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Herbs & Plants

Caltha palustris

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Botanical Name :   Caltha palustris
Family: Ranunculaceae
Genus: Caltha
Species: C. palustris
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Ranunculales

Common Name :Marsh Marigold,Kingcup

Other Names:
In the UK, Caltha palustris is known by a variety of common names, varying by geographical region. These include Marsh Marigold and Kingcup (the two most frequently used common names), Mayflower, May Blobs, Mollyblobs, Pollyblobs, Horse Blob, Water Blobs, Water Bubbles, Gollins. Balfae (in Caithness) and the Publican. The common name of marigold refers to its use in churches in medieval times at Easter time as a tribute to the Virgin Mary, as in Mary gold.

The specific name palustris, Latin for “of the marsh”, indicates its common habitat.

Richard Mabey, in Flora Britannica, describes Caltha palustris thus:

Marsh-marigolds are in decline as agricultural land continues to be drained, but they are still the most three-dimensional of plants, their fleshy leaves and shiny petals impervious to wind and snow, and standing in sharp relief against the tousled brown of frostbitten grasses. Most of the plant’s surviving local names – water-blobs, molly-blobs, water-bubbles – reflect this solidity, especially the splendid, rotund ‘the publican’ from Lancashire.”

In North America Caltha palustris is sometimes known as cowslip. However, cowslip more often refers to Primula veris, the original plant to go by that name. Both are herbaceous plants with yellow flowers, but Primula veris is much smaller.

In Latvia Caltha palustris is also known as Gundega which is also used as a girls name which symbolizes fire. The word Gundega is made from 2 words – uguns (fire) and dega (burned). This refers to the burning reaction that some people experience from contact with Caltha sap

Habitat :  Caltha palustris is native to marshes, fens, ditches and wet woodland in temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere.
It becomes most luxuriant in partial shade, but is rare on peat. In the UK, it is probably one of the most ancient British native plants, surviving the glaciations and flourishing after the last retreat of the ice, in a landscape inundated with glacial meltwaters.

Description:
Caltha palustris is a herbaceous perennial plant.Height is up to 80 centimetres (31 in) tall. The leaves are rounded to kidney-shaped, 3–20 centimetres (1.2–7.9 in) across, with a bluntly serrated margin and a thick, waxy texture. Stems are hollow.

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The flowers are yellow, 2–5 cm (1–2 in) diameter, with 4-9 (mostly 5) petal-like sepals and many yellow stamens; they appear in early spring to late summer. The flowers are visited by a great variety of insects for pollen and for the nectar secreted from small depressions, one on each side of each carpel.
Cultivation:
A plant of the waterside, it prefers growing in a sunny position in wet soils or shallow water up to 15cm deep, though it will tolerate drier conditions if there is shade from the summer sun. Another report says that it grows best in partial shade. Requires a deep rich slightly alkaline soil. Grows well in heavy clay soils. Prefers a chalky soil. Tolerates a pH in the range 4.8 to 7.5. A very ornamental and polymorphic plant, there are some named varieties. Plants often self-sow when well sited. A good bee plant. A greedy plant, inhibiting the growth of nearby plants, especially legumes. This species is probably the most primitive flower in the British flora.

Propagation:
Seed – best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame in late summer. Stand the pots in 2 – 3cm of water to keep the soil wet. The seed usually germinates in 1 – 3 months at 15°c. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in a tray of water in a cold frame until they are at least 15cm tall. Plant them out into their permanent positions in the summer. Division in early spring or autumn. Very easy, larger clumps can be replanted direct into their permanent positions, though it is best to pot up smaller clumps and grow them on in a cold frame until they are rooting well. Plant them out in the summer or following spring.

Edible Uses:
Root – must be well cooked. The raw root should not be eaten. Some caution is advised, see the notes above on toxicity. Flower buds – raw, cooked or pickled and used as a caper substitute. Eating the raw flower buds can lead to intoxication. Some caution is advised, see the notes above on toxicity. Young leaves – raw or cooked. The leaves are harvested in the spring as the plant is coming into flower and is used like spinach after cooking in two or more changes of water. Eating the raw leaves can lead to intoxication . Some caution is advised, see the notes above on toxicity. Older leaves, before the plant flowers, can be eaten if they are well cooked. Some caution is advised, see the notes below on toxicity.

