New white wine 'good for heart'

The health benefits of red wine may now be found in a Chardonnay, according to researchers.
Red wine has long been thought to offer more protection against heart disease.

Now winemakers have developed a white wine which they say has the same benefits as red.

The wine, created by researchers at the University of Montpellier in France, is called Paradoxe Blanc because of the paradox that French people are partial to cigarettes and fatty foods, but suffer relatively low levels of heart disease.

One theory is that this is because they drink wine with their meals.

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Herbal tranquiliser ban opposed

Complementary health experts have opposed a ban of the herbal medicine Kava-kava.
The herb is used as a natural tranquiliser, and as an alternative to Valium.
But it has been linked to cases of liver damage, and a UK medicine watchdog is considering a ban.

Scientists meeting at the Symposium on Complementary Medicine at Exeter University say that would be an "over reaction".

Sixty-eight cases of suspected liver damage associated with the use of medicinal products containing Kava have been reported worldwide, three of which were in the UK.

Six patients who had liver failure needed liver transplants and three others died.

But complementary health campaigners claim side effects from Kava-kava are rare, and the risk of liver damage is similar to that associated with Valium.

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Herbal stress remedy banned

Remedies containing the herb Kava-kava have been banned after it was linked to four deaths.
The herb is used as a natural tranquiliser and as an alternative to Valium.

It was voluntarily removed from the shelves a year ago after almost 70 cases of suspected liver damage associated with the herbal medicine were reported, four in the UK. Seven patients needed liver transplants.

The UK's Committee on Safety of Medicines (CSM) and the Medicines Commission have now recommended a ban.

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Garlic may repel prostate cancer

Garlic and onions could help prevent men developing prostate cancer, researchers have said.

Men who ate the most vegetables had a 50% lower risk of having prostate cancer than those who ate the least, it was found.

The benefits could be due to allium, a sulphur-based compound, which is responsible for the characteristic smell.

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Euro MPs back herbal crackdown

The European Parliament has backed proposals to impose strict rules on herbal remedies.

The proposed European Union directive will require all herbal medicines to be registered.

Packs will have to include a full list of ingredients and will have to prove they are not a threat to public health.

The proposals will have to be backed by EU health ministers before they become law.
MEPs said the measures will ensure the quality and safety of herbal medicines.

However, there are fears that the directive will restrict the number and type of herbal medicines available to the public.

Manufacturers have also warned that it threatens jobs and could put some companies out of business.

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Red wine 'could prevent cancer'

Red wine could form the basis of a cancer prevention drug, researchers say.

The drug, based on a natural compound found in the drink, is being tested at the University of Leicester.

Resveratrol is a natural agent found in grapes, peanuts and several berries.

It is present in fruit juice from these berries and in wine.

It has been suggested it could be the reason why countries in southern Europe, where a lot of red wine is drunk, have a low incidence of cardiovascular disease.

Research has already shown that resveratrol has anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties.
The Leicester team, has been awarded £1m to carry out the research along with the University of Michigan by the US National Cancer Institute (NCI).

It is the first time that a group outside America has been funded by the NCI for the early clinical development of a drug that may prevent cancer.

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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.

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Wine protects against dementia

People who drink wine occasionally may have a lower risk of developing dementia, including Alzheimer's disease, research suggests.

Scientists found people who drank wine weekly or monthly were more than two times less likely to develop dementia.

The lead researcher was Dr Thomas Truelsen, of the Institute of Preventive Medicine at Kommunehospitalet in Copenhagen, Denmark.

He said: "These results don't mean that people should start drinking wine or drink more wine than they usually do.

"But they are exciting because they could mean that substances in wine reduce the occurrence of dementia.

"If that's the case, we could potentially develop treatments or prevention methods based on these substances."

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Healthy tea claims 'not proven'

A major tea company has been rapped for claiming that the drink is good for your heart and implying it may help you live longer.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) ruled there was insufficient scientific evidence to back up the claims, made in adverts run by Tetley GB Ltd.

The Food Commission lodged a complaint with the ASA about two posters for Tetley tea.
One was headlined "Tetley (picture of a heart) U" and the other "Go on, live a lot".

The text claimed that "Tetley is rich in antioxidants that can help keep your heart healthy".

The Food Commission argued it was misleading to claim tea had proven health benefits, and that the slogan "Go on, live a lot" misleadingly implied that drinking tea would prolong life.

