Good news for tea drinkers

Tea is good for the heart, scientists have found.

They have discovered that drinking tea protects against heart disease by improving the function of the artery walls.

Tea contains antioxidants called flavonoids that may help prevent cholesterol damaging arteries.
But the new research suggests that might not be the only possible benefit from the drink.

It appears to improve the function of the linings of the artery wall - but only if you drink four cups of black tea a day.

Source BBC News

Herbal remedies 'pose surgery risk'

Patients are being warned that herbal medications can increase the risk of serious complications during surgery.

The preparations can speed up or slow down the heart rate, inhibit blood clotting, alter the immune system and change the effects and duration of anaesthesia.

And scientists have found some preparations have an impact if taken up to a week before a patient goes under the knife.

Among the popular herbs studied were echinacea, gingko biloba, garlic, St John's wort and valerian - all widely-available in tablet form.

The researchers, from the University of Chicago, have published guidelines on when patients should stop taking herbal medicines in the influential Journal of the American Medical Association.

They hope that their work will encourage doctors to discuss the potential dangers with patients.

Source BBC News

Herb offers malaria treatment hope

The World Health Organization estimates malaria affects 300m people a year across the world.

Professor Nick White, who runs the Wellcome Trust's south-east Asia unit, told BBC News Online how rates of malaria were reduced by 90% - using a drug made from a Chinese herb.

The community of 120,000 displaced Burmese, living in camps on the north-west border of Thailand have many battles to fight.

In the past, malaria was one of those. The drugs which doctors would normally use were failing because the type of malaria prevalent in the camps was resistant to them.
But Professor Nick White, along with other doctors, heard about a drug used in China to treat malaria called quinghaosu.

Quinghaosu, or artemisinin - also known as sweet wormwood - provides a possible solution to the ever growing problem of salic falicparum - drug resistant malaria.

Professor White, who has worked in south-east Asia for over 20 years, says the discovery provides a new weapon in the drugs arsenal against malaria.

In total, around 25,000 people have been involved in trials in Thailand and Africa.

Source BBC News