Categories
Herbs & Plants

Borage

[amazon_link asins=’B000AR8PW8,B00B1ZWYF2,B0063I3M5I,B0013OUJJY,B004VU1180,B00XLUNUB2,B004FQRXK0,B01IB3P570,B06WRVGQNC’ template=’ProductCarousel’ store=’finmeacur-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’0191e7f6-638c-11e7-b6f0-af276cc5362e’]

Botanical Name:Borago officinalis L
Family: Boraginaceae (borage family)
Kingdom: Plantae
Genus: Borago
Species: B. officinalis
Common Names:”starflower”, Borage
Parts Used:Fresh leaves. The blue flowers are sometimes tried as a food colourant

Habitat: Originating in Syria, but naturalized throughout the Mediterranean region, as well as Asia Minor, Europe, North Africa, and South America.The plant grows wild in Central and Eastern Europe.

Description:
Borage (Borago officinalis L.) is an annual herb.It grows to a height of 60-100 cm (2-3 feet), and is bristly or hairy all over the stems and leaves; the leaves are alternate, simple, and 5-15 cm (2-6 in) long. The flowers are complete, perfect with five narrow, triangular-pointed petals. Flowers are most often blue in color, although pink flowers are sometime observed. White flowered types are also cultivated. The flowers arise along scorpiod cymes to form large floral displays with multiple flowers blooming simultaneously, suggesting that borage has a high degree of geitonogamy. It has an indeterminate growth habit which may lead to prolific spreading. In milder climates, borage will bloom continuously for most of the year.
click to see the pictures..>…..(01)....(1).…….(2).……..(3).….…(4).…...(5).……(6).
The bright blue, star-shaped flowers (which bloom most of the summer) make borage one of the prettiest herb plants, thought the dark green leaves are rather plain. The flavor of the leaves resembles that of cucumber. The plant will grow to a height of about 18 inches, and spread about 12 inches. This hardy annual has a messy, straggling habit.

Cultivation:
Borage is not a fussy plant, but the richer the soil, the bushier the plant will be. It prefers full sun, and needs protection from wind as it is easily blown over. Seeds can be sown throughout the season, and once growth is established, it will continue to seed itself. Place plants close together so they can support each other. A plant or two in an indoor pot will provide leaves all winter, but it will need lots of sun.

Borage is an excellent companion plant for tomatoes, squash and strawberries. The plant actually improves the flavor of tomatoes growing nearby.

Constituents:
The leaves contain an essential oil (below 0.1%) dominated by 2,6 nonadienal, which is also a main components in cucumber aroma (cucumber aldehyde).

Several non-volatile components have also been identified, among those the toxic pyrrolizidine alkaloids intermedine, lycopsamine, amabiline and supinine. Pyrrolizidine alkaloids, which are extremely common in the Boraginaceae family, are powerful hepatotoxins that cause severe liver damage on chronic ingestion, often with lethal outcome. Although the total concentration in borage is extremely small (around 10?ppm in the dried herb), it has been argued that borage is an unsafe herb when used in folk medicine; the risks associated with casual culinary usage are probably negligible. In the flowers, thesinine (a non-toxic pyrrolizidine alkaloid) has been found.

The fatty oil obtained from borage seeds (“borage oil”, “starflower oil”) is rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids, e.g., ?-linolenic acid (20%). Pyrrolizidine alkaloids seem to occur only in negligible traces in this oil, if at all.

The seed oil is desired as source of gamma-linolenic acid (GLA, 18:3, cis 6,9,12-octadecatrienoic acid), for which borage is the highest known plant-based source (17-28%). The seed oil content is between 26-38% and in addition to GLA contains the fatty acids palmitic acid (10-11%), stearic acid (3.5-4.5%), oleic acid (16-20%), linoleic acid (35-38%), eicosenoic acid (3.5-5.5%), erucic acid (1.5-3.5%), and nervonic acid (1.5%). The oil is often marketed as “starflower oil” or “borage oil” for uses as a GLA supplement, although healthy adults will typically produce ample GLA through dietary linoleic acid.

Culinary Uses:
Borage production does include use as either a fresh vegetable or a dried herb. As a fresh vegetable, borage, with a cucumber like taste, is often used in salads or as a garnish. The flower, which contains the non-toxic pyrrolizidine alkaloid thesinine, has a sweet honey-like taste and is one of the few truly blue-colored edible things, is often used to decorate dessert.

Vegetable use of borage is common in Germany and the Spanish regions of Aragón and Navarra. Although often used in soups, one of the better known German borage recipes is the Green Sauce (Grüne Sauce) made in Frankfurt. The leaves and flowers were originally used in Pimms before it was replaced by mint. It is used to flavour pickled gherkins in Poland.

*Borage flowers and leaves are the traditional decoration for gin-based summer cocktails, and may be set in ice cubes to garnish other drinks.

*The flowers and young leaves may be used to garnish salads. dips, and cucumber soups.

*Candied borage flowers make attractive cake decorations.

*Chopped leaves can be added to soups and stews during the last few minutes of cooking.

*The leaves can be cooked with cabbage leaves (two parts cabbage, one part borage.)

