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Friday, January 03, 2014

Flowers and Health - Bits and Pieces

 Flowers play such an important role in our lives we like to think that there is a flower for every occasion, season, and purpose in life. Admittedly we are a little biased, but it is always welcome news when someone discovers another way flowers can enhance peoples everyday lives. So here are bits and pieces that we have come across that may be of interest.


Baby's Breath and CancerBaby's Breath Researchers have made a leukemia breakthrough which has the potential to save thousands of lives a year - thanks to a tiny flower found in most flower shops and in many gardens. Molecules from Gypsophila Paniculata - commonly known as Baby's Breath - appeared in trials to break down the membrane of deadly cancer cells. This makes it far easier for antibody-based drugs to attack the cancer itself.

They found an extract from the white bloom can boost the efficiency of anticancer drugs by a factor of one million (1,000,000) times. Researchers working for Leukemia Busters made the discovery.
The Southampton-based charity was set up by Dr David Flavell and his wife Bee whose son Simon, ten, died of the disease. Dr Flavell said yesterday: "This could truly revolutionize the way these antibody-based drugs work and it will save lives. And there is a really big possibility this can be used for many cancers."
Scientists are now preparing for clinical trials, which will take three to five years.
Leukemia & Lymphoma Research said: "This research is certainly promising."

Hibiscus and Heart Disease
HibiscusHibiscus flower extract may have the same health benefits as red wine and tea according to new research by scientists in Taiwan. Hibiscus contains antioxidants that help control cholesterol levels and reduce heart disease, say research in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture.
Chau-Jong Wang and his team at Chung Shan Medical University in the Republic of China found that the antioxidant properties of flavonoids, polyphenolic compounds and anthocyanins contained in the Hibiscus flower can prevent the oxidation of Low-Density Lipoproteins (LDL), which is associated with the disease.

Hibiscus sabdariffa is used in alternative medicine to treat hypertension and liver disorder, and is used to make popular soft drinks in various countries across the world. Some health benefits of taking Hibiscus have now been verified: “Experiments have shown that compounds extracted from red wine and tea reduces cholesterol and lipid buildup in the arteries of rats. This is the first study to show that Hibiscus extract has the same effect”, says Wang.

In the study, rats were divided in to four groups and given different diets. After 12 weeks, the rats were given blood tests to assess their health. Results showed that the Hibiscus extract significantly reduced cholesterol in blood serum and successfully prevented oxidation of LDL.
The data suggests that the extract has potential to prevent cholesterol deposition and may therefore be useful in the prevention and even treatment of a number of heart diseases in which cholesterol plays a major role.
More great news about Hibiscus!
According to the Los Angeles Times, a study published in the Journal of Nutrition found that several cups of hibiscus tea a day can help lower blood pressure in people with mild hypertension.

A separate study in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology found similar benefits associated with drinking the tea.

The news provider reports that researchers in Mexico found that the red pigments in hibiscus flowers act like blood pressure-lowering medications called ACE inhibitors, which are some of the most widely prescribed hypertension remedies in the world.Hibiscus tea contains a number of different antioxidants that may help to protect against cell-damaging free radicals. In addition to lowering blood pressure, it is often used to lower high cholesterol and strengthen the immune system.


 
Rose Hips and Their Amazing Benefits Valued through the ages for its beauty and fragrance, subject of poets, symbol of femininity, gift of love... and so much more. And now scientists are finding that the hips from roses produce nature's most effective anti-inflammatory medicine. What are rose hips? The little pod left behind after the flower has faded is the hip, the fruit of the bush. After the first hard frost kills the leaves and flowers on rose bushes, the hips remain and turn from green to bright red. At this point they are chock-full of Vitamin C and sought after to eat by humans and birds.
A number of exploratory studies have been performed with patients suffering from osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and lower back pain. The April, 2008 Journal of Ethnopharmachology reports a 7-day study in which rose hips were administered to assess its anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects in two animal models. A single dose of hips produced significant anti-inflammatory effects on the induced animal injuries and swelling. Researchers also administered a dose as high as 87.6 grams of dried hips after which no acute toxicity was observed within seven days.

