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Herbs & Plants

Quassia amara

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Botanical Name :Quassia amara
Family: Simaroubaceae
Genus: Quassia
Species: Q. amara
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Sapindales

Common Names :Amargo, Bitter-ash, Bitter-wood,Quassia, Jamaica Quassia

Habitat :Quassia amara is native to Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Panama, Brasilia, Peru, Venezuela, Suriname, Colombia, Argentinia, French Guiana and Guyana. Q. amara is widely planted outside its native range.

Description:
Amargo is a shrub or rarely a small tree, growing to 3 m tall (rarely 8 m). The leaves are compound and alternate, 15–25 cm long, and pinnate with 3-5 leaflets, the leaf rachis being winged. The flowers are produced in a panicle 15–25 cm long, each flower 2.5-3.5 cm long, bright red on the outside, and white inside. The fruit is a small drupe 1-1.5 cm long.  It has beautiful red flowers and fruits that turn red as they mature.

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Quassia amara is marketed and used interchangeably with another tree species, Picrasma excelsa. Sharing the common name of quassia (and many of Quassia amara’s constituents and uses), P. excelsa is much taller (up to 25 m in height) and occurs farther north in the tropics of Jamaica, the Caribbean, the Lesser Antilles, and northern Venezuela. In herbal medicine in the United States and Europe, very little distinction is made between the two species of trees; they are used identically and just called quassia. The name amargo means “bitter” in Spanish and describes its very bitter taste.

Chemical Constituents:
In the wood a share of 0.09 to 0.17% of quassin and 0.05 to 0.11% of neoquassin was detected in Costa Rician plants. Quassin is one of the most bitter substances found in nature.

Other identified components of bitterwood are: beta-carbolines, beta-sitostenone, beta-sitosterol, dehydroquassins, gallic acid, gentisic acid, hydroxyquassins, isoparain, isoparaines, isoquassins, malic acid, methylcanthins, methoxycanthins, methoxycantins, nigakilactone A, nor-neoquassin, parain, paraines, quassialactol, quassimarin, quassinol, quassol and simalikalactone D.

Medicinal Uses:
In the Amazon rainforest, Quassia amara is used much in the same manner as quinine bark: for malaria and fevers and as a bitter digestive aid. It grows at lower elevations (where quinine does not) and contains many of the same antimalarial phytochemicals (plant chemicals) as quinine. In addition, it is used as an insecticide and tonic, and for hepatitis. Brazilian Indians use the leaves in a bath for measles as well as in a mouthwash used after tooth extractions. Indians in Suriname use the bark for fever and parasites. Throughout South America, amargo is a tribal remedy for debility, digestion problems, fever, liver problems, parasites, malaria, snakebite, and back spasms. In the rainforests of Suriname, carved cups made out of amargo wood can be found in local markets. They are called “bitter cups” and they used medicinally in indigenous Saramaka traditional medicine systems. Drinking from these cups are thought to help digestion with the “bitters” leached from the wood.

In current Brazilian herbal medicine systems, Quassia amara is considered a tonic, digestion stimulant, blood cleanser, insecticide, and mild laxative. It is recommended for diarrhea, intestinal worms, dysentery, dyspepsia, excessive mucus, expelling worms, intestinal gas, stomachache, anemia, and liver and gastrointestinal disorders. In Peru, amargo is employed as a bitter digestive aid to stimulate gastric and other digestive secretions as well as for fevers, tuberculosis, kidney stones and gallstones. In Mexico, the wood is used for liver and gallbladder diseases and for intestinal parasites. In Nicaragua, amargo is used to expel worms and intestinal parasites as well as for malaria and anemia. Throughout South America, the bitter principles of amargo are used to stimulate the appetite and secretion of digestive juices, as well as to expel worms and intestinal parasites.

In herbal medicine in the United States and Europe, amargo is employed as a bitter tonic for stomach, gallbladder, and other digestive problems (by increasing the flow of bile, digestive juices, and saliva); as a laxative, amebicide, and insecticide; and to expel intestinal worms. In Europe, it is often found as a component in various herbal drugs that promote gallbladder, liver, and other digestive functions. In Britain, a water extract of the wood is used topically against scabies, fleas, lice, and other skin parasites. U.S. herbalist David Hoffman recommends it as an excellent remedy for dyspeptic conditions, to stimulate production of saliva and digestive juices, and to increase the appetite (as well as for lice infestations and threadworms). He also notes, “It may safely be used in all cases of lack of appetite such as anorexia nervosa and digestive sluggishness.”

The preparation of a tea out of young leafs is used traditionally in French Guyana. Experiments showed a high inhibition of Plasmodium yoelii yoelii and Plasmodium falciparum.

