Archive for September, 2009


Tuesday, September 29th, 2009



This white berry may not be as attractive a fruit as the red but certailnly makes up for it in sweetness. Treat exactly the same as the standard red mulberry.

Morus or Mulberry is a genus of 10?16 species of deciduous trees native to warm temperate and subtropical regions of Asia, Africa, Europe, and the Americas, with the majority of the species native to Asia. The closely related genus Broussonetia is also commonly known as mulberry, notably the Paper Mulberry, Broussonetia papyrifera. Mulberries are fast-growing when young, but soon become slow-growing and rarely exceed 10-15 metres (33-49 ft) tall.

The leaves are alternately arranged, simple, often lobed, more often lobed on juvenile shoots than on mature trees, and serrated on the margin. The fruit is a multiple fruit, 2-3 centimetres (0.8-1.2 in) long. The fruits when immature are white or green to pale yellow with pink edges. In most species the fruits are red when they are ripening.
A fully ripened mulberry in these species is dark purple to black, edible, and sweet with a good flavor in several species.

The fruits of the white-fruited cultivar of the White Mulberry on the other hand are green when unripe and white when ripe; the fruit in this cultivar is sweet, and has a very mild flavor compared with the dark fruits. Uses and cultivation The ripe fruit is edible and is widely used in pies, tarts, wines and cordials. The fruit of the black mulberry, native to southwest Asia, and the red mulberry, native to eastern North America, have the strongest flavor.

[1]The fruit of the white mulberry, an east Asian species which is extensively naturalized in urban regions of eastern Australia has a sweeter flavour, sometimes characterized as lacking in visual appeal. The mature plant contains significant amounts of resveratrol, particularly in stem bark.
[2] The fruit and leaves are sold in various forms as nutritional supplements. Unripe fruit and green parts of the plant have a white sap that is intoxicating and mildly hallucinogenic
.[3] Black, red and white mulberry are widespread in Northern India, Azerbaijan, Jordan, Syria, Armenia, Pakistan, Iran, Turkey and Afghanistan, where the tree and the fruit are known by the Persian-derived names toot (mulberry) or shahtoot (King’s or “superior” mulberry). Jams and sherbets are often made from the fruit in this region. Black mulberry was imported to Britain in the 17th century in the hope that it would be useful in the cultivation of silkworms.

It was much used in folk medicine, especially in the treatment of ringworm.

Mulberry leaves, particularly those of the white mulberry, are ecologically important as the sole food source of the silkworm (Bombyx mori, named after the mulberry genus Morus), the pupa/cocoon of which is used to make silk. Other Lepidoptera larvae also sometimes feed on the plant including common emerald, lime hawk-moth and the sycamore.
Mulberries can be grown from seed. But they are most often planted from large cuttings which root readily. The tree branches pruned during the fall season (after the leaves have fallen) are cut and used to make very durable baskets which are used in a lot of village jobs related to agriculture and animal husbandry.

Anthocyanins from mulberry fruits Anthocyanins are pigments which hold potential use as dietary modulators of mechanisms for various diseases

[4][5] and as natural food colorants. As the safety of synthetic pigments is doubted and in the wake of increasing demand for natural food colorants, their significance in the food industry is increasing. Anthocyanins yield attractive colors of fresh plant foods such as orange, red, purple, black and blue. Since they are water-soluble, they are easily extractable and incorporated into aqueous food systems. A cheap and industrially feasible method to purify anthocyanins from mulberry fruit which could be used as a fabric tanning agent or food colorant of high color value (of above 100) has been established. Scientists found that out of 31 Chinese mulberry cultivars tested, the total anthocyanin yield varied from 148 mg to 2725 mg per liter of fruit juice
.[6] Total sugars, total acids and vitamins remained intact in the residual juice after removal of anthocyanins and that the residual juice could be fermented in order to produce products such as juice, wine and sauce. Worldwide, mulberry is grown for its fruit.

