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Astragalus chinensis

Botanical Name: Astragalus chinensis
Family: Fabaceae
Genus:Astragalus
Species : A. canadensis

Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Fabales
Synonyms: Glycyrrhiza costulata Hand.-Mazz.

Common Names: Hua Huang Qi, Chinese milkvetch

Habitat:Astragalus chinensis is native to E. Asia – Mongolia and the Far East of Russia. It grows on flood plain meadows, xerophytic scrub, fields, ruderal places, river banks and valleys on sand and pebbles.
Description:
Astragalus chinensis is a perennial herb growing 35-55 cm tall, with hairs 0.04-0.4 mm. Stem soli­tary, erect, up to 5 mm thick, glabrous, branched with slender, mostly non-flowering lateral branches. Leaves 7-15 cm; stip­ules linear-acuminate, 6-10 mm, glabrous, with a curved short auricle at base; petiole 1-3 cm, like rachis glabrous or with a few appressed hairs; leaflets in 10-15 pairs, narrowly elliptic, 16-25 × 2-10 mm, abaxially sparsely appressed white hairy, adaxially glabrous, apex rounded and shortly mucronulate. Racemes 3.5-5 cm, loosely many flowered; peduncles numerous in upper part of stem, 3-6 cm, glabrous; bracts 3-4 mm, sparsely ciliate. Bracteoles 1-2 mm. Calyx 4-5 mm, glabrous; teeth 1-2 mm. Petals yellow or whitish yellow; standard ovate to widely ovate, 12-15 × 7-9 mm, apex emarginate; wings 9-11.5 mm; keel 13-14 mm. Legumes with a slender stipe 6-8 mm, nodding, nut-shaped, globose to obovoid, 9-14 mm, 5-6 mm high and 7-9 mm wide, with a very short slender beak, widely and deeply grooved ventrally, rounded dorsally; valves rigidly cartilaginous-leathery, transversely wrinkled-nerved, gla­brous.

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It is in flower from Jun to July, and the seeds ripen from Jul to August. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees, lepidoptera.It can fix Nitrogen.
Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers dry soil
Cultivation: Flood plain meadows, xerophytic scrub, fields, ruderal places, river banks and valleys on sand and pebbles.

Propagation: Seed – best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame. A period of cold stratification may help stored seed to germinate. Stored seed, and perhaps also fresh seed, should be pre-soaked for 24 hours in hot water before sowing – but make sure that you do not cook the seed. Any seed that does not swell should be carefully pricked with a needle, taking care not to damage the embryo, and re-soaked for a further 24 hours. Germination can be slow and erratic but is usually within 4 – 9 weeks or more at 13 degree centigrade, if the seed is treated or sown fresh. As soon as it is large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for their first winter, planting them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts.

Medicinal Uses: The seed is hepatic and ophthalmic. It is used in the treatment of kidney diseases, lumbago, spontaneous seminal emissions, frequent micturation, vertigo and decreased sight.

Known Hazards: Many members of this genus contain toxic glycosides. All species with edible seedpods can be distinguished by their fleshy round or oval seedpod that looks somewhat like a greengage. A number of species can also accumulate toxic levels of selenium when grown in soils that are relatively rich in that element.
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.efloras.org/florataxon.aspx?flora_id=2&taxon_id=200011895
https://sv.wikipedia.org/wiki/Astragalus_chinensis
http://www.naturalmedicinalherbs.net/herbs/a/astragalus-chinensis.php

Striking Gold

Citius, Altius, Fortius” goes the Olympic motto in Latin. Translated, it means “Swifter, Higher, Stronger.” That is what every Olympic athlete strives for — to be the best. His or her single-minded dedication, tremendous personal sacrifice and discipline are to be admired and emulated. It is not easy to drive your body to its limits.

Great athletes need the right genetic makeup, body proportions and physique. They can then be moulded for the job. Michael Phelps is 6 feet 4 inches tall, but has proportionately shorter legs attached to a long trunk, with giant size 14 feet that look and function like fins. Kip Keino, the Kenyan marathon runner, is only 5 feet 8 inches tall but has thin, long runner’s legs and a short torso.

In short, aspiring athletes need the correct genes and a supportive family and government. A genetically apt form and physique is wasted without the right training, nutrition, mental discipline and financial support.

This does not mean that we ordinary people cannot exercise and strive to be healthy. The human body has striated or voluntary muscles which function on demand. These muscles are either “fast-twitch” (white) muscles or “slow-twitch” (red) muscles. The white muscles contract rapidly and tire easily. They are good for sprinting. The red fibres are best for endurance sports as they have increased muscle power and are twice as efficient. With training it is possible to develop a particular muscle type, but a choice has to be made between speed and endurance. This is why a tall, strong, muscular and powerful human with more red muscle cannot move swiftly or manoeuvre as efficiently as a small, lean person with more white muscle.

Animals show this distinction in evolution. The cheetah has tremendous sprinting speed over short distances, but the horse has far greater stamina and endurance.

Once a particular muscle type has been trained, it is possible to excel in related events that have similar energy requirements. The same people will do well in the 100m and 400m sprints, the 110m hurdle and the long jump, but not in the 5000m event which requires more stamina. Tremendous torso strength is required to throw a shot put, hammer or javelin. These events require stocky athletes who may not be able to move fast and do well in sprints or jumps.

Everyone (particularly all Indians) should prioritise staying fit and exercising to the limit of his or her endurance. This means exercising one hour a day and trying to achieve the target heart rate (80 per cent of 220 minus age). This habit needs to be started young. Unfortunately, many school going children today are obese with a Body Mass Index (weight in kg divided by height in metre squared) greater than 25. However, it is never too late to start. Despite age, infirmity and illness, the body when trained and pushed is capable of miracles.

To start exercising, set a realistic primary fitness goal, and prioritise it as daily, monthly and lifetime goals. Decide if the exercise is to remain healthy, lose weight, contour the figure, improve cardiovascular status, control blood sugars, normalise blood pressure, for anti anxiety and anti depressant effects, to help work through fatigue or to compete in sports. The effort put in and the training will be different in each case. Targets will never be achieved without setting goals and if there is a tendency to procrastinate.

Regular exercise should include a 15-minute warm-up, a one-hour workout and a 10-minute cool-down phase to prevent muscle injury.

For the warm-up, do one or two pull-ups, spot jogging, skipping, push-ups and short stepping in place, gradually increasing the pace till sweating starts. Finish the warm-up with stretches. Slowly move the muscles, tendons and ligaments to increase flexibility. Stretch the Achilles tendon. Lunge from side to side and front to back. For each workout, pick and target a specific area that needs improvement. Decide ahead and fix a rotating timetable so that all the major muscle groups are exercised.

Muscles accumulate lactic acid during high intensity exercise. This needs to be removed during a 10-minute cool down process that involves walking and stretching.

Regular and judicious exercise can delay the onset of diabetes or hypertension by 10-15 years. It also increases breathing capacity and reduces the frequency of wheezing attacks in asthmatics. Body weight remains under control. Bones, muscles and joints stay flexible, reducing the pain of arthritis. Physically active people have better coping skills and are less likely to succumb to anxiety or depression. The feel good factor makes life pleasurable. The sense of achievement boosts morale. This in turn reduces illnesses, medication, the number of visits to the physician and hospitalisations.

As you start your exercise programme, remember each year of exercise adds approximately a year of life.


Sources:
The Telegraph (Kolkata, India)

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