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Opoponax chironium

Botanical Name : Opoponax chironium
Family: Apiaceae
Genus:     Opopanax
Species: O. chironium.
Kingdom: Plantae
Order:    Apiales

Synonym: Pastinaca Opoponax.

Common Names:Sweet myrrh or Bisabol myrrh

Habitat; Opoponax chironium  thrives in warm climates like Iran, Italy, Greece, Turkey and Somalia, but also grows in cooler climates. Some view opopanax grown in cooler climates as being of inferior quality.

Description:
Opoponax chironium is a perennial herb, with a thick, fleshy root, yellowish in colour. It has a branching stem growing about 1 to 3 feet high, thick and rough near the base. Leaves pinnate, with long petioles and large serrate leaflets, the terminal one cordate, the rest deficient at the base, hairy underneath. The flowers, yellowish, are in large, flat umbels at the top of the branches. The oleo resin is procured by cutting into the stem at the base. The juice that exudes, when sun-dried, forms the Opoponax of commerce. A warm climate is necessary to produce an oleo gum resin of the first quality; that from France is inferior, for this reason. In commerce it is sometimes found in tears, but usually in small, irregular pieces. Colour, reddish-yellow, with whitish specks on the outside, paler inside. Odour, peculiar, strongly unpleasant. Taste, acrid and bitter. It is inflammable, burning brightly.
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Medicinal Uses:

Part Used: Concrete juice from the base of stem.

Constituents:  Gum-resin, starch, wax, gum, lignin, volatile oil, malic acid, a slight trace of caoutchouc.

Antispasmodic, deobstruent. The resin has been used in the treatment of spasms, and, before that, as an emmenagogue, in the treatment of asthma, chronic visceral infections, hysteria and hypochondria. Opopanax resin is most frequently sold in dried irregular pieces, though tear-shaped gems are not uncommon.

Other Uses:
A consumable resin can be extracted from opopanax by cutting the plant at the base of a stem and sun-drying the juice that flows out. Though people often find the taste acrid and bitter, the highly flammable resin can be burned as incense to produce a scent somewhat like balsam or lavender.
It is employed in perfumery.

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.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/o/opopon10.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opopanax_chironium

Boswellia thurifera

Botanical Name :Boswellia thurifera
Family: Burseraceae
Genus: Boswellia
Species: B. serrata
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Sapindales

Common Names:   Boswellia (Frankincense) , Olibanum, Indian Frankincense, Arabic Frankincense, and Salai guggal

Habitat: Boswellia thurifera  is native to  Arabia, East Africa (particularly Oman, Socotra, Somalia)

Description:
Frankincense is tapped from the small drought-hardy Boswellia trees by slashing the bark, which is called striping, and allowing the exuded resin to bleed out and harden. These hardened resins are called tears. There are several species and varieties of frankincense trees, each producing a slightly different type of resin. Differences in soil and climate create even more diversity of the resin, even within the same species.

click to see the pictures……..(01).…(1).…....(2).……..(3)..……..(4).……....(5).……...

Boswellia Sacra trees are considered unusual for their ability to grow in environments so unforgiving that they sometimes grow out of almost solid rock. Attachment to the rock is accomplished by a bulbous disk-like swelling of the trunk. This feature is slight or absent in trees grown in rocky soil or gravel. The tears from trees growing on rock are considered superior for their more fragrant aroma.

The trees start producing resin when they are about eight to 10 years old. Tapping is done two to three times a year with the final taps producing the best tears due to their higher aromatic terpene, sesquiterpene and diterpene content. Generally speaking, the more opaque resins are the best quality. Fine resin is produced in Yemen and along the northern coast of Somalia, from which the Roman Catholic Church draws its supplies.

Recent studies have indicated that frankincense tree populations are declining, partly due to over-exploitation. Heavily tapped trees produce seeds that germinate at only 16% while seeds of trees that had not been tapped germinate at more than 80%. In addition, burning, grazing, and attacks by the longhorn beetle have reduced the tree population.[4] Conversion (clearing) of frankincense woodlands to agriculture is also a major threat

Quality:
Frankincense comes in many types, and its quality is based on color, purity, aroma, age, and shape. Silver and Hojari are generally considered the highest grades of frankincense. The Omanis themselves generally consider Silver to be a better grade than Hojari, though most Western connoisseurs think that it should be the other way round.[citation needed] This may be due to climatic conditions with the Hojari smelling best in the relatively cold, damp climate of Europe and North America, whereas Silver may well be more suited to the hot dry conditions of Arabia.
click to see Frankincense
Local market information in Oman suggests that the term Hojari encompasses a broad range of high-end frankincense including Silver. Resin value is determined not only by fragrance but also by color and clump size, with lighter color and larger clumps being more highly prized. The most valuable Hojari frankincense locally available in Oman is even more expensive than Somalia’s Maydi frankincense derived from B. frereana (see below). The vast majority of this ultra-high-end B. sacra frankincense is purchased by His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said the ruler of Oman, and is notoriously difficult for western buyers to correctly identify and purchase.

