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The IMMUNE SYSTEM

The immune system is a host defense system comprising many biological structures and processes within an organism that protects against disease. To function properly, an immune system must detect a wide variety of agents, known as pathogens, from viruses to parasitic worms, and distinguish them from the organism's own healthy tissue. In many species, there are two major subsystems of the immune system: the innate immune system and the adaptive immune system. Both subsystems use humoral immunity and cell-mediated immunity to perform their functions. In humans, the blood–brain barrier, blood–cerebrospinal fluid barrier, and similar fluid–brain barriers separate the peripheral immune system from the neuroimmune system, which protects the brain. Pathogens can rapidly evolve and adapt, and thereby avoid detection and neutralization by the immune system; however, multiple defense mechanisms have also evolved to recognize and neutralize pathogens. Even simple unicellular organisms such as bacteria possess a rudimentary immune system in the form of enzymes that protect against bacteriophage infections. Other basic immune mechanisms evolved in ancient eukaryotes and remain in their modern descendants, such as plants and invertebrates. These mechanisms include phagocytosis, antimicrobial peptides called defensins, and the complement system. Jawed vertebrates, including humans, have even more sophisticated defense mechanisms,  including the ability to adapt over time to recognize specific pathogens more efficiently. Adaptive (or acquired) immunity creates immunological memory after an initial response to a specific pathogen, leading to an enhanced response to subsequent encounters with that same pathogen. This process of acquired immunity is the basis of vaccination. Disorders of the immune system can result in autoimmune diseases, inflammatory diseases and cancer. Immunodeficiency occurs when the immune system is less active than normal, resulting in recurring and life-threatening infections. In humans, immunodeficiency can either be the result of a genetic disease such as severe combined immunodeficiency, acquired conditions such as HIV/AIDS, or the use of immunosuppressive medication. In contrast, autoimmunity results from a hyperactive immune system attacking normal tissues as if they were foreign organisms. Common autoimmune diseases include Hashimoto's thyroiditis, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes mellitus type 1, and systemic lupus erythematosus. Immunology covers the study of all aspects of the immune system.

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Feature

The Herb Corner

Angelica (wild celery)

Angelica has been cultivated as an herb and medicinal plant for centuries, and achieved popularity in Scandinavia as far back as the 12th century. Roots, fruits and stems are all useful. 

Cultivation and uses.

Some species are grown as flavouring agents or for their medicinal properties. The most notable of these is garden angelica (A. archangelica), which is commonly known simply as angelica. Natives of Lapland use the fleshy roots as food and the stalks as medicine. Crystallized strips of young angelica stems and midribs are green in colour and are sold as decorative and flavoursome cake decoration material, but may also be enjoyed on their own. The roots and seeds are sometimes used to flavour gin. Its presence accounts for the distinct flavour of many liqueurs, such as Chartreuse. Among the Sami people of Lapland, the plant is used to make a traditional musical instrument the fadno. Seacoast angelica (A. lucida) has been eaten as a wild version of celery. In parts of Japan, especially the Izu Islands, the shoots and leaves of ashitaba (A. keiskei) are eaten as tempura, particularly in the spring. A. sylvestris and some other species are eaten by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species, including bordered pug, grey pug, lime-speck pug and the V-pug. A. dawsonii was used by several first nations in North America for ritual purposes. A. atropurpurea is found in North America from Newfoundland west to Wisconsin and south to Maryland, and was smoked by Missouri tribes for colds and respiratory ailments. This species is very similar in appearance to the poisonous water hemlock. The boiled roots of angelica were applied internally and externally to wounds by the Aleut people in Alaska to speed healing. The herb, also known by the Chinese name, bai zhi, and Latin name, radix angelicae dahurica, is used medicinally in traditional Chinese medicine. 

Another herb another time.

For delicious recipes using Angelica visit https://www.yummly.co.uk/recipes/angelica

 

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