In traditional and folk medicine, the fruit is believed to have medicinal properties


and is used for making jam, wine, and other food products. As the genera Morus has been domesticated over thousands of years and constantly been subjected to heterosis breeding (mainly for improving leaf yield), it is possible to evolve breeds suitable for berry production, thus offering possible industrial use of mulberry as a source of anthocyanins for functional foods or food colorants which could enhance the overall profitability of sericulture. Anthocyanin content depends on climate, area of cultivation and is particularly higher in sunny climates.
[7] This finding holds promise for tropical sericulture countries to profit from industrial anthocyanin production from mulberry through anthocyanin recovery. This offers a challenging task to the mulberry germplasm resources for ? exploration and collection of fruit yielding mulberry species ? their characterization, cataloging and evaluation for anthocyanin content by using traditional as well as modern means and biotechnology tools ? developing an information system about these cultivars or varieties ? training and global coordination of genetic stocks ? evolving suitable breeding strategies to improve the anthocyanin content in potential breeds by collaboration with various research stations in the field of sericulture, plant genetics and breeding, biotechnology and pharmacology.

Sourced and published by Henry Sapiecha 29th Sept 2009



Tuesday, September 29th, 2009

A Hair Mystery:

Curly Hair Gone Straight

A microscopic view of two human hairs.

Hair folicle under a microscope
This microscopic view shows human hair emerging from the skin. The shape of the hair follicle (below the skin’s surface) determines whether the hair will be curly, wavy or straight.

Web Chat

Web Chat: How Often Should You Shampoo?

The reason for your lackluster locks? You may be washing your hair too much. See what the experts had to say in response to your questions.

Some people have straight hair and want curly hair. Others have curls and straighten them out. But for a few people, their hair actually changes shape and texture on its own — and not just because of the weather. Scientists don’t know exactly why this happens, but it probably has to do with a combination of genetics, hormones and body chemistry.

“Every seven to 10 years, my hair tends to change texture, going from straight to wavy to curly,” says Kimberly Fasting-Berg, a marketing executive in New York City.

“I can’t predict but then it happens and I am like, ‘Oh, here we go again,'” she says.

Judy Butler, a midwife in Tucson, Ariz., also has hair that’s gone from straight to curly and vice versa, so when she saw changes in the hair of her three kids she wasn’t surprised.

“My first two [kids] had very straight hair as infants, I mean stick straight,” Butler says. But when her kids hit puberty, she says their hair become “very curly, very wavy and very frizzy.”

Curly locks have always sprung from my head, so I wondered, how often does hair change, and could it happen to me?

I set off on a quest to find out.

Searching For Hair Clues In Our Genes

First I started with Dr. Barry Starr, a geneticist at Stanford University. He told me most people’s hair doesn’t change from straight to curly.

“If your mom gives you a curly version of the gene and so does your dad, you end up with curly hair. If both parents give you the straight version you end up with straight hair,” Starr says. And if one gives you curly and the other straight, you could wind up with something in between.

But, he couldn’t tell me why some people go through a hair transformation. “It is an interesting genetic question, but I don’t think there is an answer yet — and there may not be,” he says.

What Shapes Our Hair?

The next person I called is Dr. Paradi Mirmirani, a dermatologist in Vallejo, Calif., who specializes in hair. “We do know that curly hair has a different shape than straight hair,” says Mirmirani.

That shape depends on the shape of the hair follicle. This tiny structure guides the hair fiber up a sort of tube as it grows. The inside of the tube determines if the hair is curly or straight — ovals produce curly hair and circular tubes yield straight hair.


“If you think about gift wrapping ribbon, when you try to make it curly, you take the scissors and you pull it on one side, so you kind of flatten the one side and it curls. So you’re changing the shape of one side compared to the other,” says Mirmirani. “When it’s oval, one side is curved and the other side is flat, which makes it curl.”

So if your hair changes from straight to curly it suggests that the follicles must be changing, but Mirmirani couldn’t tell me why that would happen, though she thought it could have something to do with hormones.

An Influence From Hormones?

After all, hair changes in other ways during adolescence or after having a baby, two events that generate hormonal changes in the body.

“Hormones are a logical guess but I have no evidence to prove that,” says Dr. Val Randall, an endocrinologist at the University of Bradford in England.

Randall is one of the few people doing research on hormones and hair. She says it is difficult to figure something like this out because it doesn’t happen very often.

But, says Randall, change is possible because hair is always replacing itself:

“The hair that you have on your head age 10 is not the hair that you have on your head age 2, and it is not the hair you have on your head age 50,” Randall says.

If the new follicles grow back a different shape, then your new hair will be different, too.

Hair Care From The Inside-Out

I made at least a dozen more calls but I couldn’t find anyone who knew more about the curly-straight question. I did find out that there is an entire industry working on it.