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Tea 'to join health menu'

Tea could soon join fruit and vegetables on the list of must-have health foods.

Recent studies have suggested the traditional cuppa protects against a range of conditions including cancer, heart disease and Parkinson's.

But scientists in the United States now believe that the health benefits are so great that everyone should be urged to drink tea.

Experts believe antioxidants in tea help to repair cells in the body which have been damaged by sunlight, chemicals, stress and many foods.

Damaged cells can lead to cancer and heart disease as well as a host of other serious conditions.

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Plant's healing powers tested

Millions of people could benefit from pioneering research at three south west Wales hospitals which are investigating the medicinal properties of a desert plant.

Neath, Morriston and Singleton hospitals are the first to trial aloe vera as a treatment for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), which affects around 20% of the UK population.

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Herbal remedies 'could harm health'

Herbalists have warned people are putting their health at risk by using remedies inappropriately.

The UK market for herbal remedies such as St John's Wort and ginseng is worth around £126m a year, but experts say some of that is money badly spent.

Trudy Norris, president of the National Institute of Medical Herbalists warned against mixing remedies, combining them with conventional medicines or taking poor quality supplements.

She told BBC News Online herbs were safe and could be used successfully.
But she added:" What we are concerned about is that lots of people self-prescribe in an inappropriate way.

"So someone may want to use a herb instead of a drug, for example someone may buy a herbal combination and equate it with HRT, and they don't equate.

"And they may go into a shop to buy, say, St John's Wort, where there's a whole shelf-full of various quality and standards."

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Bananas 'could prevent strokes'

A banana a day could prevent a deficiency which, scientists say, might increase the risk of stroke.

The tropical fruit is rich in potassium, and a study of 5,600 people aged over 65 suggested that those with the lowest intake of the mineral were 50% more likely to suffer a stroke.

The study also suggested that people who take diuretic drugs - which increase the amount of water excreted in the urine - may also increase the risk, perhaps because they stop potassium from the diet being absorbed by the body.

Diuretics are frequently prescribed to older people - ironically, to control blood pressure and reduce the chance of one type of stroke.

Patients with heart failure also take the drugs to relieve the strain on their heart and lungs.
Patients taking diuretics with the lowest levels of potassium in their blood were two-and-a-half times more likely to have a stroke compared with diuretic takers who had the highest levels of potassium.

The study was carried out by doctors at the Queen's Medical Center in Honolulu, and published in the journal Neurology.

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Fears over herbal remedy tests

Health food shops could face closure if tighter EU laws on herbal remedies come into force in the UK, opponents have warned.

Celebrities Sir Elton John and Sir Paul McCartney are backing protests against the proposal to subject herbal remedies to the same rigorous checks as pharmaceutical drugs.

Critics warn that the proposed legislation would not only needlessly restrict consumer choice but hit retailers hard.

Now the Department of Health has extended its consultation on the proposal until the end of July.

It will then decide whether to give its approval in the European Council of Ministers.

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Ban proposed for herbal medicine

A government watchdog is considering banning the use of Kava-kava as a herbal supplement after patients reported liver problems.
Even its use as an ingredient in some foods could be outlawed.

The Medicines Control Agency (MCA) has launched a public and industry consultation on the future of the herb - used for many years as a remedy for anxiety and restlessness.

The Committee for the Safety of Medicines (CSM) looked at its safety record in December, and stocks of the herb were withdrawn from shops.

However, the MCA's investigations have revealed 68 cases worldwide in which Kava-kava has been linked to liver problems.

These have led to six liver transplants - and three deaths.

In the UK there have been three suspected cases of Kava-kava linked liver toxicity.
People or companies with a view on the herb have until the end of September to make their views known to the MCA.

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Tomato-based repellent 'beats Deet'

A mosquito repellent that includes a compound from tomatoes could prove safer and more effective than current chemicals.

Preventing mosquito bites is a key part of efforts to prevent the spread of diseases such as malaria and dengue fever, particularly among travellers to tropical countries.

Deet (N, N-diethyl-meta-toluamide), the active ingredient in the majority of repellent sprays and creams, has been linked with occasionally severe reactions.

The US Environmental Protection Agency no longer allows labels of products containing Deet to describe them as "safe for children".

