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.

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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.

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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."

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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