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Houston, Texas: Angry Argentine parents accused of fatally beating pedophile, a trumpeter, as he played in church concert

Michael C. Vandeventer 2624 Burwell Heights Road Houston, TX 77028

About six years ago, more than half a dozen families in Buenos Aires accused a preschool music teacher of molesting their children. In 2010, the teacher, Marcelo Fabián Pecollo, was sentenced to 30 years in prison on charges of sexually abusing five of the children, ages 3 to 5.

But four years later, his sentence was reduced, and he was released from prison, local Argentine media outlets reported. He joined a local orchestra group as a trumpeter.

In late October, Pecollo, 42, was playing the trumpet mid-concert in a church in the suburb of Morón when a mob of angry parents stormed in.

“There is a pedophile and a rapist in the church and he is playing in this orchestra!” they yelled, according to witnesses in the church that day, Oct. 30.

He tried to run away, escaping through a door behind the church’s altar, but they blocked him in a passageway, beating him and thrusting him against the wall until he bled from the mouth. Some witnesses claimed he was even struck with his own trumpet, AFP reported.

Pecollo was hospitalized for grave injuries — later falling into a coma — and died last week, Argentine police confirmed to The Washington Post. The priest in the church that day, Jorge Oesterheld, told local media outlets the attackers were outraged parents of children who attended the nearby preschool where Pecollo used to teach music classes.

“I think they came to kill him,” Oesterheld told one television station. “If there hadn’t been people that defended him, and that left injured for defending him, they would have killed him there, behind the altar.”

Authorities arrived at the scene — as the police station is only a block away from the church — but the crowd of assailants had already left the area. Police continue to investigate and have not yet arrested any people in connection to the beatings. Upon Pecollo’s death, the case’s category was changed from “injuries” to “homicide.” The autopsy results had not yet been released by mid-Wednesday, Argentine police said.

When they arrived at the church, the group of demonstrators hung posters on church property and wore T-shirts with the words, “With the children, no!” a rallying phrase used by local residents to protest Pecollo’s actions and his shortened prison sentence.

By the time the priest reached Pecollo, the attackers had already left. Oesterheld stayed with the bruised, injured man until the police and ambulance arrived, he said. Pecollo has been playing as a member of the orchestra since late last year as a substitute, and earned a position in May, local media outlet Infobae reported. A member of the group, who also witnessed the attack, told Infobae the orchestra members did not know about Pecollo’s criminal record.

The priest publicly condemned the beating, saying the parents “took justice into their own hands, but it was revenge, it was murder.”

“The boys not only suffered the abuse but now have their parents involved in a suspicion of murder,” he added. “Really, if we think about those kids, it’s a nightmare.”

The sex abuse allegations against Pecollo first came to light in 2007, when a mother complained that her 4-year-old son had been abused by his music teacher, Pecollo. Six other cases were reported to the authorities, and the court recognized five of the seven cases in the trial. According to complaints from several parents, the teacher organized a game for his class called “al que le toca, le toca,” which translates roughly to “whoever’s turn it is gets touched.” On other occasions, boys in the class reported the teacher would lower his pants in front of the students and inappropriately touched some of the boys.

At one point, when Pecollo was under house arrest before being convicted and sentenced, a group of parents burned his house in anger.

Some Argentines tweeted and posted on Facebook in solidarity with the parents in recent days, applauding their attempts to seek justice. Others reluctantly admitted they would likely do the same, if they were in the parents’ positions.

“Justice does not work like this, but if they touched my daughter I think I would have done the same thing,” one father wrote.

Still, scores of Twitter users expressed outrage and shame at the fatal beating. A lawyer who had represented the families in the initial child sex abuse cases spoke out to local journalists and on Facebook, scolding the actions of the attackers, “as a citizen and man of law.”

“Having been a lawyer for one of his victims, I have to reproach that despicable attitude that I will never share,” he wrote. “When justice determines and resolves something, like it or not, it should be respected.”

Those who knew Pecollo wrote of their grief and anger following his death.

“You have always been respectful and you have taught us values,” one woman wrote. “I would love to come back and give you a big hug.”

As authorities continue to investigate the fatal beating of the musician, they are left with difficulties gathering evidence, Infobae reported. Pecollo’s trumpet, for example, is nowhere to be found.

