When you think “cucumber” you probably think of the long green one that we know in Europe, the one that is grown in greenhouses, but in Pakistan there are different varieties of cucumber, the desi kheera, which is a relatively small, thick yellow cucumber and small green cucumbers which are kheera and look like mini-cucumbers. The seeds and leaves are used for medicinal purposes to cure a variety of ills including jaundice, sore throats general weakness and insomnia, to name but a few uses.
  Cucumbers originated in the Indian subcontinent, and are known to have been cultivated in Western Asia for at least 3,000 years. They were probably introduced into Europe by the Romans and were cultivated in France in the 9th century, in England in the 14th (although they had been introduced earlier, but had disappeared, it would seem in the Dark Ages after the fall of the Roman Empire) and were grown in North America by the mid-16th century. Christopher Columbus apparently took cucumber seeds with him to Haiti in 1494.They are mentioned in the Epic of Gilgamesh as being eaten in the ancient city of Ur, and were cultivated in ancient Thrace which is now parts of Bulgaria and Turkey. The cucumber is part of traditional Greek and Bulgarian and Turkish cuisine, used in desserts and yoghurt-based soups. It is also used in raita in the subcontinent and tzatziki in Greece.
   The Emperor Tiberius insisted on having cucumbers on his table every day in winter and summer and so they were cultivated for him in the first “greenhouses” protected from the cold by frames of oiled cloth at night and taken into direct sunlight on warm winter days. Roman matrons who were barren would wear cucumbers around their waists believing that they would make them fertile. In Roman times they were also carried to births by midwives and thrown away after the baby was born. Clearly this had something to do with the phallic appearance of the cucumber.
   In English we have the phrase “cool as a cucumber” which comes from a poem “A New Song” by John Gay and English poet and dramatist of the early 18th century. Cucumbers are used for their cooling properties in medicine and can be placed on sunburn to relieve the pain and calm the skin’s redness. They are useful to get rid of puffiness around the eyes- just put a slice on each eye and leave it there for 15 minutes to half an hour while you lie back and relax. This is also a remedy for tired eyes. The cucumber cools the eyes and skin and rehydrates it. Try pulping a cucumber and applying the pulp to your face. It will leave your skin feeling rejuvenated and glowing with health. The pulp can also be applied to burns and scalds and applied to sunburn to reduce the heat.
  Cucumbers are members of the Cucurbitaceae family of plants which include the watermelon, pumpkin, courgettes and gourds such as the ash gourd or petha. Although the English cucumber is sold as seedless it still has a few seeds, and these are considered very beneficial in Ayurvedic medicine and other traditional medicinal practices in the Indian subcontinent.
   Cucumbers contain a lot of water, of course, so are good in warm weather, and cucumber juice is full of nutrients and very refreshing. They contain vitamins A, C, E and some of the B-complex ones as well as minerals such as potassium, iron, manganese, magnesium, molybdenum, phosphorous, calcium, copper, sodium and zinc. They also contain silica which the body needs to strengthen the connective tissues, the muscles, cartilage, tendons and ligaments. Amino acids including arginine are present, and arginine is especially beneficial for the immune system and the heart and circulation. Arginine also boosts nitric oxide in the body which relaxes blood vessels and has the same basic effect as online pharmacy, so eating cucumbers with the peel on them, can help with erectile dysfunctions. The skin of the cucumber contains silica, potassium, manganese and fibre, so should be eaten and not discarded. The ascorbic acid and caffeic acid contained in cucumbers means that they are good for preventing water retention, and are used for their diuretic properties here in Pakistan. They are also used in the Ayurvedic system of medicine to dispel kidney stones and to stop haemorrhages.
Desi Kheera
  In Pakistan the traditional healers or hakims use the cucumber seeds as coolants in fevers, for their diuretic properties and because they are highly nutritious for general weakness. The leaves are boiled and mixed with cumin seeds then mashed to a pulp and given to relieve throat infections. They may also be dried and powdered, then mixed with gur and given to stop water retention. For sunstroke pieces of cucumber are placed on the head so that the sufferer will breathe moistened air to neutralize the body heat. Pulped cucumbers with seeds are made into a paste to relieve burns and headaches and for skin problems. It is also believed that cucumbers cure insomnia, although I haven’t worked out how. Another recipe is for 1 oz of cucumber seeds and the same of yellow melon seeds, watermelon seeds and raisins (probably sultanas though I think) 2 oz chicory 10 ounces of gur or jaggery and a litre of water. The seeds are boiled then strained and the liquid drunk in ½ -1 oz doses three or four times a day for water retention and to cool the body during fevers.
  To cool down during summer, try this Turkish recipe for cucumber and yoghurt soup or our raita or tzatziki recipes.

