Lily Of The Valley Essential Oil

Lily of the Valley is a herbaceous perennial plant native to England, North America, North Asia and Europe. Convallaria majalis (Lily of the Valley) bell-shaped, sweetly scented flowers bloom in early spring.

Lily of the Valley is antispasmodic, emetic, diuretic, laxative, purgative, cardiac tonic, sedative and antipyretic naturally.

This essential oil is an effective treatment for reducing scars, lightening skin tone, healing headaches, treating depression, emphysema and asthma. In addition, it has been used to reduce fever and lessen chest pain caused by spasms of the coronary arteries or by lack of oxygen in the heart muscle.

  • Breaks down kidney stones
  • Prevents water retention in the body
  • Helps to treat leprosy and swelling
  • Treats poisoning and alcoholism by causing vomiting
  • Regulates and improves digestive tract
  • Strengthens brain and rejuvenates a weak memory

Spiritual properties: inner peace, calmness, comfort, happiness.

Mystical properties: Stimulates the Psychic Faculties as well as treats harmful mental blockages and promotes advanced mental powers.

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One of the wonder plants of the century - Hoodia gordonii

This is the famous Hoodia gordonii (Gentianales - Apocynaceae), used in diet tablets today as a hunger suppressant and natural energy boost. It has been used for thousands of years by Xhomani Bushmen as an anorexant during hunting trips.

However, despite a relatively large body of evidence of the chemical make-up of the plant, peer-reviewed studies to provide scientific information on physiological effects of Hoodia gordonii are relatively sparse. The role of the pregnane glycoside P57—commonly accepted to be responsible for appetite suppression—has been questioned recently. Furthermore, a variety of physiological side-effects associated with consumption of the plant in extracted form questions its suitability for consumption.

Hoodia gordonii is a spiny succulent native to South Africa and southern Namibia. In the early stages only one stem is produced but at a later stage the plant starts branching. Mature plants can have as many as 50 individual branches and weigh as much as 30 kg. Plants under ideal conditions can attain a height of 1 m.

Flowers are borne on or near the terminal apex (top part of the plant). The flowers are large and have a carrion-like smell. Flowers vary in color from pale straw to dark maroon. 

References: [1] - [2] - [3]

Photo credit: ©Martin Heigan | Locality: Krugersdorp, Gauteng, South Africa (2005)

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Nerium oleander is in the milkweed family Apocynaceae. The Oleander plant has been cultivated for so long that botanists are uncertain of its origins, although Asia has been named as part of its native range. Oleander is also one of the most toxic common garden plants in cultivation today. All parts of the plant contain hazardous toxic compounds including Oleandrin, a cardiac glycoside. These compounds cause cardiac arrest and respiratory failure and make ingestion of any part of this plant potentially fatal.

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Nucleic acids and proteins are the most important macromolecules for our purposes, so this discussion of carbohydrates will be relatively short. There are just a few key things you need to know.

Carbohydrates are the most abundant macromolecules on Earth, and are composed of monosaccharides (simple sugars). Two monosaccharides (monomers) make up a disaccharide (polymer), joined by a glycosidic link—a covalent bond that forms (you guessed it) through a dehydration reaction. An example of a disaccharide is sucrose—ordinary sugar. Many monosaccharides make up a more complex polysaccharide, whose structure and function is determined by the sequence of monomers and the positions of the bonds between them. It’s important to note that in carbohydrates, polymers don’t have to be linear—they can branch out.

There are many different classes of carbohydrates that serve many functions—they can protect proteins, provide cell recognition, store energy…and in particular, they’re the main fuel for cellular work, and they can create strong, flexible structures like cell walls and cartilage.

The most common monosaccharide—and the most important for this series—is glucose, a six-carbon sugar that is of central importance to life. We’ll talk about how it’s synthesised later on (hint: it involves plants!).

Hepatica nobilis | ©Eduardo Marabuto    (Valle de Arán, Pyrenees, Spain)

Hepatica nobilis var. pyrenaica (Ranunculaceae) or H. pyrenaica, according to which botanist you ask. Is it commonly known as Liverleaf, Appleblossom, or simply Hepatica.

This is a mountain species found in Europe (this form is endemic to the Pyrenees) and known by its liver-shaped leaves (hence hepatica in the name) which are under the dead foliage in this picture.

The fresh plant is toxic but when dry contains anemonin, anthocyanins, flavonoids, glycosides and tannins. There are different fields of action in this plant, some accepted by traditional medicine and others only by the popular [source]. 

