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Populus balsamifera

Botanical Name : Populus balsamifera
Family: Salicaceae
Genus: Populus
Section: Tacamahaca
Species: P. balsamifera
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Malpighiales

Common Names : Balsam Poplar, Black cottonwood, Bam, Bamtree, Eastern balsam poplar, Hackmatack, Tacamahac poplar, Tacamahaca

Other common names :    Heartleaf balsam poplar, and Ontario balsam poplar.

The black cottonwood, Populus trichocarpa, is sometimes considered a subspecies of P. balsamifera and may lend its common name to this species, although the black poplars and cottonwoods of Populus sect. Aigeiros are not closely related.

Habitat : Populus balsamifera is native to northern N. America – Newfoundland to Alaska, south to New England, Iowa and Colorado. It grows in deep moist sandy soils of river bottomlands, stream banks, borders of lakes and swamps.

Description:
Populus balsamifera is a deciduous medium to large-sized, averaging 23 – 30 m (75 – 100 ft) high, broadleaved hardwood. Crown narrow, pyramidal with thick, ascending branches. Branchlets moderately stout, round, shiny reddy-brown, orange lenticels, buds are reddish-brown to brown, 2.5 cm (1 inch) long, curved, resinous and fragrant. Twig has a bitter aspirin taste. Trunk bark greenish gray with lighter lenticels when young, later becoming darker and furrowed with long, scaly ridges.

Leaves – alternate, simple, ovate, finely serrated, shiny dark green, paler and often blotchy orange below, petiole long with glands at the leaf base.

Flowers – dioecious, male and female as hanging, long pale yellow green catkins, appearing in May.

Fruit – small, 2-valved, dry capsule containing numerous small seeds. Capsules are a lustrous green during development but turn dull green at time of dispersal. Male flowers are shed promptly and decay; female catkins are shed shortly after dispersal is completed but remain identifiable for the remainder of the summer.

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Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in heavy clay soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist soil.

Cultivation :
An easily grown plant, it does well in a heavy cold damp soil, though it prefers a deep rich well-drained circumneutral soil, growing best in the south and east of Britain. Growth is much less on wet soils, on poor acid soils and on thin dry soils. Does not do well in exposed upland sites. Dislikes shade, it is intolerant of root or branch competition A fast-growing and generally short-lived tree, though specimens 150 – 200 years old have occasionally been recorded. This is a pioneer species, invading cleared land, old fields etc, but unable to tolerate shade competition and eventually being out-competed by other trees. It is not fully satisfactory in Britain. In spring and early summer the buds and young leaves have a strong fragrance of balsam. Poplars have very extensive and aggressive root systems that can invade and damage drainage systems. Especially when grown on clay soils, they should not be planted within 12 metres of buildings since the root system can damage the building’s foundations by drying out the soil. Hybridizes freely with other members of this genus. Dioecious. Male and female plants must be grown if seed is required.

Propagation:
Seed – must be sown as soon as it is ripe in spring. Poplar seed has an extremely short period of viability and needs to be sown within a few days of ripening. Surface sow or just lightly cover the seed in trays in a cold frame. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in the old frame. If sufficient growth is made, it might be possible to plant them out in late summer into their permanent positions, otherwise keep them in the cold frame until the following late spring and then plant them out. Most poplar species hybridize freely with each other, so the seed may not come true unless it is collected from the wild in areas with no other poplar species growing. Cuttings of mature wood of the current season’s growth, 20 – 40cm long, November/December in a sheltered outdoor bed or direct into their permanent positions. Very easy. Suckers in early spring[

Edible Uses:…The inner bark is often dried, ground into a powder and then used as a thickener in soups etc or added to cereals when making bread. Catkins – raw or cooked. A bitter flavour. It is best used in spring.
Medicinal Uses:
Anodyne; Antiinflammatory; Antiscorbutic; Antiseptic; Cathartic; Diuretic; Expectorant; Febrifuge; Stimulant; Tonic.

