Saturday, 17 February 2018

Recipes Project - TALES FROM THE ARCHIVES: LOVE MAGIC IN EIGHTEENTH-CENTURY RUSSIA

13/02/2018 LISA SMITH LEAVE A COMMENT In her post on Russian love magic, Elena Smilianskaia reflects on the cultural meaning of love spells–specifically, anxieties surrounding feelings that were out of control. Romantic love, it seems, was thought to be a potentially dangerous emotion. B By Elena Smilianskaia 'For a Love Potion' M. V. Nesterov (1888) (www.artcontext.info) ‘For a Love Potion’ M. V. Nesterov (1888) (www.artcontext.info) Love magic has existed in human history from the very start, and it continues to exist today – the Recipes Project has already featured some fifteenth-century English love spells. It is not very difficult to find a person who guarantees a client ‘true’ love potions and very effective love spells in any city of the world. The texts that ancient and contemporary magicians use in their ‘craft’ have a lot of commonalities, including: A desire that a love object looks at you and will ‘never tire of looking’ A desire that a love object forgets all his/or her relatives, primarily a father and a mother, and thinks only about you A desire that a love object can neither eat nor drink in his/her love fever A love fever being compared with madness, or with fire. So if we state that all of these concepts from love spells are the same for different cultures and historical periods, then we must conclude that human expressions of love passion do not dramatically change over time and it is hardly possible to find a specific transition in the sphere of love. Alternatively, we must try to compare cases of using magic in love and verbal descriptions of love feelings for each concrete period and specific culture to prove that we can talk about the transformation and the evolution of love spells (although very slowly and primarily in the external sphere, in ‘the clothes of love’). I prefer the second way. In eighteenth-century Russian magic texts a person who has fallen in love can find not only a description of their extreme feelings but a hope that magic would either help to overcome this ‘sinful passion’ or to make the object of their passion share a love. It also helped to comprehend why one’s affection so influenced human life and behavior. There are cases in which an individual was sure that love magic was definitely the origin of an otherwise inexplicable passion: one example that I like very much comes from 1740, when a peasant named Vasiliy Gerasimov at last understood why his daughter lived with a church sexton Maxim Dyakonov: he found Maxim’s love spells. By 1740, Vasiliy’s daughter had already had two babies with Maxim, but only a sheet of paper with the text of a love spell explained everything… 'The Sorcerer at the Wedding' V. M. Maksimov (1875) (WikiCommons) ‘The Sorcerer at the Wedding’ V. M. Maksimov (1875) (WikiCommons) It is also notable that very often love itself was considered to be an illness and was cured the same way: not only by a witch or a sorcerer, but by an ordinary healer. It was also thought that love spells might cause diseases in a human body (there are some court cases mentioning that a woman under the effect of love magic ‘swelled up’ and suffered from physical pain and only counter-magic rituals could help her). In a lot of situations when a woman became a klikusha (a kind of witch), the community was convinced that somebody (a man of course!) had wanted to bewitch the woman, making her unable to resist passion and evil intentions. Magic was always suspected when feelings were out of control. For example, when in 1737 a servant-maid named Ustinya Grigorieva fell in love with a soldier, she considered her ‘great pangs’ of melancholy to be magical in origin. In her testimony during the trial she described her actions. She reported that she had thought: ‘this soldier or somebody else has bewitched her?’ and so she went to the sorcerer Masey who read a spell over wine, put an unknown root into it and gave the wine to Ustinya to drink – and… she became free of her love pangs and the feeling of love itself. Condemned by the Orthodox Church, passion and erotic love in traditional Russian culture were considered for a very long time to be sinful, demonic, and therefore connected with magic. But in eighteenth-century Russia, magic provided a way for people to comprehend the origins of passion, and its influence on human behavior, as well as the means to control that behaviour.

Ethnopharmacology in the work of the British botanist Arthur Francis George Kerr (1877 - 1942).

