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What is Benedictine?

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History and origin

Benedictine is a type of liqueur, that originated in France. It has been produced since the 19th century. It is prepared with a blend of herbs, spices, and fruit peels. They are then infused in alcohol for several weeks before being aged in oak casks.

Benedictine has gained popularity over the years due to its unique flavor profile and versatility in cocktails. In the 19th century, it was considered the most popular spirit in America and was used as a substitute. This liqueur was originally prepared by monks and they believed it had healing powers. Additionally, it could cure ailments such as stomach aches and colds.

This traditional French liqueur continued to grow globally with new variations being introduced such as spiced rum-based versions. Its rich history and unique flavor profile remained a beloved spirit till today.

Secret recipe

The Benedictine recipe is a traditional French liqueur made from a blend of herbs and spices. It includes angelica, hyssop, juniper berries, and saffron.

Ingredients

  • 1 liter of brandy
  • 20 grams of dried angelica root
  • 10 grams dried hyssop leaves
  • 5 grams dried juniper berries
  • A pinch of saffron threads
  • Sugar syrup for sweetness

How to prepare Benedictine

The following information is for knowledge purposes only.

  1. In a large glass jar or bottle, infuse the brandy with all the herbs and spices mentioned.
  2. Seal the lid tightly and let it stay in a dark place for at least two weeks to allow the flavors to infuse into the alcohol.
  3. After two weeks, strain out all solids using a muslin cloth.
  4. Add sugar syrup for taste until desired sweetness is achieved.
  5. Bottle up your homemade Benedictine liqueur and store it in a cool dry place.

This delicious herbal drink can be enjoyed as an after-dinner drink or used as an important ingredient in cocktails.

Flavor profile

The Benedictine flavor profile is complex and distinctive, with a rich combination of herbs and spices that create a unique taste experience. It is a combination of mixed sweet and spicy tangy flavors with a touch of bitterness.

Herbal ingredients like thyme, angelica, hyssop, juniper berries, saffron, myrrh, and lemon balm contribute to its earthy and aromatic flavor. Honey plays an important role in balancing out the bitterness of some of the herbs, thus adding subtle sweetness to the beverage. Dried spices like nutmeg and star anise are added and provide the drink a licorice-like flavor.

Ingredients

Key ingredients include:

  • Saffron – One of the most expensive spices and adds a rich yellow color and flavor.
  • Hyssop officinalis – This is an evergreen mint that provides a minty note to the beverage.
  • Angelica root – It is a medicinal plant that adds a medicinal touch to the drink.
  • Lemon balm – Lemon balm brings citrus notes to the drink.
  • Juniper berries – These berries are used in small amounts and add a tart-like flavor.
  • Myrrh resin – Myrrh resin not only adds depth to the flavor but also acts as a natural preservative for Benedictine. It is used in minimal amounts only.
  • Honey – Honey adds sweetness to the liqueur and overall balances the taste.
  • Nutmeg – Nutmeg is dried spices added to the drink to create an aromatic taste and is known to possess anti-inflammatory properties.

These ingredients are carefully selected and blended to create the unique flavor profile of this popular liqueur.

Some interesting facts

  • The original recipe for Benedictine is kept secret, but it is found to contain over 27 different herbs and spices.
  • The recipe for Benedictine liqueur was created in 1510 by Benedictine monk Dom Bernardo Vincelli in France.
  • The original name given to this liqueur was “Elixir of Charmel”.
  • Although a cocktail ingredient, it has been used medicinally throughout the ages because of its healing properties.
  • The bottle shape was inspired by an ancient Roman flask found on the grounds of the abbey where it was first produced.
  • Benedictine was used as a substitute when whiskey was banned in America. It became largely popular during those times.
  • King Henry IV drank Benedictine before the war because he believed it would provide him strength and courage.
  • This drink gained popularity as a magical drink for its ability to aid digestion and relieve various cold ailments.

Health benefits of Benedictine

  • It is used as a herbal supplement as it contains about 27 herbs and spices.
  • The nutmeg present in this benedictine liqueur may add to the anti-inflammatory properties.
  • The probable antioxidants present in nutmeg protect the cells from damage caused by free radicals.
  • It is thus believed to reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as cancer and heart disease.
  • Benedictine provides possible pain-relieving effects for conditions like headaches or menstrual cramps.
  • Some compounds are found in Benedictine that have proved to enhance brain function and memory retention.

