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Herbs & Plants

Ammi visnaga

Botanical Name: Ammi visnaga
Family:Apiaceae
Genus:Ammi
Species:A. visnaga
Kingdom: Plantae
Order:Apiales

Synonyms : Ammi dilatatum. Apium visnaga. Carum visnaga. Daucus visnaga.

Common names : Bisnaga, Toothpickweed, and Khella.

Habitat: Ammi visnaga is native to Europe, Asia, and North Africa, but it can be found throughout the world as an introduced species.It grows in fields and sandy places.
Description:
Ammi visnaga is an annual or biennial herb growing from a taproot erect to a maximum height near 80 centimeters. Leaves are up to 20 centimeters long and generally oval to triangular in shape but dissected into many small linear to lance-shaped segments. The inflorescence is a compound umbel of white flowers similar to those of other Apiaceae species. The fruit is a compressed oval-shaped body less than 3 millimeters long. This and other Ammi species are sources of khellin, a diuretic extract.

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It is in flower from Jul to September. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects.The plant is self-fertile.

Cultivation:
Prefers a well-drained soil in a sunny position, succeeding in ordinary garden soil. Tolerates a pH in the range 6.8 to 8.3. This species is not fully winter-hardy in the colder areas of Britain, though it should be possible to grow it as a spring-sown annual. This plant is sold as toothpicks in Egyptian markets.

Propagation: Seed – sow spring in situ. ( Sow under cover Feb-March in a seed tray, module or guttering. Sow direct March-May and/or August-September.)
Edible Uses: Leaves are chewed raw for their pleasant aromatic flavour

Chemical constituents:
Khellin, a chemical obtained from Ammi visnaga gives rose red color with KOH (solid) or NaOH & 2-3 drops of water, was used at one time as a smooth muscle relaxant, but its use is limited due to adverse side effects. Amiodarone and cromoglycate are derivates of khellin that are frequently used in modern medicine.

The chemical visnagin, which is found in A. visnaga, has biological activity in animal models as a vasodilator and reduces blood pressure by inhibiting calcium influx into the cell.
Medicinal Uses:
Antiarrhythmic; Antiasthmatic; Antispasmodic; Diuretic; Lithontripic; Vasodilator.

Visnaga is an effective muscle relaxant and has been used for centuries to alleviate the excruciating pain of kidney stones. Modern research has confirmed the validity of this traditional use. Visnagin contains khellin, from which particularly safe pharmaceutical drugs for the treatment of asthma have been made. The seeds are diuretic and lithontripic. They contain a fatty oil that includes the substance ‘khellin’. This has been shown to be of benefit in the treatment of asthma. Taken internally, the seeds have a strongly antispasmodic action on the smaller bronchial muscles, they also dilate the bronchial, urinary and blood vessels without affecting blood pressure. The affect last for about 6 hours and the plant has practically no side effects. The seeds are used in the treatment of asthma, angina, coronary arteriosclerosis and kidney stones. By relaxing the muscles of the urethra, visnaga reduces the pain caused by trapped kidney stones and helps ease the stone down into the bladder. The seeds are harvested in late summer before they have fully ripened and are dried for later use.
In Egypt, a tea made from the fruit of this species has been used as an herbal remedy for kidney stones. Laborarory rat studies show that the extract slows the buildup of calcium oxalate crystals in the kidneys and acts as a diuretic.
This plant and its components have shown effects in dilating the coronary arteries. Its mechanism of action may be very similar to the calcium channel-blocking drugs. The New England Journal of Medicine writes “The high proportion of favorable results, together with the striking degree of improvement frequently observed, has led us to the conclusion that Khellin, properly used, is a safe and effective drug for the treatment of angina pectoris.” As little as 30 milligrams of Khellin per day appear to offer as good a result, with fewer side effects. Rather than use the isolated compound “Khellin,” Khella extracts standardized for khellin content (typically 12 percent) are the preferred form.

A daily dose of such an extract would be 250 to 300 milligrams. Khella appears to work very well with hawthorn extracts. An aromatic herb which dilates the bronchial, urinary and blood vessels without affecting blood pressure.

Visnaga is a traditional Egyptian remedy for kidney stones. By relaxing the muscles of the ureter, visnaga reduces the pain caused by the trapped stone and helps ease the stone down into the bladder. Following research into its antispasmodic properties, visnaga is now given for asthma and is safe even for children to take. Although it does not always relieve acute asthma attacks, it do3es help to prevent their recurrence. It is an effective remedy for various respiratory problems, including bronchitis, emphysema, and whooping cough. In Andalusia in Spain, the largest and best quality visnaga were employed to clean the teeth. Khella is the source of amiodarone one of the key anti-arrhythmia medications. The usual recommendation calls for pouring boiling water over about a quarter-teaspoon of powdered khella fruits. Steep for five minutes and drink the tea after straining.