Osteoarthritis and Cartilage Society Research Journal, April 11, 2008 reports a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials of a rose hip powder to estimate its effectiveness as a pain reliever on those suffering from osteoarthritis. Three separate studies were performed in all, involving 287 patients with a median trial duration of 3 months. 145 patients showed a reduction in pain scores from rose hip powder of .37 compared to the 142 control patients who received a placebo. The efficacy was consistent across trials.

In a study reported in the Phytotherapy Research journal, researcher's objective was to investigate whether the clinically observed effects of rose hips in the treatment of osteoarthritis was due to inhibition of the cylooxyenase (COX) -1 and 2. Extracts of rose hips were tested for in vitro COX-1 and 2 activity, which was revealed at a significantly high level.

And a study from Inflammopharmachology reports that rose hip extract reduced chemotaxis of peripheral blood neutrophils and monocytes of healthy subjects in vitro. Daily intake of rose-hip powder for four weeks by healthy volunteers and patients suffering from osteoarthritis resulted in reduced serum C-reactive protein levels and reduced chemotaxis of peripheral blood neutrophils. The results showed that rose hips possess anti-inflammatory properties that allow them to replace or supplement conventional drug therapies in patients with osteoarthritis.

Marigold Flowers and Their Medicinal Properties Marigold The Marigold (Calendula officinalis) has a long history of medicinal use; it is mentioned in many ancient herbals, including that of Culpepper, for use in the treatment of headaches, toothache, swellings and for strengthening the heart. As a medicinal plant, marigold has made its way into Egyptian, Indian, Greek, and Roman medicine.
During both the American Civil War and the First World War, Marigold was used to treat wounds and to prevent wounds from becoming infected with toxins and bacteria; the Marigold flowers were either made into a poultice or an infused oil for application on the wound.

Plant pharmacological studies have suggested that Marigold extracts have anti-viral, anti-genotoxic and anti-inflammatory properties. Calendula in suspension or in tincture is used topically to treat common acne reducing inflammation, controlling bleeding and soothing irritated tissue.

Daffodils May Hold a Key to Curing Brain Cancer
Daffodils and Brain Cancer
Scientists have discovered narciclasine, a natural compound found in daffodil bulbs, may be a powerful therapeutic against biologically aggressive forms of human brain cancers.To make this discovery, computer-assisted techniques were used to identify targets for narciclasine in cancer cells. Researchers then grafted human melanoma brain metastatic cells into the brains of genetically altered mice. Results showed that the injected mice survived significantly longer when treated with narciclasine than those mice left untreated. The researchers believe that narciclasine selectively inhibits the proliferation of very aggressive cancer cells, while avoiding adverse effects on normal cells. Narciclasine could be used in the near future to combat brain cancers, including gliomas, and metastases such as melanoma brain metastases. It is hoped narciclasine could be given to brain cancer patients in addition to conventional therapies.

"We are planning to move a derivative of narciclasine toward clinical trials in oncology within a three to four year period in order to help patients with brain cancers, including gliomas, as well as brain metastases," said Robert Kiss, co-author of the study from the Laboratory of Toxicology at the Institute of Pharmacy at the Université Libre de Bruxelles located in Belgium.


"Scientists have been digging in odd corners to find effective treatments for brain cancer for decades, and now they've found one in daffodils. It doesn't mean that you should eat daisies or daffodils for what ails you, but that modern medicinal chemistry can pluck new chemicals from stuff that grows in the garden

Emotional Impact of Flowers


flower deliveryAt Grower Direct we have always felt that a floral gift goes a long way in bringing a little joy (and some sanity) to an otherwise hectic day, After all, what better way to let someone know your thinking about them. As they say, "sometimes you have to stop and take time to smell the roses". We couldn't agree more and now scientific research confirms it!