 Benedictine vs. Drambuie

Benedictine and Drambuie are two popular liqueurs that have been around for centuries.

 

Features

Benedictine

Drambuie

Origin By Benedictine monks in France during the 16th century. In Scotland and dates back from the early 18th century.
Ingredients Thyme, angelica, hyssop, juniper berries, saffron, honey, myrrh, and lemon balm Scottish heather honey combined with whisky and various herbs.
Taste Profile Sweet Smoky flavor
Popularity Popular among bartenders for preparing cocktails. Popular in Scotland and is gaining popularity globally.

Q&A

What kind of alcohol is Benedictine?

Benedictine is a type of herbal liqueur that consists of angelica root, hyssop, juniper berries, myrrh, saffron, and honey.

Can you drink Benedictine straight?

According to studies, benedictine was used as an ingredient in cocktails. It was not consumed straight as its flavors are quite strong.

Is Benedictine a whiskey?

Benedictine is used as a substitute for whiskey and mixed with cocktails to enjoy its richness of herbal infusion.

Summary

  • Benedictine is a type of liqueur, that originated in France.
  • It has been produced since the 19th century.
  • Prepared with a blend of herbs, spices, and fruit peels. They are then infused in alcohol for several weeks before being aged in oak casks.
  • It could cure ailments such as stomach aches and colds.
  • Benedictine provides pain-relieving effects for conditions like headaches or menstrual cramps.

References

http://www.florilegium.org/files/BEVERAGES/Cordials-art.rtf

http://www.florilegium.org/files/BEVERAGES/Cordials-art.rtf

https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=Un9dEAAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PR7&dq=what+is+benedictine+liquor+recipe&ots=-xQMZY5QnI&sig=V3E2nIkaBWiZARsNt8vcAK8jTGs

https://www.emerald.com/insight/content/doi/10.1108/JMH-02-2019-0009/full/html

https://www.euppublishing.com/doi/pdf/10.3366/elr.2006.10.1.132

https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-319-25277-3_6

Written By: Sushmita Mukhopadhyay

Are Noni fruit drink healthy?

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Morinda citrifolia or Noni is an evergreen tree or shrub native to Southeastern Asia. Now it is thriving across the Pacific region and has a pantropical distribution. This plant is famous for its Noni fruits or puke fruits. In this article we are going to explore the wide benefits of Noni juice and try to describe based on scientific evidence about Noni fruit and whether noni fruit drink is healthy or not.

Traditionally the noni fruit drink is known for its diverse medicinal properties like antibacterial, analgesic, anti-congestive, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and astringent (1, 2, 3, 4)

Composition of Noni Fruit Juice (5)

The most important compounds identified in noni fruit are phenolics, such as damnacanthal and scopoletin, organic acids (caproic and caprylic acid), vitamins (ascorbic acid and provitamin A), amino acids such as aspartic acid, and minerals. Another compound named xeronine, supposedly an alkaloid is also present in the juice (6). Other simple components of Noni juice are as follows

Components

g.100 g-1 juice

H2O 90.25
Proteins 2.5
Lipids 0.15
Mineral matters 0.86
Fibers 3.38
Total sugars 2.01
Mineral and organic anions 0.82
Chlorophyll 0.03
Total 100

Potential benefits of Noni fruit drink

Are Noni fruit drink healthy

Noni fruits are rich in antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and other phytonutrients. some of the potential benefits of Noni fruit drinks are as follows

1. Energy drink

The juice of Noni fruits contains simple sugars like glucose, fructose, and sucrose. This makes the noni juice a good energy-generating natural healthy drink (5).

2. Rich in essential minerals

Noni juice contains all the essential minerals like potassium, sodium, phosphorus, calcium, and magnesium which are required by our body. Thus contributes to proper hydration, bone health, and blood circulation of the body.

3. Possible anti-inflammatory activity of Noni juice

Research suggested that Noni juice possesses anti-inflammatory activity compared with commercial traditional non-steroidal inflammatory drugs without any side effects. Studies on animal models suggested that the juice can stop the formation of rat paw edema (6).

