Saturday, September 30, 2006

Chinese Goji berries

A new superfood said to boost peoples' sex lives and the immune system is set to hit the supermarkets. Chinese Goji berries are selling so fast in health food stores suppliers are struggling to keep up. But health experts say people should not get caught up in the hype as conventional fruit and veg is just as healthy and cheaper.

A small bag of the berries costs £4 and it is recommended people take a handful a day.

They are packed with 21 trace minerals and 18 amino acids and are also said to shift cellulite.

But the British Nutrition Foundation said Goji mania is being driven by clever marketing rather than good science.

Goji berries will go on sale in Tesco later this month and Waitrose in October.

Source: Sky News


Can chewing 40 times cure food intolerances?

Wheat, milk, cheese, citrus fruit, red meat... the list of foods that people say they can't eat because they have a food intolerance can make them unwelcome dinner party guests.

But rather than dismiss them as faddy eaters, a new book suggests that these people could be suffering from a lack of digestive enzymes.

Enzymes in food play a vital role in our body's cells. Dr Jeremy Kaslow, a biochemist, and Ellen Cutler, the authors of Enzymes For Health And Healing, claim that modern diets and lifestyles are leaving many of us prone to enzyme deficiencies that can cause food cravings, weight gain, premature ageing, lowered immunity and food intolerances.

'Enzymes are essential to every bodily function, including breathing, circulation and immune response,' says Cutler. 'But as we get older the quality and effectiveness of enzymes diminish, our bodies don't produce as many and those that remain lose their spark.

'Poor diet, digestive stress, metabolic imbalance, illness and medications also lower enzyme levels.'

The three basic groups of enzymes are systemic, digestive (made in our body) and food enzymes (obtained in our diet).

Systemic enzymes maintain blood and tissues, ensure our heart beats and our senses work, and balance the hormones that support memory and mood. While the body can make them when we are healthy, when we're ill or stressed 'it can no longer heal or rebuild itself efficiently', explains Cutler.

Source - Daily Mail

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How alternative remedies helped me beat the menopause

For years, Carol Barnes epitomised the 'cool TV blonde'. Then the former ITN presenter reached the menopause, with hot flushes, sweating, uncharacteristic moodiness and a dramatically reduced libido.

My health and energy levels had always been amazingly good - I never even took vitamins. So it came as quite a shock when one day I suddenly broke out in a horrible clammy sweat - as if I was coming down with a serious bout of something.

It was around the time of the Gulf War, in the early Nineties, and I was in the ITN studios getting ready to read the ten o'clock news. My then husband, a TV cameraman, was out in the Gulf filming. And as I watched the final pictures he'd shot, back in the studio I felt distinctly uncomfortable.

There was the usual background chaos, adrenaline levels were high, and the make-up girls were giving me the last-minute once over before I went on air.

I could feel my face flushing, and within seconds I was dripping with perspiration. I looked in the mirror and my whole face was pink and glistening. I was scared that my make-up would run.

Somehow, with about half a ton of powder, the girls managed to fix my flushed, sweaty face so that once I was in front of the cameras I appeared cool and calm.

It was the beginning of the menopause - but it came as a complete surprise. Although I was in my mid-40s, I'd never really given the menopause a second thought - I was just too busy to think about my hormones.

Source - Daily Mail

The green-hating gene

It's the perfect excuse for any child - some of us are born with a dislike of vegetables.

Studies have shown that having a taste for bitter greens is in our genes.

Those who baulk at the very thought of broccoli are born with taste buds which are highly sensitive to sharp tastes, while those who love the vegetable find it hard to register the bitterness.

The U.S. scientists said an aversion to vegetables may be the body's way of keeping us healthy.

It is known that the chemicals behind the bitter taste stop iodine from working properly in the body. But iodine, found in seafood and some vegetables and processed by the thyroid gland, is crucial for growth and mental and sexual development.

People living in areas where iodine levels are low may have evolved a dislike of foods that prevented them from making use of what little iodine there was.

