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!

Vitamin D 'can lower cancer risk'

High doses of vitamin D can reduce the risk of developing some common cancers by as much as 50%, US scientists claim.

Researchers reviewed 63 old studies and found that the vitamin could reduce the chances of developing breast, ovarian and colon cancer, and others.

Experts said more research was needed to draw firm conclusions.

Source - BBC News

Cancer team make 'super-broccoli'

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? NO! It's super broccoli!

Scientists are developing a "super-broccoli" which they hope will help people ward off cancer.

Broccoli has anti-cancer properties but an Institute of Food Research study has found some people's genetic make-up may minimise the protection they get.

IFR scientists say creating broccoli containing more of the key chemical - sulforaphane - may counter this effect.

They hope it will be ready in three years but recommend eating lots of different green vegetables until then.

High-veg diet 'wards off cancer'

Eating at least five portions a day of certain fruit and vegetables could cut the risk of developing pancreatic cancer by 50%, US researchers believe.

Onions, garlic, beans, carrots, corn, dark leafy vegetables and citrus fruits were among the most protective foods, according to the study.

A University of California team compared the diets of 2,200 people.

Cancer experts said previous studies had revealed similar findings, but more research was still needed.

Source - BBC News

Fibre cancer benefits questioned

Scientists remain divided over whether eating a high-fibre diet can reduce the risk of developing bowel cancer.

An analysis of data from 13 studies published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) found there was no added protection.

But UK experts said other research found a high-fibre diet was of benefit.

In addition, they say there is no evidence a high-fibre diet causes harm, and that it has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes.

Source - BBC News

Vitamin D 'key for healthy lungs'

Vitamin D could play a role in keeping the lungs healthy, research suggests.

Patients with higher vitamin D levels in their blood had significantly better lung function, a University of Auckland team found in a study of 14,091 people.

The difference between the two was more marked than that between smokers and those who had quit, the study published in the journal Chest said.

Dietary supplements could boost lung function, the team suggested, but they added that more research was needed.

Source BBC News

Chocolate may cut heart disease

Researchers have produced more evidence that dark chocolate may help to reduce the risk of serious heart disease.

They found eating a few squares a day may stave off artery narrowing and hardening in smokers by countering the disruption caused by their habit.

Smoking compromises the activity of both endothelial cells, which line the artery walls, and platelets, which are involved in blood clot formation.

The research, by University Hospital, Zurich, is published in Heart.

Olive oil's heart effect located

Scientists say they have pinpointed the micronutrients in olive oil that make it a good heart protector.

Mediterranean diets have long been hailed as cutting heart attack risk.

A team of Spanish researchers believes this is partly down to compounds called phenols that have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and clot-preventing powers.

Virgin or extra virgin olive oils are best because they have the highest phenol content, the Journal of the American College of Cardiology reports.

Source: BBC News

Cranberries 'block tooth decay'

Cranberries may help prevent tooth decay and cavities, research suggests.

Scientists have found a compound in the fruit can stop bacteria from clinging to the teeth, blocking the formation of damaging plaque deposits.

However, researcher Dr Hyuan Koo warned many cranberry-containing products were loaded with sugar and consuming large amounts could lead to tooth decay.

The study, by the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York, will be published in Caries Research.

Chinese medicine outlets probed

A recent BBC investigation has found that scores of traditional Chinese medicine stores in Britain's high streets are being investigated for selling illegal medicines. The BBC discovered that 67 outlets selling Chinese medicines are under suspicion.

It is estimated that 6,000 stores across the country offer treatment for conditions ranging from eczema to the menopause. But the industry, although growing in popularity, is largely unregulated.

At the Herb Garden store in Leigh on Sea, Essex, an undercover reporter from the BBC was sold a herbal slimming pill and told it contained rhubarb and honeysuckle. Tests showed it contained fenfluarmine - an illegal pharmaceutical considered to be so dangerous that it is banned in most countries worldwide, including the UK.

The owner of the store was prosecuted earlier this year for illegally selling the same drug. She was fined £30,000 with another £20,000 in court costs. The maximum sentence for selling an illegal medicine is two years imprisonment.

(Not long enough.)

Plant oil 'acts like cancer drug'

Scientists have pinpointed how evening primrose oil fights breast tumours.
It is down to a substance in the oil called gamma-linolenic acid that acts on the same receptor in tumours as the powerful breast cancer drug Herceptin.

Unlike Herceptin, which blocks the Her-2/neu receptor, GLA interferes with the gene carrying the DNA code needed to make the receptor work.

The US work in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute applies to about 30% of breast cancers.

Source BBC News.

How singing unlocks the brain

As Bill Bundock's Alzheimer's progressed he became more and more locked into his own world.

He withdrew into himself and stopped communicating with his wife, Jean.

Jean said Bill lost his motivation, and his desire and ability to hold conversations, but all this changed when the couple started attending a local sing-song group, aimed especially for people with dementia.

Jean said Singing for the Brain had unlocked Bill's communication block.

New study is boost to homeopathy

A six-year study at Bristol Homeopathic Hospital shows over 70% of patients with chronic diseases reported positive health changes after treatment.

More than 6,500 patients took part in the study with problems ranging from eczema to menopause and arthritis.

The biggest improvements were seen in children - 89% of under 16s with asthma reported improvement.

Of the group 75% felt 'better' or 'much better', as did 68% of eczema patients under 16.

The results contradict a study published earlier this year in The Lancet, which concluded that using homeopathy was no better than taking dummy drugs.

Fungi 'new tool' against malaria

Fungi native to East Africa could be used as a new tool in the fight against malaria, recent studies suggest.

An international team of scientists from the Netherlands, Tanzania and the UK say their technique could significantly reduce malaria cases.

Their research has been presented at the Fourth pan-African Malaria Conference in Yaounde, Cameroon.

Source - BBC News

Star Anise - the world's last hope against bird flu?

Seemingly star anise, from which the drug Tamiflu is made, may be the only defense the world currently has against an avian flu pandemic.

The Independent, claims the herb star anise is the world's only weapon against the deadly disease bird flu. It says a shortage of the herb means Britain cannot produce enough of the drug Tamiflu to protect the public. Only star anise grown in the four provinces of China is suitable for manufacture into Tamiflu and 90 per cent of the harvest is already used by Roche.

A derivative of star anise, shikimic acid, is used in production of the drug Tamiflu (Oseltamivir Phosphate), which is said to reduce the severity of avian flu. The star anise from which Tamiflu is made is only grown in four provinces in China and "huge quantities" of its seeds are needed, according to the Swiss pharmaceutical manufacturer Roche. It is harvested for this purpose between March and May, purified and the shikimic acid extracted at the start of a 10-stage manufacturing process, which takes a year.

The Guardian says veterinary experts want the government to stockpile the vaccine to combat the disease's spread.

The Daily Telegraph says the Tories and Liberal Democrats claim stocks should have been amassed sooner.

I have got a jar on my spice shelf if anyone needs it.

Beans and soya beat lung cancer

Mounting evidence suggests eating a diet rich in plant foods such as beans and soya cuts the risk of lung cancer.

The latest study involving more than 3,000 US people found those who ate more of these foods were less likely to develop lung cancer.

The protective effect, thought to be down to oestrogen-like compounds within the foods, appeared to reduce cancer risk by as much as 46%.

The research appears in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Source - BBC News

'Cannabis' acts as antidepressant

A chemical found in cannabis can act like an antidepressant, researchers have found.

A team from Canada's University of Saskatchewan suggest the compound causes nerve cells to regenerate.

The Journal of Clinical Investigation study showed rats given a cannabinoid were less anxious and less depressed.

But UK experts warned other conflicting research had linked cannabis, and other cannabinoids, to an increased risk of depression and anxiety.

Source - BBC News

Exercise now to cut dementia risk

Exercising for half an hour at least twice a week during midlife can significantly cut a person's risk of dementia later, say researchers.