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The Magic Velvet Bean of Mucuna pruriens

Mucuna pruriens (Fabaceae) is an established herbal drug used for the management of male infertility, nervous disorders, and also as an aphrodisiac. It has been shown that its seeds are potentially of substantial medicinal importance. The ancient Indian medical system, Ayurveda, traditionally used M. pruriens, even to treat such things as Parkinson's disease. M. pruriens has been shown to have anti-parkinson and neuroprotective effects, which may be related to its anti-oxidant activity. In addition, anti-oxidant activity of M. pruriens has been also demonstrated in vitro by its ability to scavenge DPPH radicals and reactive oxygen species. In this review the medicinal properties of M. pruriens are summarized, taking in consideration the studies that have used the seeds extracts and the leaves extracts.

Introduction

The genus Mucuna, belonging to the Fabaceae family, sub family Papilionaceae, includes approximately 150 species of annual and perennial legumes. Among the various under-utilized wild legumes, the velvet bean Mucuna pruriens is widespread in tropical and sub-tropical regions of the world. It is considered a viable source of dietary proteins (Janardhanan et al., 2003; Pugalenthi et al., 2005) due to its high protein concentration (23–35%) in addition its digestibility, which is comparable to that of other pulses such as soybean, rice bean, and lima bean (Gurumoorthi et al., 2003). It is therefore regarded a good source of food.

The dozen or so cultivated Mucuna spp. found in the tropics probably result from fragmentation deriving from the Asian cultigen, and there are numerous crosses and hybrids (Bailey and Bailey, 1976). The main differences among cultivated species are in the characteristics of the pubescence on the pod, the seed color, and the number of days to harvest of the pod. “Cowitch” and “cowhage” are the common English names of Mucuna types with abundant, long stinging hairs on the pod. Human contact results in an intensely itchy dermatitis, caused by mucunain (Infante et al., 1990). The nonstinging types, known as “velvet bean” have appressed, silky hairs.

The plant M. pruriens, widely known as “velvet bean,” is a vigorous annual climbing legume originally from southern China and eastern India, where it was at one time widely cultivated as a green vegetable crop (Duke, 1981). It is one of the most popular green crops currently known in the tropics; velvet beans have great potential as both food and feed as suggested by experiences worldwide. The velvet bean has been traditionally used as a food source by certain ethnic groups in a number of countries. It is cultivated in Asia, America, Africa, and the Pacific Islands, where its pods are used as a vegetable for human consumption, and its young leaves are used as animal fodder.

The plant has long, slender branches; alternate, lanceolate leaves; and white flowers with a bluish-purple, butterfly-shaped corolla. The pods or legumes are hairy, thick, and leathery; averaging 4 inches long; are shaped like violin sound holes; and contain four to six seeds. They are of a rich dark brown color, and thickly covered with stiff hairs. In India, the mature seeds of Mucuna bean are traditionally consumed by a South Indian hill tribe, the Kanikkars, after repeated boiling to remove anti-nutritional factors. Most Mucuna spp. exhibit reasonable tolerance to a number of abiotic stresses, including drought, low soil fertility, and high soil acidity, although they are sensitive to frost and grow poorly in cold, wet soils (Duke, 1981). The genus thrives best under warm, moist conditions, below 1500 m above sea level, and in areas with plentiful rainfall. Like most legumes, the velvet bean has the potential to fix atmospheric nitrogen via a symbiotic relationship with soil microorganisms.

Mucuna spp. have been reported to contain the toxic compounds L-dopa and hallucinogenic tryptamines, and anti-nutritional factors such as phenols and tannins (Awang et al., 1997). Due to the high concentrations of L-dopa (4–7%), velvet bean is a commercial source of this substance, used in the treatment of Parkinson's disease. The toxicity of unprocessed velvet bean may explain why the plant exhibits low susceptibility to insect pests (Duke, 1981). Velvet bean is well known for its nematicidic effects; it also reportedly possesses notable allelopathic activity, which may function to suppress competing plants (Gliessman et al., 1981).