4. May show analgesic property

The research on animal models suggested that 10 and 20% of commercial noni juice shows analgesic activity and had greater pain tolerance compared with those placebo groups (7).

5. Healthy skin

The antioxidants, minerals, and Vitamin C present in the Noni juice are good for the skin thus drinking this juice helps in protecting the skin from free radicals.

Thus, the Noni fruit drink is nowadays becoming a more convenient and popular tropical drink. In the market, this juice is often available in the form of pure juice or blends with other fruits. Even herbal teas are also available of this fruit. Make sure while choosing this fruit drink that the sugar content should be low and there should be no artificial additives to maximize the health benefits.

Summary

Noni fruit, with its rich nutritional profile and potential health benefits, has earned its place as a valuable addition to a well-rounded and health-conscious diet. Whether consumed in its natural form or as a part of a refreshing Noni fruit drink, this exotic fruit offers a unique combination of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that may contribute to overall wellness. As with any dietary supplement, it’s advisable to consult with a healthcare professional before incorporating Noni into your routine, especially if you have existing health conditions or are taking medications.

Macrolepiota procera

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Know in one minute about Macrolepiota procera

  • Macrolepiota procera is an edible mushroom of the Agaricaceae family of basidiomycete fungus
  • fruiting bodies of Macrolepiota procera are like a parasol therefore it is also known as a parasol mushroom.
  • The characteristic feature of this mushroom is scaly growth on the surface which is in a snakeskin-like pattern, therefore, it is also known as a snake’s hat or snake’s sponge.
  • The extract of this mushroom contains many bioactive compounds and vitamins, hence this mushroom is helpful in promoting good health.
  • The polysaccharide content of mushrooms lowers the blood cholesterol level, hence it reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Introduction 

Macrolepiota procera is a mushroom belonging to the Agaricaceae family of basidiomycete fungus. It has large fruiting bodies that look like a parasol, therefore it is also known as a parasol mushroom. Commonly found solitary or in groups and sometimes in woodlands. It is widely spread in temperate regions. It is a species of mushroom that grows in well-drained soil. 

The cap of this mushroom is generally 30-40 cm in height.  Young caps are egg-shaped and compact. Whereas the mature caps are more or less flat and have chocolate brown umbo in the centre. On the surface of the cap, there are dark-coloured flakes that are easy to remove.

Stripes are thin with fibrous texture. On the surface is snakeskin-like pattern of scaly growth was found, therefore, it is also known as Sanke’s hat or snake’s sponge. 

Crowded and free gills are present which are white with pale pink in colour. Spore prints are white. 

The flesh is white which turns pale pink after being sliced.

It smells like pleasant nuts. 

Kingdom Fungi
Division Basidiomycota
Class  Agaricomycetes
Order Agaricales
Family Agaricaceae
Genus Macrolepiota
species M. procera

 

Common name

Macrolepiota procera is commonly known as parasol mushroom, snake’s hat or snake’s sponge. 

Synonyms

Agaricus procerus Scop. (1772)

Lepiota procera (Scop.) Gray (1821)

Amantia procera (Scop.) Fr. (1836)

Mastocephalus procerus (Scop.) Pat (1900)

Leucocoprinus procerus (Scop.) Pat (1900)

Lepiotophyllum procerum (Scop.) Locq. (1942)

Medicinal value

Macrolepiota procera is used for the treatment of certain inflammation, hypertension and diabetes. The compound polysaccharides present in the extract of this mushroom show antibacterial activities and immunomodulatory activities. 

The fruiting bodies of Macrolepiota procera contain bioactive substances such as phenol, flavonoids, beta-carotene, lycopene, saponins and alkaloids. The extract of this mushroom is also rich in vitamins, especially vitamin A, α- tocopherol and ascorbic acid, therefore this mushroom has high nutrient value and helps in promoting good health. 

The glucan ( polysaccharides) which are extracted from the Macrolepiota procera shows high antibacterial activity as it inhibits the growth of bacteria that act as pathogens.