Currently, there are two dissertations which may enable the identification of a few Olibanum species according to their specific secondary metabolism products

Chemical constituents:
These are some of the chemical compounds present in frankincense:

*”acid resin (56 per cent), soluble in alcohol and having the formula C20H32O4″

*gum (similar to gum arabic) 30–36%

*3-acetyl-beta-boswellic acid (Boswellia sacra)

*alpha-boswellic acid (Boswellia sacra)

*4-O-methyl-glucuronic acid (Boswellia sacra)

*incensole acetate

*phellandrene

Medicinal Uses:
Frankincense is used in perfumery and aromatherapy. The essential oil is obtained by steam distillation of the dry resin. Some of the smell of the frankincense smoke are products of pyrolysis.

Frankincense is used in many Christian churches including the Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox and Catholic churches. According to the gospel of Matthew 2:11, gold, frankincense, and myrrh were among the gifts to Jesus by the biblical magi “from out of the East.” The Judaic, Christian and Islamic faiths have used frankincense mixed with oils to anoint newborn infants and individuals.

Conversely, the growth of Christianity depressed the market for frankincense during the 4th century AD. Desertification made the caravan routes across the Rub’ al Khali or “Empty Quarter” of the Arabian Peninsula more difficult. Additionally, increased raiding by the nomadic Parthians in the Near East caused the frankincense trade to dry up after A.D. 300.
click to see Boswellia sacra tree, from which frankincense is derived, growing inside Biosphere 2

Traditional medicine:
Frankincense resin is edible and is used in traditional medicines in Asia for digestion and healthy skin. For internal consumption, it is recommended that frankincense be translucent, with no black or brown impurities. It is often light yellow with a (very) slight greenish tint. It is often chewed like gum, but it is stickier.

In Ayurvedic medicine Indian frankincense (Boswellia serrata), commonly referred to as “dhoop,” has been used for hundreds of years for treating arthritis, healing wounds, strengthening the female hormone system and purifying the air. The use of frankincense in Ayurveda is called “dhoopan”. In Indian culture, it is suggested that burning frankincense daily in the house brings good health

Frankincense essential oil:
The essential oil of frankincense is produced by steam distillation of the tree resin. The oil’s chemical components are 75% monoterpenes, sesquiterpenes, monoterpenoles, sesquiterpenols, and ketones. It has a good balsamic sweet fragrance, while the Indian frankincense oil has a very fresh smell. Contrary to recent claims, steam or hydro distilled frankincense oil does not contain any boswellic acid as these components (triterpenoids) are non-volatile and too large to come over in the steam distillation process. The chemistry of the essential oil is mainly monoterpenes and sesquiterpenes with small amounts of diterpenoid components being the upper limit in terms of molecular weight.
click to see Olibanum resin.
Perfume:
Olibanum is characterized by a balsamic-spicy, slightly lemon, fragrance of incense, with a conifer-like undertone. It is used in the perfume, cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries.

Medical Research:
For therapy trials in ulcerative colitis, asthma and rheumatoid arthritis there are only isolated reports and pilot studies from which there is not yet sufficient evidence of safety and efficacy. Similarly, the long-term effects and side effects of taking frankincense has not yet been scientifically investigated. Nonetheless, several preliminary studies have been published.
click to see the picture of  FrankinsenceEssOil
A 2008 study reported that frankincense smoke was a psychoactive drug that relieves depression and anxiety in mice. The researchers found that the chemical compound incensole acetate was responsible for the effects.

In a different study, an enriched extract of “Indian Frankincense” (usually Boswellia serrata) was used in a randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled study of patients with osteoarthritis. Patients receiving the extract showed significant improvement in their arthritis in as little as seven days. The compound caused no major adverse effects and, according to the study authors, is safe for human consumption and long-term use.

