Wednesday, February 28, 2007

'I would become a raging monster'

For two weeks every month Sue Scarlett used to become what she calls a "raging monster". Normally laid back, Sue, 37, from Essex, became terrified by the changes that came over her for half her life. She would spend days weeping for no reason, flying into irrational rages and even contemplated suicide. "My symptoms started getting really bad when I was 27, but I thought it was the relationship that I was in that was making me feel weepy, anxious and generally very sensitive at certain times," she said.

Dan managed to get Sue home and together they researched natural remedies. They discovered that eating carbohydrates every two-and-a half hours helped balance her moods and increase her serotonin production. Vitamin B12 was also a great help in keeping her nervous system balanced. She also asked her GP for a mild anti-depressant, avoided alcohol, exercised more, took multi-vitamins and ensured she got a good night's sleep. Sue says the results have been dramatic. "I have managed to reclaim most of my life. "I do still have severe PMS at times but generally only for about five days, and nowhere as bad as previously. I can still get ratty, but it has been made bearable." Sue and Dan have stayed together throughout her ordeal and plan to marry later this year.

Source - BBC

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Sunday, December 31, 2006

Bad hangovers: Why alcohol is only half the story

A couple of drinks was enough to give Louisa Saunders a sore head and coughing fits. Then she learnt that it was nothing to do with alcohol - and that she wasn't the only one reacting against a hidden chemical
There comes a point in everybody's life when it's time to put the brakes on. Babies arrive, the long-hours culture begins to wear you down and, well, the years roll on. With the best will in the world, you find you just can't put it away like you used to. It's what used to be called middle age.

I had to accept, as I reached my mid-thirties, that I'd become an awfully cheap date. Once an enthusiastic drinker of beer, proud to swill pints like a man, now a couple of halves was all it took to put me under the table.

But it was more than just a problem of capacity. Even after one or two drinks, it seemed the hangover would begin halfway through the evening and continue for the rest of the night. I'd get home feeling like hell - ravenously hungry, even if I'd been out to dinner, yet with evil indigestion. I'd down some water and sugary foods in an attempt at first aid, then spend a fitful night with a foggy head and a heart full of feverish anxieties. A full recovery could take several days.

So, you can imagine how much fun my social life was. Parties soon lost their pull when the consequences were so punishing. Weeks would go by without me touching a drop.

When I noticed that I also lost my voice after a night out, I assumed this was caused by the cigarettes that went with the drinks. Curiously, though, a recent rash of non-smoking parties quickly brought about just the same rasping hoarseness.

Then one day in the office here at The Independent, someone cracked open some birthday champagne. I took one sip and began to cough. A few sips later and I was coughing and wheezing like a chain-smoking, 80-year-old miner. The reaction was so sudden and dramatic that it prompted me to put a few words into an internet search engine and soon I was pretty sure I'd nailed the culprit: sulphites.

Source - Independemt


Liver reprieve

OUR livers can take a battering at this time of year, but there are supplements that can give this vital organ a boost. Milk thistle (£6.80 for 30 capsules or £4.95 for 50ml), for example, cleanses and repairs the liver and offers some protection against hangovers. Take it after a big night, or even better, before you go out.

If you already have a hangover, Nux Vomica 30c (£5 for 125 tablets) can help if you're feeling irritable and nauseous. It is also a good remedy if you have overindulged in food, alcohol or tobacco.

One last tip is to drink lots of water, which will rehydrate your system.

Source - Scotsman


Tuesday, October 31, 2006

A very painful chapter - The novelist Michael Arditti turned to cranial osteopathy for back ache. It nearly killed him

In my late twenties, I gave up dairy products.
I also gave up meat, wheat, alcohol, tea, coffee, processed food and as many E-numbers as I could without becoming a hermit, but it’s the dairy products that are pertinent here.

I had suffered from depressive illness for years and had failed to respond to a plethora of drugs. An open-minded doctor encouraged me to visit a dietary therapist, who turned out to be inspirational. Refreshingly free of any “Your body is a temple” cant, she explained how the toxins in food generated toxins in the brain, an insight which, though lost to the Tesco generation, stretched back to Hippocrates, who said: “Let thy food be thy medicine and thy medicine be thy food.”

So it proved for me. The change of diet combined with psychotherapy set me well on the road to recovery and I happily threw away my pills. Over the next decade, I worked as a theatre critic and wrote three novels, bolstered by a weekly regimen of yoga, aromatherapy and reflexology. I stuck religiously to my diet, issuing indulgent friends and hostesses with lengthy lists of requirements. At home I enjoyed regular goat and sheep cheeses brought by a friend from France.

Although the use of unpasteurised milk made them more flavoursome than their English counterparts, it also made them potentially lethal. Indeed, one contained a bug, which changed — and almost destroyed — my life.

