Researchers' diabetic discovery

High doses of vitamin B1 (thiamine) could help prevent heart disease in diabetic patients, researchers claim.

University of Essex researchers say diabetic patients should be given thiamine to reduce blood cholesterol - which is linked to heart disease.

Previous studies have shown that drugs such as statins can also lower the risk of heart disease in diabetics.

Diabetes increases the risk of heart disease by two to three times in men and three to five times in women.

Prof Paul J Thornalley, who led the research, said: "There will of course be clinical trials to investigate further the findings we have made using an experimental model of diabetes.
"However, given the continuing toll of heart disease in diabetic patients, and the emerging benefits of thiamine therapy for diabetics suffering from kidney disease... I would strongly suggest that those with diabetes are given thiamine supplements."

Source BBC News

Pomegranates: the fruity panacea

Pomegranates are being hailed as a super-food which can protect the heart.

Scientists in Israel have shown that drinking a daily glass of the fruit's juice can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

"Pomegranate juice contains the highest antioxidant capacity compared to other juices, red wine and green tea," said Professor Michael Aviram, who led the team.

This is good news, for antioxidants are the naturally occurring substances in plants that protect the body from free radicals - 'bad' chemicals in the blood.

Free radicals alter cholesterol in a process known as oxidation, which is thought to speed up the hardening of the arteries.

High dose vitamin E death warning

Elderly people could be risking their lives if they take even moderately high doses of vitamin E, evidence suggests.

The latest study by Johns Hopkins University found people who took even half of the recommended current maximum dose had an increased risk of death.

The authors told the American Heart Association meeting that policy makers should consider lowering the upper safety limit.

Experts said eating healthily remained the best way to get vital nutrients.

But critics said the findings could be biased because although there are many types of vitamin E that come in tablet form studies, such as this one, tended to focus on synthetic rather than natural vitamin E.

The current study's authors acknowledged that because most of the people involved in the trial were aged 60 and older and had conditions such as heart disease, the findings might not apply to young healthy adults.

Previous studies have suggested high dose vitamins, including vitamin E, can do more harm than good.

Source BBC News

Scientists hail healthy olive oil

Scientists from all over the world are meeting in southern Spain for the first international conference on olive oil and health.

The Mediterranean diet is famous for its richness, in taste and in vitamins: fresh vegetables, fish, a glass or two of red wine and of course, olive oil.

"Olive oil and wine - healthy and divine," says a famous Spanish proverb.

Spaniards are indeed three times less likely than northern Europeans to contract heart disease.
They think it is largely thanks to their olives.

But new studies show that olive oil has an even healthier allure.

It promotes strong bone development, helps to prevent colon and breast cancer, Alzheimer's and other aging diseases.

More than 300 scientists from the world over are attending the conference in Jaen, the centre of Spain's oil production, to compare notes, in the hope of persuading their respective governments to invest more money in olive oil medical research.

Source BBC News

Hoodia - who owns the patent for a plant?

The hoodia cactus is sought by drug companies because of its appetite-suppressing qualities.

The rare plant has been used for thousands of years by southern Africa's San Bushmen to dampen their appetites during long treks through the harsh Kalahari desert, and holds the key to potentially lucrative anti-obesity drugs.

South Africa's Council for Scientific and Industrial Research has patented the chemical entity extracted from hoodia and licensed British drugs-from-plants firm Phytopharm PLC to develop the plant's commercial potential.

Phytopharm said it welcomed moves to protect hoodia from illegal cultivation.

Red wine 'wards off lung cancer'

Drinking red wine may help to ward off lung cancer, a study suggests.

A team from the University of Santiago de Compostela in Spain found each glass a day reduced the risk of lung cancer by 13% compared to non-drinkers.

While studies have already suggested red wine can help reduce the risk of heart disease, it was not thought to offer protection against lung cancer.

But Cancer Research UK cast doubt on the findings, warning excess drinking increases the risk of other cancers.

Professor Tim Key, of the charity's epidemiology unit at Oxford University, said there was "no solid evidence to support the suggestion that red wine might help to prevent cancer".

Source BBC News

Vitamins pills do not stop cancer

Vitamin supplements do nothing to prevent gut cancers and may shorten life expectancy, research suggests.

A review of 14 trials involving more than 170,000 people found antioxidant vitamins, like vitamin E, offered no protection against these cancers.

