Tag Archives: Namibia

Spartina maritima

Botanical Name : Spartina maritima
Kingdom:Plantae
Order:    Poales
Family:    Poaceae
Genus:    Spartina
Species:S. maritima

Common Name:Small Cordgrass,gadadhar, ajvain, ajmod, phillaur

Habitat :Spartina maritima is native to the coasts of western and southern Europe and western Africa, from the Netherlands west across southern England to southern Ireland, and south along the Atlantic coast to Morocco and also on the Mediterranean Sea coasts. There is also a disjunct population on the Atlantic coasts of Namibia and South Africa.

Description:
Spartina maritima is a herbaceous perennial plant growing 20-70 cm tall, green in spring and summer, and turning light brown in autumn and winter. The leaves are slender, 10-40 cm long, and 0.5-1 cm broad at the base, tapering to a point. It produces flowers and seeds on all sides of the stalk. The flowers are greenish, turning brown by the winter,are small in size, and mostly in little spikes....CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES

Medicinal Uses:
The drugs obtained by this plants through their dried leaves and flowers head.It has been suggested that the drug should be collected in near the beginning of spring by the time at which the flower heads have not completely developed. Main use of this drug is for throwing out of squirms from stomach. “The drug is also useful in fevers” .. and as a refreshment.

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://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spartina_maritima
http://www.medicinal-plants.in/ajvain.php

Schinziophyton rautanenii

Botanical Name : Schinziophyton rautanenii
Family: Euphorbiaceae
Subfamily: Crotonoideae
Tribe: Ricinodendreae
Genus: Schinziophyton
Hutch. ex Radcl.-Sm.
Species: S. rautanenii
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Malpighiales

Common Names:Mongongo nut, Feather weight tree, Manketti Tree

Habitat :The Schinziophyton rautanenii is distributed widely throughout southern Africa. There are several distinct belts of distribution, the largest of which reaches from northern Namibia into northern Botswana, south-western Zambia and western Zimbabwe. Another belt is found in eastern Malawi, and yet another in eastern Mozambique.

The manketti tree prefers hot and dry climates with low amounts of rain. It also prefers to grow in wooded hills and sand dunes.

Its habitat is dotted with trees and does not receive enough rain to be considered a prairie. The countries that lie in this biome are Mauritania, Guinea, Liberia, Ethiopia, Sudan, Chad, Mali, Niger and Uganda.

Description:
Schinziophyton rautanenii is a deciduous  tree.It  has a large, straight trunk with stubby and contorted branches and a large spreading crown. It has an upright manner of growth and is about 49 to 66 feet (15 to 20) meters tall. The leaves are a distinctive hand shape and are compound. The leaflet is a wide lance to an egg shape. They are composed of seven leaflets that are carried on hairy stalks that are up to 6 inches (15 cm) in length. The leaves are about 6 inches (15 cm) long and both sides are dark green in color. They are covered in fine hairs and are arranged alternately on branches.

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The flowers are somewhat oval in shape, and are about 1 1/4 inch (3.5 cm) long, 3/4 inch (2.5 cm) wide, and are about 1/2 inch (10 mm) in diameter. They flower in early summer. The whitish flowers are carried in slender loose spays.

Leaves alternate, digitately compound, consisting of 5-7 leathery segments usually hairless below and with grey wooly hairs above. There are usually 1 or 2 black glands on the upper side of each leaf-stalk.

Flowers whitish or yellow, dioecious, in loose rusty sprays. Male flowers in long rusty sprays, female shorter in length.

Fruit ovoid, waxy and brown in colour; weighing 7-10 g with a thick leathery skin, fleshy, dry, spongy pulp 2-5 mm thick, shell tough 3-7 mm thick.

Seeds 1 or 2 in the fruit.

The taproot on the  tree goes down until it reaches water. In this case, it is long because it is located in the savanna. The lateral root is very small.

Edible Uses:
So popular are the fruit and nuts of the mongongo tree that they have even been described as a “staple diet” in some areas, most notably amongst the San bushmen of northern Botswana and Namibia. Archaeological evidence has shown that they have been consumed amongst San communities for over 7,000 years. Their popularity stems in part from their flavour, and in part from the fact that they store well, and remain edible for much of the year.