Balsam poplar has a long history of medicinal use. It was valued by several native North American Indian tribes who used it to treat a variety of complaints, but especially to treat skin problems and lung ailments. In modern herbalism it is valued as an expectorant and antiseptic tonic. The buds are used as a stimulating expectorant for all conditions affecting the respiratory functions when congested. In tincture they have been beneficially employed in affections of the stomach and kidneys and in scurvy and rheumatism, also for chest complaints.

The leaf buds are covered with a resinous sap that has a strong turpentine odor and a bitter taste. They are boiled in order to separate the resin and the resin is then dissolved in alcohol. The resin is a folk remedy, used as a salve and wash for sores, rheumatism, wounds etc. It is made into a tea and used as a wash for sprains, inflammation, muscle pains etc.

The bark is cathartic and tonic. Although no specific mention has been seen for this species, the bark of most, if not all members of the genus contain salicin, a glycoside that probably decomposes into salicylic acid (aspirin) in the body. The bark is therefore anodyne, anti-inflammatory and febrifuge. It is used especially in treating rheumatism and fevers, and also to relieve the pain of menstrual cramps. A tea made from the inner bark is used as an eye wash and in the treatment of scurvy.

It is an excellent hemorrhoid treatment. For burns it lessens pain, keeps the surface antiseptic and also stimulates skin regeneration. The tincture is a very effective therapy for chest colds, increasing protective mucus secretions in the beginning, when the tissues are hot, dry and painful. Later, it increases te softening expectorant secretions when the mucus is hard and impacted on the bronchial walls, and coughing is painful. Are aromatics are secreted as volatile gases in expiration. This helps to inhibit microorganisms and lessen the likelihood of secondary, often more serious, infections.

Other Uses:
Pioneer; Repellent; Resin; Rooting hormone; Wood.

An extract of the shoots can be used as a rooting hormone for all types of cuttings. It is extracted by soaking the chopped up shoots in cold water for a day. The resin obtained from the buds was used by various native North American Indian tribes to waterproof the seams on their canoes. The resin on the buds has been used as an insect repellent. The bark has been burnt to repel mosquitoes. A pioneer species, capable of invading cleared land and paving the way for other woodland trees. It is not very shade tolerant and so it is eventually out-competed by the woodland trees. Wood – soft, light, rather woolly in texture, without smell or taste, of low flammability, not durable, very resistant to abrasion. It weighs 23lb per cubic foot, and is used for pulp, boxes etc. The wood is also used as a fuel, it gives off a pleasant odour when burning.
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:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Populus_balsamifera
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Populus+balsamifera
http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/volume_2/populus/balsamifera.htm

http://www.borealforest.org/trees/tree11.htm

Photodynamic therapy

Description:
Photodynamic therapy (PDT), sometimes called photochemotherapy, is a form of phototherapy using nontoxic light-sensitive compounds that are exposed selectively to light, whereupon they become toxic to targeted malignant and other diseased cells (phototoxicity). PDT has proven ability to kill microbial cells, including bacteria, fungi and viruses. PDT is popularly used in treating acne. It is used clinically to treat a wide range of medical conditions, including wet age-related macular degeneration and malignant cancers, and is recognised as a treatment strategy which is both minimally invasive and minimally toxic.

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Most modern PDT applications involve three key components: a photosensitizer, a light source and tissue oxygen. The combination of these three components leads to the chemical destruction of any tissues which have either selectively taken up the photosensitizer or have been locally exposed to light. The wavelength of the light source needs to be appropriate for exciting the photosensitizer to produce reactive oxygen species. These reactive oxygen species generated through PDT are free radicals (Type I PDT) generated through electron abstraction or transfer from a substrate molecule and highly reactive state of oxygen known as singlet oxygen (Type II PDT). In understanding the mechanism of PDT it is important to distinguish it from other light-based and laser therapies such as laser wound healing and rejuvenation, or intense pulsed light hair removal, which do not require a photosensitizer.

