BAEL : WOOD APPLE :Aegle marmelos

Bael is offered to Lord Shiva. “Lord Shiva , the lord of power “. The leaves ,the fruit is offered to him.

The leaves ,root , bark , seeds , fruits are all used in Ayurveda.

The fruit has a high nutritive value . It is a energy giving fruit. It contains protein , fibre, calcium, phosphorus, iron , carotene , thiamine, riboflavin, niacin , vitamin C and copper. It contains 600 mg of potassium in 100 gms of the ripe fruit , it is the highest level amongst all the fresh fruits available in India.

The fruit pulp when taken with water or curd treats diarrhoea. If taken with warm milk treats constipation. The fruit is good to treat stomach ailments.

According to Ayurveda, bael has been reported to have preventive and curative actions against diabetes. Some believe that consumption of two tender leaves of bael per day keeps diabetes away. These are particularly effective if taken with two tender leaves of neem.

Bael is good for prevention of baldness.

It is found in most of North Indian states in wild or semi wild conditions. The agriculture researchers of various agricultural universities have improved the quality of Bael fruit so that it can be consumed by most of the people. A full grown tree can produce upto 150 to 200 fruits on an average. It is so economical.

Bael fruit can be consumed as such or as a nutritious drink . One big fruit can be made into 5 litres of a drink. India has treasures of nutrients in these local flora. These type of fruits and drinks made from these fruits can be provided to the children and the teenagers of the lower socio-economic group who are malnourished or to the people who are bound to eat once a day.

Excess of bael fruit can harm the liver .

Our national flower :Pride of India :Lotus

Lotus is an aquatic herb. It grows in ponds over India. The flowers are truly beautiful. The various parts of the plant are used as food or medicine. According to religious beliefs a man should be like a lotus his head held high towards the sun and his feet towards the world of experience. Or it can be stated as a man should work without attachment , dedicated to God untouched by sin like muddy water. Goddess Lakshmi , Lord Vishnu , Goddess Ganga all are portrayed standing or sitting on the lotus flowers.

The lotus has the remarkable ability to regulate the temperature of its flower to within a narrow range just as humans and other warm blooded do. An individual lotus can live upto thousand years and has the rare ability to revive into activity after stasis.

The lotus root contains carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins and dietary fibre and minerals like calcium, iron , magnesium , etc. The root or rhizomes may have diuretic, antidiabetic , anti inflammatory properties.

The lotus stem has a high nutritional value. It contains high amount of starch. It is rich in certain constituents which have been shown scientifically in recent years to be protective against diseases like ischemic heart disease, cancer , anaemia, constipation, piles, bile stones and against certain environmental pollutants.

Dry lotus stem are good source of protein, minerals, fibre, calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, copper. The lotus stem may also contain adequate amount of other trace elements such as manganese, molybdenum, selenium, chromium and zinc. The stems are eaten as vegetable. It is very important to wash the stems thoroughly as it might contain parasites. Young stems are pickled.

Dry lotus stem helps in the prevention of baldness.

Leaves are so large that they are used to pack rice or other food. Leaves are used to cure hematemesis , epistaxis and haematuria. Dried leaves are used to make lotus tea. Young leaves are used as vegetable.

The leaf stalks are also eaten.

Flowers are used to cure diarrhoea, cholera, fever, hyperdipsia. The flower petals are eaten or are used for garnishing. The stamens are dried and used to make tea.

Seeds are either cooked or roasted . Roasted seeds can be used as a substitute for coffee. The seeds are good source of protein and unsaturated fatty acids, carbohydrates, vitamin, calcium, iron , zinc , phosphorus and other trace elements. It also provide water soluble polysaccharide, alkaloids, flavonoids , superoxide dismutase and other bioactive compounds , vitamin B1 , B2 , B6 and E. It may cure high blood pressure and gallstones.

Lotus seed’s water soluble polysaccharides have also been shown to promote lymphocyte transformation and enhance the immune function.

The seed may have anti aging properties as it contains L -isoaspartyl methyltransferase.

The seeds contains kaempeferol , a flavonoid which is anti inflammatory . It is known to help in repairing gum tissue.

