Sunday, 24 April 2011

Sesamum indicum: Gingelly/sesame lowers blood cholesterol

By Syed Akbar
Sesamum indicum or gingelly is one of the oldest herbs known to man. In fact, man started cultivating this herb almost 4500 years ago. Sesamum has been associated with a number of civilisations including the Egyptian, Middle Eastern, and Indus Valley. The medicinal properties of Sesamum have been exploited to their fullest in almost all systems of medicine. It is believed that the plant had its origin in Africa and then spread to various parts of the world, particularly the Middle East, China, and Indian sub-continent.
Sesamum is known to induce abortion if consumed in large quantities. It's better that pregnant women avoid using Sesamum in large quantities. Sesamum seed and leaves are used in medicinal preparations. Seeds can be used raw, roasted or in the form of oil extracted from them. Leaves are grounded to obtain paste and used for external applications.
The medicinal properties of Sesamum are many. But it is valued for its cholesterol lowering property. Other medicinal uses are treatment of piles, skin troubles including burns and wounds, loose motions, dandruff, low haemoglobin content in the blood (anaemia), rheumatoid arthritis and tooth decay. It also promotes hair growth and helps in keeping the hair black for a longer period. It can be used as a general health tonic.
Home Remedies
If you are bothered by dried ear was, you can get relief by pouring two or three drops of pure Sesamum oil into the ears. The wax gets softened and it can be removed easily.
Anaemia or low haemoglobin levels in the blood can be over come by regularly taking Sesamum seeds with a pinch of jaggery. Pregnant women should avoid Sesamum and jaggery as a precautionary measure.
Since it has anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties, chewing a tablespoon of Sesamum seeds will help in keeping the stomach and digestive tract free of harmful organism, and keeps the skin glowing.
Since it is rich in vitamin E, Sesamum oil if gently massaged on the head helps in promotion of hair growth. It also fights dandruff. Take only a few drops of oil and massage on the scalp. Crushed leaves of Sesamum can also be applied.
Take Sesamum seeds, ground them into power, take a teaspoon of this powder, mix it with a little quantity of honey and consume it twice a day to keep the body in good health.
Decoction obtained from the leaves of Sesamum can be massaged on the head to prevent premature greying of hair.
A few drop of lime juice mixed with a few drops of Sesamum oil can be applied as natural ointment for relief from burns, and to beat dry skin.
Make Sesamum seed paste and mix it with butter. Consume it twice a day for relief from painful piles.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Take cloves to beat stress, keep away heart attacks

By Syed Akbar

We all know that laung or clove is good for teeth. Clove oil helps in fighting tooth decay and gives relief from toothache. But now Indian scientists have come out with a study that tells us that clove (Eugenia caryophyllus) is the best stress buster and keeps away heart problems. Stress is emerging as the major killer in the world and clove is the simplest remedy to the problem. Since stress and heart ailments are related, by taking cloves regularly one will not only beat the stress but also fights heart attacks.

Clove contains a special substance called hydro alcohol and this substance is known to give relief from stress. The scientific team studied the anti-stress effect of hydro-alcoholic extract of clove by evaluating it on cold restraint induced gastric ulcers, sound stress induced biochemical changes and anoxic stress induced convulsions.

As part of the research project the extract from the clove was given orally twice daily to mice. The first dose was of 100 mg/kg while the second dose was of 200 mg/kg. The team used zeetress, a known anti-stress formulation as the standard drug.

The scientific team comprised Anand Kumar Singh, Sunil S Dhamanigi and Mohammed Asad of Krupanidhi College of Pharmacy, Bengaluru. The researchers found that both the doses of clove extract showed good anti-stress effect in all the tested models. The clove extract reduced the development of cold restraint induced gastric ulcers and prevented the biochemical changes induced by sound stress such as increase in plasma levels of aspartate aminotransferase, alanine aminotransferase, alkaline phosphatase, glucose, cholesterol and corticosterone.

"Stress is a common phenomenon that is experienced by every individual. When stress becomes extreme, it is harmful for the body and, hence, needs to be treated. Stress is involved in the pathogenesis of a variety of diseases that includes psychiatric disorders such as depression and anxiety, immunosuppression, endocrine disorders including diabetes mellitus, male impotence, cognitive dysfunction, peptic ulcer, hypertension and ulcerative colitis," the study pointed out saying that clove, is one of the natural stress busters.

For the purpose of the study, the team selected albino Wistar rats weighing between 175 and 250 gm and Swiss albino mice weighing 25 to 40 gm. The experiment continued for 14 days. Stress was induced in the mice through chemicals and later clove extract was administered to them.

The team showed that hydro-alcoholic extract of clove possesses significant anti-stress activity. "The effect of clove may be due to its effect on the central nervous system or endocrines and it may also be due to its antioxidant effect as anti-oxidants are known to prevent stress induced damage due to generation of
free radicals," the study said.

