Categories
Herbs & Plants

Humulus lupulus

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Botanical name :Humulus lupulus
Family: Cannabaceae
Genus: Humulus
Species: H. lupulus
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Rosales

Synonyms: Humulus americanus. Humulus volubilis. Humulus vulgaris. Lupulus amarus.

Common names:Hop, Common hop, European Hop,

Habitat :Humulus lupulus is native to Europe, western Asia and North America.

Description:
It is a dioecious, perennial, herbaceous climbing plant which sends up new shoots in early spring and dies back to a cold-hardy rhizome in autumn. Strictly speaking it is a bine rather than a vine, using its own shoots to act as supports for new growth.
The plant grows to 6 m (19ft 8in) at a medium rate. It is not frost tender. It is in flower from Jul to August, and the seeds ripen from Sep to October. 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 Wind.The plant is not self-fertile.Bloom Color: Green, Yellow. Main Bloom Time: Early fall, Late summer, Mid summer. Form: Spreading or horizontal, Variable spread.It is noted for attracting wildlife.

CLICK TO SEE THE PICTURES..>…...(01)..(1).(2)…...(3)…….(4).…..(5)

The female plants produce strobiles, which are cone-like reproductive structures (Anon 1999a). The common and most well-known use of H. lupulus is in the flavoring of beer. Lupulin, a resinous substance found in the strobiles, is added to beer to give the distinct bitter taste (Anon 1999b).

Cultivation:
Landscape Uses:Ground cover, Screen. Easily grown in a good garden soil in sun or semi-shade. Prefers a deep rich loam and a warm sheltered position. Plants can succeed in dry shade if plenty of humus is incorporated into the soil, once established they are also somewhat drought tolerant. Hops are reported to tolerate an annual precipitation of between 31 and 137cm, an annual temperature in the range of 5.6 to 21.3°C and a pH of 4.5 to 8.2. Plants are very hardy tolerating temperatures down to about -20°c when dormant. The young shoots in spring, however, can be damaged by any more than a mild frost. A climbing plant, supporting itself by twining around the branches of other plants. Hops are frequently cultivated, both commercially and on a domestic scale, in temperate zones for their seed heads which have many medicinal qualities and are also used as a flavouring and preservative in beer. There are many named varieties. They grow best between the latitudes of 35 – 51°N and 34 – 43°S, with mean summer temperatures of 16 – 18°C. Generally, for beer making, the unfertilized seed heads are preferred and so most male plants are weeded out. Hops are fairly deep rooted, but with a network of shallow feeding roots. These horizontal feeding roots spread out at depth of 20 – 30 cm in the soil and give rise to fibrous roots in upper layers of soil[269]. The vertical roots develop downwards to a depth of about 150 cm with a spread of 183 – 244 cm and have no fibrous roots. The bruised leaves are refreshingly aromatic whilst the flowers cast a pleasing scent. A food plant for many caterpillars[30]. Dioecious. Male and female plants must be grown if seed is required. Special Features: Edible, Invasive, Naturalizing, Attracts butterflies, Suitable for dried flowers, Inconspicuous flowers or blooms.

Propagation:
Seed – sow spring in a cold frame. Germination is fairly quick. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots as soon as they are large enough to handle and plant out in the summer or following spring. Division in spring as new growth begins. Very easy, you can plant the divisions straight out into their permanent positions if required[K]. Basal cuttings in March. Harvest the shoots when they are about 10 – 15cm long with plenty of underground stem. Pot them up into individual pots and keep them in light shade in a cold frame or greenhouse until they are rooting well. Plant them out in the summer.

Edible Uses: 
Edible Parts: Leaves; Root.
Edible Uses: Drink; Rutin; Tea.

Young leaves and young shoots – cooked. The flavour is unique and, to many tastes, delicious. Young leaves can be eaten in salads. Use before the end of May. The leaves contain rutin. The fleshy rhizomes are sometimes eaten. A tea is made from the leaves and cones. It has a gentle calming effect. The dried flowering heads of female plants are used as a flavouring and preservative in beer. They are also medicinal. The flowering heads are sprinkled with bitter-tasting yellow translucent glands, which appear as a granular substance. This substance prevents gram-negative bacteria from growing in the beer or wort. Much of the hop’s use as a flavouring and medicinal plant depends on the abundance of this powdery substance. The seeds contain gamma-linolenic acid, an essential fatty acid that is said to have many important functions in the human body and is rarely found in plant sources. The essential oil in the flowering heads is used as a flavouring in cereal beverages and mineral waters. Extracts from the plant, and the oil, are used as flavouring in non-alcoholic beverages, frozen dairy desserts, candy, baked goods and puddings, with the highest average maximum use level of 0.072% reported for an extract used in baked goods