*Borage does not dry well for culinary use.

Medicinal Use:
Naturopathic practitioners uses of borage for regulation of metabolism and the hormonal system, and consider it to be a good remedy for PMS and menopause symptoms such as the hot flash. Borage is sometimes indicated to alleviate and heal colds, bronchitis, and respiratory infections in general for its anti-inflammatory and balsamic properties. The flowers can be prepared in infusion to take advantage of its medicinal properties. The oleic and palmitic acid of borage may also confer a hypocholesterolemic effect.It is notable that the leaves have been found to contain small amounts (10 ppm of dried herb) of the liver-toxic pyrrolizidine alkaloids: intermedine, lycopsamine, amabiline and supinine.

Tea made from the dried flowers is a traditional calming drink in Iran (Echium amoenum ). It has a rich purple color that turns bright pink by adding a few drops of lemon juice

The ancient Greek naturalist Pliny said that borage ‘maketh a man merry and joyful.’ Dioscorides, the first century Greek physician, mentioned the use of borage to ‘comfort the heart, purge melancholy and quiet the lunatic person.’
John Evelyn, the seventeenth century English herbalist, spoke of borage ‘to revive the hypochondriac and cheer the hard student’, while his contemporary Culpepper used the plant for ‘putrid and pestilential fever, the venom of serpents, jaundice, consumption, sore throat and rheumatism.’
For centuries it was thought to be a mood elevator when ingested as a tea or as leaves steeped in wine. This may or may not be the case. There is some evidence that perparations made from seed oil have a use in soothing and relieving inflammations associated with respiratory disorders

*Because it is a tonic plant for the adrenal glands, borage provides an invaluable support for a stressful lifestyle.

*Borage is rich in minerals, especially potassium.

*A tea made with borage helps to reduce fevers and ease chest colds.

*An infusion of borage acts as a galactogogue, promoting the production of milk in breastfeeding mothers.

Other Uses:

*Borage makes an excellent facial steam for improving very dry, sensitive skin.

*The flowers may be dried to add color to potpourri.

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.gardenguides.com/plants/info/herbs/borage.asp#morebelow
http://www.piam.com/mms_garden/plants.html
http://www.uni-graz.at/~katzer/engl/Bora_off.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Borage

Categories
Herbs & Plants

Cacao (Chocolate)

Botanical Name :Theobroma cacao
Family: Malvaceae
Genus:     Theobroma
Species: T. cacao
Kingdom: Plantae
Order:     Malvales

Common Names :Cacao tree and Cocoa tree.

Cacao (Theobroma cacao) belongs to the genus Theobroma classified under the subfamily Sterculioidea of the mallow family Malvaceae. Cacao is one of 22 species of Theobroma.

The generic name is derived from the Greek for “food of the gods”;

The specific name cacao is derived from the native name of the plant in indigenous Mesoamerican languages. The cacao was known as kakaw in Tzeltal, K’iche’ and Classic Maya; kagaw in Sayula Popoluca; and cacahuatl[dubious – discuss] in Nahuatl.
Cacao flowers.

Cupuaçu, Theobroma grandiflorum, is a closely related species found in Colombia, Peru, Bolivia and Brazil. Like cacao, it is also the source for a kind of chocolate known as cupulate or cupuaçu chocolate. Cupuaçu is considered as having high potential by the food and cosmetics industries

Habitat :Theobroma cacao is native to the deep tropical regions of Central and South America. Its seeds, cocoa beans, are used to make cocoa mass, cocoa powder, and chocolate.

Description:

Leaves are alternate, entire, unlobed, 10–40 cm (3.9–15.7 in) long and 5–20 cm (2.0–7.9 in) broad.

The flowers are produced in clusters directly on the trunk and older branches; this is known as cauliflory. The flowers are small, 1–2 cm (0.39–0.79 in) diameter, with pink calyx. While many of the world’s flowers are pollinated by bees (Hymenoptera) or butterflies/moths (Lepidoptera), cacao flowers are pollinated by tiny flies, Forcipomyia midges in the order Diptera. The fruit, called a cacao pod, is ovoid, 15–30 cm (5.9–11.8 in) long and 8–10 cm (3.1–3.9 in) wide, ripening yellow to orange, and weighs about 500 g (1.1 lb) when ripe. The pod contains 20 to 60 seeds, usually called “beans”, embedded in a white pulp. The seeds are the main ingredient of chocolate, while the pulp is used in some countries to prepare refreshing juice, smoothies, jelly, and nata. Each seed contains a significant amount of fat (40–50%) as cocoa butter. Their most noted active constituent is theobromine, a compound similar to caffeine.

CLICK TO SEE THE PICTURES
Although not often considered to be a spice, the seeds of the Theobroma cacao tree deserve to be thought of as an exotic, aromatic, flavor with medicinal values, i.e. as a spice. It originated in the Yucatan area of Mexico, and it was used as a hot drink by the Maya and as a cold, sweetened drink by the Aztecs. Linnaeus chose to call the chocolate tree Theobroma, meaning “food of the gods”, since it was used as an offering by the Maya and Aztecs in their religious ceremonies. The word “cacao” is from the Mayan, ka-ka-io; the word chocolate comes from Mayan “chocol” (hot) and Nahuatl “alt” (water) implying that the chocolate content of the bean was extracted by hot water.

click to see  the pictures.…..(01)....(1).…....(2)..…...(3).….…(4)....…………….

