Chocolate cough cure: Chemical in cocoa could be turned into a new medicine

Chocolate could provide the key to tackling a persistent cough, researchers claim.

They are carrying out the final stages of clinical trials on a drug that contains theobromine, an ingredient naturally present in cocoa and chocolate. If the trials are successful, the drug could be on the market within two years.

More than seven million Britons suffer from a persistent cough, defined as one that lasts for more than two weeks. Some have asthma-like symptoms while others suffer from heartburn.

But most widely available cough products soothe the symptoms rather than deal with the cause, and have been criticised for side effects such as drowsiness.

Source -Daily Mail

Echinacea does not ward off colds say leading doctors

The herbal remedy echinacea, which is taken to stave off colds, does not work, say leading doctors.

They suggest that the plant extract has little or no effect on the length or severity of symptoms including coughs and sneezes. Increasing numbers of Britons take echinacea supplements every year at the first sign of a cold in the hope that they will help boost their immune system. But a major study suggested that its effects are ‘minimal’, and for many people it will not work at all.

The research by the American College of Physicians compared the effects of the extract on 719 people experiencing the first sign of a cold.

Source - Daily Mail

How egg yolk and soya bean oil finally got me pregnant!

There’s no way of knowing for certain what made the difference with our fourth and final attempt at IVF.

Whether it was the ­acupuncture, the ­hypnotherapy, the steroids, the vitamins, the blood thinner or a curious white bag of egg yolk and soya bean oil that was fed intravenously into my arm, I don’t know.

But something had worked — and I put it down to the bean oil and egg yolk. For the first time in my life, and after two physically gruelling and emotionally battering years of IVF, I had taken a pregnancy test and it was positive. The relief and elation were immense.

Source - Daily Mail

Dairy foods 'could help prevent diabetes'

A natural substance found in dairy products appears to protect against diabetes, say researchers.

Trans-palmitoleic acid is present in milk, cheese, yoghurt and butter but cannot be made by the body.

A study of over 3,700 people found higher levels of trans-palmitoleic acid was linked with a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes. People with the highest levels cut their risk by 60%, Annals of Internal Medicine reports.

Lead author of the research, Dr Dariush Mozaffarian, said: "The magnitude of this association is striking. This represents an almost three-fold difference in risk of developing diabetes among individuals with the highest blood levels of this fatty acid."

Source - BBC

Recognise hospitals practising alternative systems

Accreditation process for hospitals practising homeopathy needs to be stepped up as recent studies have proven the efficiency of homeopathy in managing chronic diseases, doctors said at the 17th All India Homeopathic Congress here.

'Recent research and studies have proven the efficiency of homeopathy in managing chronic diseases such as cancer and tuberculosis,' said Homeopathic Medical Association of India president S.P.S. Bakshi.

Bhawna Gulati of the Quality Council of India, an accreditation and monitoring body for quality healthcare in hospitals, said: 'Accreditation process for hospitals practising homeopathy also needs to be stepped up. This includes, medical centres with ayurveda, unani, homeopathy, yoga and naturopathy.

According to the World Health Organization, homeopathy is the second largest system of medicine in the world and is practiced in over 100 countries and used by over 60 crore people.

'Homeopathy can play a vital role in healthcare and this is only possible by constant interaction of educational, research institutions, private practitioners and drug industry,' Bakshi added.

Source - Google

Alternative treatment for headache

BESIDES medication, other forms of treatments are being sought after by headache sufferers, either as alternative or complementary therapies.

According to Mayo Clinic On Headache, the US National Institutes of Health states that acupuncture can play a useful role in controlling headaches and other conditions that cause chronic pain. It explained that acupuncture works on the premise that our health depends on the free circulation of blood and the energy, qi, in our body. Qi flows through the body along 14 pathways called meridians. When this flow is interrupted, illness comes about.

Acupuncture needles inserted along these meridians is believed to remove blockages. Acupuncture is also said to help release natural painkillers and other chemicals in the central nervous system.

Datuk Dr Rajen M, a pharmacist with a doctorate in holistic medicine, listed the top three therapies for headaches as acupuncture, chiropractic treatment and massages like shiatsu and pressure massage.