“There are multimillion-dollar research projects going on looking at how to change hair shape because this would be a billion-dollar business,” says Dr. Zoe Draelos, a dermatologist in High Point, N.C. Her research is supported by the cosmetics industry, which is looking beyond perms and irons. For the industry, figuring out a simple way to turn hair straight or curly would be a goldmine.

“Wouldn’t it be great if you took a pill and your hair turned curly?” says Draelos. “I mean, can you imagine how that would revolutionize hair care, and then you could take another pill, and you could reverse it the next day.”

Until then, I think I will stick with my curls.

Sourced and published by Henry Sapiecha 29th Sept 2009



Saturday, September 26th, 2009


Suriname’s traditional medicine


The leaves are purgative and used against kidney stones, malarial fever and bronchitis.

Flavonoids isolated from this plant possess anti-inflammatory activities; the flavonoid of quercetin has antiviral activity. Pride of Barbados exhibit a broad spectrum of antimicrobial activity, particularly against Escherichia coli (enteropathogen), Proteus vulgaris, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Staphylococcus aureus. The root and stem seem to be cytotoxic.(damages or destroys cancerous cells).

Sourced and published by Henry Sapiecha 26th Sept 2009



Monday, September 21st, 2009

What is Milk Thistle?


Other names: Silymarin, Marian Thistle, Mediterranean Thistle, Mary Thistle, Holy Thistle, Silybum Marianum

Milk thistle is a plant native to Europe. It has a long history of use as a folk remedy for liver and gallbladder disorders. The active constituent of milk thistle is thought to be silymarin, a flavonoid found in the seeds.

Why Do People Use Milk Thistle?

  • Hepatitis
    Milk thistle supplements have been explored for chronic hepatitis, however, larger, well-designed studies are needed before it can be recommended for this condition.
  • Cirrhosis
    Preliminary studies suggest milk thistle supplements may be beneficial for people with cirrhosis. It may improve liver function. More research is needed, however, because many of the studies conducted so far on milk thistle and cirrhosis have been poorly designed.
  • Protection From Liver Damage
    Milk thistle may protect the liver against toxicity from acetaminophen (Tylenol), alcohol and other drugs. In Europe, milk thistle is reportedly administered to patients when they are given medications known to cause liver problems.
  • Other Conditions
    Milk thistle has also been explored for cancer prevention and high cholesterol.

    Side Effects and Safety ConcernsSide effects may include indigestion, headache and itching. Rarely, milk thistle may result in heartburn, gas, diarrhea, joint pain and sexual dysfunction.

    People with allergies to daisies, artichokes, kiwi, common thistle or plants in the aster family may also be allergic to milk thistle. There have been several reports of anaphylactic shock in people who have used milk thistle products.

    The safety of milk thistle in pregnant or nursing women is unknown.

    Theoretically, milk thistle may lower blood sugar levels, so it should be used with caution by people with diabetes, hypoglycemia and those taking medications or supplements that affect blood sugar levels.

    There is a theoretical risk that milk thistle could have an estrogen-like effect, so people with hormone-sensitive conditions such as endometriosis, uterine fibroids or cancers of the breast, uterus and ovaries should avoid milk thistle, particularly the above ground parts of the plant.

    Milk thistle may reduce the effectiveness of oral contraceptives. One constituent of milk thistle can inhibit an enzyme called beta-glucuronidase, which is involved in the activity of oral contraceptives.

  • Sourced and published by Henry Sapiecha 21st Sept 2009



    Tuesday, September 15th, 2009

    <!–tilak requested



    Scientific Names
    Traditional Usage
    Active Ingredients
    Suggested Amount
    Drug Interactions
    Side Effects

    Scientific Names:
    Artemisia absinthium L. [Fam. Asteraceae]

    Cut and dried leaves and flowering tops of wormwood; wormwood infusions and thujone-free wormwood extracts.