People taking some supplements died prematurely, the European researchers said in the Lancet.

Cancer Research UK cautioned the findings were preliminary and did not offer convincing proof of hazard.

Source BBC News

Cup of tea may help boost memory

Drinking regular cups of tea could help improve your memory, research suggests.

A team from Newcastle University found green and black tea inhibited the activity of key enzymes in the brain associated with memory.

The researchers hope their findings, published in Phytotherapy Research, may lead to the development of a new treatment for Alzheimer's Disease.

They say tea appears to have the same effect as drugs specifically designed to combat the condition.

Source BBC News

Apples may ward off colon cancer

An apple a day may help to keep bowel cancer at bay, say researchers.

The key could be chemicals in the fruit called procyanidins, a team from the French National Institute for Health and Medical Research believe.

These chemicals were shown to significantly reduce the number of precancerous lesions in lab animals.

The research, which could lead to new cancer treatments, was presented at a meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research.

Source BBC News

Cranberries 'could treat herpes'

Cranberries may be an effective treatment for the herpes virus, researchers claim.
The berry is known to be effective in treating bladder conditions.

But experts at the Kaohsiung Medical University in Taiwan say in Chemistry and Industry they could also treat the cold sores and genital herpes virus.

However UK experts said there was not enough evidence to suggest people should eat or drink cranberries to treat herpes.

Source BBC News

'Tomato treatment' slows cancer

An artificial version of the pigment that gives tomatoes their colouring is being tested on prostate cancer patients after promising animal trials.

Researchers at the Erasmus Medical Centre in Rotterdam, Holland, had found synthetic lycopene slowed the growth of human prostate tumours in mice.

Lycopene has already been linked with a reducing the risk of prostate cancer.

Source BBC News

Evening Primrose

I have just completed a new page for Complete Herbal on the Evening Primrose. What a fantastic plant!

Of course I have known about evening primrose oil (EPO) for a long time, my friend used to sell EPO capsules to health food shops. What I wasn't aware of is how other parts of the plant have been used for centuries. It's a shame that I didn't collect any seeds from my mother's garden as I now feel the urge to plant some and at least try the roots boiled (as a treatment for obesity it sounds very interesting).

As for the web site; Culpeper's Complete Herbal is coming along slowly - I have nearly finished R where, believe it or not, I learnt all about Mangel Wurzel (aka root of scarcity). And I am now beginning my next piece of research into F for Fennel.

Cancer remedy claims dismissed

Experts have dismissed claims a herbal remedy can treat cancer.

Complementary and cancer specialists said it was "irresponsible" to suggest Carctol, a mixture of eight remedies, was linked to 'miraculous' recoveries.

The claims were made by Dr Rosie Daniel, the former head of the Bristol Cancer Centre, which promotes holistic treatment of the disease.

But she admitted she could not be certain it was the remedy which was responsible for patients' recoveries.

Carctol is based on traditional Hindu treatments. People taking it are also advised to adhere to a non-acidic diet and drink large quantities of water - up to five litres a day.

Carctol was devised by Dr Nandlal Tiwari from Rajasthan, who has been giving it to patients for 25 years.

It is suggested it works by creating an alkaline environment in which acidic cancer cells cannot survive.

Dr Daniel, who prescribes Carctol before and after patients have had chemotherapy, said Dr Tiwari's theory was that it worked by helping the excretion of acids from the body.

She said it was a "detox" remedy, which pushed the kidneys, liver and bowel to excrete.

Source BBC News

The truth about vitamins

Every day millions of people in Britain take vitamin supplements.

It is an industry that is worth £300 million a year, but the pills are surrounded by controversy.
Some people claim that by taking them in large doses, they will prevent or even cure illnesses
like cancer and heart disease.

But others fear that taking large doses of some vitamins could in certain cases be dangerous.
"For most people there's absolutely no benefit in taking high dose vitamin supplements," said Catherine Collins, chief dietician at London's St George Hospital.

"At best they are a waste of money and at worst they could seriously affect your health."

Source BBC News

Diet gets healthier as people age

Contrary to popular opinion, adults do eat more healthily than they did as children.
Newcastle University researchers looked at the diets of 200 children aged 11 and 12, then again 20 years later.

They found as adults, they ate around twice the amount of fruit and vegetables and less fat and sugar as they had as children.

But the study, in Appetite, found some saw barriers, such as a perceived lack of time, to healthy eating.