The astringent properties may help in treating kidney problems.

It also helps in maintaining the energy levels of the body.

It may relieve from diarrhoea.

It may help to improve the health of spleen.

It also fights insomnia or restlessness due to its calming effects.

It may cause allergic reactions. Patients suffering from diabetes, cholesterol problems, psychiatric problems should avoid eating the nuts.

Lotus stems and nuts can be given to children. It can be a good source of energy and protein for them and it may be economical but due to globalisation we have damaged our ecosystem. Most of the big lakes have been used to make high rise apartments. We can be like lotus but we are not. We can try to recover from this damage for our better future.

BANANAS

Coconut is an essential part of any religious function but if coconut is not available, banana comes for rescue. Banana itself is very important part of religious functions and wedding function. The whole bunch is offered to God. People worship the tree to get the benefits of the Jupiter planet or Brihaspati. It is offered to lord Vishnu. It was derived by man in prehistoric times from wild bananas which grew in the regions stretching from India to New Guinea. Over 4.5 million tonnes of fruits are produced annually.

Banana is perhaps the cheapest and the most extensively eaten fruits in the tropics. There are many varieties, each with a distinctive flavour. It supplies more calories than other fresh fruits. Ripe banana contains carbohydrates in the form of sucrose, fructose and glucose which are readily digested.

The whole plant is very useful . The flower , the leaves ,the stem ,the fruit all are used in food . The nature has made amazing items. I feel really sorry for the people who never feel the importance of food.

Raw banana is cooked and eaten. The digestion and absorption of banana depend on the starch content .

Bananas prevent from cataracts.

Feeling a bit anxious, try eating a banana. It contains 5-hydroxytryptamine,( a serotonin , a mood enhancing neurotransmitter) ,vitamin B6 , small amounts of tryptophan, these may promote a relaxed state of mind. This may ward off depression, anxiety , stress , chronic fatigue syndrome and insomnia. Tryptophan stimulate the production of serotonin. Eating complex carbohydrates enhance the absorption of tryptophan.

Vitamin B6 facilitate communication between muscle and nerves. It also help to make red blood cells. It may also be useful in preventing the moodiness associated with premenstrual syndrome. Bananas are excellent source of vitamin B6. Cooking partially destroys this vitamin so it is best to eat banana uncooked.

Eat bananas to regulate levels of hormones implicated the development of acne lesions. It may reduce the outbreak.

Studies suggest that sugar molecules in bananas called fructooligosaccharides (FOS ) encourage beneficial bacterial growth in the intestine. This “friendly bacteria “may help to reduce toxins produced by unfriendly flora in the colon and improve nutrient absorption.

Banana is considered to be an antidote against opium poisoning.

Banana is diuretic.

Pectin is heart healthy.

Herbal tea made of plantain reduce cough , hoarseness, whooping cough.

After an episode of diarrhoea, a BRAT diet is recommended. The diet consists of Banana Rice Applesauce Toast. Bananas are easily digested and contain high levels of potassium which helps replace the electrolytes you lose when you have diarrhoea. A high banana diet probably increases the butyric acid concentration in the colon , this may control diarrhoea by inhibiting the growth of B.coli. The soluble fiber pectin is also helpful in controlling diarrhoea. It helps to absorb excess fluid in the digestive tract. It also slows down transit time in the digestive tract and add bulk to stools. Cooked bananas make pectin more available therefore it is best to eat cooked raw bananas. It is also useful in dysentery.

In some constipated people, bananas acts as a mild laxative.

They can be given as a source of calories in a non residue diet , for example, in diarrhoea and ulcerative colitis.

The fruit is in relief of dry cough arising from the throat or chest.

Banana is also prescribed in urinary problems involving the bladder.

Banana contains potassium lowering blood pressure and possibly diminishing blood clots and preventing strokes. Eat a day helps to deal with heart and circulation problems.

Research links high potassium intake with a reduced risk for kidney stones so a banana a day is useful.

A lack of minerals such as magnesium, potassium and calcium is probably the biggest cause of nighttime leg cramps. Eat banana to solve the problem.