Pharmazie. 2017 Jan 10;72(1):58-64. doi: 10.1691/ph.2017.6817. Helmstädter A. Abstract Reports on traditional use of medicinal plants may be used as starting points for phytochemical and pharmacological research. As has recently been shown, publications, letters, diaries and reports of exploring botanists are a valuable source of historical ethnopharmacological information. In this study, the heritage of the British botanist Arthur Francis George Kerr (1877-1942), mainly working in Thailand, was screened for information about traditionally used medicinal plants. Information given was compared to state-of-the-art scientific knowledge about these species. Many historical uses could be confirmed, some did not, while a number of species reported to be traditionally used have not been sufficiently investigated so far. These, strongly suggested for further research, include Kurrimia robusta, Alpinia siamensis, Amomum krervanh (A. testaceum), Trichosanthes integrifolia (= Gymnopetalum scabrum), Croton cumingii (= C. cascarilloides), Lobelia radicans (= L. chinensis), Willughbeia sp., Nyctanthes arbor-tristis, Pluchea indica, Heliotropum indicum, as well as some fungi and woods. PMID: 29441899 DOI: 10.1691/ph.2017.6817

Constructing Scientific Communities S. J. Mackie and the Geologist

Constructing Scientific Communities Posted: 16 Feb 2018 04:11 AM PST The life of a periodical editor in the nineteenth century was not an occupation for the easily discouraged. Financial precarity and the worry of finding sufficient material for each issue were constant struggles for many, particularly as the print market became increasingly crowded. Periodicals were often short-lived, lucky to exist for more than a few years before collapsing under the strain. The career of Samuel Joseph Mackie (1823-1902), editor of the Geologist (1858-1864), is a particularly remarkable example of such a career. There is a great deal we do not know about the life of S. J. Mackie. No known image of him exists, and we must surmise much from the scattered traces of his chequered path through the world of scientific publishing. Born in Folkestone, Mackie’s interest in geology began from an early age. By his late twenties, he was employed as a customs officer, but had also been elected as a Fellow of the Geological Society on the strength of his scientific work. However, a financial scandal involving his father cast a shadow over his early career, leaving Mackie bankrupt and forcing him to relocate to London. It is not clear how he earned a living at this stage, but Mackie next emerges as editor of a new periodical, the Geologist, in 1858. The preface asks for correspondents to ‘join in aiding me in my earnest desire to popularize and to extend the noble science of geology without sacrificing, in any way, its proper dignity’. Mackie was prone to grandiloquence, clearly believing his role as editor was one weighted with great responsibility. ‘Nothing once printed is innocuous or inert’, he stated, pointing to the importance of periodicals to the advancement of science, as the ‘magazine is bound into a volume, and may be read again months or years afterwards, and become, as it often does, the first course of instruction to younger minds’. geologistpopular02mack_0007 Title page of the Geologist‘s second volume The Geologist was a self-described ‘popular illustrated monthly magazine’. It shared the ideology common to many other natural history periodicals of this period – such as the Zoologist, for example – in inviting contributions from anyone who had something of interest to share. ‘In every corner of the country where a labourer in the Geological field is to be found, there exists a man who has it in his power to uphold the Geologist, and by upholding it, to foster Science’. Geology was a particularly popular and fashionable subject, as Mackie himself observed: ‘it is wondered at, and enquired about’ by a large section of the public ‘who cannot help noticing as they walk about the country, the earth is deposited in layers or strata; who see fossils dug out of railway cuttings, or who stop to gaze in astonishment, blended with incredulity, at the restorations of uncouth antediluvian creatures in the gardens of the Crystal Palace’. Despite this apparent appetite, the Geologist struggled financially for most of its existence. It came to an unexpected close in 1864, when its publishers sold the periodical for a measly £25. The new owners, Longman, Green, & Co., begun their own periodical, the Geological Magazine (1864-). Mackie admitted defeat, deciding to ‘retire from the field rather than take part in a contest that might prove injurious to both’. Mackie’s enthusiasm for periodicals was clearly not overly dampened by the ignoble end of the Geologist, and in 1865 he commenced another publication along similar lines. This journal was comprehensively entitled the Geological and Natural History Reportory. Just in case the scope of the periodical was in doubt, Mackie appended an extended subtitle, describing it as an ‘Illustrated Popular Weekly Magazine of Geology, Palaeontology, Mineralogy, Natural History, Terrestrial and Cosmical Physics, and Journal of Pre-Historic Archaeology and Ethnology’. The expanded remit of this new publication is most likely an attempt to maximise subscribers by appealing to as broad an audience as possible. Mackie noted that ‘no special-class scientific periodical has ever yet attained a higher circulation than from 800 to 1000’, yet ‘it is certain that the quantity of matter now given could not be continued unless a very much more extensive patronage be accorded to the present effort’. Mackie was publishing at his own expense, and therefore some caution was necessary. Despite the promise of ‘weekly’ issues, it began at a monthly rate ‘until sufficient promise of support has been received to ensure him [Mackie] against serious pecuniary loss’. However, it would appear that the required number of readers was not forthcoming, and the Reportory was therefore hampered from the beginning. The erratic publication schedule continued, barely reaching a single volume’s length in over two years. The final issue ends mid-sentence in 1869. After the failure of the Reportory, Mackie gave up on editorship and took up employment as a civil engineer. Furthermore, he turned his hand to inventing, filing patents for various contraptions of dubious ingenuity, including a design for a cross-channel ferry intended to alleviate sea sickness. None of these patents ever went beyond the drawing board, and Mackie lived out the rest of his years in relative obscurity.