The fruit is edible and can be eaten fresh, dried or cooked and have a pleasant taste likened to that of plums. The fruit retains its flavour even when dry.

Dry fruits are first steamed to soften the skins. After peeling, the fruits are then cooked in water until the maroon-coloured flesh separates from the hard inner nuts. The pulp is eaten, and the nuts are saved to be roasted later. Alternatively, nuts are collected from elephant dung; the hard nut survives intact through the digestive process and the elephant does the hard work of collecting the nuts. During roasting of the nuts, direct contact with the fire is avoided, using sand to distribute the heat evenly. Once dry, the outer shell cracks easily, revealing the nut, encased within a soft, inner shell. The nuts are either eaten straight, or pounded as ingredients in other dishes.

. The fruit is normally skinned after steaming in a pot with little water, then boiled in fresh water to separate the nuts. The fruit is used in making aromatic soups and sweet porridge, they can be dried and consumed as sweetmeats. During roasting direct contact of seeds with the fire coals is avoided by roasting in a sand heap. Fruit carbohydrate content is between 65-77%, fibre 2.5-3%, crude protein 6-9% and Ca levels are 85-100 mg/ 100 g. In the abscence of moisture fruits can remain edible for up to 8 months if left on ground where they fall.

The fruit pulp is fermented to give a refreshing potent beer, distilled for alcohol.

Nutritional value:-
Per 100 grams shelled nuts:

*57 g fat:
*44% polyunsaturated
*17% saturated
*18% monounsaturated
*24 g protein
*193 mg calcium
*527 mg magnesium
*4 mg zinc
*2.8 mg copper
*565 mg vitamin E (and tocopherol)

Medicinal Uses:
The roots are used as a remedy for stomach pains and diarrhea, the nuts tied around the ankles are said to relieve leg pains.

Other Uses:
The oil from the nuts has also been traditionally used as a body rub in the dry winter months, to clean and moisten the skin, while the hard, outer nut-shells are popular as divining “bones”. The wood, being both strong and light, makes excellent fishing floats, toys, insulating material and drawing boards. More recently, it has been used to make dart-boards and packing cases.

The plant has potential use in desert encroachment prevention and sand dune stabilization. Its hardiness makes it ideal for arid land reclamation.
Erosion control: S. rautanenii roots protect sandy soils from wind and water erosion.

Fruit enjoyed by both cattle and game. Fruit pulp and the seed meal which is very rich in protein was fed to cattle up to 1962, however this feed is suspected to cause a discolouration of beef. Elephants feed on the bark.

Truncheon-cuttings used for fencing around homes in southern Angola.  In some places the tree is highly held culturally and venerable.

Offers shade in hot areas e.g. in the Kalahari desert.


 

Known Hazards: :  Toxicological results suggest a tenous link between oil use and goitre.

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/Mongongo
http://www.blueplanetbiomes.org/manketti.htm
http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_LMN.htm

http://worldagroforestry.org/treedb2/speciesprofile.php?Spid=17950

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Your Granite Countertops Could Be Killing You

Demand for granite countertops has increased tenfold over the past decade. As their popularity has grown, so have the types of granite available. And along with increased sales volume and variety, there have been more reports of “hot” or potentially hazardous countertops, particularly among the more exotic varieties from Brazil and Namibia.

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Allegations that granite countertops may emit dangerous levels of radon and radiation have been raised periodically over the past decade. Health physicists and radiation experts agree that most granite countertops emit radiation and radon at extremely low levels.

But with increasing regularity in recent months, the EPA has been receiving calls from radon inspectors and concerned homeowners about granite countertops with radiation measurements several times above background levels.

Sources: New York Times July 24, 2008

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Devil’s Claw

Botanical Name: Harpagophytum
Family: Pedaliaceae
Genus: Harpagophytum
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Lamiales

Common Name:Devil’s claw

Other Names: Harpagophytum procumbens, Grapple Plant, Wood Spider

Habitat: Devil’s claw is native to southern Africa. It is mainly found in the eastern and south eastern parts of Namibia, Southern Botswana and the Kalahari region of the Northern Cape, South Africa. Harpagophytum zeyheri is found in the northern parts of Namibia (Ovamboland) and southern Angola.