This group often believed fruit and vegetables needed time for preparation and cooking and were more likely to have smaller intakes in fruit and vegetables.

Source - BBC News

(I never realised that those carrots in the fridge were a sign of aging!)

Vitamin E 'can restore hearing'

Vitamin E can help restore hearing in people who become deaf suddenly for no known reason, research suggests.

This natural antioxidant has already been hailed as a potential cancer therapy by preventing or slowing damage caused by certain oxygen compounds.

A study of 66 patients with sudden hearing loss, by the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, found those given vitamin E made the best recovery.

The work was presented at an Ear, Nose and Throat surgery meeting in New York.

Source BBC News

Herbal remedies do work

Scientific tests on a range of traditional remedies have shown they have "real benefits", researchers say.

Experts from King's College London said the treatments from around the world had properties which may help treat conditions such as diabetes and cancer.

The remedies included India's curry leaf tree, reputed to treat diabetes.

However complementary medicine experts said full clinical trials would have to be carried out to confirm the treatments' benefits.

Source BBC News

'Cattle feed' athlete's foot cure

A cream containing a common ingredient in cattle feed could treat athletes foot, researchers believe.

A team at London's King's College, working with Polish scientists, found the alfalfa plant contained compounds that fight fungal skin infections.

The scientists told a British Pharmaceutical Conference in Manchester the active agents could potentially be used as herbal antifungal remedies.

But experts said it would be some time before these could be available.

Source BBC News

Hibiscus Magic

An extract from the Hibiscus flower could have the same heart health benefits as red wine and tea, researchers suggest.

A team from the Chung Shan Medical University in Taiwan says the flower contains antioxidants that help control cholesterol levels.

They said animal studies showed the extract could reduce cholesterol in animals, so it may help humans.

The study is published in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture.

Source BBC News

Turmeric - The spice of life?

Turmeric may cut leukemia risk. Lower rates of childhood leukemia in Asian countries could be due to wide use of turmeric, researchers suggest. A team from Loyola University Medical Centre in Chicago said the spice, often used in Asian cooking, may have a protective effect against the cancer. Their research was presented to the 'Children with Leukemia' conference in London.

However, UK leukemia experts said other reasons, such as genetics, could be behind lower incident rates in Asia.

Source BBC News

Aloe vera may treat battle wounds

The aloe vera plant could give trauma victims such as soldiers the fluid needed to stay alive until they can get a blood transfusion, a study suggests.
Rapid blood loss on the battlefield is hard to replace quickly and can lead to organ failure in wounded soldiers.

University of Pittsburgh scientists found juice from aloe vera leaves preserved organ function in rats that had lost massive volumes of blood.

They report their findings in the journal Shock.

Aloe vera has been hailed for its anti-inflammatory properties. It is used to sooth inflammation of the skin from things like burns.

Scientists have also been looking at its ability to treat internal inflammatory diseases like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

Source BBC News

Wine leftovers 'fight bacteria'

Grapes left over from the wine-making process could become the latest weapon against bacteria.

Scientists in Turkey have discovered that these leftovers, or pomace, are effective against a range of bugs.

It follows tests on 14 types of common bacteria, some of which can cause food poisoning or serious illness.

Writing in the Journal of Science of Food and Agriculture, the scientists said adding grape pomace to food could reduce the risk of ill health.

The grapes left over from the wine making process generally consist of nothing more than seeds, skin and stems. They are often used to make vinegar.

Researchers from Erciyes University and Suleyman Demirel University used two types of Turkish grapes for their tests.

Source BBC News

More proof of vitamin-cancer link

It may not only be the lack of vitamin D that increases a woman's breast cancer risk but also the way in which the body utilises it, say researchers.

Studies have shown vitamin D protects against breast cancer and a lack may contribute to the disease.

Now scientists have found women with certain versions of a gene involved in the vitamin's breakdown have a nearly twofold greater risk of breast cancer.

The St George's Hospital findings appear in Clinical Cancer Research.

Dr Michelle Guy and her team, funded by Breast Cancer Campaign and World Cancer Research Fund, looked at the vitamin D receptor which controls the action of vitamin D in the body.

Source BBC News

Native American Remedy finds favour in medical circles

An ancient Native American treatment for cancer has been shown to have a beneficial effect despite scepticism from the medical establishment. Chaparral an evergreen desert shrub has long been used by Native Americans to treat cancer, colds, wounds, bronchitis, warts and ringworm. But experts dismissed its worth and warned it could be dangerous.

