Herbal remedy for digestive disorder

A bloated and upset stomach. Multiple sensitivities and allergies to a large number of foods. Fatigue. Acid reflux. Lethargy. Pains in muscles and joints. Does any of this sound familiar? For nearly 40 years, I struggled to cope with a digestive system that never seemed to work.

Eating out was a nightmare, but not as bad as trying to explain to my wonderful friends that there was virtually nothing they could cook that I could eat. I could never have a glass of wine or a piece of cake without really suffering. A hint of egg yolk would leave me in the bathroom for days (a reaction that wrecked several supposedly romantic weekends).

Sometimes I was so exhausted by making my morning cup of tea that I had to lie down before I could drink it. In my teens, I went to the doctor with what he thought was a regular stomach bug. He prescribed a supposed wonderdrug called Septrin to kill it off. While it had no discernible effect on the bug, it very nearly killed me. My eyes and nails bled, I was ulcerated inside and out. I could not see for days and doctors feared permanent damage to my kidneys. Family was called to the bedside, and I was months recovering and convalescing.

Source - Guardian

Screen time leads to saggy faces for women

A leading cosmetic surgeon has identified a growing phenomenon described as 'computer face' among professional women who work for long hours in front of their computers.

Dr Michael Prager, a Botox specialist, said that, of all his clientele, office workers were most likely to show premature signs of ageing.

"If you are one of the unfortunate people who frown or squint while they are concentrating at the screen then, over time, you will inevitably end up with frown lines,'" he said. "What is perhaps more surprising is the number of women with saggy jowls because they are sitting in one position for so long. If you spend most of the time looking down then the neck muscles shorten and go saggy, eventually giving you a second neck.

He warned the problem is set to get worse as a generation grows up using computers throughout their working life.

Source - Guardian

Dose of vitamin C could help A&E patients to feel happier

Doctors could improve the emotional state of their Accident and Emergency patients simply by giving them a dose of vitamin C.

Canadian researchers randomly assigned acute hospital patients to receive either vitamin C or vitamin D supplements for seven to 10 days. They found that those who were administered with vitamin C showed a rapid and clinically significant improvement in their state of mood. However, no such change was reported in the vitamin D patients.

The double-blind clinical trial took place at the Jewish General Hospital in Montreal, Canada and the results were published in the journal Nutrition.

Team member Dr L John Hoffer, of the Lady Davis Institute for Medical Research, said: 'The lack of any effect of vitamin D on mood is good evidence we are not dealing with a placebo response. This looks like a true biological effect. Our finding definitely requires follow up in larger studies in other centres,' he said. The treatment is safe, simple and cheap, and could have major clinical practice implications.'

Vitamin C rich foods include citrus fruits, green peppers, strawberries, tomatoes and broccoli.

Source - Daily Mail

Watercress - the garnish that fights breast cancer

Watercress is often placed to the side of a plate as a decorative garnish, but it has been revered for its health properties for centuries.

The father of medicine, Hippocrates, is believed to have located his first hospital close to a freshwater stream to have a ready supply of the plant, while 17th Century herbalist Culpeper claimed it could cleanse the blood. It was used to ‘cure’ ailments such as baldness, hiccups and even freckles.

While these health claims may be debatable, watercress is packed with 15 essential vitamins and minerals. Now, scientists believe a daily dose may help combat breast cancer.

Source - Daily Mail

This month, researchers at Southampton University discovered that within hours of eating 3oz of watercress a day – about a full cereal bowl – a small group of breast cancer survivors had a higher level of cancer-fighting molecules in their blood.

They found the compound phenethyl isothiocyanate – which gives watercress its peppery taste – blocks the hypoxia-inducible factor protein which helps cancer tumours grow.

Touching own injury 'cuts pain'

There may be a very good reason why people clutch a painful area of their body after receiving an injury, according to a study. Touching the affected area allows a picture of the body to form in the brain, says a study in Current Biology.

Researchers at University College London (UCL) found that the way the body is represented in the brain is key to reducing perceptions of acute pain. But it does not work if someone else touches the injury, they say.