Description:  Devil’s claw (Harpagophytum procumbens) is an African plant whose fruit looks like a giant claw. The plant grows in an arid climate and is found in Namibia, Madagascar, the Kalahari Desert, and other areas on the African continent. The tuberous roots are used in traditional medicine. The root is collected when the rainy season ends. The root is chopped and dried in the sun for three days……...click & see

click to see the picture

Its name comes from the small hooks on the plant’s fruit. The active ingredients in devil’s claw are believed to be iridoid glycosides called harpagosides, which are found in the secondary root.

Most of the world’s supply of devil’s claw comes from Namibia, with lesser amounts coming from South Africa and Botswana.

General Use
Devil’s claw has been used for thousands of years in Africa for fever, rheumatoid arthritis, skin conditions, and conditions involving the gallbladder, pancreas, stomach and kidneys.

In the early 1900’s, devil’s claw was brought to Europe. It is used to improve digestion, as the bitter taste of devil’s claw tea is thought to stimulate digestive juices.

However, the primary use of devil’s claw today is for conditions that cause inflammation and pain:
Back pain, Neck pain, Rheumatoid arthritis, Osteoarthritis and Tendinitis

According to a study in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, sales of devil’s claw in Germany were estimated to be $30 million euros in 2001, accounting for 74% of the prescriptions for rheumatism.

Devil’s claw has been used for numerous conditions in several areas of the world. In South Africa, the root and tuber have been used for centuries as an all-purpose folk remedy. Devil’s claw has been used to reduce fever and pain, to treat allergies and headache, and to stimulate digestion. Traditional healers also used devil’s claw to treat inflammatory conditions such as arthritis, rheumatism, and lower back pain. Devil’s claw has also been used as a remedy for liver and kidney disorders.

Devil’s claw root was also used in folk medicine as a pain reliever and for complications with pregnancies. In addition, an ointment made from devil’s claw was used for skin injuries and disorders.

European colonists brought the African plant back to their continent where it was used to treat arthritis. In the United States, use of devil’s claw dates back to the time of slavery. The slaves brought herbs and herbal knowledge with them to the new continent.

Devil’s claw has been used as an herbal remedy in Europe for a long time. Current uses for devil’s claw are much the same as they were centuries ago. In Europe, the herb is still a remedy for arthritis and other types of joint pain, such as rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, and gout (a painful joint inflammation disease).

Devil’s claw is also used for soft tissue conditions with inflammation, like tendinitis and bursitis. The bitter herb is also used as a remedy for loss of appetite and mildly upset stomach.

The herb is currently used for other conditions such as problems with pregnancy, menstruation, and menopause. Devil’s claw is also regarded as a remedy for headaches, heartburn, liver and gallbladder problems, allergies, skin disorders, and nicotine poisoning.

European research during the late 1990s indicated that devil’s claw relieved arthritis and joint pain conditions. The herb also helped with soft muscle pain such as tendinitis. However, there is no evidence that proves devil’s claw is an effective remedy for other conditions such as difficulties during pregnancy and skin disorders.

Preparations:

Several forms of devil’s claw are used. In Europe, doctors treat some conditions like arthritis with an injection of devil’s claw extract. The herb is taken internally as a tea or in capsule form. When taken for pain relief, devil’s claw must be taken regularly for up to one month before results are seen. An ointment form of devil’s claw can be applied to the skin to treat wounds or scars.

Research work on devil’s claw:
There is some evidence for the use of devil’s claw, however one larger, randomized controlled trial found only a modest benefit.
A German study examined the use of devil’s claw for slight to moderate back, neck, and shoulder muscle tension and pain. In the 4-week study, 31 people took 480 mg twice a day and 32 people took a placebo. The results showed there was a significant reduction in pain in the people taking devil’s claw compared to the placebo group.

A study published in the journal Rheumatology compared a devil’s claw extract providing 60 mg harpagosides a day and and 12.5 mg a day of the anti-inflammatory Vioxx (now off the market) for 6 weeks in 79 patients with an acute exacerbation of low back pain. Devil’s claw was as effective as Vioxx in reducing pain.