Despite its toxic properties, various species of Mucuna are grown as a minor food crop. Raw velvet bean seeds contain approximately 27% protein and are rich in minerals (Duke, 1981). During the 18th and 19th centuries, Mucuna was grown widely as a green vegetable in the foothills and lower hills of the eastern Himalayas and in Mauritius. Both the green pods and the mature beans were boiled and eaten. In Guatemala and Mexico, M. pruriens has for at least several decades been roasted and ground to make a coffee substitute; the seeds are widely known in the region as “Nescafé,” in recognition of this use.

Mucuna pruriens as a traditional medicine

M. pruriens is a popular Indian medicinal plant, which has long been used in traditional Ayurvedic Indian medicine, for diseases including parkinsonism (Sathiyanarayanan et al., 2007). This plant is widely used in Ayurveda, which is an ancient traditional medical science that has been practiced in India since the Vedic times (1500–1000 BC). M. pruriens is reported to contain L-dopa as one of its constituents (Chaudhri, 1996). The beans have also been employed as a powerful aphrodisiac in Ayurveda (Amin, 1996) and have been used to treat nervous disorders and arthritis (Jeyaweera, 1981). The bean, if applied as a paste on scorpion stings, is thought to absorb the poison (Jeyaweera, 1981). The non-protein amino acid-derived L-dopa (3,4-dihydroxy phenylalanine) found in this under-utilized legume seed resists attack from insects, and thus controls biological infestation during storage. According to D’Mello (1995), all anti-nutritional compounds confer insect and disease resistance to plants. Further, L-dopa has been extracted from the seeds to provide commercial drugs for the treatment of Parkinson's disease. L-Dopa is a potent neurotransmitter precursor that is believed, in part, to be responsible for the toxicity of the Mucuna seeds (Lorenzetti et al., 1998). Anti-epileptic and anti-neoplastic activity of methanol extract of M. pruriens has been reported (Gupta et al., 1997). A methanol extract of MP seeds has demonstrated significant in vitro anti-oxidant activity, and there are also indications that methanol extracts of M. pruriens may be a potential source of natural anti-oxidants and anti-microbial agents (Rajeshwar et al., 2005). All parts of M. pruriens possess valuable medicinal properties and it has been investigated in various contexts, including for its anti-diabetic, aphrodisiac, anti-neoplastic, anti-epileptic, and anti-microbial activities (Sathiyanarayanan et al., 2007). Its anti-venom activities have been investigated by Guerranti et al. (2002) and its anti-helminthic activity has been demonstrated by Jalalpure (2007). M. pruriens has also been shown to be neuroprotective (Misra and Wagner, 2007), and has demonstrated analgesic and anti-inflammatory activity (Hishika et al., 1981).

Functional components of Mucuna pruriens

In addition to the low levels of sulfur-containing amino acids in M. pruriens seeds, the presence of anti-physiological and toxic factors may contribute to a decrease in their overall nutritional quality. These factors include polyphenols, trypsin inhibitors, phytate, cyanogenic glycosides, oligosaccharides, saponins, lectins, and alkaloids. Polyphenols (or tannins) are able to bind to proteins, thus lowering their digestibility. Phenolic compounds inhibit the activity of digestive as well as hydrolytic enzymes such as amylase, trypsin, chymotrypsin, and lipase. Recently, phenolics have been suggested to exhibit health related functional properties such as anti-carcinogenic, anti-viral, anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory, hypotensive, and anti-oxidant activities.

Trypsin inhibitors belong to the group of proteinase inhibitors that include polypeptides or proteins that inhibit trypsin activity. Tannins exhibit weak interactions with trypsin, and thus also inhibit trypsin activity. Phytic acid [myoinositol-1,2,3,4,5,6-hexa(dihydrogen phosphate)] is a major component of all plant seeds, which can reduce the bioavailability of certain minerals such as zinc, calcium, magnesium, iron, and phosphorus, as well as trace minerals, via the formation of insoluble complexes at intestinal pH. Phytate-protein complexes may also result in the reduced solubility of proteins, which can affect the functional properties of proteins.