Scientists from the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience at UCL studied the effects of self-touch in people who were made to feel pain using an experimental model called the Thermal Grill Illusion (TGI).

Healthy volunteers were asked to put their index and ring fingers in warm water and their middle finger in cold water. This generates a feeling that the middle finger is painfully hot, explains the study.

Source - BBC

City life 'boosts bug resistance'

People from traditionally urban areas could be genetically better suited to fighting infection, say researchers.

The University of London team looked at how many people carried a specific gene variant known to give them resistance to TB and leprosy. It was more common in those from areas with a longer history of urbanisation, where the diseases were more likely to have been rife at one point. They described the discovery as an example of "evolution in action".

The phenomenon, reported in the journal Evolution, is suggested as an example of so-called "selective pressure" in relation to disease resistance. It happens because, when a population is exposed to a killer illness, the people who are best placed to pass on their genes to the next generation are those whose genetic make-up helps them fight the infection.

In towns and cities, where people intermingle far more closely, the likelihood of being exposed to infectious disease is theoretically higher. So, over the centuries, the greater the level of historical exposure, the more likely it is that these resistance genes will be spread widely among the population.

Source - BBC

The end of the century old tradition of herbal medicine

New  European legislation, coming  into force next April, may make some herbal remedies currently on sale in health food stores become  a thing of the past.  The new legislation says that all herbs produced, manufactured and sold in the EU must be classified as either food or medicine.

 Many herbal remedies along with Ayurvedic, Chinese and Tibetan herbal mixes,  not medically recognized in the EU, will no longer be legally available.
More information on this directive.

Herbal remedy for digestive disorder

A bloated and upset stomach. Multiple sensitivities and allergies to a large number of foods. Fatigue. Acid reflux. Lethargy. Pains in muscles and joints. Does any of this sound familiar? For nearly 40 years, I struggled to cope with a digestive system that never seemed to work.

Eating out was a nightmare, but not as bad as trying to explain to my wonderful friends that there was virtually nothing they could cook that I could eat. I could never have a glass of wine or a piece of cake without really suffering. A hint of egg yolk would leave me in the bathroom for days (a reaction that wrecked several supposedly romantic weekends). Sometimes I was so exhausted by making my morning cup of tea that I had to lie down before I could drink it.

In my teens, I went to the doctor with what he thought was a regular stomach bug. He prescribed a supposed wonderdrug called Septrin to kill it off. While it had no discernible effect on the bug, it very nearly killed me. My eyes and nails bled, I was ulcerated inside and out. I could not see for days and doctors feared permanent damage to my kidneys. Family was called to the bedside, and I was months recovering and convalescing.

Source - Telegraph

Exercise really does make you clever: Fit children have better memories say experts

If you want to boost your child’s results at school, you could do a lot worse than ensuring that they do plenty of exercise.

Scientists have already shown that physical activity can make you brainier. But a team in America has used scans to show that an important part of the brain actually grows in children who are fit. These youngsters tend to be more intelligent and have better memories than those who are inactive.

Scientists also found that one of the most important parts of their brains was 12 per cent larger than those of unfit youngsters. They believe that encouraging children to take exercise from a very young age could help them do better at school later.

Researchers from the University of Illinois, in the U.S., studied the brains of 49 children aged nine and ten using a magnetic resonance imaging scan, a technique which provides very detailed pictures of organs and tissues in the body.

They also tested the fitness levels of the children by making them run on a treadmill. The scientists found that the hippocampus, a part of the brain responsible for memory and learning, was around 12 per cent larger in the fitter youngsters. They found that these children performed much better in memory tests.

Source - Daily Mail

Scottish warning over vitamin D levels

New leaflets are to be handed out urging people to make sure they get enough vitamin D.

Doctors are concerned people in Scotland are not getting enough of the vitamin from sunlight and are not topping up their levels with a healthy diet. There is increasing evidence that a lack of vitamin D could be linked to cancer and multiple sclerosis. Doctors are also concerned about a rise in the bone disease rickets.

