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Herbs & Plants

Illicuim verum

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Botanical Name : Illicuim verum
Family: Schisandraceae
Genus: Illicium
Species: I. verum
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Austrobaileyales

Synonyms: Chinese Anise. Aniseed Stars. Badiana.

Common Name :Star anise, Star aniseed, or Chinese star anise

Habitat : Illicuim verum is  native evergreen tree of northeast Vietnam and southwest China.It grows on light woodland and thickets. Forests at elevations of 200 – 1600 metres in S and W Guangxi Province, China.

Description:
Illicium verum is an evergreen Tree growing to 5 m (16ft) by 3 m (9ft).
It is hardy to zone (UK) 8 and is frost tender. It is in leaf 12-Jan It is in flower from Mar to May, and the seeds ripen in October. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs.  CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES:

Cultivation:
Prefers a light, moist well-drained loam and a sheltered position Prefers a humus-rich lime-free soil. Succeeds in sun or semi-shade[200]. This species is not very cold-hardy, it tolerates temperatures down to between -5 and -10°c and requires a very sheltered position or the protection of a wall when grown in Britain. Chinese anise is extensively cultivated in China for its fruit and medicinal essential oil. It is planted in the grounds of temples in Japan, and also on tombs. Plants seldom grow larger than about 3 metres in Britain, but eventually reach about 18 metres tall in their native habitat.

Propagation:
Seed – it does not require pre-treatment and can be sown in early spring in a greenhouse. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant out in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts, and give some protection from the cold over the winter for the first year or two. Layering in early spring. Takes 18 months. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, August in a frame. Pot up the cuttings when they start to root and grow them on in the greenhouse for their first winter, planting out after the last expected frosts.

Edible Uses:
The fruit is used as a flavouring in curries, teas and pickles. It is an ingredient of ‘five spice powder’, used in Chinese and Vietnamese cuisine. The fruit is also chewed after meals in order to sweeten the breath. Caution is advised because it is said to be poisonous in quantity. The essential oil is used to flavour liqueurs, soft drinks and bakery products.Star anise is an ingredient of the traditional five-spice powder of Chinese cooking. It is also a major ingredient in the making of ph?, a Vietnamese noodle soup. It is widely used in Chinese cuisine, and in Indian cuisine where it is a major component of garam masala, and in Malay and Indonesian cuisines. It is widely grown for commercial use in China, India, and most other countries in Asia.

Star anise contains anethole, the same ingredient that gives the unrelated anise its flavor. Recently, star anise has come into use in the West as a less expensive substitute for anise in baking as well as in liquor production, most distinctively in the production of the liquor Galliano. It is also used in the production of sambuca, pastis, and many types of absinthe. Star anise enhances the flavour of meat. It is used as a spice in preparation of biryani and masala chai all over the Indian subcontinent.

Medicinal uses:
Star anise has been used in a tea as a traditional remedy for rheumatism, and the seeds are sometimes chewed after meals to aid digestion.[citation needed] As a warm and moving herb, star anise is used to assist in relieving cold-stagnation in the middle jiao, according to traditional Chinese medicine.

Star anise is the major source of the chemical compound shikimic acid, a primary precursor in the pharmaceutical synthesis of anti-influenza drug oseltamivir (Tamiflu). Shikimic acid is produced by most autotrophic organisms, and whilst it can be obtained in commercial quantities from elsewhere, star anise remains the usual industrial source. In 2005, a temporary shortage of star anise was causedby its use in the production of Tamiflu. Later that year, a method for the production of shikimic acid using bacteria was discovered. Roche now derives some of the raw material it needs from the fermentation of E. coli bacteria. The 2009 swine flu outbreak led to another series of shortages as stocks of Tamiflu were built up around the world, sending prices soaring.

Star anise is grown in four provinces in China and harvested between March and May. It is also found in the south of New South Wales. The shikimic acid is extracted from the seeds in a 10-stage manufacturing process which takes a year.

Other Uses:
Essential;  Incense.

The pounded bark is used as an incense.

Known Hazards: Japanese star anise (Illicium anisatum), a similar tree, is highly toxic and inedible; in Japan, it has instead been burned as incense. Cases of illness, including “serious neurological effects, such as seizures”, reported after using star anise tea, may be a result of using this species. Japanese star anise contains anisatin, which causes severe inflammation of the kidneys, urinary tract, and digestive organs. The toxicity of I. anisatum, also known as shikimi, is caused by its containing potent neurotoxins (anisatin, neoanisatin, and pseudoanisatin), due to their activity as noncompetitive antagonists of GABA receptors.

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/Illicium_verum
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Illicium+verum
http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/a/anise041.html

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Healthy Tips

10 Home Remedies to Avoid Swine Flu

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Are the rising swine flu casualties giving you jitters? Not sure how you can avoid falling prey to the growing epidemic? First and foremost, there  is absolutely no need to panic.

Watching television to keep tabs on the progress of H1N1, particularly in the badly affected areas like Pune, is all right. But don’t let the hysterical anchors get under your skin and start wearing a mask each time you step out of the house, unless you are visiting a very crowded area. Then too, the mask will protect you only for a specified period.

Without giving in to the swine flu panic and creating a stockpile of Tamiflu and N-95 masks at home and enriching pharma companies, there are a number of other measures you can take to ensure that the virus is not able to get you, irrespective of which part of the world you are in.

It is essential to remember that all kinds of viruses and bacteria can attack you when your immune system is weak, or they can weaken it easily. Hence, building your own defences would be a better, more practical, long-lasting and much more economical idea.

