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Herbs & Plants

Drosera rotundifolia

Botanical Name: Drosera rotundifolia
Family: Droseraceae
Genus: Drosera
Species: D. rotundifolia
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Caryophyllales

Synonyms: Dew Plant. Round-leaved Sundew. Red Rot. Herba rosellae. Sonnenthau rosollis. Rosée du Soleil.

Common Names: Round-leaved sundew or Common sundew

Part Used: The flowering plant dried in the air, not artificially.

Habitat: Drosera rotundifolia is found in all of northern Europe, much of Siberia, large parts of northern North America, Korea, Japan and is also found on New Guinea. It grows in muddy edges of ponds, bogs and rivers, where the soil is peaty.

Description:
Drosera rotundifolia is a small herbaceous, perennial, aquatic plant, with short and slender fibrous root, from which grow the leaves. These are remarkable for their covering of red glandular hairs, by which they are readily recognized, apart from their flowers which only open in the sunshine. Their leaves are orbicular on long stalks, depressed, Iying flat on ground and have on upper surface long red viscid hairs, each having a small gland at top, containing a fluid, which looks like a dewdrop, hence its name. This secretion is most abundant when the sun is at its height. Flower-stems erect, slender, 2 to 6 inches high, at first coiled inward bearing a simple raceme, which straightens out as flowers expand; these are very small and white, appearing in summer and early autumn. Seeds numerous, spindleshaped in a loose chaffy covering contained in a capsule. These hairs are very sensitive, they curve inward slowly and catch any insects which alight on them; the fluid on the points also retains them. After an insect has been caught, the glandular heads secrete a digestive fluid which dissolves all that can be absorbed from the insect. It has been noted that secretion does not take place when inorganic substances are imprisoned…..CLICK & SEE  THE PICTURES

The plant feeds on insects, which are attracted to its bright red colour and its glistening drops of mucilage, loaded with a sugary substance, covering its leaves. It has evolved this carnivorous behaviour in response to its habitat, which is usually poor in nutrients or is so acidic, nutrient availability is severely decreased. The plant uses enzymes to dissolve the insects – which become stuck to the glandular tentacles – and extract ammonia (from proteins) and other nutrients from their bodies. The ammonia replaces the nitrogen that other plants absorb from the soil.

Cultivation:
Prefers a sandy peaty soil, succeeding in poor soils and bogs. Requires a sunny position. An insectivorous plant, it can survive in nitrogen poor soils because it gets the nutrients it needs from insects. The upper surfaces of leaves are covered with hairs that secrete a sweet sticky substance.This attracts insects, which become smeared with it and unable to escape – the plant then exudes a digestive fluid that enables it to absorb most of the insect into its system.

Propagation:
Seed – best sown thinly as soon as it is ripe into pots of a free-draining soil with some charcoal added and with a layer of finely chopped sphagnum moss on top. Surface sow and keep the compost moist. The seed usually germinates in 1 – 2 months at 20°c. Grow the plants on in the pots for their first growing season, making sure that the soil does not become dry. Divide the plants in the autumn, grow them on in the greenhouse for the winter and plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring.
Edible Uses: The juice of the plant is used to curdle plant milks. You heat the milk and the leaves together in order to make the milk curdle

Constituents: The juice is bitter, acrid, caustic, odourless, yielding not more than 30 per cent ash, and contains citric and malic acids.

Medicinal Uses:
Drosera rotundifolia plant extracts show great efficacy as an anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic, more so than Drosera madagascariensis, as a result of the flavonoids such as hyperoside, quercetin and isoquercetin, but not the naphthoquinones present in the extracts. The flavonoids are thought to affect the M3 muscarinic receptors in smooth muscle, causing the antispasmodic effects. Ellagic acid in D. rotundifolia extracts has also been shown to have antiangiogenic effects.

In America it has been advocated as a cure for old age; a vegetable extract is used together with colloidal silicates in cases of arterio sclerosis.

The sundew has a long history of herbal use, having been popular for its fortifying and aphrodisiac effects. It relaxes the muscles of the respiratory tract, easing breathing and relieving wheezing and so is of great value in the treatment of various chest complaints. The plant has become quite rare and so it should not be harvested from the wild. The flowering plant is antibacterial, antibiotic, antispasmodic, antitussive, demulcent, expectorant and hypoglycaemic. The plant is used with advantage in the treatment of whooping cough, exerting a peculiar action on the respiratory organs. It is also used in the treatment of incipient phthisis, chronic bronchitis and asthma. Externally, it has been used to treat corns, warts and bunions.The plant is harvested in the summer and can be dried for later use. Use with caution. Internal use of this herb causes a harmless colouring of the urine. An extract of the plant contains plumbagin, which is antibiotic against a wide range of pathogens. Because of their protein digesting enzymes, the leaf juice has been used in the treatment of warts and corns. The entire fresh plant, harvested when it is starting to flower, is used to make a homeopathic remedy. It is used mainly in the treatment of coughs and is specific for whooping cough.