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Glycogen Metabolism
  • Glycogen is a readily accessible form of glucose. It breaks down far more rapidly than eg fat
  • It’s a long chain of glucose molecules held by a-1,4-glycosidic bonds
  • Found in high concentrations in the cytoplasm of skeletal muscle cells and hepatocytes (liver cells)
  • Glycogenesis: formation of glycogen Glycogenolysis: breakdown

In the liver

  • glycogenesis occurs when glucose is in excess
  • glycogenolysis occurs when glucose is required


  • glycogenesis is stimulated by insulin (produced when blood glucose concentration is high)
  • glycogenlysis is stimulated by glucagen (produced when BG is low) and adrenaline (fight or flight response)


Step one:

Glucose is phosphorylated by hexokinase (in muscle) or glucokinase (in liver)

  • Hexokinase has a much higher affinity for glucose than glucokinase
  • Allowing tissues to make greater use of glucose before the liver
  • Glucokinase (unlike hexokinase) is not inhibited by glucose-6-phosphate (the product)
  • This lack of feedback inhbition allows the liver to continue synthesising glycogen even when glycogen concentration is high

Step two:

Isomerisation of glucose-6-phosphate to glucose-1-phosphate, catalysed by phosphoglucomutase

  • reactions where a phosphate is moved are catalyzed by mutase enzymes

Step three:

Addition of glucose-1-phosphate to UDP (uridine diphosphate), a carrier

  • reaction is between glucose-1-phosphate and UTP (uridine triphosphate)
  • hydrolysis of the last phosphate in UTP drives the reaction
  • catalysed by UDP-glucose pyrophosphorylase 

Step four:

the activated glucose-UDP is added to the non-reducing carbon-4 end of a glycogen molecule, with the release of UDP

  • catalysed by glycogen synthase
  • which is the rate limiting (slowest) step
  • cells control production of glycogen by controlling this enzyme’s activity


Step one:

Removal of a glucose residue from glycogen chain

  • catalysed by glycogen phosphorylase
  • phsphorylysis  reaction

Step two:

Isomerisation of glucose-1-phosphate to glucose-6-phosphate (backwards to above!!)

  • catalysed by the same enzyme - phosphoglucomutase
  • direction of reaction depends on the relative concentrations of -1 and -6

Step three:

Dephosphorylation of glucose-6-phosphate to form glucose

  • catalysed by glucose-6-phosphotase
  • only occurs in the liver
  • in muscle cells it’s not needed as glucose-6-phosphate is a glycolytic intermediate and can be used as is
  • as muscle glycogen is a store only for itself, it doesn’t need to export glucose (unlike the liver)

Image: Ramadhan Abdulla holds cassava on his farm in Tanzania. © Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation/Jake Lyell

The BioCassava Plus Program: Biofortification of Cassava for Sub-Saharan Africa
Annual Review of Plant Biology Vol. 62: 251-272


More than 250 million Africans rely on the starchy root crop cassava (Manihot esculenta) as their staple source of calories. A typical cassava-based diet, however, provides less than 30% of the minimum daily requirement for protein and only 10%–20% of that for iron, zinc, and vitamin A.

The BioCassava Plus (BC+) program has employed modern biotechnologies intended to improve the health of Africans through the development and delivery of genetically engineered cassava with increased nutrient (zinc, iron, protein, and vitamin A) levels. Additional traits addressed by BioCassava Plus include increased shelf life, reductions in toxic cyanogenic glycosides [cyanide] to safe levels, and resistance to viral disease.

The program also provides incentives for the adoption of biofortified cassava. Proof of concept was achieved for each of the target traits. Results from field trials in Puerto Rico, the first confined field trials in Nigeria to use genetically engineered organisms, and ex ante impact analyses support the efficacy of using transgenic strategies for the biofortification of cassava.

Article Link

More: GMO-Compass Database - Cassava

Image Source: “3 Insanely Important Crops You’ve Never Heard Of” on Mental Floss

#cassava #Africa #GMOs #health #cyanide

Eyed Sea Cucumber | ©Eric Noora

Bohadschia argus (Holothuriidae), the Leopard sea cucumber, from Batangas, Philippines.

The Arguside A, an holostane-based triterpene glycoside with significant cytotoxicity against different human tumor cell lines, has been isolated from this species of sea cucumber (source).

Why does Digoxin toxicity result in increased automaticity?

Hey everyone!

Digitalis and other cardiac glycosides are known to cause an AV nodal delay.