    Traditional Usage:
    – Antibacterial
    – Antifungal
    – Antihelmintic (worm expellant)
    – Antiparasitic
    – Appetite Loss
    – Bile Deficiency
    – Bile Duct Disorders
    – Bloating
    – Chronic gastritis
    – Dyspepsia
    – Fever
    – Flatulence
    – Gall Bladder Cleansing
    – Gas
    – Intestinal Worms
    – Liver Cleansing
    – Memory Loss
    – Mental Functioning
    – Stomach Disorders
    –  Worms

    Wormwood, Artemisia absinthium L. [Fam. Asteraceae], is an extremely bitter medicinal herb native to Europe that is also now naturalized, from garden cultivation, in eastern North America. Wormwood leaves were traditionally nibbled to stimulate appetite. Wormwood tea was a traditional folk remedy for treating delayed menses, fevers, liver and gall bladder ailments, and as a worm expellant (vermifuge). It is still among the most popular antihelmintic (anti-worm), antiparasitic and repellent plants used in Central Italy. Wormwood can be used as a bitter tonic to stimulate the appetite and aid digestion. It is especially effective for dyspepsia because it acts on the stomach and gall bladder and relieves feelings of fullness and the accumulation of gases in the digestive system. The plant extracts are diuretic, antiseptic and vermifuge. The essential oil can be used externally for relief of rheumatic pain and contains many antibacterial and antifungal compounds. Wormwood is also reputed to enhance or restore mental functions, including memory, according to traditional Western European medicine. Recent studies show that wormwood ethanol extract has human central nervous system (CNS) cholinergic receptor binding activity. The most potent extract, active at less than 1 mg/ml, was comparable in displacement activity with that of carbamylcholine chloride, a potent acetylcholine analogue. Choline is also found in the extract itself, but its concentration does not account for more than 5% of the displacement activity observed. Wormwood contains a compound called thujone that is known to be toxic. Acaricidal properties of essential oils of Artemisia absinthium and a related plant, Tanacetum vulgare (tansy) [Fam. Asteraceae] are attributed largely to beta-thujone – so thujone may be beneficial in wormwood products for expelling worms as well. Wormwood was formerly the main ingredient of the liqueur called absinth, but due to the toxicity of thujone, absinth was outlawed in France in 1915.

    Active Ingredients:
    Wormwood contains: 0.15-0.4% bitter substances and 0.2-1.5% essential oil; sesquiterpene lactones, with as the main component the dimeric guianolid, absinthin (0.20-0.28%); other sesquiterpene lactones include artabsin, matricin, anbsinthin etc., and the pelenolides, hydroxypelenolide can be detected during the TLC identification of the drug. Essential Oil: consists mainly of terpens but also includes b- or x-thujone ((1S, 4 R)-thugan-3-one or (1S, 4S)-thujan-3-one), trans-sabinyl acetate, cis-epoxyocimene, or chrysanthenyl acetate. Of the more than fifty other identified mono- and sesquiterpenes, thujan, thujyl, alcohol, linalool, and cineole, as well as x-bisabolol, b-curcumene, and spathulenol may be mentioned. Various flavonoids occur in the drug, and caffeic and other phenolic carboxylic acids have been detected; small amounts of polyacetylenes are also present; traces of a mixture comprising two diastereoisomeric homoditerpene peroxides (with in vitro antimalarial activity); some 24z-ethylcholesta-7,22-dien-3b-ol (antipyretic activity).

    Suggested Amount:
    To prepare wormwood tea: Pour boiling water over half a teaspoon of finely chopped wormwood herb. Steep for ten minutes then strain. Unless otherwise prescribed drink infusion several times a day a half-hour before meals. 1 Teaspoon = ca. 1.5 g.
    Do not exceed recommended dose. Wormwood is not recommended for internal use for more than three weeks at a time due to the presence of thujone, which can cause convulsions if taken at very high concentrations. Thujone-free wormwood extracts are available and are recommended for long-term therapeutic use of this herb.

    Drug Interactions:
    None known.

    Should be avoided by people with stomach and intestinal ulcers. People suffering from psychiatric disorders may also want to consult with their physician prior to using wormwood therapeutically.

    Side Effects:
    None know if used as prescribed. Wormwood is safe when used as prescribed however it is not uncommon for users to experience strange and/or vivid dreams while taking the herb due to the compound, thujone. The toxicity of wormwood is attributed to the herb’s content of thujone, which can cause convulsions if taken at very high concentrations. Overdose of wormwood may cause intoxication, vomiting, stomach and intestinal cramps, urine retention, stupor, and in serious cases renal damage, convulsions, vertigo, and tremors may occur if taken in high doses. Wormwood was formerly the main ingredient of the liqueur called absinth, but due to the toxicity of thujone, which becomes concentrated in the drink, absinth was outlawed in France in 1915. Intoxication from absinthe liqueurs has been likened to that induced by marijuana. A syndrome called absinthism, common to drinkers (before it was outlawed), included many serious side effects including derangement of the digestive organs, intense thirst, restlessness, vertigo, tingling in the ears, trembling in the arms, hands and legs, numbness of extremities, loss of muscular power, delirium, loss of intellect, brain damage, general paralysis and death. Duke (1985) sites one reference that recounts a singular event where the daily ingestion of Italian vermouth (containing wormwood leaves, stems and flowering-heads) is suspected as a causative factor in a case of esophageal cancer. [Duke JA. 1985. Wormwood. In Handbook of Medicinal Herbs. CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL, p. 66-67.]
    Sourced and published by Henry Sapiecha