People in their late 40s and early 50s who do this could reduce their risk of dementia by about 50%, according to a study reported in Lancet Neurology.

Those who are genetically prone to Alzheimer's disease could see a reduction of about 60%, it adds.

The Swedish team said the findings had large disease prevention implications.

Source - BBC News

Charles study backs NHS therapies

Complementary therapies should be given a greater role in the NHS, a report commissioned by the Prince of Wales has said.

The report, by economist Christopher Smallwood, said patients with conditions such as back pain and stress can benefit from some of the therapies.

However, there is a shortage of treatments such as acupuncture and osteopathy in poorer areas.

Source - BBC News

Cabbages 'cut lung cancer risks'

Eating vegetables from the cabbage family can reduce the risk of lung cancer for people with a certain genetic make-up, scientists say.

Such cruciferous vegetables had already been linked to reduced rates of lung cancer, but it had not been clear why.

The study found eating the vegetables at least once a week cut cancer risk for people with inactive versions of two genes, carried by 70% of people.

The Lancet study was by International Agency for Cancer Research scientists.

Source - BBC News

Fungi 'antibiotics' for superbugs

Scientists believe they may have found powerful new antibiotics in fungi that could fight drug-resistant bacteria.

The protein compound or peptide which lives in a fungus found in northern European pine forests is as powerful as penicillin and vancomycin, they say.

When tested in the lab, "plectasin" killed Streptococcus bacteria including strains that are now resistant to conventional antibiotics.

The Dutch and US researchers' findings are published in Nature.

Source - BBC News.

Anti-HIV drug from rainforest almost lost before its discovery

Rainforest plants have long been recognized for their potential to provide healing compounds. Indigenous peoples of the rainforest have used medicinal plants for treating a wide variety of health conditions while western pharmacologists have derived a number of drugs from such plants.

However, as forests around the world continue to fall -- the Amazon alone has lost more than 200,000 miles of forest since the 1970s -- there is a real risk that pharmaceutically-useful plants will disappear before they are examined for their chemical properties. Increasingly, it is becoming a race against time to collect and screen plants before their native habitats are destroyed. One near miss occurred recently with a compound that has shown significant anti-HIV effects, Calanolide A.

Calanolide A is derived from Calophyllum lanigerum var austrocoriaceum, an exceedingly rare member of the Guttiferae or mangosteen family. Samples of Calophyllum lanigerum var austrocoriaceum were first collected in 1987 on an National Cancer Institute (NCI)-sponsored expedition in Sarawak, Malaysia on the island of Borneo. Once scientists determined that Calophyllum lanigerum var austrocoriaceum showed activity against HIV, researchers returned to the original kerangas forest near Lundu (Sarawak, Malaysia) to gather more plant matter for isolating the active compound. The tree was gone -- likely felled by locals for fuelwood or building material. The disappearance of the tree lead to mad search by botanists for further specimen. Good news finally came from the Singapore Botanic Garden which had several plants collected by the British over 100 years earlier. Sarawak banned the felling and export of Calophyllum shortly thereafter.


Spouse support cuts job stresses

Going home to a hug from a supportive spouse - male or female - brings down blood pressure boosted by a nightmare day at work, a study finds.

The University of Toronto study, presented to an American Heart Association meeting, monitored 216 men and women for a year.

Those with stressful jobs but close relationships saw blood pressure fall. #

Source - BBC News

Positive thinking a pain reliever

US experts say they have strong scientific proof that mind over matter works for relieving pain.

Positive thinking was as powerful as a shot of morphine for relieving pain and reduced activity in parts of the brain that process pain information.

The Wake Forest University researchers say their findings show that by merely expecting pain to be less it will be less.

Their work is published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Anti-HIV drug from rainforest almost lost before its discovery

Rainforest plants have long been recognized for their potential to provide healing compounds. Indigenous peoples of the rainforest have used medicinal plants for treating a wide variety of health conditions while western pharmacologists have derived a number of drugs from such plants.

However, as forests around the world continue to fall -- the Amazon alone has lost more than 200,000 miles of forest since the 1970s -- there is a real risk that pharmaceutically-useful plants will disappear before they are examined for their chemical properties. Increasingly, it is becoming a race against time to collect and screen plants before their native habitats are destroyed. One near miss occurred recently with a compound that has shown significant anti-HIV effects, Calanolide A.

Calanolide A is derived from Calophyllum lanigerum var austrocoriaceum, an exceedingly rare member of the Guttiferae or mangosteen family. Samples of Calophyllum lanigerum var austrocoriaceum were first collected in 1987 on an National Cancer Institute (NCI)-sponsored expedition in Sarawak, Malaysia on the island of Borneo. Once scientists determined that Calophyllum lanigerum var austrocoriaceum showed activity against HIV, researchers returned to the original kerangas forest near Lundu (Sarawak, Malaysia) to gather more plant matter for isolating the active compound. The tree was gone -- likely felled by locals for fuelwood or building material. The disappearance of the tree lead to mad search by botanists for further specimen. Good news finally came from the Singapore Botanic Garden which had several plants collected by the British over 100 years earlier. Sarawak banned the felling and export of Calophyllum shortly thereafter.


Rock pool sponge may fight cancer

Sponges collected from rock pools in south Wales could be a source of new drugs to combat breast and lung cancer, say researchers.

A team from the Welsh School of Pharmacy found extracts from the Hymeniacidon sponge contain compounds which can block cancer growth.

Medicinal compounds from marine organisms have traditionally been found in species in warm or tropical seas.

Details were presented to the British Pharmaceutical Conference.

Burgers' seaweed 'health boost'

Adding a seaweed extract to junk food could make it healthier without changing the taste, scientists say.

Newcastle University researchers say adding the tasteless extract, called alginate, would increase the fibre content of pies, burgers and cakes.

This, they say, would mean people could still enjoy the foods they like, but eat more healthily.

The research has been published in the journal Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition.

Source - BBC News

'Eat more beans' to stop cancer

A diet rich in beans, nuts and cereals could be a way to prevent cancer, believe UK researchers.

Scientists at University College London have discovered that these everyday foods contain a potent anti-cancer compound.

This blocks a key enzyme involved in tumour growth, they told Cancer Research journal.

The researchers say, in the future, it might be possible to mimic this compound in an anti-cancer drug.

Worms to help combat allergies

Irish scientists are investigating parasitic worms to try to find new ways to prevent asthma and reduce allergies.

Dr Padraic Fallon, from Trinity College Dublin, and colleagues have already managed to cure asthma in lab mice by infecting them with the tiny creatures. The team now has to explain how the parasites achieve this feat at a molecular level.

If they can do that, they should then be able to synthesise a new drug compound to treat asthma in people.

B vitamins do not protect hearts

Taking B vitamins to ward off heart attacks and stroke does no good and may even be harmful, say experts.

Scientists had thought that these drugs might be useful by lowering levels of a blood substance called homocysteine which has been linked heart risk.

However, a large study looking at this has found no benefit even though homocysteine went down with these supplement pills.

The work was revealed in Stockholm at a European Society of Cardiology meeting.

Pomegranates 'slow tumour growth'

Pomegranate juice may help to slow down the progress of prostate cancer, research suggests.

Tests on mice showed the juice dramatically slowed down prostate cancer cell growth.

Pomegranates, native to the Middle East, are packed with healthy anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatory agents.

The study, by the University of Wisconsin, appears in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Olive oil 'acts like painkiller'

Good quality olive oil contains a natural chemical that acts in a similar way to a painkiller, a US study says.

Researchers found 50g of extra-virgin olive oil was equivalent to about a tenth of a dose of ibuprofen.

A Monell Chemical Senses Centre team in Philadelphia said an ingredient in the oil acted as an anti-inflammatory, the Nature journal reported.

The team said while the effect was not strong enough to cure headaches, it may explain the Mediterranean diet benefit.