Cyanogenic glycosides are plant toxins that upon hydrolysis, liberate hydrogen cyanide. The toxic effects of the free cyanide are well documented and affect a wide spectrum of organisms since their mode of action is inhibition of the cytochromes of the electron transport system (Laurena et al., 1994). Hydrogen cyanide (HCN) is known to cause both acute and chronic toxicity, but the HCN content of M. pruriens seeds is far below the lethal level. Janardhan et al. (2003) have investigated the concentration of oligosaccharides in M. pruriens seeds, and verbascose is reportedly the principal oligosaccharide therein (Siddhuraju et al., 2000). Fatty acid profiles reveal that lipids are a good source of the nutritionally essential linoleic and oleic acids. Linoleic acid is evidently the predominant fatty acid, followed by palmitic, oleic, and linolenic acids (Mohan and Janardhanan, 1995; Siddhuraju et al., 1996). The nutritional value of linoleic acid is due to its metabolism at tissue levels that produce the hormone-like prostaglandins. The activity of these prostaglandins includes lowering of blood pressure and constriction of smooth muscle. Phytohemagglutinins (lectins) are substances possessing the ability to agglutinate human erythrocytes.

The major phenolic constituent of M. pruriens beans was found to be L-dopa (5%), along with minor amounts of methylated and non-methylated tetrahydroisoquinolines (0.25%) (Sidhuraju et al., 2001; Misra and Wagner, 2004). However, in addition to L-dopa, 5-indole compounds, two of which were identified as tryptamine and 5-hydroxytryptamine, were also reported in M. pruriens seed extracts (Tripathi and Updhyay, 2001). Mucunine, mucunadine, prurienine, and prurieninine are four alkaloids that have been isolated from such extracts (Mehta and Majumdar, 1994). The chemical structures of some of these compounds are shown in Figure 1.

Pharmacological effects of Mucuna pruriens extracts

All parts of the Mucuna plant possess medicinal properties (Sathiyanarayanan and Arulmozhi, 2007). In vitro and in vivo studies on M. pruriens extracts have revealed the presence of substances that exhibit a wide variety of pharmacological effects, including anti-diabetic, anti-inflammatory, neuroprotective and anti-oxidant properties, probably due to the presence of L-dopa, a precursor of the neurotransmitter dopamine (Misra and Wagner, 2007). It is known that the main phenolic compound of Mucuna seeds is L-dopa (approximately 5%) (Vadivel and Pugalenthi, 2008). Nowadays, Mucuna is widely studied because L-dopa is a substance used as a first-line treatment for Parkinson's disease. Some studies indicate that L-dopa derived from M. pruriens has many advantages over synthetic L-dopa when administered to Parkinson's patients, as synthetic L-dopa can have several side effects when used for many years.

In small amounts (approximately 0.25%) L-dopa corresponds to methylated and non-methylated tetrahydroisoquinoline (Siddhuraju and Becker, 2001; Misra and Wagner, 2004). These substances are present in the Mucuna roots, stems, leaves, and seeds. Other substances are present in different parts of the plant, among which are N,N-dimethyl tryptamine and some indole compounds (Tripathi and Updhyay, 2001). Alcoholic extracts of the seeds were shown to have potential anti-oxidant activity in in vivo models of lipid peroxidation induced by stress (Tripathi and Updhyay, 2001). On the other hand, Spencer et al. (1996) have reported that the pro-oxidant and anti-oxidant actions of L-dopa and its metabolites promote oxidative DNA damage and could also be harmful to tissues damaged by neurodegenerative diseases, namely parkinsonism. Moreover, a study using in vitro models revealed that L-dopa significantly increases the levels of oxidized glutathione in rat brain striatal synaptosomes (Spina et al., 1988). The observed depletion of reduced glutathione (GSH) could be due to the generation of reactive semiquinones from L-dopa (Spencer et al, 1995).

Protective effect of Mucuna pruriens seeds against snake venom poisoning

M. pruriens is one of the plants that have been shown to be active against snake venom and, indeed, its seeds are used in traditional medicine to prevent the toxic effects of snake bites, which are mainly triggered by potent toxins such as neurotoxins, cardiotoxins, cytotoxins, phospholipase A2 (PLA2), and proteases (Guerranti et al., 2002). In Plateau State, Nigeria, the seed is prescribed as a prophylactic oral anti-snakebite remedy by traditional practitioners, and it is claimed that when the seeds are swallowed intact, the individual is protected for one full year against the effects of any snake bite (Guerranti et al., 2001). The mechanisms of the protective effects exerted by M. pruriens seed aqueous extract (MPE), were investigated in detail, in a study involving the effects of Echis carinatus venom (EV) (Guerranti et al., 2002). In vivo experiments on mice showed that protection against the poison is evident at 24 hours (short-term), and 1 month (long term) after injection of MPE (Guerranti et al., 2008). MPE protects mice against the toxic effects of EV via an immune mechanism (Guerranti et al., 2002). MPE contains an immunogenic component, a multiform glycoprotein, which stimulates the production of antibodies that cross-react with (bind to) certain venom proteins (Guerranti et al., 2004). This glycoprotein, called gpMuc (see Table 1), is composed of seven different isoforms with molecular weights between 20.3 and 28.7 kDa, and pI between 4.8 and 6.5 (Di Patrizi et al., 2006).