Rickets is a rare condition which causes the softening and weakening of bones in children. Pregnant and breastfeeding women are particularly at risk of vitamin D deficiency, along with children under five, the elderly, the housebound and people with darker skin. About 10 to 15 minutes a day of sunshine is considered safe.

But in Scotland the sun is only strong enough to provide vitamin D between April and September. If the body's reserves of vitamin D run out during the winter, they need to be topped up from oily fish, eggs, meat or a supplement.

Source - BBC

Recreating the caveman diet

A team of scientists has begun exploring what can be learned from the diet of cavemen who lived more than two million years ago.

Research will focus on how the food eaten by hunter-gatherers could enhance modern day nutrition. Our ancestors in the palaeolithic period, which covers 2.5 million years ago to 12,000 years ago, are thought to have had a diet based on vegetables, fruit, nuts, roots and meat.

Cereals, potatoes, bread and milk did not feature at all. It was only with the dawn of agriculture (around 10,000 years ago) that our diets evolved to include what we think of as staple foods now. So are we programmed to eat what we do today - or are we better suited to the diet of our ancestors?

Global brand giant Unilever has brought scientists and experts from fields as diverse as evolutionary genetics, anthropology, food science and botany together to find out the answer.

Source - BBC

Supplements for osteoarthritis 'do not work'

Two popular supplements taken to combat joint pain do not work, a study says.

The review of 10 previous trials by Bern University in Switzerland found glucosamine and chondroitin did not have any beneficial effect on osteoarthritis of the hip or knee. The supplements are not normally given on the NHS, although they are bought over the counter in UK pharmacies.

But the researchers said they did no harm so if people wanted to continue taking them they could. This is because of the so-called placebo effect, where symptoms improve because a patient feels better psychologically for taking a substance.

Researchers analysed the results of tests on 3,800 patients, assessing changes in levels of pain after patients took glucosamine, chondroitin or both together. They then compared the effects with patients who took a placebo, the British Medical Journal reported.

Lead researcher Professor Peter Juni said: "Compared with placebo, glucosamine, chondroitin and their combination do not reduce joint pain or have an impact on narrowing of joint space. Health authorities and health insurers should be discouraged from funding glucosamine and chondroitin treatment."

But the researchers argued that given these supplements were not dangerous there was no reason for patients not to keep taking them if "they perceive a benefit and cover the cost of treatment themselves".

Global sales of glucosamine supplements reached nearly £1.3bn in 2008, although very few are funded by the NHS as they are not recommended by NICE, the official advisory body for the health service

Source - BBC

Daily vitamin pill could reduce dementia's effects by up to 50 per cent

Scientists unveiled the latest weapon in the battle against Alzheimer's disease yesterday – a humble vitamin.

Researchers from the University of Oxford have found that taking tablets of three B vitamins every day slows the brain shrinkage that happens with age, causing early signs of dementia such as memory loss.

In a two-year trial, the vitamin supplement delayed the rate of brain atrophy by up to half in a group of elderly people, with a more than 30 per cent reduction overall. Cognitive tests show those with the least shrinkage perform best.

A vitamin pill that curbed the mental decline associated with ageing would have colossal implications. About 1.5 million people in the UK, 14 million in Europe and five million in the US have problems with memory, language or other mental functions known as Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI), half of whom go on to develop Alzheimer's or another form of dementia within five years. Even a slight slowing of this process would have immense human and economic benefits. However, the researchers said it was too soon to recommend elderly people suffering memory lapses should take B vitamin supplements, until further studies had confirmed the benefits and risks.

Source - BBC

Doctors warn over homeopathic 'vaccines'

Homeopaths are offering "alternative vaccinations" which doctors say could leave patients vulnerable to potentially fatal diseases, a BBC investigation has found.

Three practitioners admitted giving patients a homeopathic medicine designed to replace the MMR vaccine.

Inverness-based Katie Jarvis said she only offered "Homeopathic Prophylaxis" to patients who expressed an interest. But the discovery has prompted a shocked reaction from doctors.