Source - Daily Mail

A feeling for healing

A spiritual healer on the NHS staff - what in heaven’s name is going on?

Music is drifting out of one of the anterooms on the haematology unit at University College London Hospital (UCLH). The piece is called Sacred Spirit, a rousing Native American drum song. Inside, a patient lies with her eyes closed, while a hospital staff member, Angie Buxton-King, stands by her bed, holding her hands three inches above the woman’s body and saying nothing. In the corridor, doctors and nurses pass by without so much as a glance.
Sound a little unusual? It should. The UCLH haematology unit claims that Buxton-King and her two colleagues are the only paid spiritual healers to work in an NHS hospital ward. Buxton-King joined the UCLH haematology unit, which treats patients with leukaemia, as well as lymphomas, myelomas and sickle-cell disease, in 1999 as an unpaid volunteer, working one day a week. Since 2001 she has a been fully-paid, part-time staff member, who manages a team of six complementary therapists, as well as treating about ten patients a week.

A fierce debate over complementary therapies on the NHS erupted last May: 13 of Britain’s most senior medical experts, including Edzard Ernst, professor of complementary medicine at the University of Exeter, wrote to hospitals to urge staff not to spend money on unproven treatments. Yet Buxton-King’s mission is to make spiritual healing available to NHS cancer patients. So how did she convince UCLH to take her on, and why does she believe that her therapy is of benefit to patients? Buxton-King’s story begins with the kind of news that every parent dreads. In 1995, acute myeloid leukaemia, a cancer that affects blood-producing cells in the bone marrow, was diagnosed in her son Sam, 7, and he was admitted to Great Ormond Street Hospital. By then, Buxton-King, a full-time mother to Sam and his older brother Nick, then 12, had developed an interest in spiritual healing.

“My mother was told that she had ovarian cancer in 1988,” she says. “We sought out alternative treatments and I sat in on her first healing session. When I mentioned that my hands felt hot as the treatment was taking place, the healer told me it was a sign that I could work with energy healing myself.”

Source - Times

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Back-pain acupuncture 'effective'

Acupuncture for low back pain is cost-effective and works, according to medical researchers.

Two studies on suggest a short course of acupuncture would benefit patients and healthcare providers.

The cost is well below the threshold used by officials to decide whether the NHS can afford to fund a set treatment, they said.

Up to 80% of UK residents experience back pain at some point in their lives, costing the NHS £480m a year.

Source: BBc News

Vitamin D 'slashes cancer risk'

Taking vitamin D tablets could substantially reduce the risk of pancreatic cancer, research suggests.

US scientists found taking the tablets cut the risk of a disease, which has a poor prognosis in almost half of cases.

There are more than 3,600 new cases of pancreatic cancer in women and more than 3,500 in men in the UK each year. Surgery is not often effective.

Vitamin D was examined as it previously showed promise in cutting the risk of prostate, breast and colon cancer.

Source: BBC News

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Menopause alternative remedy fear

Women who swap hormone replacement therapy for alternative therapies to treat menopause symptoms risk harming themselves, doctors say.

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists also warned women not to expect too much from the therapies.

They said there was some evidence they reduced hot flushes, but there was also a risk of stomach upset and rashes.

In one case, a woman even needed a liver transplant after taking the herb black cohosh.

Source: BBC News

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Anger 'compromises lung function'

Anger can damage lung function, according to research.

A US team followed 670 male military veterans and found those with high levels of hostility had poorer lung function than their happier peers.

The scientists also found that the angriest men suffered a more rapid decline in lung capacity.

Writing in the journal Thorax, the team said their findings could help develop new ways of targeting lung disease screening and prevention strategies.

Fears over homeopathy regulation

Patients will be put at risk by a new regulatory system being brought in for homeopathic medicine, critics say.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is introducing rules to allow remedies to specify the ailments for which they can be used.