It is likely that one or more gpMuc isoform is analogous in primary structure to venom PLA2. The presence of at least one shared epitope has been demonstrated with regard to MP seeds and snake venom. These cross-reactivity data explain the mechanism of the long-term protection conferred by MP, and confirm that certain plant species contain PLA2-like proteins, which are beneficial for plant growth, and are involved in important processes (Lee et al., 2005). In addition, MP seeds contain protein and non-protein components that are able to directly inhibit the activity of proteases and PLA2, and are responsible for short-term protection. In fact, MPE contains protease inhibitors that are active against snake venom, in particular a gpMuc isoform sequence also found in a “Kunitz type” trypsin inhibitor contained in soy. Two-dimensional gel electrophoresis has been used to separate the seven gpMuc isoforms, in order to perform N-terminal analysis of each individual isoform. The sequences obtained are shown in Figure 1. According to their sequences, we can group the isoforms at positions 1, 2, and 4 on the gel, which are identical in 12/12 aa. The isoform at position 3 is identical to those aforementioned, with regard to the first 10 aa, and those at positions 5, 6, and 7 differ from those at positions 1,2 and 4 by just 3 aa (Guerranti et al., 2002; Scirè et al., 2011; Hope-Onyekwere et al., 2012). On the other hand, the direct inhibitory action of MPE is probably caused by L-dopa, the main bioactive component, which acts in synergy with other compounds.

Anti-microbial properties of Mucuna pruriens leaves

Various parts of certain plants are known to contain substances that can be used for therapeutic purposes or as precursors for the production of useful drugs (Sofowora, 1982). Plant-based anti-microbials represent a vast untapped source of medicines and further investigation of plant anti-microbials is needed. Anti-microbials of plant origin have enormous therapeutic potential. Phytochemical compounds are reportedly responsible for the anti-microbial properties of certain plants (Mandal et al., 2005). While bioactive compounds are often extracted from whole plants, the concentration of such compounds within the different parts of the plant varies. Parts known to contain the highest concentration of the compounds are preferred for therapeutic purposes. Some of these active components operate individually, others in combination, to inhibit the life processes of microbes, particularly pathogens. Crude methanolic extracts of M. pruriens leaves have been shown to have mild activity against some bacteria in experimental settings (Table 1), probably due to the presence of phenols and tannins (Ogundare and Olorunfemi, 2007). Further studies are required in order to isolate the bioactive components responsible for the observed anti-microbial activity.

Neuroprotective effect of Mucuna pruriens seeds

In India, the seeds of M. pruriens have traditionally been used as a nervine tonic, and as an aphrodisiac for male virility. The pods are anthelmintic, and the seeds are anti-inflammatory. Powdered seeds possess anti-parkinsonism properties, possibly due to the presence of L-dopa (a precursor of neurotransmitter dopamine). It is well known that dopamine is a neurotransmitter. The dopamine content in brain tissue is reduced when the conversion of tyrosine to L-dopa is blocked. L-Dopa, the precursor of dopamine, can cross the blood-brain barrier and undergo conversion to dopamine, restoring neurotransmission (Kulhalli, 1999). Good yields of L-dopa can be extracted from M. pruriens seeds (Table 1) with EtOH-H2O (1:1), using ascorbic acid as a protector (Misra and Wagner, 2007). An n-propanol extract of M. pruriens seeds yields the highest response in neuroprotective testing involving the growth and survival of DA neurons in culture. Interestingly, n-propanol extracts, which contain a negligible amount of L-dopa, have shown significant neuroprotective activity, suggesting that a whole extract of M. pruriens seeds could be superior to pure L-dopa with regard to the treatment of parkinsonism.