Medicinal Uses;
Dr. Withering described a case in which a large bouquet of marsh marigolds brought into the sickroom of a spasmodic girl stopped her fits.  The cure was presumed a result of whatever the flowers exude.  Since then, the infusions have also been used to prevent fits.  A decoction of the herb has been used for dropsy and in urinary affections. The root tea induces sweating, is an emetic and an expectorant.  The leaf tea is a diuretic and a laxative.  Ojibwas mixed tea with maple sugar to make a cough syrup that was popular with colonists.  The syrup was used as a folk antidote to snake venom.  The plant contains anemonin and protoanemonin both with marginal antitumor activity.  It has also been used to treat warts: a drop of the leaf juice was applied daily until the wart disappeared.  The Chippewa applied the dried powdered and moistened or fresh root of cowslip twice daily to cure scrofula sores.

Other Uses:…..Dye..……A yellow dye is obtained from the flowers, a saffron substitute. It is used as a dye when mixed with alum, though it is not very permanent. Plants can be grown for ground cover when planted about 45cm apart each way.

Known Hazards:-
As is the case with many members of the Ranunculaceae, all parts of the plant are poisonous and can be irritant. Skin rashes and dermatitis have been reported from excessive handling of the plant. The whole plant, but especially the older portions, contains the toxic glycoside protoanemonin – this is destroyed by heat. The sap can irritate sensitive skin.

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.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_LMN.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caltha_palustris

http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Caltha+palustris

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Faith in God Can Relieve Pain

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Religion is the opiate of the people” – Karl Marx had famously said. But can one’s faith in God really ease pain? “Yes”, say scientists. SPAN>

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A team at Oxford University has based its findings on an experiment in which 12 Roman Catholics and 12 atheists were “tortured” with electric shocks as they studied two paintings – Virgin Mary and Leonardo da Vinci‘s Lady With An Ermine.

The subjects spent half-an-hour inside an MRI scanner, receiving a series of 20 electric shocks in four sessions and each time they had to rate how much it hurt on a scale of 0 to 100 as they looked at the paintings.

The researchers hoped that the face of the Virgin Mary would induce a religious state of mind in the believers, while da Vinci’s painting was chosen because it did not look dissimilar and would be calming.

The scientists found that the Catholics seemed to be able to block out much of the pain.

And, using the latest brain-scanning techniques, they also discovered that the Catholics were able to activate part of the brain associated with conditioning experience of pain, the Daily Mail reported.

However, there was no such brain activity among the atheists whose pain and anxiety levels stayed roughly the same.

The Catholics said that looking at the painting of the Virgin Mary made them feel “safe”, “taken care of” and “calmed down and peaceful”.

More significantly, they reported feeling 12% less pain after viewing the religious image than after looking at the Leonardo.

The Rt Rev Tom Wright, the Anglican Bishop of Durham, welcomed the research, saying: “The practice of faith should, and in many cases does, alter the person you are. It can affect the patterns of your brain and your emotions. So it comes as no surprise to me that this experiment has reached such conclusions.”

Sources: The Times Of India

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Herbs & Plants

Lady’s Mantle

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Botanical Name: Alchemilla vulgaris
Family: Rosaceae
Subfamily: Rosoideae
Tribe: Potentilleae
Genus: Alchemilla
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Rosales

Synonyms: Lion’s Foot. Bear’s Foot. Nine Hooks. Leontopodium. Stellaria
(French) Pied-de-lion.

The common name:   , Lady’s Mantle (in its German form, Frauenmantle), was first bestowed on it by the sixteenth-century botanist, Jerome Bock, always known by the Latinized version of his name: Tragus. It appears under this name in his famous History of Plants, published in 1532, and Linnaeus adopted it. In the Middle Ages, this plant had been associated, like so many flowers, with the Virgin Mary (hence it is Lady’s Mantle, not Ladies’ Mantle), the lobes of the leaves being supposed to resemble the scalloped edges of a mantle. In mediaeval Latin we also find it called Leontopodium (lion’s foot), probably from its spreading root-leaves, and this has become in modern French, Pied-de-lion. We occasionally find the same idea expressed in two English local names, ‘Lion’s foot’ and ‘Bear’s foot.’ It has also been called ‘Stellaria,’ from the radiating character of its lower leaves, but this belongs more properly to quite another group of plants, with star-like blossoms of pure white.
(German) Frauenmantle.
Parts Used: Herb, root.