Annona muricata: Is the natural therapy to most disease conditions including cancer growing in our backyard? A systematic review of its research history and future prospects.

Asian Pac J Trop Med. 2017 Sep;10(9):835-848. doi: 10.1016/j.apjtm.2017.08.009. Epub 2017 Sep 13. Annona muricata: Is the natural therapy to most disease conditions including cancer growing in our backyard? A systematic review of its research history and future prospects. Gavamukulya Y1, Wamunyokoli F2, El-Shemy HA3. Author information 1 Department of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, Pan African University Institute for Basic Sciences, Technology and Innovation (PAUSTI), P.O. Box, 62000-00200 Nairobi, Kenya; Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Busitema University Faculty of Health Sciences, P.O. Box, 1460 Mbale, Uganda. Electronic address: gavayahya@yahoo.com. 2 Department of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, Pan African University Institute for Basic Sciences, Technology and Innovation (PAUSTI), P.O. Box, 62000-00200 Nairobi, Kenya; Department of Biochemistry, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, P.O. Box, 62000-00200 Nairobi, Kenya. 3 Department of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, Pan African University Institute for Basic Sciences, Technology and Innovation (PAUSTI), P.O. Box, 62000-00200 Nairobi, Kenya; Department of Biochemistry, Faculty of Agriculture, Cairo University, 12613 Giza, Egypt. Abstract Annona muricata (A. muricata) is a tropical plant species belonging to family Annonaceae and known for its many medicinal uses. This review focuses on the research history of its traditional uses, phytochemicals, pharmacological activities, toxicological aspects of the extracts and isolated compounds, as well as the in vitro propagation studies with the objective of stimulating further studies on this plant for human consumption and treatment. A. muricata extracts have been identified in tropical regions to traditionally treat diverse conditions ranging from fever to diabetes and cancer. More than 200 chemical compounds have been identified and isolated from this plant, the most important being alkaloids, phenols and acetogenins. Using in vitro studies, its extracts and phytochemicals have been characterized as antioxidant, anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory, insecticidal, larvicidal, and cytotoxic to cancer cells. In vivo studies have revealed anxiolytic, anti-stress, anti-inflammatory, immunomodulatory, antimalarial, antidepressant, gastro protective, wound healing, hepato-protective, hypoglycemic, anticancer and anti-tumoral activities. In silico studies have also been reported. In addition, clinical studies support the hypoglycemic as well as some anticancer activities. Mechanisms of action of some pharmacological activities have been elucidated. However, some phytochemical compounds isolated from A. muricata have shown a neurotoxic effect in vitro and in vivo, and therefore, these crude extracts and isolated compounds need to be further investigated to define the magnitude of the effects, optimal dosage, and mechanisms of action, long-term safety, and potential side effects. Additionally, more clinical studies are necessary to support the therapeutic potential of this plant. Some studies were also found to have successfully regenerated the plant in vitro, but with limited success. The reported toxicity notwithstanding, A. muricata extracts seem to be some of the safest and promising therapeutic agents of the 21st century and beyond that need to be studied further for better medicinal formulations and diseases management. KEYWORDS: Acetogenins; Annona muricata; Bioactivity; Cytotoxicity; Phytochemicals; Traditional medicinal uses PMID: 29080611 DOI: 10.1016/j.apjtm.2017.08.009 Free full text - https://linkinghub.elsevier.com/retrieve/pii/S1995-7645(17)30630-2