Other Uses
Fungicide.

Substances in the plant are used to curb the growth of bacteria

Resources:
http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/s/sundew99.html
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drosera_rotundifolia

http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Drosera+rotundifolia

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Speak in Many Tongues

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Learning more than one language as a child enhances cognitive abilities as well as reduces memory loss in old age. P. Hari reports :-

It’s a situation that is becoming increasingly common. Children grow up hearing two languages, because parents speak two different native tongues. This bothered the parents, but psychologists are becoming increasingly unanimous in their opinion: bilingualism is good for the brain. It makes you better at learning new things, gives a better memory, and even helps reduce memory loss in old age.

Studies show that children who grow up hearing two languages have better cognitive abilities. They can not only process languages better, or learn a new one better, but also learn anything new better than those who speak only one language. This much was known or at least suspected till recently. But now we are also beginning to know why: those who speak two tongues may be better at shutting down irrelevant information. “Bilinguals do better in environments that inhibit attention,” says Margaria Kaushanskaya, assistant professor, department of communicative disorders, University of Wisconsin.

For a long time, psychologists had thought that those who speak more than one language are naturally adept at learning new languages. While this has some truth, it is also known clearly that learning two tongues from the beginning makes learning a third easier. Children learn to generalise about language and transfer their ability to learning another language. “Early bilingual exposure increases executive control,” says Raymond Kelin, professor of psychology, Dalhousie University, Canada.

In experiments early this year, Kaushanskaya and her former colleague Viorica Marian at Northwestern University, Chicago, experimented with an artificial language. They asked three sets of people — those who spoke English and Chinese, English and Spanish, and only English — to learn a set of words that was in an invented language with no resemblance to any of these languages. The bilingual groups learned twice as many words as the other group, showing that they learned something deeper than just two languages.

This much seems common sense. However, the value of learning two languages goes far beyond linguistic ability. Studies at York University in Canada show that proficiency in two languages can delay dementia by about 4.1 years. This may seem a tiny amount, but actually translates to a 47 per cent reduction in prevalence. Other studies too have shown similar reductions are possible through stimulating mental activity. There are no known drugs that can produce this effect. “We have evidence that bilingualism can slow cognitive aging and postpone the onset of symptoms of dementia,” says Ellen Bialystock, distinguished research professor, department of psychology, York University. This is probably not because the bilingual brain reduces the negative physiological changes but that it learns to tolerate the negative changes better.

There is considerable interest among Canadian psychologists in bilingualism, partly because it is rapidly becoming the norm in that country. Many Canadians speak English and French. In Toronto, which is among the most cosmopolitan cities in the world, almost 60 per cent of kindergarten children come from homes where English is not spoken as the first language. Bilingualism is also common in many non-English-speaking countries, including India. However, in Europe and English speaking nations, some parents and teachers would frown on the practice, arguing that children could get confused if started too early. Current evidence, however, points to the opposite.

Scientists at the International School for Advanced Studies in Trieste, Italy, found that exposing children to two languages is beneficial even when the child is yet to speak a language. They found that infants raised with two languages show better cognitive abilities by the time they are seven months old. Published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, this the first study to show that children learn to respond to two languages by the second half of the first year. And also that this response improves brain function.

Other research shows that this improved cognition stays throughout life, and could be more useful in old age. In studies at York University, bilingual adults performed consistently better than monolinguals. They performed better even in working memory trials, thus providing evidence that the advantage of bilingualism extends beyond language. Psychologists had debated for long on what is more important: early exposure to two languages or proficiency in two languages. “It is becoming clear that it is proficiency that matters,” says Kaushanskaya.

And since the world is becoming increasingly bilingual, our brains may be in better shape than ever.