The discovery, by scientists at North Carolina State University, US, could produce a repellent which is less toxic.

The tomato plant has an innate ability to fend off attacks from insects.

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Scientists design 'anti-cancer' tomato

A tomato has been engineered to contain higher levels of a chemical which may offer protection against cancer.

The tomato was developed at Purdue University in Indiana, US, by accident as scientists hunted higher quality strains that would ripen later.

Tomatoes, even in their processed form, are already considered to be beneficial to health.
This is because they contain various antioxidant chemicals which may be able to prevent cell damage in the body.

One of these chemicals is called lycopene, the pigment which gives the fruit its traditional red colour.

It has long been associated with good health - a study of thousands of men found that eating 10 or more servings of tomato sauce or tomatoes a week reduced prostate cancer risk by 45%.

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Safety checks on alternative medicine

The World Health Organization is to monitor the safety of traditional and alternative medicines.
The move follows a number of deaths linked to their misuse.

This can be down to use of the wrong medicines, or to using medicines in the wrong way.
WHO experts hope to establish a global monitoring system within four years.

Tea good for the bones

Scientists have come up with yet more evidence of why tea is good for your health - it helps to keep the bones strong.

The latest research follows recent studies that suggest the popular beverage can help to reduce the risk of cancer, heart attack and Parkinson's disease.

A team from the National Cheng Kung University Hospital in Tainan, Taiwan, fould that habitual tea drinking over several years preserves bone density in both men and women.

The researchers believe that the key could be the high fluoride content in tea, especially green tea.

They believe that other ingredients such as flavonoids and phytoestrogen may also help preserve bone density.

Other ingredients in tea may inhibit bone resorption and boost metabolic creation of bone.

The researchers believe it is not the amount of tea a person drinks that counts, but how long they have been a regular drinker.

The effect was most pronounced in the bones of people who had drank tea regularly for more than a decade.

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Heart attack victims 'should drink tea'

Heart attack victims may live longer by drinking plenty of tea, according to doctors.

A study of patients with heart disease has found those who are heavy or even moderate tea drinkers live substantially longer than those who don't have a regular cuppa.

Research by doctors in Israel found heavy drinkers - those who drank more than 14 cups of tea a week - had a 44% lower death rate than non-tea drinkers in the three and a half years following their heart attacks.

Moderate tea drinkers - those who consumed less than 15 cups a week - had a 28% lower rate of dying over the same period, according to the study, published in the journal Circulation.

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Red wine 'protects from colds'

Another health benefit has been attributed to red wine - fighting off the common cold.

According to scientists in Spain, drinking wine, especially red, stops people from developing colds.

Something in wine seems to have a protective effect because the same was not seen with beer and spirits.

The evidence comes from a year long study of 4,000 volunteers.

Experts at five universities found that people who drank more than two glasses of red wine a day had 44% fewer colds than teetotallers.

Drinking one glass of red wine a day also protected against colds, but to a lesser extent.

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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.

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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.

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Herb ineffective as anti-depressant

The popular herbal supplement, St John's wort, is an ineffective treatment for depression, a major study has found.

The use of herbs has grown massively in recent years as more people opt for so-called natural medicines.

Researchers have conducted the largest ever clinical trial into the impact of the herb on major depression - a moderately severe form of the condition.

The researchers, from Duke University Medical Center in North Carolina, found it had no more impact than a dummy medicine.

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Tea may protect against Parkinson's

Another potentially beneficial effect of tea has been uncovered by scientists who say it may help protect against Parkinson's disease.

They have identified a chemical antioxidant in green tea which has already been show to have protective effects on several disease processes.

Green tea consumption is associated with decreased risk of breast, pancreatic, colon, oesophageal, and lung cancers in humans.

It contains the potent antioxidant polyphenol, which has also been shown to protect against heart disease.

Previous studies indicate that green tea extracts may have protective effects on Parkinson's disease in test animals, but the underlying protective mechanisms were not clear.

However, scientists in the US told the annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology they have made progress in understanding the possible mechanism by which polyphenol protects against Parkinson's disease.

The disease is characterised by the loss of dopamine-producing brain cells that control movement.

Researchers at Baylor college of Medicine in Houston, found the antioxidants in the tea helped to fight free radicals, which cause cell damage in the brain, which in turn could cause Parkinson's Disease.