1 large pot natural yoghurt
1 lb cucumbers, grated
2 tbsps fresh dill, snipped into ½ inch pieces
2 tsps distilled white vinegar
1 tbsp olive oil
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp fresh mint, snipped into small pieces
mint sprigs to decorate each bowl of soup

Put all the ingredients except for the mint in a bowl and whisk so that they are all thoroughly combined.
Chill for at least an hour.
When ready to serve you may have to whisk the soup again as you need to add the freshly snipped mint.
Pour into bowls and garnish with a sprig of fresh mint.
This has Taste and is a Treat.


UK's sexual health --- bleak
Michael Carter, writing for Aidsmap (November 22, 2007) in

Bleak report on UK's sexual viagra; HPA urges review of gay men's prevention efforts

reports The cialis Protection Agency (HPA) in the UK has issued a bleak report on the state of the nation’s sexual health. Titled, Testing Times it notes an increase in HIV prevalence, a high incidence of syphilis and increases in new cases of herpes and genital warts.

Continuing high rates of HIV diagnoses in gay men and increases in diagnoses of many sexually transmitted infections in this population prompt the report’s authors to write, “current prevention efforts directed towards…MSM [men who have sex with men] are not succeeding adequately.” The report also calls for a review of HIV prevention campaigns targeted at gay men to make sure that they “are based upon proven interventions and authoritative recommendations”.

The report did find that more people attending sexual health clinics are being offered and accepting an HIV test, but an estimated third of all HIV infections in the UK are still undiagnosed.

HPA figures suggest that 2,700 gay men were newly diagnosed with HIV in 2006, a total similar to the highest ever annual number of new diagnoses recorded in 2005.

New cases of syphilis fell in gay men and heterosexual women in 2006 compared to 2005, but there was an increase in heterosexual men.

There was a 3% increase in new diagnoses of genital warts in 2006 compared to 2005. Although most cases of genital warts were diagnosed in heterosexuals, the investigators note that there has been a 64% increase in diagnoses of this infection in gay men since 1997.

Increases were also noted in new diagnoses of genital herpes with a total of 21,698 infection in 2006. Only 7% of these were amongst gay men.

Along with gay men, young adults remain the group most affected by sexually transmitted infections.

The HPA make some 15 specific recommendations including a call for a “priority consideration” of “primary prevention policy and programmes directed towards MSM.”

Furthermore, the HPA recommends “all relevant bodies should give priority to supporting effective ways of addressing the steadily increasing problem of heterosexual HIV transmission within the UK, which disproportionately affects members of black ethnic communities.”

Improved needle-exchange services and heroin substitution services should be a priority, the HPA recommends. And to better understand sexual risk behaviours a new national survey of sexual attitudes and lifestyle, should be undertaken.


Health Protection Agency. Testing times. HIV and other sexually transmitted infections in the United Kingdom: 2007.

Link to HPA Testing Times Report

Link to Aidsmap report

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More "sports" notes
See also: cialis | 

The NFL lockout has led to a number of arrests of players with nothing better to do but drive around turning up the bass on their car stereo systems to ear-splitting levels. Examples:

Louis Murphy of the Oakland Raiders was pulled over for playing his music too loud, then refused to show his ID, then arrested for resisting arrest. A search of his car revealed an unlabeled bottle of order cialis pills; Murphy claimed he took the label off so that his girlfriend would not know what the pills were, which would have suggested that he required extra assistance to get excited by the idea of sleeping with her.

