Tag Archives: New Delhi

Apple Gourd (Tinda)

Botanical Name: Apple Gourd
Family: Cucurbitaceae
SubfamilyCucurbitoideae
Tribe: Benincaseae
Subtribe: Benincasinae
Genus: Praecitrullus  Pangalo
Species: P. fistulosus
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Cucurbitales
Common Names: Tinda, Indian round gourd , Indian baby pumpkin, Meha (in  Sindhi language),  Dhemase (in Marathi)
Habitat : Apple Gourd is native to South Asia. Specially grown in India & Pakinthan
Description:
The plant is, as with all cucurbits, a prolific vine, and is grown as an annual. The fruit is approximately spherical, and 5–8 cm in diameter. The seeds may also be roasted and eaten. Tinda is a famous nickname among Punjabi families in India. This unique squash-like gourd is native to India, very popular in Indian and Pakistani cooking with curry and many gourmet dishes. Green colored, apple sized fruits are flattish round in shape and 50-60 grams in weight. Plants are vigorous, productive and begin to bear fruits in 70 days after planting.
Cultivation:  Sandy loam soils rich in organic matter with good drainage and pH ranging from 6.5-7.5 is best suited for Tinda cultivation. This crop requires a moderate warm temperature.
Propagation: Sow the seeds on one side of the channel. hin the seedlings after 15 days to maintain two/pit at 0.9 m spacing.
Uses:
Tinda is famous vegetable in India and Pakistan and regarded as super food due to its numerous health benefits. It contains antioxidants like carotenoids and many anti-inflammatory agents, which are effective for controlling blood pressure, heart diseases, and strokes and prevent cancer formation.
It is very mild and soothing vegetable for intestinal tract. A lot of fiber helps in digestion, helps in diarrhea by increased water absorption, relieves stomach acidity, and prevents constipation. Some researches indicate that they are good food for healthy skin and hairs, its consumption result in very long and healthy hairs. It increases the urinary flow and excretes toxins from the kidney.
It is very effective in prevention of prostitutes and prostate cancer. Prostate is male gland present near bladder and its inflammation and cancers are becoming common now a days, it is also very effective in urinary tract infections.
Carotenes present in pumpkins slow the aging process and prevent age related changes in body like cataract formation, grey hairs, thickening of blood vessels bone degeneration, and age related brain cell degeneration. Over all this vegetable, have magical effects on body if used regularly.
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:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tinda
http://desiclinic.com/roman/tinda-156.html
http://www.agritech.tnau.ac.in/horticulture/horti_vegetables_tinda.html
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Too Fat? Try Love

Oxytocin, also called the love hormone, plays an important role in keeping the body in shape. T.V. Jayan on a new study

You may click to see  pictures

A hormone that induces love and trust in human beings may soon be drafted in the battle against the bulge. Nearly 60 years after it was first synthesised in the lab, oxytocin — which evokes a general feeling of contentment as well as triggers the let down of breast milk in nursing mothers — is found to have a role in helping maintain body weight and energy balance. The study closely follows another research which found that oxytocin stimulates the heart to beat more in sync with the breathing cycle in people with healthy social lives.

A neuromodulator, oxytocin has been in the news for both the right and wrong reasons. It’s no secret that it evokes maternal behaviour, epitomised by maternal love and trust. It also influences a number of other physiological and behavioural activities, including social bonding and sexual receptivity — a reason why it’s said to be abused by party animals. Molecules of this hormone are available as pills and recently, as a nasal spray too.

However, it’s for the first time that scientists conjured up a role for oxytocin in keeping the body in shape and through this, a strategy to ward off obesity. “It’s the first study to link oxytocin to body weight. We have demonstrated that defective oxytocin release in the brain can lead to weight gain and thus to obesity,” says Dongsheng Cai of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York.

The study, that appeared recently in the journal Neuron, is significant also because it unravels the mechanism by which the hormone is released in the brain and why its production is stymied in those who indulge in a high-fat diet. Over-nutrition leads to compromised action of oxytocin in the brain, the scientists found.

