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Herbs & Plants (Spices)

Lactuca capensis

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Botanical Name: Lactuca capensis
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Asterales
Family: Asteraceae
Tribe: Cichorieae
Genus: Lactuca

Habitat:Lactuca capensis is native to S. Africa. It grows on lower mountain slopes, Lion’s Head to Constantia.

Description:
Lactuca capensis is a perennial herb growing to 0.5 m (1ft 8in). The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects.Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.

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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. Prefers a light sandy loam.

Propagation:
Seed – sow spring in a cold frame and only just cover the seed. Germination is usually quick, prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and plant them out in early summer. Division in spring.
Edible Uses: Young plant – cooked.

Medicinal Uses :
Although we have seen no specific reports for this species, most if not all members of the genus have a milky sap that contains the substance ‘lactucarium‘ and can probably be used as the report below details. The whole plant is rich in a milky sap that flows freely from any wounds. This hardens and dries when in contact with the air. The sap contains ‘lactucarium’, which is used in medicine for its anodyne, antispasmodic, digestive, diuretic, hypnotic, narcotic and sedative properties. Lactucarium has the effects of a feeble opium, but without its tendency to cause digestive upsets, nor is it addictive. It is taken internally in the treatment of insomnia, anxiety, neuroses, hyperactivity in children, dry coughs, whooping cough, rheumatic pain etc. Concentrations of lactucarium are low in young plants and most concentrated when the plant comes into flower. It is collected commercially by cutting the heads of the plants and scraping the juice into china vessels several times a day until the plant is exhausted. An infusion of the fresh or dried flowering plant can also be used. The plant should be used with caution, and never without the supervision of a skilled practitioner. Even normal doses can cause drowsiness whilst excess causes restlessness and overdoses can cause death through cardiac paralysis. Some physicians believe that any effects of this medicine are caused by the mind of the patient rather than by the medicine. The sap has also been applied externally in the treatment of warts.

Known Hazards:  Although no specific mention of toxicity has been seen for this species, many plants in this genus contain a narcotic principle, this is at its most concentrated when the plant begins to flower. This principle has been almost bred out of the cultivated forms of lettuce but is produced when the plant starts to go to seed

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/Lactuca
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Lactuca+capensis

Categories
Herbs & Plants

Avena ludoviciana

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Botanical Name: Avena ludoviciana
Family: Poaceae
Genus: Avena
Species:A. sterilis
Kingdom:Plantae
Order: Poales

Synonyms: Avena ludoviciana Durieu; Avena sterilis

Common Names: Animated oat, Sterile oat, Wild oat, Wild red oat, Winter wild oat
Common name in Hindi : Jangli Jai

Habitat :Avena ludoviciana is native to Europe – Mediterranean, to S.W. Asia. An introduced weed in Britain. It grows on dry wasteland, cultivated ground and meadows, especially on heavier soils. A spreading weed in the Mediterranean where it is becoming a pest.

Description:
Avena ludoviciana is an upright annual weed. It has long broad leaves having bright green colour. During early stage its plants resemble with wheat and cultivated oat, but at mature stage this weed is taller than wheat (120cm).

Roots: Fibrous root system.
Leaves: The leaves are linear and alternate, blade 60cm long and 0.5 to 1.5cm wide; ligule membranous; sheath on lower leaves.
Inflorescence:Panicles are composed of green spikelets and each spikelet has 2 to 5 pedicelled brownish green flowers; disarticulation above the glumes; glumes equal, two-toothed at the apex; awn twisted, about 3 to 8cm long, upper parts bent sharply at right angles to the twisted parts.
Seeds:Seeds are brown and black covered with black hairs.

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It is not frost tender. It is in flower from Jun to July, and the seeds ripen from Aug to October. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Wind.
Biology :
Annual plant, it reproduces by seeds. The first seed on the panicle had almost no dormancy and, thereafter, the seeds of the second, third and fourth positions germinated in turn. Seeds from the third and fourth positions did not germinate until the second and third years after sowing.
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 dry or moist soil and can tolerate drought.
Cultivation:
Succeeds in any moderately fertile soil in full sun. Prefers a poor dry soil. This species is a weed of cultivated land, its seeds are somewhat smaller than the cultivated oats and the yields are rather lower. Oats are in general easily grown plants but, especially when grown on a small scale, the seed is often completely eaten out by birds. Some sort of netting seems to be the best answer on a garden scale.

