October/November in a frame

Edible Uses:
Fruit  is eaten  raw or dried and used like raisins. This species is said to make the best Indian raisins. Fully ripe fruits are fairly juicy with a pleasantly acid flavor, though there are rather a lot of seeds. The fruit is abundantly produced in Britain. The fruit is about 8mm long.

Medicinal Uses:
Antibacterial;  Cancer;  Laxative;  Odontalgic;  Ophthalmic;  Tonic.

The roots  are used in treating ulcers, urethral discharges, ophthalmia, jaundice, fevers etc. The roots contain 2.1% berberine, the stems 1.3%. The bark and wood are crushed in Nepal then boiled in water, strained and the liquid evaporated until a viscous mass is obtained. This is antibacterial, laxative and tonic. It is taken internally to treat fevers and is used externally to treat conjunctivitis and other inflammations of the eyes. Tender leaf buds are chewed and held against affected teeth for 15 minutes to treat dental caries. The fruit is cooling and laxative. Berberine, universally present in rhizomes of Berberis species, has marked antibacterial effects. Since it is not appreciably absorbed by the body, it is used orally in the treatment of various enteric infections, especially bacterial dysentery. It should not be used with Glycyrrhiza species (Liquorice) because this nullifies the effects of the berberine. Berberine has also shown antitumour activity.

Indian berberry has been made official in the Pharmacopoeia of India.It is an amportant indigenous medicine.The bark is useful in restoring the disordered process of neutrition and restores the normal function of the system.It helps open the natural pores of the body, arrest bleeding and induces copious perepiration despite the astrigent properties.The drug also constitute anti-tubercular activities.

Fever: Indian barberry is as valuable as quinine in maleria fevers.It is particularly useful in relieving pyrexia and checking the return of the violent intermittent fevers.The herb’s- bark and the root- bark are given as a decoction. It should be given twice or thrice a day.The decoction is given in doses of 150 grams between paroxysms of fever.

Monorrhagia: Indian barberry arrestes excessieve bleed loss during the monthly period.In skin diseases the decoction of the bark and the root-bark is efficacious as a cleanser for ulcers ans sores, as it helps formation of scar over the wounds.

Stomach Disorders :  Indian barberry is very useful in all kinds of stomach disorders.It is also effective in the treatment of Cholera.It is a popular remedy of diarrhoea and dysentery in Northwern India.It is useful in bleeding piles treatment. It is given with butter. A dilute solution can also be externally applied on the piles.

Eye Problems: The drug is highly beneficial in the treatment of all kinds of eye disorder.
It is mixed with butter and alum or with opium or lime juice and applied externally on the eye lids to cure opthalmia and other eye diseases. Mixed with milk, it can be used effectively as a lotion of Conjunctivitis.

Other Uses: A yellow dye is obtained from the roots and stems. The spiny branches are used to make fencing around fields in Nepal.
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:
Miracle of Herbs
http://www.pfaf.org/user/plant.aspx?LatinName=Berberis+asiatica
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Berberis

 

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Herbs & Plants Herbs & Plants (Spices)

Asafoetida

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Botanical Name : Ferula asafoetida
Family:    Apiaceae
Genus:    Ferula
Species:    F. assa-foetida
Kingdom:    Plantae
Order:    Apiales
Common Names : Asafoetida , devil’s dung, food of the gods, hing, narthex

It has several Names
Asafetida, Assafetida, Assafoetida, Devil’s Dung, Devil’s Durt, Food of the Gods (Persian), Laser (Roman), Stinking Gum
French: assa foetida, ferulr perisque
German: Asafotida, Stinkender Asant
Italian: assafetida
Spanish: asafetida

Ferula foetida
Ferula foetida (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Afghan: kama-i-anguza
Indian: hing, hingu, heeng
Tamil: perunkaya,   Bengali :Hing

Asafoetida gets its name from the Persian aza, for mastic or resin, and the Latin foetidus, for stinking. It is a gum that is from the sap of the roots and stem of the ferula species, a giant fennel that exudes a vile odour. Early records mention that Alexander the Great carried this “stink finger” west in 4 BC. It was used as a spice in ancient Rome, and although not native to India, it has been used in Indian medicine and cookery for ages. It was believed that asafoetida enhanced singers voices. In the days of the Mughal aristocracy, the court singers if Agra and Delhi would eat a spoonful of asafoetida with butter and practice on the banks of the river Yamuna.