So next time you want to send someone a gift, why not choose one that will not only bring a smile to their face but has been proven to have positive effects on the emotional well being. Give us a call or order on-line, either way we will make your floral delivery on time. You pick the occasion and we will make the arrangements!



With today's high-tech and fast-paced lifestyle taking its daily toll on our lives, experts advise exercise and other personal lifestyle changes to relieve stress. According to behavioral research conducted at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, nature provides us with a simple way to improve emotional health - flowers.
The presence of flowers triggers happy emotions, heightens feelings of life satisfaction and affects social behavior in a positive manner far beyond what is normally believed. "What's most exciting about this study is that it challenges established scientific beliefs about how people can manage their day-to-day moods in a healthy and natural way," said Jeannette Haviland-Jones, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology at Rutgers and lead researcher on the study.

Research Findings
A team of researchers explored the link between flowers and life satisfaction in a 10-month study of participants' behavioral and emotional responses to receiving flowers. The results show that flowers are a natural and healthful moderator of moods. flower delivery
  1. Flowers have an immediate impact on happiness. All study participants expressed "true" or "excited" smiles upon receiving flowers, demonstrating extraordinary delight and gratitude. This reaction was universal, occurring in all age groups.
  2. Flowers have a long-term positive effect on moods. Specifically,study participants reported feeling less depressed, anxious and agitated after receiving flowers, and demonstrated a higher sense of enjoyment and life satisfaction.
  3. Flowers make intimate connections. The presence of flowers led to increased contact with family and friends.
"Common sense tells us that flowers make us happy," said Dr.Haviland-Jones. "Now, science shows that not only do flowers make us happier than we know, they have strong positive effects on our emotional well being."

Sharing Space
The study also explored where in their homes people display flowers.The arrangements were placed in areas of the home that are open to visitors - such as foyers, living rooms and dining rooms - suggesting that flowers are a symbol for sharing.

"Flowers bring about positive emotional feelings in those who enter a room

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Red meat harmful effects

Saturated fat? Cholesterol? Sure, red meat has plenty of those, but it also contains a compound that toys with gut bacteria and can lead to clogged arteries.

When it comes to explaining exactly why steaks and hamburgers and other red meats can be so harmful to the heart, the saturated fat that the body breaks down and sequesters in blood vessel walls where they can form dangerous plaques is an easy and obvious culprit. But the high rates of heart disease in the developed world suggest that these fats may not be working alone, say a group of researchers from the Cleveland Clinic who study how microbes and bacteria in our gut influence heart disease.
Our gut is full of bacteria — good strains that don’t cause disease — and recent studies show that these microbes can have a significant impact on our health, affecting our propensity for obesity, asthma, inflammatory diseases and even cancer. Not surprisingly, what we eat can influence which populations of bacteria are more common at any given time, so the researchers of the new study, published in the journal Nature Medicine, focused on how these gut microbes responded to a diet that included meat. Specifically, they looked at a compound called carnitine, which is abundant in meats like beef, lamb, duck and pork, but is also a popular dietary supplement in energy drinks.
In previous work on mice, the scientists found that gut bacteria can transform choline, a vitamin-B-group nutrient, from the diet into a compound called trimethylamine N-oxide (TMAO) that transports cholesterol to arteries where it forms potentially heart-stopping plaques. Carnitine, it turns out, is structurally similar to choline, so the researchers set out to document whether carnitine is metabolized by human gut bacteria in a similar way to gum up heart vessels and cause atherosclerosis.
They Are What You Eat