Now, researchers at the Medical University of South Carolina have shown an extract from this plant may shrink tumours.

Source BBC News

Sunflower Oil

Sunflower oil could be a solution to the energy crisis. UK scientists have developed a method of making hydrogen from sunflower oil, which could prove to be an eco-friendly source of energy. A team from the University of Leeds said the development could make hydrogen-powered vehicles a more realistic proposition. The researchers envision a small unit inside a car that would pull hydrogen out of the oil to drive a fuel cell. The team has presented details of their research to the annual meeting of the American Chemical Society.

Source BBC News

Blueberries

Blueberries could provide an alternative way to lower cholestrol, according to US researchers. A compound in the fruits was found to act as effectively as a commercial drug used to reduce levels of the bad form of cholestrol in rodents. Although the results are preliminary the Department of Agriculture team thinks the anti-oxidant ingredient could be developed as a treatment. They presented their findings to an American Chemical Society meeting.

Source BBC News

Ginseng 'hampers blood clot drug'

The herbal remedy ginseng interferes with the action of a drug often given to heart patients, warn US scientists.

The University of Chicago team found ginseng reduced the blood level and anti-clotting effect of warfarin, which they say makes this combination unsafe.

The UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Authority said it would investigate the concerns.

The report on 20 patients, after a four-week trial, appears in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
Warfarin works to reduce the risk of blood clots.

It is prescribed for people who have a higher than normal risk of blood clots, such as people with abnormal heart rhythms or an artificial heart valve.

Too much warfarin can increase the risk of bleeding. On the other hand, too little will not be effective at preventing clotting.

For this reason, it is important that the level of warfarin is tightly controlled and monitored.

Source BBC News

Multivitamins 'slow HIV progress'

Taking multivitamins may help stop HIV infection developing into full-blown Aids, researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health in the US say.

In a six-year study, 538 African women with HIV were given a daily supplement of a multivitamin or a dummy pill.

Of the 267 taking dummy pills, 12% developed Aids compared with 7% of the 271 on a multivitamin pill.

The 271 also suffered fewer late-stage complications, the researchers told the New England Journal of Medicine.

They said their findings suggested vitamin supplements could be given to people with HIV in the developing world to delay the need to start treating them with Aids drugs.

Source BBC News

Early vitamin use link to asthma

Children who take multivitamins may be at a greater risk of developing asthma and food allergies, research suggests.

Researchers from the Children's National Medical Center in Washington say the reason for the apparent link is unclear.

They believe vitamins may cause cell changes that increase the odds of an allergic reaction, but say as yet there is no proof this is the case.

The research, based on more than 8,000 children, is published in Pediatrics.

Source BBC News

Vitamin may ward off Alzheimer's

A vitamin found in a range of common foods could protect against Alzheimer's Disease, researchers have claimed.

A team from the Chicago Institute for Healthy Aging found niacin - vitamin B3 - was also linked to a reduced risk of age-related mental decline.

It is found in dairy products, poultry, fish, lean meats, nuts, and eggs.

The team said their findings, published in the Journal of Neurosurgery and Psychiatry, could help prevent Alzheimer's developing.

Source BBC News

Currying favour with parenthood

A restaurant manager in Leicester reckons fresh ingredients on his menu have caused a spate of recent pregnancies amongst his employees.

In the last two years five waitresses and a kitchen worker at Lanna Thai Restaurant have conceived.

All the women went on to give birth to daughters.

Peter Banks said: "We give a free plate of herbs with each meal. We think this has had a bearing on the fact we've had six babies in the last two years."

Source BBC News

Fruit 'helps prevent eye disease'

Eating fruit could protect against an age-related eye disease which can cause blindness, research suggests.

Researchers from the Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston followed the progress of over 118,000 people for between 12 and 18 years.

Those who ate three or more servings of fruit a day were 36% less likely to develop age-related maculopathy than people who ate less than 1.5 per day.

The study is published in the Archives of Ophthalmology.

Age-related maculopathy, or age-related macular degeneration, is the leading cause of blindness in people over 65.

The condition is caused by the deterioration of the macula, a part of the light sensitive layer in the eye called the retina.

The cells either break down, or the tissue is damaged by the growth of blood vessels under the retina.