Medicinal Uses:

Humulus lupulus has also been used for medicinal purposes. Traditionally, it has been used to aid digestion and as a mild sedative to treat insomnia (Anon. 1999a).
From about 1950 to 1970, claims had been made that hops contained high quantities of estrogens (Fenselau 1973). Fenselau, et. al. (1973), assessed the degree of estrogenic activity in hops. They tested purified essential-oil fractions, alpha and beta bitter acids, and organic solvent extracts for estrogenic activity (Fenselau 1973). They also examined several dilutions by uterine-weight assay in immature female mice (Fenselau 1973). All tests indicated that hops lacked estrogenic activity (Fenselau 1973).

Another study by Fenselau (1976), tested samples of hops to detect for the presence of tetrahydrocannabinol, THC. This psychotropic compound is the active chemical component of Cannabis sativa (marijuana). They used the selected ion mode on a combined gas chromatograph – mass spectrometer to assay for the compound in 17 samples (Fenselau 1976). No THC was found in any of the samples (Fenselau 1976).

In 1989, H. lupulus was one of twelve plants studies for the treatment of diabetes mellitus (Swanston-Flatt 1989). The studies were done in vivo in normal and streptozotocin-induced diabetic mice (Swanston-Flatt 1989). Streptozotocin is an older intravenous chemotherapeutic (Anon. 1999c). It is used in the treatment of symptomatic or progressive metastatic islet and non-islet cell carcinoma of the pancreas (USP 1995). It also has diabetogenic and hyperglycemic effects (USP 1995). It has been shown to induce diabetes and lower pancreatic insulin content in insulin promoter-mB7-l transgenic mice when given in low doses (Harlen 1995). The mice were given preparations of the herb for 28 days (Swanston-Flatt 1989). In normal diabetic mice, the hops showed no effect on their basal plasma glucose and insulin, glucose tolerance, insulin-induced hypoglycemia, and glycated hemoglobin (Swanston-Flatt 1989). In the streptozotocin diabetic mice, the hops did not significantly affect the parameters of glucose homeostasis listed above or in pancreatic insulin concentration (Swanston-Flatt 1989).

Other modern day experimentation has led to the observance of a variety of possible medicinal uses of H. lupulus, including antibacterial activity (Langezaal 1992; Simpson 1992), treatment for gastritis (Krivenko 1989; Torosyan 1974), and even cancer prevention (Anon. 1998, Buhler 1999, Yasukawa 1995).

Two studies were done on the antibacterial and antimicrobial activity of H. lupulus. Simpson (1992) performed experiments on H. lupulus to determine what factors determine its antibacterial activity. It was determined that a decrease in pH caused the greatest stimulation of antibacterial activity in the weak acids (trans-isohumulone, humulone, colupulone and trans-humulinic acid) of the hops plant (Simpson 1992). The trans-isohumulone was found to have the greatest activity (Simpson 1992). Other monovalent cations stimulated activity, but not to the extent observed by protons (Simpson 1992). Divalent cations produced mixed reactions (from little effect to reduced effect) (Simpson 1992.) The activity of the trans-isohumulone was also found to be antagonized by lipids and beta-cyclodextrin (Simpson 1992). Langezaal (1992) did a study on the antimicrobial effects of essential oils and extracts of H. lupulus. He isolated the essential oils by hydrodistillation and the extracts by soaking the strobiles in chloroform (Langezaal 1992). The compounds had anntimicrobial effects against Bacillus subtilis, Staphlococcus aureus and Trichophylon mentagrophytes var. interdigitale but none against Escherichia coli and Candida albicans (Langezaal 1992).

In 1974, Totosyan conducted a study of H. lupulus in 46 chronic hyposecretory gastritis patients. A decoction of H. lupulus was given to the patients and in 36, a positive therapeutic effect was observed (Totosyan 1974). This was due to the high secretory-motor stimulating effect of the hops (Totosyan 1974). Later, another stuliy of this type was done by Krivenko (1989). He gave an herbal complex of H. lupulus, Achillea millefolium, Urtica dioica, Cichorium, Polygonum, Matricaria chamomilla, Helichrysum arenarium, Calendula, and corn stigmas to patients suffering from chronic hyposecretory gastritis, chronic hepatocholecystitis and/or angiocholitis (Krivenko 1989). No results were reported in this document.