Its active constituent is khellin, a bronchiodilator and antispasmodic that makes it useful for asthma sufferers It’s best used to prevent asthma rather than to counter an attack and can be taken on a daily basis with no contraindications. Because khella builds up in the blood, its use can be decreased after a period of time. Khella is safer than ma huang (ephedra) for asthma sufferers because it’s nonstimulating and nonenervating. Unlike ma huang, it doesn’t rob the body, especially the adrenals, of energy.

Spasmolytic action of khellin and visnagin (both furanochromones) is indicated for treatment of asthma and coronary arteriosclerosis.
An extract from khella (Ammi visnaga) is so far the only herb found to be useful in vitili. Khellin, the active constituent, appears to work like psoralen drugs?it stimulates repigmentation of the skin by increasing sensitivity of remaining pigment-containing cells (melanocytes) to sunlight. Studies have used 120-160 mg of khellin per day. Khellin must be used with caution, as it can cause side effects such as nausea and insomnia.

Another use is for vitiligo (an extract from ammi visnaga appears to stimulate repigmentation of the skin by increasing sensitivity of remaining pigment containing cells, melanocytes to sunlight)

Other Uses: The fruiting pedicel is used as a toothpick whilst the seeds have been used as a tooth cleaner

Known Hazards : Skin contact with the sap is said to cause photo-sensitivity and/or dermatitis in some people. Avoid during pregnancy and lactation. Avoid if on warfarin or other blood thinning medication. Prolonged use may lead to: constipation, appetite loss, headaches, vertigo, nausea and vomiting.

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/Ammi_visnaga
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Ammi+visnaga
http://www.sarahraven.com/flowers/plants/cut_flower_seedlings/ammi_visnaga.htm

http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_IJK.htm

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Antidepressants and Other Psychotropic Medications Linked to Birth Defects

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Between 1998 and 2007, psychotropic medications were associated with 429 adverse drug reactions in Danish children under the age of 17. More than half of the 429 cases were serious and several involved birth defects, such as birth deformities and severe withdrawal syndromes.
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Professors Lise Aagaard and Ebbe Holme Hansen studied all 4,500 pediatric adverse drug reaction reports submitted during the study period to find those which were linked to psychotropic medications. The two researchers found that 42 percent of adverse reactions were reported for psychostimulants, such as Ritalin, which treats attention deficit disorder (ADD), followed by 31 percent for antidepressants, such as Prozac, and 24 percent for antipsychotics, such as Haldol.

“A range of serious side effects such as birth deformities, low birth weight, premature birth, and development of neonatal withdrawal syndrome were reported in children under two years of age, most likely because of the mother’s intake of psychotropic medication during pregnancy,” says Associate Professor Lisa Aagaard.

The researchers believe that these tendencies should serve as a warning to doctors and health care personnel.

“Psychotropic medication should not be prescribed in ordinary circumstances, because this type of medication has a long half-life. If people take their medicine as prescribed it will be a constantly high dosage, and it could take weeks for one single tablet to exit the body’s system. Three out of four pregnancies are planned, and therefore society must take responsibility for informing women about the serious risks of transferring side effects to their unborn child,” says Aagaard.

There is a clear indication that use of antidepressants is increasing in Denmark, as well as in many other countries, and the tendency is the same when it comes to pregnant women.

“We are constantly reminded about the dangers of alcohol use and smoking during pregnancy, but there is no information offered to women with regards to use of psychotropic medication. There is simply not enough knowledge available in this area,” concludes Aagaard, suggesting that greater control should be required when prescribing psychotropic medications to pregnant women.


Source:
Elements4Health:25 June 2010

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Drug Combos Pose Risk for Elderly

Older adults in the United States are popping prescription pills, over-the-counter drugs and dietary supplements in record numbers, and in combinations that could be deadly, US researchers said on Tuesday.

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They said more than half of US adults aged 57 to 85 are using five or more prescription or non-prescription drugs, and one in 25 are taking them in combinations that could cause dangerous drug interactions.

“Older adults in the United States use medicine and they use a lot of it,” said Dr. Stacy Tessler Lindau of the University of Chicago Medical Center in Illinois, whose study appears in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

“While medications are often beneficial, they are not always safe,” she said in a telephone interview.

She noted a recent report that estimated U.S. adults over 65 make up more than 175,000 emergency department visits a year for adverse drug reactions, and commonly prescribed drugs accounted for a third of these visits.