There is a treatment for the condition, but no cure.

Previous research has shown antioxidant vitamin and mineral supplementation protects against the condition, and that supplementation with high-doses of vitamins C and E, beta carotene and zinc delays its progress.

Diet survey

The researchers in this study looked at how the amount of fruit, vegetables and vitamins people ate related to their risk of developing the eye disease.

They followed 77,562 women who were part of the Nurses' Health Study and 40,866 men who were taking part in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study.

All were at least 50 years old when the study began with no diagnosis of ARM. Women were followed for up to 18 years, and men were followed for up to 12 years.

Women completed questionnaires about their diets up to five times over the follow-up period (in 1980, 1984, 1986, 1990 and 1994), and men three times, in 1986, 1990, and 1994.

They also reported their vitamin and supplement use once every two years.

Over the follow-up period, 329 women and 135 men were diagnosed with early stage ARM, and 217 women and 99 men with neovascular ARM, a more severe type of the condition.

While three or more portions of fruit a day was found to significantly cut someone's risk of developing neovascular ARM - a severe form of the disease, eating more vegetables did not appear to hold any benefit.

Bananas and oranges were strongly linked with protective benefits.

Researchers also found that levels of antioxidant vitamins or carotenoids - compounds responsible for the red, yellow and orange pigments found in some fruits and vegetables - were not directly related to ARM risk.

Food versus supplements

Writing in the journal, the researchers led by Dr Eunyoung Cho, said: "Fruit intake was inversely related to age-related maculopathy, particularly neovascular ARM, the form of this disease that frequently involves severe vision loss.

"Since none of the antioxidants or carotenoids contributed substantially, other factors may also contribute to the reduced risk."

They suggest other constituents of fruits with potential health benefit include flavanoids, fibre, folate and potassium.

Catherine Collins, a dietician based at St George's Hospital in London, said the study findings made sense because certain substances found in fruit had specific benefits for eye health.

She said the beneficial link with fruit may have been clearer in this study because people did not eat enough of lutein-rich vegetables such as spinach for them to have a noticeable effect.

She added: "There are substances in foods which give you extra benefits compared to vitamin and mineral supplements".

Source BBC News

Cannabis drug cuts arthritis pain

A drug made from an extract of cannabis has helped to reduce the pain caused by rheumatoid arthritis.

The drug, Sativex, has been developed by GW Pharmaceuticals, which is assessing the medical benefits of cannabis under a UK government licence.

Tests of a spray form of the drug on 58 arthritis patients showed it helped reduce pain, and improve quality of sleep.

Few people showed signs of side effects, the company said.

Source BBC News

Aspirin cuts breast cancer risk

That little wonder drug is at it again.

A new piece of US research backs the idea that aspirin protects against certain types of breast cancer.

It found women who used aspirin or similar painkillers at least once per week for six months reduced their risk of breast cancer by 20%.

However, the University of Columbia researchers say it is too soon to advise women to start taking aspirin against breast cancer, however.

Their findings appear in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Vitamins 'increase cholesterol'

Vitamins could actually increase levels of "bad cholesterol", researchers have suggested.
It had been thought that vitamins could protect the heart.

But New York University researchers found vitamins including E, C and beta carotene stop the liver breaking down an early form of bad cholesterol.

Writing in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, the researchers say their findings mean they cannot recommend that people use the vitamins.

Source BBC News

Vitamins 'do not prevent cancer'

Your background, rather than your diet influences whether you get cancer or heart disease, according to research.

A study by the Universities of Bristol and London suggests eating antioxidant vitamins does not prevent the diseases.

Factors like living in deprived social circumstances and whether you are a smoker, rather than taking vitamin supplements, affect susceptibility.

However, people who have diets rich in vitamins A, C and E are less likely to have suffered deprived circumstances.

Bristol University's Dr Debbie Lawlor and colleagues reviewed previous studies and undertook new research for the study.

Source BBC News

Magnetic Therapy for Spine Injury

Doctors at Imperial College London administered magnetic stimulation to the brains of people with partial damage to their spinal cord.

The therapy led to improved muscle and limb movement, and increased ability to feel sensations.

Details of the technique - known as repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) - are published in the journal Spinal Cord.

It works by using an electromagnet placed on the scalp to generate brief magnetic pulses, about the strength of an MRI scan.

These pulses stimulate the part of the brain called the cerebral cortex.

