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Trying to identify a plant with pain-killing properties from northern Vietnam

Trying to identify a plant with pain-killing properties from northern Vietnam


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My mother-in-law uses this plant to alleviate her pain caused by a severe case of spondylitis. This is a plant used in traditional medicine in her village near Hanoi, Vietnam. She doesn't know the name of the plant, even in Vietnamese. I'm interested in identifying this plant mainly to find out its exact pharmacological properties (if any) and possible side-effects.

This is a climbing plant that can easily become as tall as a big tree. It is present year-round in this region.

To use it she just cuts it longitudinally and let it dry in the sun before boiling it and drinking the resulting decoction.

Here is a picture that she took of the plant in the wild. This is the one with the heart-shaped leaves.

And here is another picture where she removed the leaves from the plant.


Combining farmers’ and scientists’ tree species and soil fertility assessment for improved cropping decisions in swidden systems of Northern Thailand

Indigenous knowledge of Karen farmers on indicator trees is linked to measured soil properties.

Multiple linear regressions were used to relate indicator tree abundances to soil properties.

Farmers indicators list was amended with species from comprehensive botanical surveys on 135 plots in fallows up to ten years age.

The approach can be extended to other areas where soil and botanical information are available.


Tea Plant Care

Harvesting camellia sinensis must be done by hand, as only the top leaves should be plucked. During plucking—the tea industry's term for harvesting—look for young leaves at the top of the plant, particularly those with tips, or small, partially formed leaves. Pluck a group, or "flush," of leaves, taking care to include a small portion of the stem containing two to five leaves and the tip. A flush of just two or three leaves is known as a "golden flush." On rare occasions, the twigs and flowers of the plant are also used. Generally, the plants are kept from blooming to divert their energy to the valuable leaves. However, some backyard growers prefer the pretty white flowers that bloom in the fall.

Tea is harvested during the warmer months when the plant is growing strong. In northern climates, this results in only a four-month window. However, in tropical regions, cultivars may have up to eight months of regular harvests.

Light

Tea plants do best in partial sun they need the sun's energy to produce blooms.

High-quality soil is what camellia sinensis thrives in. Rich, sandy, well-draining loam is the key, and it needs to be acidic.

Water

Tea plants are not tolerant of drought, but they don't enjoy sitting in soggy soil either. It's best to let the top few inches dry out between waterings.

Temperature and Humidity

Hot summer months are fine for tea plants so long as they get enough shade. Too much humidity and they can fall prey to fungal disease. Space them well in your garden to encourage air circulation.

Fertilizer

Tea plants don't need much feeding: A slow-release, all-purpose fertilizer fed once in the spring is all your plant needs to help it bloom.


Food Plot Species Profile: Chicory

For a change of pace, try growing chicory – a tough cool-season perennial crop that is a preferred deer forage – in your next fall food plot.

This nutritious broadleaf crop is actually in the sunflower family, but looks more like the common weed plantain. Chicory is an herb and develops a rather deep tap-root that prefers loamy, well-drained soils. While chicory was originally used as a coffee substitute, it has now become a dynamic tool in food plots for land managers. The leaves of chicory are highly digestible and carry a protein level of anywhere between 15 and 30 percent. Chicory is quickly becoming a favorite among landowners and hunters due to its ability to tolerate acidic soils, withstand drought, and crowd out potential weed competition. Deer also seem to be quite fond of it.

Chicory is an adaptable crop that can be grown throughout the country. Planting can take place as early as August in northern climates or September to early October in the Deep South. Plant chicory at a seeding rate of 4 to 5 lbs./acre broadcast or 2 to 3 lbs./acre drilled. This seed does best when planted to a depth of 1/8- to 1/4-inch deep. Take care not to bury the seed too deeply, or else germination will suffer. Chicory should be planted in full sun and will not tolerate much shade. Soil test to determine fertility needs, or apply 250 pounds of 19-19-19 per acre. Lime fields according to a soil sample to raise the pH to an ideal of 6.5. After planting, broadcasted seed should be lightly raked and cultipacked for best seed-to-soil contact and germination.

With enough moisture, chicory food plots can persist for several years and will continue to draw deer to this tasty herb. Maintenance on chicory is minimal. In the summer, as chicory plants begin to sprout flowering stems, mow the stem down to encourage new leaf growth. This periodic mowing is important to discourage the reproductive process of the plants and direct nutrients into forage production rather than stem and flower production. Plots may need to be mowed a couple of times during the summer months to discourage bolting (flowering). Additional nitrogen applied after establishment of the chicory plot will help ensure the maximum production of forage. Under careful management, chicory can produce several tons of digestible forage per year. My experience with chicory is that once the deer discover what it is, they find it highly attractive.