In a study published in 2009, it was reported that “Frankincense oil appears to distinguish cancerous from normal bladder cells and suppress cancer cell viability.”

A 2012 study in healthy volunteers determined that exposure to 11-keto-?-boswellic acid (KBA), a lead boswellic acid in the novel solubilized frankincense extract Boswelan, is increased when taken with food. However, simulations based on a two-compartment pharmacokinetic model with single first-order absorption phase proposed that the observed food interaction loses its relevance for the simulated repeated-dose scenario.

In a 2012 study, researchers found that the “behavioral effect [of insensole actetate] was concomitant to reduced serum corticosterone levels, dose-dependent down-regulation of corticotropin releasing factor and up-regulation of brain derived neurotrophic factor transcripts IV and VI expression in the hippocampus. These data suggest that IA modulates the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal (HPA) axis and influences hippocampal gene expression, leading to beneficial behavioral effects supporting its potential as a novel treatment of depressive-like disorders

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:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frankincense
http://unitproj.library.ucla.edu/biomed/spice/index.cfm?displayID=28
http://www.anniesremedy.com/herb_detail25.php

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Aframomum melegueta

Botanical Name :Aframomum melegueta
Family: Zingiberaceae
Genus: Aframomum
Species: A. melegueta
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Zingiberales

Common Names;Grains of paradise, Melegueta pepper, Alligator pepper, Guinea grains or Guinea pepper
English : Guinea grains, Melegueta pepper, Alligator pepper
French :Graines de paradis, Malaguette, Poivre de Guinée, Maniguette
German : Paradieskörner, Guineapfeffer, Meleguetapfeffer, Malagettapfeffer
Spanish : Malagueta, Pimienta de malagueta

Habitat : Aframomum melegueta is native to West Africa, it is an important cash crop in the Basketo special woreda of southern Ethiopia.

Description:
A. melegueta is a herbaceous perennial plant native to swampy habitats along the West African coast. Its trumpet-shaped, purple flowers develop into 5 to 7 cm long pods containing numerous small, reddish-brown seeds.

Clicl to see Pictures of Aframomum melegueta :

The pungent, peppery taste of the seeds is caused by aromatic ketones; e.g., (6)-paradol (systematic name: 1-(4-hydroxy-3-methoxyphenyl)-decan-3-one). Essential oils, which are the dominating flavor components in the closely-related cardamom, occur only in traces.

Medicinal Uses:
Used in West African herbal remedies, grains of paradise relieve flatulence and also have stimulant and diuretic effects. The seeds are in a number of veterinary medicines. They appear in old pharmacopoeias like Gerard’s for a variety of abdominal complaints.  Chinese herbalists often add it to fruits such as baked pears to reduce the production of mucus in the body.  Classified in traditional Chinese medicine as an acrid, warm herb.  It’s taken for nausea and vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, indigestion, gas and loss of appetite; morning sickness, pain and discomfort during pregnancy; involuntary urination.

Other Uses:
Melegueta is commonly employed in the cuisines of West and North Africa, where it has been traditionally imported via caravan routes through the Sahara desert, and whence they were distributed to Sicily and Italy. Mentioned by Pliny as “African pepper” but subsequently forgotten in Europe, they were renamed “grains of paradise” and became a popular substitute for black pepper in Europe in the 14th- and 15th-centuries. The Ménagier de Paris recommends it for improving wine that “smells stale”. Through the Middle Ages and into the Early Modern period, the theory of the Four Humours governed theorizing about nourishment on the part of doctors, herbalists and druggists: in this context, “graynes of paradise, hoot & moyste þey[clarification needed] be” John Russell observed, in The Boke of Nurture.

In 1469, King Afonso V of Portugal granted the monopoly of trade in the Gulf of Guinea to Lisbon merchant Fernão Gomes, including the exclusive trade of Aframomum melegueta, then called “malagueta” pepper – which was granted by 100 000 real-annually in exchange for exploring 100 miles of the coast of Africa a year for five years.[8] After Christopher Columbus reached the New World in 1492 and brought the first samples of Capsicum frutescens, the name malagueta was then taken to the new chilli “pepper”.

