Inside of a peach

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Peach Seed (tao ren)

What is peach seed? What is it used for?

Peach seeds come from the fruit of the peach tree (prunus persica), which are believed to have originated in China but are now found throughout the world’s temperate regions. Spanish explorers are believed to have brought the peach to the New World; documents show that peach trees were being grown and cultivated in Mexico as early as the beginning of the 17th century. Cultivated peach trees are somewhat shorter than wild peach trees, reaching an average height of 12 to 15 feet. Peaches usually develop during the spring and ripen in the summer, and consist of a soft, fleshy exterior (with a downy, fuzzy skin) and a hard interior, often called a stone or pit.

Peach seeds are enclosed within the stone. In China, peach seeds are harvested after a peach ripens by cracking open the stone, harvesting the seeds and drying them in the sun. After being dried, the seeds’ skins are peeled off. They are typically used either raw or parched.

Peach seed is considered to have bitter, sweet and neutral properties, and is affiliated with the Heart, Large Intestine, Liver and Lung channels. In traditional Chinese medicine principles, it invigorates the blood, removes stasis, and moistens the intestines.

Peach pit is used to treat a variety of conditions related to the blood, such as amenorrhea and dysmenorrhea. An extract found in peach seeds, amygdalin, has been shown in some studies to effectively treat hepatosplenomegaly, a condition that causes abnormal enlargement of the liver and spleen. The fats and oils contained in peach seeds help moisten and lubricate the intestines, and can treat constipation. Peach seeds are also sometimes used to help relieve coughs.

How much peach seed should I take?

The typical recommended dose of peach seed is 6 to 10 grams per day. Some practitioners recommend a slightly lower dose (between 4.5 and 9 grams of peach seed), either ground into a powder or used in a decoction.

What forms of peach seed are available?

Peach seed is available as a powder or decoction. Extracts of some components found in peach seeds can be found at herbal shops and nutrition stores.

What can happen if I take too much peach seed? Are there any interactions I should be aware of? What precautions should I take?

Peach seed can contain high levels of hydrogen cyanide, a toxic compound. Although hydrogen cyanide is usually present in levels too small to cause any harm, excess amounts can cause headaches, blurred vision and heart palpitations. Therefore, very bitter seeds should be avoided. Peach seeds can also promote the contraction of the uterus, and should be avoided by women who are pregnant and/or breastfeeding. In addition, patients with loose stools or diarrhea should not consume peach seed or peach seed extracts.

As of this writing, there are no known drug interactions with peach seeds. As always, however, make sure to consult with a licensed health care professional before taking peach seeds or any other herbal remedies or dietary supplements.

  • Liu CH, et al. The pharmacology of tao ren. Journal of Pharmacology and Clinical Application of TCM 1989;2:46-47.
  • Liu QZ. The pharmacology of tao ren’s water-soluble components. Journal of Chinese Patented Medicine Research 1987;8:47.
  • Rui HK, et al. The chemical composition of tao ren oil. Journal of Chinese Patent Medicine 1992;14(2):33.
  • Sun WK, et al. Tao ren’s effect in counteracting liver damages due to lipid peroxidation. Hunan Journal of Medicine 1993;9(6):47-48.
  • Zhuang SSS, et al. Tao ren: its chemistry, pharmacology, and biochemistry. Foreign Medicine Volume of TCM 1987;4:31-36.

Q. If you take a winter vacation in the Southern Hemisphere, it’s summer, so do you see the summer constellations?

A. “Yes, but you won’t see our summer stars, but their summer stars,” said Dr. Allan J. Friedman, director of the New York Hall of Science in Queens. “You see another set of constellations, including many we never see, summer or winter.”

As you travel south, the constellations near Polaris, our north star, get lower and lower in the sky. The Big Dipper has disappeared by the time you get to Argentina. Among the striking features never seen in the Northern Hemisphere are the Southern Cross and Centaurus, the man/ horse. Alpha centaurii, the brightest star of Centaurus, is the closest star to the Earth save for the Sun.