Source - Google

The elixir of youth? Beetroot juice could give the elderly a new lease of life, say experts

Drinking beetroot juice could help the elderly lead more active lives, it has been found.

In tests, they required less energy to carry out low-intensity exercises after drinking the juice. The amount of effort it took to walk was reduced by 12 per cent. This could enhance their lives by allowing the elderly to carry out tasks they might not otherwise attempt, the researchers said.

Beetroot juice widens blood vessels and reduces the amount of oxygen needed by muscles during activity. As people age, or if they develop conditions that affect the cardiovascular system, the amount of oxygen taken in during exercise can drop dramatically.

Writing in the Journal of Applied Physiology, Katie Lansley said: ‘What we’ve seen in this study is that beetroot juice can actually reduce the amount of oxygen you need to perform even low-intensity exercise.’

Source - Daily Mail

Vitamin pills could damage your health by making misleading claims, says watchdog

People who pop vitamin pills in an effort to boost their health could be jeopardising their wellbeing as well as wasting their money, according to the consumer watchdog.

A survey by Which? found two-thirds of us have taken supplements in the past year. But on closer study many products were found labelled with misleading or insufficient information. Researchers who visited supermarkets, chemists and smaller health shops in London in October found numerous examples of unsubstantiated claims on supplements.

Which? chief executive Peter Vicary-Smith said the worst culprits were those that claimed to maintain healthy bones and joints.

Claims about key ingredients including glucosamine and long chain omega-3 fatty acids have all been turned down by the European Food Safety Authority. However, until the regulations have been fully implemented they will still appear on bottles.

Source - Daily Mail

Mistletoe can help kiss goodbye to cancer side effects

According to folklore, mistletoe 'magic' may seal romance, bestow fertility and bring peace to warring spouses.

The plant has also been credited with the power of healing - an attribute currently being harnessed by a new outpatient unit at the independent Raphael Medical Centre in Kent, which offers integrated cancer care.

The centre uses mistletoe (known by its Latin plant name, viscum album) to combat undesirable effects of chemotherapy and radiotherapy, such as fatigue, nausea, weight loss, low mood and infections.

Source - Daily Mail

Junk food fan? Drinking tea could keep the pounds at bay

Drinking tea may prevent weight gain caused by a junk food diet.

Researchers found regular consumption of tea also suppressed damaging changes in the blood linked to fatty foods that can lead to type 2 diabetes. They said the research on mice could signal another set of health benefits from tea drinking if they are confirmed in trials on humans.

In the study some mice were given a high fat diet and others a normal diet. Each of these two groups were then split into smaller groups and given water, black tea or green tea for 14 weeks.Both types of tea suppressed body weight gain and the build-up of belly fat linked to a fatty diet.

But black tea, which is used in most ordinary cuppas, also counteracted the harmful effects on the blood normally associated with a high-fat diet.

Source - Daily Mail

government clampdown on alternative pet remedies

Alternative remedies which could be dangerous to pets are being targeted by the Government in a major drive to improve animal health and welfare.

Some herbal and homeopathic products are claiming medicinal benefits without scientific proof, meaning they may not properly treat or prevent serious diseases, leaving pets at risk.

The Veterinary Medicines Directorate’s (VMD) Director of Operations, John FitzGerald, said:

“Some of these products are claiming to be effective and safe when no scientific evidence has been presented to us to show they are. Animal owners have a right to know if a product does what it claims. The products claim to treat diseases which can cause serious welfare problems and in some circumstances kill animals if not properly treated. So in some cases owners are giving remedies to their pets which don’t treat the problem.”

Source - Google

Tucking in to plenty of garlic may prevent arthritis

It may do no favours for your breath, but enjoying a diet rich in garlic, onions and leeks could reduce your risk of developing the most common form of arthritis.

Researchers at King’s College London and the University of East Anglia investigated possible links between diet and the painful joint disease. They found that women who ate a lot of allium vegetables (in the garlic family) had lower levels of hip osteoarthritis.

The findings, published in the BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders journal, show the great potential garlic compounds have in developing new treatments for the disease.