Propagation:
Seed – sow in situ in early spring or in the autumn. Only just cover the seed. Germination should take place within 2 weeks.

Edible Uses:
Seed – cooked. The seed ripens in the latter half of summer and, when harvested and dried, can store for several years. It has a floury texture and a mild, somewhat creamy flavour. It can be used as a staple food crop in either savoury or sweet dishes. The seed can be cooked whole, though it is more commonly ground into a flour and used as a cereal in all the ways that oats are used, especially as a porridge but also to make biscuits, sourdough bread etc. The seed can also be sprouted and eaten raw or cooked in salads, stews etc. The roasted seed is a coffee substitute.

Medicinal Uses: It is highly fibrous food, which is very good for constipation & some other forms of stomac disesses for regular bowel cleaning.
Other Uses:
Fibre; Mulch; Paper; Thatching.

The straw has a wide range of uses such as for bio-mass, fibre, mulch, paper-making and thatching. Some caution is advised in its use as a mulch since oat straw can infest strawberries with stem and bulb eelworm.
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/Avena_sterilis
http://idao.cirad.fr/content/oscar/especes/a/avest/avest.html
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Avena+ludoviciana

Categories
Herbs & Plants (Spices)

Alnus japonica

Botanical Name: Alnus japonica
Family: Betulaceae
Genus: Alnus
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Fagales

Common Name: Japanese Alder

Habitat : Alnus japonica is native to Japan.Japan, Korea, Manchuria. It is best grown in medium to wet soils in full sun to part shade. Also tolerates dry, infertile soils. Best in cool climates

Description:
Alnus japonica is a deciduous Tree growing typically to 40-60′ (less frequently to 80′) at a fast rate. Narrow, acuminate, serrulate, ovate to elliptic, dark green leaves (to 5″ long) are wedge-shaped at the base and light green underneath. No appreciable fall color. Flowers are monoecious. Long, pendant, yellow-brown male catkins appear in clusters. Short erect female catkins are followed by ellipsoidal fruiting cones (3/4″ to 1 inch long) composed of winged seeds. It is in flower from Feb to March. The flowers are monoecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but both sexes can be found on the same plant) and are pollinated by Wind.It can fix Nitrogen.

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Suitable for: medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and can grow in heavy clay and nutritionally poor soils. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers dry moist or wet soil. The plant can tolerates strong winds but not maritime exposure.

Medicinal Uses:
Various species of alder, including this species, seem to contain antitumour compounds……click to see more

Other Uses : Charcoal; Dye; Wood.
A dye is obtained from the bark. Wood – close grained. Used for turnery, charcoal.

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/Alder
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Alnus+japonica
http://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/PlantFinder/PlantFinderDetails.aspx?taxonid=277844&isprofile=0&

Categories
Herbs & Plants

Rhus copallina

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Botanical Name : Rhus copallina
Family: Anacardiaceae
Genus: Rhus
Species:R. copallinum
Kingdom:Plantae
Order: Sapindales

Common Names: Winged sumac, Shining sumac, Dwarf sumac or Flameleaf sumac

Habitat : Rhus copallina is native to Eastern N. America – Maine to Florida, west to Texas and Illinois. It is generally found in dry soils on hillsides, along the margins of woodlands and roads, and in abandoned fields.

Description:
Rhus copallina is a deciduous tree growing to 3.5–5.5 metres (11–18 ft) tall and an equal spread with a rounded crown. A 5-year-old sapling will stand about 2.5 metres (8.2 ft). The plant is not frost tender. It is in flower from Jul to September, and the seeds ripen from Oct to December.
The flowers are yellow. The fruit attracts birds with no significant litter problem, is persistent on the tree and showy. The flowers are dioecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but only one sex is to be found on any one plant so both male and female plants must be grown if seed is required) and are pollinated by Bees.The plant is not self-fertile.
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The bark is thin and easily damaged from mechanical impact; branches droop as the tree grows, and will require pruning for vehicular or pedestrian clearance beneath the canopy; routinely grown with, or trainable to be grown with, multiple trunks. The tree wants to grow with several trunks but can be trained to grow with a single trunk. It has no thorns.

Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers dry or moist soil and can tolerate drought. The plant can tolerates strong winds but not maritime exposure.

Cultivation:
The tree succeeds in a well-drained fertile soil in full sun. Tolerates poor soils. Established plants are drought resistant. A very hardy species, when fully dormant it can tolerate temperatures down to about -25°c. However, the young growth in spring can be damaged by late frosts. A very ornamental plant. It is quite fast-growing but short-lived in the wild. In the north of its range plants are dwarf, around 1.2 metres tall, but in the south they can be up to 7 metres tall. Some botanists divide this species into separate species, whilst others see it as a single species with geographical forms. R. copallina is usually a shrub and is found in moist soils in sun or shade. R. copallina lanceolata. Gray. is more tree-like and is found in drier soils. Transplants easily. Plants have brittle branches and these can be broken off in strong winds. Plants are also susceptible to coral spot fungus. Many of the species in this genus are highly toxic and can also cause severe irritation to the skin of some people, whilst other species such as this one are not poisonous. It is relatively simple to distinguish which is which, the poisonous species have axillary panicles and smooth fruits whilst non-poisonous species have compound terminal panicles and fruits covered with acid crimson hairs. The toxic species are sometimes separated into their own genus, Toxicodendron, by some botanists. Plants in this genus are notably resistant to honey fungus. Dioecious. Male and female plants must be grown if seed is required. Special Features:Attracts birds, North American native, Attracts butterflies, Attractive flowers or blooms.

Propagation:
Seed – best sown in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe. Pre-soak the seed for 24 hours in hot water (starting at a temperature of 80 – 90c and allowing it to cool) prior to sowing in order to leach out any germination inhibitors. This soak water can be drunk and has a delicious lemon-flavour. The stored seed also needs hot water treatment and can be sown in early spring in a cold frame. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, 10cm with a heel, July/August in a frame. Root cuttings 4cm long taken in December and potted up vertically in a greenhouse. Good percentage. Suckers in late autumn to winter.
Edible Uses:

Fruit – raw or cooked. An agreeable acid flavour. The fruit is only 3 – 5mm long with very little flesh, but it is borne on dense panicles and is thus easily harvested. When soaked for 10 – 30 minutes in hot or cold water it makes a very refreshing lemonade-like drink (without any fizz of course). The mixture should not be boiled since this will release tannic acids and make the drink astringent.
Medicinal Uses:

Astringent; Enuresis; Galactogogue; Poultice; Salve.

A decoction of the root has been used in the treatment of dysentery. An infusion of the roots has been used in the treatment of VD. A poultice of the root has been applied to sores and skin eruptions. A tea made from the bark has been drunk to stimulate milk flow in nursing mothers. A decoction of the bark has been used as a wash for blisters and sunburn blisters. An infusion of the leaves has been used to cleanse and purify skin eruptions. The berries were chewed in the treatment of bed-wetting and mouth sores. Some caution is advised in the use of the leaves and stems of this plant, see the notes bolow on toxicity.

Other Uses
Dye; Hedge; Hedge; Mordant; Oil; Resin; Soil stabilization; Tannin; Varnish; Wood.

The leaves are rich in tannin, so is the bark and the fruit. The leaves can be collected as they fall in the autumn and used as a brown dye or as a mordant. The leaves contain 10 – 25% tannin. Up to 35.8% has been obtained from some plants. An oil is extracted from the seeds. It attains a tallow-like consistency on standing and is used to make candles. These burn brilliantly, though they emit a pungent smoke. The plants extensive root system makes it useful for stabilizing soils. A black dye is obtained from the fruit. A resin, ‘copal resin’, is obtained from the sap of this plant. When dissolved in any volatile liquid, such as oil of turpentine, it makes a beautiful varnish. (Is this a mistaken entry? Perhaps it belongs with one of the toxic species). Wood – light, soft, coarse grained. It weighs 32lb per cubic foot. Sometimes used for small posts.

