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Herbs & Plants

Aconitum chasmanthum

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Botanical Name: Aconitum chasmanthum
Family Name: Ranunculaceae
Genus
: Aconitum
Local Name: Beshmolo
Urdu Name: Mori
English name: Aconite
Part used: Roots

Habitat: E. Asia – Western Himalayas from Chitral to Kashmir at 2100 – 3500 metres. Mountains at elevations around 4600 metres. In Gilgit/ Baltistan this herb usually grow wild. It occurs in Rattu Cant, Kalapani, Kamri, Ghuraz, Tarshing, Rupal and almost in all Nullahs of Astore. It is also found in Kargh Nullah, Nalter, and Chaprote Nagar.

Description:Perennial growing to 0.5m.
It is in flower in September. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees.

Stem 30 to 80 cm tall leafy. The upper leaves only slightly smaller than the lower ones. Inflorescence racemes up to 30 cm long. Sepals blue or white with blue veins, rarely pale purple, crisp pubescent to glabrous, lateral ones sub orbicular to nearly square, not contiguous with helmet. Claw of petals 5 to 7 mm. Filaments often almost glabrous, winged. Wings not ending in tiny teeth.

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Caudex carrot-shaped, ca. 7 cm, ca. 8 mm in diam. Stem ca. 50 cm, glabrous. Leaf petiole 3–5.5 cm, glabrous; leaf blade pentagonal-orbicular, 4.2–4.8 × 4–5.6 cm, both surfaces glabrous or nearly so; central segment rhombic, base narrowly cuneate, 3-parted nearly to base; lobes ± dissected; lateral segments obliquely flabellate, unequally 2-parted. Inflorescence ca. 15 cm, densely ca. 25-flowered; rachis and pedicels spreading pubescent; proximal bracts leaflike, distal ones linear. Proximal pedicels 4–7 mm, distally with 2 bracteoles; bracteoles linear, ca. 3 mm. Sepals blue-violet, abaxially sparsely pubescent; lower sepals oblong; lateral sepals broadly obovate or orbicular-obovate, ca. 1.3 cm; upper sepal navicular-falcate or navicular, ca. 5 mm wide, narrowly beaked, ca. 1.8 cm from base to beak, lower margin slightly concave. Petals ca. 1.5 cm; claw rarely pubescent; limb glabrous, ca. 5 mm; lip ca. 2.5 mm; spur ca. 0.7 mm, semiglobose. Stamens glabrous, rarely sparsely pubescent; filaments entire. Carpels 5, sparsely pubescent.

The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and can grow in heavy clay soil. The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It requires moist soil.

Cultivation :
We have very little information on this species and do not know if it will be hardy in Britain. The following notes are based on the general needs of the genus. Thrives in most soils and in the light shade of trees. Grows well in heavy clay soils. Prefers a moist soil in sun or semi-shade. Prefers a calcareous soil. Members of this genus seem to be immune to the predations of rabbits and deer. Grows well in open woodlands. A greedy plant, inhibiting the growth of nearby species, especially legumes.

Propagation
Seed – best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame. The seed can be stratified and sown in spring but will then be slow to germinate. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in a cold frame for their first winter. Plant them out in late spring or early summer. Division – best done in spring but it can also be done in autumn. Another report says that division is best carried out in the autumn or late winter because the plants come into growth very early in the year

Medicinal uses:
Analgesic; Anodyne; Diaphoretic; Diuretic; Irritant; Sedative.

The dried root is analgesic, anodyne, diaphoretic, diuretic, irritant and sedative. The root is a rich source of active alkaloids, containing around 3%. It is best harvested as soon as the plant dies down in the autumn. This is a very poisonous plant and should only be used with extreme caution and under the supervision of a qualified practitioner.

Antirheumatic, useful in heart diseases, neurasthenic and fever, diaphoretic, diuretic, anodyne, anti diabetic.

Locally , the dried pulverized roots are mixed butter and given as ointment on abscess and boils also mixed with tobacco and uses as “Naswar”.

Known Hazards : The whole plant is highly toxic – simple skin contact has caused numbness in some people.