Other Uses:
Insecticide:
Extracts of Quassia wood or bark act as a natural insecticide. For organic farming this is of particular interest. A good protection was shown against different insect pests (eg. aphids, Colorado potato beetle, Anthonomus pomorum, Rhagoletis cerasi, Caterpillars of Tortricidae).[3] Quassin extract works as a contact insecticide. Adverse effects on beneficial organism were not found.

For Switzerland, a licensed formulation available for organic farming.

Formulation:
Around 200 gramms of Quassia wood chips are put together with 2 liters of water. It is allowed to stand for 24 hours and then it is cooked for 30 min. It is then diluted with 10 to 20 liters of water and used as a spray.  The use of approximately 3-4.5 kg wood extract per hectare seems to be optimal to minimize the damage of Hoplocampa testudinea on apple trees.

Flavouring:
Extracts of Q. amara wood or bark are also used to flavor soft drinks, aperitifs and bitters which can be added to cocktails or to baked goods.

Contraindications:
•Amargo should not be used during pregnancy.

•Amargo has been documented to have an antifertility effect in studies with male rats. Men undergoing fertility treatment or those wishing to have children probably should avoid using amargo.

•Large amounts of amargo can irritate the mucous membrane of the stomach and can lead to nausea and vomiting. Do not exceed recommended dosages.

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/Quassia_amara
http://www.rain-tree.com/amargo.htm#.UgY4yL7D92Y
http://www.anniesremedy.com/herb_detail488.php

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Herbs & Plants

Indian Almond (Terminalia catappa)

Botanical Name :Terminalia catappa
Family: Combretaceae
Genus: Terminalia
Species: T. catappa
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Myrtales

Common Names:Desi Badam, Bengal almond, Singapore almond , Ebelebo, Malabar almond, Indian almond, Tropical almond, Sea almond, Beach Almond, Talisay tree, Umbrella tree, Abrofo Nkatie (Akan),

Habitat :The tree has been spread widely by humans and the native range is uncertain. It has long been naturalised in a broad belt extending from Africa to Northern Australia and New Guinea through Southeast Asia and Micronesia into the Indian Subcontinent.

Description:
Terminalia catappa is a large tropical tree in the Leadwood tree family, Combretaceae.It grows to 35 metres (115 ft) tall, with an upright, symmetrical crown and horizontal branches. The Terminalia catappa has corky, light fruit that is dispersed by water. The nut within the fruit is edible when fully ripe,tasting almost like almond. As the tree gets older, its crown becomes more flattened to form a spreading, vase shape. Its branches are distinctively arranged in tiers. The leaves are large, 15–25 centimetres (5.9–9.8 in) long and 10–14 centimetres (3.9–5.5 in) broad, ovoid, glossy dark green and leathery. They are dry-season deciduous; before falling, they turn pinkish-reddish or yellow-brown, due to pigments such as violaxanthin, lutein, and zeaxanthin.

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The flowers are monoecious, with distinct male and female flowers on the same tree. Both are 1 centimetre (0.39 in) in diameter, white to greenish, inconspicuous with no petals; they are produced on axillary or terminal spikes. The fruit is a drupe 5–7 centimetres (2.0–2.8 in) long and 3–5.5 centimetres (1.2–2.2 in) broad, green at first, then yellow and finally red when ripe, containing a single seed

Cultivation:Terminalia catappa  is grown in tropical countries all over the world.

Edible Uses:
The fruit is edible, tasting slightly acidic.

Chemical Constituents:
The leaves contain several flavonoids (like kaempferol or quercetin), several tannins (such as punicalin, punicalagin or tercatin), saponines and phytosterols. Due to this chemical richness, the leaves (and also the bark) are used in different traditional medicines for various purposes. For instances, in Taiwan fallen leaves are used as a herb to treat liver diseases. In Suriname, a tea made from the leaves is prescribed against dysentery and diarrhea. It is also thought that the leaves contain agents for prevention of cancers (although they have no demonstrated anticarcinogenic properties) and antioxidant as well as anticlastogenic characteristics.