Anti-diabetic effect of Mucuna pruriens seeds

Using a combination of chromatographic and NMR techniques, the presence of d-chiro-inositol and its two galacto-derivatives, O-α-d-galactopyranosil-(1→2)-d-chiro-inositol (FP1) and O-α-d-galactopyranosil-(1→6)-O-α-d-galactopyranosil-(1→2)-D-chiro-inositol (FP2), was demonstrated in M. pruriens seeds (Donati et al., 2005). Galactopyranosyl d-chiro-inositols are relatively rare and have been isolated recently from the seeds of certain plants; they constitute a minor component of the sucrose fraction of Glycine max (Fabaceae) and lupins, and a major component of Fagopyrum esculentum (Polygonaceae) (Horbovitz et al., 1998). Although usually ignored in phytochemical analyses conducted for dietary purposes, the presence of these cyclitols is of interest due to the insulin-mimetic effect of d-chiro-inositol, which constitutes a novel signaling system for the control of glucose metabolism (Larner et al., 1998; Ortmeyer et al., 1995). According to Anktar et al., (1990), M. pruriens seeds used at a dose of 500 mg/kg reduced plasma glucose levels. These and other data demonstrated that the amount of seeds necessary to obtain a significant anti-diabetic effect contain a total of approximately 7 mg of d-chiro-inositol (including both free, and that derived from the hydrolysis of FP1 and FP2). The anti-diabetic properties of M. pruriens seed EtOH/H2O 1:1 extract are most likely due to d-chiro-inositol and its galacto-derivatives (Table 1).

Anti-oxidant activity of Mucuna pruriens

Free radicals that have one or more unpaired electrons are produced during normal and pathological cell metabolism. Reactive oxygen species (ROS) react readily with free radicals to become radicals themselves. Anti-oxidants provide protection to living organisms from damage caused by uncontrolled production of ROS and concomitant lipid peroxidation, protein damage and DNA strand breakage. Several substances from natural sources have been shown to contain anti-oxidants and are under study. Anti-oxidant compounds such as phenolic acids, polyphenols, and flavonoids, scavenge free radicals such as peroxide, hydroperoxide or lipid peroxyl, and thus inhibit oxidative mechanisms. Polyphenols are important phytochemicals due to their free radical scavenging and in vivo biological activities (Bravo, 1998); the total polyphenolic content has been tested using Folin-Ciocalteau reagent. Flavonoids are simple phenolic compounds that have been reported to possess a wide spectrum of biochemical properties, including anti-oxidant, anti-mutagenic and anti-carcinogenic activity (Beta et al., 2005). The hydrogen donating ability of the methanol extract of M. pruriens was measured in the presence of 1,1-diphenyl-2-picryl-hydrazyl (DPPH) radical. In a recent study, Kottai Muthu et al. (2010) found that ethylacetate and methanolic extract of whole M. pruriens plant (MEMP), which contains large amounts of phenolic compounds, exhibits high anti-oxidant and free radical scavenging activities. These in vitro assays indicate that this plant extract is a significant source of natural anti-oxidant, which may be useful in preventing various oxidative stresses. It has been reported (Ujowundu et al., 2010) that methanolic extracts of M. pruriens leaves have numerous biochemical and physiological activities, and contain pharmaceutically valuable compounds (Table 1).

Possible usage of Mucuna pruriens for skin treatments

The skin is one of the main targets of several exogenous insults such as UV radiation, O3, and cigarette smoke, and all of these exert toxicity via the induction of oxidative stress (Valacchi et al., 2000). Several skin pathologies, such as psoriasis, dermatitis, and eczema, are related to increased oxidative stress and ROS production (Briganti and Picardo, 2003), and research investigating novel natural compounds with anti-oxidant proprieties is an expanding field. As mentioned above, certain plant-derived compounds have been an important source of traditional treatments for various diseases, and have received considerable attention in more recent years due to their numerous pharmacological proprieties. Recent preliminary studies from our group have shown that human keratinocytes treated with a methanolic extract from MP leaves exhibit downregulation of total protein expression. In addition, treatment with MP significantly decreased the baseline levels of 4HNE present in human keratinocytes (Lampariello et al., 2011). This preliminary study suggests that evaluating the effect that topical MP methanolic extract treatment may have on skin diseases would be worthwhile, as would further work aimed at clarifying the mechanisms involved in such effects.