Why it is done:
Photodynamic therapy (PDT) was first used in 1905 for the treatment of skin cancers. Since then, it has been further developed and used for the treatment of many kinds of cancers (lung, colon, etc.) as well as certain kinds of blindness. PDT combines a drug (called a photosensitizer) that is preferentially absorbed by certain kinds of cells and a special light source. When used together, the photosensitizer and the light destroy the targeted cells. More recently, however, PDT has been used for photorejuvenation, wrinkles, discoloration, visible veins, and acne. When used for these conditions, the photosensitizer is applied to the face and then the skin is exposed to a light source. Rapidly growing cells, oil glands, and other structures in the skin absorb the photosensitizer and are destroyed by a reaction caused by the light. Cosmetic improvement in wrinkling, age spots, and visible veins has been documented after PDT treatment.

It is a new advance in facial rejuvenation and there are currently different methods in use. For example some physicians use blue light, red light, or intense pulse light. The photosensitizer is applied to the skin and is left on for a variable period of time. The skin is then exposed to the light source and the photosensitizer is then removed. Reported side effects include transient burning, stinging, swelling, and redness. Side effects are variable depending on what is being treated, how long the photosensitizer is left on, and which light source is used. No long-term studies have been performed to evaluate long term side effects.
Procedure:
In order to achieve the selective destruction of the target area using PDT while leaving normal tissues untouched, either the photosensitizer can be applied locally to the target area, or photosensitive targets can be locally excited with light. For instance, in the treatment of skin conditions, including acne, psoriasis, and also skin cancers, the photosensitizer can be applied topically and locally excited by a light source. In the local treatment of internal tissues and cancers, after photosensitizers have been administered intravenously, light can be delivered to the target area using endoscopes and fiber optic catheters....CLICK & SEE

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Photosensitizers can also target many viral and microbial species, including HIV and MRSA. Using PDT, pathogens present in samples of blood and bone marrow can be decontaminated before the samples are used further for transfusions or transplants. PDT can also eradicate a wide variety of pathogens of the skin and of the oral cavities. Given the seriousness that drug resistant pathogens have now become, there is increasing research into PDT as a new antimicrobial therapy.

Photosensitizers:
In air and tissue, molecular oxygen occurs in a triplet state, whereas almost all other molecules are in a singlet state. Reactions between these are forbidden by quantum mechanics, thus oxygen is relatively non-reactive at physiological conditions. A photosensitizer is a chemical compound that can be promoted to an excited state upon absorption light and undergo intersystem crossing with oxygen to produce singlet oxygen. This species rapidly attacks any organic compounds it encounters, thus being highly cytotoxic. It is rapidly eliminated: in cells, the average lifetime is 3 µs.[5]

A wide array of photosensitizers for PDT exist. They can be divided into porphyrins, chlorophylls and dyes. Some examples include aminolevulinic acid (ALA), Silicon Phthalocyanine Pc 4, m-tetrahydroxyphenylchlorin (mTHPC), and mono-L-aspartyl chlorin e6 (NPe6).

Several photosensitizers are commercially available for clinical use, such as Allumera, Photofrin, Visudyne, Levulan, Foscan, Metvix, Hexvix, Cysview, and Laserphyrin, with others in development, e.g. Antrin, Photochlor, Photosens, Photrex, Lumacan, Cevira, Visonac, BF-200 ALA. Amphinex. Also Azadipyrromethenes.

Although these photosensitizers can be used for wildly different treatments, they all aim to achieve certain characteristics:

*High absorption at long wavelengths

*Tissue is much more transparent at longer wavelengths (~700–850 nm). Absorbing at longer wavelengths would allow the light to penetrate deeper,[8] and allow the treatment of larger tumors.

*High singlet oxygen quantum yield

*Low photobleaching to prevent degradation of the photosensitizer

*Natural fluorescence

*Many optical dosimetry techniques, such as fluorescence spectroscopy, depend on the drug being naturally fluorescent[10]

*High chemical stability

*Low dark toxicity

*The photosensitizer should not be harmful to the target tissue until the treatment beam is applied.