Source - Daily Mail

Five portions a day 'saves lives'

Around 33,000 lives a year could be saved if everyone in the UK followed dietary guidelines, research suggests.

Eating five portions of fruit and veg a day has the biggest effect, say experts at Oxford University.

Only a third of Britons consume enough fruit and veg, with the worst results in Scotland and Northern Ireland. The UK daily guidelines are to eat five portions of fruit and veg, no more than 6g of salt, and keep saturated fat to 10% of total energy intake.

The research, published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, was based on a computer model linking food consumption with mortality from heart disease, stroke and cancer.

Source - BBC

Why kids should eat their greens

If you child is reluctant to eat their greens the results of a new dietary study may convince them. It found youngsters who don't like fruit and vegetables are 13 times more likely to develop constipation.

The research, which appears in the latest issue of the Journal of Clinical Nursing, also found drinking less than two glasses of water a day also significantly increases the risk.

Constipation is an often painful condition when bowel movements are infrequent of hard to pass. If untreated it can lead to more serious bowel obstructions.

Dr Moon Fai Chan at the National University of Singapore and Yuk Ling Chan from the Hong Kong Polytechnic University studied the dietary habits of 383 primary school children in Hong Kong. Children who were on regular medication or paid regular hospital visits were excluded.

The team found that seven per cent of the eight to 10-year-olds had 'functional constipation' - which is constipation without a physical or psychological cause. Those who did not like fruit or vegetables were 13 times more likely to struggle in the toilets while children who didn't drink enough water were eight times more at risk.

Source - Daily Mail

Drink up! Researchers find that a glass of wine with festive meal does not increase indigestion

It will come as good news to anyone who fancies a drink with their Christmas meal - but is worried about the consequences.

Researchers have found that drinking wine with your festive dinner does not increase the risk of indigestion. They found that while a drink does slow the digestion of a rich meal, it does not cause heartburn, belching or bloating.

Writing in the British Medical Journal, experts from the University of Zurich studied 20 people who drank either 300ml of white wine or black tea with a Swiss cheese fondue. Ninety minutes later, the participants were randomly given a further drink - either 20ml of cherry liqueur or water. They then all had breath tests to assess how the alcohol affected their digestive system.

The results showed digestion was much slower in the group which drank alcohol with their fondue. And those who drank the most alcohol (the wine and liqueur) had the slowest digestion overall.

Source - Daily Mail

Many asthma sufferers 'have garden MOULD growing on their lungs'

A common garden mould that causes an allergic reaction in asthmatics actually grows in many sufferers' lungs, scientists have found.

The discovery was made during research into the impact of the mould Aspergillus fumigates on asthmatics. The funghi is usually found in soil and compost heaps.

The research was led University of Leicester scientists at Glenfield Hospital in Leicester.

Source - Daily Mail

Why the white stuff IS the right stuff. Drinking milk 'lowers heart disease risk'

Shoppers have long been urged to 'make mine milk' by UK dairy producers - now scientists have revealed another reason why they should.

Researchers from Harvard and Wageningen University found drinking three glasses of milk could lower the risk of heart disease by 18 per cent.

The finding was highlighted in a paper that examined 17 studies from Europe, the U.S and Japan. The research also found no link between tucking into low-fat dairy foods and any increased risk of stroke or early death. It highlighted a study of more than 20,000 men in the American Journal of Epidemiology, which found increasing levels of calcium above recommended levels could actually reduce the risk of mortality from cancer by 25 per cent.

Source - Daily Mail

Complementary Medicine Use for Skin Disorders Has Risen

Complementary and alternative medicine use is high among people with skin disorders and has increased in this group, according to a report in the December issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.

Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) use is high among people with skin disorders and has increased in this group, according to a report in the December issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.

Tracy Fuhrmann, of the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry in New York, and colleagues used the alternative health supplement from the 2007 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) to update the prevalence of CAM use among people with skin disorders. The survey included data from a total of 23,393 completed interviews, with 2,374 respondents reporting skin problems. The researchers compared these results to data from the 2002 NHIS alternative health supplement.