For the study, Lindau teamed up with Dima Qato, a pharmacist and researcher at the University of Chicago. They used data from a national survey of adults aged 57 to 85 and interviews with nearly 3,000 people in their homes to get a read on the medications they used on a regular basis.

They analyzed potential interactions among the top 20 prescription and over-the-counter drugs and the top 20 dietary supplements, and found that 68 percent of adults surveyed who took prescription drugs also used over-the-counter drugs or dietary supplements.

Men in the 75 to 85-year-old age group were at the highest risk, they said. “One in 10 men between the ages of 75 to 85 were at risk for a drug-to-drug interaction,” Qato said in a telephone interview.

Nearly half of the potential drug-to-drug interactions could cause bleeding problems. The blood thinner warfarin, often sold by Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. under the brand name Coumadin, was most commonly cited in potentially dangerous combinations.

Some 2 million Americans take warfarin after a heart attack, stroke or major surgery. The team found warfarin was commonly teamed up with aspirin, a drug often taken to prevent heart attacks that also interferes with clotting.

Warfarin and the cholesterol-lowering statin drug simvastatin, which is sold by Merck & Co under the brand name Zocor, was another combination that could cause potential bleeding risks.

Among non-prescription drugs, they found many people were taking the popular nutritional supplement Ginkgo biloba in combination with aspirin, another potential cause of bleeding.

The team was reassured that they found no instances of people taking absolutely forbidden drug combinations, but the finding of widespread use of drugs that could cause major drug reactions was worrisome.

“We think the patient needs to know about these risks,” Qato said.

The researchers recommend patients carry a list in a wallet or purse of all of the drugs and supplements they take.

And they said doctors, pharmacists and other health professionals should remember to ask about all of the medications their patients are taking.

Sources: The Times Of India

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Generics Are as Good as Branded Drugs’

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There is no evidence that brand-name drugs given to treat heart and other cardiovascular conditions work any better than their cheaper generic counterparts, US researchers said.
..
The findings run counter to the perception by some doctors and patients that pricier brand-name drugs are clinically superior, said Aaron Kesselheim of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston, who led the study.

Kesselheim and colleagues combined the results of 30 studies done since 1984 comparing nine sub-classes of cardiovascular drugs to generic counterparts.

The brand-name drugs did not offer any advantage for patients’ clinical outcomes in those studies, they wrote in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

“Brand-name drugs for cardiovascular disease can be as much as a few dollars a pill, whereas generic drugs might be as little as a few cents a pill,” Kesselheim said.

“If a patient is prescribed a generic drug because that’s what’s appropriate for their condition, then they should feel confident taking that drug. And physicians themselves should also feel confident prescribing generic drugs where appropriate,” Kesselheim said. He said rising costs of brand-name prescription drugs strain the budgets of patients as well as public and private health insurers. Overall US prescription drug sales hit $286.5 billion in 2007.

Pharmaceutical companies retain exclusive rights to drugs they develop for a certain number of years, after which others can sell generic versions that are chemically equivalent. The active ingredient is the same, but the colour and shape may differ and they may have different inert binders and fillers.

In the US, the Food and Drug Administration must approve a generic version of a drug before it can be sold. Kesselheim said cardiovascular drugs to treat conditions of the heart and blood vessels are the most commonly prescribed category.

The study covered beta-blockers, diuretics, calcium-channel blockers, statins, antiplatelet agents, ACE inhibitors, alpha-blockers, anti-arrhythmic agents and warfarin.

Sources: The Times Of India

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Unapproved Drugs are Killing Dozens

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Millions of private patients are taking medications that have never been reviewed by the US government for safety and effectiveness, an Associated Press investigation found. And taxpayers have shelled out at least $200 million since 2004 for the unapproved medications that are still covered under Medicaid, according to the analysis of federal data has found.

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The availability of unapproved prescription drugs to the public may create a dangerous false sense of security. Dozens of deaths have been linked to them.

The medications date back decades, before the Food and Drug Administration tightened its review of drugs in the early 1960s. The FDA says it is trying to squeeze them from the market, but conflicting federal laws allow the Medicaid health program for low-income people to pay for them.

The AP analysis found that Medicaid paid nearly $198 million from 2004 to 2007 for more than 100 unapproved drugs, mostly for common conditions such as colds and pain. Data for 2008 were not available but unapproved drugs still are being sold.

The AP checked the medications against FDA databases, using agency guidelines to determine if they were unapproved. The FDA says there may be thousands of such drugs on the market. Medicaid officials acknowledge the problem, but say they need help from Congress to fix it.

Sources: The Times Of India

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