While chicory can be planted as a stand-alone crop, I find it works best when planted in mixes with annual cereal grains and/or a legume like clover. In the extended “Food Plot Species Profile” in Quality Whitetails magazine, I will go into more detail on specific blends and additional management practices for successfully growing chicory. Get much more information about deer and habitat management, and support QDMA’s mission, by joining today.


Long Term Costs

If ecosystems deteriorates to an unsustainable level, then the problems resulting can be very expensive, economically, to reverse.

In Bangladesh and India, for example, logging of trees and forests means that the floods during the monsoon seasons can be very deadly. Similarly, many avalanches, and mud slides in many regions around the world that have claimed many lives, may have been made worse by the clearing of so many forests, which provide a natural barrier, that can take the brunt of such forces.

As the Centre for Science and Environment mentions, factors such as climate change and environmental degradation can impact regions more so, and make the impacts of severe weather systems even worse than they already are. As they further point out, for poor regions, such as Orissa in India, this is even more of a problem.

Vanishing coral reefs, forests and other ecosystems can all take their toll and even make the effects of some natural events even worse.

The cost of the effects together with the related problems that can arise (like disease, and other illness, or rebuilding and so on) is much more costly than the maintenance and sustainable development practices that could be used instead.

As an example, and assuming a somewhat alarmist scenario, if enough trees and forests and related ecosystems vanish or deteriorate sufficiently:

  • Then the oxygen-producing benefits from such ecosystems is threatened.
  • The atmosphere would suffer from more pollution.
  • The cost to tackle this and the related illnesses, problems and other cascading effects would be enormous (as it can be assumed that industrial pollution could increase, with less natural ecosystems to soak it up)
  • Furthermore, other species in that ecosystem that would depend on this would be further at risk as well, which would lead to a downward spiral for that ecosystem.

Compare those costs to taking precautionary measures such as protecting forests and promoting more sustainable forms of development. Of course, people will argue that these situations will not occur for whatever reasons. Only when it is too late can others say told you so — a perhaps very nasty Catch 22.

Social costs to some segments of society can also be high. Take for example the various indigenous Indians of Latin America. Throughout the region, as aspects of corporate globalization spread, there is growing conflict between land and resources of the indigenous communities, and those required to meet globalization related needs. The following quote from a report on this issue captures this quite well:

Many of the natural resources found on Indian lands have become more valuable in the context of the modern global economy. Several factors have spurred renewed interest in natural resources on Indian lands in Latin America, among them the mobility of capital, ecological limits to growth in developed countries, lax environmental restrictions in underdeveloped nations, lower transportation costs, advances in biotechnology, cheap third world labor, and national privatization policies. Limits to logging in developed countries have led timber transnationals overseas. Increased demand and higher prices for minerals have generated the reopening of mines and the proliferation of small-scale mining operations. Rivers are coveted for their hydroelectric potential, and bioprospecting has put a price tag on biodiversity. Originally considered lands unsuitable for productive activities, the resources on Indian lands are currently the resources of the future.

Indian land rights and decisionmaking authority regarding natural resource use on territories to which they hold claim threaten the mobility of capital and access to resources—key elements of the transnational-led globalization model. Accordingly, increased globalization has generally sharpened national conservative opposition to indigenous rights in the Americas and elsewhere in the name of making the world safe for investment. The World Trade Organization (WTO), free trade agreements, and transnational corporations are openly hostile to any legislation that might create barriers to investment or the unlimited exploitation of natural resources on Indian lands. The result has been a growing number of conflicts between indigenous communities and governments and transnational corporations over control of natural resources.


Spotlights

Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme.

This guide explains how natural enemies (typically invertebrates and pathogens from the native home range of the pest) can be used to control serious invasive weeds in the Pacific. The use of natural enemies is the most cost-effective method of controlling widespread weeds in the Pacific. It is particularly important in the Pacific context where local capacity to manage such widespread problems is limited. For more knowledge resources, please visit the Pacific Battler Resource Base.

United States Department of Agriculture.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced today the first update since 2013 of the National Road Map for Integrated Pest Management (IPM) (Sep 21, 2018 PDF | 340 KB). Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is a science-based, sustainable decision-making process that uses information on pest biology, environmental data, and technology to manage pest damage in a way that minimizes both economic costs and risks to people, property, and the environment.

National Information System for the Regional IPM Centers.

The four Regional Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Centers serve as a hub for multi-state partnerships and communication networks, linking researchers, growers, extension educators, commodity organizations, environmental groups, pest control professionals, government agencies and others. The regions include: Northern IPM Center, Southern IPM Center, North Central IPM Center, and the Western IPM Center.