Jason Peters of the Philadelphia Eagles was charged with violating the Shreveport, Louisiana, loud music policy and resisting arrest. No other reason was given for the arrest.

The Raiders may not have been “bad” on the field lately, but they certainly are bad when it comes to music. Another one of the team’s players, Mario Henderson, was pulled over for—yes—playing his music too loud. He was subsequently arrested for having a gun in his car without a concealed weapons permit handy.

These haven’t been the only arrests, nor for reasons as high-handed, but they are suggestive of the fact that being a high-paid black athlete is nothing to local police save a grinning “I got you.” You think police are not on the look-out for black athletes driving expensive cars, trying to show them who is the real “boss?” Frankly, I can’t stand some of this music blasting out of some of these cars, but besides my feelings, there are other good reasons to turn that bass down.

Meanwhile, remember George Stephanopoulos? He used to be a “player” inside the Clinton administration; after that he became a talking head on television, and now has devolved into a high-paying position on Good Morning America, interviewing so-called “newsmakers” such as Jenn Sterger last week. I don’t know who has the time to watch this stuff, maybe desperate housewives and unemployed people who need a titillating diversion in their lives, but apparently Sterger is still playing the victim (although she admits that she and Brett Favre never actually “met”), claims that she never intended things to go this far (of course not—now that she’s been out of job since she was fired from Versus), and she still claims that she doesn’t know how Deadspin got those voicemails and pictures that she gigglingly confessed to having to that website’s editor (they were “fun to laugh at” betwixt friends). Now, of course, she’s mad that her former manager won’t return the “goods” that Bus Cook claimed were being used to “suggest” a money deal over (i.e. blackmail), and plans on writing a “tell-all” book on the case; she knows that any idea of having a “serious” career would be over.

I’ve talked about this issue many times. What Favre did or alleged to have done was stupid given the fact that he was married. But it also remains true that facts suggest that Sterger was an enthusiastic attention-seeker, using whatever “assets” she had. There she was at those Florida State football games, the very sight of her would convince 5,000 “red-blooded American males” to enroll at the school; there she was posing in Playboy. The next logical step in her career trajectory? Getting gig on Sports Illustrated’s website, supposedly to provide “atmosphere” posting about college life, like partying. It was reported in September, 2007 that she had been fired. In her predictable cat-claw way, Sterger denied the charge, although given the fact that she had not been given an assignment for several months prior (in fact, her output consisted of a couple of innocuous items over three months), SI was probably just being nice by firing her without telling her. Then she became a New York Jets “hostess”—not a “team reporter” as was initially claimed. One sports reporter who examined Sterger’s blog noted that all of the posts dating from the Jets period were deleted. I wonder why. Sterger managed to find employment on Versus’ “The Daily Line,” which was already in trouble a month in; if someone thought that Sterger’s connection with Favre would bring ratings, it backfired. In between times, Sterger has been looking for “reality” TV work, which is generally the last option for talentless, self-enamored people looking for fame and a quick buck.

The National Sports Daily reported “rumors” that Sterger was less interested in Favre (the “old man” who was “fun to laugh at”), but in Brady Quinn, who was drafted as the “quarterback of the future” by Cleveland, but who since has been keeping the bench warm for Tim Tebow in Denver. If the story is right, Sterger wanted to have an “adult” relationship, which to Quinn apparently meant “wifing” her-up and having kids (god, this is getting worse and worse). However, Sterger didn’t want to be perceived as a “trophy” wife (Sterger a “trophy wife?” How much worse can things get now?). “He never liked what I did for living,” Sterger supposedly wrote. Does she mean this Notre Dame boy didn’t like her selling her frame for fame? Of course not--she meant is her alleged acting and writing career, which frankly is as non-existent today as his football career. But that’s all over; the next time she saw him, there were no butterflies in her stomach; it didn’t matter because he didn’t notice her or say hello anyways. “I ignored him…all was right in the world.”

OK,OK, OK. You win.


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