Apply the inside of a banana peel to a wart on the sole of the foot and secure it with a bandage.

To help swollen feet , try eating bananas. They are a natural source of potassium which helps relieve fluid retention.

During the worst phase of the flu , you probably won’t have an appetite at all. But when you are ready to make the transition from liquids to more substantial fare , put the emphasis on bland starchy food. Bananas are excellent choice. For a refreshing dessert, peel and freeze very ripe bananas, puree and have it.

Banana contains copper.

Banana makes a nurturing conditioner. Mix one crushed banana with one tablespoon of avocado and massage the paste into hair and scalp. Cover hair with a plastic wrap and towel, leave for some time, rinse hair with warm water and wash with a mild shampoo.

The leaves are not eaten as such but raw food wrapped in the leaves makes aromatic and tasty dishes.

Hot food served on banana leaves are really far more better options than styrofoam or plastic plates.

Squeeze the liquid from fresh leaves of the plantain, dab the juice directly onto blackheads and pimples with a cotton wool.

Sprinkle freshly squeezed plantain herb juice on a cotton cloth and place the cloth on the forehead like a headband to relieve from headache.

The juice of the plant is prescribed in certain nervous disease such as hysteria and epilepsy.

Crush a plantain leaf between the fingers and press it onto the site of insect sting.

Steamed banana leaves are used for dressing burn wounds.

Cooked banana flowers and banana stem can be eaten by diabetics.

The juice of the flowers is considered to be useful in dysmenorrhoea (painful mensuration) and menorrhagia (excessive mensuration ).

It is believed in Ayurveda that the stem juice is an effective agent to dissolve the renal stones and stones in bladder. A special variety of banana found in Karnataka and North Kerala is very effective.

Banana can be a potential troublemaker for the child by the onset of colic if the mother eats .

Plantain flower and green plantain contains good oxalic acid content so it is advisable to consume it in moderation.

A high banana diet results in a rise in its urinary excretory product, 5-hydroxyindolacetic acid (5-HIAA).

Banana is not for people suffering from ischaemic heart disease, diabetes and obesity.

Enjoy eating a banana every day. It will help to start an energetic day. A banana and a glass of milk with a whole wheat bread is an ideal breakfast for a school going child.

Kalpa vriksha aka COCONUT “Tree that provides the necessities of life”

Coconut tree is “kalp vriksha “, worshipped since time immemorial. Kalp vriksha means the tree that provides the necessity of life. Found in the coastal areas of India, the whole tree gives its parts to fulfil the human requirements. Fresh coconut water quenches the thirst of the people living in the sea shores. The fresh coconut provides sufficient energy to curb the hunger. The leaves, coir , etc are used for various purposes. Therefore it is offered to God. Without it the religious ceremonies are incomplete. Fishermen offer coconut to the sea to celebrate the beginning of the new fishing season. Coconut is placed over the opening of the pot to represent a womb in weddings. Its offered to God before any new initiative .

The grated fresh coconut is used in the preparation of puddings, sweets , curries and chutneys.

Coconut water is a mild diuretic, with honey it is a tonic. It is good for urinary disease, nervousness and fatigue.

A mature coconut may yield upto 225 gms of kernel supplying about 1000 kcal.

A tender coconut yields 500 to 900 ml water. It is safest and sterile drink as it is not likely to be contaminated with pathogens. During the second world war, coconut water was used as intravenous fluid.

The pH of coconut water is 5.6 and the nutrients present are glucose, fructose, inulin , proteins, potassium, sodium, calcium, magnesium, chloride, phosphate and sulphate.

Typhoid fever and other salmonella infections have been traced occasionally to desiccated coconut. Dried kernel is less likely to be contaminated.

Dried coconut contains about 70% oil. It is easily digested. It is extensively used in the preparation of vegetable ghee and margarine. Unlike other oils, coconut oil is poor in unsaturated acids. Oleic and linoleic acids are present only to the extent of about 9 per cent. The remaining 91 per cent is saturated fatty acids characterised by the presence of a high percentage of lauric and myristic acids.