The glucan helps in increasing the body’s resistance to pathogenic bacteria, fungi and viruses and shows immunomodulatory activities as it stimulates the activity of immune cells (including monocytes and macrophages) 

Glucan also helps in stimulating the activity of T lymphocytes, therefore it prevents and fights cancer and inhibits the proliferation of cancerous cells by accelerating their apoptosis.

Glucan helps in lowering the blood cholesterol level, hence it reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease. 

Side effects

There are no such side effects of eating Macrolepiota procera if consumed in limited amounts. The side effects depend on the individual’s health. 

Chlorophyllum molybdites vs Macrolepiota procera

Chlorophyllum molybdites

Macrolepiota procera

Chlorophyllum molybdites is a poisonous mushroom Macrolepiota procera is one of the wild edible mushrooms, which is not poisonous
Chlorophyllum molybdites can not be eaten raw Macrolepiota procera is edible when in raw condition as a salad.
It is a false parasol mushroom It is a true parasol mushroom.
Spore prints are green in colour Spore prints are white in colour
There is no scaly growth present on the surface. Snakeskin-like patterns of scaly growth are present on the surface

Macrolepiota procera look alike

Macrolepiota procera look like Chlorophyllum molybdites that belong to the Agaricaceae family, which is a poisonous mushroom when eaten raw. It is known as a false parasol mushroom.

Q&A

1. Is a parasol mushroom edible?

Yes, parasol mushrooms are edible mushrooms. The fruiting bodies of parasol mushrooms may be used as an alternative to meat, as it tastes like meat when cooked properly.

2. Is Macrolepiota edible?

Ans.  Yes, Macrolepiota is one of the wild edible mushrooms. 

3. Is umbrella mushrooms poisonous?

Ans. Yes, umbrella mushrooms are poisonous mushrooms, eating this mushroom can cause serious health issues such as gastrointestinal disorders, bloody stool and vomiting.

4. How do you identify Macrolepiota?

Ans. The main characteristic feature of Macrolepiota procera is the snakeskin-like pattern of scaly growth present on the surface. It has large fruiting bodies that look like a parasol.

References

1. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00217-018-3134-0#ref-CR21

2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5023580/

3. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27279532/

4. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31448150/

5. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26820971/

6. https://biomedpharmajournal.org/vol13no2/wound-healing-effects-of-calvacin-gel-on-burn-wound-in-rats/

Written By: Neetu Ladiya

Giant puffball mushroom (Calvatia gigantea)

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Know in one minute about Puffball mushroom

  • Puffball mushrooms are mostly edible mushrooms with enclosed fruiting bodies.
  • On maturity, the fruit bodies burst and release the spores which appear like clouds of dust.
  • There is no stalk or stem present in the true puffball mushrooms.
  • The puffball mushrooms with stems are false puffballs, which are inedible.
  • Only young fruit bodies of puffballs are considered edible.
  • The mature puffball undergoes an autolysis process, therefore they are not for edible purposes.

Introduction

Puffball is a fungus belonging to the basidiomycota division having enclosed ball-shaped fruiting bodies with white gleba that becomes a brown powdery mass of spores on maturity. They are known to be a polyphyletic assemblage. These mushrooms are mostly saprotrophic, but some are mycorrhizal. Commonly grown in the forest soil, in the grassland or on the rotting woods. There are many species of puffball mushrooms found around the world. Various species of puffball mushrooms ( Calvatia, Handkea, Lycoperdon, Vascellum and gigantea )are considered edible when their fruiting bodies are young and spores are not developed (1).

Classification

Kingdom Fungi
Division Basidiomycota
Class  Agaricomycetes
Order Agaricales
Family Agaricaceae
Genus Calvatia

 Appearance

The puffball mushroom has an enclosed cap, white in colour. Spores are produced inside the fruiting bodies. Upon maturity of spores, they form gleba at the centre of the fruit body. Gills are absent. Spores are released from the basidia. The puffball mushrooms without visible stalks or stems are true puffballs. Stalked puffballs are tough, woody and bitter in taste, therefore they are inedible. Young puffballs have undifferentiated white flesh.

The giant puffball mushroom is 10- 50 cm in diameter. Young puffball is white inside whereas mature puffball is greenish brown from inside. Spores are 3 – 5 μm in size, yellowish and smooth, and produced inside the fruiting bodies. The spore print is brown.