    16th Sept 2009



    Sunday, September 13th, 2009

    Sutherlandia frutescens
    Cancer Bush


    An odd, South African shrub with fine, grey-green foliage and showy, bright scarlet flowers and curious, inflated seedpods.

    Its common name, Cancer Bush, comes from the fact that the tea of the dried leaves and twigs have been used for treating the side effects of cancers and HIV / AIDS.

    In great demand as a decorative garden plant.

    Grows to 3 feet in height.

    Very uncommon.

    Sourced and published by Henry Sapiecha 14th Sept 2009



    Sunday, September 13th, 2009

    Unique Novelty Plant

    Spilanthes oleracea
    A really fun plant! Called the Toothache Plant because chewing on one of the flower buds will numb your mouth and make you salivate. It’s harmless, though.

    Also called the Eyeball Plant for obvious reasons. Easy to grow and usually treated as an annual, about 12″ in height and 18″ width. Makes a very unusual and attractive accent plant.

    Full sun to moderate shade. Blooms from mid-summer until frost.

    Sourced and published by Henry Sapiecha 14th Sept 2009



    Sunday, September 13th, 2009

    30 Times Sweeter than Sugar
    (Sweet Leaf – Honey Leaf)

    Stevia rebaudiana


    Stevia is a remarkable plant that is used in many parts of the world as a natural herbal sweetener.

    In Japan, for example, about 40% of the sweetener market is stevia-based.

    Stevia leaves are 30 times sweeter than sugar but contain virtually no calories.

    It is native to South America, where its use as a sweetener has been known for at least 1,500 years. In the U.S., due to pressure from the powerful sugar lobby, Stevia is regulated by the FDA and until recently could be offered only as a dietary supplement (or skin care product) but not as a food additive or sweetener.

    Stevia is a tender, perennial herb that is usually grown as an annual but may be overwintered indoors. Full sun to part shade, grows to a height of about 30 inches.

    Sourced and published by Henry Sapiecha 14th Sept 2009



    Sunday, September 13th, 2009

    Also known as the Drumstick or Horseradish Tree

    moringa-picMoringa oleifera is one of the world’s most useful plants. Native to India, it is cultivated for its leaves, fruits, flowers and roots for a variety of medicinal and nutritional purposes and also grown as an ornamental.

    Its seeds are used for water purification.

    According to the Trees for Life organization, gram for gram, Moringa leaves “contain 7 times the vitamin C in oranges plus 4 times the calcium in milk plus 4 times the vitamin A in carrots plus 2 times the protein in the milk plus 3 times the potassium in bananas.

    ” Moringa leaves “could practically wipe out malnutrition on our planet.”

    A mature tree can tolerate only very mild frosts. Highly drought resistant. Up to 35 feet in height.

    Sourced and published by Henry Sapiecha 13th Sept 2009



    Tuesday, September 8th, 2009

    Study: HIV subtype causes dementia risk


    BALTIMORE (UPI) — U.S. scientists say they’ve discovered patients infected with a specific subtype of the human immunodeficiency virus have an increased risk of dementia.

    Johns Hopkins University researchers said they determined HIV Subtype D might be more likely to cause dementia than other subtypes.

    HIV is the virus that causes AIDS.

    The scientists said their finding is the first to demonstrate the specific type of HIV has any effect on cognitive impairment, one of the most common complications of uncontrolled HIV infection.

    The researchers said HIV occurs in multiple forms, distinguished by small differences in the virus’s genetic sequence and designated by letters A through K. Of the 35 million people living worldwide with HIV, the majority live in sub-Saharan Africa, where subtypes A, C and D dominate.

    The research, led by Professor Ned Sacktor, is reported in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases.

    Copyright 2009 by United Press International

    Sourced and published by Henry Sapiecha 8th Sept 2009