Recent research has examined the role of H. lupulus on cancer prevention. Songsan (1990) used spectral methods to establish the structures of isoxanthohumol, xanthohumaol, and two new chalcone derivatives 3-(isoprenyl)-2,4-dihydroxy-4, 6- dimethyoxychalcone and 2,6 dimethyoxy-4,4-dihydroxychalcone. In 1998, xanthohumol was shown to inhibit the activity of the enzyme cytochrome P450, a component in the activation of the uncontrolled division of cancer cells (Anon. 1998). This research, conducted by Buh!er (1999) looked at the effects of the flavonoids and chalcones of hops on cancer chemoprevention and cancer chemotherapy. A study by Yasukawa (1995) looked at the effects of another compound in hops: humulon, on tumor promotion. It was shown that humulon inhibited 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate (TPA) induced inflammation (Yasukawa 1995). Humulon also had a pronounced inhibition of the tumor promoting factor of TPA on the growth of mouse skin tumors that had been activated by 7, 12-dimethylbenz[a]anthracene (Yasukawa 1995).

It is evident that more research needs to be conducted before proven medicinal significance of H. lupulus can be claimed. Clearly, the emphasis of the research will be on cancer prevention. And in this era, with the discovery of compounds such as Vincristine and Vinblastine in Vinca roseus, the possibility may not be so unrealistic.

Other Uses:

Dye; Essential; Fibre; Paper.

A fine brown dye is obtained from the leaves and flower heads. An essential oil from the female fruiting heads is used in perfumery. Average yields are 0.4 – 0.5%. Extracts of the plant are used in Europe in skin creams and lotions for their alleged skin-softening properties. A fibre is obtained from the stems. Similar to hemp (Cannabis sativa) but not as strong, it is used to make a coarse kind of cloth. It is sometimes used for filler material in corrugated paper or board products, but is unsuited for corrugated paper because of low pulp yield and high chemical requirement, or for production of high-grade pulp for speciality paper. The fibre is very durable but it is difficult to separate, the stems need to be soaked beforehand for a whole winter. A paper can also be made from the fibre, the stems are harvested in the autumn, the leaves removed and the stems steamed until the fibres can be removed. The fibre is cooked for 2 hours with lye and then hand pounded with mallets or ball milled for 2½ hours. The paper is brown in colour
The species is a main ingredient of many beers, and as such is widely cultivated for use by the brewing industry . The fragrant flower cones (hops) impart bitterness and flavor, and also have preservative qualities. The extract is antimicrobial, which makes it useful for making natural deodorant. Hops also contain the potent phytoestrogen, 8-prenylnaringenin, that may have a relative binding affinity to estrogen receptors. Hop also contains myrcene, humulene, xanthohumol, myrcenol, linalool, tannins, and resin.

Known Hazards:  Skin contact with the plant causes dermatitis in sensitive people. Hops dermatitis has long been recognized. Not only hands and face, but legs have suffered purpuric eruptions due to hop picking. Although only 1 in 3,000 workers is estimated to be treated, one in 30 are believed to suffer dermatitis. Dislodged hairs from the plant can irritate the eyes. Sedative effect may worsen depression. Avoid during pregnancy (due to antispasmodic action on uterus). Avoid with breast, uterine and cervical cancers

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/Humulus_lupulus
http://klemow.wilkes.edu/Humulus.html
http://www.piam.com/mms_garden/plants.html
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Humulus+lupulus

 

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Categories
Ailmemts & Remedies

Brain Cancer

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Alternative Names:Glioma, Meningioma

Definition:
Brain cancer is a disease of the brain in which cancer cells (malignant) arise in the brain tissue. Cancer cells grow to form a mass of cancer tissue (tumor) that interferes with brain functions such as muscle control, sensation, memory, and other normal body functions.

 click & see the pictures

There are more than 100 different types of brain tumour, depending on which cells within the brain are involved. The most common (about 50 per cent of brain cancers) is called a glioma, and it is formed not from the nerve cells of the brain but from the glial cells, which support those nerves. The most aggressive form of glioma is known as a glioblastoma multiforme – these tumours form branches like a tree reaching out through the brain and may be impossible to completely remove.

Other tumours include:
*Meningiomas – account for about a quarter of brain cancers and are formed from cells in the membranes, or meninges, that cover the brain

*Pituitary adenomas – tumours of the hormone-producing pituitary gland

*Acoustic neuromas – typically slow-growing tumours of the hearing nerve often found in older people

*Craniopharyngioma and ependymomas – often found in younger people

The treatment and outlook for these different brain tumours varies hugely. Some, such as meningiomas and pituitary tumours, are usually (but not always) benign, which means they don’t spread through the brain or elsewhere in the body. However, they can still cause problems as they expand within the skull, compressing vital parts of the brain. Other types of brain cancer are malignant, spreading through the tissues and returning after treatment.