Source:
The Telegraph (Kolkata, India)

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Drinking Beer May Strenthen Bones

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Beer could stop bones from going brittle, research has shown.
A study found that the bones of women who drink beer regularly are stronger, meaning they are less likely to suffer from osteoporosis. But wine does little to protect against the disease, the journal Nutrition reports.
It is thought that the high level of silicon in beer slows down the thinning that leads to fractures and boosts the formation of new bone.
Beer is also rich in phytoestrogens, plant versions of oestrogen, which keep bones healthy.
Bones are made up of a mesh of fibres, minerals, blood vessels and marrow, and healthy ones are denser with smaller spaces between the different parts.
The researchers asked almost 1,700 healthy women with an average age of 48 about their drinking habits.
They then underwent ultrasound scans, which showed the bones in the hands of beer drinkers to be denser.
The women’s hands were chosen because the bones in the fingers are among the first to show signs of osteoporosis.
Those classed as light beer drinkers – having less than a pint a day – fared just as well as those in the moderate bracket, suggesting that even small amounts can boost bone health.
The Spanish researchers said: ‘Silicon plays a major role in bone formation. Beer has been claimed to be one of the most important sources of silicon in the Western diet.’
Three million Britons are affected by osteoporosis.

Source:Mail Online.15th. Aug.2009

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Fruits & Vegetables Herbs & Plants

Avocado

Botanical Name: Persea americana
Family:Lauraceae
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Laurales
Genus: Persea
Species: P. americana

Other Names:Palta,Aguacate, Alligator pear

Habitat: Native to the Caribbean, Mexico, South America and Central America,
Description:
The tree grows to 20 metres (65 ft), with alternately arranged, evergreen leaves, 25 centimetres long. The flowers are inconspicuous, greenish-yellow, 10 millimetres wide. The pear-shaped fruit is botanically a berry, from 7 to 20 centimetres long, weighs between 100 and 1000 grams, and has a large central seed, 3 to 5 centimetres in diameter.

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An average avocado tree produces about 120 avocados annually. Commercial orchards produce an average of 7 tonnes per hectare each year, with some orchards achieving 20 tonnes per hectare. Biennial bearing can be a problem, with heavy crops in one year being followed by poor yields the next. The fruit is sometimes called an avocado pear or alligator pear, due to its shape and rough green skin. The avocado tree does not tolerate freezing temperatures, and can be grown only in subtropical or tropical climates.

The name “avocado” also refers to the fruit (technically a large berry) of the tree that contains a pit (hard seed casing) which may be egg-shaped or spherical.

Avocados are a commercially valuable crop whose trees and fruit are cultivated in tropical climates throughout the world (and some temperate ones, such as California), producing a green-skinned, pear-shaped fruit that ripens after harvesting. Trees are partially self-pollinating and often are propagated through grafting to maintain a predictable quality and quantity of the fruit.

Etymology
The word “avocado” comes from the Spanish word aguacate, which derives in turn from the Nahuatl (Aztec) word ahuacatl, meaning “testicle”, because of its shape. In some countries of South America such as Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Peru, and Uruguay, the avocado is known by its Quechua name, palta. In other Spanish-speaking countries it is called aguacate, and in Portuguese it is abacate. The name “avocado pear” is sometimes used in English, as are “alligator pear” and “butter pear”. The Nahuatl ahuacatl can be compounded with other words, as in ahuacamolli, meaning “avocado soup or sauce”, from which the Mexican Spanish word guacamole derives.

Cultivation:
The subtropical species needs a climate without frost and little wind. When mild frost does occur, the fruit drops from the tree, reducing the yield, although the cultivar Hass can tolerate temperatures down to -1°C. Contrary to the conventional wisdom, avocado trees cannot sustain the frost. Avocado farmers in California lost hundreds of millions of dollars in 2006 due to a temperature drop[citation needed]. The trees also need well aerated soils, ideally more than 1 m deep. Yield is reduced when the irrigation water is highly saline. These soil and climate conditions are met only in a few areas of the world, particularly in southern Spain, the Levant, South Africa, Peru, parts of central and northern Chile, Vietnam, Indonesia, Australia, New Zealand, the United States, the Philippines, Malaysia, Mexico and Central America, the center of origin and diversity of this species. Each region has different types of cultivars. Mexico is the largest producer of the Hass variety, with over 1 million tonnes produced annually.

Propagation and rootstocks
While an avocado propagated by seed can bear fruit, it takes 4–6 years to do so, and the offspring is unlikely to resemble the parent cultivar in fruit quality. Thus, commercial orchards are planted using grafted trees and rootstocks. Rootstocks are propagated by seed (seedling rootstocks) and also layering (clonal rootstocks). After about a year of growing the young plants in a greenhouse, they are ready to be grafted. Terminal and lateral grafting is normally used. The scion cultivar will then grow for another 6–12 months before the tree is ready to be sold. Clonal rootstocks have been selected for specific soil and disease conditions, such as poor soil aeration or resistance to the soil-borne disease caused by phytophthora, root rot.