*Preferential uptake in target tissue

The major difference between different types of photosensitizers is in the parts of the cell that they target. Unlike in radiation therapy, where damage is done by targeting cell DNA, most photosensitizers target other cell structures. For example, mTHPC has been shown to localize in the nuclear envelope and do its damage there. In contrast, ALA has been found to localize in the mitochondria and Methylene Blue in the lysosomes.

To allow treatment of deeper tumours some researchers are using internal chemiluminescence to activate the photosensitiser.

PUVA therapy is using psoralen as photosensitiser and UVA ultraviolet as light source, but this form of therapy is usually classified as a separate form of therapy from photodynamic therapy.

Targeted PDT:
Some photosensitisers naturally accumulate in the endothelial cells of vascular tissue allowing ‘vascular targeted’ PDT, but there is also research to target the photosensitiser to the tumour (usually by linking it to antibodies or antibody fragments). It is currently only in pre-clinical studies.

Applications:
Compared to normal tissues, most types of cancers are especially active in both the uptake and accumulation of photosensitizers agents, which makes cancers especially vulnerable to PDT. Since photosensitizers can also have a high affinity for vascular endothelial cells.

Usage in acne:
PDT is currently in clinical trials to be used as a treatment for severe acne. Initial results have shown for it to be effective as a treatment only for severe acne, though some question whether it is better than existing acne treatments. The treatment causes severe redness and moderate to severe pain and burning sensation. A phase II trial, while it showed improvement occurred, failed to show improved response compared to the blue/violet light alone
Advantages:
There are several advantages of photodynamic therapy over other forms of facial rejuvenation. For example, PDT is less destructive (and therefore less painful) than many of the deeper peels and lasers. There is also minimal recovery time. It is also a proven technique for the treatment of precancerous lesions. Thus, depending on the technique used, there may be an additional benefit of preventing skin cancer.

Disadvantages:
The disadvantage of photodynamic therapy is that it is new. Long-term side effects are unknown, and the benefits are not as well studied. For example, PDT is not known how long the benefits last.

Although PDT is a promising new therapy, you need to discuss the risks, benefits, and alternatives with your physician to decide if PDT is right for you.
Modern development of PDT in Russia:
Of all the nations beginning to use PDT in the late 20th century, the Russians were the quickest to advance its use clinically and to make many developments. One early Russian development was a new photosensitizer called Photogem which, like HpD, was derived from haematoporphyrin in 1990 by Professor Andrey F. Mironov and coworkers in Moscow. Photogem was approved by the Ministry of Health of Russia and tested clinically from February 1992 to 1996. A pronounced therapeutic effect was observed in 91 percent of the 1500 patients that underwent PDT using Photogem, with 62 percent having a total tumor resolution. Of the remaining patients, a further 29 percent had a partial tumor resolution, where the tumour at least halved in size. In those patients that had been diagnosed early, 92 percent of the patients showed complete resolution of the tumour.

Around this time, Russian scientists also collaborated with NASA medical scientists who were looking at the use of LEDs as more suitable light sources, compared to lasers, for PDT applications.

Modern development of PDT in Asia:
PDT has also seen considerably development in Asia. Since 1990, the Chinese have been developing specialist clinical expertise with PDT using their own domestically produced photosensitizers, derived from Haematoporphyrin, and light sources. PDT in China is especially notable for the technical skill of specialists in effecting resolution of difficult to reach tumours
Resources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Photodynamic_therapy
http://www.dermanetwork.org/information/pdt.asp

Sow thistle

Botanical Name :Sonchus oleraceus Linn.
Family:Asteraceae/ Compositae
Tribe: Cichorieae
Genus: Sonchus
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Asterales
Synonyms :Hare’s Thistle. Hare’s Lettuce.
Scientific names :  Sonchus oleraceus Linn.,Hieracium oleracerum Linn. ,Lactuca oleracerea Linn.
Common names :Gagatang (Ig.),Common sowthistle (Engl.),Milkweed (Engl.) ,Milk thistle (Engl.) ,Smooth sow thistle (Engl.) ,Swinles (Engl.) ,Sow thistle (Engl.)