Medicinal Uses;
Extracts from the leaves and bark of the plant have proven anticarcinogenic, anti-HIV and hepatoprotective properties (liver regenerating effects), including anti-diabetic effects.  The leaves and bark have been used traditionally in the South Pacific, for fungal related conditions.  It may be potentially beneficial for overall immune support, liver detoxification and antioxidant support.  The leaves contain agents for chemo-prevention of cancer and probably have anticarciogenic potential.  They also have a anticlastogenic effect (a process which causes breaks in chromosomes) due to their antioxidant properties. The kernel of Indian almond has shown aphrodisiac activity; it can probably be used in treatment of some forms of sexual inadequacies (premature ejaculation). Ethanol extract of the leaves shown potential in the treatment of sickle cell disorders. It appears as an anti-sickling agent for those that suffer from sickle cell.  It has been shown to be of benefit for microbial balancing.; as an aid to lowering high blood pressure and stress; as a treatment for some forms of liver disorders; as an aid in reducing the effect of several heart conditions .  In Asia it has long been known that the leaves of contain a toxic, secondary metabolite, which has antibacterial properties.
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From other countries: the leaves, bark and fruits are used for dysentery in Southeast Asia; dressing for rheumatic joints in Indonesia and India; the fruits and bark are a remedy for coughs in Samoa) and  asthma in Mexico; the fruits treat leprosy and  headaches in India and motion sickness in Mexico; the leaves eliminate intestinal parasites in the Philippines and treat eye problems, rheumatism and wounds in Samoa while they’re used to  stop bleeding during teeth extraction in Mexico; fallen leaves are used to treat liver diseases in Taiwan, and young leaves for colic in South America; the juice of the leaves is used for scabies, skin diseases and leprosy in India and Pakistan; the bark is a remedy for throat and mouth problems, stomach upsets and diarrhea in Samoa and for fever and dysentery in Brazil.

Other Uses:
The wood is red, solid and has high water resistance; it has been utilized in Polynesia for making canoes. In Tamil, almond is known “Nattuvadumai”.
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Keeping the leaves in an aquarium is said to lower the pH and heavy metal content of the water. It has been utilized in this way by Betta breeders in Thailand for many years. It’s also believed that it helps prevent fungus forming on the eggs of the fish.. Local hobbyists also use it for conditioning the betta’s water for breeding and hardening of the scales.
Terminalia catappa is widely grown in tropical regions of the world as an ornamental tree, grown for the deep shade its large leaves provide.

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.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_AB.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terminalia_catappa

http://www.backyardnature.net/yucatan/almond-t.htm

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Herbs & Plants

Dhundhul (Luffa cylindrical)

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Botanical Name : Luffa cylindrical
Family: Cucurbitaceae
Genus: Luffa
Species: L. aegyptiaca
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Cucurbitales
Indian Name :Dhundhul
Common Name :Lufa,
Egyptian cucumber,  Vietnamese luffa, Dishrag gourd, Rag gourd, Sponge gourd, and Vegetable-sponge. It is also called smooth luffa to distinguish it from the ridged luffa (Luffa acutangula)….In Bengali it is called Jhingha … CLICK & SEE
Habitat:Luffa plants are tropical in origin, believed to have originated in southern Asia.  They need a long hot growing season. Places like the US Gulf Coast are plenty hot.  Starting the plants indoors may be needed for cooler climates.

Description:
Ridged luffa is a tropical running annual vine with rounded leaves and yellow flowers. The plant is diecious, having both male and female flowers. The rather large male flowers are bright yellow and occur in clusters. The female flowers are solitary and have the tiny slender ovary attached. The leaves are covered with short hairs and the fruits are ribbed and cylindrical shaped. It has ten longitudinal angular ridges and a tapered neck. Ridged luffa is very similar to L. Cylindrica which lacks the ridge. The young fruit is used as a cooked vegetable; although some gardeners grow Chinese okra for the fibrows interior. The fibrows netting is an excellent sponge but there are also industrial applications such as waterfilters. In Suriname‘s traditional medicine, a tea of the leaves is used as a diuretic, while juice of the fruit is used against internal hemorrhage. The seeds have laxative properties. Propagation: By seeds.

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Loofah or Luffa, common name for a climbing plant of the cucumber family and for the vegetable sponge derived from the plant. There are six species of loofah plant, all of which are native to the Tropics and subtropics of Asia and Africa. The common name loofah and the scientific name Luffa are derived from the Arabic common name for this plant, lûfa. The most commonly used species, Luffa aegyptiaca, is an annual, monoecious vine (where male and female flowers appear on different parts of the plant), with deep yellow flowers. The female flowers are borne singly and the male flowers are in clusters.

The leaves are hairless, lobed, and triangular in outline. Tendrils arise from the stems near the leaves and the numerous branches are long and slender. The cylindrical or club-shaped fruit can be up to 30-40 cm (12-16 in) long and hangs down from the stems owing to its weight. The skin of the fruit is ridged and green, becoming straw-coloured at maturity. The small, brown or black seeds are wrinkled on the surface and look like watermelon seeds. They are released when the lid-like apex of the fruit breaks off. It is the dried and bleached vascular system of the mature fruit that is used as a sponge or dishcloth in many parts of the world. The young fruits of Luffa aegyptiaca and Luffa acutangula are also eaten as vegetables in some countries.