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.sdpi.org/alpine%20medicianl%20herbs/1.htm
http://server9.web-mania.com/users/pfafardea/database/plants.php?Aconitum+chasmanthum
http://www.efloras.org/florataxon.aspx?flora_id=2&taxon_id=200007140

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Ailmemts & Remedies

Thymoma

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Introduction
Thymoma, the most common neoplasm of the anterior mediastinum, originates within the epithelial cells of the thymus.

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The thymus is a lymphoid organ located in the anterior mediastinum. In early life, the thymus is responsible for the development and maturation of cell-mediated immunological functions. The thymus is composed predominantly of epithelial cells and lymphocytes. Precursor cells migrate to the thymus and differentiate into lymphocytes. Most of these lymphocytes are destroyed, with the remainder of these cells migrating to tissues to become T lymphocytes. The thymus gland is located behind the sternum in front of the great vessels; it reaches its maximum weight at puberty and undergoes involution thereafter.

In human anatomy, the thymus is an organ located in the upper anterior portion of the chest cavity just behind the sternum. The main function of the thymus is to provide an area for T cell maturation, and is vital in protecting against autoimmunity.

Etiology:-
The etiology of thymomas has not been elucidated; however, it has been associated with various systemic syndromes. As many as 30-40% of patients who have a thymoma experience symptoms suggestive of MG. An additional 5% of patients who have a thymoma have other systemic syndromes, including red cell aplasia, dermatomyositis, systemic lupus erythematous, Cushing syndrome, and syndrome of inappropriate antidiuretic hormone secretion.

History:-
The thymus was known to the Ancient Greeks, and its name comes from the Greek word ??µ?? (thumos), meaning heart, soul, desire, life – possibly because of its location in the chest, near where emotions are subjectively felt; or else the name comes from the herb thyme (also in Greek ??µ??), which became the name for a “warty excrescence”, possibly due to its resemblance to a bunch of thyme.

Galen was the first to note that the size of the organ changed over the duration of a person’s life.

Due to the large numbers of apoptotic lymphocytes, the thymus was originally dismissed as a “lymphocyte graveyard”, without functional importance. The importance of the thymus in the immune system was discovered in 1961 by Jacques Miller, by surgically removing the thymus from three day old mice, and observing the subsequent deficiency in a lymphocyte population, subsequently named T cells after the organ of their origin. Recently, advances in immunology have allowed the function of the thymus in T cell maturation to be more fully understood.

Function:-
In the two thymic lobes, lymphocyte precursors from the bone-marrow become thymocytes, and subsequently mature into T cells. Once mature, T cells emigrate from the thymus and constitute the peripheral T cell repertoire responsible for directing many facets of the adaptive immune system. Loss of the thymus at an early age through genetic mutation (as in DiGeorge Syndrome) or surgical removal results in severe immunodeficiency and a high susceptibility to infection.

The stock of T-lymphocytes is built up in early life, so the function of the thymus is diminished in adults. It is largely degenerated in elderly adults and is barely identifiable, consisting mostly of fatty tissue, but it continues to function as an endocrine gland important in stimulating the immune system.[8] Involution of the thymus has been linked to loss of immune function in the elderly, susceptibility to infection and to cancer.

The ability of T cells to recognize foreign antigens is mediated by the T cell receptor. The T cell receptor undergoes genetic rearrangement during thymocyte maturation, resulting in each T cell bearing a unique T cell receptor, specific to a limited set of peptide:MHC combinations. The random nature of the genetic rearrangement results in a requirement of central tolerance mechanisms to remove or inactivate those T cells which bear a T cell receptor with the ability to recognise self-peptides.

Iodine, thymus and immunity:-
Iodine has important actions in the immune system. The high iodide-concentration of thymus suggests an anatomical rationale for this role of iodine in immune system.

Phases of thymocyte maturation:-
The generation of T cells expressing distinct T cell receptors occurs within the thymus, and can be conceptually divided into three phases:

1.A rare population of hematopoietic progenitor cells enter the thymus from the blood, and expands by cell division to generate a large population of immature thymocytes.

2.Immature thymocytes each make distinct T cell receptors by a process of gene rearrangement. This process is error-prone, and some thymocytes fail to make functional T cell receptors, whereas other thymocytes make T cell receptors that are autoreactive. Growth factors include thymopoietin and thymosin.