Digging deep, the researchers identified a protein called synaptotagmin-4 that is directly responsible as it controls the release of oxytocin in the hypothalamus, a brain region that acts as the headquarters for maintaining the energy balance. Experimenting with lab mice, they found the rodents that were fed a high-fat diet had elevated levels of synaptotagmin-4 and this inhibited the release of oxytocin. And also that it further encouraged overeating and weight gain, resulting in obesity. On the other hand, when the protein production was genetically knocked off, the animals maintained a normal oxytocin release, despite the binge eating behaviour.

Cai and his team had been exploring for some time the role played by the brain in triggering obesity. In yet another path-breaking work in 2008, they had discovered a different message system in the brain that directly affects food intake and body weight. Their insightful study showed how seemingly harmless over nutrition in the early stages of development can trigger an uncontrollable chain reaction. Too much energy consumption, they found, leads to what they call metabolic inflammation. Unlike classical inflammation typically observed in infections, injuries and diseases such as cancer, metabolic inflammation seen in obesity-related diseases is milder and has no overt symptoms. However, the brain reacts to it by marshalling the services of a protein complex, which is an important part of the body’s innate immunity. Once in action, it disrupts the function of the hypothalamus, the master regulator of appetite and energy balance.

Cai’s findings may emerge as an important tool in the big fight against obesity and related diseases such as diabetes and heart disorders. “We have discovered two new anti-obesity strategies,” he says. The scientist hopes that by controlling the production of synaptotagmin-4 or developing molecules with similar action as that of oxytocin, they might be able to find a medical solution to the epidemic.

“As a next stage, we will work to identify applicable approaches to block synaptotagmin-4 or enhance oxytocin release in the brain,” Cai told  the reporter of  The Telegraph (Kolkata, India)

 

The ultimate control of appetite and obesity is through neurochemicals in the brain, says Anoop Misra, head of internal medicine at Fortis Hospital, New Delhi. “Several brain chemicals (such as neuropeptide Y) have been shown to control appetite, but their interactions with others — such as hormones released by taste sensation and in the stomach — make their manipulation difficult and complex. Oxytocin is yet another chemical which has shown promise in the appetite-satiety pathway, but human studies are needed to illustrate its definitive role,” he says.

While a successful oxytocin strategy may help fight obesity, and through that keep related heart complications at bay, a new study by a team of scientists from universities in Ohio and Chicago points out that oxytocin may not protect everyone from a heart failure. The research — led by Greg Norman, a psychologist at Ohio State University — found that socially active people have healthier heart functions when administered a nasal spray of oxytocin. It, however, failed to produce any beneficial effect in those who were stressed, aloof and lonely by nature. Stress and social isolation are reckoned to be cardiovascular risk factors comparable to smoking and obesity.

Call it an alpha-hypophamine or cuddle chemical, oxytocin is truly a hormone to be loved and trusted.

Source:The Telegraph ( Kolkata, India)

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Phellodendron Amurense

Botanical Name :Phellodendron amurense
Family: Rutaceae
Genus: Phellodendron
Kingdom
: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Sapindales

Common Name :Amur cork tree
Chinese Name : Huang bo
Other Names: Phellodendron, Huang Bai, Philodendron bark

Habitat: Native to eastern Asia; northern China, Manchuria, Korea, Ussuri, Amur, and Japan, the Amur cork tree is considered invasive in many parts of North America. The State of Massachusetts lists it as a noxious weed.Forests in valleys and on mountains

Description:
Phellodendron amurense Rupr. is a species of tree in the family Rutaceae, commonly called the Amur cork tree. It is a major source of huáng bò, one of the 50 fundamental herbs used in traditional Chinese medicine.

.CLICK & SEE

It is a medium-sized deciduous tree grows to between 30′ and 45′ tall. Generally trees are significantly wider than they are talland the branching is broad spreading
short main trunk and several large main branches. Most trees frequently become almost flat-topped with maturity  and picturesque branching.

Summer Foliage:->…..
Leaves are opposite and p innately compound. 5 to 11 leaflets per leaf and leaves are 10″ to 15″ long, leaflets are 2.5″ to 4.5″ long  . The leaf color is a very nice, lustrous dark green. Crushed foliage gives off a turpentine odor.