My earliest intimation that something was wrong came with a series of stabbing pains at the base of my spine. At first I attributed them to posture and the hours spent hunched over a computer but after a couple of days the pains grew so intense that I could barely move, let alone leave the house. I rang and spoke to my doctor for the first time in a decade. She said simply: “You’re very tall, Michael. Tall people get sciatica. You’ve got sciatica,” before prescribing a week in bed.

Meanwhile, a friend urged me to call a husband-and-wife team of cranial osteopaths. Their willingness to visit me contrasted with my doctor’s phone diagnosis and confirmed my faith in holistic medicine. The couple appeared to be affable, down-to-earth and, above all, effective. On the first visit, as on all later ones, it was the man who took the lead, applying gentle pressure to various points of my body and rebalancing my energies. His wife, who was heavily pregnant, lent advice and the occasional hand. At the end of the initial treatment the pain had dwindled and I felt full of hope.

Source - Times

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Friday, June 30, 2006

Coffee may reduce liver disease

Drinking coffee could reduce the risk of alcohol-related liver disease.

A US study of 125,580 men and women over 20 years found a 22% reduced risk of developing alcoholic cirrhosis for each cup of coffee drank per day.

But tea was not associated with a reduced risk, indicating caffeine may not be the link, the study in Archives of Internal Medicine concluded.

Experts warned that even if coffee was protective, reducing alcohol intake was the only way to avoid liver damage.

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Saturday, December 31, 2005

Alcohol's health benefits doubted

Any heart gains from drinking alcohol in moderation are likely outweighed by the harm, say researchers.

The findings in The Lancet suggest that drinking a glass or two of wine a day may not be such a good idea.

Although past research suggests some heart benefits, the New Zealand team says the studies were flawed.

Indeed, there is more evidence that heavier drinking provides the most heart protection - alcoholics have relatively 'clean' arteries - they say.

Source - BBC News

Now that is what I call bad news!

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Tuesday, March 08, 2005

A herb in the balance

Two years ago, the UK government banned kava, a herbal remedy for treating anxiety. A suspicion had emerged that it might cause liver damage. The ban incensed proponents, some of whom decided to take the government to court over the matter. Now the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is reconsidering the decision; the organisation has recently invited interested parties to submit new evidence.

Kava is a plant (Piper methysticum) from the South Sea, where it has been used as a medicine for centuries. Rigorous clinical trials over the past two decades have demonstrated that it is effective in reducing anxiety. Kava therefore had become very popular. But the "kava-boom" came to a halt when cases of severe liver problems emerged. Eighty-four cases have now been associated with kava worldwide. Nine patients have suffered irreversible liver failure, and six individuals have died. None the less, proponents, including those organised in the International Kava Executive Council, insist that the evidence is inconclusive, pointing out that such adverse effects are extremely rare - only about one case per 50 million kava users.

Several new theories might explain what is really going on. In most of the cases, experts identified other possible causes for the liver damage. Many of the affected patients also consumed alcohol or took drugs known to damage the liver. The other patients could have suffered from liver conditions related to diseases such as infectious hepatitis. And some people will always experience liver problems apparently out of the blue.

Another theory holds that the modern manufacturing process for kava supplements is to blame. Natives from the South Sea make their kava drink essentially by dissolving the root in water. Kava supplements, however, are extracted with solvents which take out toxic constituents from the plant which are absent in the traditional kava drink. New evidence suggests that habitual kava users in the South Sea show no signs of liver problems even though they take rather high doses.

Other experts suspect that the huge popularity of kava supplements created so much demand that people started processing parts of the plant that were never meant to be used. This mistake, they think, led to products with toxic constituents not normally contained in quality products. This theory could explain why kava was used for such a long time without problems, and only when sales boomed did problems emerge.

Finally, some researchers believe that there could be a genetic explanation. Natives of the South Sea might be protected from liver damage simply because they are genetically different from us. In fact, the vast majority of Caucasians have nothing to fear. According to this school of thought, only a very small group of people afflicted with a genetic abnormality are at risk.

Meanwhile, three new clinical trials confirm the effectiveness of kava in relieving anxiety, which brings the total number of trials to 12. Several independent experts are now sure that the benefits of kava outweigh its risks. They also point out that conventional drugs with similar anxiolytic properties, such as Valium, are at least as harmful as kava.

In the coming months, the kava debate is set to reignite. The MHRA has already stated that kava poses "a rare but serious risk to public health". The First International Kava Conference, which took place in December 2004 in Fiji, arrived at the opposite conclusion: "We see no grounds for continuing bans and restrictions [and] call for their immediate removal." Watch this space.

· Edzard Ernst is professor of complementary medicine at the Peninsula medicine school at the universities of Exeter and Plymouth.

Source The Guardian
Edzard ErnstTuesday

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Monday, February 28, 2005

Wine 'can protect women's hearts'

Drinking wine, but not beer or spirits, keeps women's hearts beating healthily, Swedish research suggests.