Source - BBC News

Iron absorption mystery 'solved'

Scientists say they have worked out how the gut absorbs iron from meat into the blood - a discovery they hope could lead to new treatments for anaemia.

A key protein appears to control the process in mice, the King's College London team told the journal Cell.

Mutations in the protein could affect the ability to absorb iron, they said.

Iron deficiency, which causes tiredness, is the world's most common nutritional problem. In the UK around 20% of women are anaemic.

Iron is the least plentiful nutrient in the typical British diet.

Source - BBC News

Heart drug becomes cancer killer

US scientists say they have successfully tweaked a common heart drug to make it fight cancer.

Digoxin or digitalis, which comes from the foxglove plant, is normally used to steady the rhythm of the heart and help it beat more efficiently.

Now a University of Wisconsin-Madison team have changed some of its building blocks to make it target tumours.

The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences work provides hope other "natural" drugs can be manipulated.

Source - BBC News

Row over Charles' medicines study

A report commissioned by the Prince of Wales into the cost of complementary medicines has sparked controversy.

Prince Charles, an enthusiast for alternative medicine, asked an independent economist to work out how much such therapies could save the NHS.

Christopher Smallwood, former economics advisor to Barclays Bank, will submit his report to ministers in this autumn.

But a leading complementary medicine expert said such analyses should be left to the official NHS watchdog.

Source - BBC News

Aspirin 'cuts bowel cancer risk'

Taking aspirin regularly for over 10 years does reduce the risk of bowel cancer, a study which looked at almost 83,000 women has suggested.

Those who had taken two or more aspirin - or similar painkillers - a week had significantly cut their risk, it found.

However, the doses were high enough to increase the risk of gut bleeds.

Source - BBC News

Wet combing best to rid head lice

Fine combing of wet hair is far more effective than pharmacy-bought chemical lotions for eliminating head lice, say researchers.

People who used wet combing were four times more likely to rid themselves of head lice than those who used insecticide products, they found.

Head lice have developed resistance to common over the counter products.

The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine research is published in the British Medical Journal.

Vitamins 'do not stop infections'

Infection rates in older people living at home are not helped by taking vitamin or mineral tablets, researchers have found.

The Aberdeen University study looked at the effects of daily multivitamins compared with dummy placebo tablets.

It found that taking supplements seemed to make no difference in infection rates between the groups.

The research, published in the British Medical Journal, covered 900 people aged over 65 who were living at home.

Source - BBC News

Folic acid linked to birth weight

Mothers-to-be with lower levels of the vitamin folate in their body during early pregnancy are more likely to have low weight babies, research suggests.

A team at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne studied nearly 1,000 women and their newborn babies.

Low birth weight is associated with an increased risk of serious health problems, including respiratory disorders and diabetes.

The research is published in the British Journal of Nutrition.

Source - BBC News

Folic acid 'cuts dementia risk'

Eating plenty of folic acid - found in oranges, lemons and green vegetables - can halve the risk of Alzheimer's disease, a study has suggested.

US National Institute on Aging experts monitored diets over seven years.

They found adults who ate the daily recommended allowance of folates (B vitamin nutrients) had a reduced risk of the disease.

UK researchers said the study added weight to previous suggestions folates could reduce Alzheimer's risk.

The study is published in Alzheimer's and Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer's Association.

Red clover may combat hot flushes

Scientists are testing an extract of red clover as an alternative to hormone replacement therapy for symptoms of the menopause, such as hot flushes.

The extract contains chemicals called isoflavones, which mimic the effects of the female sex hormone oestrogen.

A study will be carried out by Queen Charlotte's and Chelsea Hospital's menopause and PMS centre.

Source - BBC News

Risk warning over herbal medicine

Potentially dangerous herbal medicines could be on sale in Britain, the drugs regulator says.
The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency warned consumers not to buy a range of unlicensed products it suspects has reached the UK market.

The medicines - which claim to treat a range of problems from skin disease to indigestion - were found on sale in Canada containing heavy metals.

The MHRA warned they could cause nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain.

Source BBC News

Alternative medicine access call

Everyone should have access to alternative medicine on the NHS, a leading patients' group says.

The Patients Association has called for all GPs to provide patients with the choice of using complementary medicine where it had been proven to work.

Provision is patchy currently with well under a half of family doctors providing some sort of access to alternative providers.

But doctor representatives warned there needed to be better regulation.

Source - BBC News

Homeopathy's benefit questioned

A leading medical journal has made a damning attack on homeopathy, saying it is no better than dummy drugs.

The Lancet says the time for more studies is over and doctors should be bold and honest with patients about homeopathy's "lack of benefit".

A Swiss-UK review of 110 trials found no convincing evidence the treatment worked any better than a placebo.

Advocates of homeopathy maintained the therapy, which works on the principle of treating like with like, does work.

Source - BBC News

Bad behaviour 'linked to smoking'

Women who smoke in pregnancy may raise the risk of their child displaying anti-social behaviour, researchers say.

There was a "small but significant" link between maternal smoking and both unruly behaviour and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, they said.

The average symptom scores for both increased with the number of cigarettes the mother had smoked while pregnant, the study of 1,896 twins found.

The Institute of Psychiatry work is in the British Journal of Psychiatry.

Source - BBC News

Bowel study backs cannabis drugs

Patients with inflammatory bowel disease may benefit from cannabis-based drugs, UK scientists believe.

The Bath University team found people with the gut disorder had an abundant number of a type of cannabinoid receptors in their body.

They believe this is part of the body's attempt to dampen down the inflammation and that giving a drug that binds to these receptors could boost this.

Their findings appear in the journal Gastroenterology.

Source - BBC News

Popular 'cold cure' herbs useless, study finds

MILLIONS swear by it, but according to a new study, the herbal remedy echinacea does nothing at all to help treat the common cold.

As part of the research, which took place in America, 399 healthy patients were given either extracts from an echinacea plant or a dummy preparation which did not contain any of the plant.

The patients were then exposed to the common cold virus and their symptoms recorded.

Scientists found patients who took an echinacea plant extract fared no better than those who took a dummy treatment.

Source - Western Mail

Pineapple stem may combat cancer

Two molecules isolated from an extract of crushed pineapple stems have shown promise in fighting cancer growth.

One molecule called CCS blocks a protein called Ras, which is defective in approximately 30% of all cancers.

The other, called CCZ, stimulates the body's own immune system to target and kill cancer cells.

It is hoped the research, carried out by Queensland Institute of Medical Research, could lead to new anti-cancer drugs.

Source - BBC News

Europe backs vitamin controls

The European Court has decided to tighten rules on the sale of vitamins and minerals.

The proposals will ban around 200 supplements from sale and put restrictions on the upper limits of vitamin doses.

Some health experts wanted to see vitamins and minerals controlled in the same way as conventional medicines.

But critics argued the new rules were unnecessarily restrictive, and would deny consumers choice.

Source - BBC News

Multivitamin warning for pregnant women

Expectant mothers have been warned that they could be harming their unborn child by taking multivitamins.

Trading Standards watchdogs and charity Birth Defects Foundation Newlife found a third of products do not carry clear labels showing they contain vitamin A.

Too much of this vitamin can interfere with organ formation in the growing foetus and therefore supplements should be avoided during pregnancy.

Mothers-to-be were told to heed the advice from day one of pregnancy.

Source - BBC News

Rosemary makes a healthier barbie

Adding a sprinkling of rosemary and other herbs to meat before cooking could help to counteract potentially dangerous compounds that form when protein-rich foods are cooked at high temperatures, according to a recent study.

While the research focused on rosemary, other herbs may offer similar health benefits to those who cook at temperatures 190°C and over, which can happen when meat is barbecued, grilled or fried.

"If you take a whiff of the spices in your spice rack, you'll find that basil, oregano, thyme and rosemary have somewhat similar aromas," says lead researcher Professor J Scott Smith, a food chemistry expert from Kansas State University.