The clove gets its medicinal properties mainly because of the presence of volatile oils like eugenol. The team however noted that the exact mechanism by which clove produces its anti-stress activity cannot be explained with the data collected during the study. "We speculated that the antioxidant effect of the clove buds might contribute at least in part to its anti-stress activity," the scientists said.

So, the next time you come across spicy food, do not complain. Ensure that the "spicy food" has a good number of cloves too. This will bust your stress, whether it is work-related or due to domestic problems.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Justicia gendarussa: Water willow prevents human influenza

Syed Akbar
Justicia gendarussa or water willow has always been associated with the treatment of  respiratory track diseases including prevention of common cold or human influenza. Folk  medicine has been using it for ages. It also finds a mention in Ayurveda, Unani and  Homoeopathy medical texts. But all recognize Justicia gendarussa as a natural remedy for  respiratory track diseases, including problems associated with lungs.
Besides respiratory problems, Justicia gendarussa is suggested for relief from  inflammation, arthritis, migraine and fever. Recent scientific studies in Indonesia have  supported the long-held belief of tribals of Papua that it lowers the fertility levels in  men, and thus aids in family planning. Based on the plant extract, male contraceptive  pills have been developed. Doctors, however, differ on its efficacy as a family planning 
Though the entire plant is used in herbal medicine, it’s the leaf that mostly recommended  for treatment of a number of health issues including stomach pain, facial paralysis and  relief from asthma and heaviness in the chest. It provides relief from fever and acts as  an emetic, i.e. it stimulates vomiting.
Home remedies
Recent scientific studies have shown that the extract from the Justicia gendarussa leaf  helps in providing immunity from the novel human influenza virus H1N1 (swine flu).  Further research is going on to prove its efficacy. Readymade homoeopathy pills made of  Justicia gendarussa is available in herbal or homeopathy stores. Follow the dosage  prescribed by the manufacturer.
Those suffering from chronic rheumatism may try decoction obtained from Justicia  gendarussa leaves. Take a few leaves, wash them properly, put them in a glass of water  and boil them for 15 mnts. Filter the decoction and consume it in small quantities twice  a day.
Take fresh leaves of Justicia gendarussa, cut them into small pieces and wash them  properly. Put them in a glass of water over night. Filter the infusion thus obtained and  take it in small quantities for relief from migraine and facial paralysis.
Extract obtained from Justicia gendarussa roots is often prescribed for relief from  constipation. Its laxative properties helps in normal bowel movement.
Take a couple of fresh leaves and clean them with water. Chew them daily if you want to  postpone pregnancy. Chewing Justicia gendarussa leaves brings down the sperm level and  acts as a male contraceptive.
The herb is recommended for cough and removal of accumulated mucous. Readymade medicine  prepared from Justicia gendarussa is available in homeopathy stores.
Thanks to its anti angiogenesis (formation of new blood vessels from the existing ones)  property, Justicia gendarussa is thought to be a future medicine for cancer treatment.  Herbal tonics of Justicia gendarussa can be bought from herbal stores and taken in  prescribed doses to prevent cancer from attacking the body organs.

Jacaranda mimosifolia for treatment of venereal diseases

Syed Akbar
Jacaranda is a beautiful garden tree and its beauty enhances manifold when the tree is in  full bloom. Though Jacaranda species are not native to Indian soil, they were introduced  in gardens for their ornamental and aesthetic value. Now Jacaranda is part of the Indian  medicinal system, with homoeopathy embracing it in its myriad preparations.
Jacaranda species are originally used in tribal medicine, but thanks to their medicinal  values, particularly their ability to fight fungal and bacterial infections; the species  are now increasingly adopted in Ayurveda and Unani formulations. The herbal market is  flooded with formulations prepared from Jacaranda species, particularly Jacaranda mimosifolia.
Readymade water extracts of Jacaranda as well as its essence are available in herbal  stores. Jacaranda essence is believed to work “extra-medicinally” too i.e. the lovely  fragrance of Jacaranda flowers are said to turn the negative qualities in a person to  positive ones. It is believed to work particularly on negative traits like 
procrastination or postponing things without a valid reason.
Jacaranda species have been found to be effective for treatment of venereal diseases  including syphilis and gonorrhoea. Application of Jacaranda extract on syphilitic sores  helps them heal fast. It control the painful urination accompanied by pus in gonorrhoea  patients. It also fights against epileptic seizures.
Home remedies
A teaspoon of juice obtained from the leaves of Jacaranda mimosifolia cures health  problems associated with venereal diseases. The juice has to be taken at least three  times a day. Take a few Jacaranda leaves, clean them in water, and obtain their juice  using a mixer. Dilute the juice with water and drink it, a teaspoon thrice a day.
The leaf extract or juice can also be applied externally for relief from sores or ulcers  caused by venereal diseases. The bark infusion is also used for the purpose. Take a  little of the Jacaranda bark, clean it in water. Then put it in a glass of water, allow  it for 10 hours. Throw away the bark, and the infusion can be used internally for relief  from syphilitic sores.
The volatile oil obtained from Jacaranda leaves and bark has been found to be effective  in the treatment of buboes (swelling in the lymph nodes in groin or underarm  characterized by blisters). Buboes are caused by venereal diseases, besides tuberculosis.

