- Organic by-products of plant growth which are both astringent and irritant.
They occur as an amorphorus powder, glistening scales, or spongy masses which are light brown to yellowish white in colour. Tannins have a faint odour and an astringent taste. They are soluble in water, glycerin, and alcohol. Most of them form precipitates with albumen, alkaloids, and many metallic salts, particularly iron salts. For this reason, they are of special interest to prescribers who want to avoid such unsightly preparations as combining goldenseal with white oak bark, or of dangerous precipitates which would likely settle to the bottom of a bottle and be the last taken if there was a failure to shake before using. This is one reason for the inclusion of 10% glycerin in extracts of high tannin herbal preparations.
Tannins can be found in all plant families, but mostly in the Geraniaceae, Papilionaceae, and Rosaceae families. Tannins draw tissues closer together, which improves their resistance to infection. This contracting nature inspired its name since they were used to “tan” leather. Tannins are antioxidants that have antiviral properties, strengthen capillaries, and protect against cancer, heart disease, and asthma. The harsh, astringent taste of tannin-laden bark and leaves makes them unpalatable to insects and grazing animals, and protecting the plant from yeasts, bacterial decay, and being eaten.
- The deep main root from which lateral roots develop.
- A system of classifying organisms into natural related groups based on shared features or traits that include structure, development, biochemical or physical functions, and evolutionary history.
This is done to identify relationships between different ancient and modern groups; to indicate the evolutionary pathways along which present-day organisms may have developed; and to provide a basis for comparing experimental data about different plants and animals. As many characteristics as possible are used, including the organism’s anatomy, biochemistry, embryology, molecular biology, behaviour, and distribution. The kinds of names used in taxonomy can be grouped into such categories of names as mythological, geographic, classical, personal, historical, descriptive, and uses or properties. The system of classification was introduced by Carolus Linnaeus in 1753.
The basic unit in the Linnaean classification of living forms is the species: a group of organisms of any other group capable of mating with one another to produce fertile offspring. According to internationally accepted rules, a species is always identified by two technical Latin names, or binomial. The first name always identifies the genus, which is a group of species more closely related to one another than to any other group. The second word identifies the particular species within a genus. Genera are grouped into families, which are then grouped into orders. Orders are grouped into classes, and classes into phyla (animals) or divisions (plants). Finally, related phyla or divisions are placed within kingdoms.
Sometimes it is necessary to make even finer distinctions between two consecutive ranks. This is accomplished by inserting a rank between the original two with a prefix “sub” or “super” added to one of the main ranks. For example, between an order and a family, the order may contain several suborders, each suborder several superfamilies, and each superfamily several families. Traditionally, organisms have been classified into two kingdoms, plant and animal, but the most popular classification system now is the five-kingdom grouping where organisms are classified according to whether they are procaryotic (single-celled with neither internal membranes or organelles) or eucaryotic (one or more cells with membrane-bound nuclei and organelles); whether they are unicellular or multicellular; and whether they obtain food by photosynthesis, ingestion, or absorption of organic matter from their surroundings.
Thus, to date, the five classifications are as follows:
- Monera: includes bacteria and blue-green algae; single-celled or colon forming procaryotes; if colonial, no specialization or division of labour occupied among the cells. They are classified by the nature of their cell walls, type of motility, and mode of nutrition.
- Protista: includes protozoa and some single-celled algae. They, and most other living things except the Monera, have eucaryotic cell structure. Two major subgroups are the algae which photosynthesize, and protozoa which live by ingesting or absorbing organic matter.
- Fungi: plant-like, many-celled organisms that live by absorbing nutrients from their surroundings. These organisms, classified by body structure and type of reproduction, include yeast, slime mold, mold, and mushrooms.
- Plantae (plants): many-celled organisms that live by photosynthesis. They have leaves or leaflike structures specialized for photosynthesis; stems or stemlike structures that hold the leaves; and roots specialized for anchoring the plant in a growth medium and absorbing water. The plants fall into two groups: bryophytes (liverworts and mosses), which have no tissues for transporting water and minerals from the roots; and the more numerous vascular plants, which include both ferns and seed plants.
- Animalia (animals): include sponges; coelenterates (such as jellyfish) and annelids (such as earthworms, leeches, and clamworms); mollusks (such as clams, snails, and squid); arthropods (such as insects, spiders, and lobsters); echinoderms (such as starfish and sea urchins); and vertebrates (that include amphibians, reptiles, fish, birds, and mammals).
- The threadlike, often spiral part of climbing plants which clings to or coils around objects.
- Painful, urgent, but ineffectual, attempt to urinate or defecate.
- The common name for monoterpenes.
They are antioxidants found in such herbs as ginkgo biloba.
- Related to, or having a similar action to, the male hormone testosterone.
- Nonvascular plant body without any clear defferentiation into stems, leaves, or roots, as that seen in seaweed.
- A plant constituent found in such herbs as wormwood, which stimulates the brain.
It can be toxic in large quantities, causing deterioration of the mind.
- A mixture of alcohol and water in which plant parts have been steeped for a long time.
- An agent that performs the act of strengthening and restoring the body systems.
It can act as both a stimulant and an alternative to the body. A tonic “tones” whatever body system it affects. The most prized tonic is Ginseng.
- Any agent that is applied directly to the surface of the skin and not taken internally.
- A poisonous substance.
- A protein that transports iron in the bloodstream and one that can be measured by immunologic methods.
Iron deficiency, pregnancy, low oxygen supply, and chronic blood losses raise serum transferrin levels. Decreased levels occur in pernicious anemia, long-term infections, liver disease, and excessive iron load. Transferrin levels respond quickly to changes in dietary protein and low levels can reflect malnutrition. The ability of transferrin to bind iron is called total iron binding capacity of serum. Depletion of iron stores is indicated by an increased total iron-binding capacity.
- A plant having three distinct leaflets.
- Compounds found in such herbs as licorice root and gotu kola.
They prevent dental decay, as well as fighting ulcers, cancer, and liver toxicity.
- The fat, underground stem from which some plants grow; similar to, but shorter and thicker than, a rhizome.
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