Gardening

Intoxicating plants

Intoxicating plants



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Intoxicating plants: intoxicating fruits




Man has always drawn much of his livelihood from plants. Some of the plants most used for food also have considerable medicinal properties, and even if we do not realize it we make daily use of them, taking advantage of the properties that these plants have.
Of the many medicinal plants used in the kitchen, three are certainly widespread throughout the globe and in all cultures, exported from one continent to another by conquerors, merchants or missionaries.
The first, the one that has been consumed in Europe for the longest time, originates from Africa; already the ancient Romans seem to have known about its use, it is now widespread all over the world and its strong stimulating properties are exploited; this is Coffea arabica.
This small shrub is now also cultivated in South America and in much of Africa and in the Middle East; in Europe the roasted seeds are used, but the plant is cultivated only in the apartment, since it fears the cold. In places of origin the coffee reaches 3-4 meters in height, and is grown in partial shade; every year it produces innumerable small seeds, covered with a soft pulp, with fiery red peel.
The cleaned seeds are green, are dried in the air and then are toasted; the degree of roasting will give the aroma to the drink, traditionally obtained by infusing the powder of the roasted seeds.
In addition to its aroma, coffee is used for its medicinal properties, in fact the powder of toasted seeds is rich in an alkaloid, called caffeine, a strong stimulant; this stimulating action is exploited by consuming the drink, but also for producing body creams and to exploit its vasodilatory and diuretic properties.
The other intoxicating plants
In addition to coffee, whose consumption has been known in Europe for centuries, the second plant that has arrived on our tables comes from Asia; it is about you, whose use was imported into our continent by missionaries.
This drink is produced by infusion, using the young shoots of large camellia shrubs, which are dried and / or fermented.
The Camellia sinensis, from which the precious leaflets of tea are obtained, is cultivated mainly in central and southern Asia, where this drink is used very intensively. There are various species of you, roughly we remember the two main types: the green tea and the black tea. These are small leaves obtained from the same plant, but the black tea is macerated and fermented before being dried and chopped, instead the green tea is simply dried, therefore the foliage retains part of the chlorophyll.
The tea infusion of tea contains polyphenols, very useful for fighting cellular aging and free radicals; this drink also has a diuretic and purifying effect; moreover the theine it contains is an exciting, very similar to caffeine. Green tea is richer in polyphenols than black tea and has a stronger diuretic and purifying effect.
The third plant widespread in our kitchens is the Teobroma cacao; the botanical name that was given to him means food of the gods, we can already understand its delicacy from here, but after all I do not believe that there is a European who has not enjoyed chocolate pleasures at least once in his life.
Cocoa is obtained from the large seeds contained in the fruits of the cocoa teobroma, these seeds are dried, fermented and roasted; from these processes a compact and viscous paste is obtained, which is further refined to obtain the cocoa powder or the mass with which chocolate is produced.
Cocoa also contains small traces of caffeine, and is therefore mildly exciting; the active ingredient for which chocolate is consumed is, however, theobromine, an alkaloid with a euphoric effect; it seems that the effect on the brain of chocolate is similar to that of falling in love.