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Herbs & Plants

Sweet Wormwood(Artemisia annu)

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Botanical Name:Artemisia annu

Family: Asteraceae
Genus: Artemisia
Species: A. annua
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Asterales

Common Names:Sweet Wormwood, Sweet Annie, Sweet Sagewort or Annual Wormwood.   Annual sagebrush ,  Chinese wormwood,   qing hao

Habitat :Sweet Wormwood is a common type of wormwood that is native to temperate Asia, but naturalized throughout the world.

Description:
It has fern-like leaves, bright yellow flowers, and a camphor-like scent. Its height averages about 2 m tall, and the plant has a single stem, alternating branches, and alternating leaves which range 2.5–5 cm in length. It is cross-pollinated by wind or insects. It is a diploid plant with chromosome number, 2n=18.Sweet Wormwood  has leaves that are mildly perfume scented.
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Medicinal uses:
Medicinal properties: bitter   febrifuge   antimalarial   antibiotic
Parts Used: Leaves

Sweet Wormwood was used by Chinese herbalists in ancient times to treat fever, but had fallen out of common use, but was rediscovered in 1970’s when the Chinese Handbook of Prescriptions for Emergency Treatments (340 AD) was found. This pharmacopeia contained recipes for a tea from dried leaves, prescribed for fevers (not specifically malaria).

Extractions:
In 1971, scientists demonstrated that the plant extracts had antimalarial activity in primate models, and in 1972 the active ingredient, artemisinin (formerly referred to as arteannuin), was isolated and its chemical structure described. Artemisinin may be extracted using a low boiling point solvent such as diethylether and is found in the glandular trichomes of the leaves, stems, and inflorescences, and it is concentrated in the upper portions of plant within new growth.

Parasite treatment:
It is commonly used in tropical nations which can afford it, preferentially as part of a combination-cocktail with other antimalarials in order to prevent the development of parasite resistance.

Malaria treatment:
Artemisinin itself is a sesquiterpene lactone with an endoperoxide bridge and has been produced semi-synthetically as an antimalarial drug. The efficacy of tea made from A. annua in the treatment of malaria is contentious. According to some authors, artemesinin is not soluble in water and the concentrations in these infusions are considered insufficient to treatment malaria. Other researchers have claimed that Artemisia annua contains a cocktail of anti-malarial substances, and insist that clinical trials be conducted to demonstrate scientifically that artemisia tea is effective in treating malaria. This simpler use may be a cheaper alternative to commercial pharmaceuticals, and may enable health dispensaries in the tropics to be more self-reliant in their malaria treatment. In 2004, the Ethiopian Ministry of Health changed Ethiopia’s first line anti-malaria drug from Fansidar, a Sulfadoxine agent which has an average 36% treatment failure rate, to Coartem, a drug therapy containing artemesinin which is 100% effective when used correctly, despite a worldwide shortage at the time of the needed derivative from A. annua.

Cancer treatment:
The plant has also been shown to have anti-cancer properties. It is said to have the ability to be selectively toxic to some breast cancer cells [Cancer Research 65:(23).Dec 1, 2005] and some form of prostate cancer, there have been exciting preclinical results against leukemia, and other cancer cells.

Mechanism:
The proposed mechanism of action of artemisinin involves cleavage of endoperoxide bridges by iron producing free radicals (hypervalent iron-oxo species, epoxides, aldehydes, and dicarbonyl compounds) which damage biological macromolecules causing oxidative stress in the cells of the parasite.[citation needed] Malaria is caused by Apicomplexans, primarily Plasmodium falciparum, which largely resides in red blood cells and itself contains iron-rich heme-groups (in the from of hemozoin).

Precaution:During pregnancy this herb should not used.

Other uses:
In modern-day central China, specifically Hubei Province, the stems of this wormwood are used as food in a salad-like form. The final product, literally termed “cold-mixed wormwood”, is a slightly bitter salad with strong acid overtones from the spiced rice vinegar used as a marinade. It is considered a delicacy and is typically more expensive to buy than meat.

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/Artemisia_annua
http://www.crescentbloom.com/Plants/Specimen/AO/Artemisia%20annua.htm

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Herbs & Plants

Deltoid Balsamroot(Balsamorhiza deltoidea)

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Botanical Name : Balsamorhiza deltoidea
Family : Compositae / Asteraceae
Genus : Balsamorhiza
Common Namedeltoid balsamroot.
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Asterales
Tribe: Heliantheae
Species: B. deltoidea

Habitat : Western N. AmericaBritish Columbia to California.Open places but not on thin soils.


Description:

This is a taprooted perennial herb growing erect to a maximum height near 90 centimeters. The stems are hairy and glandular. The large leaves are up to 25 centimeters long and 20 wide, and are roughly triangular in shape, hairy and glandular, and often toothed along the edges. The inflorescence bears usually one or sometimes a few large flower heads, each lined with hairy, pointed phyllaries up to 4 centimeters long. The head has a center of yellowish disc florets and a fringe of pointed yellow ray florets each up to 4 or 5 centimeters long. The fruit is an achene 7 to 8 millimeters in length.

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It is hardy to zone 5. It is in flower from May to June. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects.

The plant prefers light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils and requires well-drained soil. The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It requires dry or moist soil.

Cultivation:
Requires a deep fertile well-drained loam in full sun. Plants strongly resent winter wet. Hardy to at least -25°c. Plants are intolerant of root disturbance and should be planted into their permanent positions whilst still small.