Here are some easy steps you can take to tackle a flu virus of any kind, including swine flu. It is not necessary to follow all the steps at once. You can pick and choose a combination of remedies that suit you best. However, if you are already suffering from flu, these measures can help only up to an extent. And, if you have been infected by H1N1, visiting a hospital and staying in solitary confinement is a must.

1. Have five duly washed leaves of Tulsi (known as Basil in English; medicinal name Ocimum sanctum) everyday in the morning. Tulsi has a large number of therapeutic properties. It keeps throat and lungs clear and helps in infections by way of strengthening your immunity.

2. Giloi (medicinal name Tinospora cordifolia) is a commonly available plant in many areas. Take a one-foot long branch of giloi, add five to six leaves of Tulsi and boil in water for 15-20 minutes or long enough to allow the water to extract its properties. Add black pepper and sendha (salt used during religious fasts), rock or black salt, or Misri (crystalised sugar like lumps to make it sweet) according to taste. Let it cool a bit and drink this kadha (concoction) while still warm. It will work wonders for your immunity. If giloi plant is not available, get processed giloi powder from Hamdard or others, and concoct a similar drink once a day.

3. A small piece of camphor (kapoor) approximately the size of a tablet should be taken once or twice a month. It can be swallowed with water by adults while children can take it along with mashed potatoes or banana because they will find it difficult to have it without any aides. Please remember camphor is not to be taken everyday, but only once each season, or once a month.

4. Those who can take garlic, must have two pods of raw garlic first thing in the morning.
To be swallowed daily with lukewarm water. Garlic too strengthens immunity like the earlier measures mentioned.

5. Those not allergic to milk, must take a glass of hot or lukewarm milk every night with a small measure of haldi (Turmeric) .

6. Aloe vera (gwarpatha) too is a commonly available plant. Its thick and long, cactus-like leaves have an odourless gel. A teaspoon gel taken with water daily can work wonders for not only your skin and joint pains, but also boost immunity.

7. Take homeopathic medicines
— Pyrogenium 200 and Inflenzium 200 in particular — five tablets three times a day, or two-three drops three times a day. While these are not specifically targeted at H1N1 either, these work well as preventive against common flu virus.

8. Do Pranayam daily (preferably under guidance if you are already not initiated into it) and go for morning jog/walk regularly to keep your throat and lungs in good condition and body in fine fettle. Even in small measures, it will work wonders for your body’s resistance against all such diseases which attack the nose, throat and lungs, besides keeping you fit.

9. Have citrus fruits, particularly Vitamin C rich Amla (Indian gooseberry) juice. Since fresh Amla is not yet available in the market (not for another three to four months), it is not a bad idea to buy packaged Amla juice which is commonly available nowadays.

10. Last but not the least, wash your hands frequently every day with soap and warm water for 15-20 seconds;
especially before meals, or each time after touching a surface that you suspect could be contaminated with flu virus such as a door handle or a knob/handle, especially if you have returned from a public place or used public transport. Alcohol-based hand cleaners should be kept handy at all times and used until you can get soap and warm water.

(The author is an avid reader and follower of alternative therapies including spiritual healing, ayurveda, yoga and homeopathy)

Source: The Times Of India

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News on Health & Science

Homeopathy Can Cure Swine Flu, Claims Practitioner

At a time the country is grappling with H1N1 virus and Tamiflu tablet is belived to be the only solution, a well-known medical practitioner
today claimed that people can have a cost-effective treatment in homeopathy for swine flu.

“The people can take some of cost-effective and clinically proved homeopathic medicines for swine flu treatment as well as prevention,” Batra’s Positive Clinic’s chairman and managing director, Dr Mukesh Batra, said.

Batra recommends `Oscilococcinium 30′ and `Influenzium 200′ for swine flu prevention as well as to improve the immune system among the general public towards the flu.

“The homeopathy medicine ‘Gelsemium 30’ has been proved effective clinically in the treatment of swine flu in France a decade back and has been reported in the British journal of Clinical Medicine,” Batra said.

Similarly, treatment for swine-flu was done in Spain during 1917-18 war period with ‘Bryonia 30’ and proved effective, he said.

In the case of Spanish flu, homeopathy brought mortality rate from 30 per cent to one per cent, he claimed.

Source: The Times Of India

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Swine Flu May Be a Human Error From Vaccine Production

The World Health Organization is investigating a claim by Australian researcher Adrian Gibbs, who says that the swine flu virus circling the globe may have been created as a result of human error.

……………………………………

Gibbs, who collaborated on research that led to the development of Tamiflu, said in an interview that he intends to publish a report suggesting the new strain may have accidentally evolved in eggs scientists use to grow viruses and drugmakers use to make vaccines. Gibbs said he came to his conclusion as part of an effort to trace the virus’s origins by analyzing its genetic blueprint.

“One of the simplest explanations is that it’s a laboratory escape,” Gibbs said in an interview with Bloomberg Television today. “But there are lots of others.”

Gibbs, who has studied germ evolution for four decades, is one of the first scientists to analyze the genetic makeup of the virus.

Sources: Bloomberg May 13, 2009

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Chemical that Can Stop Flu Spread Found

Scientists in Hong Kong and the United States have identified a synthetic compound which appears to be able to stop the replication of   influenza viruses, including the H5N1 bird flu virus.

The search for such new “inhibitors” has grown more urgent in recent years as drugs, like oseltamivir, have become largely ineffective against certain flu strains, like the H1N1 seasonal flu virus. Experts now question how well the drug would stand up against H5N1, should it unleash a pandemic.

Researchers in Hong Kong and the US found 20 compounds catalogued with the US National Cancer Institute that could potentially restrict the proliferation of the H5N1

Sources:The Times Of India

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