Plant Details and it’s Cultivation
Asafoetida is grown chiefly in Iran and Afghanistan from where it is exported to the rest of the world. In India it is cultivated in Kashmir. It is a perennial fennel that grows wild to 3.6 metres (12 ft) high, in large natural forests where little else grows. It bears fine leaves and yellow flowers. The roots are thick and pulpy and also yield a similar resin to that of the stems. All parts of the plant have the distinctive fetid smell. In March and April, just before flowering, the stalks are cut close to the root. A milky liquid oozes out, which dries to form a resin. This is collected and a fresh cut is made. This procedure lasts for about three months from the first incision, by which time the plant has yielded up to two pounds of resin and the root has dried up.

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Asafoetida is a hard resinous gum, grayish-white when fresh, darkening with age to yellow, red and eventually brown. It is sold in blocks or pieces as a gum and more frequently as a fine yellow powder, sometimes crystalline or granulated.
Bouquet: a pungent smell of rotting onions or sulfur. The smell dissipates with cooking.
Flavour: on its own, extremely unpleasant, like concentrated rotten garlic. When cooked, it adds an onion-like flavour.
Hotness Scale: 0

To make and store:

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It is vital to keep asafoetida in airtight containers as its sulfurous odour will effect other foods and spices. It is most commonly available as a powder or granules that can be added directly to the cooking pot. It is also sold in lumps that need to be crushed before using. This is a very powerful spice and even in its ground state lasts well over a year if stored properly, away from light and air.

Cultivation and manufacture:
The resin-like gum comes from the dried sap extracted from the stem and roots and is used as a spice. The resin is greyish-white when fresh but dries to a dark amber colour. The asafoetida resin is difficult to grate and is traditionally crushed between stones or with a hammer. Today, the most commonly available form is compounded asafoetida, a fine powder containing 30% asafoetida resin, along with rice flour and gum arabic.

Ferula assafoetida is a monoecious, herbaceous, perennial plant of the family Apiaceae. It grows to 2 m (7 ft) high, with a circular mass of 30–40 cm (12–16 in) leaves. Stem leaves have wide sheathing petioles. Flowering stems are 2.5–3 m (8–10 ft) high and 10 cm (4 in) thick and hollow, with a number of schizogenous ducts in the cortex containing the resinous gum. Flowers are pale greenish yellow produced in large compound umbels. Fruits are oval, flat, thin, reddish brown and have a milky juice. Roots are thick, massive, and pulpy. They yield a resin similar to that of the stems. All parts of the plant have the distinctive fetid smell.

Edible Uses:
Use in minute quantities, adding directly to cooking liquid, frying in oil, or steeping in water. Asafoetida is used mostly in Indian vegetarian cooking, in which the strong onion-garlic flavour enhances many dishes, especially those of Brahmin and Jain castes where onions and garlic are prohibited. It is used mostly in south and west India, though it does not grow there. It is used in many lentil dishes (often to prevent flatulence), vegetarian soups and pickles. It is also suited to many fish dishes and some pappadums are seasoned with asafoetida.

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Constituents:  Typical asafoetida contains about 40–64% resin, 25% endogeneous gum, 10–17% volatile oil, and 1.5–10% ash. The resin portion is known to contain asaresinotannols ‘A’ and ‘B’, ferulic acid, umbelliferone and four unidentified compounds.
Medicinal Uses:
*Antiflatulent. Asafoetida reduces the growth of indigenous microflora in the gut, reducing flatulence.[8] In the Jammu region of India, asafoetida is used as a medicine for flatulence and constipation by 60% of locals.