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Ginkgo biloba

Ginkgo biloba, also known as the maidenhair tree in English due to its resemblance to the foliage of the Maidenhair fern ( Figure 3 ), is among the oldest seed plants. It is regarded as a “living fossil” because of its continued existence without dramatic changes for 270 million years. (Hori et al., 1997). Its place of origin is believed to be eastern China in Yangtze River Valley (Jaggy and Koch, 1997 Singh et al., 2008). From there, it became extensively distributed in Asia, Europe, North America, and New Zealand and is now widely cultivated (Kleijnen and Knipschild, 1992 Hori et al., 1997 Belwal et al., 2019). A remark about its leaf extract is included in the medical Dictionary of the Republic of China (Kimbel, 1992 Kleijnen and Knipschild, 1992 Kressmann et al., 2002). Ginkgo biloba is the only living species of the division Ginkgophyta probably due to its resistance to environmental stresses (Deng et al., 2006 Cao et al., 2012).

Ginkgo biloba. (A) Leaves of Ginkgo biloba or Maiden Hair Tree (from https://pngtree.com/freepng). (B) Chemical structure of Ginkgolides. (C) Chemical structure of Bilobalides. (D) Structural skeleton of flavonoids. R1 and R2 are side chains.

Ginkgo biloba is one of the most sold medicinal plants. It is one of the herbs mentioned in the Chinese Materia Medica more than 5000 years ago, where its seeds and leaves𠅏resh or dried—have been used for thousands of years in ancient herbal medicine. Current research on its therapeutic properties mainly uses Ginkgo biloba leaves and many pharmaceutical companies including those in the USA and Europe manufacture and sell extracts of the leaves (Kimbel, 1992 Kleijnen and Knipschild, 1992 Kressmann et al., 2002). The leaves can be used for the treatment of asthma and bronchitis in the form of a tea that is most commonly used by the Chinese people. More commonly, a standardized extract containing the most active constituents can be made from the leaves and then taken as a tablet, in liquid form, or given intravenously (Kleijnen and Knipschild, 1992).

The main constituents of Gingko biloba are flavonoids (ginkgo-flavone glycosides), terpenoids (ginkgolides and bilobalides), biflavones, and organic acids among other substances ( Figure 3 ). Ginkgolides, being unique to Gingko biloba, are not synthesized by any other living species. Ginkgolides are classified into either A, B, C, J, or M types ( Figure 3 ). Gingko biloba flavonoids include several representative glycosides, such as kaempferol, quercetin, and isorhamnetin ( Figure 3 ). Flavonoids are known to reduce free radical generation and terpenoids are known to reduce inflammation and protect nerve cells against neuro-inflammation (Kleijnen and Knipschild, 1992 Ude et al., 2013 Isah, 2015). Through a multistep process, Ginkgo biloba dried leaves extracts are enriched for flavonoids and terpenoids and the unwanted substances are eliminated. At the final step, the liquid extract is dried to give 1 part extract from 50 parts of raw drug (leaves) (Kleijnen and Knipschild, 1992 Isah, 2015). The composition of Gingko biloba extracts may differ depending on the manufacturing process. Standardized extract forms have been developed and usually contain 24�% flavone glycosides and 4�% terpenoids. For example, standardized extract EGb761 is the most commonly used Ginkgo biloba extract (GBE), and it contains 24% ginkgo flavonoid glycosides, 6% terpene lactones, and 5�% organic acids (Kressmann et al., 2002 Chan et al., 2007). These extracts have been used for various therapeutic purposes, including regulation of cerebral blood flow (Mashayekh et al., 2011), protection against free radicals (Oyama et al., 1996 Bridi et al., 2001), tinnitus treatment (Mahmoudian-Sani et al., 2017), protection of neurons (Mahdy et al., 2011), as well as enhancement of cognitive functions, such as memory and concentration problems (Weinmann et al., 2010 Tan et al., 2015).

Ginkgo biloba at the Bench: Mechanism of Action in CVDs

Ginkgo biloba's therapeutic effects and pharmacological actions are majorly due to its constituent flavonoids (ginkgo-flavone glycosides) and terpenoids (ginkgolides and bilobalide) (Lacour et al., 1991). These Ginkgo biloba constituents are well known for their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. Ginkgo biloba antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects are beneficial in a plethora of diseases that include cardiovascular, pulmonary, and central nervous systems.

Free radical generation contributes to the development and progression of numerous CVDs, including vascular injuries and atherosclerotic plaque formation. During CVD pathogenesis, the equilibrium between free radical generation and antioxidant defense is greatly shifted toward the former (Singh and Niaz, 1996 Witztum and Berliner, 1998 Fulton and Barman, 2016). GBE greatly restores the disturbed oxidative state equilibrium due to their antioxidant action, which helps to scavenge excessive free radicals as well as reduce free radical generation.