Coconut cake is a byproduct of coconut oil industry. It provides a nutritious mash for feeding milch cows to increase the quantity and nutritive value of milk.

Coconut sap or juice is obtained by tapping or cutting the stalk of the young flower bunches of coconut. The main constituent of the fresh juice is sucrose. It is rich in ascorbic acid. The juice in the fresh state is sweet toddy or neera.

Make a natural coloured lip gloss by mixing coconut oil, almond oil , beeswax, cocoa butter , and red food colouring.

Apply moisturiser made of coconut oil. It is superb moisturiser for dry skin and mature skin. Coconut milk is a good soak up moisturising lotion.

Coconut may cause allergy.

Eat coconut in moderation, it is rich in energy. Drink coconut water to hydrate yourself but like all the food it has to be consumed in moderation. Drinking coconut water after sunset might increase water retention creating a feeling of heaviness. Enjoy eating coconut chutney, nariyal laddoo , daab chingri , etc but too much of it might help in weight gain .

NEEM

Neem is a symbol of strength. The tall branches, the green leaves, the bright yellow blossom. The whole plant is full of benefits. The benefits are mentioned in Ayurveda.

Till now, many people use neem branches in the morning to brush their teeth. Grains and pulses are stored in the containers with neem leaves. Woollens are stored with neem leaves to protect from silk moths or silverfish. Neem water is used to clean homes , cattle sheds . Neem husk is used as manure. Girls apply neem paste as face pack. Teenagers take a teaspoon of neem tonic to get rid of pimples and as a blood purifier. It is too bitter but there is no better option than beautiful skin. So neem is a heritage plant taking care of everyone.

Leaves have been found to contain Quercetin, Nimbosterd. Both of these are found in the dried flowers. The trunk bark has been shown to contain Nimbinin , Nimbina , Nimbidin and Margosine. The heartwood contains Nimatone . The neem seeds contain Azidirachtin and Salannin. Neem oil contains fatty acids.

It is effective against many skin conditions like eczema, scabies, seborrhoeic dermatitis, boils , sores , ulcers.

It is effective against bleeding gums and pyorrhoea.

Neem is Anti fungal.

Neem is Anti malarial.

It is Anti parasitic.

Neem has Anti tuberculosis action.

Nimbin has Anti allergic reaction.

It fights ulcer.

It is Anti inflammatory. OTC medicine damages the stomach lining but neem reduces the inflammation without damaging the lining.

It fights bacterial infection.

It cures Fever.

It fights Cardiovascular disease.

It is a very effective family planning device.

It controls insects.

It helps fight liver problems.

It cures intestinal worms.

It acts as an appetiser. Reliefs from gastrointestinal problems.

It is an effective antispasmodic agent.

Neem oil is effective against leprosy.

Useful in Diabetes.

Neem is applied on injured joints and Rheumatic joints.

Neem has good amount of calcium , fibre , iron. The leaves are too bitter so taking the leaves is bit tricky. The fresh leaves are available in the spring season. Cook with brinjal to decrease the bitter taste and eat with rice. It will definitely cure from the skin problems and other health problems.

TULSI

Tulsi or the basil. A plant which is worshipped since time immemorial. Indians do not consider as a herb but it is a plant which is worshipped. A plant which is worshipped as a goddess , taken care of like an individual. The leaves are air purifier. It is considered so powerful that it is given on cooked food and drinking water at the time of eclipse, the plant is placed near dead body. It is a part of worship. And the amazing fact is on a certain day wedding of Tulsi takes place.

Tulsi green tea or tulsi leaves in milk tea gives a good aroma and flavour. It is offered to Gods and the “prasad”is chewed. The leaves are taken with honey by the singers to improve their sweet voice. Actually, it prevents us from many health problems.

Tulsi gets relief from

Gastrointestinal disorders

Lung disorders

Heart disorders

Fever

Kidney problems

Headache

Influenza

Malaria

Intestinal worms

Headache

Gout

Catarrah

Bronchitis

Influenza

Cough

Viral fevers

Neuralgia

Ringworm infections

Earache

Hearing Impairment

Gastric ulcers

It can be used as mouthwash.