"These herbs have some chemicals in common. If you sprinkle just a dash of rosemary and such herbs over your meats before cooking, you could achieve results comparable to what we found in our study."

Source ABC Net

Quit smoking to save your teeth

So, if cancer, ageing skin and bad breath weren't enough of an insentive for you there is now this:-

Smokers who give up are much less likely to lose their teeth prematurely than those who do not kick the habit, research shows.

A team at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne studied cigarette smokers with chronic gum disease - which can lead to loss of teeth - over one year.

They found some symptoms were more likely to improve in the people who quit during the study period.

The research is published in the Journal of Clinical Periodontology.

Source BBC News

Vitamin E 'not a heart protector'

Vitamin E provides little protection against heart attacks, strokes and cancer - despite millions of people believing it does, a major study shows.

Some previous trials had suggested it might be beneficial, prompting one in 10 US women to take it as a supplement.

But a Women's Health Study of 40,000 women aged over 45, in the Journal of the American Medical Association, should settle the debate, say experts.

Source - BBC News

Scientists dispel ageing theory

Drinking gallons of orange juice and popping vitamin pills may not make you live longer, say US researchers, contrary to previous reports.

In the past, scientists have suggested that taking antioxidants to combat free radical cell damage might delay ageing.

But a University of Wisconsin-Madison team has found no proof that highly reactive oxygen molecules are involved.

Instead, cells committing early suicide is key - at least in rodents - they told the journal Science.

Source - BBC News

(OMG kamikaze cells - now that is worrying.)

Grapefruit heals stomach ulcers

Grapefruit extract can help to heal stomach ulcers, research suggests.

Polish researchers used an extract of the fruit's seed to reduce the size of stomach ulcers in rats.

They found the extract had strong antibacterial and antioxidant properties, which calm the gastric tract and aid the healing process.

Details of research, by Jagiellonian University, were presented at Digestive Disease Week - a conference of leading digestive experts in Chicago.

Source BBC News

(Problem is I don't like grapefruit. I had better not get any stomach ulcers!)

Prayer 'no aid to heart patients'

Well I could have told them that! Having cared for my terminally ill mother I know that if I had stood at the end of her bed mumbling away it would have really annoyed her. However, talking to her, feeding her, giving her drinks, looking after her personal needs, sorting out her medication, playing her favourite music, holding her hand and hugging her all made her last few months better. Pray for the soul by all means, but the body needs a more practical approach.

Here's the story:-

Praying for patients undergoing heart operations does not improve their outcomes, a US study suggests.

A study found those who were prayed for were as likely to have a setback in hospital, be re-admitted, or die within six months as those not prayed for.

The Duke University Medical Center study of 700 patients, in the Lancet, said music, image and touch therapy did appear to reduce patients' distress.

Heart experts said patients could benefit from feeling more optimistic.

Source BBC News

Acupuncture is effective against osteoarthritis

A new study published in the British Medical journal suggests that acupuncture as a complementary therapy to drug treatment for osteoarthritis of the knee, is more effective than drug treatment alone.

A total of 88 patients with osteoarthritis of the knee were randomly divided into two groups, one receiving acupuncture plus diclofenac (an anti-inflammatory drug) and the other dummy (placebo) acupuncture plus diclofenac.

Treatment lasted 12 weeks and levels of pain, stiffness, and physical function were monitored using recognised scales. The acupuncture group had a greater reduction in pain and stiffness, improved physical functioning and quality of life than the placebo group.

Although the 12-week monitoring period may be insufficient to evaluate the effects of treatment in the medium term, acupuncture as a complementary therapy to drug treatment for osteoarthritis of the knee is more effective than drug treatment alone, say the authors.

Source - Asian News International

Cranberries can fight tooth decay

Get ready to pamper your taste buds and protect your teeth against decay at the same time as a new research has revealed that cranberries are an important weapon in fighting tooth decay.

The British Dental Health Foundation (BDHF) has said that cranberries can prevent a host of oral health problems, including gum disease and tooth decay.

Following up on a research carried out by the University of Rochester in New York, the BDHF discovered that cranberry juice stopped harmful bacteria sticking to the teeth. Cranberry juice also ensures that plaque never gets a chance to form.

"Cranberry juice is naturally very acidic. Every time you drink something acidic the enamel on your teeth is softened temporarily.If given time to recover, then your saliva will neutralise this acidity in your mouth and restore it to its natural balance,"Dr Nigel Carter, chief executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, was quoted by the Daily Mail, as saying.

However, the researchers have cautioned that the intake of cranberries should be limited to only the meal times as its excess can have some harmful effects.

"However, if this attack happens too often the mouth does not have the chance to repair itself and tiny particles of enamel can be brushed away. This is called erosion. Erosion can cause pain and sensitivity in the teeth, and once the enamel has worn away can also leave your teeth open to decay too - so try to keep cranberry juice to mealtimes only," he added.

Source Asian News International

Herbal remedies do have 'real benefits

Researchers from King's College in London have said that scientific tests on a range of herbal remedies have shown that they do have 'real benefits'.

The researchers said that herbal treatments from around the world had properties, which may help treat conditions such as diabetes and cancer.

The researchers examined Indian diabetes treatments, Ghanaian wound healing agents and cancer treatments used in China and Thailand.

One of the plants examined was the curry-leaf tree (Murraya koenigii) from India, which is reputed to have potential benefits in treating diabetes.

The researchers discovered that extracts from the curry-leaf tree appeared to restrict the action of a digestive enzyme called pancreatic alpha-amylase, which is involved in the breakdown of dietary starch to glucose. They are now looking at which compound in the curry-leaf tree has this effect, and claim that once it is identified, it should be possible to evaluate if it could be better than existing anti-diabetic drugs.

The researchers while working with experts from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Ghana, also looked at plants used by the Ashanti ethnic group.

They found that an extract of the Commelina diffusa, or climbing dayflower, had both antibacterial and anti-fungal activity, which could help heal wounds and also stop them getting infected.

In a third study, the researchers studied Thai and Chinese plants used as traditional remedies in the treatment of cancer, and found promising activity against lung cancer cells, particularly in tests of the Thai plant Ammannia baccifera, an aquatic weed and the Chinese plant Illicium verum, star anise.

"This research is very interesting, very promising. We need much more research of this sort. More and more research of this kind is coming out. It is no surprise to those who work in this field," the BBC quoted Edzard Ernst, professor of complementary medicine at the Peninsula Medical School in Exeter, as saying.

Ernst, however, added in the same vein, "This type of study can only be the first step in a line of research and at the end of this line, it's necessary to have good clinical proof that this works."

Source - Hindustan Times

Calcium, Vitamin D may reduce PMS

Women searching for ways to ward off the anxiety and irritability caused by premenstrual syndrome may be able to find answers as nearby as their local supermarket.

A study published Monday finds that a diet rich in calcium and Vitamin D -- available in milk, cheese, yogurt and fortified orange juice -- appears to help women reduce the risk of PMS symptoms.

The findings support earlier research indicating calcium seems to help women cope with PMS. But the new study also suggests that when calcium is combined with enough vitamin D, it may help prevent PMS altogether.

"It seems that women who eat more foods high in calcium and vitamin D have less risk of experiencing PMS," said the study's lead author, Dr. Elizabeth Bertone-Johnson of the University of Massachusetts. "It's very exciting, and could end up being good news for many women out there."

She said, however, that the research is too preliminary to recommend diet changes for women in general and that more thorough studies are needed.

Source -

Egyptians ate lettuce to boost sex drive

The ancient Egyptians used lettuce as an aphrodisiac, according to an Italian researcher who claims to have solved a century-old archaeological puzzle.

Lettuce has been known for its mild sedative and painkilling effects since Greek and Roman times.

It owes its Latin name lactuca to lac or milk, the plant's bitter white sap or latex, which is mentioned in many ancient treatises.

As early as 430 BC, Greek physician Hippocrates described the opium-like effects of the sap.