Habitat: The Lady’s Mantle and the Parsley Piert, two small, inconspicuous plants, have considerable reputation as herbal remedies. They both belong to the genus Alchemilla of the great order Rosaceae, most of the members of which are natives of the American Andes, only a few being found in Europe, North America and Northern and Western Asia. In Britain, we have only three species, Alchemilla vulgaris, the Common Lady’s Mantle, A. arvensis, the Field Lady’s Mantle or Parsley Piert, and A. alpina, less frequent and only found in mountainous districts

The Common Lady’s Mantle is generally distributed over Britain, but more especially in the colder districts and on high-lying ground, being found up to an altitude of 3,600 feet in the Scotch Highlands. It is not uncommon in moist, hilly pastures and by streams, except in the south-east of England, and is abundant in Yorkshire, especially in the Dales. It is indeed essentially a plant of the north, freely found beyond the Arctic circle in Europe, Asia and also in Greenland and Labrador, and only on high mountain ranges, such as the Himalayas, if found in southern latitudes.

Description:
The rootstock is perennialblack, stout and short – and from it rises the slender erect stem. The whole plant is clothed with soft hairs. The lower, radical leaves, large and handsome, 6 to 8 inches in diameter, are borne on slender stalks, 6 to 18 inches long and are somewhat kidneyshaped in general outline, with their margins cut into seven or mostly nine broad, but shallow lobes, finely toothed at the edges, from which it has obtained one of its local names: ‘Nine Hooks.’ The upper leaves are similar and either stalkless, or on quite short footstalks and are all actually notched and toothed. A noticeable feature is the leaflike stipules, also toothed, which embrace the stem.

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The flowers, which are in bloom from June to August, are numerous and small, only about 1/8 inch in diameter, yellow-green in colour, in loose, divided clusters at the end of the freely-branching flower-stems, each on a short stalk, or pedicle. There are no petals, the calyx is four-cleft, with four conspicuous little bracteoles that have the appearance of outer and alternate segments of the calyx. There are four stamens, inserted on the mouth of the calyx, their filaments jointed.

The common English name is accounted for by the leaves resemblance to a cloak worn by English women in medieval times. A preparation of dried leave was used to control diarrhea and to stop bleeding.

Alchemilla has lime green leaves and dainty star shaped flowers, and has been in gardens since before the 16th century and I’m sure in the wild much before then. The entire plant is covered in very fine hairs that cause dew or soft rain to gather in it’s leaves. This liquid was known as “celestial water” and used in alchemy. These tiny jeweled drops inspired poetry and magic over the years.

The herb became known as Our Lady’s Mantle because the scalloped shape of the leaves, were thought to resemble the mantle (cloak) of the Virgin Mary. Later, politics intervened, and the “Our” was taken from the name.

Lady’s Mantle can be planted from seeds or by purchasing plants. The seed will germinate in the garden, but will take up to 2 years to flower. The plants can be divided in the spring or fall and are hardy in Zones 4-8 and possibly Zone 3. It will grow from 6 inches for the alpine variety to about 12-18 inches on the others. Space about 12 inches between plants. Lady’s Mantle needs a fertile soil and some moisture-more than the standard herbs. It can be in full sun in northern climates, but can tolerate some shade and in the warm climates prefers it.

The rootstock is astringent and edible and the leaves are eaten by sheep and cattle.