But critics argue the treatments will not be rigorously tested as they do not need to undergo the clinical trials orthodox drugs do to get a licence.

Homeopathic remedies have not been able to make health claims since 1968.

Source - BBC News

Low vitamin E linked to asthma

Expectant mums should ensure they get enough vitamin E as low levels during pregnancy increase the risk of asthma in the unborn child, UK experts say.

Children of mothers who had the lowest intake were over five times more likely to have asthma than peers whose mothers had the highest vitamin E intakes.

Vitamin E has a beneficial effect on the developing lung, the University of Aberdeen researchers believe.

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Teen angst

LEARNING how simple natural remedies can help in adolescence will stand a teenager in good stead for the rest of their life. Treating common problems naturally, without resorting to strong medication, reduces the chances of lifelong trouble.

Teenage acne usually arises from hormonally influenced hyperactivity of the oil-producing glands in the skin. People with acne often have trouble metabolising fats and carbohydrates, which is why it's important to cut down on stodgy food and sweets, and increase your intake of fresh fruit and vegetables.

Palmarosa essential oil has a balancing effect on oily skin. Neal's Yard Remedies does a palmarosa facial wash (£9 for 100ml), or you can just use a few drops of the essential oil in some warm water.

Source - Scotsman


It works for me: McTimoney chiropractic

A therapy for backache also did the trick for one woman’s period pains, says Emma Mahony

“There was no question about whether I could go to work. The pain was so great that I had to take to my bed,” says Claire Beever, 31, nursing two-week-old baby Jack on her lap. To hear her speak you would think that she was describing a difficult labour and birth, not the monthly occurrence of her period. But for Beever, a primary school teacher from Bishopstone, in Buckinghamshire, her periods had become the bane of her life.
Like many women with this condition in its chronic form (known as primary dysmenorrhoea), she had been to see her GP many times. Primary dysmenorrhoea is defined medically as a pain associated with ovulatory cycles, and doctors usually offer two forms of treatment: anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen, or oral contraceptive pills to prevent menstrual pain and cramps by suppressing ovulation. Beever had tried every type of prescription painkiller to no effect, but was reluctant to take oral contraceptives.

She also suffered from lower back pain, caused, she thought, by spending so much time in the saddle as a competitive horserider. She had started riding at 11 and had had many falls over the years, but it wasn’t until she was talking to a fellow horse-rider about her back two years ago that she heard of the alternative therapy McTimoney chiropractic. “What attracted me to the treatment was that it was described as being a ‘gentle’ way of realigning the back.”

Source: Times

Fruit and veg juices cut risk of Alzheimer's, study finds

Drinking fruit and vegetable juice on a regular basis can dramatically reduce the chances of developing Alzheimer's, according to a study appearing today in the American Journal of Medicine.
Researchers in Japan and the US followed almost 2,000 dementia-free volunteers for up to 10 years while monitoring their consumption of fruit and vegetable juices. The risk of Alzheimer's was reduced by 76% for those who drank juices more than three times a week, compared with those who drank them less than once a week. Qi Dai, from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, wrote: "Fruit and vegetable juices may play an important role in delaying the onset of Alzheimer's disease."

Previous studies have suggested that polyphenols, strong antioxidants found in fruit juices, might disrupt biological processes in the brain that lead to Alzheimer's.

Source Guardian


Curcumin Efficient Against Colorectal Cancer

A recent study conducted by scientists at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston (UTMB) showed that the curcumin pigment in the curry spice prevents colorectal cancer. Numerous previous studies have already acknowledged the beneficial properties of the natural pigment against a wide range of cancers, including colorectal ones. But the current study is based on curcumin's potency to block the neurotensin gastrointestinal hormone, which is closely connected to the production within our bodies of an inflammatory protein which plays a key-role in the growth and proliferation of cancer cells.

The study carried out by UTMB researchers is entitled 'Curcumin inhibits neurotensin-mediated interleukin-8 production and migration of HCT116 human colon cancer cells' Xiaofu Wang et al. It is hoped that further studies will develop new strategies in fighting against colorectal cancer, by using curcumin to inhibit the production of the neurotensin hormone.