Shining sumac is often cultivated, where it is well-suited to natural and informal landscapes because it has underground runners which spread to provide dense, shrubby cover for birds and wildlife. This species is valued for ornamental planting because of its lustrous dark green foliage which turns a brilliant orange-red in fall. The fall color display is frequently enjoyed along interstate highways, as the plant readily colonizes these and other disturbed sites. The tiny, greenish-yellow flowers, borne in compact, terminal panicles, are followed by showy red clusters of berries which persist into the winter and attract wildlife.

Known Hazards : There are some suggestions that the sap of this species can cause a skin rash in susceptible people, but this has not been substantiated. See also notes in ‘Cultivation Details’.
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/Rhus_copallinum
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Rhus+copallina

Categories
Ailmemts & Remedies

Dental Plaque

Definition:Dental plaque is biofilm (usually colorless) that builds up on the teeth. If not removed regularly, it can lead to dental cavities (caries) or periodontal problems (such as gingivitis).

It is the sticky, colorless film of bacteria that forms on teeth. It makes teeth “feel fuzzy” to the tongue and is most noticeable when teeth are not brushed.

The microorganisms that form the biofilm are almost entirely bacteria (mainly streptococcus mutans and anaerobes), with the composition varying by location in the mouth. Examples of such anaerobes include fusobacterium and Actinobacteria.

The microorganisms present in dental plaque are all naturally present in the oral cavity, and are normally harmless. However, failure to remove plaque by regular toothbrushing means that they are allowed to build up in a thick layer. Those microorganisms nearest the tooth surface convert to anaerobic respiration; it is in this state that they start to produce acids which consequently lead to demineralization of the adjacent tooth surface, and dental caries. Saliva is also unable to penetrate the build-up of plaque and thus cannot act to neutralize the acid produced by the bacteria and remineralize the tooth surface.

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Dental plaque is a thin film containing bacteria, which is constantly forming on the surfaces of teeth. It is a soft, whitish substance. It is not easily detected until the coating on the teeth becomes quite thick. It accumulates in the areas which are not naturally cleansed by the action of the tongue or the lips and also those areas which are relatively inaccessible to brushing. If dental plaque persists, mineral substances in saliva, principally, calcium salts, combine with the dental plaque to form a hard deposit, termed calculus (tartar), which can only professionally be removed.

Plaque build up can also become mineralized and form calculus (tartar).


Causes:

Plaque develops when foods containing carbohydrates (sugars and starches) such as milk, soft drinks, raisins, cakes, or candy are frequently left on the teeth. Bacteria that live in the mouth thrive on these foods, producing acids as a result. Over a period of time, these acids destroy tooth enamel, resulting in tooth decay. Plaque can also develop on the tooth roots under the gum and cause breakdown of the bone supporting the tooth
Prevention and treatment:

Frequency of brushing and flossing with good technique is important, because the nature (i.e. composition) of the microorganisms change as the plaque ages. Therefore, plaque which is 12 hours old for example is much less damaging than plaque which has not been removed in days.

Oral hygiene practices have evolved largely during the time they have been most needed, i.e. the 20th and 21st centuries. The sudden increase in tooth decay is almost certainly attributable to changes in diet, such as the introduction of refined sugar and, later, candy.

Mouthwash (also mouth rinse) is used for oral hygiene. Antiseptic and anti-plaque mouth rinse claims to kill the bacteria that cause plaque, gingivitis, and halitosis. Anti-cavity mouthwash contains fluoride, protecting against tooth decay.

Few Tips:

* Brush your teeth at least twice a day with a soft, rounded-tip bristled toothbrush. Pay particular attention to the space where the gums and teeth meet. Use a fluoride-containing toothpaste.
* Floss between teeth at least once a day to remove food particles and bacteria.
* See your dentist or oral hygienist every 6 months for a check-up and teeth cleaning.
* Ask your dentist if a dental sealant is appropriate for you. Dental sealants are a thin, plastic coating that are painted on the chewing surfaces of teeth to protect them from cavities and decay.
* Eat a balanced diet and limit the number of between-meal snacks. If you need a snack, choose nutritious foods such as plain yogurt, cheese, fruit, or raw vegetables. Vegetables, such as celery, help remove food and help saliva neutralize plaque-causing acids.

*Massage your gum with a finger daily and then wash your mouth.

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You may click to see also:What is Dental Plaque?

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.

Sources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dental_plaque
http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/guide/plaque-and-your-teeth