Use as a natural nasal spray.

Take tulsi tea. Add cardamom, cloves and cinnamon, ginger , black pepper, saffron for the added benefits.

But excess of tulsi can increase the production of ulcers.

So, worship it , nurture it, keep as an indoor plant as an air purifier. Break the flower buds and stored in tea leaves container and enjoy the drink .

POPPY SEEDS

Politically, India is divided into many states and all the states are unique. They are unique in their language, costume, traditions and of course the food. They are totally different but connected with unique similarities.

For instance, Bengal is famous for its love for fish. It is the vital ingredient of their cuisine. But on some days and for some people, fish is restricted so what do they do? Interesting part of the culture is that fish or meat is offered to God but onion and garlic is prohibited so how do they cook? They depend on a spice for the rescue. That spice is poppy seeds.

Poppy seeds is an integral part of the vegetarian cooking. It is used in Kashmir. In Himachal Pradesh , it is used in Kullu siddu , paratha , femada and many other. In extreme South of India, poppy seeds has found its place in Chettinad chicken. It is used in Andhra cuisine as well.

In many areas , poppy cultivation is banned due to the production of opium from it .

But , otherwise , poppy seeds add a taste and has numerous health benefits. It has good amount of vitamin B , calcium, iron , magnesium , manganese, phosphorus and potassium.

Poppy seeds may take care of

Asthma

Constipation

Cough

Diarrhoea caused by infection

Difficulty sleeping

And to diagnose vasicoenteric fistula

May help prevent some type of cancer from developing.

Poppy seed oil is used to make soap, paint and varnish.

The outer coat of poppy seeds can contain morphine so excess of it can be injurious to health. Excess can block the bowel movements.

People who are allergic to poppy seeds may be allergic to hazelnut, rye , kiwi , sesame or buckwheat.

So enjoy the spice in moderation and I am sure there are no delicious dishes like Aloo posto (potatoes in poppy seed paste ) , jheenge posto (ridge gourd) , bati chochori , shukto ( mixed vegetable in poppy paste) . Welcome to India, visit West Bengal, you will definitely love the food.

TAMARIND :A SPICE ? OR A FRUIT ?

How many of you remember those lickable moment of eating tamarind and getting scolded for it. Tamarind chutney is inseparable from pakodas , samosas , dahi bhalle , tikkis , papri chats and many more.

Tamarind is really tasty and nutritious. It is the major ingredient of sambhar , rasam and south Indian dishes.

Tamarind connects North India to South India.

T.indica is a cheap and easily available plant. The whole plant has nutritional benefit. The root ,body , fruit , seeds is used as medicine and has industrial use as well. Tamarind fruit is a rich source of essential amino acids except tryptophan , pectin, organic acids , minerals, polyphenols , flavonoids , phytochemicals and vitamins. It contains phenolic compounds like catenins, procynadin B2 , epicatechin, tartaric acid, mucilage, pectin, arabinose,xylose , galactose, glucose,uronic acid, triterpene. The seeds have good amount of protein so it can be used in consumable form where protein malnutrition is common. It has many health benefits in traditional medicine. It can also be used for treatment of many ailments.

It may be used as a laxative because of its high malic acid , potassium and tartaric acid content.

The dried seeds have antioxidant properties.

For diarrhoea, the leaves are useful. For constipation, the fruit is useful. For abdominal pain , the soft bark is useful.

Tamarind fruit cause smooth muscle relaxation via calcium channel blockage. In this way it helps in diarrhoea.

The seeds extract may be effective against renal cell cancer and acute nephrotoxicity.

It may be able to protect from peptic ulcer.

It has been reported that tamarind is effective in allergic asthma and cough via antihistaminic , adaptogenic and mast cell stabilizing effects.

The xyloglucan obtained from tamarind seeds may serve as suitable media for degenerated nerves and may aid nerve regeneration. Xyloglucan is suggested as a natural additive compound in sun cream because it has immunoprotective and DNA protective effect from ultraviolet damage.

Mixture obtained from bark and leaves help in wound healing.