The technique was tested on four patients with what are known as incomplete spinal cord injuries.

This is where the spinal cord has not been entirely severed, but the patient has still lost the ability to move or feel properly below the injury point.

Actress bids to keep health pills

Actress Jenny Seagrove is spearheading a Conservative campaign to keep hundreds of vitamins and food supplements on the shelves in Britain.

The Tories say health remedies that have been used safely for years will disappear because of an EU Directive.

As part of their bid to save the supplements, Woman of Substance star Miss Seagrove is launching a petition to urge ministers to stop the EU ban.

The Tories claim this could be the last chance to change the EU legislation.

Source BBC News

Mushroom remedy 'makes you fit'

A Chinese mushroom improves the fitness of middle-aged and elderly people, research suggests.
Tests showed people aged between 40 and 70 who lived a sedentary lifestyle became fitter after taking an extract of the Cordyceps mushroom.

The research presented to the American Physiological Society indicated an improvement in the ability to exercise and a reduction in tiredness.

However, UK experts said scientific proof for the remedy was lacking.

The mushroom became a Chinese remedy around 1,500 years ago after herdsmen in the Himalayas noticed a significant increase in their herds' strength and agility after eating it.

It is now marketed in the West.

The performance of Chinese women athletes in setting several new records at a tournament in 1993 was due to high-altitude training and using a tonic derived from the mushroom, their coach said.

Researchers at Pharmanex in California, which produces a remedy called CordyMax, tried it out on 131 volunteers.

Some were given the remedy and some a placebo over a 12-week period.

Researchers measured exercise capacity, endurance performance and metabolic alterations before, during and after receiving the remedy or placebo.

Oxygen

Volume of oxygen consumption went up 5.5% in the group given the remedy, but only 2.2% in the others, suggesting an increase in aerobic capacity.

The time taken to complete a one-mile walk was reduced by 29 seconds in the CordyMax group but increased slightly in the others.

And diastolic blood pressure fell by 3.2% among people taking the remedy.

The researchers said: "This study provides scientific evidence that CordyMax is effective in enhancing aerobic exercise capability, endurance exercise performance, and exercise metabolism and alleviating fatigue in healthy humans."

Dr Jidong Wu, a lecturer at Middlesex University and president of the Association of Traditional Chinese Medicine, said there had not been scientific trials to establish the effectiveness of the mushroom.

He said: "There are not many clinical trials which are accredited by Westerners, but according to the ancient Chinese literature it is a tonic herb.

"In clinical practice, people taking it feel better, but scientifically how much, we don't know."

The mushroom was thought to improve the performance of the lungs and kidneys, he said.

Source BBC News

Vitamin fights prostate cancer

Vitamin E can protect men from prostate cancer, according to researchers.

Men with high levels of the alpha tocopherol form of vitamin E were 53 per cent less likely to develop prostate cancer.

The researchers stressed it was better to take vitamin E from fresh food than supplements.

The US National Cancer Institute study was presented at the American Association of Cancer Research annual meeting in Orlando.

Source BBC News

Aspirin 'fights ovarian cancer'

Aspirin and other similar painkillers may be able to fight ovarian cancer, a study suggests.

Aspirin belongs to a group of medicines called non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs, which can block a chemical called Cox-2.

Researchers in the United States have found that this protein also helps ovarian cancer tumours to grow.

Speaking at an American Association for Cancer Research conference, they said the drugs could fight the disease.

Acupuncture 'beats headache pain'

Acupuncture is an effective treatment for chronic headaches and should be more widely available on the NHS, experts say.

Writing in the British Medical Journal, UK researchers said patients who were given acupuncture had fewer days of headaches than those who were not.

They also saw their GP less and were not as reliant on painkillers.

The government said doctors could decide to fund the therapy locally, if they felt patients would benefit.

Source BBC News

A sherry could keep doctor away

If a heavy claret is not your tipple then reach for the sherry - it could protect your heart, research suggests.

Sherry may have the same health benefits of red wine, scientists at the University of Seville think.

Drinking sherry could protect people from coronary artery disease, which can lead to heart attacks.

An article in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture shows that sherry reduces bad cholesterol and increases good cholesterol.

The Spanish study found polyphenols in red wine, which are associated with reducing the incidence of coronary artery disease, are also found in sherry.

