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Herbs & Plants

Veronicastrum virginicum

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Botanical Name : Veronicastrum virginicum
Family: Plantaginaceae
Genus: Veronicastrum
Species: V. virginicum
Kingdom: Plantae

Synonyms : Leptandra virginica (L.) Nutt., Veronica virginica L

Common Names : Culver’s root, Culver’s-root, Culverpsyic, Culver’s physic,Bowman’s root,Blackroot;

Habitat :Veronicastrum virginicum is  native to the United States.It grows in  Eastern N. America – Ontario to Manitoba, south to Massachusetts, Alabama and Texas. It is frequently found in wet to wet-mesic prairies and sometimes moist upland sites  on Meadows, rich woods, thickets and prairies

Description;
Veronicastrum virginicum is an erect perennial herb that grows 80-200 cm in height. The leaves are serrated and arranged in whorls of 3-7 around the stem. The inflorescence is erect with slender and spike-like racemes. The stamens are crowded and protrude in a brush-like fashion perpendicular to the raceme . The corollas are white and are roughly 2 mm. in length. These plants flower from mid-summer to early fall.

You may click to see  pictures of  Veronicastrum virginicum

It is hardy to zone 3. It is in flower from July to August. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects. The plant is self-fertile.

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

Cultivation:
Easily grown in a moderately fertile moisture retentive well drained soil. Prefers cool summers. Prefers a sunny position[188]. Hardy to at least -20°c. Some named forms have been selected for their ornamental value.

Propagation:
Seed – sow autumn in a cold frame. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out in the summer. If you have sufficient quantity the seed can be sown outdoors in situ in the autumn or the spring. Division in autumn or spring. Larger divisions can be planted out direct into their permanent positions. We have found that it is best to pot up smaller divisions and grow them on in light shade in a greenhouse or cold frame until they are growing away well. Plant them out in the summer or the following spring.

Medicinal Uses:
Cathartic; Cholagogue; Emetic; Hepatic; Laxative; Tonic.

Native Americans used this plant as a remedy for several ailments including as a laxative,(A tea made from the roots is strongly laxative. The roots are harvested in the autumn and should be stored for at least a year before use.) treatment for fainting and treating kidney stones.  The root was used as a blood cleanser. It was used for ceremonial purification to cleanse the body by inducing vomiting by drinking tea made from the plant’s dried root.  The fresh root is a violent cathartic and possibly emetic, the dried root is milder in its action, but less certain. The root also gently excites the liver and increases the flow of bile. An infusion has been used in the treatment of diarrhea, coughs, chills and fevers, and also to ease the pain of backaches. A tea made from the roots is strongly laxative.

Other Uses: It is cultivated as a garden flower in the Eastern United States.
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/Veronicastrum_virginicum
http://digedibles.com/database/plants.php?Veronicastrum+virginicum
http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_AB.htm

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News on Health & Science

Tylenol Risks to Your Health

Johnson & Johnson, Procter & Gamble and other manufacturers are arguing that cough and cold drugs with the pain reliever acetaminophen should stay on the market, in spite of concerns from U.S. regulators.
Tylenol
The FDA is weighing a ban on combination products, which are often marketed to consumers with colds or other mild illnesses. The industry instead urged a widespread effort to warn buyers about the risks of liver damage linked to acetaminophen.
….Problem with taking tylenol
Too much acetaminophen has been known to cause liver injury for decades, but FDA officials are worried that the rise of products that combine it with other medications will lead consumers unknowingly to overdose by taking too much of a medication, or by taking too many different products at once.

The FDA advisory panel that met about the effects of excessive doses of acetaminophen also made another recommendation to the FDA– to take popular painkillers Vicodin and Percocet (and their generic versions) off the market because of the effect both drugs can have on the liver when taken for extended periods.

The FDA will most likely follow this recommendation.
Vicodin is a combination of hydrocodone and acetaminophen; Percocet is oxycodone and acetaminophen. While oxycodone is available without the acetaminophen (as OxyContin) hydrocodone is not available alone in the United States.