Autumn Foliage:->CLICK & SEE
yellow and short-lived ,not especially showy

Flowers:->CLICK & SEE
Dioecious, with male and female plants. Flowers are small and greenish-yellow, not ornamentally significant  and blooms in late May and early June.

Fruit:> CLICK & SEE
Pea-sized fruits that change from green to black , aromatic when crushed. Only on female plants held in clusters

Bark:CLICK & SEE
Conspicuously ridged and furrowed, light gray color.Bark is soft and cork-like to the touch, attractive in a subtle way.

Cultivation:
Prefers a moisture retentive well-drained deep rich loam in full sun. Prefers a neutral to alkaline soil. Succeeds in shallow chalky soils. Grows best in areas with long hot summers. Plants are gross feeders and require a rich soil if they are to perform well. Dormant plants are fully hardy in Britain, but the young growth is liable to damage from late spring frosts. The leaves are aromatic. This species is occasionally cultivated for timber in S.E. Europe. Dioecious. Male and female plants must be grown if seed is required.

Propagation:
Seed – best sown in the autumn in a cold frame. Stored seed requires 2 months cold stratification, sow in late winter in a cold frame[78, 113]. Germination is usually good. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the cold frame for their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, 7 – 10cm with a heel, July/August in a frame. Pot up in autumn and over winter in a cold frame. Fair to good percentage. Root cuttings – obtain in December and store in leafmold in a warm place for 3 weeks. Cut into 4cm lengths and plant horizontally in pots. Grow on in a warm greenhouse. Good percentage[

Medicinal Uses:
Anti-inflammatory, antipyretic,Antibacterial;  Bitter;  Cholagogue;  Diuretic;  Expectorant;  Hypoglycaemic;  Ophthalmic;  Skin;  Stomachic;  Vasodilator.lowers blood sugar.

Amur cork tree, called Huang Bai in China, is commonly used in Chinese herbalism, where it is considered to be one of the 50 fundamental herbs, but one that should be used with care. A strongly bitter remedy, the bark acts strongly on the kidneys and is regarded as a detoxicant for hot damp conditions. Recent research has shown that the plant is useful in the treatment of meningitis and conjunctivitis. Huang Bai should only be used under professional supervision and should not be take during pregnancy. The bark is alterative, antibacterial, antirheumatic, aphrodisiac, bitter stomachic, cholagogue, diuretic, expectorant, febrifuge, hypoglycaemic, ophthalmic, skin, vasodilator and tonic. It is taken internally in the treatment of acute diarrhoea, dysentery, jaundice, vaginal infections including Trichomonas, acute urinary tract infections, enteritis, boils, abscesses, night sweats and skin diseases. It is commonly used in conjunction with Scutellaria baicalensis and Coptis chinensis in a preparation called ‘injection of three yellow herbs’. It is given intramuscularly for upper respiratory tract infections. The bark of 10 year old trees is harvested in the winter or spring and dried for later use. The fruit is expectorant

Purges heat, detoxifies, clears damp heat. Used for infections and inflammation with possible symptoms of discharge from the anus, vagina, or penis. It also is customarily used for night sweats, afternoon fever, and nocturnal emissions. Phellodendron is an effective herb used topically for sores and damp heat conditions of the skin.

You may click to see :->What Are the Medical Uses of Phellodendron Amurense?

Safety: Phellodendron should not be used by those with spleen or stomach deficiency with or without diarrhea.

Other Uses:
Cork;  Dye;  Insecticide;  Oil;  Wood.

A yellow dye is obtained from the inner bark. An oil obtained from the seed has insecticidal properties similar to pyrethrum. Wood – heavy, hard, strong, close grained. Used for furniture. The bark is a cork substitute

The mature gray-brown bark is decorative, with ridges and furrows in a cork-like pattern. A suitable tree for large lots and park landscaping, which is generally free of pests. Very tolerant of soil conditio.