A study published in the journal Joint Bone Spine compared six 435 mg capsules of powdered devil’s claw extract a day (which provides about 60 mg per day of harpagosides) with 100 mg a day of a European osteoarthritis drug called diacerhein in 122 patients with osteoarthritis of the knee or hip. After four months, devil’s claw was as effective as the diacerhein at relieving pain, improving mobility, and reducing the need for back-up medication (such as anti-inflammatory and analgesic drugs). Although this sounds great, the results aren’t as impressive in light of a 3-year placebo-controlled study found diacerhein was ineffective at reducing osteoarthritis symptoms.

In a European Journal of Anaesthesiology 4-week study, 197 people with back pain rated at 5/10 or higher on a pain scale received a standardized daily dose of 50 mg or 100 mg harpagosides or placebo. Devil’s claw seemed to reduce pain more than placebo.
Devil’s claw appears to work in the same way as Cox-2 anti-inflammatory drugs such as Celebrex and also produce changes in leukotrienes, another group of molecules involved in inflammation.

Herbal Tea and Tincture:

Devil’s claw tea is prepared by pouring 1.25 cups (300 ml) boiling water over 1 tsp (4.5 g) of the herb. The mixture, which is also called an infusion, is steeped for eight hours and then strained. The daily dosage is 3 cups of warm tea.

For most conditions, the average daily dosage is 1 tsp (4.5 g) of devil’s claw herb. However, the amount is reduced to 1/3 tsp (1.5 g) when devil’s claw is taken for appetite loss.

In a tincture, the herb is preserved with alcohol. The tincture steeps for two weeks and is shaken daily. It is then strained and bottled. When devil’s claw tincture is used as a remedy, the dosage is 1 tsp (4.5 g) taken three times per day for a specified period.

Tea and tincture should be consumed 30 minutes before eating. This allows for better absorption of the herb.

Devil’s Claw Capsules:

The anti-inflammatory properties of devil’s claw are attributed to two constituents, harpagoside and beta sitoserol. If a person takes devil’s claw capsules or tablets as a remedy, attention should be paid to the harpagoside content. The daily amount of harpagoside in capsules should total 50 mg.

Combinations

For arthritis treatment, devil’s claw can be combined with anti-inflammatory or cleansing herbs. In addition, devil’s claw can be combined with bogbean or meadowsweet. An herbalist, naturopathic doctor, or traditional healer can provide more information on herb combinations appropriate for a specific condition.

Precautions

Devil’s claw is safe to use when proper dosage recommendations are followed, according to sources including the PDR (Physician’s Desk Reference) for Herbal Medicines, the 1998 book based on the 1997 findings of Germany’s Commission E.

Although devil’s claw has not undergone the FDA research required for approval as a remedy, other studies in Europe confirm that devil’s claw is safe for most people. However, people with ulcers should be cautious because the herb stimulates the production of stomach acid.

Furthermore, it is not known if devil’s claw is safe for people with major liver or kidney conditions. In addition, devil’s claw could cause an allergic reaction.

There is some debate in the alternative medicine community about whether pregnant women can use devil’s claw as a remedy. Some researchers say that the herb is safe to use; others say that not enough research has been done to prove that the herb is safe for pregnant women. There appears to be no scientific proof that using devil’s claw could result in miscarriages.

Side Effects
Devil’s claw has been known to trigger an allergic reaction.

Some studies have reported stomach upset, a sensation of fullness, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), and headache.

In animal studies, there is a small risk of changes in blood pressure, heart rhythm, and blood glucose. One study found that it enhanced the action of GABA in the brain and depressed the central nervous system. It is not known whether these effects may also occur in humans.

Devil’s claw could cause an allergic reaction or mild gastrointestinal difficulties.

Safety

Devil’s claw should not be used by people with gastric or duodenal ulcers.

People with gallstones should consult a doctor before using devil’s claw.

People with diabetes or who are taking medication that affects their blood sugar should only use devil’s claw under the supervision of a qualified health practitioner. In one study, devil’s claw extract resulted in reductions in blood glucose in fasted normal and diabetic animals.

Devil’s claw should not be used by people who are or may be pregnant, as it is believed to cause uterine contractions.

Interactions

No interactions between other medications and devil’s claw have been reported according to the PDR for Herbal Medicines. However, the herb may possibly block the effect of medication taken to correct abnormal heart rhythms.

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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.

Click to learn more

Resources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harpagophytum
http://altmedicine.about.com/od/herbsupplementguide/a/DevilsClaw.htm
http://www.answers.com/topic/proboscidea-garden-annual

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