Efficacy of Aloe vera/ Plantago major gel in Diabetic Foot Ulcer: a randomized double-blind clinical trial.

Curr Drug Discov Technol. 2018 Jan 14. doi: 10.2174/1570163815666180115093007. [Epub ahead of print] Najafian Y1, Mazloum Z2, Najaf Najafi M3, Hamedi S4, Mahjour M5, Feyzabadi Z6. Author information 1 Students Research Committee, Department of Persian Medicine, School of Persian and Complementary Medicine, Mashhad University of Medical Sciences, Mashhad. Iran. 2 Metabolic Syndrome Research Center, Mashhad University of Medical Sciences, Mashhad. Iran. 3 Clinical Research Unit, Faculty of Medicine, Mashhad University of medical sciences, Mashhad. Iran. 4 Department of Persian Pharmacy, School of Persian and Complementary Medicine, Mashhad University of Medical Sciences, Mashhad. Iran. 5 Student, Students Research Committee, Department of Persian Medicine, School of Persian and Complementary Medicine, Mashhad University of Medical Sciences, Mashhad. Iran. 6 Department of Persian Medicine, School of Persian and Complementary Medicine, Mashhad University of Medical Sciences, Mashhad. Iran. Abstract BACKGROUND: Diabetic foot ulcer (DFU) is one of the most common complications of diabetic patients. Mostly, non-healing DFU leads to infection, gangrene, amputation and even death. High costs and poor healing of the wounds need a new treatment such as alternative medicine. So, the aim of this study was to evaluate the efficacy of Aloe vera/ Plantago major gel (Plantavera gel) in healing of DFU. METHODS: Forty patients with DFU enrolled in a double-blind randomized clinical trial. The patients who were randomly assigned into the intervention group (n = 20), received topical Plantavera gel in addition to the routine cares, whereas the patients in the control group (n = 20), received topical Placebo gel in addition to the routine cares. Intervention was done twice a day for 4 weeks in the both groups. Photography and an evaluation of DFU healing were conducted by a checklist and then were scored at baseline and at the end of each week. The collected data was analyzed by SPSS software. RESULTS: At the end of the study, there was a significant difference between the two groups in terms of total ulcer score (P<0.001) and Plantavera gel significantly reduced the ulcer surface comparing with the control group (P=0.039). However, there was not a significant difference between the two groups (P=0.263) in terms of the ulcer depth. During this study, no side effect was observed for Plantavera gel in the intervention group. CONCLUSION: Topical Plantavera gel seems to be an effective, cheap and safe treatment. Of course, further studies are required to confirm the properties of the wound healing of this gel. Copyright© Bentham Science Publishers; For any queries, please email at epub@benthamscience.org. KEYWORDS: Aloe vera; Diabetic foot ulcer; Plantago major; Plantain; Plantavera gel.; Ulcer healing

Buzz in Paris: flower production and plant-pollinator interactions in plants from contrasted urban and rural origins.