Source BBC News

Fruit reduces heart disease risk

Eating three apples a day can significantly cut the risk of death from coronary heart disease, say scientists.

The fibre in apples and other fruits helps prevent heart disease by lowering cholesterol levels.

The findings are part of a US study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

It reinforces other research which has shown the health benefits of a diet rich in fibre.

Scientists, who carried out the research, said people who eat 10 grams of fibre daily, reduce their risk of heart attack by 14% and their risk of dying from coronary heart disease by 27%.

Source BBC News

Anise

I am starting a series of articles giving interesting information about a variety of herbs. Having decided to start alphabetically I am starting with that interesting herb Anise. Often used as a flavouring it also has medical and magical properties.

Missing ingredients in herb tests

Tests on St John's Wort tablets showed huge variations in how much active ingredient different brands contain.

Some people buying the popular herbal medicine may be getting virtually none, reveals the study by Taiwanese experts.

St John's Wort, or Hypericum, can have mild antidepressant effects, although doctors warn it can interfere with the effects of other medicines.

None of the tablets tested had as much of the active ingredient as claimed, said the researchers.
Two chemicals are thought to be responsible for the psychoactive effects of St John's Wort.

These are hypericin - the chemical ingredient normally named on the label - and a related chemical called pseudohypericin.

None of the five products tested by researchers from the National Chung-Hsing University claimed to contain any pseudohypericin.

Source BBC News

Chinese tea 'may cure jaundice'

A herbal tea used widely in China to treat jaundice could soon be used by doctors in the West.
Scientists in the United States have found that Yin Zhi Huang (YZH) can stop the build-up of a type of bile that causes the condition.

Writing in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, they said the tea could form the basis of new treatments.

Jaundice is common in newborn babies. If untreated it can lead to serious complications such as brain damage.

Source BBC News

Herbal remedies 'threaten plants'

The growing demand for herbal remedies is threatening to wipe out 10,000 of the world's 50,000 medicinal plant species, conservation group The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) says.

In Europe alone, more than 1,300 medicinal plants are used commercially, and about 90% are taken from the wild.

A report released on Thursday by the Plantlife International group urges suppliers to ensure ingredients are cultivated or harvested responsibly.

The British Herbal Medicine Association says the problem has been exaggerated.

But Plantlife International says the plants are harvested wastefully far too often.

They say the bearberry - used to treat kidney and digestive problems - has become rare in much of Eastern Europe because whole plants are uprooted even though only the leaves are used.

Source BBC News

Herbal diet drug 'is heart risk'

Slimmers have been warned against using a popular herbal remedy to help them lose weight.
Doctors in the United States say Metabolife 356 can have a potentially lethal effect on the heart.

Writing in the Journal of the American Medical Association, doctors urged people to avoid taking the product until further research is carried out.

However, the manufacturers have rejected the claims saying studies show Metabolife 356 is safe to use.

David Cohen, national science counsel for Metabolife International, said: "Metabolife is very safe when used as recommended."

Source BBC News

Vitamin D pills cut MS risk

Women who take vitamin D supplements are 40% less likely to develop multiple sclerosis, research suggests.

The Harvard University team found eating a diet rich in vitamin D alone was not enough to provide the same protection.

Nearly 190,000 women took part in the study, published in Neurology.

Researcher Dr Kassandra Munger said: "It's exciting to think something as simple as taking a multivitamin could reduce your risk of developing MS."

However, she said further research was needed to confirm the findings.

Source BBC News

Vitamins 'cut Alzheimer's effect'

It may be possible to reduce the effects of Alzheimer's disease by taking the right combination of vitamins, US research suggests.

Scientists have found vitamins E and C may protect the ageing brain - but only if taken together.
They both mop up destructive molecules, called free radicals, released by the body's metabolic processes.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University in Maryland announced their findings in the journal Archives of Neurology.

Brain cells, known as neurons, are thought to be particularly sensitive to damage caused by free radicals.

Lead researcher Dr Peter Zandi said: "These results are extremely exciting.

Source BBC News

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

Remedies threat to cancer care

Many cancer patients risk compromising their treatment by using complementary remedies, research suggests.

Scientists at London's Homerton Hospital warn remedies such as garlic, cod liver oil and St John's Wort pose a risk of side effects.

However, a survey of more than 300 cancer patients found more than half took herbal remedies or food supplements.

The research is published in the British Journal of Cancer.

Source BBC News