We have these different views of the universe because the Earth is a ball and is in orbit around an axis that is pretty much fixed with respect to the stars, Dr. Friedman said. From the southern half of the ball, “we see the stars in the ‘southern’ part of the universe as if they were going around in a circle above us,” he said.

Readers are invited to submit questions about science to Questions, Science Times, The New York Times, 229 West 43d Street, New York, N.Y. 10036. Questions of general interest will be answered in this column, but requests for medical advice cannot be honored and unpublished letters cannot be answered individually.

Peaches and nectarines were grown in Asia for centuries, before their introduction to the West made them popular exports. Early botanists noticed that nectarines sometimes grew on a peach tree and vice versa, finding that only one significant thing separates the two: a peach has fuzzy skin, while a nectarine’s is smooth (caused by a recessive gene). They both have the same rich flavour and they can be used interchangeably in a wide variety of recipes. There are some small differences to take note of, however:

Peaches

Peaches are usually larger, softer and juicier than nectarines, containing a rounder pit. The two main varieties of peaches are clingstone (the flesh sticks to the stone) and freestone (the stone is easily separated from the flesh). They can have yellow or white flesh, which is sweeter and less acidic than its golden counterpart. A large peach has less than 70 calories and has 3 grams of fibre, and is also a good source of vitamins A and C.

Tips:
1. To ripen overly firm peaches, will ripen when placed in a brown paper bag for two to three days.
2. Toss sliced peaches with lemon or lime juice to prevent browning.

Try them in:
Peach crisp
Peach & prosciutto salad
Peach salsa

Nectarines

Nectarines are smaller than peaches but are sweeter than peaches, hence its name, which comes from nectar (sweet). The skin of a nectarine is smooth and glossy, often a much deeper red than a peach, but the flesh is similar, either yellow or white. They have more vitamin C, potassium and twice the amount of vitamin A than a peach. If a nectarine is too hard, allow it to ripen at room temperature for a few days.

Tip: Avoid hard, dull-looking nectarines. This is often a sign that they’re underdeveloped (from being picked too early).

Try them in:
Grilled nectarine crumble
Shrimp quesadillas with nectarines
Chicken, nectarine & plum stir-fry

Related:
22 peach recipes to try before summer’s over
Pantry 101: Sweet vs. sour cherries
Pantry 101: Plain vs. Greek yogurt

Peach Pit Split

Thank you for your prompt response. It is much appreciated.
Peach Split Pit When cut open, fruit with split pits (as seen on the bottom) may be rotted, have insects or moldy growth inside.
Cause A physiological problem. The exact causes of pit breakage are unknown. Low temperatures and/or freeze damage during flowering and early fruit development may be factors. Fruit of most early cultivars enters the final swell of growth before the pit is completely hardened. As the fruit enlarges rapidly, stress exerted by the expanding flesh causes (or enhances) much of the pit fracturing.
Symptoms The term “split pit” normally refers to the opening of the pit at the stem end of the fruit. This split becomes evident in the third stage of fruit growth, usually referred to as the final swell. Fruit generally develops rot problems much more quickly than sound fruit, and the risk is higher that disease will spread more rapidly from split-pit fruit to other fruit.
Cultural control: Do not overthin, Do not apply excessive nitrogen .

A very common defect you may come across while inspecting peaches is split pit. You may notice an opening around the stem, a slightly misshapen peach, or when you cut the peach lengthwise your knife easily slides through the center of a peach.

This peach was cut crosswise and the inspector noticed the split pit. If you look into the U.S. Grade Standards for Peaches you will find split pits are a defect, in fact it states it must be free from injury by split pits, for the U.S. No. 1 Grade. So what do you think? A scorable defect?

Even though the USDA is a bit confusing using the term “Free from injury,” there is a guideline to follow when determining if a split is indeed scorable. I would look at these four criteria:

  1. If the fruit is misshapen, due to the split pit, score the peach as a defect.
  2. If any crack around the stem end is unhealed (leaking juice), score the peach as a defect.
  3. If the crack at the stem end is healed, but exceeds 1/16 of an inch in width at its widest point, score the peach as a defect.
  4. If there is mold found affecting the split pit, score the peach as a defect.

Remember, if only of these criteria is met the peach is scored as a defect.