3.Immature thymocytes undergo a process of selection, based on the specificity of their T cell receptors. This involves selection of T cells that are functional (positive selection), and elimination of T cells that are autoreactive (negative selection).

Anatomy:
The thymus is of a pinkish-gray color, soft, and lobulated on its surfaces. At birth it is about 5 cm in length, 4 cm in breadth, and about 6 mm in thickness. The organ enlarges during childhood, and atrophies at puberty. Unlike the liver, kidney and heart, for instance, the thymus is at its largest in children. The thymus reaches maximum weight (20 to 37 grams) by the time of puberty. It remains active only until puberty. Then with growing age, it starts to shrink. The thymus gland of older people is scarcely distinguishable from surrounding fatty tissue. As one ages the thymus slowly shrinks, eventually degenerating into tiny islands of fatty tissue. By the age of 75 years, the thymus gland weighs only 6 grams. In children the thymus is grayish-pink in colour and in adults it is yellow.
Presentation:-
Peak incidence of thymoma occurs in the fourth to fifth decade of life; mean age of patients is 52 years. No sexual predilection exists. Although development of a thymoma in childhood is rare, children are more likely than adults to have symptoms. Several explanations for the prevalence of symptoms in children have been proposed, including the following: (1) children are more likely to have malignancy, (2) lesions are more likely to cause symptoms by compression or invasion in the smaller thoracic cavity of a child, and (3) the most common location for mediastinal tumors in children is near the trachea, resulting in respiratory symptoms.

Four cases of patients who presented with severe chest pain secondary to infarction or hemorrhage of the tumor have been reported. Cases of invasion into the superior vena cava resulting in venous obstruction have also been reported.2  The clinician should be aware of these rare presentations of a thymoma.

The thymus will, if examined when its growth is most active, be found to consist of two lateral lobes placed in close contact along the middle line, situated partly in the thorax, partly in the neck, and extending from the fourth costal cartilage upward, as high as the lower border of the thyroid gland. It is covered by the sternum, and by the origins of the sternohyoidei and sternothyreoidei. Below, it rests upon the pericardium, being separated from the aortic arch and great vessels by a layer of fascia. In the neck, it lies on the front and sides of the trachea, behind the sternohyoidei and sternothyreoidei. The two lobes differ in size and may be united or separated

Problem:-
No clear histologic distinction between benign and malignant thymomas exists. The propensity of a thymoma to be malignant is determined by the invasiveness of the thymoma. Malignant thymomas can invade the vasculature, lymphatics, and adjacent structures within the mediastinum. The 15-year survival rate of a person with an invasive thymoma is 12.5%, and it is 47% for a person with a noninvasive thymoma. Death usually occurs from cardiac tamponade or other cardiorespiratory complications.

Frequency:-
Thymoma, the most common neoplasm of the anterior mediastinum, accounts for 20-25% of all mediastinal tumors and 50% of anterior mediastinal masses

Two primary forms of tumours originate in the thymus.

Tumours originating from the thymic epithelial cells are called thymomas, and are found in about 10-15% of patients with myasthenia gravis. Symptoms are sometimes confused with bronchitis or a strong cough because the tumor presses on the recurrent laryngeal nerve. All thymomas are potentially cancerous, but they can vary a great deal. Some grow very slowly. Others grow rapidly and can spread to surrounding tissues. Treatment of thymomas often requires surgery to remove the entire thymus. Tumours originating from the thymocytes are called thymic lymphomas.

Radiation Induced:-
People with enlarged thymus glands, particularly children, were treated with intense radiation in the years before 1950. There is an elevated incidence of thyroid cancer and leukemia in treated individuals.

Disclaimer: This information is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advise or help. It is always best to consult with a Physician about serious health concerns. This information is in no way intended to diagnose or prescribe remedies.This is purely for educational purpose.

Resources:
http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/193809-overview
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thymus

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News on Health & Science

Lighter Babies ‘Will Go Through Puberty Earlier’

Children born weighing less than 3kg (6lb 10oz) reach puberty at an earlier age than their heavier peers, potentially increasing their risk of developing some cancers, scientists have found.

