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Herbs & Plants

Ceanothus velutinus

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Botanical Name : Ceanothus velutinus
Family: Rhamnaceae
Genus: Ceanothus
Species:C. velutinus
Kingdom:Plantae
Order: Rosales

Common Names: Sticky Laurel, Snowbrush ceanothus, Hooker’s ceanothus, Red root, and Tobacco brush

Habitat : Ceanothus velutinus is native to western North America from British Columbia to California to Colorado, where it grows in several habitat types including coniferous forest, chaparral, and various types of woodland.

Description:
Ceanothus velutinus is an evergreen Shrub growing up to 4 meters tall but generally remains under three, and forms colonies of individuals which tangle together to form nearly impenetrable thickets. The aromatic evergreen leaves are alternately arranged, each up to 8 centimeters long. The leaves are oval in shape with minute glandular teeth along the edges, and shiny green and hairless on the top surface.
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The plentiful inflorescences are long clusters of white flowers. The fruit is a three-lobed capsule a few millimeters long which snaps open explosively to expel the three seeds onto the soil, where they may remain in a buried seed bank for well over 200 years before sprouting. The seed is coated in a very hard outer layer that must be scarified, generally by wildfire, before it can germinate. Like most other ceanothus, this species fixes nitrogen via actinomycetes on its roots.
Cultivation:
Prefers a warm sunny position but tolerates light shade. Tolerates some lime, but will not succeed on shallow chalk. One report says that this species is hardy to zone 5 (tolerating temperatures down to about -20°c) whilst another says that it needs the protection of a wall when grown outdoors in Britain. Plants dislike root disturbance, they should be planted out into their permanent positions whilst still small. Dislikes heavy pruning, it is best not to cut out any wood thicker than a pencil. Plants flower on the previous year’s growth, if any pruning is necessary it is best carried out immediately after flowering has finished. Constant pruning to keep a plant small can shorten its life. Fast growing, it flowers well when young, often in its second year from seed[11]. Hybridizes freely with other members of this genus. The leaves have a strong scent of balsam[200]. Some members of this genus have a symbiotic relationship with certain soil micro-organisms, these form nodules on the roots of the plants and fix atmospheric nitrogen. Some of this nitrogen is utilized by the growing plant but some can also be used by other plants growing nearby.
Propagation :
Seed – best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame. Stored seed should be pre-soaked for 12 hours in warm water and then given 1 – 3 months stratification at 1°c. Germination usually takes place within 1 – 2 months at 20°c. One report says that the seed is best given boiling water treatment, or heated in 4 times its volume of sand at 90 – 120°c for 4 – 5 minutes and then soaked in warm water for 12 hours before sowing it. It then requires a period of chilling below 5°c for up to 84 days before it will germinat. Seeds have considerable longevity, some that have been in the soil for 200 years or more have germinated. The seed is ejected from its capsule with some force when fully ripe, timing the collection of seed can be difficult because unless collected just prior to dehiscence the seed is difficult to extract and rarely germinates satisfactorily. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots as soon as they are large enough to handle. Grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter and plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, taken at a node, July/August in a frame. Cuttings of mature wood of the current year’s growth, 7 – 12 cm with a heel, October in a cold frame. The roots are quite brittle and it is best to pot up the callused cuttings in spring, just before the roots break. Good percentage.
Edible Uses:.. Tea..The leaves are used as a tea substitute

Medicinal Uses:
The leaves are febrifuge. An infusion has been used in the treatment of coughs and fevers. A decoction of the leaves and stems has been used both internally and externally in the treatment of dull pains, rheumatism etc. The leaves contain saponins and have been used as a skin wash that is also deodorant and can destroy some parasites. The wash is beneficial in treating sores, eczema, nappy rash etc.

Other Uses
Baby care; Dye; Insecticide; Soap.

A green dye is obtained from the flowers. A poultice of the dried powdered leaves has been used as a baby powder for treating nappy rash etc. Smoke from burning the plant has been used as an insecticide to kill bedbugs. All parts of the plant are rich in saponins – when crushed and mixed with water they produce a good lather which is an effective and gentle soap. This soap is very good at removing dirt, though it does not remove oils very well. This means that when used on the skin it will not remove the natural body oils, but nor will it remove engine oil etc The flowers are a very good source, when used as a body soap they leave behind a pleasant perfume on the skin. The developing seed cases are also a very good source of saponins.

Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Resources:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ceanothus_velutinus
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Ceanothus+velutinus

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News on Health & Science

Mangoes are High on Health

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The King of Fruits has several benefits, so indulge your senses this season in some mangoes.

Not only do they taste great, but mangoes are also loaded with several qualities that are excellent for your health. They are rich in powerful antioxidants that are known to neutralise free radicals that cause damage to cells and lead to health problems like heart disease, premature aging and cancer among other things. Here’s why you should consume them…...CLICK & SEE

– With its high iron content, mangoes are excellent for pregnant women and those who suffer from anaemia. But do consult with your doctor beforehand on how much is suitable.

– Constantly complaining about clogged pores? Place mango slices on your skin and then wash off after 10 minutes.

– If you suffer from indigestion problems, nothing will help you as much as a mango. They’re known to give relief from acidity and aid proper digestion since they contain digestive enzymes that help break down proteins.

– Rich in potassium, mangoes reduce high blood pressure. They also contain pectin, a soluble dietary fibre that is known to lower blood cholesterol levels.

– Trying to put on weight? Include mangoes in your diet. Since it is rich in calories as well as carbohydrates, it could be the perfect fruit to have.

– Some studies say that eating mangoes reduces the risk of kidney stone formation.

– In Chinese medicine, mangoes are considered sweet and sour with a cooling energy. They are useful for those suffering from anaemia, bleeding gums, cough, fever, nausea and even sea sickness.

– Studying for exams? This fruit is rich in glutamine acid— an important protein for concentration and memory. Instead of snacking on unhealthy chips and cookies, why not feast on slices of mangoes instead.

– Though they are traditionally not considered as aphrodisiacs, mangoes contain Vitamin E which helps boost one’s sex life. The vitamin works to regulate the body’s sex hormones.

If nothing else, eat a mango just because it won’t be in season forever.

Source : The Times Of India

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News on Health & Science

Vitamin C Intake May Lower Risk of Gout in Men

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 Men with a higher intake of vitamin C appear less likely to develop gout, a painful type of arthritis, according to a study.
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Gout is the most common type of inflammatory arthritis in men… The identification of risk factors for gout… is an important first step in the prevention and management of this common and excruciatingly painful condition,” wrote the study’s authors.

Hyon K Choi, then of University of British Columbia, Vancouver, and now of Boston University School of Medicine, and colleagues examined the relationship between vitamin C intake and gout in 46,994 men between 1986 and 2006.

Every four years, the men completed a dietary questionnaire, and their vitamin C intake through food and supplements was computed. Every two years, participants reported whether they had been diagnosed with or developed symptoms of gout.

During 20-year follow-up, 1,317 men developed gout. Compared with men who had a vitamin C intake of less than 250mg per day, the relative risk of gout was 17% lower for those with a daily intake of 500 to 999 mg, 34% lower for those with an intake of 1,000 to 1,499mg per day and 45% lower for those with an intake of 1,500mg per day or higher.

Vitamin C may affect re-absorption of uric acid by the kidneys, increase the speed at which the kidneys work or protect against inflammation, all of which may reduce gout risk, a Boston University statement quoted the authors as saying.

Sources:These findings were published in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Categories
Positive thinking

Train That Brain

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The negative effect of poverty on the intellectual level of children can be reversed.

It may be a politically incorrect question to ask, but the answer may have profound implications for socio-economic development. How well can children from poor or uneducated families do in life? One could make the question even more incorrect, but at the least, equally relevant: what is the influence of children’s family backgrounds on their subsequent mental development? Research in the last few years has provided partial answers to the question, and they are deeply disturbing.

It now turns out that a child’s brain develops according to the stimulus it receives at home.
If you do not provide complex inputs, you do not get complex brains.

To give one example, the more sophisticated the language used at home, the better the chances of good brain development in the first 10 years of a child’s life.

To put it bluntly, if the parents are uneducated, the children can often end up with deficient brains by the age of 10, compared with children from more educated families. Is this the reason why poverty runs in many families through generations?

Scientists from the University of California, Berkeley, are conducting a set of experiments to understand the real nature of the problem. They put cameras in the dining rooms of families — rich and poor — to monitor dinner time conversation. They got children to their labs and tried to give them tasks and measure the brain response. Their initial finding: the brains of children from poor families often resemble that of stroke victims by the age of 10.