The polysaccharide in T.indica seed may be used in eye drops to increase its effective time period because of its mucoadhesive properties. The mixture with hyaluronic acid in xerophthalmia and with timolol it decreases intra ocular pressure.

Tamarind fruit increase the iron bioavailibility.

Tamarind is hypolipedimic , anti atherosclerotic , antioxidant, immunomodulatory effect.

Tamarind fruit is antiparasitic , antimicrobial, antifungal, antiviral, antinematodal. Antibacterial properties is due to its lupeol content. The bark extract has shown inhibitory effect on Salmonella typhii.

The leaves, seeds and other parts of the plant has mild anti inflammatory effects has been seen. Polyphenol and flavonoid content of T.indica associated with anti inflammatory and antinociceptive effects.

In acute alcohol induced liver toxicity, the leaves showed anti apoptotic and liver protecting effect. It causes membrane stabilisation and decreases glutathione consumption. Additionally, it prevents CASP -3 activation and DNA fragmentation and causes histopathologic amelioration.

Tamarind fruit has weight control effect.

Tamarind has anti diabetic effect.

The plant and the fruit is effective in fluoride toxicity.

Children are often scolded for eating too much tamarind. The raw fruit is not easily digested and causes stomach pain. Too much of it can cause dental erosion. It should be boiled in water and then used in the culinary preparation. So it is better to use in moderation like any other foodstuffs. Ibuprofen and acetyl salicylic acid when used with T.indica increase their bioavailibility and increase the blood levels of them.

At this time when pollution level is too high and deforestation is a major problem, tamarind tree can be planted for the rescue. It is such a wonderful tree which gives all its part for the health care. It’s not just a spice, enjoy tamarind fruit , sow the seeds in the garden and enjoy the benefits but consult a health professional for the proper guidance.

SUN :THE POWERHOUSE; but are we using the power?

India is the place of Gods. We see God in every being ,things ,places. We worship and we worship the Sun , the most powerful heavenly body. We do Surya namaskar , we offer him water , we keep fast for him and we pray him for our health. Why ? Because SUN gives us the strength, the power ,the energy and the FOOD. It also provides us with the “sunshine vitamin” , VITAMIN D.

Ever wondered why dandruff tends to be less severe in summer. It’s because direct ultraviolet light has an anti inflammatory effect on scaly skin conditions.

But are we using the valuable sunshine ? No! in this modern world, NO. Actually , we are so engrossed for ME that we don’t have time for ourselves. Most of us leave the house early and come home late , travel either by public transport or cars , work in air conditioned offices and by chance if we go out on a sunny day, use sunscreens or carry an umbrella to protect ourselves from being tanned or wrinkles. In short , we are neglecting the sunshine and becoming deficient of many vital nutrients.

All vertebrates, including humans , obtain most of their daily vitamin D requirements from casual exposure to sunlight. Solar ultraviolet rays penetrate the skin where they convert 7-dehydrocholestrol to precholecalciferol , which undergoes rearrangement of its double bond to form cholecalciferol. Latitude, season, time of day as well as the integrity of the atmospheric ozone layer influence the amount of rays reaching the earth’s surface and thereby alter the cutaneous production of cholecalciferol.

The “sunshine vitamin ” , Vitamin D is important for the absorption of CALCIUM and PHOSPHORUS. It assists in regulating blood levels of calcium and phosphorus and is essential for the maintenance of healthy cartilages and bones. It is a fat soluble vitamin and the body creates it when the sun’s ultraviolet ray strikes the skin for about 10 to 15 minutes a day. Vitamin D is a collective term for a group of compounds which includes ergocalciferol (D2), cholecalciferol (D3),and the dihydrotachysterols (DHT2 &DHT3) , together with their biologically active metabolites.

Dietary vitamin D is absorbed together with fat from the intestine. Thus, in fat malabsorption, vitamin D absorption is reduced. It is stored mainly in liver.

Vitamin D enhances bone strength. The vitamin has been shown to hinder the breakdown of bone and the progression of osteoarthritis. Population studies link low levels of vitamin D with an elevated risk for osteoarthritis. Elderly women with low blood levels of vitamin D may have an elevated risk for osteoarthritis in the hip.