When asked about the practice, Ms Jarvis said: "The alternative that I would offer would be a homeopathic remedy made from diseased tissue, that comes from someone with that disease, and then made into potentised form so that is given in a homeopathic remedy. It can be given instead of, or as well as, the vaccination. I'm not advocating that they do not take the vaccination, I am providing support for those who choose not to by giving them an alternative."

When asked if the homeopathic remedy offered the same protection as the MMR, she replied: "I'd like to say that they were safer, but I can't prove that."

Source - BBC

Cancer sufferer amazes medics by going into remission BEFORE starting treatment

A retired teacher has astonished doctors after his body rid itself of cancer without treatment.

Peter Crane, 60, was diagnosed with a form of leukaemia 18 months ago. He was was warned that the disease cannot usually be cured but told that chemotherapy could help. However, Mr Crane did not start the treatment straight away because the cancer had not reached the stage where it would be most effective.

In the meantime, it appears the cancer simply vanished. Blood tests have shown his body is free of the disease and he is now officially in remission.

Experts said Mr Crane was a very lucky man. Cases of ‘spontaneous remission’ are extremely rare but do happen. Mr Crane, of East Boldon, South Tyneside, is now feeling fit and healthy and enjoying a new lease of life with his wife Mary, 58.

He said he was astounded when tests last week at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle showed he was in remission. ‘I couldn’t believe it when they told me,’ he said.

‘I was in shock. My blood counts had been normal for about 12 months, so it had disappeared naturally without the need for any treatment. The doctors said to go into spontaneous remission is very rare. It’s not unique and I am not saying the cancer won’t come back but, for now, being told it’s gone is a huge weight off my mind.’

Source - Daily Mail

Newborns with low levels of vitamin D 'have double risk of schizophrenia'

Newborn babies with low levels of vitamin D have a far higher risk of developing schizophrenia later in life, researchers have found.

Scientists from the Queensland Brain Institute used tiny samples of blood taken as part of routine screening from newborn babies in Denmark. They then compared vitamin D concentrations in babies who later developed schizophrenia with healthy controls. The study confirmed those with low vitamin D had a twofold increased risk of developing the disorder.

Vitamin D, or the 'sunshine hormone', is mostly from sunlight absorbed through the skin, although oily fish is another rich source. It has long been known that it is important for healthy bones, but the Queensland team has discovered that it is also important for healthy brain growth. Low vitamin D is common in many countries. Researchers have previously found that people with schizophrenia are more likely to be born in winter.

'While we need to replicate these findings, the study opens up the possibility that improving vitamin D levels in pregnant women and newborn babies could reduce the risk of later schizophrenia,' investigator Professor John McGrath said.

The findings from the three-year study were published in today’s edition of Archives of General Psychiatry.

Source - Daily Mail

Four cups of coffee a day 'helps women halve their chances of gout'

Four cups of coffee a day can more than halve the risk of gout in women, according to researchers.

They found those drinking that amount or more were 57 per cent less likely to suffer the agony of a gout attack than those who drank none. Two to four cups lowered the chances of gout by about 22 per cent but one a day only by three per cent.

Gout has seen a resurgence in the UK in recent years, and now around 250,000 people suffer the painful condition. It is estimated that drugs to treat it cost the NHS more than £6million a year.

Once dubbed 'the disease of kings', it affects men more than women and has traditionally been associated with over-indulgence in certain foods and drink. Recent evidence suggests younger adults in the UK are being affected, partly because of the increase in obesity. Diet and excess alcohol are trigger factors for the condition, though some people have a genetic predisposition to it.

It develops when uric acid, a natural byproduct, is not disposed of properly by the body. During an attack, the joint of the big toe swells and becomes so sore that even a sheet resting on it can produce unbearable pain. Attacks can last up to a week.

The latest findings, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, come from a long-term study of almost 90,000 female nurses in the U.S.

Source - Daily Mail

Vitamin 'may help prevent' spina bifida

Scientists have begun a study to determine if an everyday vitamin supplement could help prevent one of Britain's most common birth defects.

Every year about 100 children in the UK are born with spina bifida and other neural tube defects. Prospective mothers are advised to take folic acid as a way of preventing the condition. However, scientists think the vitamin inositol, taken with folic acid, may be more effective at preventing defects.