Brain tumours are also graded in terms of how aggressive, abnormal or fast-growing the cells are. Exactly where the tumour forms is also critical, as some areas of the brain are much easier to operate on than others, where important structures are packed closely together.

Causes:
The cause of brain cancer  remains a mystery, but some risk factors are known. These include:

*Age – different tumours tend to occur at different ages. About 300 children are diagnosed with brain tumours every year, and these are often a type called primitive neuroectodermal tumours (PNETs), which form from very basic cells left behind by the developing embryo. PNETs usually develop at the back of the brain in the cerebellum

*Genetics – as many as five per cent of brain tumours occur as part of an inherited condition, such as neurofibromatosis

*Exposure to ionising radiation – such as radiotherapy treatment at a young age

*Altered immunity – a weakened immunity has been linked to a type of tumour called a lymphoma, while autoimmune disease and allergy seem to slightly reduce the risk of brain tumours

*Environmental pollutants – many people worry that chemicals in the environment (such as from rubber, petrol and many manufacturing industries) can increase the risk of brain cancers, but research has so far failed to prove a link with any degree of certainty. Neither is there clear and irrefutable evidence for risk from mobile phones, electricity power lines or viral infections, although research is ongoing.

Symptoms:
The symptoms and signs of a brain tumour fall into two categories.

Those caused by damage or disruption of particular nerves or areas of the brain. Symptoms will depend on the location of the tumour and may include:

*Weakness or tremor of certain parts of the body

*Difficulty writing, drawing or walking

*Changes in vision or other senses

*Changes in mood, behaviour or mental abilities

Those caused by increased pressure within the skull – these are general to many types of tumour and may include:

*Headache (typically occurring on waking or getting up)

*Irritability

*Nausea and vomiting

*Seizures

*Drowsiness

*Coma

*Changes in your ability to talk, hear or see

*Problems with balance or walking

*Problems with thinking or memory

*Muscle jerking or twitching

*Numbness or tingling in arms or legs

Diagnosis:
The initial test is an interview that includes a medical history and physical examination of the person by a health-care provider.If he or she  suspects a brain tumour, you should be referred to a specialist within two weeks. Tests are likely to include blood tests and the most frequently used test to detect brain cancer is a CT scan (computerized tomography). This test resembles a series of X-rays and is not painful, although sometimes a dye needs to be injected into a vein for better images of some internal brain structures.

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Another test that is gaining popularity because of its high sensitivity for detecting anatomic changes in the brain is MRI (magnetic resonance imaging). This test also resembles a series of X-rays and shows the brain structures in detail better than CT. MRI is not as widely available as CT scanning. If the tests show evidence (tumors or abnormalities in the brain tissue) of brain cancer, then other doctors such as neurosurgeons and neurologists that specialize in treating brain ailments will be consulted to help determine what should be done to treat the patient. Occasionally, a tissue sample (biopsy) may be obtained by surgery or insertion of a needle to help determine the diagnosis. Other tests (white blood cell counts, electrolytes, or examination of cerebrospinal fluid to detect abnormal cells or increased intracranial pressure) may be ordered by the health-care practitioner to help determine the patient’s state of health or to detect other health problems.

Treatment:
The type of treatment offered and the likely response depends on the type, grade and location of the tumour. Unlike many other organs, it’s very difficult to remove parts of the brain without causing massive disruption to the control of body functions, so a cancer near a vital part of the brain may be particularly difficult to remove.

The main treatments for brain tumours include:

*Surgery – to remove all or part of the tumour, or to reduce pressure within the skull

*Radiotherapy – some brain cancers are sensitive to radiotherapy. Newer treatments (stereotactic radiotherapy and radiosurgery) carefully target maximum doses to small areas of the tumour, avoiding healthy brain tissue.

*Chemotherapy – these treatments are limited by the fact that many drugs cannot pass from the bloodstream into brain tissue because of the ‘blood-brain barrier’, but may be useful when tumours are difficult to operate on, or have advanced or returned.

*Biological’ therapies – for example, drugs that block the chemicals that stimulate growth of tumour cells

*Steroids – can help to reduce swelling of the brain and decrease pressure in the skull
Often a combination of treatments will be recommended.

While, as a general rule, brain tumours are difficult to treat and tend to have a limited response, it can be very misleading to give overall survival figures because some brain cancers are easily removed with little long term damage, while others are rapidly progressive and respond poorly to any treatment.