Nutritional value
A whole medium avocado contains approximately 15% of the United States FDA’s recommended daily amount of fat, though they are high in monounsaturated fat. Avocados also have 60% more potassium than bananas. They are rich in B vitamins, as well as vitamin E and vitamin K.

A fatty triol (fatty alcohol) with one double bond, avocadene (16-heptadecene-1,2,4-triol) is found in avocado and has been tested for anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. These properties are likely related with the curative effects of avocado described for a number of ailments (diarrhea, dysentery, abdominal pains and high blood pressure).

Uses
The vegetable of horticultural cultivars ranges from more or less round to egg- or pear-shaped, typically the size of a temperate-zone pear or larger, on the outside bright green to green-brown (or almost black) in color. The vegetable has a markedly higher fat content than most other vegetables, mostly monounsaturated fat. A ripe avocado will yield to a gentle pressure when held in the palm of the hand and squeezed. The flesh is typically greenish yellow to golden yellow when ripe. The flesh oxidizes and turns brown quickly after exposure to air. To prevent this, lime or lemon juice can be added to avocados after they are peeled.

The avocado is very popular in vegetarian cuisine, making an excellent substitute for meats in sandwiches and salads because of its high fat content. The fruit is not sweet, but fatty, strongly flavored, and of smooth, almost creamy texture. It is used as the base for the Mexican dip known as guacamole, as well as a filling for several kinds of sushi, including California rolls. Avocado is popular in chicken dishes and as a spread on toast, served with salt and pepper. In Brazil and Vietnam, avocados are considered sweet vegetables, so are frequently used for milk-shakes and occasionally added to ice cream and other desserts. In Vietnam, the Philippines and Indonesia, a dessert drink is made with sugar, milk, and pureed avocado.

In Central America, avocados are served mixed with white rice. In Chile its consumption is widespread and used as a puree in chicken, hamburgers and hot dogs, and in slices for celery or lettuce salads. The Chilean version of caesar salad contains large slices of mature avocado.

Avocado flesh has also been used by some Native American tribes in the southwestern United States in the mixing and application of adobe.

Avocado is also thought to promote physical beauty and is used in cosmetics to this day. The Aztecs ate the vegetable as an aphrodisiac.

Avocado plants and trees are used for making 1.Skin Care Products 2. Hair Care 3.Perfume and Cologne 4. Vitamins & Nutrition

Medicinal Uses:

Avocado is considered the most nutritious fruit in the world. Avocado provides more than 25 essential nutrients such as protein, potassium, vitamin E, C, B-vitamins, folic acid, iron, copper, phosphorus and magnesium. Avocado also provides calories for energy and beneficial phytochemicals such as beta-sitosterol, glutathione and lutein (necessary to protect us from the damage of ultraviolet radiation from many sources -computers and environment).

Some believe that the fat content of avocado is damaging but the fat in avocado is mostly monounsaturated. What should be avoided or reduced is saturated fat that is present in most dairy and animal products. In fact, avocado helps in the absorption of nutrients that are fat-soluble such as alpha and beta-carotene and lutein, when food containing these nutrients are eaten with avocado. Avocado is also high in fiber that is good for the digestive system and the heart.

Overall, avocado is considered a complete food. With vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, calories and fiber with no cholesterol and is sodium free. Avocado is ideal for growing up children, adults and even for babies, especially when blended with other fruits. For athletes, avocado is a nutritious energy booster to rev up the body’s strength.

Avocado (in slices) can be eaten as is or with a dash of salt. It can be mixed with other fruits, as salad, a shake, baked in breads and even made into a dip. In the Philippines, ripe avocado is often eaten as a snack by scooping from flesh from the skin then mixed with a some sugar and milk or cream.

A documentation of avocado’s cholesterol lowering effect was studied in in Brisbane, Australia. The researchers reported that eating avocados daily for three weeks improved blood cholesterol in middle-aged women better than a low-fat diet did. The avocado diet reduced total cholesterol by 8 percent compared with 5 percent for the low-fat diet. Another important observation was that it improved the good cholesterol (HDL or high density lipoprotein) by 15 percent. The daily amount of avocado ranged from 1/2 avocado for small women to 1 1/2 for large women. With this study we expect that the myth that avocados can worsen cholesterol can be dispelled. So by eating avocados, heart patients could cut their risk of heart attack 10-20 percent and death rates 4-8 percent in 3-5 years. Don’t hold your cravings for avocados, indulge, it is good for our heart!