Scientists studied the effect of alcohol consumption on 102 women under the age of 75 who had survived a heart attack or surgery for blocked arteries.

They found those who drank a small amount of wine every day for a year had the healthiest heart beat rhythm.

Drinking beer or spirits did not seem to have the same effect, the Karolinska Institute team told the journal Heart.

Source BBC News

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Saturday, January 31, 2004

A glass of red wine in a pill

Scientists in Italy are developing a pill that will have all of the health benefits of a glass of red wine.

The move follows a string of studies suggesting the tipple can protect against a range of conditions, including cancer and heart disease.

The evidence is so strong some hospitals in the UK prescribe red wine to heart attack patients.
The pill will contain all of the healthy ingredients of red wine without the alcohol, says New Scientist.

Researchers at the Pavese Pharma Biochemical Institute in Pavia say they can turn red wine into a pill by freeze-drying the ingredients.

Source BBC News

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Monday, June 30, 2003

Herb wrap wards off food poisoning

The herb basil is the crucial ingredient in a super wrap being developed to protect food more effectively from contamination by dangerous bugs.

Scientists are using anti-microbial extracts from the herb to create a plastic wrapper for meat and cheese.

The chemicals slowly ooze out from the wrapper - and extend the product's shelf-life by killing off bacteria such as E. coli and listeria which can cause severe food poisoning.

New Scientist magazine reports that tests have shown the new wrapping can keep bacteria at bay in Cheddar cheese for a week longer than ordinary packaging.

The wrapper has been developed by scientists at the Technion Institute of Technology in Haifa, Israel, and the Victoria University in Melbourne, Australia.

It is laced with two chemicals extracted from basil: an ether called methyl chavicol and the alcohol linalool.

Both contain compounds that attack and destroy cell walls, and have been shown to be active against eight types of bacteria.

Source BBC News

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Monday, March 31, 2003

Tea 'increases incontinence risk'

Drinking tea and smoking heavily has been linked to urinary incontinence in women, research suggests.

A study found smoking more than 20 cigarettes a day was linked to the complaint.

The common myth about urinary incontinence is that it only affects the elderly, but the condition affects one in 10 people.

Up to 25% of women and 5% of men aged 15 to 64 are affected.

Norwegian researchers surveyed almost 28,000 women aged over 20 in the Nord-Trøndelag area of the country between 1995 and 1997.

They wanted to see if smoking, obesity, physical activity and the drinking alcohol, coffee or tea were associated with urinary incontinence in women.

Source BBC News

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Saturday, November 30, 2002

Alcohol rapidly confuses the brain

Just two glasses of wine or a weak pint of beer can leave your judgment dangerously clouded, warn scientists.

Dutch researchers found that a blood alcohol reading of just 0.04% left people unaware that they were making errors.

Dr Richard Ridderinkhof, of the University of Amsterdam who led the research, said this should act as a warning over drinking before driving.

Even at a level of 40 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood, the researchers found a significant decline in the brain's responses. The legal limit for driving in Britain is 80mg per 100ml.

Source BBC News

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Friday, May 31, 2002

White wine good for lungs

Drinking wine - and in particular white varieties - may help to keep lungs healthy, research suggests.

A team from the University at Buffalo has found that drinking wine appears to be linked to better lung function.

The scientists believe that wine may contain certain nutrients that help keep the tissues of the lung in good working order.

The research was carried out on a random sample of 1,555 people from New York.
In each case, researchers carried out lung function tests and collected information about alcohol consumption.

Researcher Dr Holger Schunemann said: "Red wine in moderation has been shown to be beneficial for the heart, but in this case the relationship was stronger for white wine."

Dr Schunemann said it was most likely that white wine contained ingredients called anti-oxidants that stop the creation of harmful molecules called free radicals, which can wreak havoc on the lung tissues.

Source BBC News

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Research says cider 'healthy' drink

Drinking cider may be good for your health, according to research which suggests the drink is rich in antioxidants.

Scientists at Brewing Research International's laboratories in Surrey have found as many antioxidants in cider as red wine.

Antioxidants are thought to help stop cell damage called oxidation, which can contribute to cancer and degenerative diseases like dementia.

Vitamins C, E, and beta-carotene (vitamin A) are all antioxidants.

Red wine and green tea are among foods rich in these compounds.

John Thatcher, of Sandford in Somerset, Chairman of the National Association of Cider Makers, said: "I have spent a lifetime making cider, enjoying a regular glass or two.

Now I can enjoy it all the more knowing it is helping to keep me healthy."

Dr Caroline Walker, a scientist at Brewing Research International, said: "For those who enjoy a glass of cider it is reassuring to know it may be healthy too.

"But it is important that no-one drinks more than the recommended daily intake of alcohol.

