Thursday, June 30, 2005

Herbal remedies do have 'real benefits

Researchers from King's College in London have said that scientific tests on a range of herbal remedies have shown that they do have 'real benefits'.

The researchers said that herbal treatments from around the world had properties, which may help treat conditions such as diabetes and cancer.

The researchers examined Indian diabetes treatments, Ghanaian wound healing agents and cancer treatments used in China and Thailand.

One of the plants examined was the curry-leaf tree (Murraya koenigii) from India, which is reputed to have potential benefits in treating diabetes.

The researchers discovered that extracts from the curry-leaf tree appeared to restrict the action of a digestive enzyme called pancreatic alpha-amylase, which is involved in the breakdown of dietary starch to glucose. They are now looking at which compound in the curry-leaf tree has this effect, and claim that once it is identified, it should be possible to evaluate if it could be better than existing anti-diabetic drugs.

The researchers while working with experts from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Ghana, also looked at plants used by the Ashanti ethnic group.

They found that an extract of the Commelina diffusa, or climbing dayflower, had both antibacterial and anti-fungal activity, which could help heal wounds and also stop them getting infected.

In a third study, the researchers studied Thai and Chinese plants used as traditional remedies in the treatment of cancer, and found promising activity against lung cancer cells, particularly in tests of the Thai plant Ammannia baccifera, an aquatic weed and the Chinese plant Illicium verum, star anise.

"This research is very interesting, very promising. We need much more research of this sort. More and more research of this kind is coming out. It is no surprise to those who work in this field," the BBC quoted Edzard Ernst, professor of complementary medicine at the Peninsula Medical School in Exeter, as saying.

Ernst, however, added in the same vein, "This type of study can only be the first step in a line of research and at the end of this line, it's necessary to have good clinical proof that this works."

Source - Hindustan Times

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