Genetica. 2017 Dec;145(6):513-523. doi: 10.1007/s10709-017-9993-7. Epub 2017 Sep 23. Desaegher J1, Nadot S2, Dajoz I3,4, Colas B2,4. Author information 1 Ecologie Systématique Evolution, Université Paris-Sud, UMR 8079, CNRS, AgroParisTech, Université Paris-Saclay, 91400, Orsay, France. jamesdesaegher@gmail.com. 2 Ecologie Systématique Evolution, Université Paris-Sud, UMR 8079, CNRS, AgroParisTech, Université Paris-Saclay, 91400, Orsay, France. 3 UPMC Paris 6-iEES Paris, UMR CNRS 7618, Site de Jussieu, Paris, France. 4 Université Paris-Diderot, Sorbonne Paris-Cité, Paris, France. Abstract Urbanisation, associated with habitat fragmentation, affects pollinator communities and insect foraging behaviour. These biotic changes are likely to select for modified traits in insect-pollinated plants from urban populations compared to rural populations. To test this hypothesis, we conducted an experiment involving four plant species commonly found in both urban and rural landscapes of the Île-de-France region (France): Cymbalaria muralis, Geranium robertianum, Geum urbanum and Prunella vulgaris. The four species were grown in four urban and four rural experimental sites in 2015. For each species and each experimental site, plants were grown from seeds collected in five urban and five rural locations. During flowering, we observed flower production and insect-flower interactions during 14 weeks and tested for the effects of experimental site location and plant origin on flower production and on the number of floral visits. The study species had various flower morphology and hence were visited by different floral visitors. The effect of experimental sites and seed origin also varied among study species. We found that (1) insect visits on P. vulgaris were more frequent in rural than in urban sites; (2) for C. muralis, the slope relating the number of pollinator visits to the number of flowers per individual was steeper in urban versus rural sites, suggesting a greater benefit in allocating resources to flower production in urban conditions; (3) as a likely consequence, C. muralis tended to produce more flowers in plants from urban versus rural origin. KEYWORDS: Divergent selection; Floral display; Fragmentation; Plant–pollinator interactions; Urbanisation PMID: 28942569 DOI: 10.1007/s10709-017-9993-7

Friday, 16 February 2018

Proliferative and antioxidant activity of Symphytum officinale root extract.

Nat Prod Res. 2018 Mar;32(5):605-609. doi: 10.1080/14786419.2017.1326492. Epub 2017 May 10. Sowa I1, Paduch R2,3, Strzemski M1, Zielińska S4, Rydzik-Strzemska E1, Sawicki J1, Kocjan R1, Polkowski J1, Matkowski A4, Latalski M5, Wójciak-Kosior M1. Author information 1 a Department of Analytical Chemistry , Medical University of Lublin , Lublin , Poland. 2 b Faculty of Biology and Biotechnology, Department of Virology and Immunology , Maria Curie-Sklodowska University , Lublin , Poland. 3 c Department of General Ophthalmology , Medical University of Lublin , Lublin , Poland. 4 d Department of Pharmaceutical Biology , Wroclaw Medical University , Wroclaw , Poland. 5 e Children's Orthopedics Department , Medical University of Lublin , Lublin , Poland. Abstract The root of Symphytum officinale L. is commonly used in folk medicine to promote the wound healing, reduce the inflammation and in the treatment of broken bones. The objective of our investigation was to analyse the extract from S. officinale in term of its antioxidant activity and the effect on cell viability and proliferation of human skin fibroblast (HSF). Moreover, the quantification of main phenolics and allantoin was conducted using HPLC-DAD method. Five compounds were found: rosmarinic, p-hydroxybenzoic, caffeic, chlorogenic and p-coumaric acid. DPPH, FRAP and TPC assay showed the high antioxidant activity of the extract. MTT test proved the stimulatory effect on cell metabolism and viability of HSF cells. Moreover, no changes in cytoskeleton structure and cells shape were observed. The obtained results indicate that non-toxic extract from S. officinale root has strong antioxidant potential and a beneficial effect on human skin fibroblasts. KEYWORDS: Symphytum officinale; allantoin; antioxidant activity; cell viability; comfrey; human skin fibroblast; phenolic acids PMID: 28490191 DOI: 10.1080/14786419.2017.1326492