In the above image you can see the healed crack, from the split pit. To determine it this is scorable the width of the crack (not the length) would have to exceed 1/16 of an inch. This peach would be scored as a defect, in fact it would be scored as a serious damage defect, because it exceeds 3/16 of an inch.

The peaches you find with split pits are considered as being quality defects, meaning the defect will not progress of become worse, a larger split for example.

But I always recommend to cut the peaches open when you encounter split pits because mold is commonly found, due to the split or crack allowing for an aerobic environment, ideal for mold growth. This peach would be scored as a serious damage defect, a free from defect, scored when there is any visible sign of mold.

Peach (Prunus persica)-Split Pit

Cause A physiological problem. The exact causes of pit breakage are unknown. Low temperatures and/or freeze damage during flowering and early fruit development may be factors. Fruit of most early peach cultivars enters the final swell of growth before the pit is completely hardened. As the fruit enlarges rapidly, stress exerted by the expanding flesh causes (or enhances) much of the pit fracturing. Because most early varieties are cling types, the strong attachment of flesh to pit probably enhances the forces exerted on the immature pit by the expanding flesh. Cultural practices that enhance fruit size (such as thinning, nitrogen application, girdling, and irrigation) usually increase the level of split pit. If freezes excessively reduce fruit loads, generally pit breakage increases. Excessive rain in the latter stages of fruit growth is another uncontrollable variable that aggravates pit breakage.

Symptoms The term “split pit” normally refers to the opening of the pit at the stem end of the fruit. This split becomes evident in the third stage of fruit growth, usually referred to as the final swell. Fruit generally develops rot problems much more quickly than sound fruit, and the risk is higher that disease will spread more rapidly from split-pit fruit to other fruit.

Cultural control

  • Leave heavier crops on problem cultivars.
  • Do not apply excessive nitrogen too close to harvest.
  • Reduce or eliminate future plantings of the more troublesome cultivars.

PMC

DISCUSSION

This study showed that protein plugs and stones develop in residual IPCCs after partial excision, and they can be treated with ERCP. Whitish plugs and stones were detected in our patients at 3 and 21 years after cyst excision. We believe that plugs and stones have the same pathogenic mechanism and characteristics but that the form depends on the amount of time that has elapsed after cyst excision.

Ideally, an extrahepatic dilated bile duct and IPCCs should be completely resected during the primary operation . Complete excision of the extrahepatic component combined with cholecystectomy, followed by Roux-en-Y hepaticojejunostomy, is considered the treatment of choice. Complete excision involves resection of the bile duct from the confluence of the hepatic duct proximally up to the pancreatico-biliary junction distally . However, when the lesion extends deep into the pancreas, complete resection is difficult, and remnant IPCCs are associated with complications such as recurrent pancreatitis, protein plug or stone formation, and malignant transformation .

Protein plug or stone formation in residual IPCCs is not rare. One study reported that protein plugs and stones were detected in 28%–36% of IPCCs by routine intraoperative endoscopy during cyst excision . However, if complete cyst excision was ensured using intraoperative endoscopy, the incidence of stone formation reduced to 5.3% .

Coexistence of an AUPBD is reported in 50%–80% cases of CCs . Reflux of protein juice to the remnant biliary cyst is the main pathogenic mechanism of protein plugs or calculi. The plausible pathogenesis of protein plug or stone formation inside IPCCs is as follows : The presence of a remnant IPCC leads to the formation of a dead space within the pancreas. Owing to the concomitant presence of an AUPBD, pancreatic secretion is forced into this space. If the function of the duodenal papilla is normal and duodenal juice is not regurgitated, patients who merely retain pancreatic secretions in the cyst space may not develop symptoms. However, most patients with congenital cystic dilatation of the bile duct have anatomical anomalies, and abnormal function of the duodenal papilla results in backflow of intestinal secretions, which activates pancreatic enzymes in the remnant cyst, leading to infection, formation of intrabiliary carcinogens, and an increased risk of malignancy.

We suggest that incomplete resection of CC during the primary operation and the increase in intraluminal pressure in the pancreatic duct caused by the dynamic obstruction produced by a protein plug or pancreatic stone play an important role in dilatation of the choledochal remnant after congenital CC excision.