Note: Giant puffball looks similar to the Scleroderma citrinum (earthball), which is a poisonous fungus responsible for mild intoxication.

Medicinal value

Antioxidant activity

The extract of Handkea utriformis, Handkea excipuliformis and Vascellum pratense species of puffball mushroom shows the highest antioxidant activity for free radicals that damage the body tissue. The flavonoid content shows the highest antioxidant and Fe³⁺ reducing ability (1).

Antimicrobial activity and Antifungal activity

The extract of  Handkea excipuliformis pufball mushroom shows antimicrobial activity against the Listeria monocytogenes (1). The chloroform, aether and ethyl acetate extract of puffball mushroom (Bovistella radicata) show great antimicrobial activity against T. rubrum, T. mentagrophytes, S. aures and P. aeruginosa (2). The PBR- 1 AND PBR- 2 are the compound which is present in the highest concentration in the extract of puffball mushroom and inhibit the growth of pathogenic microbes T. rubrum and  T. mentagrophytes (2).

Anti-diabetic effect

One of the studies on rats demonstrates the anti-diabetic effects of Calavatia gigantea. The extract of Calvatia gigantea is helpful in reducing the blood sugar level, therefore it can be used as an anti-diabetic agent (4).

Effect on cancerous cell

The extract of Calvatia gigantea contains calvacin ( a bioactive compound). The small dose of calvacin inhibits the growth of cancer cells. When the extract is used against human lung cancer, it results in the inhibition of cell division and proliferation, ultimately leading to the death of the cancerous cell (5).

Common name

Common name of Calvatia gigantea is giant puffball .

Synonyms

Langermannia gigantea (Batsch ex pers) Rostk.

Bioactive compound present

The mature fruiting bodies are indebile but rich in bioactive compounds, such as flavonoids, fatty acids, amino acids, steroid saponins, alkaloids, sesquiterpenes, polysaccharides, proteins and peptides (2).

Nutritional value

The puffball mushrooms ( Calvatia gigantea) is a rich source of carbohydrate (51. 97%), fatty acids (67. 93 %) and proteins (34.37 %) (3).

Medicinal benefits

A bioactive compound steroid saponins of puffball mushrooms show antibacterial and antifungal activity against pathogens Trichophyton rubrum and  Trichophyton mentagrophytes. Trichophyton rubrum  ( dermatophytic fungus) is responsible for various infections such as athlete’s foot and jock itch, Trichophyton mentagrophytes is also responsible for causing many skin-related diseases in humans.  The steroid nucleus is present in the steroid, due to damage to the membrane there is leakage of cellular material, which results in the death of the fungus (2).

The powder or slices of giant puffballs are used as a styptic for wound dressing. It decreases the blood flow/ bleeding by the contraction of tissue and heals the wound (6).

 Side effect

There are no such serious side effects of puffball mushrooms if the young fruit body is consumed in fewer amounts. If the mature puffball is consumed it may result in stomach upset.

Edibility

The young fruiting bodies of puffball mushrooms are edible when the spires are not developed, but after maturity, they are inedible because of their autolysis (1).

Q&A

1. Is the giant puffball mushroom edible?

Ans. Puffball mushrooms are mostly edible mushrooms with enclosed fruiting bodies. On maturity, the fruit bodies burst and release spores which appears like cloud of dust. The puffball mushrooms with stems are false puffballs, which are inedible. Only young fruit bodies of the puffball are considered edible. The mature puffball undergoes an autolysis process, therefore they are not for edible purposes.

2. How poisonous are puffballs?

Ans. There are no such serious side effects of puffball mushrooms if the young fruit body is consumed in fewer amounts. If the mature puffball is consumed it may result in stomach upset. Hence, puffballs are not poisonous if consumed fresh.

3. Are giant puffballs tasty?

Yes, giant puffballs are tasty, these mushrooms are rich, earthy and nutty in taste. 

4. How to cook a giant puffball mushroom?

Ans. Giant puffball mushroom is rich in nutrients with a nutty flavour. It can be used for many preparations such as soup, fried puff balls or just sauteed into a pan with oil or butter, onion, black pepper and salt, and served with bread or meat. 