*A digestion aid. In Thailand and India, it is used to aid digestion and is smeared on the abdomen in an alcohol or water tincture known as mahahing.  Assafoetida in this tincture form was evidently used in western medicine as a topical treatment for abdominal injuries during the 18th and 19th centuries, although when it came into use in the West and how long it remained in use is uncertain. One notable case in which it was used is that of Canadian Coureur des bois Alexis St. Martin, who in 1822 suffered a severe abdominal injury from an accidental shooting that perforated his right lung and stomach and shattered several ribs. St Martin was treated by American army surgeon William Beaumont, who subsequently used St Martin as the subject of a pioneering series of experiments in gastric physiology. When St Martin’s wounds had healed, there remained an open fistula into his stomach that enabled Beaumont to insert various types of food directly into St Martin’s stomach and record the results. In his account of his treatment of and later experiments on St Martin, Beaumont recorded that he treated the suppurating chest wound with a combination of wine mixed with diluted muriatic acid and 30-40 drops of tincture of asafoetida applied three times a day, and that this appeared to have the desired effect, helping the wound to heal.

*Fighting influenza: Asafoetida was used in 1918 to fight the Spanish influenza pandemic. In 2009, researchers reported that the roots of Asafoetida produce natural antiviral drug compounds that demonstrated potency against the H1N1 virus in vitro and concluded that “sesquiterpene coumarins from F. assa-foetida may serve as promising lead compounds for new drug development against influenza A (H1N1) viral infection”.

*Remedy for asthma and bronchitis. It is also said  to be helpful in cases of asthma and bronchitis. A folk tradition remedy for children’s colds: it is mixed into a pungent-smelling paste and hung in a bag around the afflicted child’s neck.
An antimicrobial: Asafoetida has a broad range of uses in traditional medicine as an antimicrobial, with well documented uses for treating chronic bronchitis and whooping cough, as well as reducing flatulence.

*A contraceptive/abortifacient: Asafoetida has also been reported to have contraceptive/abortifacient activity,. It is related to (and considered an inferior substitute for) the ancient Ferula species Silphium.

*Antiepileptic: Asafoetida oleo-gum-resin has been reported to be antiepileptic in classical Unani, as well as ethnobotanical literature.

*Balancing the vata and kapha. In India according to the Ayurveda, asafoetida is considered to be one of the best spices for balancing the vata dosha. It mitigates vata and kapha, relieves flatulence and colic pain. It is pungent in taste and at the end of digestion. It aggravates pitta, enhances appetite, taste and digestion. It is easy to digest.

*Antidote for opium. Asafoetida has only been speculated to be an antidote for opium.

*Acifidity Bag. Asafoetida was approved by the US Pharmacopedia to stave off the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918 that killed millions worldwide. It was placed into pouches called “acifidity bags” that were provided by drug stores to be hung around the neck to try to prevent catching the disease.
Other uses

Other Uses:
*Bait: John C Duval reported in 1936 that the odour of asafoetida is attractive to the wolf, a matter of common knowledge, he says, along the Texas–Mexico border. It is also used as one of several possible scent baits, most notably for catfish and pike.

*May also be used as a moth (Lepidoptera) light trap attractant by collectors—when mixed by approximately 1 part to 3 parts with a sweet, fruit jelly.

*Repelling spirits: In Jamaica, asafoetida is traditionally applied to a baby’s anterior fontanel (Jamaican patois mole) to prevent spirits (Jamaican patois duppies) from entering the baby through the fontanel. In the African-American Hoodoo tradition, asafoetida is used in magic spells, as it is believed to have the power both to protect and to curse.

*In ceremonial magick, especially from The Key of Solomon the King, it is used to protect the magus from daemonic forces and to evoke the same and bind them

Side Effects:
The uncooked herb can cause nausea and vomiting. Using asafoetida over long periods may cause throat irritation, gas, diarrhea, and burning urination. This herb should be avoided during pregnancy. It may affect the menstrual cycle, and it is known to induce miscarriage.

Known Hazards :  Do not use orally. Avoid during pregnancy as possible increased bleeding. Topical use may cause skin irritation

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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.

Resources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asafoetida

Encylopedia of spices,

http://www.anniesremedy.com/herb_detail415.php

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

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