Source: BBC Health

Another claim for Turmeric (a sourc of Curcumin) is that it helps to prevent Alzheimers.



Natural medicine is based on the principle of enhancing well-being, not just removing the symptoms of illness. Herbs do not require sophisticated processing and they don't create harmful waste or side-effects. They work with the body to help us get well if we are sick, or they can help defend the body from disease.

Source: Scotsman


Brown Seaweed Compound Burns Body Fat

A new research conducted by Japanese scientists from the Hokkaido University Graduate School of Fisheries Sciences found that a chemical in the wakame kelp may be extremely efficient against body fat. Wakame (Undaria pinnatifida ) is a brown seaweed widely consumed by Japanese people and scientists found in trials that the brown pigment in the kelp has anti-obesity properties by reducing fat in individuals.

The brown pigment (Fucoxanthin) is an antioxidant found in wakame, a type of brown kelp used in Asian cuisine. Fucoxanthin burned fat in lab tests on rats and obese mice, prompting the rodents to lose weight, report Kazuo Miyashita, Ph.D., and colleagues. Their findings were presented today at the American Chemical Society's 232nd national meeting, in San Francisco.

Source: CBS News

Blackberries fighting cancer

A recent study conducted by researchers at the US Agricultural Research Service and the US National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health found that a certain compound in fresh blackberries may reduce the size and spread of cancerous tumors. The particular compound is a flavonoid, the water-soluble flavonoid cyanidin-3-glucoside (C3G) more exactly.

Flavonoids are a class of naturally occurring plant compounds that function as antioxidants. They are plant pigments and, even if they are not labeled as essential nutrients, they enhance the processing of vitamin C, which is itself a powerful antioxidant. Flavonoids are also needed to maintain capillary walls and protect against infections. Deficiency of flavonoids may lead to easily bruising.

Earlier studies highlighted the cancer-fighting potential of blueberries and strawberries, and now blackberries (Rubus occidentalis)—also know as black raspberries—have been found to be equally as potent.

The cyanidin-3-glucoside flavonoid in blackberries reduced the growth and inhibited the spreading of malignant tumors in skin and lung cancer.

Source: JBCL

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Music training boosts the brain

Music lessons can improve memory and learning ability in young children by encouraging different patterns of brain development, research shows.

Canadian scientists compared children aged four to six who took music lessons for a year with those who did not.

They found the musical group performed better on a memory test also designed to assess general intelligence skills such as literacy and maths ability.

The study, by McMaster University, is published online by the journal Brain.

Source: BBC News

Vitamin 'may block MS disability'

A recent study suggests that vitamin shots may help protect multiple sclerosis patients from severe long-term disability.

Currently, there is no effective treatment for the chronic progressive phase of MS, when serious disability is most likely to appear.

Researchers cut the risk of nerve degeneration in mice with MS-type symptoms by giving them a form of vitamin B3 called nicotinamide.

The Children's Hospital Boston study appears in the Journal of Neuroscience.

Source: BBC News

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Spinach 'may ward off blindness'

Original photo by Pullao

Spinach, noted for making cartoon sailor Popeye strong, may also help to ward off a common cause of blindness.

A team at the University of Manchester believe eating the vegetable may protect the eyes from age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

Their theory is based on the fact that spinach, and several other vegetables, contain lutein, a chemical which helps form a key protective eye pigment.

The Manchester team plan a study to test their theory.

Source - BBC News

Mandarins 'cut liver cancer risk'

Eating mandarins may cut the risk of developing liver cancer and other diseases, research suggests.

Japanese scientists found the key were vitamin A compounds called carotenoids which give the fruit its orange colour.

One study found eating mandarins cut the risk of liver disease, hardened arteries and insulin resistance.

And a second found drinking the fruit's juice cut the risk of patients with chronic viral hepatitis developing liver cancer.