Giant puffball omelette

Cut the giant puffball mushroom into pieces, now finely chopped it or roughly grind it in a grinder. In a bowl add 1 cup of roughly grind mushroom, salt, pinch of black pepper, 1 cup coriander leaves and 2 medium eggs, beat the mixture properly. In a pan put one tablespoon of butter or oil, heat it now, pour the above mixture and spread it slowly. Cook the omelette on both sides. The giant puffball omelette is ready to serve.

5. Can you eat giant puffball mushrooms?

Ans. The young fruiting bodies for puffball mushrooms are edible when the spires are not developed, but after maturity, they are inedible because of their autolysis.

Written By: Neetu Ladiya

Liver cirrhosis symptoms caused by alcohol

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Introduction

Liver cirrhosis symptoms are caused by alcohol consumption or addiction to alcohol. It is the formation of scar tissues in the liver. Every time our liver filters alcohol some of its cells get damaged or hurt.  The liver repairs or replaces those hurt tissues with tough functional scar tissues which is termed liver cirrhosis. Daily drinking poses a higher risk than binge drinking. In this topic, we will learn more about liver cirrhosis caused due to alcohol.

The cirrhosis of the liver proceeds in three stages

Stage-1

Fatty liver is also known as steatosis (Alcohol causes fat build-up in the liver and the liver is enlarged  ).

Stage-2

Alcoholic Hepatitis-liver inflammation and cell damage also known as alcoholic liver disease (ALD).

Stage-3

Liver cirrhosis is a build-up of scar tissues in place of hepatic tissues (fibrosis) and liver shrinkage.

However initially there are no symptoms, but there can be pain in the upper right abdomen, loss of appetite, heaviness after meals, the feeling of nausea, and fatigue can be a few indicators of early development of liver damage or fatty liver symptoms. These can be reversed by total abstinence from alcohol with a healthy diet and vitamin supplements.

Liver Cirrhosis

About liver

  • The liver is the largest organ of the body and helps the body digest food and store energy.
  • It also helps to detoxify our body of harmful substances.
  • Sometimes due to certain dietary habits, pre-exposure to infections fat buildup in the liver occurs.
  • This condition is non-alcoholic fatty liver.

Alcoholic fatty liver

  • Non-alcoholic fatty liver typically does not cause much liver damage. It is reversible.
  • Alcoholic liver disease (ALD) is due to heavy consumption of alcohol. It progresses through three stages to give rise to cirrhosis.
  • The stages are alcoholic fatty liver, alcoholic hepatitis, and cirrhosis.
  • The liver breaks down most of the alcohol and generates harmful substances. These cause inflammation and weaken the body’s natural defense.
  • Chronic alcohol consumption leads to hepatic lipid metabolism. This leads to fat deposits in the liver cells ( hepatocytes). This is the stage of alcoholic fatty liver and is reversible. The individual should totally stop the consumption of alcohol.

Alcoholic hepatitis

  • It is liver inflammation–the next stage. Jaundice and associated fever is common manifestation at this stage.
  • With continuous alcohol intake, the fat-stored hepatocytes burst and release liver enzymes. Regenerative nodules start building up within the liver This is the starting point of liver scarring. The build-up of fibrotic tissue and collagen fibers takes place. It is the end stage of cirrhosis and is irreversible.
  • Fibrosis is initiated by stellate cells which play a major role in wound healing process under normal conditions.
  • Stellate cells also store vitamin A and remain dormant. Injured hepatocytes secrete paracrine factors and activate the stellate cells.
  • These stellate cells now lose vitamin A. They start proliferating under the influence of Transforming growth factor (TGF)  beta 1. This leads to the production of collagen in the extracellular matrix.
  • This slowly over a period of time develops to scar tissues. The liver shrinks – the main sign of cirrhosis and other associated symptoms develop.