General Uses:
When mature,the fruits become a tough mass of cellulose fiber that makes a great scrubbing sponge.  These natural cellulose fiber sponge wonders of the vegetable world have many uses. They’ll make your skin squeaky clean or shine up your dirty dishes. Luffa are most excellent in the bath or shower.  The exfoliating action leaves your skin feeling the cleanest and tightest it could possibly be.  Scrubbing your back with a luffa sponge in the bath or shower is an incredibly pleasurable experience.  Home artisan craft soap makers include slices of luffa in their creations to add an extra cleaning boost to their soaps. Shredded or powdered luffa can be also be mixed into soap.

Luffa sponges are great for washing items like large pots and other containers like Tupperware®.  We use them for cleaning almost everything, including cars, boats, plastic buckets, and anything that needs scrubbed but can’t withstand steel wool.  Non stick cookware is one example.

A large loofa or a smaller piece on a handle or rope makes a great back scratcher.  They can be cut into many shapes for scrubbing pads, padding, and other craft uses.  Cut the sponges lengthwise and remove the core to make sheets of sponge material. These sheets of luffa material can be sewn into items like table hot pads, sandals, bath mats, hats, or anything else you can imagine.

Edible Uses:   The luffa flowers and fruits are soft and edible when young and are sometimes cooked and eaten like squash or okra. Loofah has been an important food source in many Asian cultures. The leaves and vines should not be eaten.  When crushed, they produce a bitter compound and smell that seems to repel insects and animals. It is similar to the bitterness sometimes found in cucumbers, a close plant relative also in the Cucurbitaceae family.  According to some sources a fellow named Wehmer identified a substance known as luffeine for the bitterness of Luffa acutangula, a related species grown commonly for food.

Small luffa fruits often are eaten but disclaim any legal responsibility for any bad reactions anyone might have from consuming luffa. Unknown allergy potential. Eat at your own risk. Some luffa varieties may produce fruits that are too bitter to eat. Peeling the skin off removes some of the bitterness. If it tastes bad, don’t eat it . Th  Edible luffa can be found sometimes in markets with Asian style vegetables. People  like them sliced in a stir fry or just sauteed in a little olive oil. Seasoning with a dash of soy sauce and cayenne pepper makes a tasty appetizer. The flowers have a crunchy green flavor similar to celery or cucumber. They make a colorful salad. The edible size fruits taste something like a cross between a zucchini and a cucumber.

Medicinal Uses:
Powdered luffa fibers have also been used as an ingredient in Chinese herbal medicine. Some compounds in the plant and seeds have been studied and used for medicinal properties.

Parts used :   Leaves, fruit.

In Chinese medicine, the inner skeleton of the dried fruit is used to treat pain in the muscles and joints, chest, and abdomen. It is prescribed for chest infections accompanied by fever and pain, and is used to clear congested mucus. Loofah is also given to treat painful or swollen breasts. Research indicates the fresh vine has a stronger expectorant effect than the dried fruit. Dried fruit fibers are used as abrasive sponges in skin care to remove dead skin and stimulate the peripheral circulation.

Folkloric:
· Decoction of leaves for amenorrhea.
· Poultice of leaves for hemorrhoids.
· Juice of fresh leaves for conjunctivitis.
· Juice of leaves also used externally for sores and various animal bites.
· Seed oil used for dermatitis.
· Infusion of seeds as purgative and emetic.
• In Russia, roots is used as a purge.
• In India, roots is used for dropsy and as laxative; leaf and fruit juice used to treat jaundice.
• In Java, leaf decoction used for uremia and amenorrhea.
• In Bangladesh, pounded leaves used for hemorrhoids, splenitis, leprosy. Juice of leaces used for conjunctivitis in children.
• In West Africa, leaf extract of ridged gourd applied to sores caused by guinea worms; leaf sap used as eyewash in conjunctivitis; fruits and seeds used in herbal preparations for treatment of venereal diseases.
In Mauritius, seeds eaten to expel intestinal worms; leaf juice applied to eczema.
• Seed used as insecticidal.
Others
· Fibrous nature of the mature fruit, devoid of pulp, is used as a bath brush or sponge.
• In China, has been used as a pesticide.
• Fibers sometimes used for making hats.

Studies
• Trypsin Inhibitors: Study isolated two trypsin inhibitors, LA-1 and LA-2, both consisting of 28-29 amino acid residues, respectively. Both strongly inhibit trypsin by forming enzyme-inhibitor complexes.
• Constituents: Study isolated seven oleanane-type triterpene saponins, acutosides A-G.
• Antioxidants : An antioxidant-guided assay yielded eight compounds. Results showed consumption of sponge gourds can supply some antioxidant constituents to the human body.

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://toptropicals.com/catalog/uid/luffa_acutangula.htm

Patola – Scientific name: Luffa acutangula Linn.


http://www.luffa.info/

http://www.stuartxchange.com/Patola.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luffa_aegyptiaca

http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_LMN.htm

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