Chemical and infrared spectrometric analyses of stones showed that albumin (more than 98%) and calcium (0.53%) were the main components, indicating that the composition was different from that of typical pancreatic and bile duct stones . Protein plugs are white and fragile and comprise over 90% protein with concentrated pancreatic juice . In the present study as well, the plugs were whitish and fragile, appeared radiolucent in abdominal CT scans, and showed no acoustic shadowing on EUS. In contrast, the stones were white and hard and produced an acoustic shadowing.

The treatment options for residual IPCCs are reoperation for complete resection, close observation, and endoscopic treatment. Most studies showed that radical excision of the dilated cystic remnant, buried in the pancreatic head, was associated with low morbidity rates and yielded favorable long-term outcomes . The efficacy of endoscopic removal of protein plugs/stones remains debatable. ERCP has been reported as a useful technique to treat acute pancreatitis induced by remnant cysts . However, a study reported recurrent stones in and pancreatic juice reflux to IPCCs after EST, indicating that complete resection of the cysts is mandatory to prevent future problems . We believe that in our patients, EST and/or EPBD widened the common channel, so close follow-up for more than 1 year was mainly needed.

The risk of malignant transformation after incomplete excision of IPCCs should be carefully considered. The incidence of metachronous carcinoma was found to depend on resection completeness, and it is reportedly 0.7% –11.3% in the case of incomplete resection and 20%–30% in the case of untreated CCs . Additionally, a study showed that this risk at 15, 20, and 25 years after cyst excision was 1.6%, 3.9%, and 11.3%, respectively . One study reported that the average time between incomplete CC excision and the diagnosis of malignancy was 140 months . The risk of malignancy is also related to the type of CCs: it is higher for types I and IV than it is for types II, III, and V .

Our patients, both young women, refused re-operation for complete resection and preferred close follow-up. There is currently no consensus or recommendation on the proper follow-up interval and methods. Long-term follow-up for bile duct cancer is widely accepted, using abdominal CT scan, pancreatic endosonography, or magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography and laboratory investigations including liver function parameters and tumor markers (carcinoembryonic antigen , carbohydrate antigen 19-9, and cancer antigen -125) conducted every 6–12 months .

In conclusion, through this report on two cases of protein plugs and stones, we attempt to explain the process of stone formation in remnant IPCCs. Reoperation for complete resection is recommended in such cases. If not, symptomatic treatment with ERCP and close surveillance for cholangiocarcinoma are mandatory.

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Waukesha County. A cut stone foundation in good condition. Source: WHS – Historic Preservation – Public History.

If your historic house or building is over 100 years old, it might have a stone foundation. Your stone foundation will consist of limestone, sandstone or a variety of field or river stones. The problems you might face with your stone foundation will depend on the type of stone foundation you have in your historic structure.

Limestone and Sandstone Foundations

Limestone and sandstone foundations are constructed with cut blocks or rubble stones that can be small or large. Each block or stone is a different size and usually consists of broken pieces interlocked together. The color of these stones ranges from off-white to red, with shades of beige being the most typical colors.

Limestone and sandstone are a softer type of rock. To determine whether your stone is limestone or sandstone, use a screwdriver to scratch a stone in an inconspicuous interior location. Limestone will scratch with a bit of effort, while the even softer sandstone will scratch with little effort.

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Green Lake County. Field stone foundations were typically used for barns as seen in this photo. Source: WHS – Historic Preservation – Public History.

Field and River Stone Foundations

Field and river stone foundations are made up of many types of stones and rock that vary in color. The stones tend to be more rounded in shape. These stones are much harder than limestone or sandstone and will not scratch as easily.

Rubble Stone Foundations

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Typical rubble stone foundation as seen from the building’s exterior. Source: Bob Yapp

Rubble stone foundations are the oldest type of construction technique used for stone foundations. This method dates back thousands of years, and was used in the earliest pyramids of Mexico, Central America and South America. Your Wisconsin house might have a rubble stone foundation if it dates from around 1850 to as late as 1890.