 Role of alcohol in liver cirrhosis

  •  The liver is the main organ for alcohol metabolism.
  • An enzyme called alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) converts alcohol to acetaldehyde, which produces free radicals harmful to the body.
  • Acetaldehyde is metabolized to acetate with the help of the mitochondrial enzyme acetaldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH).
  • Here a compound NAD+ ( Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide) is reduced to NADH( H is for hydrogen). Higher NADH levels make more fatty acids and lower NAD+ levels mean less fatty acid oxidation both of which lead to excess fat production in the liver.
  •  The liver now starts looking more yellowish, large, and heavy.
  •  This is the fatty liver (steatosis).
  • As alcohol is converted to acetaldehyde, compounds like ROS (reactive oxygen species ) are also generated. ROS are highly reactive as they contain oxygen. These start reacting with the different components of hepatocytes (liver cells) like protein and even DNA. This causes serious damage to cells.
  • Acetaldehyde can also bind to all sorts of compounds inside the cell like enzymes and cell membranes. The result is that the functioning of that compound is inhibited. This leads to the formation of acetaldehyde adducts.
  • These adducts are now recognized as foreign by the immune system. This sends neutrophils to repair the damage, which results in the destruction of hepatocytes.
  • As the cells get inflamed and damaged, alcoholic hepatitis develops.
  • Liver enzymes like ALT  (alanine aminotransferase) and AST ( aspartate aminotransferase) leak from the damaged hepatocytes.  Alcoholic hepatitis individuals have elevated levels of AST in the blood.
  • The cytoplasm of hepatocytes develops protein bundles called Mallory bodies.
  • Cells gradually become more damaged and die off. Scar tissues start to form around the central veins of the liver giving rise to perivenular fibrosis.

Common liver cirrhosis symptoms

1. Early symptoms

  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Enlarged liver (hepatomegaly)
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Abdominal pain

2. Advanced symptoms

  • Jaundice yellowing of skin and eyes due to the inability of the liver to clear bilirubin.
  • High pressure in portal vein
  • Edema is fluid accumulation in the leg
  • Enlarged spleen
  • Fluid build-up in the belly(ascites).
  • Internal bleeding
  • Confusion due to the build-up of toxins( ammonia) in the brain (hepatic encephalopathy) and kidney failure.
  • Shrinkage of liver.

3. Complications

  • Increased risk of liver cancer
  • Needing a liver transplant

Diagnosis of liver cirrhosis

  • Liver biopsy
  • Elevated serum bilirubin
  • Elevated levels of liver enzymes: AST, ALT (transaminases ),  ALP
  • Thrombocytopenia ( low platelet levels)

Management of liver cirrhosis by changing lifestyle

  • Total abstinence from alcohol
  • The Paleo diet consists of more vegetables fruits, nuts, and whole grains, and omitting sugary processed food especially those that contain corn starch syrup.
  • Avoiding dairy products.
  • Maintaining a correct body weight.
  • A good amount of exercise.

Prevention

  • Adoption of a healthy lifestyle – Healthy weight and balanced diet with regular exercise
  • Regular tests for liver disease –  liver function tests measure bilirubin and liver enzymes in the blood.
  • Individuals with fatty liver, diabetes, and Hepatitis B, and C should be always under medical supervision.

Q&A

1. Can a person with liver cirrhosis drink alcohol?

No, total stoppage of intake of alcohol.

2. How long can an alcoholic live with cirrhosis?

About five to eight years.

3. What are the first signs of liver damage from alcohol?

Enlarged liver –hepatomegaly.

4. Can alcoholic liver cirrhosis be cured?

Only through a liver transplant.

Summary

  • Liver cirrhosis develops due to alcohol is the replacement of functionally damaged liver cells by nonfunctional scar tissues.
  • Cirrhosis progresses in three major stages.
  • The first stage is fatty liver condition.
  • Second stage is known as alcoholic hepatitis.
  • In the third stage, liver cirrhosis is a build-up of scar tissues in place of hepatic tissues (fibrosis) and liver shrinkage.
  • A major change in lifestyle, nonconsumption of alcohol, eating healthy, exercising, and maintaining correct weight can control liver cirrhosis.
  • Life expectancy in liver cirrhosis is five to eight years.  Now with advanced treatment facilities, it can be up to fifteen years. 