In addition, vasodilatory and antihypertensive properties of GBE can exert cardioprotective benefits (Perez-Vizcaino et al., 2009). In this regard, GBE has exhibited ACE inhibitory activities (Mansour et al., 2011), activation of cholinergic pathways, endothelial health improvement, inhibition of endothelium activation and adhesion (Mesquita et al., 2017), and serum lipid-lowering activities (Liou et al., 2015 Huang et al., 2018) among other reported effects that are beneficial in CVD.

By acting as an anti-atherothrombotic and anti-inflammatory agent, GBE can limit LPS-induced proliferation of VSMCs and their morphological alterations. Furthermore, GBE can regulate the inflammatory response in blood vessels by decreasing the activity of the ROS producing enzyme, nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate (NADPH) oxidase (NOX), and reducing the phosphorylation of mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPKs). Subsequently, MAPKs suppress toll-like-receptor-4 (TLR-4) expression in human aortic smooth muscle cells (Lin et al., 2007). GBE can also decrease the production of the enzyme involved in the rupture of atherosclerotic plaques, MMP-1, in oxidized LDL- and 4-hydroxynonenal-induced human coronary smooth muscle cells (Akiba et al., 2007). In the same model, the GBE constituent, Ginkgolide B, attenuated endothelial dysfunction by inhibiting monocyte chemotactic protein𠄁 (MCP𠄁), intercellular adhesion molecule𠄁 (ICAM𠄁), and vascular cell adhesion molecule𠄁 (VCAM𠄁) production in oxidized‐LDL‐induced HUVECs. Additionally, Ginkgolide B treatment reduced the expression of several inflammatory cytokines in oxidized‐LDL‐induced mouse RAW264.7 macrophages (Feng et al., 2018). Ginkgolide C, another GBE constituent, can reduce adipogenesis and enhance lipolysis leading to suppression of lipid accumulation. Ginkgolide C treatment of 3T3-L1 adipocytes decreased the expression of PPAR adipogenesis-related transcription factors. Ginkgolide C also enhanced the Sirt1/AMPK pathway resulting in decreased activity of acetyl-CoA carboxylase and fatty acid synthesis. Moreover, Ginkgolide C stimulated the production of adipose triglyceride lipase and hormone-sensitive lipase, leading to elevated lipolysis levels (Liou et al., 2015). Similar results were obtained with human HepG2 hepatocyte cell line (Huang et al., 2018).

In Vivo Preclinical Evaluation of Ginkgo biloba

Ginkgo biloba has several cardioprotective effects, including improvement of atherosclerosis due to their ability to block platelet-activating factor and platelet aggregation in rats (Zeng et al., 2013 Huang et al., 2014).

eNOS is responsible for most of the vascular NO production, and NO acts as a protective molecule to maintain vasculature hemostasis and protection of the vascular endothelium (Forstermann and Munzel, 2006). eNOS production and activity are impaired in several CVDs, including hypertension (Chou et al., 1998), cardiac hypertrophy (Ozaki et al., 2002), myocardial infarction (Tsutsui et al., 2008), and heart failure (Couto et al., 2015). GBE can act as an antihypertrophic agent by the activation of the M2 muscarinic receptors/NO pathway and of cholinergic signaling during cardiac hypertrophy. In a rat model of chronic β-adrenergic stimulation-induced cardiac hypertrophy, GBE was able to ameliorate the deleterious cardiac events associated with cardiac hypertrophy. These effects were mediated by the upregulation of M2 receptors and the downregulation of β1-adrenergic receptors. GBE also restored eNOS activity and consequently elevated NO levels (Mesquita et al., 2017). In addition, the anti-hypertensive effects of EGb761 supplementation were documented in hypertensive rats where SBP, DBP, and arterial BP were reduced. EGb761 supplementation also decreased inflammation and oxidative stress. While eNOS protein expression levels were enhanced, protein levels of iNOS were decreased (Abdel-Zaher et al., 2018).

Vascular aging is commonly accompanied with low-grade inflammation and degenerative structural changes and stiffness of blood vessels and is considered a risk factor for the development of CVDs, such as CHD and hypertension (Franceschi et al., 2000 Lakatta and Levy, 2003). In the mesenteric arterioles of old rats, GBE had a protective effect that alleviated arterial stiffness and improved endothelial health (Cuong et al., 2019). In these aged mesenteric arterioles, GBE improved vascular elasticity by narrowing the EC gap, increasing curvature of inner elastic membrane and reducing the middle collagen fiber layer. These changes were accompanied by decreased phosphorylation levels of Akt/FoxO3a signaling components, which usually contributes to vascular dysfunction (Cuong et al., 2019).