The importance of the spice is shown by the designation of the area from the St Johns River (present day Buchanan) to Harper in Liberia as the “Grain Coast” in honor of the availability of grains of paradise. Later, the craze for the spice waned, and its uses were reduced to a flavoring for sausages and beer. In the eighteenth century, its importation to Great Britain collapsed after a Parliamentary act of George III forbade its use in malt liquor, aqua vita and cordials. In 1855, England imported about 15,000 to 19,000 lbs per year legally(duty paid). By 1880, the Encyclopaedia Britannica (9th edition) was reporting, “Grains of paradise are to some extent used in veterinary practice but for the most part illegally to give a fictitious strength to malt liquors, gin and cordials”.

Today, it is largely unknown outside of West and North Africa, except for its use as a flavoring in some beers (including Samuel Adams Summer Ale), gins, and Norwegian akvavit. In America, grains of paradise are starting to enjoy a slight resurgence in popularity due to their use by some well-known chefs. Alton Brown is a fan of its use, and he uses it in his apple pie recipe on an episode of the TV cooking show Good Eats. They are also used by people on certain diets, such as a raw food diet, because they are less irritating to digestion than black pepper.

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.uni-graz.at/~katzer/engl/Afra_mel.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aframomum_melegueta
http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_FGH.htm

Desert Rose

Botanical Name:Adenium obesum
Family: Apocynaceae
Synonyms:  Adenium somalense Balf.f. (1888), Adenium socotranum Vierh.
Common Name:Sabi Star, Kudu or Desert-rose.Due to its resemblance to plumeria, and the fact that it was introduced to the Philippines from Bangkok, Thailand, the plant was also called as Bangkok kalachuchi in the Philippines.
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Gentianales
Genus: Adenium
Species: A. obesum

Habitat:It is native to tropical and subtropical eastern and southern Africa and Arabia.(Eastern Africa to southern Arabia)

Description:
Succulent shrub or small tree, up to 4(–6) m tall, sometimes with a fleshy taproot; stem swollen at base up to 1(–2) m in diameter; bark pale greyish-green, grey or brown, smooth, with sticky, clear or white latex; branchlets glabrescent, pubescent at apex. Leaves arranged spirally, clustered at the end of branchlets, simple; stipules minute or absent; petiole up to 4 mm long; blade linear to obovate, 3–12(–17) cm × 0.2–6 cm, base cuneate, apex acute to rounded or emarginate, entire, slightly glaucous, dull green or pale green, leathery, pinnately veined with distinct or indistinct lateral veins. Inflorescence a more or less dense terminal cyme; bracts linear to narrowly oblong, 3–8 mm long, acuminate, pubescent. Flowers bisexual, regular, 5-merous, showy, usually appearing before the leaves; pedicel 5–9 mm long; sepals narrowly oblong to narrowly ovate, 6–12 mm long, hairy; corolla with funnel-shaped tube 2–4.5 cm × 0. 9–1.7 cm, reddish-pink to white suffused with pink, sometimes red-striped inside the throat, hairy to glabrous outside, glandular hairy on main veins inside, lobes 1–3 cm × 0.5–2.5 cm, spreading, pale pink to red with darker margins; stamens inserted near base of corolla tube, included or exserted, anthers forming a cone covering the pistil, base sagittate, 5–7 mm long, with long apical appendices; ovary superior, composed of 2 free carpels, glabrous, styles fused, slender, with well-developed clavuncula. Fruit consisting of 2 linear-oblong follicles, coherent at the base, 11–22 cm long, tapering at both ends, recurved, grey to pale grey-brown, opening by a longitudinal slit, many-seeded. Seeds linear-oblong, 10–14 mm long, pale brown, slightly rough, with tufts of long dirty white hairs at both ends.

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Adenium is a genus of flowering plants in the family Apocynaceae, containing a single species, Adenium obesum, also known as Sabi Star, Kudu or Desert-rose.
It is an evergreen succulent shrub in tropical climates and semi-deciduous to deciduous in colder climates, is also dependent on the subspecies or cultivar. Growing to 1–3 m in height, with pachycaul stems and a stout, swollen basal caudex. The leaves are spirally arranged, clustered toward the tips of the shoots, simple entire, leathery in texture, 5–15 cm long and 1–8 cm broad. The flowers are tubular, 2–5 cm long, with the outer portion 4–6 cm diameter with five petals, resembling those of other related genera such as Plumeria and Nerium. The flowers tend to red and pink, often with a whitish blush outward of the throat.Classification


Cultivation and uses

Adenium is a popular houseplant in temperate regions. It requires a sunny location and a minimum indoor temperature in winter of 10 °C. It thrives on a xeric watering regime as required by cacti. Adenium is typically propagated by seed or stem cuttings. The numerous hybrids are propagated mainly by grafting onto seedling rootstock. While plants grown from seed are more likely to have the swollen caudex at a young age, with time many cutting-grown plants cannot be distinguished from seedlings.