The Spanish brought chocolate beans to Europe in 1544, but the original criollo cacao trees have since been replaced by a variety of the tree called forastero; this has resulted in a blander form of chocolate which now comes from many parts of the world, including West Africa. The harvesting of cocoa pods in some African countries has become notorious, since it is based essentially on slave labor. Over the centuries and in different countries, chocolate has been enjoyed in many different forms and flavors. The Mayans added vanilla and chile to it, and this exists today as mole. Allspice, annatto, cinnamon, mace and other spices have been added to this sauce; less popular were combinations including ambergris (a secretion of sperm whales), musk, jasmine, lemon peel and so on. Sweetening with honey or sugar and the addition of milk made chocolate drinks and confections more addictive.

At one time, chocolate houses were as popular in Europe as coffee houses have become in the U.S.A. Schivelbusch comments that coffee was a “Protestant, northern drink” while chocolate was its “Catholic, southern counterpart”. However, as chocolate and cocoa spread from the aristocratic courts of Spain to become a more mundane drink in France, it became a more social, Bohemian, non-alcoholic alternative social drink in England and other northern countries. Eventually, the chocolaty drink, cocoa, declined in importance as it became a beverage directed at children, as an alternative to tea and coffee. Nevertheless, countries such as Switzerland and Belgium produced famous varieties of chocolate confections that appeal to ordinary and sophisticated consumers who accept that their delight in the product is a mild addiction, based on the sweetness and the deliciousness of the manufactured product. Surely, this makes the chocolate seed a spice, equal to spicy flavors such as vanilla and cinnamon.
Useful Parts:
All cocoa beans are fermented, dried, roasted, crushed into nibs or pieces, then further ground into a liquid mass usually containing 50% cocoa butter.” (Mulherin. Spices, 1992)

Constituents:  caffeine, flavonoids, phenylethylalamine, anandamide, magnesium, sulfur, oleic acid, theobromine, tryptophan
Medicinal Properties * Antioxidant * Aphrodisiac * Diuretic * Emmenagogue * Stimulant
The theobromine content may stimulate the brain, since it is an xanithine similar to coffee. Recently, the polyphenols in chocolate have been generously praised as being potent anti-oxidants that may prevent degenerative diseases, thus reducing the guilt sensations of chocaholics. However, true medicinal values have not been established for pure chocolate.

Medicinal Uses: * Cholesterol * Cough * Diet/weight Loss * Eczema * Hypertension * Nutrition

Chocolate is made from the fermented, roasted and ground beans taken from the pods of the tropical cacao tree. Cacao Theobroma, named for the Latin ‘food of the gods’, contains oleic acid which may raise good cholesterol. There is plenty more good news for those of us who are chocolate lovers. Dark chocolate’s cacao content has been shown to have positive effects on mood swings, coughing, high blood pressure 119 and even contains antibacterial agents that fight tooth decay. Chocolate contains stearic acid, which does not raise bad cholesterol levels, and cocoa butter which is in chocolate, contains oleic acid, which actually may raise good cholesterol.

There are over 350 known chemicals found in chocolate, including stimulants like caffeine, theobromine, phenylethylamine and anandamide. Theobromine, the alkaloid contained in the beans, resembles caffeine in its action, but its effect on the central nervous system is less powerful and does not have the sleep disturbing effects of caffeine. It may actually be a more effective cough medicine than traditional remedies making it a safe nighttime calmer for children. 120

Phenylethylamine (PEA) is partly responsible for the “high” that you get from eating chocolate. PEA facilitates the release of dopamine a naturally occurring chemical into your body. The neurotransmitter anandamide, also found in chocolate is responsible for the prolonged pleasurable sensation of the previous mentioned PEA. This positive feeling can help support your diet goals along with cardiovascular exercise and reduced calorie intake. Whatever the reason recent studies show that adults who eat chocolate on a regular basis are actually thinner that those who don’t and that modest, regular chocolate consumption might be calorie-neutral. 3

Chocolate – what women want!

Chocolate enjoys an reputation as an aphrodisiac, which may explain the tradition of chocolates and Valentines day. It’s interesting to note that most researchers claim that women prefer chocolate over sex. Cocoa Butter is an aromatic solid butter pressed from the roasted seeds of the cacao tree that brings a supple, luxurious feel to dry skin.

.
Historical View:
Cacao butter has been but lately introduced into the British and United States pharmocopoeias, but it has been long used on the Continent. It is peculiarly well adapted from its consistency, blandness, and freedom from rancidity, for the preparation of suppositories for which purpose it is official. It is also used as a basis for pessaries, as an ingredient in cosmetic ointments, and for coating pills and other purposes.”

Click for more knowledge on Cacao

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/Theobroma_cacao
http://www.anniesremedy.com/herb_detail247.php
Medicinal Spices