And according to Dioscorides Pedanios, a Greek naturalist and military surgeon to the armies of the Roman emperor Nero in the 1st century AD, lettuce would drive out libidinous images of dreams.

Pliny the Elder, in the 2nd century AD, also wrote about lettuce's ability to dampen sexual desire. He wrote in his Natural History that lettuce is "sleep-inducing, can cool sexual appetite as well as a feverish body, purge the stomach, and increase the volume of blood".

Yet Egyptian bas reliefs put a different spin on the use of lettuce: the plant appears as an offering to the ancient Egyptian deity Min.

Invariably depicted with a large, erect penis, Min was the god of fertility and sexuality. For more than a century, archaeologists have wondered why a vegetable used to calm dreams was associated with the exuberant Min.

Source - ABC Net

Sun 'cuts prostate cancer risk'

Sunlight can reduce a man's risk of prostate cancer, a study suggests.

Researchers from three US centres found men exposed to a high amount of sun had half the risk of the disease than those exposed to a low amount.

Writing in Cancer Research, they suggest that the protection was a result of the body's manufacture of vitamin D after sun exposure.

But men were warned not to sunbathe excessively because of the risk of developing skin cancer.

Vitamin D is also found in foods such as oily fish.

Potato health benefits discovered

Potatoes may be healthier to eat than previously thought, after scientists found them to contain chemicals which lower blood pressure.

The independent Institute of Food Research says the chemicals, called kukoamines, occurred naturally in many common types of potato.

Scientists at the Norwich Institute stumbled upon the chemicals while studying potatoes for other reasons.

They say boiling potatoes may preserve the health benefits better than frying.

Source - BBC News

Natural is best as doubts are cast over eye antibiotic

The first antibiotic to be sold by pharmacies without prescription has little effect, a study says.

One in eight children develop the eye condition conjunctivitis each year and in many cases family doctors use chloramphenicol to treat it.

But an Oxford University study in the Lancet said the cure rate was nearly the same if the drops were used or not.

Researchers urged parents to wash children's eyes with warm water rather than use the drops.

Source - BBC News

'Avoid soya if you want a baby'

Women should avoid eating too much soya if they are trying for a baby, a UK fertility expert believes.

A study in humans has shown a compound in soya called genistein sabotages the sperm as it swims towards the egg.

Professor Lynn Fraser, from King's College London, said even tiny doses in the female tract could burn sperm out.

She told a European fertility conference that avoiding soya around women's most fertile days of the month might aid conception.

Meditation 'brain training' clues

Meditating monks are giving clues about how the brain's basic responses can be overridden, researchers say.

Australian scientists gave Buddhist monks vision tests, where each eye was concurrently shown a different image.

Most people's attention would automatically fluctuate - but the monks were able to focus on just one image.

Writing in Current Biology, the scientists say their ability to override this basic mental response indicates how the brain can be trained.

Body's own 'cannabis' helps pain

I have never had the guts to try cannabis, but now I know I haven't missed out:-

A cannabis-like chemical produced naturally in the brain aids pain relief, researchers have found.

The US scientists said the finding may lead to new drugs which can stimulate this natural response.

Research has so far concentrated on developing compounds in cannabis itself into medications.

But, writing in Nature, the team said their new understanding of how the brain chemical works could lead to drugs with fewer side-effects.

Source BBC News

Cannabis' may help mentally ill

Chemicals found in cannabis could be used to relieve symptoms of severe mental illnesses such as bipolar disorder, researchers have claimed.

The drug itself has previously been linked to an increased risk of developing such conditions.

But a University of Newcastle team, writing in the Journal of Psychopharmacology said cannabinoids might help.

Source BBC News

Fish oil hope for breast cancer

A combination of the fatty oils found in fish and a commonly used anaesthetic may form the basis of effective new drugs to treat breast cancer.

Researchers from Indiana University mixed compounds from omega-3 fatty acids with the anaesthetic propofol.

Together they appeared to reduce the growth of breast cancer cells, their ability to spread around the body and to form secondary tumours.

The research is published in the journal Breast Cancer Research.

Source - BBC News

Fungus 'may help malaria fight'

A common fungus could be the newest weapon in the fight against malaria, researchers have suggested.

A UK team found that it can prove fatal to mosquitoes which come into contact with the fungus when it is sprayed onto surfaces.

The study in Science showed over 90% of mosquitoes were killed within 14 days of being infected.

However, other experts cautioned there would be difficulties in ensuring the fungus was widely used.

Source - BBC News

'No proof' detoxing diets work

Detox diets do no more than the body's own natural system to get rid of toxins, US researchers claim.

People have been "detoxing" for thousands of years, but the scientists say there is no proof that such bodily purges work.

And they say most modern books and detox kits serve up "empty promises".

Writing in Food Technology, experts from the University of Southern California repeat the advice that a balanced diet is best.

Keeping fit may only take minutes

Keeping fit and healthy may not require hours of physical exercise every week, research suggests.

Canada's McMaster University found just six minutes of intense exercise a week could be as effective as six hours of moderate activity.

The Journal of Applied Physiology study showed short bursts of very intense exercise improved muscle capacity, and improved endurance.

However, experts warn it might be too much for people not already fit.

Cranberries 'block gut viruses'

Cranberry juice may help to combat viruses that cause gut disorders, research suggests.

Drinking the juice is already recommended as a way to cut the risk of urinary tract infections.

Scientists found adding cranberry juice to intestinal viruses in laboratory conditions blocked their ability to infect intestinal cells.

The research, by St Francis College in New York, was presented to the American Society for Microbiology.

Smoking and obesity 'age people'

Being overweight and a smoker makes a person biologically older than slim non-smokers of the same birth age, UK and US researchers have found.

Smoking accelerated the ageing of key pieces of a person's DNA by about 4.6 years. For obesity it was nine years.

These genetic codes are important for regulating cell division and have been linked to age-related diseases.

The study in the Lancet was based on 1,122 twins from a database held by St Thomas' Hospital in London.

Source - BBC News

Red meat 'linked to cancer risk'

A major study has found fresh evidence of a link between red and processed meat and bowel cancer, scientists say.

The European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) looked at the dietary habits of over 500,000 people across Europe over 10 years.

Bowel cancer risk was a third higher for those who regularly ate over two 80g portions of red or processed meat a day, compared to less than one a week.

EPIC's study is reported in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Friends 'help people live longer'

Good friends promise to be there for you, and their presence can actually help you live longer, researchers say.

Australian scientists said having friends around in old age can do more for life expectancy than having family members around.

The team looked at how a range of social, health and lifestyle factors affected the survival rates of more than 1,500 people over 70.

The research is in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

Curvier women 'will live longer'

Curvy women are more likely to live longer than their slimmer counterparts, researchers have found.

Institute of Preventative Medicine in Copenhagen researchers found those with wider hips also appeared to be protected against heart conditions.

Women with a hip measurement smaller than 40 inches, or a size 14 would not have this protection, they said.

The researchers say hip fat contains a beneficial natural anti-inflammatory.


Low fat diet breast cancer hope

Following a low-fat diet may reduce the chance that breast cancer will return for some women, a study suggests.

The research found after five years, breast cancer had returned in 12.4 % of those on a standard diet - but in only 9.8% of those on a low-fat diet.

However, most women did not benefit, and experts say the findings may be due to other factors.

The Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute study was presented to the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

Source - BBC News

Vitamin E cuts Parkinson's risk

A diet rich in vitamin E could protect against Parkinson's disease, believe researchers.

Good sources of vitamin E include green leafy vegetables, nuts and vegetable oils.

A study in Lancet Neurology pooled available data and found people who ate plenty of these foods in their diet were far less likely to develop Parkinson's.

The authors said it was impossible to tell if supplements would do the same.

Source - BBC News

Cannabis pain relief appeal fails

The Court of Appeal has rejected a bid to permit the use of cannabis for the relief of chronic pain.

Three judges ruled against the argument that unlawful conduct could be "excused or justified by the need to avoid a greater evil".