Jacaranda water extract is capable of fighting E. coli, which causes gastroenteritis.

Monday, 11 April 2011

The magical powers of turmeric: Consume turmeric and prevent cataract

Syed Akbar
Hyderabad: Turmeric, a common kitchen ingredient, has been known for its anti-septic properties, and city nutritionists now find out that it also has the natural chemicals that are capable of preventing cataract in people suffering from diabetes.
"It is for the first time we report that turmeric, at the levels that are close to average daily intake, can be effective in preventing diabetic cataract. One of the important observations of this study is that both turmeric and its chemical constituent, curcumin, delay the progression and maturation of cataract, despite elevated levels of glucose. These results thus provide a clue, for the first time, that turmeric or curcumin may act downstream to glucose-mediated changes," says a study by nutrition scientists of the National Institute of Nutrition.
Diabetes and cataract are inter-linked and cataract is more pronounced in people suffering from the disease. At present, the only treatment for cataract is surgery. It has been estimated that a delay in cataract onset by 10 years could reduce the need for cataract surgery by as much as half. The pronounced effect of turmeric may be due to other ingredients besides curcumin. The NIN study gains significance as any strategy that prevents or slows the progression of cataract has a significant health impact.
The joint study by P Suryanarayana, M Saraswat, T Mrudula and others involved feeding Wistar rats a diet including curcumin and turmeric. The turmeric and curcumin rich diet delayed the progression of diabetic cataract in rats. "Although, multiple mechanisms may contribute to these effects, the antioxidant effect of curcumin and turmeric appears to be the predominant mechanism of action," they said.
The NIN scientists selected Wistar rats and diabetes was induced by streptozotocin (a substances that damages insulin producing cells). They monitored the cataract progression due to hyperglycemia (high levels of sugar in blood). At the end of eight weeks, the animals were killed and the crystalline profile in the lens was investigated.
"Although, both curcumin and turmeric did not prevent streptozotocin-induced hyperglycemia, as assessed by blood glucose and insulin levels, slit lamp microscope observations indicated that these supplements delayed the progression and maturation of cataract," they added.
The results indicated that turmeric and curcumin are effective against the development of diabetic cataract in rats. Further, these results imply that ingredients in the study’s dietary sources, such as turmeric, may be explored for anticataractogenic (that works against cataract formation) agents that prevent or delay the development of cataract.

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Red chilli cure for multi-drug resistant cholera pathogen

Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, March 20: Researchers have found a new cure in red chilli for the cholera pathogen that has developed resistant to a number of available drugs.
Fighting cholera pathogen, Vibrio cholerae strains, has become a challenging task for doctors in the country as it has turned multi-drug resistant. The cholera strains, now circulating in India, have developed mutations. Thus they do not quite often respond to powerful antimicrobial agents like tetracycline, ampicillin, nalidixic acid, streptomycin, sulphonamides, trimethoprim, gentamicin and ciprofloxacin.
Senior researcher Dr NS Basu, who carried out the study in association with a team of Japanese scientists, said the rise in multi-drug resistant Vibrio cholerae strains is a big problem in treatment of patients suffering from severe cholera. Red chilli powder has effectively controlled the multi-drug resistant cholerae strains by inhibiting the virulence of the bacteria. The results are more than 90 per cent successful.
"Our research has shown that capsaicin and other natural substances present in red chilli inhibited the production of cholera toxins different cholera strains regardless of their serogroups and biotypes. Capsaicin dramatically reduced the expression of major virulence-related genes. Regular intake of red chilli may be a good approach to fight against devastating cholera," he pointed out.
Cholera is caused by different strains of Vibrio cholerae bacterium. The strains, O1 and O139 serogroups, produce cholera toxin. These strains have evolved to become more troublesome after attaining resistance to a number of drugs.
"The emergence and spread of multi-drug resistant pathogenic bacteria have created the need for the development of novel therapeutic agents. Inhibiting bacterial virulence factor by natural compounds is a new approach to overcome increased antimicrobial resistance in pathogenic bacteria. Red chilli and one of its active compounds capsaicin is one such natural compound. Since red chilli is a natural compound, the bacteria will not develop resistance against it," Dr Basu said.