Habitat :Found in the Benguet subprovinces, Rizal and Laguna provinces in Luzon. In waster places, along trails, old gardens, on talus slopes at altitudes of 1,200 to 2,000 meters

Description:
Sow thistle is an herb, erect, annual, milky, hairy or slightly glandular, growing 40 to 80 cm high. Leaves are oblong to lanceolate, 10 to 20 cm long, coarsely and lyrately lobed; the lobes somewhat reflexed and toothed, the terminal ones large, the lateral pointing downwards, and those of the stem clasping at the base. Heads are peduncled, about 1 cm long. Bracts are smooth, thin and green. Flowers are numerous and yellow. Achenes are nearly 3 mm long, compressed, ribbed and rough.

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It has hollow thick, branched stems full of milky juice, and thin, oblong leaves, more or less cut into (pinnatifid) with irregular, prickly teeth on the margins. The upper leaves are much simpler in form than the lower ones, clasping the stem at their bases.

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The flowers are a pale yellow, and when withered, the involucres close over them in a conical form. The seed vessels are crowned with a tuft of hairs, or pappus, like most of this large family of Compositae.

Edible Uses:
The young leaves are still in some parts of the Continent employed as an ingredient in salads It used in former times to be mingled with other pot herbs, and was occasionally employed in soups; the smoothest variety is said to be excellent boiled like spinach.

Constituents:
* Contains fixed oil with stearic and palmitic acids, ceryl-alcohol, invert sugar, choline, tartaric acid.
* Milky juice contains oxydase, coautchoue, mannite, l-inosite, etc.
* Phytochemicals of aqueous extracts yielded sugar reducers, phenolic compounds, tannins, flavonoids and coumarins.
* Study yielded four sesquiterpene glycosides – sonchusides A, B, C and D together with five known glycosides – glucozaluzanin C, macrocliniside A, crepidiaside A and picrisides A and C.

Medicinal Uses:
Parts used: Stem, leaves, gum, juice.

Folkloric:-
* Brownish gum formed by the evaporation of the common sow thistle, when taken internally in a dose of two to four grains, acts as a “powerful hydragogue cathartic” with strong effects on the liver, duodenum and colon. Its effects resemble elaterium, producing large and watery discharges, thus an effective agent in ascites and hydrothorax. However, it may cause griping like senna and produce tenemus like aloes. To counteract that effect, the gum is administered with manna, aniseed, and carbonate of magnesia, or with stimulants and aromatics

* Infusion of leaves and roots used by the natives of Bengal as tonic and febrifuge.

*In Indochina, stems used as sedative and tonic.

*In Italy, used as a laxative and diuretic.

*Juice of the plant used for cleaning and healing ulcers.

*In Brazilian folk medicine, used as a general tonic.

Studies
• Antidepressant: Study of S oleraceus extracts in mice showed evidence of an antidepressant-like effect comparable to that of amitriptyline (10mg/K p.o.).

• Antinociceptive: Extracts of SO markedly demonstrated antinociceptive action in mice, supporting previous claims of traditional use. At 300 mg/kg, it had a stronger antinociceptive effect than indomethacin (5 mg/kg) and morphine (10 mg/kg).

• Anxiolytic: Study of extract of aerial parts showed anxiolytic effects in mice similar to clonazepam (0.5 mg/kg).

• Phytochemicals / Low Toxicity: Study of aqueous extracts showed phenolic compounds, tannins, flavonoids and coumarins. Toxicity test on Artemia salina indicated low toxicity.

• Antioxidant / Cytotoxicity: Study of SO extracts showed concentration-dependent antioxidant activity. The methanol extracts yielded the greatest the most phenolic and flavonoid contents. Cytotoxicity activity showed the ethanol extract had the best activity against the growth of stomach cancer cell.