Resources:
Reuters June 29, 2009
The Consumerist July 1, 2009

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Secrets of a Woman’s Wrinkles With Age

The dream of retaining youthful looks into old age came a step closer yesterday after scientists announced that they had identified the key genes involved in ageing skin. Using data generated by the human genome project – the international effort to decode human DNA – researchers have found 1,500 separate genes that govern how long people stay free from wrinkles.
…..CLICK & SEE
The team – led by scientists working for cosmetics giant Procter & Gamble – also believe they have identified the eight major causes of ageing skin.
Despite decades of research and billions of pounds of funding, the cosmetics industry has struggled to develop creams and lotions that reverse ageing.
The best that most of the expensive anti-ageing creams can do is smooth over wrinkles or plump up the skin

Out of the 20,000 to 25,000 known human genes, they have found around 1,500 that play a key role in ageing skin.
‘The human genome project has made it possible for us to analyse ageing right down to the hundreds of genetic changes that happen in our skin as we get older,’ Dr Tiesman said.
Skin ages in eight separate ways, each one controlled by its own group of genes, he added.

Whether you grow old gracefully like Cliff Richard – or wrinkled like Keith Richards – depends partly on your lifestyle and partly on these genes.
Dr Tiesman and his research team believe one of the most important factors is hydration – the way that skin collects and retains its moisture, using molecules that bind water into skin.
As skin gets older, the genes that control this process become less active and skin can retain less moisture, leading to wrinkles.
Dr Tiesman found that up to 700 genes could be involved.
Another ‘ageing pathway’ involves collagen – the protein that gives skin its underlying structure.

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Why skin deteriorates with age: As people get older, the genes that degrade collagen can become overactive, leading to more wrinkles
As people age, the genes that degrade collagen can become overactive, leading to more wrinkles. The team has found 40 genes involved in the collapse of collagen. Inflammation was found to involve about 400 genes, while another group of genes influence how the skin reacts to sunlight.
The skin’s response to ‘free radicals‘ – the molecules that can damage a cell’s damage – is also crucial to how it ages.
By narrowing down the DNA involved with skin ageing, researchers hope to create drugs and creams which can stimulate some genes and suppress others to restore youthful looks.
Professor Anthea Tinker, who studies the social aspect of ageing at King’s College London, said: ‘Older people care about their appearance just as much as any other age group and they are an important and growing market.’
Most anti-ageing creams don’t stand up to scientific scrutiny. However, a reliable clinical trial published earlier this year showed that Boots No7 Protect and Perfect range actually worked.
Manchester University scientists found that a fifth of people who used the cream for six months saw improvement in their skin. The cream appeared to trigger the production of a protein called fibrillin-1, which makes skin more elastic.

Source:http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1200689/Secrets-womans-wrinkles-revealed-scientists-discover-genes-linked-eternal-youth.html#ixzz0LqDc4UJ8

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Osteoporosis Drugs May Lead to Cancer

Merck’s popular osteoporosis drug Fosamax and other similar drugs may carry a risk for esophageal cancer, a Food and Drug Administration official said .

Diane Wysowski of the FDA’s division of drug risk asessment said researchers should check into potential links between so called bisphosphonate drugs and cancer. In a letter in Thursday’s New England Journal of Medicine, Wysowski said since the initial marketing of Fosamax, known generically as alendronate, in 1995, the FDA has received 23 reports in which patients developed esophageal tumors.

Typically, two years lapsed between the start of the drug and the development of esophageal cancer. Eight patients died, she reported. In Europe and Japan, 21 cases involving Fosamax have been logged, with another six instances where Procter & Gamble’s Actonel or risedronate and Didronel or etidronate. Six of those people died.

Esophagitis, which is an inflammation of the lining of the tube carrying food to the stomach, is already known to be a side effect of the drugs.

Sources: The Times Of India

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Why You are More Creative After You Sleep

sleep, sleeping, insomnia, creative, creativity, problem solving, resolutions, nappingMost people think of the sleeping brain as similar to a computer that has “gone to sleep” — they believe that it does nothing productive. But this is incorrect. Sleep enhances performance, learning and memory. And most unappreciated of all, sleep improves the creative ability to uncover novel connections among seemingly unrelated ideas.

Some large companies provide EnergyPods, leather recliners with hoods to block noise and light, to help employees take naps and return to work refreshed.

.Sleep assists the brain in flagging unrelated ideas and memories, forging connections among them that increase the odds that a creative idea or insight will surface. After sleep, people are 33 percent more likely to infer connections among distantly related ideas.

Business attitudes toward sleep may be starting to shift.

Claire Stapleton, a spokeswoman for Google, says “grassroots” interest in sleep led to an on-campus talk by Sara C. Mednick, a napping expert. Google also installed EnergyPods, leather recliners with egglike hoods that block noise and light, that allow employees to take naps at work. Other companies that have installed EnergyPods include Cisco Systems and Procter & Gamble.

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