Pre-treatment with EGb761 in rats that have undergone myocardial ischemia–reperfusion injury inhibited the apoptosis of myocardial cells, decreased the expression of caspase 3 and pro-apoptotic Bax and increased that of anti-apoptotic Bcl-2, and protected the myocardium by activating the endogenous Akt/Nrf2 antioxidant stress pathway. Akt/Nrf2 activation subsequently decreased oxidative stress leading to reduced lipid peroxidation and increased activities of the endogenous anti-oxidant defense enzymes, namely SOD, and GSH-Px. In addition, EGb761 pre-treatment increased the expression of the heat shock protein heme oxygenase 1 (HO-1) and repressed the expression of mediators of the inflammatory response, such as TNF-α, IL-6, and IL-1β (Chen et al., 2019). HO-1 degrades heme (a potent oxidant) to generate carbon monoxide, which has anti-inflammatory properties, bilirubin, which is an antioxidant derived from biliverdin, and iron (He et al., 2014). Similar Ginkgo biloba anti-oxidant properties have been reported in diabetic rats as well. Administration of GBE for 30 days can increase SOD, CAT, and GSH-Px activity along with glutathione (GSH) levels in the liver and pancreas of diabetic rats (Cheng et al., 2013). This enhanced anti-oxidant status might be responsible for improved glucose uptake via increased GLUT-4 expression (Shi et al., 2010). Furthermore, EGb761 oral supplementation of HFD-fed mice can dose-dependently enhance glucose tolerance, decrease insulin levels, and diminish parameters of insulin resistance (Cong et al., 2011).

The above reports point that GBE has a pleiotropic mechanism of action. Indeed, a metabolomic profiling study of the plasma and hearts of GBE-supplemented rats with myocardial infarction established that GBE acts via the regulation of multiple metabolic pathways. Metabolomic profiles of rats with MI showed disturbed metabolism in these rats because of modulated inflammatory reaction, oxidative stress, and structurally damaged pathways. However, GBE supplementation controlled the inflammatory reaction and oxidative stress pathways by regulating sphingolipid, phospholipid and glyceride metabolism and ameliorated the structural damage by downregulating amino acid metabolism (downregulation of urea cycle) and decreasing oxidative stress (Wang et al., 2016).

In addition to the above-mentioned effects, GBE was able to decrease calcium overload (Liu et al., 2013), the primary factor responsible for the irreversible myocardial injury (Moens et al., 2005). Rats with an ischemic myocardium and pre-treated with GBE50, an extract that matches EGb761, exhibited decreased intracellular calcium overload which could block arrhythmia. GBE could decrease the calcium overload and protect from an ischemic myocardium by inhibiting the Na + /Ca 2+ exchanger (Liu et al., 2013).

Ginkgo biloba to the Clinic

Given the above reported protective and therapeutic benefits of GBE in vitro and in vivo, several clinical trials have been conducted to test different formulations and doses of GBE in a plethora of diseases (DeKosky et al., 2008 Gardner et al., 2008 Kuller et al., 2010 Hashiguchi et al., 2015). A search of clinicaltrials.gov shows that there have been 88 reported clinical trials using various formulation of GBE. Of the 88 trials, 66 have been concluded, and there are 30 Phase 3 or 4 trials. Most of these trials dealt with neural and cognitive disorders, where GBE has been shown to have clinical promise. For GBE beneficial effects in CVDs, 7 out of the 88 trials were concerned with vascular diseases, 4 with stroke, 4 with arteriosclerosis, 2 with coronary disease, 1 with hypertension, and 1 with atherosclerosis.

GBE has vasorelaxation effects in human subjects. GBE was able to dilate forearm blood vessels causing changes in regional blood flow without affecting BP levels in 16 healthy subjects (Mehlsen et al., 2002). A small trial performed in normal glucose-tolerant subjects to determine the effects of GBE on glucose-stimulated pancreatic beta-cell function found that the ingestion of GBE for three months can decrease SBP and DBP. In these individuals, fasting plasma insulin and CRP were increased (Kudolo, 2000). A double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel design trial was performed in patients with peripheral artery disease aimed to assess the effects of the supplementation of 300 mg/day of EGb761 to treadmill walking time and cardiovascular measures. In older adult patients, EGb761 produced a modest non-significant increase in maximal treadmill walking time and flow-mediated vasodilation. The authors suggested that a longer duration might be needed to observe significant beneficial effects (Gardner et al., 2008).