The plant exudes a highly toxic sap which is used by some peoples, such as the Akie and Hadza in Tanzania, to coat arrow-tips for hunting.

Propagation: Cuttings, seeds

Properities:
In Adenium obesum the presence of some 30 cardiotoxic glycosides has been demonstrated, which act in a similar way as digitalis from Digitalis. Digitalis acts upon the Na+K+-ATPase enzyme that regulates the concentrations of Na+ and K+ ions in body cells and so also modifies the Ca++ concentration. In low doses it is used to treat congestive heart failure (CHF) and heart rhythm problems (atrial arrhythmias), but in high doses it leads to systolic heart failure and death.
Several of the cardiac glycosides from Adenium obesum have oleandrigenin as aglycone moiety, e.g. hongheloside A (with D-cymarose), hongheloside C (with D-cymarose and D-glucose) and 16-acetylstrospeside (with D-digitalose). Other glycosides include: hongheline (composed of digitoxigenin with D-thevetose), somaline (composed of digitoxigenin with D-cymarose) and digitalinum verum (composed of gitoxigenin with D-digitalose and D-glucose). The roots and stems contain the same glycosides and in similar amounts. Oleandrigenin and some of the glycosides derived from it have cytotoxic effects and are being studied as potential components of anticancer drugs.
The ethanol extract of the roots slows down the growth of Bacillus subtilis, but has not shown activity against Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Staphylococcus aureus or Candida albida. Extracts from the root have shown a cytotoxic effect against several carcinoma cell lines. The aqueous stem bark extract is a potential acaricide as it shows high toxicity on all stadia of development of the ticks Amblyomma spp. and Boophilus spp.

Uses
In a wide area of Africa the root sap or sometimes the wood or stem latex of Adenium obesum is used to prepare arrow poison. The poison is popular for hunting large game as it kills quickly and the hunted animal dies within 2 km from the place where it was shot. The Hadza people of Tanzania use the sap by itself or sometimes in combination with poison from Strophanthus eminii Asch. & Pax, while the Duruma people of Kenya use the stem latex, sometimes in combination with the roots and wood of Acokanthera schimperi (A.DC.) Schweinf. or the latex of Synadenium pereskiifolium (Baill.) Guillaumin. The use of Adenium obesum arrow poison is also reported from Senegal, Nigeria and Cameroon. A decoction of the bark and leaves is widely used as fish poison. This use is reported from Nigeria, Cameroon and East Africa. In Mauritania and Senegal preparations from Adenium obesum are used as ordeal poison and for criminal purposes.

Medicinal Uses:
Adenium obesum is important in traditional medicine. In the Sahel a decoction from the roots, alone or in combination with other plants, is used to treat venereal diseases; a root or bark extract is used as a bath or lotion to treat skin diseases and to kill lice, while latex is applied to decaying teeth and septic wounds. In Somalia a root decoction as nose drops is prescribed for rhinitis. In northern Kenya latex is rubbed on the head against lice and powdered stems are applied to kill skin parasites of camels and cattle. The bark is chewed as an abortifacient.
Adenium obesum is planted fairly frequently for its curious form and attractive flowers. Sometimes it is planted as a live fence. In Tanzania it is planted to mark the position of graves. The wood is sometimes used as fuel.

Classification
The genus Adenium has been held to contain as many as twelve species. These are considered by other authors to be subspecies or varieties. A late-20th-century classification by Plazier recognizes five species.

A partial list of regional species/subspecies/varieties are:

Adenium obesum subsp. boehmianum. Namibia, Angola.
Adenium obesum subsp. obesum. Arabia.
Adenium obesum subsp. oleifolium. South Africa, Botswana.
Adenium obesum subsp. socotranum. Socotra.
Adenium obesum subsp. somalense. Eastern Africa.
Adenium obesum subsp. swazicum. Eastern South Africa.
Adenium obesum subsp. arabicum. Arabia.
Adenium multiflorum. Southern Africa, from Zambia south
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
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adenium
http://database.prota.org/PROTAhtml/Adenium%20obesum_En.htm
http://www.desert-tropicals.com/Plants/Apocynaceae/Adenium_obesum.html

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