• Anti-Quorum Sensing / Antimicrobial: A study of 14 ethanolic extracts of different parts of 8 plants for antimicrobial and antiquorum sensing activity showed Sonchus oleraceus and Laurus nobilis to have superior activity against Chromobacterium violaceum. Quorum sensing is involved in microbial pathogenesis, and its inhibition may be a way of controlling bacterial infections with the advantage of reducing risks of resistance development.

Other Uses:
Its chief use nowadays is as food for rabbits. There is no green food they devour more eagerly, and all keepers of rabbits in hutches should provide them with a plentiful supply. Pigs are also particularly fond of the succulent leaves and stems of the Sow-Thistle.

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://botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/s/sowthi71.html
http://www.stuartxchange.com/Gagatang.html
http://www.plantsystematics.org/imgs/kcn2/r/Asteraceae_Sonchus_oleraceus_33896.html

Regular Exercise Reduces a Large Number of Health Risks

Regular exercise can reduce the risk and symptoms of more than 20 physical and mental health conditions, and can also slow down how quickly your body ages.

A review of research, which summarized the findings of 40 papers published between 2006 and 2010, found that exercise affects conditions including cancer, heart disease, dementia, stroke, type 2 diabetes, depression, obesity and high blood pressure.

Science Daily reports:
“… [A]part from not smoking, being physically active is the most powerful lifestyle choice any individual can make to improve their health.”

A separate study also found that women who exercise for 150 minutes a week or more could be reducing their risk of endometrial cancer, whether or not they are overweight.

Researchers examined data collected from a case-control study that included almost 700 women with endometrial cancer and compared them to a similar number of age-matched control women. Those who exercised for 150 minutes a week or more had a 34 percent reduced risk of endometrial cancer.

Newswise reports:
“This association was more pronounced among active women with a body mass index (BMI) less than 25, or underweight women, where the reduction in risk was 73 percent compared with inactive women with a BMI more than 25, or what is commonly considered overweight.

Although BMI showed a strong association with endometrial cancer, even women who were overweight, but still active, had a 52 percent lower risk.”

Resources:
Science Daily November 16, 2010
International Journal of Clinical Practice December 2010; 64(13):1731-4
Newswise November 12, 2010

Posted by: Dr. Mercola | December 09 2010

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Call for Mandatory Salt Curbs

Forcing food manufacturers to cut salt levels in processed food could help cut heart disease rates, claim Australian researchers.

A high salt food is bad for health

A theoretical study suggests mandatory salt limits could help reduce heart disease rates by 18% – far more than by using existing voluntary measures.

High-salt diets are linked to high blood pressure, which can lead to heart attacks or strokes.

Adults are advised to consume a maximum of 6g of salt a day – about a teaspoon.

The study looked at the effectiveness of different strategies around the world for reducing salt in processed foods.

Many countries, including Finland, the US, the UK, Canada, France, Australia and New Zealand, have adopted salt reduction programmes based on food labelling and voluntary cuts.

Australia uses a “Tick” programme, where food manufacturers can use a health promotion logo on packaging if they volunteer to cut salt content.

The team calculated that voluntary use of the logo could reduce heart disease rates in Australia by almost 1% – more than twice that of dietary advice alone.

But if all manufacturers were made to use the logo, the health benefits could be 20 times greater, they predict.

“If corporate responsibility fails, maybe there is an ethical justification for government to step in and legislate,” the authors, led by Linda Cobiac, of the University of Queensland, write in the journal Heart.

A UK heart charity said voluntary measures placed on food companies in the UK had made a difference but more could be done.

Victoria Taylor, senior heart health dietician at the British Heart Foundation, said: “We’re making progress without the need for compulsory limits and as a result we’ve seen a reduction in salt intake.

“But as three quarters of the salt we eat is already in the food we buy, we need to build on this work and watch carefully to make sure the food industry doesn’t slip back into old habits.”

Katharine Jenner of Consensus Action on Salt and Health (CASH) said the UK had pioneered a voluntary approach where all food sectors reduce the amount of salt they put in food.

“This cost-effective approach has been very successful and has already led to population average salt intakes falling by 10%,” she said.

Source
:BBC News

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