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Herbs & Plants

Copal

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Botanical Name: Protium copal
Common Name: Copal, Pom

Habitat :Protium copal is native to Guatemalan in South America, also grows in several places in Africa

Description:
Copal is a name given to tree resin that is particularly identified with the aromatic resins used by the cultures of pre-Columbian Mesoamerica as ceremonially burned incense and other purposes. More generally, the term copal describes resinous substances in an intermediate stage of polymerization and hardening between “gummier” resins and amber. The word copal is derived from the Nahuatl language word copalli, meaning “incense
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To the pre-Columbian Maya and contemporary Maya peoples it is known in the various Mayan languages as pom (or a close variation thereof), although the word itself has been demonstrated to be a loanword to Mayan from Mixe–Zoquean languages.

Copal is still used by a number of indigenous peoples of Mexico and Central America as an incense and during sweat lodge ceremonies.  It is available in different forms. The hard, amber-like yellow copal is a less expensive version. The white copal, a hard, milky, sticky substance, is a more expensive version of the same resin.

Copal was also grown in East Africa, (the common species there being Hymenaea verrucosa) initially feeding an Indian Ocean demand for incense. By the 18th Century, Europeans found it to be a valuable ingredient in making a good wood varnish. It became widely used in the manufacture of furniture and carriages. By the late 19th and early 20th century varnish manufacturers in England and America were using it on train carriages, greatly swelling its demand.

In 1859 Americans consumed 68 percent of the East African trade, which was controlled through the Sultan of Zanzibar, with Germany receiving 24 percent. The American Civil War and the creation of the Suez Canal led to Germany, India and Hong Kong taking the majority by the end of that century.

East Africa apparently had a higher amount of subfossil copal, which is found one or two meters below living copal trees from roots of trees that may have lived thousands of years earlier. This subfossil copal produces a harder varnish. Subfossil copal is also well-known from New Zealand (Kauri gum), Japan, the Dominican Republic, Colombia and Madagascar. It often has inclusions and is sometimes sold as “young amber”. Copal can be easily distinguished from genuine amber by its lighter citrine colour and its surface getting tacky with a drop of acetone or chloroform

Medicinal Uses:
Chickleros who stayed in the bush for months relied on fresh copal resin to treat painful cavities, a piece of resin was stuffed into the cavity and, in a few days, the tooth broke apart and was easily expelled. The bark is scraped, powdered, and applied to wounds, sores, and infections.  Cut a piece of bark 2.5 cm x 15 cm; boil in 3 cups of water for 10 minutes and drink 1 cup before meals for stomach complaints and intestinal parasites.  It is also used as a remedy for fright and dizziness.

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://belize.com/copal.html
http://www.marc.ucsb.edu/elpilar/features/trail/documents/plants/copal.htm
http://waynesword.palomar.edu/ecoph22.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Copal_with_insects_close-up.jpg

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Antidepressants and Other Psychotropic Medications Linked to Birth Defects

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Between 1998 and 2007, psychotropic medications were associated with 429 adverse drug reactions in Danish children under the age of 17. More than half of the 429 cases were serious and several involved birth defects, such as birth deformities and severe withdrawal syndromes.
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Professors Lise Aagaard and Ebbe Holme Hansen studied all 4,500 pediatric adverse drug reaction reports submitted during the study period to find those which were linked to psychotropic medications. The two researchers found that 42 percent of adverse reactions were reported for psychostimulants, such as Ritalin, which treats attention deficit disorder (ADD), followed by 31 percent for antidepressants, such as Prozac, and 24 percent for antipsychotics, such as Haldol.

“A range of serious side effects such as birth deformities, low birth weight, premature birth, and development of neonatal withdrawal syndrome were reported in children under two years of age, most likely because of the mother’s intake of psychotropic medication during pregnancy,” says Associate Professor Lisa Aagaard.

The researchers believe that these tendencies should serve as a warning to doctors and health care personnel.

“Psychotropic medication should not be prescribed in ordinary circumstances, because this type of medication has a long half-life. If people take their medicine as prescribed it will be a constantly high dosage, and it could take weeks for one single tablet to exit the body’s system. Three out of four pregnancies are planned, and therefore society must take responsibility for informing women about the serious risks of transferring side effects to their unborn child,” says Aagaard.

There is a clear indication that use of antidepressants is increasing in Denmark, as well as in many other countries, and the tendency is the same when it comes to pregnant women.

“We are constantly reminded about the dangers of alcohol use and smoking during pregnancy, but there is no information offered to women with regards to use of psychotropic medication. There is simply not enough knowledge available in this area,” concludes Aagaard, suggesting that greater control should be required when prescribing psychotropic medications to pregnant women.


Source:
Elements4Health:25 June 2010

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