While only about 14 per cent of people diagnosed with a brain tumour are still alive more than five years later, this sombre statistic could be unnecessarily worrying for a person with a small benign brain tumour. What a person diagnosed with brain cancer needs to know will be the outlook for their individual situation, which only their own doctor can tell them.

Treatments do continue to improve – for example, survival rates for young children have doubled over the past few decades, and many new developments are being tested.

Other treatments may include hyperthermia (heat treatments), immunotherapy (immune cells directed to kill certain cancer cell types), or steroids to reduce inflammation and brain swelling. These may be added on to other treatment plans.

Clinical trials (treatment plans designed by scientists to try new chemicals or treatment methods on patients) can be another way for patients to obtain treatment specifically for their cancer cell type. Clinical trials are part of the research efforts to produce better treatments for all disease types. The best treatment for brain cancer is designed by the team of cancer specialists in conjunction with the wishes of the patient.

Prognosis:
Survival of treated brain cancer varies with the cancer type, location, and overall age and general health of the patient. In general, most treatment plans seldom result in a cure. Reports of survival greater that five years (which is considered to be long-term survival), vary from less than 10% to a high of 32%, no matter what treatment plan is used.

So, why use any treatment plan? Without treatment, brain cancers are usually aggressive and result in death within a short time span. Treatment plans can prolong survival and can improve the patient’s quality of life for some time. Again, the patient and caregivers should discuss the prognosis when deciding on treatment plans.

Living with Brain Cancer:
Discuss your concerns openly with your doctors and family members. It is common for brain cancer patients to be concerned about how they can continue to lead their lives as normally as possible; it is also common for them to become anxious, depressed, and angry. Most people cope better when they discuss their concerns and feelings. Although some patients can do this with friends and relatives, others find solace in support groups (people who have brain cancer and are willing to discuss their experiences with other patients) composed of people who have experienced similar situations and feelings. The patient’s treatment team of doctors should be able to connect patients with support groups. In addition, information about local support groups is available from the American Cancer Society at http://www.cancer.org/docroot/home/index.asp.

Prevention:
Although there is no way to prevent brain cancers, early diagnosis and treatment of tumors that tend to metastasize to the brain may reduce the risk of metastatic brain tumors. The following factors have been suggested as possible risk factors for primary brain tumors: radiation to the head, HIV infection, and environmental toxins. However, no one knows the exact causes that initiate brain cancer, especially primary brain cancer, so specific preventive measures are not known. Although Web sites and popular press articles suggest that macrobiotic diets, not using cell phones, and other methods will help prevent brain cancer, there is no reliable data to support these claims.

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.

Resources:
http://www.medicinenet.com/brain_cancer/page5.htm
http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/braincancer.html
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:MRI_head_side.jpg

Categories
News on Health & Science

Ginger Inhibits Ovarian Cancer Cell Growth

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Ginger may be useful for treating and preventing ovarian cancer, according to a new study.

……………………………>....click & see

The spicy root not only has antioxidant and cancer-fighting properties, but the study also found that the ginger component gingerol exerts anti-inflammatory effects by mediating NF-KB, a protein complex that regulates your immune system’s response to infection.

In the study of cultured ovarian cancer cells, ginger inhibited growth and modulated secretion of angiogenic factors, which is a fundamental step in the transition of tumors from a dormant state to a malignant state.

The ginger also inhibited vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and interleukin-8 (IL-8), two compounds that are related to cancer growth.

Sources:
Chinese Medicine News January 2, 2008
BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine December 20, 2007, 7:44

Categories
Anti Drug Movement

LSD

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Health Hazards

Physical Psychological short-term effects. The effects of LSD are unpredictable. They depend on the amount taken; the user‘s personality, mood, and expectations; and the surroundings in which the drug is used. Usually, the user feels the first effects of the drug 30 to 90 minutes after taking it. The physical effects include dilated pupils, higher body temperature, increased heart rate and blood pressure, sweating, loss of appetite, sleeplessness, dry mouth, and tremors.

Sensations and feelings change much more dramatically than the physical signs.
The user may feel several different emotions at once or swing rapidly from one emotion to another. If taken in a large enough dose, the drug produces delusions and visual hallucinations. The user’s sense of time and self changes. Sensations may seem to “cross over,” giving the user the feeling of hearing colors and seeing sounds. These changes can be frightening and can cause panic.

LSD trips are long – typically they begin to clear after about 12 hours. Some users experience severe, terrifying thoughts and feelings, fear of losing control, fear of insanity and death, and despair while using LSD. In some cases, fatal accidents have occurred during states of LSD intoxication.