Kuller el al. used the Ginkgo Evaluation of Memory Study (GEM) to assess CVD as a secondary outcome. The GEM study was a double-blind trial that randomized 3069 participants whose ages were over 75 years to 120 mg of EGb761 twice daily (240 mg/day) or placebo. Data indicated that EGb761 did not affect the originally assessed primary outcome—the development of dementia or Alzheimer's disease (DeKosky et al., 2008). Also, there were no differences in the incidence of myocardial infarction, angina pectoris, or stroke between the GBE and placebo groups. After 6 years of monitoring, the study concluded that GBE does not reduce total CVD mortality or CVD events (Kuller et al., 2010).

Several clinical trials to assess the protective effects of GBE in CVDs are still ongoing. A 12-weeks randomized, double-blind, phase 3 clinical trial aimed to further evaluate the safety and efficacy of Rinexin ® (Cilostazol 100mg, Ginkgo biloba leaf extract 80mg) which is widely used as an anti-platelet agent for the treatment of peripheral artery disease ( <"type":"clinical-trial","attrs":<"text":"NCT03318276","term_id":"NCT03318276">> NCT03318276 clinicaltrials.gov). Most recently, efficacy and safety of Ginkgo biloba pills for CHD patients with impaired glucose regulation will be assessed in a Phase 4 randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial ( <"type":"clinical-trial","attrs":<"text":"NCT03483779","term_id":"NCT03483779">> NCT03483779 clinicaltrials.gov). Twelve patients will be recruited for a test period of 58 weeks. Pills of five different GBEs will be to administered three times a day (Sun M. et al., 2018).

The therapeutic effect GBE appears to be more evident in combination with modern medicine. The analysis of 23 randomized clinical trials (involving 2,529 patients) showed that when combined with routine Western medicine, GBE was more effective at the relief of angina pectoris as compared to the routine medicine alone (Sun et al., 2015). In addition, due to its platelet aggregation inhibitory effects, the combination of GBE and modern medicine was reported to posses beneficial effects against acute cerebral ischemia. In that study, platelet aggregation was found to be significantly lower in patients treated with ticlopidine and EGb 761 as compared with patients treated with ticlopidine alone (Hong et al., 2013). Combination of EGb 761 also had increased therapeutic effect in patients with uncontrolled diabetes. Indeed, a randomized controlled trial showed that the combination of EGb 761 with metformin is more effective than metformin alone in improving the outcomes of patients with uncontrolled T2DM (Aziz et al., 2018).

The GBE therapeutic potential in managing CVDs has not been always clinically observed. Using data obtained from the GEM study database, Brinkley et al. concluded that GBE does not reduce BP or the incidence of hypertension in older men and women (Brinkley et al., 2010). In accordance, another study reporting the analysis of 9 randomized clinical trials (1012 hypertensive patients) concluded that more rigorous trials are needed to draw a conclusion on the efficacy of GBE in managing hypertension (Xiong et al., 2014).

Based on these and other studies, the efficacy of GBE, despite being reported in many studies, is best documented and observed when combined with other known medications for the management of CVDs.

Safety, Toxicity, and Side Effects of G. biloba

Taken orally at the typical dosage, GBE may cause mild adverse effects, principal among which are mild gastrointestinal upset, headache, dizziness, constipation, and allergic skin reactions. Higher dosages, however, can result in restlessness, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and weakness (Diamond and Bailey, 2013). Noticeably, the therapeutic employment of this herb is also linked to adverse cardiovascular events. Fifteen published case reports described a temporal association between GBE intake and serious bleeding events, including intracranial bleeding (Bent et al., 2005), an effect that may be attributed to the platelet-activating factor antagonism exerted by ginkgolides, bilobalides, and other constituents present in the extract (Izzo and Ernst, 2009). These major bleeding events, including subarachnoid and intracranial hemorrhage, have been mostly described during the concomitant use of gingko and antiplatelet and/or anticoagulant medications (Matthews, 1998). Therefore, it is recommendable to stop GBE intake at least 2 weeks before surgical procedures. Always because of its anti-platelet properties, it has been suggested that GBEs (including seeds and leaves) should be used with caution during pregnancy, particularly around labor, and during lactation (Dugoua et al., 2006). Several case reports described cardiac adverse events associated with Ginkgo biloba leaf extracts. For example, 2 weeks GBE intake (40 mg, three times daily) has been reported to develop ventricular arrhythmia in a 49-year-old subject with good health (Cianfrocca et al., 2002), a symptom resolved upon the discontinuation of GBE supplementation (Cianfrocca et al., 2002).