Medicinal Action and Uses:
The Lady’s Mantle has astringent and styptic properties, on account of the tannin it contains. It is ‘of a very drying and binding character’ as the old herbalists expressed it, and was formerly considered one of the best vulneraries or wound herbs.
The root, harvested in spring or fall, and the leaves, harvested as the plant blooms in June, are used medicinally. A decoction of the fresh root is a powerful styptic which stops bleeding of a cut and is also used as an eyewash.. The leaves are also astringent and styptic owing to their tannin content. The tea is used internally for excessive menstrual bleeding, for prolonged blood loss due to menopausal or uterine fibroids and to reduce pains associated with periods as well as diarrhea. Lady’s mantle has a very rapid healing action and gargling with the herb after the loss or removal of teeth is one of the most beneficial activities the patient can indulge in. It is also very effective for mouth ulcers and sores as well as laryngitis. Any skin troubles, such as inflamed wounds or rashes, should also be bathed with a liquid made from this herb. It battles vomiting and flux and eases bruises and ruptures. After giving birth, women should drink a tea of Lady’s mantle, specially if it is mixed with shepherd’s purse or yarrow. It aids with debility of the abdomen and, for women who are likely to miscarry, it is strengthening for the fetus and the uterus. Culpeper claimed women who wanted to conceive should drink a decoction of Lady’s mantle for 20 days before conception. Once she  is pregnant, the woman should sit in a bath made from the decoction. Culpeper also recommended it for “green wounds” or gangrene. One ounce of the dried leaves is added to a pint of water for medicinal purposes. While the plant is generally considered of historical interest in America, it has a long, continuing tradition as a popular European herb medicine. Its astringency, and hence medicinal benefit, is attributed to the tannin content, though the plant has been little studied. In Europe, decoctions or infusions of lady’s mantle are valuable to treat diarrhea and other gastrointestinal conditions. Europeans, especially Swedes, find it useful to reduce heavy menstruation and prevent menstrual and even intestinal cramping. It is also recommended when a woman’s body is adjusting hormone levels such as after childbirth and during menopause. Tinctures or gargles of the herb can help soothe irritated mucous membranes of the mouth and throat. A recent study identified the ellagitannins, agrimoniin and pendunculagin, in the herb. These compounds may be partly responsible for the plant’s biological activity. A trace of salicylic acid is also found in the plant.

Try using externally as a vaginal douche or following antibiotic treatment for trichomonas and candida infections when the healthy vaginal flora has been disturbed and requires strengthening. Ladys Mantle tea is also used as an adjunct treatment for ovarian failure or inflammation, irregular menstruation, prolapsed uterus, constitutional miscarriage and menopausal difficulties. Avoid during pregnancy as it is a uterine stimulant.”

Culpepper says of it:
‘Lady’s Mantle is very proper for inflamed wounds and to stay bleeding, vomitings, fluxes of all sorts, bruises by falls and ruptures. It is one of the most singular wound herbs and therefore highly prized and praised, used in all wounds inward and outward, to drink a decoction thereof and wash the wounds therewith, or dip tents therein and put them into the wounds which wonderfully drieth up all humidity of the sores and abateth all inflammations thereof. It quickly healeth green wounds, not suffering any corruption to remain behind and cureth old sores, though fistulous and hollow.’
In modern herbal treatment, it is employed as a cure for excessive menstruation and is taken internally as an infusion 1 OZ. of the dried herb to 1 pint of boiling water) in teacupful doses as required and the same infusion is also employed as an injections.
A strong decoction of the fresh root, by some considered the most valuable part of the plant, has also been recommended as excellent to stop all bleedings, and the root dried and reduced to powder is considered to answer the same purpose and to be good for violent purgings.

In Sweden, a tincture of the leaves has been given in cases of spasmodic or convulsive diseases, and an old authority states that if placed under the pillow at night, the herb will promote quiet sleep.

Fluid extract, dose, 1/2 to 1 drachm.

Horses and sheep like the plant, and it has therefore been suggested as a profitable fodder plant, but the idea has proved unpractical. Grazing animals will not eat the leaves till the moisture in them is dissipated.

Other Species:
Alchemilla alpine, a mountain variety,found on the banks of Scotch rivulets. The leaves are deeply divided into five oblong leaflets and are thickly covered with lustrous silky hairs. A form of this plant in which the leaflets are connate for one-third of their length is known as A. conjuncta.

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://botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/l/ladman05.html
http://www.piam.com/mms_garden/plants.html
http://www.gardenguides.com/plants/info/herbs/ladys.asp

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

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