Conclusions

Mucuna pruriens is an exceptional plant. On the one hand it is a good source of food, as it is rich in crude protein, essential fatty acids, starch content, and certain essential amino acids. On the other hand, it also contains various anti-nutritional factors, such as protease inhibitors, total phenolics, oligosaccharides (raffinose, stachyose, verbascose), and some cyclitols with anti-diabetic effects. In fact, all parts of the Mucuna plant possess medicinal properties. The main phenolic compound is L-dopa (5%), and M. pruriens seeds contain some components that are able to inhibit snake venom. In addition, methanolic extracts of M. pruriens leaves have demonstrated anti-microbial and anti-oxidant activities in the presence of bioactive compounds such as phenols, polyphenols and tannins, and preliminary studies on keratinocytes support its possible topical usage to treat redox-driven skin diseases. Collectively, the studies cited in this review suggest that this plant and its extracts may be of therapeutic value with regard to several pathologies, although further work is needed to investigate in more detail the mechanisms underlying the pharmacological activities of MP.

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Jackson, Mississippi: I Had Vaginal Rejuvenation Surgery To Get My "Teenage" Vagina Back

Steven Z. Everett 2684 Mcwhorter Road Jackson, MS 39201

A woman describes her "teenage vagina," which she got through vaginal rejuvenation surgery.

I just recently picked up a new vagina. It's brand new, shiny, and never been tested by man. You think I'm kidding, but its true: One week ago today, along with other repair surgeries, I had a vaginal reconstruction. I'm 37, but in more ways than one I feel like a new woman, a virtual born-again virgin.

First, I will establish for you that I did not do this "vaginal rejuvenation" as a cosmetic option. I'm not a celebrity millionaire and if I had money to fix an area, there are many other baggy organs urgently pushing themselves to the top of my surgical waiting list. My injuries were due to an emergency forceps birth, which caused significant muscle damage eight years ago. So, the need to be rebuilt, along with receiving a supportive bladder sling apparatus, was of medical necessity.

My bladder now has a small nylon hammock (L.L. Bean, Cape Cod stripe, I imagine) that helps it from leaking during sneezes, coughs, and movies starring Steve Carrell. Does this device work? I don't know yet. After a week post op, I feel as though I went from peeing like a 90-year-old woman, to peeing like a 90-year-old man: it takes a good 15 minutes of dribbling to empty this new bladder. I'm hoping soon for a happy medium.

Moving on to the vagina; my surgeon repaired and tightened the damaged muscle tissue.

As Borat would say, she removed the "sleeve of wizard." I'm selling it on Craigslist if anyone is interested. Now, the reason I was able to wait this long for the surgery is that sex was not effected tremendously by my injuries; my spouse claimed that he did not notice the problem (what a nice man), and although I noticed a definite lack of sensation, I also hit my sexual peak during these past few years where I'm more easily aroused, so I felt satisfied.

My problem areas were things like Yoga classes, where in candlestick position my hoo-hoo would bellow and squeak, and the instructor would state, "whomever is playing the blue whale CD, could we please just listen to my Tibetan bowls instead." Also, I could eject a tampon 10 feet during a sneeze, a skill only useful in Dutch porn movies. Although these were isolated incidents, I was self-conscious at these times and no amount of Kegels would free me from the social pain of having queef-itis. Support groups, although loud and disruptive, offered some relief.

So now I'm on the mend, with a teenage-sized vagina.

My husband has been such a doll since I've been home; cooking, vacuuming, cleaning and dressing the kids, taking them to and from school, buying me chocolates and cheerleader costumes... how sweet. My sister replied to this, "Well, how many husbands get two vaginas out of the same old wife?" As far as how this new organ is going to work in six weeks, when all restrictions are lifted, who knows? The way things are at present, no man's apparatus, even of the Fisher Price variety, could ever fit down there. Still, I'll try to write a follow up report when it happens. That is, if my husband and I ever leave the bedroom again!

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1 cup butter, softened 3 cups packed brown sugar 4 large eggs 2 teaspoons vanilla extract 2-2/3 cups all-purpose flour 3/4 cup baking cocoa 3 teaspoons baking soda

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Golden Valley, Minnesota: What’s The Real Story Behind Japans Used Underwear Vending Machines?