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.righthealth.com/Health/Phellodendron%20Amurense-s?lid=goog-ads-sb-8536643334
http://www.hort.uconn.edu/Plants/p/pheamu/pheamu1.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phellodendron_amurense
http://holisticonline.com/herbal-med/_Herbs/h354.htm

http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Phellodendron+amurense

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Better Prescription

After open source software, it is now the turn of open source drug research. If this unique process can find a new anti-TB drug, it might well become the future of drug research. G.S. Mudur reports
In the temple town of Thanjavur, Aparna Venkatachalam, a final year engineering student, has turned into a foot soldier in a fresh scientific assault on the microbe that causes tuberculosis. After combing through some 200 research papers and spending dozens of hours searching online biological databases, she has assigned functions — biological tasks — to 60 proteins found in the TB microbe. She picked up a reward for her efforts last week — an Acer Netbook.

Venkatachalam is one of a group of 120 students and researchers scattered across India, Dubai, Japan and Germany, who have put together the most detailed map constructed so far to describe the biochemistry of a living organism. The 18-month science project, spearheaded by India’s Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), is seeking new drugs against the TB microbe in a manner never attempted before.

“When you want to destroy an enemy, it’s good to identify vulnerabilities,” said Samir Brahmachari, director general of the CSIR. “This map will provide us unprecedented insights into the biochemistry of the TB micro-organism.”

The search for new drugs against TB is the first project of the CSIR’s Open Source Drug Discovery (OSDD) programme, a Rs 150 crore effort to solve complex problems by breaking them into smaller “work packets” open to virtually anyone across the scientific community to solve. The challenges are posed on the OSDD website, and researchers wishing to try and tackle them need only to register and join the effort.

An international consortium of scientists had sequenced the genome of the microbe Mycobacterium TB [MTB] nearly 12 years ago. And over the past decade, scientists have identified 3,998 genes, and assigned biological functions to all but nine of them.

The OSDD effort has now generated a map that places about 3,700 MTB genes and their protein products into a network of biochemical pathways. The network, a web of biochemical reactions, shows how these genes and proteins allow MTB to carry out its myriad life-cycle activities — from invading human cells to evading the human immune system to routine housekeeping.

“It’s a very big and a very complex circuit,” said Hiraoki Kitanu, director of the Systems Biology Institute in Japan, who leads a research team that has contributed significantly to the development of a computer-readable format to display models of biological processes, and who has joined the OSDD effort. “This is a new approach for drug discovery,” Kitanu said.

Scientists believe MTB is an appropriate organism to pit innovative ideas against. This killer microbe claims about 1,000 lives across India each day. The four best anti-TB drugs that make up the first line of therapy were developed in the 1950s and 1960s. Secondary drugs are toxic and expensive. There are now drug-resistant versions of MTB, which pose a new challenge. While clinical trials are under way, a new drug is not expected to be ready for use until 2012.

All previous efforts at finding drugs to fight MTB involved a laborious trial-and-error method in which researchers exposed the organism to compounds and picked the ones that appeared most effective in killing bacteria or suppressing their growth. Researchers believe that the map of biochemical pathways will now allow them to choose specific regions of the pathway as targets for future drugs. “Instead of shooting in the dark, we’ll be searching for targets in a rational way,” said Anshu Bharadwaj, a scientist at the Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology, New Delhi, who, among other roles, also assigns work packets to OSDD researchers.

Some 800 researchers — most of them students — joined the effort, but only some 120 who succeeded in assigning functions to at least 40 genes — Venkatachalam among them — were picked to receive the reward. One of them was a homemaker from Dubai who had used her skills in bioinformatics to help build the pathways map. All those who won a reward, however, did not attend the meeting in Delhi — a software engineer from Germany told the OSDD that he doesn’t travel as he is wheelchair bound.

Venkatachalam, a bioinformatics student at SASTRA University in Thanjavur, and her colleague Ahalyaa Subramanian scanned published scientific literature to tell the stories of 60 MTB genes. In all, Brahmachari estimates, the consortium of researchers scanned at least 12,000 research papers on TB and compiled the information in a standardised format to build the map.

Some biologists caution people not to expect a new drug too soon. “I’m very optimistic this is going to have an impact,” said Richard Jefferson, a molecular biologist based in Australia and chief executive officer of Cambia, a non-profit institute seeking to promote innovation. “But it’s important we do not expect too much too soon. It’s going to be a long fight,” Jefferson said at the OSDD meeting last week.