Source BBC News

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Monday, December 31, 2001

Why red wine is healthier

Scientists may have discovered the reason why red wine appears to protect the heart.
Numerous studies have suggested that moderate alcohol drinking helps to reduce the likelihood of heart disease.

The so-called "Mediterranean diet", which includes a larger intake of wine, has been credited with lower rates of heart disease in those countries, despite a higher intake of saturated fats. However, there is no clear evidence that red wine is any better than any other alcoholic drink.

But a team of scientists from Barts and the London School of Medicine, and the Queen Mary University in London, may have found a mechanism which points to the benefits of red wine.
They say it appears to interfere with the production of a body chemical which is vital to the process which clogs up arteries and increases the risk of a heart attack.

Source BBC News

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Sunday, September 30, 2001

Wine prevents repeat heart attack

Scientists say they have found a way for coronary patients to minimise the risk of a second heart attack - drink wine every day.

Previous research has shown that drinking wine in sensible amounts may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.

But the new research suggests that it might also be an effective way to reduce the risk for people who have already had one heart attack.

French researchers found that middle-aged men who had had one heart attack and who drank two or more glasses of wine regularly were 50% less likely than non-drinkers to have a second attack.

Dr Michel de Lorgeril, of the Joseph Fourier University of Grenoble, France, and colleagues studied 353 men aged 40 to 60 who had just had heart attacks.

There were no significant differences in how severe their heart attacks had been, what drugs they used to treat heart disease or what they ate. The main differences lay in whether the men drank wine.

Between them, the men had 104 cardiovascular complications such as a heart attack or stroke over the next year.

Thirty-six of the complications occurred among men who abstained from alcohol, 34 among men who drank fewer than two glasses of wine a day, 18 among those who drank about two glasses a day, and 16 among men who drank an average of four to five glasses of wine a day.

Source BBC News

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Wednesday, May 31, 2000

Litre of beer 'is good for you'

Researchers have shown that all types of alcohol can help to reduce the risk of heart disease - if you drink it little and often.

The best strategy is to drink up to a litre of beer a day.

Many studies have shown a link between alcohol consumption and reduced levels of coronary heart disease.

However, it is unclear whether the protective effect is confined to specific drinks such as red wine, or relates to the ethanol in all alcoholic drinks.

Dr Martin Bobak and colleagues from the International Centre for Health and Society, University College, London, examined whether beer could protect against heart disease by going to the Czech Republic - a country where beer is almost universally the drink of choice.

Source BBC News

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Sunday, April 30, 2000

Moderate drinking 'protects bones'

A diet rich in calcium - and the occasional glass of wine - could protect some women from dangerous bone-thinning.

Seven units of alcohol a week, equivalent to a glass of wine, half a pint of beer or a measure of spirits every night, can help reduce bone loss at the hip, researchers say.

However, osteoporosis experts have warned that heavy drinkers are actually running a higher risk of the devastating bone condition.

One in three women in the UK suffer from osteoporosis at some point in their lives.

The thinning of the bones can lead to leg, hip and wrist fractures, leaving women permanently disabled.

Source BBC News

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Friday, December 31, 1999

Alcohol-free wine 'just as healthy'

Removing the alcohol content of red wine does not reduce its health-giving properties, suggest experts.

In fact, the alcohol may actually shorten the benefits.

The study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, measured the amount of substances called catechins in blood plasma.

These are thought to reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease.

Source BBC News

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Friday, April 30, 1999

Cabernet 'best for the heart'

A doctor has named what he thinks is the best wine for a healthy heart - Cabernet Sauvignon.

Scientists have long suggested that red wine can help cut the risk of heart disease, although the benefits seem to apply only to men over 40 and women after the menopause.

One study, however, suggests people as young as 33 can benefit from moderate alcohol consumption.

Dr Jean-Paul Broustet, of Haut Leveque Hospital in Pessac, southern France, made his claim in the UK medical journal, Heart.

He comes from the Bordeaux region - famed for its production of Cabernet Sauvignon grapes.
He said the Cabernet Sauvignon grapes had high levels of resveratrol - which increases levels of "good" cholesterol and slows production of "bad" cholesterol.

"Bad" cholesterol - or low density lipoprotein - can block arteries and cause heart disease.

Source BBC News

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Sunday, February 28, 1999

Drink wine and be healthy

Consumers in the United States will soon be seeing messages on wine bottles praising the health benefits of drinking wine.

The federal authorities haveapproved the use of a voluntary label alluding to the positive effects of drinking wine in moderation.

The message will appear alongside a government-mandated warning about the detrimental effects of alcohol consumption.

Winemakers in California, who have long sought a way to distance themselves from products like cigarettes, have welcomed the new guidelines.

But the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence fears the message could be taken as encouragement to drink more, with potentially disastrous consequences for people's health.

Source BBC News

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