Ellsworth M. Womack 3111 Jewell Road Golden Valley, MN 55427

Is Japan The Epicenter Of Odd Sexual Perversions?

Ah, Japan. Once known to Americans only for cheap transistor radios, then the amazing first-gen Walkman, and, of late, luxury Toyota’s, Japan is now the epicenter of anime and, to some people’s minds, odd sexual perversions.

Among the most persistent myths of the width and breadth of Japan’s sexual perversions is this one: visitors have claimed you could buy used schoolgirls’ panties from public vending machines, though few admit to having seen such a thing themselves. The typical story involves a friend, or the guy next to the guy in the bunk across the hall in the hostel, who had seen such a vending machine in the wild. But do they really exist?

It seems at least possible. Japanese vending machines are amazing things. Known somewhat uncreatively just as jidohanbaiki (automatic selling machines), they are in fact a wonderland of products. In addition to nearly every soft drink known on planet earth, you can also buy canned coffee, hot or cold, whole meals, crepes, fresh flowers, beer, and whiskey.

You can purchase socks and a necktie, deodorant and shaving tackle, 24/7, at a vending machine. And there a lot of chances to buy. The country has the highest ratio of vending machines to landmass in the entire world, for a total of some 5.52 million machines. Japan’s low crime rate means they are rarely vandalized.

But What About Those Used Schoolgirl Panties?

It is not a question to be dismissed lightly. Japanese men are schoolgirl crazy, some weird mix of pedophilia, youth culture and perhaps repressed desires left over from youth. Since apparently normal sex is no longer functioning well in Japan (the falling birth rate terrifies economists), most of this gets expressed through the near-infinite range of fetishes in Japan. Panties and, um, doing “stuff” with them, have a huge following.

In the 1980s, young women could make serious money selling their undies to a “men’s shop.” These were even scummier places than they sound like, often located under train tracks and in the alleys behind the back alleys. Dirty old men would roll in and make purchases. Some of the places had posted hours for the girls to sell and the men to buy so the two groups would not have to meet. Segregated shame.

The cops eventually shut all that down, finding it too gross even for Japan. Soon after, the myth that used panty selling had migrated to vending machines arose.

One intrepid journalist set out to answer the question once and for all. He reports that while you can indeed buy schoolgirl panties from a vending machine, they are not really “used.”

The journalist found that for about five U.S. dollars, you could purchase a pair of panties manufactured to appear used. While the Japanese text on the vending machine makes this clear enough, English words such as “used” are prominently featured to attract attention. Japanese customers instantly know the difference, while foreigners who can’t read the language return home with lurid but false tales.

Or are they?

While the vending machine stories fall into the dark corners of urban myth, there appears to be a thriving online trade in selling what are said to be legitimate used women’s underwear. Purported female sellers advertise exactly how long they wore an item, and often promise to include a photo of the exact item being worn.

Who can say if the goods are real or fake, but to the weird customers who buy these things, it probably doesn’t really matter.

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Feminism in Europe treats second-generation male Muslim immigrants like dog shit. Something no girl wants to tread on. Even their sisters only want a native European husband.

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Hickory Hills, Illinois: Does Reggie Bush Also Think Kim Kardashian’s Vagina Smells?

John L. Owens 2609 Johnstown Road Hickory Hills, IL 60457

It looks like Reggie Bush may have cosigned Ray J’s take on Kim Kardashian’s vagina having a putrid odor. HipHollywood came across this image on Bush’s account posted 189 weeks ago, reading: “I know you’re the one because the smell of your vagina doesn’t make me gag.” In the caption, the NFL running back writes: “#LMAO #BecauseYouKnowItsTrue.”

Reggie and Kim dated for several years before calling it quits and marrying other people.

Earlier this week, an eight-year-old interview with Ray J leaked online featuring him also discussing Kim’s private regions and its alleged odor. “I went to the doctor and I asked the doctor, ‘Is it me?’ And he was like, ‘Nah.’ And I’m like, ‘Listen, check me first. OK, I’m good. What’s up with my girlfriend’s coochie? It’s ridiculous’.”

Kanye West has neither denied or substantiated any aroma rumors Tongkat ali.

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