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Herbs & Plants

Viola sororia

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Botanical Name:Viola sororia
Family: Violaceae
Genus: Viola
Species: V. sororia
Kingdom: Plantae
Phylum: Spermatophytes
Order: Malpighiales

Synonyms: Viola floridana, Viola papilionacea

Common Names:Common Meadow Violet, Purple Violet, Woolly Blue Violet, Hooded Violet and Wood Violet.

Habitat : Viola sororia is native to eastern North America. It is the state flower of Wisconsin, Illinois, Rhode Island, and New Jersey.

Description:
Viola sororia is a harbiculas annual flowering plant with simple green leaf. Flower clowers are White , Pink , Blue , Purple . Blooming time is Mar , Apr , May.
Fruits aregreen with purple.
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Edible Uses:
Beyond its use as a common lawn and garden plant, it is edible. The flowers and leaves are edible, and some sources suggest the roots can also be eaten.

Medicinal Uses:
The Cherokee used it to treat colds and headaches. Rafinesque, in his Medical Flora, a Manual of the Medical Botany of the United States of North America (1828–1830), wrote of Viola sororia being used by his American contemporaries for coughs, sore throats, and constipation.

Violet flowers and leaves are considered blood purifiers or detoxifiers. They’re a traditional treatment for cancer, especially breast cancer, taken internally and applied externally.   Violets contain rutin, which strengthens the capillaries, as well as vitamin C.  Violet-leaf tea is supposed to be good for lung congestion, coughs, colds, dysentery and infections, and a violet-leaf poultice is soothing for all kinds of skin irritations, small wounds and rashes as well as a headache.  A poultice of the crushed root has been applied to boils.

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/Viola_sororia
http://www.wildflower.org/plants/result.php?id_plant=VISO
http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_UZ.htm

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Herbs & Plants

Veronica americana

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Botanical Name : Veronica americana
Family: Plantaginaceae
Genus: Veronica
Species: V. americana
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Lamiales

Common Names : American Brooklime or American Speedwell

Habitat : Veronica americana  is  native to temperate and arctic Asia and North America  where it grows in streams and bottomlands

Description:
It is a herbaceous perennial with glabrous stems 10–100 cm long that bear terminal or axillary racemes or spikes of soft violet flowers. The leaves are 1.5–8 cm long and 3 to 20 times as long as wide, short-petiolate, glabrous, serrate to almost entire.

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• Flower size: 1/4 inch across
Flower color: blue
Flowering time: May to September

Edible Uses:
American Speedwell is edible and nutritious and is reported to have a flavor similar to watercress.

Medicinal Uses:
American speedwell is primarily used as an expectorant tea, which is said to help move bronchial congestion and make coughing more productive.  It also has astringent and diuretic qualities

Native Americans used Veronica species as an expectorant tea to alleviate bronchial congestion associated with asthma and allergies. The plant can be confused with Skullcap and other members of the mint family. Members of the mint family have square sided stems, and Veronica species have rounded stems, and are easily distinguished from skullcap

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/Veronica_americana
http://www.ct-botanical-society.org/galleries/veronicaamer.html
http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_RST.htm

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Herbs & Plants

Lemon Thyme

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Botanical Name: Thymus citriodorus
Family:Lamiaceae
Kingdom :Plantae
Division :Magnoliophyta
Class :Magnoliopsida
Order :Lamiales
Genus :Thymus

SynonymsThymus serpyllum var. albus ,   Thymus serpyllum ssp. chamaedrys

Common Names:  Lemon Thyme, Creeping Lemon Thyme, Lemon-Scented Thyme
Habitat:It is not  native to USA but introduced and now grows in Connecticut (CT), Delaware (DE), Maine (ME), Maryland (MD), Massachusetts (MA), Michigan (MI), New Hampshire (NH), New York (NY), Oregon (OR), Pennsylvania (PA), Rhode Island (RI), Vermont (VT), Virginia (VA) and Washington (WA) .

Description: The lemon thyme is generally described as a Perennial Subshrub or Shrub.It is a compact, upright shrub that grows to a height of 8 to 12 inches. The leaves are tiny and heart shaped, ringed with a splash of yellow. As the name implies, lemon thyme has a bit of a citrus tang, but is milder than most other thyme. This makes it a natural choice for seasoning seafood dishes and even sweets. The citrus flavor also helps to lighten fatty dishes.
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Bees are attracted to lemon thyme and it gives honey a good flavor. It grows on dry, well drained soil. It produces dark pink flowers which bloom in late summer and it is the small green leaves that smell strongly of lemon. It is not as hardy as other thymes so may need protecting in winter with a layer of leaf mold or straw. This is a good variety for growing in containers. The dried, scented leaves make a useful, fragrant addition to pot pourri or scented sachets.