Flashbacks. Many LSD users experience flashbacks, recurrence of certain aspects of a person’s experience, without the user having taken the drug again. A flashback occurs suddenly, often without warning, and may occur within a few days or more than a year after LSD use. Flashbacks usually occur in people who use hallucinogens chronically or have an underlying personality problem; however, otherwise healthy people who use LSD occasionally may also have flashbacks. Bad trips and flashbacks are only part of the risks of LSD use. LSD users may manifest relatively long-lasting psychoses, such as schizophrenia or severe depression. It is difficult to determine the extent and mechanism of the LSD involvement in these illnesses.

Information provided by the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Categories
Herbs & Plants

Indian Hemp(Cannabis Sativa)

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Botanical Name :Cannabis sativa
Family: Cannabaceae
Genus:     Cannabis
Species: C. sativa
Kingdom: Plantae
Order:     Rosales

Indian name:Bhang or Ganja
Correct name: Cannabis sativa L. subsp. sativa var. spontanea (Vavilov) Small & Cronq.
Synonym: C. ruderalis Janisch.
Habitat : The Original plant was native to Western and Central Asia.It has been cultivated since ancient times in Asia and Europe.  Hemp grows naturally in Persia, Northern India and Southern Siberia, and probably in China. It is largely cultivated in Central and Southern Russia. It is sometimes found as a weed in England, probably due to seeds from birdcages, as they are much used in feeding tame birds. The drug that is official in Europe comes from Bogra and Rajshabi, north of Calcutta, or sometimes from Guzerat and Madras. It is called Guaza by London merchants.

Cannabis sativa is an herb that has been used by humans throughout recorded history for its fiber, for its psychological and physiological effects, and for the nourishment of its oil-bearing seeds. Different parts of the plant have different uses, and different varieties are cultivated in different ways and harvested at different times, depending on the purpose for which it is grown.

The plant is 1 to 5 meters high. The hem plants provids three types of products namely : fibre from the stems, oil from the seeds and nacrotic from the leaves and flowers.

Description:
The plant is an annual, the erect stems growing from 3 to 10 feet or more high, very slightly branched, having greyish-green hairs. The leaves are palmate, with five to seven leaflets (three on the upper leaves), numerous, on long thin petioles with acute stipules at the base, linear-lanceolate, tapering at both ends, the margins sharply serrate, smooth and dark green on the upper surface, lighter and downy on the under one. The small flowers are unisexual, the male having five almost separate, downy, pale yellowish segments, and the female a single, hairy, glandular, five-veined leaf enclosing the ovary in a sheath. The ovary is smooth, one-celled, with one hanging ovule and two long, hairy thread-like stigmas extending beyond the flower for more than its own length. The fruit is small, smooth, light brownish-grey in colour, and completely filled by the seed.

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Uses
A multiple-use plant, furnishing fiber, oil, medicine, and narcotics. Fibers are best produced from male plants. In the temperate zone, oil is produced from females which have been left to stand after the fiber-producing males have been harvested. Leaves are added to soups in southeast Asia. Varnish is made from the pressed seeds. Three types of narcotics are produced: hashish (bhang), the dried leaves and flowers of male and female shoots; ganja, dried unfertilized inflorescences of special female plants; and charas, the crude resin, which is probably the strongest. Modern medicine uses cannabis in glaucoma and alleviating the pains of cancer and chemotherapy. More resin is produced in tropical than in temperate climates. Lewis lung adenocarcinonoma growth has been retarded by oral administration of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, delta-8-tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabinol, but not by cannabidiol. (J.N.C.I. 55: 597-602. 1975). The delta-9 also inhibits the replication of Herpes simplex virus.

Hemp seeds are often added to wild bird seed mix. In Europe and China, hemp fibers are increasingly being used to strengthen cement, and in other composite materials for many construction and manufacturing applications. Mercedes-Benz uses a “biocomposite” composed principally of hemp fiber for the manufacture of interior panels in some of its automobiles. Hemp cultivation in the United States is suppressed by laws supported by drug enforcement agencies, for fear that high THC plants will be grown amidst the low THC plants used for hemp production. Efforts are underway to change these laws, allowing American farmers to compete in the growing markets for this crop. As of 2006, China produces roughly 40% of the world’s hemp fiber and has been producing much of the world’s Cannabis crop throughout much of history.