They also said necessity was no defence for using or supplying the drug.

Source BBC News

Yeast intake linked to longevity

Restricting the amount of yeast in the diet can increase life expectancy by 50%, research into fruit flies has shown.

It is not yet clear whether the same might be true in humans.

But the authors say their findings hint it might be what you eat rather than total calorie intake that influences longevity, contrary to current belief.

The University College London team told PLoS Biology how it could be down to metabolic pathways triggered by foods.

Source - BBC News

Portly pooch put on herbal diet

One of Britain's fattest dogs has embarked on a health food diet in a bid to reduce its waistline.

Zollie, who is tipping the scales at 22 stone, is combining a new dried pet food with herbal and homeopathic remedies.

The pedigree mastiff from Aberdeen is one of the first dogs to take part in the holistic diet featuring a recipe from Ayrshire businessman George Burns.

Source - BBC News

Strength of herbal remedy tested

Scientists on Tyneside are launching a study into the long-term effects of the popular Chinese herbal remedy ginseng.

A team at Northumbria University need volunteers to take part in the 20-week study into the herb's affect on memory, attention and mood.

A previous trial at the university's Human Cognitive Neuroscience Unit (HCNU) found a single dose of the herb relieved fatigue and boosted memory.

Now they want to know the effects of gingseng on the body long-term.

PhD student Jonathon Reay, who is leading the research, said: "Volunteers will be asked to undertake a series of computerised cognitive assessments to monitor ginseng's effects on memory, attention and mood.

Drinking milk 'no risk to heart'

Milk's poor reputation as being an unhealthy drink may be unjustified, research suggests.

Scientists found drinking milk does not increase the risk of heart disease and stroke - in fact it may even have a protective effect.

The researchers, from the University of Bristol, found men who consumed at least 200ml a day were less likely to develop ischaemic heart disease.

The study is published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

Natural relaxant may help asthma

Scientists say a substance which acts naturally to open airways could be used to protect against asthma.

Duke University Medical Center researchers found mice with asthma had too little of the chemical, which relaxes airways so people can breathe.

Asthma research has previously tended to focus on what might cause airways to become constricted.

The researchers, writing in Science, said their findings could lead to new ways of treating the condition. The natural compound, called nitrosoglutathione (GSNO), a molecule in the nitric oxide (NO) family, which keeps airways open.

Source BBC News

Herbal Medicine Awareness Week - 20 to 27 May 2005

Herbal Medicine Awareness Week is an annual campaign run by the National Institute of Medical Herbalists. It aims to highlight the power of plant-based medicine and help members of the public to make informed choices about their healthcare.

In 2005, it will focus on how herbs can aid digestion.

Vitamin 'cuts smoke harm to baby'

Vitamin C could counteract some of the harmful effects that smoking during pregnancy can have on unborn babies, scientists say.

High doses of the vitamin protected against nicotine-associated damage in monkeys, the Oregon Health & Science University team found.

Expert advice is still to quit smoking during, and ideally before, pregnancy.

The latest research findings appear in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

Source - BBC News

Fake acupuncture 'aids migraines'

Fake acupuncture works just as well as the real thing in relieving migraines, scientists have found.

In a study of more than 300 patients, both genuine and sham acupuncture reduced the intensity of headache compared with no treatment at all.

But real acupuncture was no better than needles placed at non-acupuncture points on the body, the Journal of the American Medical Association reports.

It goes against recent research showing acupuncture works in its own right.

Exercise 'slows prostate cancer'

Regular vigorous physical activity could slow the progression of prostate cancer in older men, a study has found.

The findings suggest working up a real sweat may help prevent men over 65 dying from the disease.

But the team from Harvard School of Public Health found men had to work out vigorously for at least three hours a week for it to have a positive effect.

Source - BBC News

Food and drug 'cocktails' warning

Doctors are being told to check patients' diets before prescribing drugs to avoid dangerous cocktails.

Safety advisors estimate around 200 drugs become toxic, or less effective, when combined with certain foods.

For example, the anti-clotting drug warfarin reacts with cranberry juice and the oral contraceptive may not work if you mix it with St John's wort.

An independent committee will advise the Food Standards Agency and government's medicines regulatory body.

Source - BBC News

Hypnosis could banish hay-fever

Hay fever sufferers could benefit from using self-hypnosis, researchers say.

A Swiss team at Basel University taught 66 people with hay-fever the art of hypnosis and found it helped them alleviate symptoms such as runny nose.

The volunteers also took their regular anti-hay-fever drugs, but the effect of hypnosis appeared to be additive and reduce the doses they needed to take.

The findings appear in the medical journal Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics.

Source BBC News

Overweight people may live longer

Good news for me!

Being moderately overweight could actually be good for you, say researchers.

People who are a little overweight are likely to live longer than people who are underweight or obese, a study shows.

But experts pointed out that the study only looked at how long people lived and not at obesity-related diseases.

The American Centres for Disease Control research appears in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Source BBC News

Acupuncture 'more than a placebo'

Scientists say they have proof that acupuncture works in its own right.

Sceptics have said that any benefits gained from acupuncture are merely down to a person's expectation that the treatment will work.

But researchers at University College London and Southampton University say they have separated out this placebo effect.

Their findings, based on a series of experiments and brain scan results, are published in the journal NeuroImage.

Source - BBC News

Oily fish 'hope' for Alzheimer's

Scientists are hoping to discover exactly how oily fish can protect against Alzheimer's disease.

It is known that eating fish such as salmon, sardines and mackerel appears to cut the risk of developing dementia.

But now, Cardiff University researchers funded by £300,000 from the Alzheimer's Research Trust are to investigate how this might help.

In the meantime, the researchers say people should eat oily fish at least twice a week.

Source - BBC News

Fracture risk same with vitamin D

Taking vitamin D or calcium does not help prevent repeat fractures in elderly people, a study suggests.

Researchers at Aberdeen and York universities looked at people who had already had a fracture due to osteoporosis - thinning of the bones.

Many people take vitamin D and calcium to try to protect their bones, but the study found those taking supplements did not go on to have fewer fractures.

Osteoporosis campaigners said taking supplements would not cause any harm.

However, they advised elderly people concerned about their bone health to eat a healthy balanced diet instead.

Source - BBC News

Vitamin E may ease period pain

Taking vitamin E eases the severe period pains that affect thousands of teenage girls, research suggested yesterday.

The condition, known as dysmenorrhea, can disrupt the girls' lives, but trials in Iran found that girls given daily doses of about 200mg before periods started and during the early days of menstruation had significantly less pain, spread over a shorter time.

They also experienced less blood loss, according to a report in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.

Some herbs found to help with period pains include Raspberry leaf, Camomile, Penny royal, Rosemary and Winter Savory. Or you could try taking 500mg calcium and 350mg magnesium daily seven days before you expect a period and for the first day or two. (More than 1000mg calcium daily can be harmful).

Cannabis drug approval buoys firm

Shares in GW Pharmaceuticals rose nearly 9.5% after the UK biotech firm's prescription cannabis drug was approved for use in Canada.

Sativex is used to treat the central nervous system and alleviate the symptoms of multiple sclerosis (MS).

The Salisbury-based company said this was the world's first approval of a medicine derived from cannabis.

Delays in development of the product - its first to come to the market - has hit GW's stock price in the past.

Source BBC News

Vitamin D 'aids lung cancer ops'

Lung cancer patients who have surgery in the winter are 40% more likely to die of the disease than those operated on in the summer, a US study suggests.

A study of 456 patients found high levels of vitamin D - from sun exposure and food supplements - had a positive impact on the success of surgery.

The Harvard University team said more research was needed and patients should not expect surgery in the summer.

UK experts said it was interesting but warned sun exposure could be dangerous.

Source BBC News

Happy moments 'protect the heart'

Every moment of happiness counts when it comes to protecting your heart, researchers have said.