References

  1. Liver Physiology: Metabolism and Detoxification by Chiang J.
  2. https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/Physiology-of-the-liver-Tso-McGill/451216cfb9d6f78181c49ad75e7a0e3291376312

Written By: Ahana Mitra

Verpa bohemica: The early morel mushroom

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Know in one minute about Verpa bohemica

  • Verpa bohemica is a fungus belonging to the Morchelleae family.
  • It is also known as early morel.
  • This mushroom is one of the false morel mushrooms which is considered as an edible mushroom.
  • This mushroom is generally considered as edible but the large consumption of this mushroom may cause several health issues such as gastrointestinal upset and lack of muscle coordination.
  • Consumption of raw Verpa bohemica may result in mushroom poisoning, hence always cooked properly for eating.

Introduction

  • Verpa bohemica is a mushroom that comes under the morchelleae family of kingdom fungi. It is one of the morels, which is edible. It is known as an early morel or wrinkled thimble- cap.
  • The cap of this mushroom is generally small 2–4 cm in diameter and 2–5 cm long, pale yellow or brown thimble-shaped, and hanging from the top of a stem.
  • These mushrooms look like a thimble over a finger and without any attachment at its basis to the stipe (1).
  • Stems are longer than cap, brittle, and lighter in color, it is 12 cm long and 1 – 2.5 cm thick. Young stems are usually solid, whereas mature stems are hollow.
  • The spores of Verpa bohemica mushrooms are usually about 60 – 8- by 15 – 18 μm. per ascus only spores are present.
  • There is no specific taste or smell of this mushroom.
  • The Verpa bohemica resembles the Morchella populiphila and Morchella punctipes.

 Classification

Kingdom Fungi
Division Ascomycota
Class  Pezizomycetes
Order Pezizales
Family Morchellaceae
Genus Verpa
Species V. bohemica

 Common name

Verpa bohemica is commonly known as early morel or wrinkled thimble-cap.

Synonyms

Morchella bohemica Krombh. (1828)

Ptychoverpa bohemica (krombh.) Boud. (1907)

Medicinal value

The compound present in the extraction of this mushroom shows antimicrobial activity against several microbes.

Antimicrobial and antiviral activity of Verpa bohemica

The isolated compound such as Cpd1 pentadecanoic acid, Cpd 2 Ergosterol ( Ergosta- 5,7, 22- trien–ol ) and Cpd 3 5- Hydroxymethylfurfural shows inhibitory effect against several bacteria and virus such as P. aeruginosa, P. vulgaris, S, aureus. The isolated compound shows significant inhibitory effects owing to its specific target nature against pathogens.

Anti-fungal activity of Verpa bohemica

The butanol extract of verpa bohemica shows inhibitory effects against the C. albicans and C. kruesie.

Side effects of Verpa bohemica

This mushroom is considered an edible mushroom in some regions only if consumed properly cooked. Raw or partially cooked mushrooms may cause many health issues such as gastrointestinal upset and lack of muscle coordination.

According to Beug et al. (2014), Verpa bohemica is edible for some but poisonous to many others, causing variable reactions, including severe gastrointestinal upset and a temporary lack of muscle coordination.

 Verpa bohemica vs morel

Verpa bohemica

 

Morel

 

 

Verpa bohemica are wrinkled thimble caps in shape

Morels are regular in shape
 

There are folds seen in the cap of Verpa bohemica.

Pits are present in the morels
 

Verpa bohemica hanging from the top of a stem.

Morels are generally directly attached to the stem

 Q&A

1. Can you eat Verpa?

This mushroom is generally considered as edible but the large consumption of this mushroom may cause several health issues such as gastrointestinal upset and lack of muscle coordination. Consumption of raw Verpa bohemica may result in mushroom poisoning, hence always cooked properly for eating.

2. Can you eat Gyromitra caroliniana?

Yes, If cooked properly Gyromitra caroliniana is an edible mushroom.

3. How do you tell the difference between fake morel and real morel?

There are several differences between real and fake morel, which are given below,

Real/ true morel

False/ fake morel

True morels are generally uniform in shape. False morel are irregular or squashed in shape
True morels are pitted inward Outward bulging is found in false morels.
These morels are covered in pits and ridges. These morels are more wavey and lobed
These morels are directly attached to the stem These morels hang freely off the stem.

 

Written By: Neetu Ladiya