Why avocado fat lowers cholesterol?
Avocado fat content is the reason to lower cholesterol since it is monounsaturated fat. Another reason is that avocado packs more of the cholesterol-smashing beta-sitosterol (a beneficial plant-based fat) than any other fruit. Beta-sitosterol reduces the amount of cholesterol absorbed from food. So the combination of beta-sitosterol and monounsaturated fat makes the avocado an excellent cholesterol buster.

Beta-Sitosterol has an apparent ability to block the bad LDL cholesterol absorption from the intestine, resulting in lower blood cholesterol levels. The Australian study not only reported that eating either half or a whole avocado fruit per day for a month succeeded in lowering cholesterol levels, but at the same time most people in the study lost weight.

Sid Information on beta-sitosterol
It is a phytosterol or plant alcohol that is literally in every vegetable we eat. We already eat this every day but we just don’t get enough of it. The typical American is estimated to eat only 200-400 mg a day while vegetarians probably eat about twice this much. This is surely one of the many reasons vegetarians are healthier and live longer.

Actually the term “beta-sitosterol” in commerce refers to the natural combination of beta-sitosterol, stigmasterol, campesterol and brassicasterol as this is how they are made by nature in plants. There are no magic foods with high levels of phytosterols, but they can be inexpensively extracted from sugar cane pulp, soybeans and pine oil.

The Aztec’s would use Aguacate(Avocado) as an
Aphrodisiac, against Dandruff, Scabs, Menstrual Cramps and Hemorrhage, Cough, Dysentery, Gout, Peritonitis (An inflammation of the peritoneum, the membrane that lines the wall of the abdomen and covers the organs.), Intestinal Worms and for Lice and Nits.

How the Aztecs would use the Avocado as an Aphrodisiac:
The Pulp of the Avocado is a magnificent aphrodisiac as it enhances the tone of the sexual organs which in turn enhances sexual appetite.

For Dandruff and Scabs:
Grind the Avocado seed and mix with Castor Oil, then with the paste rub well on the skin likewise for the head but cover with plastic( Do Not Cover Nose or Mouth) or flannel and leave on overnight and wash off the following morning.

For Menstrual cramps, Hemorrhage and Cough:
Drink one cup of 2 Avocado leaves boiled in 1/4 liter of water.

For Dysentery:
Grind Avocado seed into powder then roast the powder then take 1 gram of powder on an empty stomach.

For Rheumatic Pains and Gout: Rub the affected part with a dry towel to activate circulation then rub a little Avocado seed extract and cover with a flannel cloth. The Extract is made by slicing 4 Avocado seeds into small pieces and let macerate in alcohol for several days.

For Peritonitis:
Boil for 5 minutes in 2 liters of water, 1 Avocado seed cut into tiny pieces, 2 branches of Chamomile and 1 Prickly Pear Cheese; strain, and use as enema as hot as can be tolerated.

To get Rid of Intestinal Worms and Parasites:
Drink a 1 cup infusion made of the skin or rind of the Avocado that has been left to soak in hot water for several minutes

To get rid of Lice and Nits:
Boil 5 Avocado seeds in 1/4 liter of water that have been minced with 2 Rue branches, wash hair with the liquid rubbing well then cover head with towel and the lice will be removed.

More informations on Avocado

How eating avocado could save your life:

Toxicity to animals
There is documented evidence that animals such as cats, dogs, cattle, goats, rabbits, birds, fish and particularly, horses can be severely harmed or even killed when they consume the avocado leaves, bark, skin, or pit. The avocado vegetable is poisonous to birds in some cases, so on a practical level feeding the vegetable to birds should be avoided. Avocado leaves contain a toxic fatty acid derivative known as persin, which in sufficient quantity can cause equine colic and with lack of veterinary treatment–death. The symptoms include gastrointestinal irritation, vomiting, diarrhea, respiratory distress, congestion, fluid accumulation around the tissues of the heart and even death. Birds also seem to be particularly sensitive to this toxic compound.

Negative effects in humans seem to be primarily in allergic individuals.

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/Avocado

http://electrocomm.tripod.com/aguacate-avocado.html

http://gonatural.com.ph/herbalblog/?cat=3

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