In the earlier times in India , everyone was not lucky enough to get the valuable sunshine, osteomalacia was common among women, particularly those in “purdah”. The reason for their problems were poor diet , low intake of milk , exposure to sunlight, repeated pregnancy and prolonged lactation.

The deficiency of vitamin D in children during the period of active skeletal growth causes rickets which results from the defective mineralisation of the ends of the growing bones.

Studies show that postmenopausal women with a good intake of calcium and vitamin D have the lowest risk for osteoporosis related bone loss and fractures.

Vitamin D is essential for proper calcium absorption and research findings suggest that it may be particularly important for obese individuals who may have reduced levels of bioavailable vitamin D. Excess body fat store this fat soluble vitamin, making it unavailable for its healthful activities including strengthening the skeleton. So it is advisable to shed off the excess weight.

Low serum levels of vitamin D have been associated with psoriasis. With regular doses of sun , psoriasis sufferers improve.

Vitamin D may help treatment with SAD (seasonal affective disorder)

Vitamin D work in tandem to improve the health of the skin. It may play a part in suppressing premenstrual acne and oily skin.

Some of the packaged milk is fortified with vitamin D. Egg yolk , dairy products, fishes such as salmon, mackerel , sardines, tuna are the natural source . Studies have shown that one teaspoon per day of cod liver oil may help alleviate symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis by providing the body with substantial amount of vitamin D and A. But , please note, both vitamin A and D can be toxic in large amount so limit the intake of any supplement to only a teaspoon. Too much of supplement can damage the liver.

In this modern world , many commercial preparations of vitamin D are available along with calcium salts. Like other fat soluble vitamins, vitamin D can be stored in the body.

But massive vitamin D therapy can be harmful. With increasing doses of vitamin D , the serum calcium , serum phosphorus level rises resulting in abnormal calcification in the kidneys, blood vessels and other organs. The most common symptoms are loss of appetite (which may prompt the mothers to give more vitamins ), nausea , thirst , vomiting and constipation and later impaired kidney functions. Don’t get too much vitamin D if suffering from kidney stones.

Start the day with sunshine, admire the sun as without it no life can thrive , celebrate pongal , uttarayan , makar sankranti , bihu and many more festivals , bask in the morning sun daily only for ten minutes so that no supplements are needed. Eat an whole egg or fatty fish or krill oil to keep your bones healthy and for the vegetarian people sunshine is the best source alongwith a glass or two of vitamin D fortified milk.

SAFFRON : The Royal spice

Saffron is one of the most expensive spices in the world. It consists of rich gold or yellowish red stigmas of the flower of C.sativus. 75000 saffron blossoms are needed to produce a gram of saffron spice. The cultivation of saffron is a traditional art. It involves a large amount of labour. It’s annual production is around sixteen thousand kilograms in India. The state of Jammu and Kashmir tops the list of the saffron growing states in India. It has one of the unique and delicate flavour which cannot be compared with any other spice.

Saffron is an integral part of Indian cuisine, adding taste and colour to rice , pulao , kheer , laddoos , milk , halwa , sweets lamb , etc.

Saffron is a natural medicine and a cosmetic . It is used since classical times. It’s high cost limits it’s uses. Saffron contains a glycoside, crocin , which is its chief colouring principle. The flavour and spice value are due to the volatile and fixed oils.

It may be an important disease fighting spice. Contains crocetin and carotenoids.

It may fight –

Asthma , cough , whooping cough , fever , melancholia, and works as an expectorant.

It can be a treatment for depression and insomnia.

It may be the treatment for Alzheimer’s disease.

It may be a treatment for ischaemic heart disease , atherosclerosis and cancer.

It may help to ease flatulence and heartburn , enlargement of liver and spleen.

In Ayurvedic medicine , it is used to heal arthritis, impotencyand infertility.

It may ease with premenstrual syndrome and menstrual cramps.

It is used as an aphrodisiac.

It is an expensive spice , it has to be used in small amount. Using it in large doses is harmful and may interfere with health.