A randomized placebo-controlled, double-blind pilot study of GBE reported more ischemic stroke and transient ischemic attack cases in the GBE group as compared with the placebo. The study lasted 42-month 118 cognitively intact subjects randomized to standardized GBE or placebo and its aim was to measure the effect of GBE on cognitive decline (Dodge et al., 2008). Another case report, attributed the frequent nocturnal palpitations reported by a 35-year old woman taking GBE supplementation to GBE (Russo et al., 2011). In addition to clinical trials, Ginkgo biloba safety has also been assessed in vivo in rats. Dietary intake of GBE (0.5% extract) for 4 weeks has been reported to significantly reduce heart rate and blood flow velocity in tail arteries of old spontaneously hypertensive (SH) rats as compared to the control group (Tada et al., 2008). Thus, in the elderly population with hypertension, the use of GBE may need to be assessed for effects on heart rate (Mei et al., 2017).

Furthermore, some of the components (ginkgolic acids) of EGb761 have been reported to elicit severe allergic reactions. However, this allergic reaction is not present as long as the carboxylic acid group of ginkgolic acids is intact (Chan et al., 2007). Yet, contact with Ginkgo biloba plants is associated with severe allergic reactions, including erythema and edema (Chiu et al., 2002)

Food poisoning by Ginkgo biloba seeds has been reported in Japan and China, where the main symptoms were convulsion, vomiting, and loss of consciousness. The poisoning is primarily due to the neurotoxic compound 4′-O-methylpyridoxine (MPN, also known as ginkgotoxin) which interferes with pyridoxine (vitamin B6) metabolism, leading to serious neurological manifestations including neurotoxicity, seizures, and loss of consciousness (Wada et al., 1988 Wada, 2005). Ginkgotoxin is found in the ginkgo leaf at very low amounts. However, GBE is unlikely to contain this toxic component as ginkgotoxin is standardized to be too low in the extract (Arenz et al., 1996).

Several reports have described that GBE induces cytochrome P450 (CYP) in humans, shedding light on potential interactions between GBE and conventional drugs. Ginkgo biloba is known to decrease the plasma concentrations of omeprazole, ritonavir, and tolbutamide. It can interact with antiepileptics, acetylsalicylic acid, diuretics, ibuprofen, risperidone, rofecoxib, trazodone, and warfarin (Izzo and Ernst, 2009).

Considering that GBE is widely used in a plethora of diseases combined with the paucity of data from animal studies regarding GBE toxicity and carcinogenicity, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has performed a 2-year and 3-month toxicity and carcinogenicity study of GBE in B6C3F1/N mice and F344/N rats using different doses of GBE. The GBE used contained 24% flavonol glycosides and 6% terpene lactones, along with no more than five ppm ginkgolic acids. The study was performed by NIH National Toxicology Program (NTP) and concluded that GBE might elicit toxic and cancer-related consequences in rodents. The carcinogenic effects reported were stomach ulcers, organ modification including carcinogenic activity in the liver, liver and thyroid gland hypertrophy, liver hyperplasia, and hyperkeratosis (National Toxicology Program, 2013 Rider et al., 2014). These reports raised concerns about the safety of GBE. Following the NTP report, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) reported in 2014 that there is inadequate evidence in humans for the carcinogenicity of GBE (Grosse et al., 2013). Following this report, clinical and genomic safety of IDN 5933/Ginkgoselect ® Plus, a standardized GBE, was assessed in elderly subjects using a randomized placebo-controlled clinical trial. The treatment group was given 120-mg IDN 5933 twice-daily for 6 months. No adverse clinical effects or increase of liver injury markers were reported in the treatment group. Genomic testing revealed that there is no difference in micronucleus frequency or DNA breaks between the treated and placebo groups. The expression of genes known to be modulated in early carcinogenesis (c-myb, p53, and ctnnb1 [β-catenin]) was not significantly different between groups at the beginning or the end of the study (Bonassi et al., 2018). Taken together these results support the safety of IDN 5933 at the used doses for a duration of 6 months. Overall, there is still controversy about the safety of GBE for long-term use in human subjects and additional well-designed clinical trials that assess the safety and efficacy of GBE are much needed.


6. Arugula

Arugula, also known as rocket, belongs to the family of cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage, kale, and Brussel sprouts. Arugula leaves are tender with a slightly tangy mustard-like taste. Arugula’s origin traces back to the Mediterranean region and ever since the vegetable is believed to be a potent aphrodisiac.

Greeks and Romans from the 1st century A.D. used arugula to enhance libido and sexual performance. The Arabs used arugula’s leaves and seeds as a traditional remedy for poor sexual functions. A study [7] Mallah, E., Saleh, S., Rayyan, W. A., Dayyih, W. A., Elhajji, F. D., Mima, M., … Arafat, T. (2017). The influence of Eruca sativa (Arugula) on pharmacokinetics of Sildenafil in rats. Neuro endocrinology letters, 38, pp. 295-300. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28871716 published showed that the phytochemicals and nutrients in arugula help boost testosterone levels and sperm production in mice.