A team from University College London said happiness leads to lower levels of stress-inducing chemicals.

They found that even when happier people experienced stress, they had low levels of a chemical which increases the risk of heart disease.

The research is published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Healthy Med diet can extend life

Scientists have produced powerful evidence that a Mediterranean diet rich in vegetables and fruit and low in saturated fats can help us live longer.
It has long been thought that the diet can help to improve general health.

But a major pan-Europe study of 74,607 men and women aged over 60 has shown closely following the diet can actually extend life by up to one year.

The study, led by University of Athens Medical School, is published in the British Medical Journal.

Source - BBC News

Lupin flour 'poses allergy risk'

People who are allergic to peanuts may also be at risk of severe allergy to lupin flour, research suggests.

Lupin flour is used in some European countries as a replacement for soya in speciality breads and catering foods, some of which are now reaching the UK.

The researchers said people with peanut allergy - about 1% of the UK population - should avoid any products containing it until they had another allergy test.

The study, by the Royal Free Hospital, London, is published in The Lancet.

Cannabis chemical 'helps heart'

A chemical in cannabis can help ward off strokes and heart disease, scientists believe.

Swiss researchers found THC, one of 60 cannabinoids in the drug, helped stop the narrowing of arteries to the brain and heart in a study of mice.

But the team, from Geneva University Hospital, said smoking cannabis did not produce the same effect.

However UK experts warned more research was needed before firm conclusions could be drawn.

Source - BBC News

Cannabis medicine 'causes harm'

Cannabis-based medicines can cause paranoia and anxiety in some people, a study has suggested.

Swiss researchers found two out of eight men given drugs containing THC, a chemical extracted from cannabis, developed psychotic effects.

The University of Lausanne team said the public needed to be aware cannabis medicine could have such side effects.

The possibility of using THC to treat multiple sclerosis and pain relief is currently being explored.

GW Pharmaceuticals, the firm granted a UK licence to develop cannabis-based drugs, said: "The levels of THC used in this study would not be used in our medicines.

"We, and everyone else in this field, are aware that THC can lead to psychosis."

Source BBC News

Vitamin D could cut elderly falls

Falls and fractures could be a thing of the past if everyone aged 65 and older were to take extra vitamin D, experts believe.

It would be a quick and easy way to cut morbidity and save NHS money, they say.
Mounting evidence suggests the vitamin not only makes bones stronger, but also has a positive affect on the muscles.

Studies have shown elderly people who take vitamin D supplements are more stable on their legs and less likely to fall and hurt themselves.

Source BBC News

Acupuncture 'pregnancy pain cure'

Acupuncture is effective at relieving pelvic pain during pregnancy, a study says.

Pelvic girdle pain is common among pregnant women with one in three affected suffering severe pain.

Researchers found acupuncture was better at easing the pain than standard and specialised exercising.

The team from Gothenburg's Institute for the Health of Women and Children said the medical profession should be more open to using acupuncture.

Report co-author Helen Elden, a midwife at the institute, said: "The study shows that methods other than structured physiotherapy may be effective in treating pelvic girdle pain in pregnancy and that acupuncture represents an effective alternative."

Source BBC News

Chewing gum can 'enhance breasts'

A chewing gum which the makers say can help enhance the size, shape and tone of the breasts has proved to be a big hit in Japan.

B2Up says its Bust-Up gum, when chewed three or four times a day, can also help improve circulation, reduce stress and fight ageing.

The gum works by slowly releasing compounds contained in an extract from a plant called Pueraria mirifica.

In theory, this helps to keep the muscle tissue in good order.

Pueraria mirifica, also known as Kwao Krua, is a species found in Thailand and Burma.
It has long been used by indigenous hill tribe people as a traditional medicine.

Source BBC News.

(Just don't let Jordan near it!)

Acupuncture 'cuts blood pressure'

Acupuncture combined with electronic stimulation can lower high blood pressure, US researchers say.

In tests on rats, the treatment lowered raised blood pressure by as much as 50%, the University of California team at Irvine found.

They are now testing to see whether the technique will have the same effect in people with high blood pressure, also known as hypertension.

Their early findings in animals appear in the Journal of Applied Physiology.

Source BBC News

Migraine herb may help fight cancer

Better treatments for leukaemia could be on the horizon thanks to the feverfew, a daisy-like plant traditionally used to treat migraines and arthritis.

The plant yields a substance that kills the rogue stem cells that give rise to all leukaemia cells. Because these stem cells divide slowly, they often survive conventional treatments. But parthenolide, the substance found in feverfew.

Source New Scientist

Natural yoghurt beats bad breath

Sugarless yoghurt could help beat bad breath, tooth decay and gum disease, say scientists.

Japanese researchers found eating the yoghurt reduced levels of hydrogen sulphide - a major cause of bad breath - in 80% of volunteers.

The key are active bacteria in yogurt, specifically Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus.

Details were presented at a meeting of the International Association for Dental Research.

Source BBC News

Mountain life is good for you

If you want to live longer and lower the risk of heart disease, a move to the mountains may help. Greek scientists publishing in today's issue of the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health say that living in the mountains lowers your odds of dying from heart disease compared with living closer to sea level.

The increased exercise from walking up mountainous terrain gives the heart a good workout and enables it to cope with lower levels of oxygen, the researchers say.

"Residence in mountainous areas seems to have a 'protective effect' from total and coronary mortality," says lead author Dr Nikos Baibas of the University of Athens.

Source - ABC Net

Cancer hope for green tea extract

My second favourite beverage (after coffee) is proving its worth once again as reported by the BBC:-

A chemical extracted from green tea could help scientists to develop new drugs to fight cancer.
Tests by UK and Spanish researchers showed polyphenol EGCG taken from green tea leaves inhibits cancer cell growth.

The effect was seen even at low concentrations, equivalent to drinking two or three cups of green tea a day.

However, the study, published in Cancer Research, also found high concentrations of the chemical may increase the risk of birth defects.

Previous research has suggested that drinking green tea helps to cut the risk of certain forms of cancer.

The latest study found that EGCG binds to a key enzyme - dihydrofolate reductase (DHFR) - that is targeted by established anti-cancer drugs.

This stops the enzyme from triggering the manufacture of new DNA in tumour cells.

It appears to work in the same way as the cancer drug methotrexate - but in practice would probably have fewer side effects.

Prevent diabetes by eating chocolate

Chocolate could be an unlikely new weapon in the battle against diabetes, one of Britain's fastest growing illnesses.

New research shows that eating dark chocolate reduces the risk of damaging changes in the body that can lead to the condition.

But it works only if you eat plain, dark chocolate high in disease-fighting chemicals called flavanols. Milk or white chocolate is unlikely to have the same effect.

The findings, by a group of Italian researchers, reveal that snacking regularly on the equivalent of one medium sized bar a day protects against a condition called insulin resistance.

Source The Daily Mail


I have just completed a new page for Complete Herbal on garlic. A medicinal and culinary delight with a facinating history.

Apples give cancer the pip

An apple a day could keep carcinoma away, according to new research at Cornell University, in New York state. Rai Hai Liu fed cancer-prone laboratory rats the human equivalent of one, three and six apples a day for 24 weeks, he will report in the next Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. Tumour incidence was reduced by 17%, 39% and 44% respectively. His team also fed apples or apple extracts to rats with breast cancer and the same regime reduced tumours by 25%, 25% and 61%. Five years ago Dr Liu reported in Nature that antioxidants in fresh apples inhibited the growth of human liver and colon cancer cells.

Apple-rich diets have already been linked to lower risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer's, cataracts and even macular degeneration. "Risk of many chronic diseases in modern life appears to be reduced by whole foods, not by isolated large doses of selected food compounds," says David Jacobs of Minnesota University. Keep eating the fruit and veg.

Source The Guardian

Oily fish helps cut inflammation

Scientists have discovered why a diet high in oily fish like salmon and mackerel may help improve inflammatory conditions such as arthritis.