Source - Doctors Lounge

Understanding spiritual healing - and dispelling the myths

We all have energy flows within ourselves which, when blocked, can result in physical symptoms. Through Spiritual Healing the mind, body and spirit are accessed, negative energy and physical and emotional blocks are released and all the energy systems of the body are balanced. And through this, good health can be restored.

Spiritual Healers have different gifts but broadly we link with the healing energy that exists and direct it to the patient. My own gift involves channelling; this is a very powerful form of healing and works in a natural intuitive way.

Spiritual Healing is for everyone, however young or old. Animals too!

I have helped patients with bereavement, family break-up, rejection, stress and self-acceptance. I also work on the physical and, for example, have worked with a gardener whose painful foot was making it difficult for him to walk and released the back problems of a client who came to me with emotional problems.

Source - Mature Times

Green tea: a delight to drink - and it's good for you

Scientific research in the last few years – printed in some very august publications - depicts Green Tea as one of those “wonder foods” that can improve our resistance to everything from Alzheimer’s and cancer to cardiovascular disease and obesity.

Japan and China, where the incidence of all those conditions is markedly lower than in Western society, have been big drinkers of the stuff for many hundreds of years. Green Tea is also, speaking from personal experience, a really refreshing drink – and, with no need for milk or sugar, not one to detrimentally affect your waistline either. No wonder huge numbers of us in the West are making the switch from other beverages.

Source - Mature Times

Pomegranate juice 'could slow the spread of cancer'

Pomegranate juice could slow the spread of cancer, research suggests.

Scientists have found components in the juice which stop the movement of cancer cells, and weaken their attraction to chemical signals which cause them to spread. They found that particular ingredients in the juice - such as fatty acids - slowed the spread of the disease from prostate cancer to the bone.

The team from the University of California hope the fruit will have a similar effect on other cancers.

Previous research that claimed pomegranate juice could slow the disease was controversial as the UCLA researchers did not define the biological mechanism behind the the effects.

Source - Daily Mail

Salvia: more powerful than LSD, and legal

Salvia divinorum - aka the 'YouTube drug' - is banned in many countries around the world, but not in Britain. Is it as harmless as its users claim?

In a cluttered living room in south London, Lee Hogan, a sound engineer and part-time disc jockey, perches on the edge of a cheap leather armchair and bends his head towards a glass water pipe. A friend, kneeling on the floor, holds the stem of the pipe and uses a cigarette lighter to burn a tea-smelling herb. The herb glows red, and as it does so, Hogan places his mouth over the aperture of the pipe (better known as a 'bong' to those in the know). He breathes in deeply, taking a lung-full of smoke.

Source - Telegraph

Upping your coffee intake 'doubles the risk of a stroke'

Drinking more coffee than usual could double your risk of a stroke, according to a study.

Light coffee drinkers who normally have no more than one a day are twice as likely to suffer a blood clot on the brain if they increase that by an extra cup or two, it found.

The risk of a potentially fatal stroke was greatest in the hour following consumption. After two hours, the coffee’s effects had worn off and the risk of a stroke passed.

But the danger lies in occasional exposure to relatively higher caffeine levels, the findings in the journal Neurology said – making light coffee drinkers more susceptible.

Source - Daily Mail

Why honey is a sweet thing for stiff joints, colds and gum disease

Two thousand years ago, Greek athletes stuffed themselves with honey during training for the great Olympiad, aware that it could boost their energy and performance levels, writes Gloria Havenhand.

Honey contains glucose and fructose, which produce tremendous reserves of glycogen in the liver. The all-important consideration in any feat of endurance is to maintain blood-sugar levels because those with the best stores of glycogen and blood sugar will always emerge from such tests of endurance and races against time as the least exhausted and last to be fatigued.

A teaspoon of honey has 22 calories, whereas the same amount of sugar has 15. But honey is much more valuable and refuels the brain within minutes because it is almost equal parts glucose and fructose. Having a spoonful of unprocessed honey before bed can support your brain function.

Source - Daily Mail

Vitamin D and plenty of sun give a ray of hope in the breast cancer fight

A diet packed with Vitamin D combined with high levels of sunlight could reduce the risk of breast cancer in women by 43 per cent.