Food
Hemp (the seed) may be grown also for food. The seeds are comparable to sunflower seeds, and can be used for baking, like sesame seeds. Products range from cereals to frozen waffles. A few companies produce value added hemp seed items that include the oils of the seed, whole hemp grain (which is sterilized as per international law), hulled hemp seed (the whole seed without the mineral rich outer shell), hemp flour, hemp cake (a by-product of pressing the seed for oil) and hemp protein powder. Hemp is also used in some organic cereals. Hemp seed can also be used to make a non-dairy “milk” somewhat similar to soy and nut milks, as well as non-dairy hemp “ice cream.” Within the UK, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) treats hemp as purely a non-food crop. Seed can and does appear on the UK market as a legal food product although cultivation licences are not available for this purpose. In North America, hemp seed food products are sold in small volume, typically in health food stores or by mail order.

Nutrition

Hemp seeds are notable as a high-protein food source, providing 73% of the Daily Value (DV) in a 100 g serving.  Hempseed amino acid profile is comparable to other sources of protein such as meat, milk, eggs and soy. Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Score values (PDCAAS), which measure the degree to which a food for humans is a “complete protein”, were 0.49-0.53 for whole hemp seed, 0.46-0.51 for hemp seed meal, and 0.63-0.66 for dehulled hemp seed.[9]

Hemp seeds are also a rich source of the dietary minerals, magnesium (160% DV), zinc (77% DV) and iron (53% DV), and a good source of dietary fiber (13% DV).

Approximately 73% of the energy in hemp seeds is in the form of fats and essential fatty acids, mainly polyunsaturated fatty acids, linoleic, oleic and alpha-linolenic acids.

Harvesting the fiber:
Smallholder plots are usually harvested by hand. The plants are cut at 2 to 3 cm above the soil and left on the ground to dry. Mechanical harvesting is now common, using specially adapted cutter-binders or simpler cutters.
Hemp Stem

The cut hemp is laid in swathes to dry for up to four days. This was traditionally followed by retting, either water retting (the bundled hemp floats in water) or dew retting (the hemp remains on the ground and is affected by the moisture in dew moisture, and by molds and bacterial action). Modern processes use steam and machinery to separate the fibre, a process known as thermo-mechanical pulping.

Hemp seed also contains 20% complete and highly-digestible protein , 1/3 as edestin protein and 2/3 as albumins. Its high quality Amino Acid composition is closer to “complete” sources of proteins (meat, milk, eggs) than all other oil seeds except soy .

The ALA contained in plant seed oils by itself is sufficient for nutrition, as the body is capable of converting it into other fatty acids. However, this conversion process is inefficient, and the broader spectrum of omega-3 fatty acids obtained from oily fish is easier for the body to immediately utilize (see fish and plants as a source of Omega-3).

Energy
In India, plants remaining in the field after harvesting for fiber are allowed to set seed. They are cut after the fruits are ripened and dried and threshed for seed collection. Grown solely for seeds, an average crop yields 1.3 to 1.6 MT/ha seed. The world low production yield was 288 kg/ha in Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the international production yield was 613 kg/ha, and the world high production yield was 3,842 kg/ha in People’s Republic of China.

Chemistry
Most varieties contain cannabinol and cannabinin; Egyptian variety contains cannabidine, cannabol and cannabinol, their biological activity being due to the alcohols and phenolic compounds. Resin contains crystalline compound cannin. Alcoholic extracts of American variety vary considerably in physiological activity. Per 100 g, the seed is reported to contain 8.8 g H2O, 21.5 g protein, 30.4 g fat, 34.7 g total carbohydrate, 18.8 g fiber, and 4.6 g ash. In Asia, per 100 g, the seed is reported to contain 421 calories, 13.6 g H2O, 27.1 g protein, 25.6 g fat, 27.6 g total carbohydrate, 20.3 g fiber, 6.1 g ash, 120 mg Ca, 970 mg P, 12.0 mg Fe, 5 mg beta-carotene equivalent, 0.32 mg thiamine, 0.17 mg riboflavin, and 2.1 mg niacin. A crystalline globulin has been isolated from defatted meal. It contains 3.8% glycocol, 3.6 alanine, 20.9 valine and leucine, 2.4 phenylalanine, 2.1 tyrosine, 0.3 serine, 0.2 cystine, 4.1 proline, 2.0 oxyproline, 4.5 aspartic acid, 18.7 glutamic acid, 14.4 tryptophane and arginine, 1.7 lysine, and 2.4% histidine. Oil from the seeds contains 15% oleic, 70% linoleic, and 15% linolenic and isolinolenic acids. The seed cake contains 10.8% water, 10.2% fat, 30.8% protein, 40.6% N-free extract, and 7.7% ash (20.3% K2O; 0.8% Na2O; 23.6% CaO, 5.7% MgO, 1.0% Fe2O3, 36.5% P2O5, 0.2% SO3; 11.9% SiO2, 0.1% Cl and a trace of Mn2O3). Trigonelline occurs in the seed. Cannabis also contains choline, eugenol, guaiacol, nicotine, and piperidine (C.S.I.R., 1948-1976), all listed as toxins by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health. A beta-resercyclic acid derivative has antibiotic and sedative properties; with a murine LD56 of 500 mg/kg, it has some aritiviral effect and inhibits the growth of mouse mammary tumor in egg embryo (Watt and Breyer-Brandwijk, 1962).