The footings of a rubble stone foundation wall consist of large, flat stones, usually made of limestone, laid at the bottom of the foundation trench. These stones are generally at least one-third wider than the stone wall placed above them. The foundation walls are constructed of random sized, uncut stones that are carefully fit into rows in an interlocking fashion. Lime-based mortar is installed between the stones.

The exterior of some rubble stone foundations is parged—covered with a lime-based, stucco-like coating. The parging is applied from the top of the foundation wall down to the stone footing. In many cases, lines were tooled into the above-ground parging while it was still wet to simulate the appearance of block stone.

If you have a rubble stone foundation, you have one of the most trouble-free and easily repaired foundations. Even if massive quantities of mortar have failed, the interlocked stones tend to stay in place.

Block-Faced Rubble Stone Foundations

If your foundation has one layer of uniform, cut stone blocks on the exterior, it could be a block-faced rubble stone foundation. This type of foundation is essentially the same as a rubble stone foundation except it has a more finished, uniform look on the exterior.

Cut-Stone Block Foundations

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Iron Block Building, 1899

Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Here is a rubble stone foundation wall with an inverted brick arch detail. Source: WHS – Historic Preservation – Public History.

A cut-stone block foundation is constructed of stones cut into uniform blocks at the stone quarry. The stones were laid with lime-based mortar in early houses. The stones were laid with mortar and a small amount of Portland cement in later houses.

Typical Stone Foundation Problems

You may want to hire a preservation masonry professional to identify the cause of any problems you are having with your stone foundation.

The most common problems you are likely to encounter with your stone foundation are discussed below. Click the link on each subject to learn how to solve the problem.

Common Problem Learn More
  • Mortar is missing or crumbling between your stones.
Repairing Mortar on Your Historic Masonry Building
  • Your stones always seem wet and are deteriorating from excessive moisture. To solve this problem, you need to get the water to move away from your foundation. Grade the ground around your foundation so it is angled away from your foundation and add ground extenders to your gutter downspouts.
Maintaining the Gutters on Your Historic House
  • Your interior foundation walls are parged or painted and appear to be trapping water because the parging or paint is flaking off.
Remove all the loose cement or paint and allow the rest to flake off over time. Any coating on the inside of a stone wall will prevent the normal migration of moisture. The trapped moisture freezes inside the wall, causing mortar deterioration and spalling of the stones.
  • One or more sections of your foundation wall are bowing inward or collapsing from exterior forces such as water and tree roots.
  • Your foundation wall has cracks that look like stair steps.
  • Your foundation shows efflorescence, a white powdery substance leaching in between the bricks.
  • Your cut-stone blocks are cracked or broken.
  • Your foundation wall has sunk (settled) or heaved upwards.
  • Your stones are dirty or have moss or mold growing on them.
  • Your stones are cracking or pieces are flaking off the face of the bricks, known as spalling.
  • The cement coating (parging) on the exterior of your stone foundation wall is deteriorating. You should hire a professional mason to dig around the exterior of the foundation and coat the exterior surface with a waterproofing material. Have the mason verify the condition of the mortar when the foundation is exposed, because excessive moisture for an extended period of time can leave mineral deposits that break down the mortar. If this is the case, the foundation may need to be repointed while the foundation is exposed. The mason should also install tiling around the foundation to channel water away from your foundation.
  • The mortar between your stones is showing excessive deterioration, and water is entering your basement. This problem occurs because no exterior waterproofing was ever installed below ground. You should hire a professional mason to dig around the exterior of your foundation and coat the exterior surface with a waterproofing material. Have the mason verify the condition of the mortar while your foundation is exposed, because excessive moisture for an extended period of time can leave mineral deposits that break down the mortar. If this is the case, your foundation may need to be repointed while it is still exposed. The mason should also install tiling around the foundation to channel water away from your foundation.
Identifying Problems with Your Historic Stone Building
  • Your stones show deterioration and excessive wear. This happens because the stone used on your house is soft sandstone.
  • The surface of your stones is coarse and shedding sand particles excessively.
Exposed sandstone naturally erodes over time; however, rarely does this result in the foundation wall being structurally compromised.

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