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Fish oil 'cuts' heart risk

Fish oil supplements can halve the risk of sudden death among heart patients, research suggests.

The crucial ingredients are omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to have a range of positive effects on health.

They are found in oily fish such as tuna, salmon and mackerel.

Italian researchers investigated the effect of eating the fatty acids in a study of more than 11,000 heart attack survivors.

They found that a one gram daily dose was enough to significantly reduce the risk of death from a sudden heart attack by 42%.

The fatty acid appears to reduce the problem of irregular heartbeats in patients who have a condition called cardiac arrhythmia.

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Even garlic can be poisonous

Beverley Simmonds had no idea of the powers of garlic.

That was until she spent the entire night after an enjoyable Italian meal at home with her family, writhing around in agony with stomach cramps.

On presentation to her GP the next day, she was told she had a classic case of liver poisoning, caused probably by an over-sensitivity to garlic.

A big fan of vampire and Dracula movies, Ms Simmonds, should have learnt her lessons from the big screen.

She said: "I had always known I suffered from indigestion after eating garlic, as well as chives and also onions. But never had I suffered from cramps as severe as these."

Otherwise known as the stinking rose, raw cloves of garlic have been used for thousands of years in Asia to treat ailments ranging from high blood pressure, infections and high cholesterol.

And garlic is now widely accepted among the Western medical community as probably having these same health benefits.

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Aloe vera cuts ulcer risk

A gel made from the herb aloe vera may help to treat and prevent stomach and intestinal ulcers.
A team from the Barts and London, Queen Mary's School of Medicine and Dentistry have carried out tests which show that the herb has a beneficial effect on the production of substances which help boost the healing process in cases of ulceration in the gut.

The researchers believe aloe vera could be particularly valuable in treating ulcers caused as a side effect of taking anti-inflammatory NSAID drugs.

The aloe vera gel was tested on a culture of gastric cells at a concentration that is likely to be found in the stomach after swallowing a dose.

Aloe has been recognised as a painkiller, and since ancient times it has been used to treat burns.
It has also been used to treat other skin conditions such as scrapes, sunburns and insect bites.
Aloe is also a common ingredient in cosmetics and lotions because it naturally balances the pH of the skin.

Internally, it has been used as a mild laxative. There is also some evidence to suggest that it might enhance the functioning of the immune system.

Got cranberry?

Although the tangy, little, maroon-coloured fruits can be found in bogs all over Massachusetts, a recent survey shows that health-conscience consumers are more likely to have a half-gallon of Florida orange juice in their refrigerator than cranberry juice.

What consumers may not know is that cranberries provide some major health benefits:-Studies have shown cranberries promote good urinary tract health, cardiovascular health and are a good source of vitamin C. Cranberries may also prevent ulcers, breast cancer and gum disease.

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Natural defence against cancer

A natural substance found in red wine, mulberries, peanuts and beansprouts may help prevent cancer.

The molecule - called resveratrol - helps to fight the fungus that can blight many crops.

But researchers have discovered that it is also converted in the body to a known anti-cancer agent that can selectively target and destroy cancer cells.

Studies have suggested before that resveratrol might be cancer preventing - but this is the first time that scientists have gained a deeper insight into the underlying mechanism.

The research was carried out by Professor Gerry Potter and his team from Leicester's De Montfort University.

Professor Potter said: "Learning from nature in this way will help in our work to design drugs which are selectively activated in a tumour and can form the basis of anti cancer-treatments.

"Resveratrol is a defensive molecule against fungus in grapes and other crops, and is found at higher levels in those which have not been treated with man-made fungicides."

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Herbal treatment for hayfever

A herbal extract is as effective as conventional medicines for treating hayfever, research has suggested.

A team of Swiss researchers found that not only is the extract, butterbur, as effective as antihistamines for treating hayfever, it does not have the sedative effects often associated with the drugs.

The researchers gave 125 hayfever patients either butterbur extract tablets or a commonly-used non-sedating antihistamine called cetirizine.

After two weeks, the treatments had achieved similar effects.

However, even though cetirizine is considered a non-sedating medicine, it still produced more symptoms of drowsiness than the herbal remedy.

Writing in the British Medical Journal, the researchers said: "We believe butterbur should be considered for treating hayfever, particularly in cases where the sedative effects of antihistamines need to be avoided."

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