Then why does too much Digoxin result in some arrhythmias that are due to increased automaticity?

Brady arrhythmias are explainable. But why tachy arrhythmias?

You see, cardiac glycosides reversibly inhibit the sodium-potassium-ATPase, causing an increase in intracellular sodium and a decrease in intracellular potassium. The increase in intracellular sodium prevents the sodium-calcium antiporter from expelling calcium from the myocyte, which increases intracellular calcium. The net increase in intracellular calcium augments inotropy.

Excessive intracellular calcium may cause delayed after-depolarizations, which may in turn lead to premature contractions and trigger arrhythmias. Cardiac glycosides shorten repolarization of the atria and ventricles, decreasing the refractory period of the myocardium, thereby increasing automaticity and the risk for arrhythmias.

That’s all!


Herbal Book of Spells: Aloe

Latin Names: Aloe vera (Liliaceae)

Common Names: Aloe


Tissues affected: mucous membranes, skin, liver, heart, spleen.

Parts Used: gel from the leaves, chopped leaves, powdered leaf

Forms Used: juice, gel, tincture,

Dosages: juice, for peptic ulcers, takes 50ml three times daily. Externally for burns and eczema, apply gel liberally twice daily. One half to one teaspoon of the powder in capsules or steeped in boiling water. 2tbs of gel mixed in with water three times daily.

Vitalist Actions: cool, moist, bitter

Clinical Actions: demulcent, emollient, vulnerary, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antifungal, laxative, astringent, purgative, bitter, choleretic, immunomodulant, alterative, tonic, anthelmintic.

Constituents: anthraquinones, resins, tannins, polysaccharides, aloectinB, anthropoids, bitter principles, chromosome-glycosides, barbaloin, isobarbaloin.

Primary Uses: aloe vera became popular in the 50’s, when its ability to heal burns, in particular, radiation burns was discovered. It’s an excellent first aid remedy to keep in the house for scrapes, scalds, and sunburn. The gel is useful for almost any skin condition that needs soothing and astringing, and it helps varicose veins to some degree. The protective and healing effect of aloe vera also works internally, and can be used for peptic ulcers and IBS. Makes an excellent laxative, generally producing bowel movements in 8 to 12 hours. At low doses the bitter properties of aloe stimulate the digestion, but at higher doses, bitter aloes are laxative and purgative. Aloe powder is a stronger purgative than rhubarb, and can be emetic.  The gel is used in Ayurveda, as one of the most important tonics for the female reproductive system, the liver, and for regulating pitta (fire). The powder is suitable for stubborn constipation, blood in stool, liver disorders, pink eye, headache, tinnitus from liver and gall bladder congestion. The addition of ginger provides an antidote to its cold nature while keeping its properties intact. In Ayurveda, aloe gel is thought to be good for all three humors.

In cats and dogs: useful in helping to treat canine breast tumors. Aloe vera, the internal pulp from sliced leaves is a curative in those tumors. Works as a vulnerary on cats better than it does on humans as a general skin treatment and for wounds.


Cautions: The powder is contraindicated during pregnancy. Nauseating taste.


Of Almonds, Hybrids, and Home Cyanide Tests

My hardy sweet almond (Prunus xpersicoides)–really a cross between a peach and an almond–has arrived!

Crossing almonds and peaches has traditionally been used to produce rootstock, but it is also a become a reliable method of making hardy almond trees for Northern Europe: there are numerous named cultivars, such as the Dutch ’Robijn’ hybrid.

Almonds aren’t a true nut, but are rather a stone fruit (a member of the Prunus genus). Next spring this tree will be awash in pink blossoms, and the thin peach-like drupes will split open, revealing hard-shelled sweet almonds in the pits.

Almonds are difficult to breed from seed, as when they exhibit retrograde characteristics, the pits can be deadly. Most wild almonds contain the glycoside amygdalin, which turns into hydrogen cyanide when the tissues of the seed are damaged. Ingesting 5-6 of these so-called “bitter almonds” can lead to sickness, or death. 

Instead of tasting the almonds to find out if they are sweet or bitter, there is a simple test that can be conducted at home to detect cyanide. The paper strips cost about $1.00 CAD each, and are easily purchased online. I have minimal trust in the label on my tree, because it used an incorrect binomial name to identify the plant in the first place, so I’ll definitely be testing the almonds before eating them!

Testing for Cyanide: PICSE Organic Chemistry
Cyanide detecting paper strips
: North America / Europe

#chemistry #prunus #fruit trees