Those who gain weight rapidly in their first two years of life are also more likely to reach puberty early, the research found.

The latest study, from scientists at the Research Institute of Child Nutrition in Dortmund, Germany, followed 215 boys and girls from infancy to the age of 13.

They found that those weighing between 2.5kg (5lb 8oz) and 3kg at birth started their puberty growth spurt around seven months earlier than babies who were heavier.

Meanwhile, those who gained weight quickly in the first two years of life started their growth spurt four months earlier than those who had put on weight at a normal rate.

Youngsters who had a combination of low birth weight and rapid weight gain were also at risk.

The experts also confirmed that girls who gained weight quickly as a baby tend to start their periods early.

The study was funded by the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) and was published in this month’s American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Experts from the WCRF said going into puberty at an early age is linked to an increased risk of some cancers, including breast cancer and testicular cancer.

It has also been linked to other hormonal changes that could play a role in cancer’s development.

Lead researcher, Professor Anja Kroke, said: ”More studies are now needed to identify the physiological mechanisms by which a low birth weight and rapid early weight gain affect the timing of the pubertal growth spurt.

”In addition, by gaining a better understanding of why early puberty increases cancer risk, we can improve our understanding of the causes of cancer, and therefore raises the possibility of preventing future cancer cases.”

Dr Panagiota Mitrou, science programme manager for the WCRF, said: ”This study has identified early life factors that increase a child’s chances of starting puberty early, which shows that what happens to us even in the womb can influence risk factors for diseases much later in life.

”More research is needed before we can better understand the relevance of these findings for public health.

”Only then can start looking at whether we need to take steps to prevent low birth weight or monitor weight gain in infancy.

”Until more research is done, the best advice for parents is to give their children a healthy start in life by encouraging them to get into the habit of eating a healthy plant-based diet, be physically active and maintain a healthy weight.

”We estimate that doing these three things could prevent about a third of the most common cancers in the UK.”

Source: Telegraph.Co.UK 5th.Dec.’09

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News on Health & Science

Plastic Bottles Behind Earlier Puberty in Girls?

Girls are beginning to grow breasts at an earlier age, and starting their periods sooner too, and scientists suspect chemicals in plastic   bottles may be behind this trend.

The findings back up recent studies that found earlier breast development in American girls over the past several years,
Lise Aksglaede of Rigshospitalet in Copenhagen, the lead researcher on the study, said. “At this point, we don’t know what is happening, and that is also what worries us.”

Aksglaede noted that she and her colleagues have seen an increasing number of girls with precocious puberty, meaning sexual maturation beginning before age eight.

To investigate whether this might represent a trend, or simply greater recognition of the problem by parents, the Denmark-based researchers looked at 1,100 girls who were studied in 1991-1993 and 995 examined between 2006-2008. The study participants ranged in age from 5.6 to 20 years old.

While the average age at which breast growth began was 10.88 years for the 1991 group, it was 9.86 for the 2006 group. Age at first menstruation was 13.42 for the 1991 group, and 13.13 for the 2006 group.

Most experts believe that the obesity epidemic may have something to do with earlier puberty in girls, Aksglaede noted, but she and her colleagues found no difference in the prevalence of overweight and obesity between the 1991 and 2006 groups.
There also were no differences in levels of several reproductive hormones between the two groups, although the 8- to 10-year-olds tested in 2006 actually had lower estrogen levels than girls of the same age tested in 1991.

Chemicals which can produce estrogen-like effects in the body may be responsible, Aksglaede said. However, she pointed out that the effects of such chemicals are extremely difficult to study, given that there are so many different chemicals out there, and that the levels girls are exposed are in constant flux.

Chemicals in plastics like the chemical bisphenol A (BPA) and phthalates have the potential to interfere with estrogen and other reproductive hormones.

While precocious puberty can have psychological consequences for girls, and may also stunt growth, the girls in the current study were still entering puberty at a relatively normal age.

“It is the first time we are seeing this in Europe,” the researcher said. “It might be happening in other countries, but it hasn’t been reported yet.”

Sources: The Times Of India

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