Medicinal Uses:

Part Used:  The dried, flowering tops of the female, or pistillate plants.

Constituents: Cannabinone or Hemp resin is soluble in alcohol and ether. Cannabinol is separated from it. It is fawn-coloured, in thin layers, and burns with a clear, white flame, leaving no ash. This is the active principle. There is a small amount of ambercoloured volatile oil, one of the linseed-oil group. It has been resolved into a colourless liquid called cannabene, and a solid hydride of this.

It is said that a volatile alkaloid has been found in the tops, resembling nicotine. It also contains alcoholic extract, ash, and the alkaloid Choline.

The principal use of Hemp in medicine is for easing pain and inducing sleep, and for a soothing influence in nervous disorders. It does not cause constipation nor affect the appetite like opium. It is useful in neuralgia, gout, rheumatism, delirium tremens, insanity, infantile convulsions, insomnia, etc.

The tincture helps parturition, and is used in senile catarrh, gonorrhoea, menorrhagia, chronic cystitis and all painful urinary affections. An infusion of the seed is useful in after pains and prolapsus uteri. The resin may be combined with ointments, oils or chloroform in inflammatory and neuralgic complaints.

The drug deteriorates rapidly and hence is very variable, so that it is best given in ascending quantities to produce its effect. The deterioration is due to the oxidation of cannabinol and it should be kept in hermetically-sealed containers.

The action is almost entirely on the higher nerve centres. It can produce an exhilarating intoxication, with hallucinations, and is widely used in Eastern countries as an intoxicant, hence its names ‘leaf of delusion,’ ‘increaser of pleasure,’ ‘cementer of friendship,’ etc. The nature of its effect depends much on the nationality and temperament of the individual. It is regarded as dangerous to sleep in a field of hemp owing to the aroma of the plants.

Toxicity
Non-users may suffer muscular incoordination (9 of 22 persons), dizziness (8), difficulty concentrating (8), confusion (7), difficulty walking (7), dysarthria (7), dry mouth (7), dysphagia (5), blurred vision (5), and vomiting (1), following oral ingestion of THC disguised in cookies (MMWR, October 20, 1978). People working with the plant or the fiber may develop dermatitis. In larger doses, hemp drugs may induce catalepsy, followed by coma and DEATH from cardiac failure (C.S.I.R., 1948-1976).

Narcotic Uses:As a narcotic hemp is consumed as a beverage in India. It is more often used in smoking for euphorbic purposes.

Folk Medicine
Medicinally, plants are tonic, intoxicant, stomachic, antispasmodic, analgesic, narcotic, sedative and anodyne. Seeds and leaves are used to treat old cancer and scirrhous tumors. The seed, either as a paste or as an unguent, is said to be a folk remedy for tumors and cancerous ulcers. The decoction of the root is said help remedy hard tumors and knots in the joints. The leaf, prepared in various manners, is said to alleviate cancerous sores, scirrhous tumors, cold tumors, and white tumors. The plant is also used for mammary tumors and corns (C.S.I.R., 1948-1976). Europeans are said to use the dregs from Cannabis pipes in “cancer cures” (Watt and Breyer-Brandwijk, 1962).

Few plants have a greater array of folk medicine uses: alcohol withdrawal, anthrax, asthma, blood poisoning, bronchitis, burns, catarrh, childbirth, convulsions, coughs, cystitis, delirium, depression, diarrhea, dysentery, dysmenorrhea, epilepsy, fever, gonorrhea, gout, inflammation, insomnia, jaundice, lockjaw, malaria, mania, mennorhagia, migraine, morphine withdrawal, neuralgia, palsy, rheumatism, scalds, snakebite, swellings, tetany, toothache, uteral prolapse, and whooping cough. Seeds ground and mixed with porridge given to weaning children.

Precautions:Excessive consumption of hemp is physically and mentally harmful.If consumed for a long time , it causes loss of appetite and gastric derangement. Hemp drugs act chiefly on the cerebrum wherein they resemble the action of alcohol or opium.

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:

Miracles of Herbs

http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/duke_energy/Cannabis_sativa.html#Distribution

http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/h/hemind22.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hemp

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