Burkholderia cepacia: The superbug that infects patients in intensive care units

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad:  Intensive care units of many hospitals have been colonised by superbug Burkholderia cepacia, a multi-drug resistant bacteria that can survive even in anti-biotic solutions. The bacteria is so dangerous that it can actually eat up penicillin as a nutrient. It is one of the common sources of hospital-acquired infection in India.
Only a few city hospitals have successfully isolated Burkholderia cepacia, while many including corporate hospitals continue to wrongly recognise the superbug as a member of Pseudomonas species. As many hospitals do not have sufficient laboratory facilities to isolate Burkholderia superbug, the International Burkholderia cepacia Working Group has taken up the task of creating awareness among hospital staff about the dangers of this superbug.
City doctors have found colonies of Burkholderia cepacia living in contaminated ventilators, indwelling catheters, nebulisers, chlorhexidine solution, bottled and tap water, nasal sprays and ultrasound gel. The superbug is capable of causing severe health complications including blood poisoning and even death.
According to Dr V Gautam of the International Burkholderia cepacia Working Group, the IBCWG is looking for collegial exchange of information and promotion of co-ordinated approaches to research. "Burkholderia cepacia complex causes bacteraemia and urinary and respiratory tracts infection. It is one of the most anti-microbial-resistant organisms in the clinical laboratory and the infections it cause are quite difficult to treat," he pointed out.
Doctors admit that they have often encountered Burkholderia cepacia in ICUs. "Since the bacteria is generally found in colonies, it does not cause harm to people whose immune system is strong. Patients with weak immunity and those suffering from cystic fibrosis are generally targeted by the bacteria," senior physician Dr M Govardhan said.
Patients admitted to hospitals that do not have good infection control practices fall prey to this bacteria. Stating that in the recent times the major concern is the rapid increase in the numbers of gram negative infections in hospitals without proper sanitation, Dr Annam Ravindra Babu said these bacteria are usually resistant to a lot of known medications.
"Earlier, the bacteria seen in hospitals were mainly Pseudomonas and Acinetobacter. The scenario has gradually changed. Previously sensitive organisms like Klebsiella and E coli, have become resistant to most antibiotics," he added.
According to infectious diseases expert Dr Nutankalva Lavanya, the superbug is capable of spreading from person to person. "Burkholderia cepacia most often causes pneumonia in immune-compromised individuals with a lung disease called cystic fibrosis. These organisms are naturally resistant to many common antibiotics including aminoglycosides and polymyxin B," she said.

Friday, 1 April 2011

Cashew is good for health: Anacardium occidentale oil removes warts, corns

Syed Akbar
Anacardium occidentale or the ordinary cashew nut is not just a nutritious foodstuff. It has a number of medicinal properties, particularly the ability of cashew shell oil to fight skin problems. The root, leaves, bark and the fruit of Anacardium are used in herbal systems of medicine. A number of folk and tribal medicines across the globe also recognize Anacardium as an important medicinal plant that has the potential to treat 
sores caused by leprosy.
The oil obtained from the cashew shell is corrosive and thus it should not be taken in quantities more than 2 ml a day for internal use. Because of this corrosive property, cashew shell oil dissolves dead skin giving relief from skin troubles like warts and corns. It also heals cracks on soles and heels. Juice obtained from the cashew apple is useful for treatment of problems like sore throat and accumulation of phlegm due to common cold or bronchial infection. The cashew apple juice has been found to have anti-cancer properties. Since the cashew apple juice is astringent in nature, it is better one should consume it in small quantities. Ripe cashew apple can also be taken to improve the general health.
Cashew shell oil is mild purgative in nature and is good for people suffering from constipation if taken in very small quantities. Some practitioners of tribal medicines recommend cashew nut oil for treatment of allergies, mild poisons, sexual debility and control of heart beat.
Home remedies
Cashew shell oil can be applied on warts and corns externally. The oil acts against warts, corns and dead skin and provides relief from these skin problems. Those suffering from painful cracks in soles and heels may also try cashew shell oil readily available in herbal stores.
Juice obtained from Anacardium shell can be taken internally in a small quantity to fight anxiety. It keeps the brain calm and cool.
Some herbalists recommend Anacardium bark extract for control of high body temperature (fever).
Anacardium shell oil has anti-fungal properties and fights fungal infections of the skin. It is also considered as a detoxifier. As advised earlier, daily intake of shell oil should not exceed 2 (two) ml per day.
Cashew apple juice or ripe cashew apple if taken regularly keeps the body healthy and fights harmful biological agents acting against the body.
A special liquid obtained from cashew shell if rubbed gently against teeth keeps the gums and teeth healthy. It fights tooth abscesses. The cashew nutshell liquid is available in herbal shops.