To better understand the relationship between carnitine and TMAO, the researchers conducted a series of experiments with meat eaters and a vegan willing to consume meat for the sake of the study. In the first phase, they documented the boost in TMAO produced after the meat-eating volunteers ate an 8-oz. steak and downed a capsule that would attach to and label the carnitine for easy detection. Consuming high amounts of carnitine from the steak was only associated with a higher level of TMAO in the blood of the five meat eaters, however, and not in the vegan who hadn’t consumed meat in at least a year. That suggests that eating meat can promote larger numbers of bacteria that break down carnitine into TMAO, thus generating more heart-harming cholesterol and establishing a cycle of damage to the heart.
This was confirmed when the researchers then looked at the levels of TMAO and carnitine in the blood of 2,595 patients undergoing heart-disease evaluations who were either omnivores, vegans or vegetarians. Meat eaters tended to harbor higher levels of carnitine and had a higher risk of heart disease, stroke or heart attack compared with the vegans or vegetarians. The bacteria in the gut, then, are heavily influenced by long-term-diet patterns, adding another layer to the understanding of how food can affect our risk for developing certain diseases. “A diet high in carnitine actually shifts our gut microbe composition to those that like carnitine, making meat eaters even more susceptible to forming TMAO and its artery-clogging effects. Meanwhile, vegans and vegetarians have a significantly reduced capacity to synthesize TMAO from carnitine, which may explain the cardiovascular health benefits of these diets,
Fat in Red Meat and Butter May Hurt Your Brain
In fact, when the meat eaters were given antibiotics for a week to cull some of the intestinal bacteria, levels of TMAO dropped significantly. That finding hints that it may be possible to control some of the heart-harming effects of red meat by suppressing certain populations of bacteria in the gut, although more studies need to be done to confirm exactly which bacterial populations are responsible for breaking down carnitine, and how direct the association between carnitine and TMAO is.
And then there are questions about carnitine supplements. Some energy drinks contain the compound, which is often added to rev up metabolism and increase energy, but if it also promotes the growth of bacteria that contribute to atherosclerosis, then people consuming energy drinks may not be aware that these products may be associated with an increased risk of heart disease.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Rabbit: A Great Meat Animal for Small Homesteads

Whether your homestead is in the city or the country, meat rabbits can help you feed your family with lean, nutritious meat. Rabbits breed and grow so quickly that one pair of healthy does (females) can produce more than 600 pounds of meat in a year. Compare that to the dressed yield of 400 pounds for an average year-old beef steer. Rabbits also use feed more efficiently than cows do: According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a rabbit needs 4 pounds of feed to make 1 pound of meat. In comparison, beef cattle need 7 pounds of feed or more to create 1 pound of meat, reports Michigan State University’s Department of Animal Science.
Archaeologists have found proof that the Romans raised meat rabbits 2,000 years ago, so people have known for centuries that rabbit meat is delicious. Today, we know that it’s also an excellent source of protein, has less cholesterol and fat than chicken, beef, lamb or pork, and that it has an almost ideal fatty acid ratio of 4:1 omega-6 to beneficial omega-3 fatty acids (see The Fats You Need for a Healthy Diet to learn more).
Rabbits are clean and quiet, so they won’t trouble your neighbors. Their manure can enrich your garden without composting — it’s not “hot,” so it can go directly into the garden, where it will provide lots of nitrogen and phosphorus and help build soil. Or let the rabbits’ manure fall into worm beds;.
Before you rush out and buy your rabbits, you need to figure out where you’re going to keep them. Each rabbit needs its own cage, so for the breeding trio of a buck and two does you’ll need three cages. (See our diagram of a homemade rabbit cage.) The cages should be protected from predators and the weather — in a garage or outbuilding, for example.
For meat rabbits, each cage should be about 3 feet square and 2 feet high to give the animals plenty of room to move around. The best material for cages is double-galvanized 14-gauge welded wire. Chicken wire is too flimsy. Use 1-inch square or 1-by-1-1⁄2-inch wire on the bottoms to prevent sore feet and to let droppings fall through. Plan to run some extra wire up the sides to prevent babies from falling out of the does’ pens. Hinge the cage doors so they swing inward, so your rabbits can’t accidentally push them open. Mount the cages 3 to 4 feet off the ground, to make working with the animals easier and to help protect them from predators such as dogs, snakes and coyotes.