Cultivation :
Landscape Uses:Border, Container, Ground cover, Rock garden. Requires a light well-drained preferably calcareous soil in a sunny position. Succeeds in dry soils. Thymes dislike wet conditions, especially in the winter. A layer of gravel on the soil around them will help protect the foliage from wet soils. Plants are hardy to about -15°c. This is a very difficult genus taxonomically, the species hybridize freely with each other and often intergrade into each other. Often cultivated in the herb garden for its leaves, there are some named varieties. The flowers are rich in nectar and are very attractive to honey bees. A good companion for most plants. Special Features:Edible, Fragrant foliage, Not North American native, Suitable for dried flowers.
Propagation:
Seed – sow spring in a cold frame. Seed can also be sown in autumn in a greenhouse. Surface sow or barely cover the seed. Germination can be erratic. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. This species is a hybrid and will not breed true from seed. Division in spring or autumn. 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. Cuttings of young shoots, 5 – 8cm with a heel, May/June in a frame. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, 5 – 8cm with a heel, July/August in a frame. Layering.

Edible Uses : Leaves – raw in salads or added as a flavouring to cooked foods. A delicious lemon flavour. If the leaves are to be dried, the plants should be harvested in early and late summer just before the flowers open and the leaves should be dried quickly. An aromatic tea is made from the leaves. It has a pleasant lemon-like flavour and is very refreshing

Its light perfume fills the air as it hangs drying from hooks.Both grilled fish dishes and creamy potato gratins are perfect blank canvases for lemon thyme. This wonderful, aromatic herb is also amazing with chicken.

A sweetly scented, evergreen herb and a cultivated form of wild thyme. It is a popular culinary herb due to its mild citrus flavor and is often used in stuffings, with chicken dishes or added to fruit salads and jellies.

Medicinal Uses: Herbal tea made from thyme is said to help speed recovery from a hangover.
Used to make pediatric oral preparations that are tasty and sweet to relieve an “upset tummy”.  It is also in ointments and in “sleep pillows”.
The natural, volatile oils also work as a digestive aid. These same pungent oils make lemon thyme a favorite in aroma therapy for the treatment of asthma. – Sally’s Place.

The leaves, and especially the essential oil contained in them, are strongly antiseptic, deodorant and disinfectant. The plant can be used fresh at any time of the year, or it can be harvested as it comes into flower and either be distilled for the oil or dried for later use. The leaves contain an antioxidant and regular use of the raw leaves has been shown to increase average life expectancy by about 10%. The essential oil obtained from this plant is thought to be less irritant than other thyme oils .

Other Uses :  The essential oil obtained from the leaves and flowering stems is used in perfumery, as a mouth wash, medicinally etc. The aromatic leaves are dried and used in pot-pourri and herbal pillows. The plant makes an attractive ground cover for a sunny position. They are best spaced about 30cm apart each way[

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.piam.com/mms_garden/plants.html
http://www.liketocook.com/50226711/weekend_herb_blogging_lemon_thyme.php
http://www.info-galaxy.com/Herbs/General_Index/Filter/Lemon_Thyme/lemon_thyme.html

http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Thymus+x+citriodorus

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News on Health & Science

Getting a Grip on the Winter Blues (SAD)

It is that time of year again, when despite the ratcheting up of festivities for the holidays, fully one person in five in the United States ratchets down. The cause is a now well-known but still infrequently treated disorder, winter blues or SAD, for seasonal affective disorder.

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There are several remedies to help those affected by SAD escape an affliction that leaves many wanting to climb into bed, put their heads under the covers and not come out until spring. Indeed, some experts refer to SAD as a form of hibernation.

The problem typically starts gradually as the days become shorter in late summer or fall and peaks in midwinter in regions where there may be just 9 or 10 hours of daylight, if that.

For the estimated 14 million severely affected American adults, SAD can send them into a tailspin that makes it difficult if not impossible to fulfill daily responsibilities and derive any joy from life. An additional 33 million people are less severely affected but may experience declines in energy, cheerfulness, creativity or productivity in the dark days of winter.

The most commonly used treatment is exposure for up to several hours a day to high-intensity artificial light, in an effort to simulate the longer days of summer when people with SAD function at top speed.