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As the heat of summer gives way to the chills of autumn, it is a good time to think about boosting your immunity for the new season ahead.

Plant remedies can help us overcome infectious illnesses both by supporting the body's natural healing mechanisms and by having an anti-microbial action on invading organisms.

In recent years, echinacea has grown in popularity as an immune system booster; and while this indigenous North American herb has many excellent benefits, I also like to use elderberry (pictured), which is a more traditional British remedy for immunity.

Elderberry is especially useful in the prevention of coughs, colds and flu. It is a mild herb, which means that it can be easily taken by children and the elderly.

Source - Scotsman

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Fragrance Chemical Useful In Treating Head Lice Problems

Poseidon scientists discovered that the menthol derivative, menthol propyleneglycol carbonate, is useful in eliminating lice in hair.

Cases of head lice, particularly in children, are in the upswing in many countries. This is again worrisome for public health and school officials now that the children are back at school. It takes only one infected child to re-infect the entire class. The conventional treatment involves the use of insecticides, such as pyrethrins and pyrethroids, which cause paralysis and death to the louse. If this fails, the next step is to use a more dangerous chemical called malathion. But, resistance against these chemicals have developed over the years so that insecticide resistant head lice can now be found in parts of the US, UK and other countries. Resistance to five different insecticides has been observed in some strains of head lice. While there have been numerous natural alternatives and repellents in the market to treat head lice, these products have been ineffective in scientific studies.

Poseidon scientists, working on nontoxic approaches to control insect pests, recently found a new use for a derivative of menthol called menthol propyleneglycol carbonate or MR08. This compound, commonly used in toothpastes as a cooling agent to give a 'fresh minty feeling,' turned out to be a versatile chemical with a wide variety of other biological actions. MR-08 proved to be very unpleasant.

Source - Medical News Today

Doctors prescribe self-help books

SELF-HELP books are being made available on prescription in an attempt to tackle depression, eating disorders and other mental-health issues.

The scheme allows patients to borrow the books anonymously from local libraries for up to six weeks. The initiative has been introduced in Fife and Glasgow, and if successful it is likely to be extended to other health authorities across Scotland.

Depression is the most common condition recorded by family doctors in Scotland.

Statistics show that more than 300,000 Scots visit their doctor each year because of stress or depression.

But it is estimated that 75 per cent of people with depression do not seek treatment.

Experts believe part of the problem is that many people - especially young men - are too embarrassed to ask for help.

They hope prescribing the books will allow many people with mental-health problems to treat themselves in privacy, without the need for attending therapy sessions.

Source - Scotsman

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Oats as a medicine

YOU hear so much about the Scots having a poor diet that I thought it would be good to talk about oats - a traditional Scottish food that is still very popular as a healthy breakfast.

Oats are a powerful food and medicine and are known to be a great tonic for the nervous system. They help us deal with depression, anxiety and stress, and can be useful when trying to break an addiction or increase stamina when recovering from an illness.

Oats are also good for the skin and are particularly good in treating eczema. They nourish, moisturise, soften and cleanse and work well when combined with calendula, another great skin healer.

Source - Scotsman

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Seaweed anti-obesity tablet hope

Scientists have pinpointed a unlikely potential weapon in the war against obesity - seaweed.
They found rats given fucoxanthin - a pigment in brown kelp - lost up to 10% of their body weight, mainly from around the gut.

They hope fucoxanthin can be developed into a slimming supplement or a drug that targets harmful fat.

The Hokkaido University research was presented to an American Chemical Society meeting in San Francisco.


Green Tea Cuts Fatal Illness Risk

Drinking green tea can reduce the rise of dying from a range of illnesses, a Japanese study has claimed.

The research, which covered over 40,000 people, found the risk of fatal cardiovascular disease was cut by more than a quarter. But, British heart experts said the benefits may be linked to the whole Japanese diet, which is healthier than that eaten in the west.

The work is published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

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