How To Use It:

  1. You can eat arugula leaves fresh.
  2. You can also add it to your leafy greens salad or any pasta dish. The nutrients are better absorbed when the vegetable is slightly cooked.

Where To Find It: Arugula can be bought in most supermarkets and grocery stores. Pick fresh, green arugula. It is important to keep arugula dry and refrigerated. To keep arugula green and dry, use a plastic bag with a dry paper towel in storing it. Properly stored arugula can go last for two weeks. Remember, do not freeze arugula.


Taxonomy/classification

The taxonomy of anacondas, according to the Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS), is:

Kingdom: Animalia Subkingdom: Bilateria Infrakingdom: Deuterostomia Phylum: Chordata Subphylum: Vertebrata Infraphylum: Gnathostomata Superclass: Tetrapoda Class: Reptilia Order: Squamata Suborder: Serpentes Infraorder: Alethinophidia Family: Boidae Genus: Eunectes Species:

  • Eunectes beniensis (Beni or Bolivian anaconda)
  • Eunectes deschauenseei (Dark-spotted anaconda)
  • Eunectes murinus (Green anaconda)
  • Eunectes notaeus (Yellow anaconda)

What WWF Is Doing

Tracking black rhinos in Namibia.

WWF launched an international effort to save wildlife in 1961, rescuing black rhinos—among many other species—from the brink of extinction. Thanks to persistent conservation efforts across Africa, the total number of black rhinos grew from 2,410 in 1995 to more than 5,000 today.

To protect black rhinos from poaching and habitat loss, WWF is taking action in three African rhino range countries: Namibia, Kenya, and South Africa. Together, these nations hold about 87% of the total black rhino population.

Expanding Black Rhino Range

Over time, habitat loss has led to isolated, high-density rhino populations. These populations have slow growth rates, which can cause numbers to stagnate and eventually decline. They also raise the risk of disease transmission. To ensure a healthy and growing black rhino population, rhinos from high-density areas must be moved to low density areas with suitable habitat. WWF is supporting these efforts and partnering with government agencies and other NGOs to establish new black rhino populations.

Tackling Wildlife Crime

Poaching is the deadliest and most urgent threat to black rhinos. WWF is working with government agencies and partners in Namibia, Kenya, and South Africa to support law enforcement agencies, develop and build on innovative tech solutions, and equip and train rangers to stop poachers.

  • In Namibia, WWF is leading a consortium of national NGOs to help implement the country&rsquos ambitious law enforcement strategy to combat wildlife trafficking. WWF also supports the Namibian government in its effort to update its plan to grow black rhino populations, in part by moving rhinos from parks with significant populations to others that historically held rhinos but currently do not&mdasha process known as translocation. We&rsquore also taking other security measures to protect both black and white rhinos, such as DNA sampling.
  • In Kenya, WWF works with rangers to stop poaching in high-risk areas. We help provide the proper training and technology to catch and deter poachers. WWF is also supporting the development of Kenya Wildlife Service&rsquos forensic lab and a DNA database called RhoDIS, which will be used to analyze DNA in criminal investigations to connect a poached animal with horn being sold.
  • In South Africa, WWF trains law enforcement agencies to address wildlife trafficking challenges. TRAFFIC, the world&rsquos largest wildlife trade monitoring network, has played a vital role in bilateral law enforcement efforts between South Africa and Vietnam. This has gone hand-in-hand with written commitments to strengthen border and ports monitoring as well as information sharing in order to disrupt the illegal wildlife trade bring perpetrators to justice.

Protecting and Managing Key Populations

WWF supports annual aerial population surveys at key sites such as Etosha National Park in Namibia. The surveys are critical for evaluating breeding success, deterring poachers, and monitoring rhino mortality. WWF is also working with partners to develop and implement cutting-edge technologies in Namibia, South Africa, and Kenya to closely monitor key populations. When paired with boots on the ground, innovative solutions like electronic identification and tracking tags, radio collars, drones, and camera traps provide us with the data we need to make important decisions for black rhino populations going forward. We install new thermal and infrared camera and software systems that can identify poachers from afar and alert park rangers of their presence.

Engaging Communities

Community support and engagement is a cornerstone of WWF&rsquos work, particularly in Namibia. Hand-in-hand with our Namibia partners, we assist communities to set up conservancies and help to foster the knowledge, skills, and capacity required to successfully govern their conservancies and manage their wildlife resources. These communal lands are now home to Africa&rsquos largest remaining free roaming black rhino population.

Community engagement will also play a role in South Africa, where we are looking to conserve black rhino through community governance, training, and identification of alternative livelihood opportunities.