Propagation:
Seed – sow early spring in a greenhouse and only just cover the seed. Germination usually takes place within 2 – 6 days at 18°c. Either sow the seed in individual pots or pot up the seedlings as soon as they are large enough to handle and plant them out into their permanent positions in the summer. Division in spring. Very difficult since the plant strongly resents root disturbance. It is probably best to take quite small divisions, or basal cuttings, without disturbing the main clump. Pot these up into individual pots and keep them in light shade in the greenhouse until they are growing away well. Plant them out in the summer if they have grown sufficiently, otherwise over-winter them in the greenhouse and plant out in late spring.

Edible Uses
Edible Parts: Leaves; Root; Seed.

Edible Uses: Coffee.

Root – raw or cooked. A sweet taste when cooked[161]. Young shoots – raw. Seed – raw or cooked. It can be ground into a powder and made into a bread. The ground seeds can be formed into cakes and eaten raw. The roasted root is a coffee substitute.

Medicinal Uses:
Miscellany.
A decoction of the split roots has been used in the treatment of coughs and colds.

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.pfaf.org/database/plants.php?Balsamorhiza+deltoidea
http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=BADE2
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Balsamorhiza_deltoidea
http://www.ubcbotanicalgarden.org/potd/2007/04/balsamorhiza_deltoidea.php
http://www.pbase.com/rodg/image/78822814

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News on Health & Science

Malaria’s Sticky Secret

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A team of Australian researchers have identified a key mechanism that enables malaria-infected red blood cells to stick to the walls of blood vessels and avoid being destroyed by the body’s immune system.

The discovery highlights an important potential new target for anti-malarial drugs.

Malaria kills up to three million people every year, mostly in tropical parts of the world. The disease is spread by mosquitoes that inject victims with microscopic parasites that infect healthy red blood cells.

There are a number of different species of parasite, but the deadliest is the Plasmodium falciparum parasite.

The malaria parasite infects healthy red blood cells, where it reproduces, and producing up to thirty-two new daughter parasites. “It’s like remodelling a house so you can live in it and raise a family,” said researcher Alan Cowman from the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research in Melbourne.

Blood cells infected by the malaria parasite lose their normal rigid shape and develop knobs on their surface, causing them to stick to blood vessel walls and stop circulating smoothly.

The parasite secretes a ‘glue’, known as PfEMP1, which travels to the surface of the infected red blood cells, leading to the formation of the knobs. The cells become sticky and adhere to the walls of the blood vessels. “This stops the cells from being cleared by the spleen, which is a protective mechanism for the parasite,” Cowman says.

“It’s absolutely essential for the parasite to survive in our bodies.”

Infected cells can also cause blood vessels to clog, a factor in some of the more serious effects of malaria such as cerebral malaria, where the disease affects the brain.

Now, the researchers, led by Cowman, have identified eight new proteins that transport the P falciparum parasite’s ‘glue’ to the surface of the infected red blood cells. They have shown that removing just one of these proteins prevents the infected red blood cells from sticking to the walls of the blood vessels.

“It really is a big step in understanding the parasite itself,” Cowman says. “In the long term it points toward concentrating on some of these proteins so that they don’t work any more, so the parasite would be cleared much more efficiently.”

It is also possible that researchers could use their new understanding to develop weakened forms of the parasite to use in a vaccine against the disease, he says.

Sources: The Times Of India

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Suppliments our body needs

Iron

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What is iron?

Iron is an important trace mineral found in every cell of the body, usually in combination with protein. Depending on the level of iron in the body, it can act either as an antioxidant, or it can stimulate the formation of free radicals.

Why do you need it?

Iron is an essential nutrient because it is a vital part of red blood cells, which carry oxygen to all body cells. Iron is essential to the formation of hemoglobin and myoglobin, which carries the oxygen in the blood and muscles. It makes up part of many proteins and enzymes in the body.

How much iron should you take?

According to the National Academy of Sciences, the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of iron is as follows:

* Adult men: between 10-12 milligrams/day
* Adult women: 15 milligrams/day
* Children aged 7-10: 10 milligrams/day
* Infants: 10 milligrams/day
* Pregnant/lactating women: 30 milligrams/day

What are some good sources of iron?

Red meat, fish, poultry, eggs, legumes and fortified cereals are all good sources of iron. Other sources include oysters, dried fruits, molasses, and dark, leafy green vegetables such as broccoli and spinach.

The best food sources of easily absorbed iron are animal products. Iron from vegetables, fruits, grains, and supplements is harder for the body to absorb. Mixing lean meat, fish, or poultry with beans or dark leafy greens at a meal can improve absorption of vegetable sources of iron up to three times. Foods rich in vitamin C also increase iron absorption.

What can happen if you don’t get enough iron?

Iron deficiency is the most common nutritional deficiency worldwide. Deficiency occurs in the form of iron deficiency anemia. Iron deficiency and anemia can occur during periods of rapid growth, during pregnancy, and among women who are menstruating more than usual. It can be associated with any type of intestinal loss of blood, frequent donation of blood, or from the inability to absorb iron efficiently. Initial symptoms of iron deficiency anemia are fatigue and lack of energy. Dizziness, weight loss, headaches and lowered immunity can also occur.

What can happen if you take too much?

Iron toxicity rarely develops from an increased intake of dietary iron alone; however, increased intake of iron supplements may lead to toxicity. Symptoms include fatigue, anorexia, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, headache, weight loss, shortness of breath, and possibly a grayish color to the skin.

Source:ChiroFind.com