In the drug discovery process, scientists will have to look for “vulnerabilities” in MTB pathways that can be exploited to design a new drug. Researchers say that one of the biggest challenges will be to find compounds that act exclusively on MTB. “We’ll need to find a vulnerability exclusive to MTB that leaves the human system alone,” said Bharadwaj.

Brahmachari himself has ventured to suggest that the effort could lead to a new candidate drug ready for clinical trials within two years. If that happens, said Brahmachari, the OSDD will invite five drug companies to invest four per cent of drug development costs, while the CSIR will provide the remainder 80 per cent. Each company would then get an opportunity to produce inexpensive generic versions of the drug.

If the OSDD does indeed deliver a new and effective drug for TB, it might trigger a paradigm change in drug research.

Source: The Telegraph (Kolkata, India)

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High on Calories

Obese people are not able to regulate high-calorie food intake because of changes in their brain.
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If your overweight children binge eat, blame it on their flawed brain circuitry. Scientists have now found that despite the desire to cut their food intake, obese individuals will not be able resist junk food, which is very high in calories. That’s because their persistent eating behaviour has precipitated changes in the brain similar to that found in heavy smokers and drug addicts. The study appeared yesterday in the journal Nature Neuroscience.

After spending years studying brain changes associated with drug abuse and smoking, Paul Kenny — a neurobiologist at the Scripps Research Institute in Florida, the US — recently turned his attention to obesity. He and his graduate student, Pal Johnson, wanted to understand the strong yet not-so-easy-to-fathom link between obesity and depleted levels of dopamine or D2, a brain chemical associated with feelings of pleasure.

Scientists in the past had observed that obese individuals have reduced levels of dopamine, but weren’t sure if it was triggered by obesity. It was also known that food intake was associated with dopamine release and the degree of pleasure from eating correlates with the amount of chemical released. Evidence has shown that in comparison to lean people, obese individuals have fewer dopamine receptors in the brain. And people with fewer dopamine receptors need to take in more of a rewarding substance — such as food or drugs — to get an effect that others get with a lesser amount. But the underlying mechanisms are poorly understood.

“What we have achieved is proven in our experiments with laboratory rats that obesity can elicit these brain changes,” Kenny told KnowHow over the telephone.

For this, the Florida scientists embarked upon a series of meticulously planned experiments. In the first, they offered rats — which were grouped into three categories — different menus. While the first group had access solely to less-appetising but healthier chow, the other two were offered a choice of high-calorie food such as bacon, sausage, cake and chocolate in addition to chow, but for varying durations. Some rats had access to the rich fare for just one hour, while the other group could gorge on it most part of the day. The animals were fed this way for 40 days. All of them were wired to record even the slightest change in their D2 levels.

The rats in the first set — which were fed only chow — maintained their weight, while those belonging to the second set — which had restricted access to rich food — exhibited insignificant increase in their body weight. On the contrary, the third group — which had unlimited access to calorie-rich food — gained weight rapidly. These animals were found to be gobbling up twice as much as the other two groups. As the days wore on, their dopamine levels plummeted, requiring them to consume higher quantities of high-fat food to get the feeling of satiation. This is quite like the case of a smoker who has to puff away more cigarettes to get the same high that he or she earlier got with one. Or a drug addict who has to continuously increase the dose for getting a kick.

A second set of experiments with the rats showed that this blunting of the reward sensitivity does not return for a good two weeks even after the high-calorie food was withdrawn.

A true addict, whether rat or human, will compulsively consume the addictive substance even when it is clearly detrimental to health. In the third experiment the scientists tested this hypothesis. To do this, the team trained the rats to expect painful foot shocks upon seeing a light signal. Although the normal rats stopped eating even the most delicious junk food when the light came on, the obese ones used to a high-calorie diet simply ignored the cue and kept feeding.

Anoop Misra, head of internal medicine at Fortis Hospitals in New Delhi, says this explains why obese people find it difficult to modulate their junk food eating habits.

“The US scientists’ experiment has substantiated many assumptions associated with obesity and dopamine levels in the brain fairly well,” says Nihal Thomas, an endocrinologist at the Christian Medical College, Vellore. “The exercise and methodology followed are exquisite.” The findings may help develop drugs that may target dopamine receptors to treat obesity, he observes.

Source : The Telegraph (Kolkata, India)