Despite taking folic acid, also known as vitamin B9, some woman still go on to have children with neural tube defects. Many more pregnancies are terminated when the condition is diagnosed by ultrasound scan. Scientists think inositol could prevent these extra cases. Tests on mice suggest it stimulates tissue growth in the embryo to prevent neural tube defects.

Dr Nick Greene is one of the researchers working on the project at the Institute of Child Health, University College London.

"Inositol is a naturally occurring molecule a bit like glucose", he said. "It's in meat, fruit and vegetables. We don't think the women are deficient in inositol in their diets but from our experimental work we know inositol can stimulate cells in the developing embryo to proliferate more quickly, and that corrects the defect that would develop in spina bifida."

Source - BBC

Vitamin B 'puts off Alzheimer's'

A new study suggests high doses of B vitamins may halve the rate of brain shrinkage in older people experiencing some of the warning signs of Alzheimer's disease.

Brain shrinkage is one of the symptoms of mild cognitive impairment, which often leads to dementia. Researchers say this could be the first step towards finding a way to delay the onset of Alzheimer's. Experts said the findings were important but more research was needed.

The study, published in the journal Public Library of Science One, looked at 168 elderly people experiencing levels of mental decline known as mild cognitive impairment. This condition, marked by mild memory lapses and language problems, is beyond what can be explained by normal ageing and can be a precursor to Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia.

Half of the volunteers were given a daily tablet containing levels of the B vitamins folate, B6 and B12 well above the recommended daily amount. The other half were given a placebo. After two years, the rate at which their brains had shrunk was measured.

The average brain shrinks at a rate of 0.5% a year after the age of 60. The brains of those with mild cognitive impairment shrink twice as fast. Alzheimer's patients have brain shrinkage of 2.5% a year.

The team, from the Oxford Project to investigate Memory and Ageing (Optima), found that on average, in those taking vitamin supplements, brain shrinkage slowed by 30%. In some cases it slowed by more than 50%, making their brain atrophy no worse than that of people without cognitive impairment.

Source - BBC

Carrots keep you younger

A Hollywood dermatologist argues the water in fruit and veg is better than water in a glass

As a dermatologist, pharmacist and researcher, I have always rooted my practice
in the idea that skin care can lead to overall health. The skin, after all, is a microcosm of the entire body – it reflects what is going on inside.

The key to vibrant health from the inside out lies in maintaining strong cells that can retain water the way younger cells do. If you can repair your cells’ membranes (from brain cells and heart cells to connective tissue and your outermost skin cells) while attracting water and nutrients to them, you can fight ageing and disease.

You can help your body to heal and rejuvenate itself, so you not only look fantastic but you also feel healthier and revitalised. Most people I know accept signs of ageing such as weight gain, fatigue and familial patterns of disease as inevitable. The truth: upwards of 80 per cent of longevity is attributed to lifestyle, not genes.


Contrary to popular belief, you are not 75 to 80 per cent water. You were once – when you were fresh from your mother’s womb. But now you’re closer to 50 per cent water.

Since those early years, internal and external factors have damaged your cells and weakened their ability to retain water. This explains the signs of ageing that
probably emerged in your early 30s: your skin began to become drier, sleep
patterns changed, digestion slowed and your energy wavered.

Source - Daily Mail

Revealed: the diet that can protect you against heart attacks

The health benefits of eating extra fruits and vegetables are well established: for years, children have been told that an apple a day will keep the doctor away. But now, scientists have identified a diet promoting a much wider range of foods, including fish, poultry and nuts, that they say is much more effective at cutting the risk of heart attacks.

The Dash (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) dieting plan reduces the chances of suffering from heart disease by 18 per cent over 10 years, compared with an average American diet. People who simply up their consumption of fruits and vegetables see an 11 per cent decreased risk, a study shows.

The plan, also recommended by the American Heart Association, emphasises consumption of low-fat dairy products, whole grains, poultry, fish and nuts as well as fruits and vegetables. It also calls for a reduction in fats, red meat, sweets, and sugary drinks.