The Health Benefits of Pears

Pears provide a very good source of fiber and are also a good source of vitamin B2, C, E, copper, and potassium. They also contain a significant amount of pectin, which is a water soluble fiber.

Pears are actually higher in pectin than apples. This makes them effective in helping to lower cholesterol levels and in toning the intestines. They are often recommended by health care practitioners as a hypoallergenic fruit that is high in fiber. They are less likely to produce an adverse response than other fruits. Pears are often recommended as a safe fruit to introduce to infants. Pears are an extraordinary source of dietary fiber when the skin is eaten along with the flesh. Pears are also an excellent source of vitamin C and vitamin E, both powerful antioxidants and essential nutrients.

Pears are often recommended as a hypo-allergenic fruit that is high in fiber but less likely to produce adverse reactions. Pear juice is safe to be introduced to infants as they are mild, yet healthful.

Blood pressure: Pears have anti-oxidant and anti-carcinogen glutathione which help prevent high blood pressure and stroke.
  • Blood pressure: Pears have anti-oxidant and anti-carcinogen glutathione which help prevent high blood pressure and stroke.
  • Cancer prevention: The high vitamin C and copper content act as good anti-oxidants that protect cells from damages by free radicals.
  • Cholesterol: The high content of pectin in pears make it very useful in helping to lower cholesterol levels.
  • Colon health: When not juicing, eat the pear whole for its precious fiber that are highly beneficial for your colon health.
  • Constipation: The pectin in pears is diuretic and have a mild laxative effect. Drinking pear juice regularly helps regulate bowel movements.
  • Energy: You can get quick and natural source of energy from pear juice, due largely to its high amounts of fructose and glucose.
  • Fever: The cooling effect in pear is excellent in relieving fever. Best way to bring a fever down quickly is by drinking a big glass of pear juice.
  • Immune booster: The anti-oxidant nutrients in pears are critical in building up your immune system. Drink pear juice when you feel a cold coming.
  • Inflammation: Pear juice has an anti-inflammatory effect and helps relieve sufferers of much pain in various inflammatory conditions.
  • Osteoporosis: Pears contain high level of boron. Boron helps the body to retain calcium, thus prevents or retards osteoporosis.
  • Pregnancy: The high content of folate (folic acid) prevents neural tube defects in infants.
  • Shortness of breath: The summer heat may cause children to have shortness of breath with excessive phlegm. Drink pear juice during this period to help clear the phlegm.
  • Throat problem: The pears are in season during the summer for a reason. Drinking pear juice every morning and night helps to cool your body down during this time. It nourishes the throat and helps prevent throat problems.
  • Vocal chord: Boil two Chinese pear juice with some raw honey and drink warm. This is extremely healing for the throat and the vocal cord.
  • Fiber: Pears are an excellent source of natural dietary fiber. One pear will give you 24% of your recommended daily allowance of fiber. Fiber contains no calories, and is a necessary element of a healthy diet as it helps sustain blood sugar levels and promotes regularity.
Pectin is a type of soluble fiber that binds to fatty substances in the digestive tract and promotes their elimination. This seems to help lower blood cholesterol levels. Soluble fiber also helps regulate the body's use of sugars.

Studies indicate that diets high in fiber may reduce the risk of heart disease and certain types of cancer.

How do pears rank on the Glycemic Index?

Pears have 26 net grams of carbs. The carbohydrates in a pear are low on the glycemic index and have a low glycemic load. This basically means that the carbs in pears are slow to convert to sugar and enter the bloodstream. Pears are a good choice for getting healthy carbs.

Vitamin C:

Fresh pears are a good source for Vitamin C. One fresh pear contains 10% of the RDA for Vitamin C (also called ascorbic acid).

Vitamin C is an essential antioxidant for normal metabolism and tissue repair, and helps prevent free radical damage (destructive by-products of the body's metabolic process). Vitamin C promotes healing of cuts and bruises and helps guard against a number of infectious diseases.

Potassium:

Fresh pears offer 5% of the recommended daily allowance (190 mg of potassium) per serving