A new study of 70,000 women conducted over ten years revealed that a diet high in Vitamin D had no effect on its own. One theory is that consuming a diet rich in Vitamin D makes a difference only when there is already a sufficient amount produced from sun exposure. Therefore, when sun exposure is low, diet intake does not make any difference to risk of disease.

However, the study concludes that an increase in overall Vitamin D intake should be encouraged, including fortifying foods with it - a practice already under way in America. Laboratory studies have suggested that Vitamin D may have a number of anti-cancer effects and has been shown to slow the spread of cancer cells.

Researchers at the Centre for Research in Epidemiology and Population Health in France tracked 67,721 women aged 41 to 72 for a decade to see who developed breast cancer. Their diets and ultraviolet levels where they lived were then analysed to calculate the risks. At the end of the ten-year period 2,871 breast cancers had been diagnosed.

Source - Daily Mail

Whole grain foods reduce blood pressure, scientists say

Eating whole grain foods can significantly reduce blood pressure, according to scientists.

The University of Aberdeen team said foods such as wholemeal cereal, porridge, bread and oatcakes could have major health benefits. More than 200 volunteers took part in the study. Dr Frank Thies, who led the research, said the findings could be seen as especially good news for Scottish food producers.

The volunteers in the study received three servings every day of whole grain foods. The whole grain diets were compared with one that contained the same amounts of refined cereals and white bread.

Dr Thies, a senior lecturer at the Rowett Institute of Nutrition and Health, said volunteers eating wholegrain had a drop in blood pressure similar to that expected from blood pressure-lowering drugs.

Source - BBC

Ventilator patients helped by music says study

Playing music to hospital patients on ventilators helps them to breathe more easily, findings show.

Experts at the Cochrane Library say music could be better than drugs to calm patients during forced ventilation.

In studies involving more than 200 intensive care patients, listening to music reduced anxiety and helped slow patients' breathing rates. More work is planned to determine if the type of music played is important.

On tempo

In most trials doctors had plumped for classical music, such as Mozart's piano sonatas, or easy listening. But it may be that for some patients other genres would work just as well, if not better.

Source - BBC

Thinking about food makes you want it less

Dieters could help themselves to lose weight by thinking about food, according to a new study.

A small-scale study in Science showed that people who had imagined they were eating chocolate wanted it less than those who had not been thinking of it. The researchers said that imagining eating a favourite food could be a substitute for actually eating it, thereby reducing the desire for it. A psychologist said this might not work for those with strong cravings.

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University in Pennsylvania divided 51 people into three groups. One group imagined eating 30 M&M chocolates, the second group imagined eating three M&Ms, while the third group did not imagine eating any.

When a bowl of the sweets was subsequently presented to the group, those that had thought most about eating the chocolates ate the fewest.

Source - BBC

Therapy shows us life is not neat or safe. So why judge it by those criteria?

A proposed regulation of talking therapies would impose market values on a practice that aims to free us from such judgments

When Freud arrived in London in 1938, he praised the generosity and open-mindedness of a culture that had offered him – and psychoanalysis – a home. Yet now, some 70 years later, analysts and therapists have been forced to take legal action in order to preserve the ethos of the discipline he founded.

The high court will tomorrow hear the judicial review claim made by six organisations against the . They are concerned that, under HPC proposals for the regulation of talking therapies, it may no longer be possible to go into therapy, practise therapy or train therapists as before.

Therapy occupies a unique space in the modern world. In a culture obsessed with surface and statistics, it allows the detail and narrative of a human life to be explored. Where society tells us what to be, therapy allows us to reflect critically on the imperatives that shape us. Challenging received notions of wellbeing and happiness, we can try to find out what is really important to us, often with life-changing consequences. It offers a system of values freed from the moral judgments of social authorities.

Until now, prospective patients have been able to choose the therapist they wish to work with. Under HPC, this will no longer be the case. Only approved psychotherapists will be able to practise, and approval means fitting into a framework that is at odds with the basic values of psychotherapy.

Source - Guardian

Starfish could provide non-sticky cure for asthma and arthritis

Starfish may soon provide an unlikely treatment for inflammatory conditions such as asthma and arthritis, according to marine scientists.