They have found a key anti-inflammatory fat in humans is derived from a fatty acid found in fish oil.

The researchers, from Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital, found the diet worked best when combined with low aspirin doses.

Details are published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine.

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

Green tea 'may protect the heart'

Green tea could help protect against the damage caused by heart attacks and strokes, researchers suggest.

A chemical found in the tea, which has been drunk for over 4,000 years, has been shown to reduce the amount of cell death which follows such trauma.

Cell death leads to tissue death and even organ failure.

Experts from the UK's Institute of Child Health carried out the study, published in the journal of the Federation of Experimental Biology.

Green tea was frequently used in the past as fluid supply for patients suffering from infectious diseases, but recently researchers have begun to scientifically determine the health benefits of green tea.

Source BBC News

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

Feverfew or Bachelor's Button, kills human leukemia stem cells like no other single therapy

A daisy-like plant known as Feverfew or Bachelor's Button, a traditional remedy for reducing fevers and a treatment for nervousness, hysteria and low spirits, is the source of an agent that kills human leukemia stem cells like no other single therapy, scientists at the University of Rochester Medical Center's James P. Wilmot Cancer Center have discovered.

Their investigation is reported in the online edition of the journal, >Blood.

Ginseng 'could improve memory'

The herbal remedy ginseng can help improve memory in stroke patients suffering from dementia, researchers have found.

Stroke patients can experience a form of memory loss called moderate vascular dementia, which is caused by damage to the blood vessels leading to the brain.

Chinese researchers found taking a ginseng compound meant people who had experienced a stroke scored more highly on memory tests than those who did not take the herb.

But UK experts said the findings had to be treated with caution.

Forty patients, with an average age of 67, who had mild or moderate vascular dementia took part in the study.

Twenty-five were given a tablet of ginseng extracted from Chinese ginseng roots, leaves and an herb known as panax notoginseng three times daily.

The rest were given a Duxil, (almitrine + raubasine), a drug which increases oxygen use in brain tissue. It has previously been shown to improve the memory of elderly patients with dementia.
All 40 were given memory tests which focused on how well they could recall stories, words and other verbal and visual memory tests before and after the 12-week study.

Those given the ginseng significantly improved their average memory function after 12 weeks.
It was found ginseng increased the activities of the brain chemicals acetylcholine and choline acetyltransferase in elderly mice.

Source BBC News

Herb 'as good as depression drug'

A German study has added weight to the argument that a herbal remedy is an effective treatment for depression.

Researchers compared the effectiveness of St John's wort to anti-depressant drug paroxetine in treating moderate and severe depression.

The team found half of those with the condition improved when given the herb, compared with a third using the drug, the BBC News

Pet therapy 'helps schizophrenia'

Pet therapy can help people with schizophrenia feel more motivated and improve their quality of life, research has suggested.

A team from the Technion Institute of Technology in Israel looked at the effect of bringing dogs into therapy sessions.

Patients in these sessions were much less apathetic compared to those who underwent conventional therapy.

The study is published in Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics.

Could cabbage prevent cancer?

Researchers at Cardiff University want to find out if a substance found in vegetables like cabbage and sprouts could ward off cervical cancer.

They need 3,000 volunteers for the study on the effects of the chemical- diindolylmethane (DIM) - which is sold as a food supplement.

Cancer Research UK is funding the trial.

Source BBC News.

Vitamin warning for liver lovers

People should limit eating liver to once a week and be careful about other sources of vitamin A, say food experts.

Too much is toxic and increases the risk of bone fractures, according to advisers to the Food Standards Agency.

Combining supplements with vitamin A-rich foods such as liver is particularly risky, the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition says.

Post-menopausal women and older people at highest risk of fractures should not have more than 1.5mg per day, it says

Source BBC News

African herb yields its anti-addiction secret

THE secret of an African herb that helps drug addicts and alcoholics kick the habit has been discovered. The finding could lead to safer and more effective medications for treating addiction.

Since the 1960s, many addicts have reported that even a single dose of ibogaine, a hallucinogenic alkaloid extracted from the root of an African shrub, helps them kick their habit by reducing their cravings for drugs. And there is hard evidence to back these claims, as well. However, troubling side effects - including heart problems and several deaths - have kept ibogaine from being widely accepted as a medical treatment. Instead, a few researchers have begun searching for ways to deliver ibogaine's benefits without its risks.

Source New Scientist

Camomile tea for aches and ills

Drinking camomile tea can fight a cold and banish menstrual cramps, UK researchers believe.
Five cups a day for a fortnight is enough to boost urine levels of substances that can ease muscle spasms and fight inflammation.

The team from London's Imperial College tested the urine of 14 healthy camomile tea drinkers.
Their research will appear in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

Source BBC News

Olive oil acid 'cuts cancer risk'

Scientists in Chicago say they have uncovered why a Mediterranean diet rich in olive oil seems to cut the risk of developing breast cancer.

The key is an ingredient of olive oil called oleic acid, they say.

Northwestern University laboratory tests on breast cancer cells showed the acid sharply cut levels of a gene thought to trigger the disease.

Cancer charities said the study, in Annals of Oncology, was interesting, but more research was needed.

Source BBC News

Folic acid 'cuts blood pressure'

Folic acid may help keep blood pressure in check, US researchers believe.

The study, in this week's Journal of the American Medical Association, adds to growing evidence of folate's cardiovascular benefits.

The Harvard team looked at data on about 156,000 nurses and found those with the lowest intakes of folate were at greater risk of hypertension.

Last week, researchers said folic acid - found in green leafy vegetables - might benefit people at risk of stroke.

Source BBC News

Organic milk 'higher in vitamins'

Drinking organic milk has more health benefits than drinking non-organic, a study has suggested.

The research was presented to the Soil Association's annual conference in Newcastle.
It showed organic milk has higher levels of vitamin E, omega 3 essential fatty acids and antioxidants, which help beat infections.

But nutritionists said people who drank non-organic milk would be getting these nutrients from other sources.

Recognising a stroke

I was sent this in my e-mail and felt it was important to share. I have rewritten it a bit to make it more universal. I'll try to keep it at top position as long as possible.

Valuable information for everyone to keep in their memory bank.

A neurologist says that if he can get to a stroke victim within 3 hours he can totally reverse the effects of a stroke...totally. He said the trick was getting a stroke recognized, diagnosed and getting to the patient within 3 hours which is tough.


Susie is recouperating at an incredible pace for someone who has had a massive stroke all because Sherry saw Susie stumble - - that is the key that isn't mentioned below - and then she asked Susie 3 questions. So simple - but this literally saved Susie's life - - Some angel sent it to Suzie's friend and she did just what it said to do. Suzie failed all three points and her friend called the emergency services.

Even though she had normal blood pressure readings and did not appear to be a stroke victim as she could converse to some extent with the Paramedics they took her to the hospital right away. Thank goodness for her friend's good sense.

Read and Learn!

Sometimes symptoms of a stroke are difficult to identify.

Unfortunately, the lack of awareness spells disaster. The stroke victim may suffer brain damage when people nearby fail to recognize the symptoms of a stroke.

Now doctors say a bystander can recognize a stroke by asking three simple questions:

1. Ask the individual to SMILE.
2. Ask him or her to RAISE BOTH ARMS.
3. Ask the person to SPEAK A SIMPLE SENTENCE (Coherently) (ie . It is sunny out today).

If he or she has trouble with any of these tasks, call the emergency services immediately and describe the symptoms to the dispatcher.

After discovering that a group of non-medical volunteers could identify facial weakness, arm weakness and speech problems, researchers urged thegeneral public to learn the three questions.
They presented their conclusions at the American Stroke Association's annual meeting last February.

Widespread use of this test could result in prompt diagnosis and treatment of the stroke and help prevent brain damage.

A cardiologist says if everyone who reads this tells another 10 people, you can bet that at least one life will be saved.


Origina author Laura Hoskinson