Research in other labs around the world corroborates this finding, while also providing explanations as well as solutions to the problem. Parents in poor families do not talk much to their children. “We hope that parents in poor families will at least talk to their children more than they do,” says Mark Kishiyama, psychologist at the University of California, Berkeley. But even if they do, their language is not complex enough. In fact, Adele Diamond, professor of psychiatry at the University of British Columbia, has shown that children in poor families hear 30 million fewer words by the time they are four years old.

Those with low socio-economic status perform poorly in language tests and long-term memory tests. Martha Farah, director at the Centre for Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of Pennsylvania, showed such differences two years ago. Enrico Mezzacappa at the Children’s Hospital in Boston also showed three years ago that low income children perform poorly in speed and accuracy in some problems when compared with those from higher income families. While common sense can attribute these differences to a lack of education and opportunities, neuroscientists suspected that some of these disparities stemmed from differences in the brain. There is now substantial proof for the differences of brain development in children.

The problem is in an area of the brain called the prefrontal cortex. This area is in the front part of the brain, just behind the forehead. The prefrontal cortex is the seat of problem solving and creativity. A deficient prefrontal cortex makes you poor at complex tasks and problem solving. The experiment now being conducted at the University of California at Berkeley has already shown that poor children have deficient prefrontal cortex, thus substantiating the research of Martha Farah. But we also know the reasons, and other research provides us with a means of solving the problem.

It is not just the lack of intellectual stimulus that interferes with brain development. Poor children are usually under high stress, and it is known that high stress interferes with brain development, by producing chemicals that destroy neurons. Another important factor is pollution: they are exposed to a higher amount of pollutants — lead in water is an example — than children in richer families. All these factors combine to work against the brains of poor children. No wonder, then, that poor children are often not able to measure up to their richer counterparts if they manage to enter institutions of higher learning.

However, science also provides us with a solution to the problem.
“The differences in the brain of children can be reversed with proper training,” says Tom Boyce, a developmental psychobiologist at the University of British Columbia. Neuroscientists are now discovering that the brain remains plastic well into old age. For example, in experiments performed at the University of California, San Francisco, scientists have taken old rats — with only a few weeks to live — and made their brains look young purely by providing more inputs.

There is now a booming industry in the West called the brain improvement industry. Some of their products provide mental exercises with visual and auditory inputs that can improve the brain even in old age. We can thus train young brains to be on a par with those of children from more privileged backgrounds, provided we recognise the problem first.

Sources: The Telegraph (Kolkata, India)

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Categories
Ailmemts & Remedies

Eclampsia

Pregnancy comparison. 26 weeks and 40 weeks. 2005

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Definition:Eclampsia is a serious complication of pregnancy. It is the occurrence of seizures (convulsions) that are unrelated to brain conditions. Usually eclampsia occurs after the onset of pre-eclampsia though sometimes no pre-eclamptic symptoms are recognisable. The convulsions may appear before, during or after labour, though cases of eclampsia after just 20 weeks of pregnancy have been recorded.

Eclampsia, a life-threatening complication of pregnancy, results when a pregnant woman previously diagnosed with preeclampsia (high blood pressure and protein in the urine) develops seizures or coma. In some cases, seizures or coma may be the first recognizable sign that a pregnant woman has preeclampsia. Key warning signs of eclampsia in a woman diagnosed with preeclampsia may be severe headaches, blurred or double vision, or seeing spots. Toxemia is a common name used to describe preeclampsia and eclampsia.

There has never been any evidence suggesting an orderly progression of disease beginning with mild preeclampsia progressing to severe preeclampsia and then on to eclampsia. The disease process can begin mild and stay mild, or can be initially diagnosed as eclampsia without prior warning.

* Approximately 5-7% of all pregnancies are complicated by preeclampsia.

* Preeclampsia usually occurs in a woman’s first pregnancy but may occur for the first time in a subsequent pregnancy.

* Less than one in 100 women with preeclampsia will develop eclampsia or (convulsions or seizures) or coma.

* Up to 20% of all pregnancies are complicated by high blood pressure. Complications resulting from high blood pressure, preeclampsia, and eclampsia may account for up to 20% of all deaths that occur in pregnant women.