A team from the Scottish Association for Marine Science have been studying the slimy substance that coats the spiny starfish. They found the slippery material was 'better than Teflon' at stopping debris from sticking to the creature that sits on the ocean floor, thus keeping it clean.

The researchers believe this non-stick property could provide a vital new weapon against inflammatory illness. These conditions are caused when the body's natural response to infections accelerates out of control. Infection-fighting white blood cells begin to build up in the blood vessels and stick to the sides, which can cause tissue damage.

Source - Daily Mail

To erase a bad memory, first become a child

IT ADDS new meaning to getting in touch with your inner child. Temporarily returning the brain to a child-like state could help permanently erase a specific traumatic memory. This could help people with post traumatic stress disorder and phobias.

At the Society of Neuroscience conference in San Diego last month researchers outlined the ways in which they have managed to extinguish basic fear memories.

Most methods rely on a behavioural therapy called extinction, in which physicians repeatedly deliver threatening cues in safe environments in the hope of removing fearful associations. While this can alleviate symptoms, in adults the original fear memory still remains. This means it can potentially be revived in the future.

A clue to permanent erasure comes from research in infant mice. With them, extinction therapy completely erases the fear memory, which cannot be retrieved. Identifying the relevant brain changes in rodents between early infancy and the juvenile stage may help researchers recreate aspects of the child-like system and induce relapse-free erasure in people.

Source - New Scientist

Mobiles warning for mums-to-be: Using phone while pregnant 'can lead to behavioural problems in children'

Pregnant women who regularly use mobile phones could increase the risk of their children behaving badly, claims a startling survey.

If their offspring then start using the devices at an early age, the chance of problems climbs to 50 per cent, according to researchers.

They found those exposed to mobile phones in the womb had a 30 per cent rise in behavioural difficulties at the age of seven. But those exposed before birth and in their childhood, were 50 per cent more likely to have behavioural problems than those exposed to neither.

Children who used mobiles, but were not exposed in the womb, were 20 per cent more likely to display abnormal behaviour.

Remember to eat your purples: Fruit can 'ward off Alzheimer's, heart problems and cancer'

Eating purple coloured fruit can ward off age-related diseases such as Alzheimer’s, heart problems and cancer, scientists believe.

The odds of developing multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease may also be reduced by consuming blueberries, blackberries, blackcurrants or plums, according to a study by the University of Manchester.

Researchers say one or two of the recommended five daily portions of fruit and vegetable should be purple fruit. It is thought that a compound in purple fruit helps fight the harmful effects of iron, which can damage cells if it makes its way through the digestive system in the wrong form.

Although we are often told of the healthy effects of the mineral, benefits are only felt if it reacts with other compounds in the body. Iron that does not react can prove poisonous to tissue.

Source - Daily Mail

The pill for almost every ill: aspirin cuts risk of cancers

It is not yet a panacea for all ills, but it is getting close. Yesterday, researchers announced the first proof that aspirin can cut the risk of a range of cancers by up to 50 per cent.

It is already taken by millions to protect against heart attacks and strokes and has an established role in preventing diabetes, dementia, pregnancy complications and pain. Scientists stopped short of recommending it be added to the water supply but declared it was "the most amazing drug".

The latest positive findings on cancer had shifted the balance in favour of mass medication of the population, but it was still too soon to recommend everyone take it, they said.

Source - Independent

Vitamin D, the cure-all supplement that could be bad for your health

It is called "bottled sunshine" and claimed to be one of the most effective health supplements on the market. Scores of studies have suggested that it protects against heart disease, cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, schizophrenia and multiple sclerosis, and a growing number of doctors have recommended it to their patients.

But vitamin D, it turns out, has been oversold. After reviewing more than 1,000 research papers, the authoritative Institute of Medicine in the US has concluded that the high levels often recommended are unnecessary and could even be harmful.

Over recent years the idea that everyone needs extra vitamin D has swept countries on both sides of the Atlantic as scientists and doctors, convinced by the growing body of evidence of the nutrient's role in a range of diseases, have advocated supplements.

Source - Independent