Dr Marilyn Glenville, a nutritionist, explained that the high intake of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, poultry, fish and nuts, combined with relatively low-fat dairy products and less sugar and red meats, would help to decrease the levels of cholesterol in the body. In turn, that would reduce the chances of heart disease, she said.

Source - Independent

Key reason 'found' for gum and heart disease link

Scientists say they have established one reason why gum disease may increase the risk of heart disease. The link between gum and heart problems has long been recognised but it is unclear if poor oral health is simply a marker of a person's general wellbeing. UK and Irish experts now say bacteria enter the bloodstream via sore gums and deposit a clot-forming protein.

The findings are being presented at a meeting of the Society for General Microbiology.

Earlier this year a Scottish study of more than 11,000 people found people who did not brush their teeth twice a day were at increased risk of heart disease. It backed up previous findings suggesting a link, but researchers stressed the nature of the relationship still needed further analysis.

Protective platelets

Scientists from the University of Bristol working with the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland now suggest it is the Streptococcus bacteria - responsible for causing tooth plaque and gum disease - which may be to blame.

Source - BBC

Non-stick pan chemicals 'may raise child cholesterol'

Scientists are concerned that exposure to chemicals used in non-stick frying pans could raise cholesterol levels in children after finding a link. They have no proof, but the West Virginia team says further research is needed to rule it out.

They studied over 12,000 children involved in a lawsuit regarding a water supply contaminated with the same chemicals used on non-stick pans. Experts stressed that the children's exposure was much higher than typical.


Most people are exposed to the man-made perfluoroalkyl acid chemicals because they are used commonly in manufacturing.

Perfluoroalkyl acids like PFOA and PFOS give non-stick pans heat resistance, and also come from the breakdown of compounds used in commercial food packaging and factory treatments for fabrics, carpets and stain-resistant clothing. Experts know these chemicals can get into the body and travel to the liver - the organ responsible for making cholesterol and handling any fat that comes from the diet. And other studies have already suggested that PFOA and PFOS may change how well the body deals with these fats.

Stephanie Frisbee and colleagues at West Virginia University School of Medicine set out to investigate this further, looking at a group of children who had been exposed to particularly high levels of PFOA through an industrial accident.

Source - BBC

Why a coffee break helps you live longer by 'warding off heart disease'

Drinking a cup of coffee a day could be the secret to long life, researchers claim.

A unique investigation into what helps people live to be 100 shows even those with high blood pressure are healthier for a daily cup of coffee. According to a study released yesterday, it helps improve elasticity of the arteries, which can ward off heart disease.

The subjects of the research were all aged between 65 and 100 and long-term inhabitants of the Greek island of Ikaria. It is known as the 'land of longevity' and a third of residents reach the age of 90. The population suffers 20 per cent less cancer and half the rate of heart disease compared with the Western average, and there is virtually no dementia.

The island has been a destination for health tourists since the 6th century, when ancient Greeks and Romans visited hot springs fabled for their beneficial effects on joint and skin ailments. Modern-day experts claim the heart-protective Mediterranean diet, supplemented with locally produced honey and herbal teas, also plays a part.

Now regular coffee drinking has been investigated by researchers from the University of Athens to see if it also helps people live longer. They looked at 485 people with high blood pressure, medically known as hypertension.

Source - Daily Mail

'Brisk walks' to prevent cancers

About 10,000 cases of breast and bowel cancer could be prevented each year in the UK if people did more brisk walking, claim experts.

The World Cancer Research Fund scientists say any moderate activity that makes the heart beat faster should achieve the same. For example, data suggest 45 minutes a day of moderate exercise could prevent about 5,500 cases of breast cancer. Physical exercise helps prevent obesity, which is a cancer risk factor.

The WCRF team stress in their report that it is the total time spent being active that is important. You do not need to set aside half an hour each day to exercise. Shorter bouts of activity will be just as beneficial as long as they add up to the same, the charity says.Alongside brisk walking, other activities that would count include cycling or swimming at a leisurely pace, dancing, gardening and vacuuming combined with other housework, says the WCRF.

Source - BBC