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Causes:
The cause of eclampsia is not well understood. Researchers believe a person’s genes, diet, blood vessels, and neurological factors may play a role. However, no theories have yet been proven.

Eclampsia follows preeclampsia, a serious complication of pregnancy marked by high blood pressure, weight gain, and protein in the urine.

It is difficult to predict which women with preeclampsia will go on to have seizures. Women with very high blood pressure, headaches, vision changes, or abnormal blood tests have severe preeclampsia and are at high risk for seizures.

The rate of eclampsia is approximately 1 out of 2000 to 3000 pregnancies.
The following increase a woman’s chance for preeclampsia:

* First pregnancies
* Teenage pregnancies
* Being 35 or older
* Being African-American
* Multiple pregnancies (twins, triplets, etc.)
* History of diabetes, hypertension, or renal (kidney) disease
.
* Since we don’t know what causes preeclampsia or eclampsia, we don’t have any effective tests to predict when preeclampsia or eclampsia will occur, or treatments to prevent preeclampsia or eclampsia from occurring (or recurring).

* Preeclampsia usually occurs with first pregnancies. However, preeclampsia may be seen with twins (or multiple pregnancies), in women older than 35 years, in women with high blood pressure before pregnancy, in women with diabetes, and in women with other medical problems (such as connective tissue disease and kidney disease).

* For unknown reasons, African American women are more likely to develop eclampsia and preeclampsia than white women.

* Preeclampsia may run in families, although the reason for this is unknown.

* Preeclampsia is also associated with problems with the placenta, such as too much placenta, too little placenta, or how the placenta attaches to the wall of the uterus. Preeclampsia is also associated with hydatidiform mole pregnancies, in which no normal placenta and no normal baby are present.

* There is nothing that any woman can do to prevent preeclampsia or eclampsia from occurring. Therefore, it is both unhealthy and not helpful to assign blame and to review and rehash events that occurred either just prior to pregnancy or during early pregnancy that may have contributed to the development of preeclampsia.
Symptoms:
* Seizures
* Severe agitation
* Unconsciousness
* Muscle aches and pains

Symtoms of preeclampsia include swelling of hands and face, gaining more than 2 pounds per week, headache, vision problems, and stomach pain.

The majority of cases are heralded by pregnancy-induced hypertension and proteinuria but the only true sign of eclampsia is an eclamptic convulsion, of which there are four stages. Patients with edema and oliguria may develop renal failure or pulmonary edema.

Premonitory stage
this stage is usually missed unless constantly monitored, the woman rolls her eyes while her facial and hand muscles twitch slightly.
Tonic stage
soon after the premonitory stage the twitching turns into clenching. Sometimes the woman may bite her tongue as she clenches her teeth, while the arms and legs go rigid. The respiratory muscles also spasm, causing the woman to stop breathing, leading to cyanosis. This stage continues for around 30 seconds.
Clonic stage
the spasm stops but the muscles start to jerk violently. Frothy, slightly bloodied saliva appears on the lips and can sometimes be inhaled. After around two minutes the convulsions stop, leading into a temporary unconscious stage.
Comatose stage
the woman falls deeply unconscious, breathing noisily. This can last only a few minutes or may persist for hours.

* A common belief is that the risk of eclampsia rises as blood pressure increases above 160/110 mm Hg.

* The kidneys are unable to efficiently filter the blood (as they normally do). This may cause an increase in protein to be present in the urine. The first sign of excess protein is commonly seen on a urine sample obtained in your provider’s office. Rarely does a woman note any changes or symptoms associated with excess protein in the urine. In extreme cases affecting the kidneys, the amount of urine produced decreases greatly.

* Nervous system changes can include blurred vision, seeing spots, severe headaches, convulsions, and even occasionally blindness. Any of these symptoms require immediate medical attention.

* Changes that affect the liver can cause pain in the upper part of the abdomen and may be confused with indigestion or gallbladder disease. Other more subtle changes that affect the liver can affect the ability of the platelets to cause blood to clot; these changes may be seen as excessive bruising.

* Changes that can affect your baby can result from problems with blood flow to the placenta and therefore result in your baby not getting proper nutrients. As a result, the baby may not grow properly and may be smaller than expected, or worse the baby will appear sluggish or seem to decrease the frequency and intensity of its movements. You should call your doctor immediately if you notice your baby’s movements slow down.