Jet Lag and Circadian Rhythm
Dr Alfred J. Lewy, a psychiatrist who has been studying the biology behind SAD, describes it as a form of jet lag, a concept he proposed 20 years ago. He recently published experimental evidence that he says attests to the validity of this theory. If true, this would make SAD a disturbance in the circadian rhythm, the 24-hour pattern that normally aligns the sleep-wake cycle with all the other bodily rhythms. Dr. Lewy suggests that with the delayed dawn and shorter days of fall and winter, the rhythms of people afflicted with SAD drift out of phase with the sleep-wake cycle, as if they had traveled across many time zones.

With jet lag, recovery occurs over a matter of days, and the circadian rhythm once again becomes synchronized with day and night. “In people with SAD, this adjustment takes five months,” Dr. Lewy said.

If his theory is substantiated by further research, it may one day be possible to treat SAD with tiny daily doses of time-released melatonin, the substance in the brain that regulates the sleep-wake cycle. Melatonin naturally increases in the evening, causing sleepiness, and falls off as morning approaches. The idea would be to tailor the administration of melatonin in a way that realigns the out-of-sync circadian rhythm in people with SAD, just as tiny doses (much smaller than those typically sold in health-food and drug stores) of melatonin can be used to speed recovery from jet lag.

In his study, conducted with three colleagues at Oregon Health Sciences University, Dr. Lewy identified two types of SAD patients. About two-thirds required morning light or evening melatonin to correct their body clocks. The remainder needed evening light or morning melatonin to put their body rhythms back on track. Currently, there is no commercial source of time-release low-dose melatonin that could be used, with or without light therapy, to help people with SAD.

Current Remedies
Dr. Norman E. Rosenthal, a native of South Africa who discovered his own serious problem with SAD while a resident in psychiatry at the New York State Psychiatric Institute in 1976, has become an expert in diagnosing and treating the problem. His knowledge and experience in helping himself and countless patients afflicted with SAD are summarized in “Winter Blues: Everything You Need to Know to Beat Seasonal Affective Disorder,” whose revised edition the Guilford Press published this year.

Dr. Rosenthal aptly describes SAD as “an energy crisis.” Patients are not depressed in the usual emotional sense, but rather feel as if their batteries have run down.

The symptoms of SAD do mimic those of serious depression. Patients say they have to drag themselves out of bed in the morning, even after 10 hours of sleep, and force themselves to perform necessary chores. They feel leaden and would just as soon not see anybody or do anything. They find it difficult to concentrate and think clearly and quickly.

Sex drive often dwindles markedly but is often replaced by an insatiable appetite for carbohydrates — breads, pasta, potatoes, rice and sweets — that results in weight gain. Many people with SAD have two wardrobes, the one for winter being two sizes larger.

The most common remedy is light therapy. But not just any light. Patients are advised to sit in front of a specially designed light box that emits about 10,000 lux from a fluorescent bulb, most often in the morning for at least 45 minutes. Some patients require hours of light therapy each day to ward off the symptoms of SAD, which may mean having one light box at home and a second at work.

Among commercial sources for these light boxes is the Center for Environmental Therapeutics, which sells them for $200. Its Web site, www.cet.org, is a useful source of information about SAD.

Among other light-enhancing suggestions from Dr. Rosenthal are planning a winter vacation in a sunny climate or relocating to someplace nearer the Equator, where the days are longer in winter. (But, he cautions, first be sure you can tolerate the summer there.)

Helpful Machines and Therapies
For those who remain in northern latitudes, Michael and Jiuan Su Terman of the New York State Psychiatric Institute at Columbia University, who have conducted pioneering studies of SAD remedies, suggest considering a “dawn simulator.” This device gradually turns on a bedroom light every morning while you are still asleep, helping ease SAD symptoms by making the body think that it is experiencing the early sunrises of summer.

This might also help people who do not have SAD but who hate getting up in the morning when it is still dark out.

The Termans have also found another helpful gadget, a negative-ion generator. They showed that sitting in front of a machine that emits negative ions at a high rate for 30 minutes every morning was as effective as sitting in front of a light box for the same time. The generators are available for $165 from the Center for Environmental Therapeutics (Michael Terman is the president of its board). The advantage of this device is that it can be used while sleeping.

A third approach that has proved effective is cognitive behavioral therapy, when used with or without light therapy. Kelly J. Rohan of the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Md., (and currently of the University of Vermont) found that this therapy, a brief form of psychotherapy that helps people change negative thoughts and behaviors, was as effective as light therapy in a study of 23 patients with SAD.

And unlike light therapy used alone, cognitive behavioral therapy helped prevent a relapse of SAD symptoms the next winter.

Dr. Rosenthal also recommends eating a diet relatively high in protein and low in carbohydrates and performing regular physical exercise, which is especially helpful if it is outdoors in the morning or, if indoors, in front of a light box.

Source:The New York Times