Diagnosis:

If you experience any of the above symptoms call your provider immediately and expect to come to the office or hospital.

* Be sure to review all of your signs, symptoms, and concerns with your provider. Your provider should check your blood pressure, weight, and urine at every office visit.

* If your provider suspects that you have preeclampsia, he or she will order blood tests to check your platelet count, liver function, and kidney function. They will also check a urine sample in the office or possibly order a 24-hour urine collection to check for protein in the urine. The results of these blood tests should be available within 24 hours (if sent out), or within several hours if performed at a hospital.

* The well-being of your baby should be checked by placing you on a fetal monitor. Further tests may include nonstress testing, biophysical profile (ultrasound), and an ultrasound to measure the growth of the baby (if it has not been done within the previous 2-3 weeks).
Treatment:
A woman with eclampsia should be continously monitored. Delivery is the treatment of choice for eclampsia in a pregnancy over 28 weeks. For pregnancies less than 24 weeks, the start of labor is recommended, although the baby may not survive.

Prolonging pregnancies in which the woman has eclampsia results in danger to the mother and infant death in approximately 87% of cases.

Women may be given medicine to prevent seizures (anticonvulsant). Magnesium sulfate is a safe drug for both the mother and the baby.

Medication may be used to lower the high blood pressure. The goal is to manage severe cases until 32-34 weeks and mild cases until 36 weeks of the pregnancy have passed. The condition is then relieved with the delivery of the baby. Delivery may be induced if blood pressure stays high despite medication.

The treatment of seizures in eclampsia consists of:

* Prevention of convulsion
* Control the blood pressure
* Delivery of fetus

Prevention of convulsion is usually done using magnesium sulfate with a loading of Magnesium sulfate 20% solution, 4 g IV over 5 minutes. Then maintain with 1 g magnesium sulfate (10%solution) in 1000 ml fluid drip 1g/hr.

The blood pressure may be controlled by hydralazine 5 mg IV slowly every 5 minutes until blood pressure is lowered. Repeat hourly as needed or give hydralazine 12.5 mg IM every 2 hours as needed.

Delivery should take place as soon as the woman’s condition has stabilized. Delaying delivery to increase fetal maturity is unsafe for both the woman and the fetus, after delivery the womans health relative to the condition is improved drastically. Delivery should occur regardless of the gestational age.

The closer you are to your due date, the more likely your cervix will be ripe (ready for delivery), and that induction of labor will be successful. Sometimes medications, such as oxytocin (Pitocin), are given to help induce labor.

* The earlier in pregnancy (24-34 weeks), the less chance of a successful induction (although induction is still possible). It is more common to have a cesarean delivery when eclampsia necessitates delivery early in pregnancy.

* If the baby shows signs of compromise, such as decreased fetal heart rate, an immediate cesarean delivery will be performed.

Modern Medications:

* You may require medication to treat your high blood pressure during labor or after delivery. It is unusual to require medication for high blood pressure after six weeks following delivery (unless you have a problem with high blood pressure that is unrelated to pregnancy).

* During labor (and for 24-48 hours after delivery) you will be given a medication called magnesium sulfate. This is to decrease your chances of having a recurrent seizure.

* Medications such as oxytocin (Pitocin) or prostaglandins are given to induce labor and/or ripen your cervix. A Foley catheter is sometimes placed in the cervix to mechanically “speed” the dilation process.

Prognosis:

Women in the United States rarely die from eclampsia.
Most women will have good outcomes for their pregnancies complicated by preeclampsia or eclampsia. Some women will continue to have problems with their blood pressure and will need to be followed closely after delivery.

Most babies will do well. Babies born prematurely will usually stay in the hospital longer. A rule of thumb is to expect the baby to stay in the hospital until their due date.

Unfortunately, a few women and babies experience life-threatening complications from preeclampsia or eclampsia.

Possible Complications:

There is a higher risk for placenta seperation (placenta abruptio) with preeclampsia or eclampsia. There may be baby complications due to premature delivery.

Click to know details of Eclampsia , pre-eclampsia: the facts and Unifying hypothesis of pre-eclampsia pathophysiology

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.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000899.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eclampsia
http://www.emedicinehealth.com/eclampsia/article_em.htm