20th May 2011

Bitter Cumin seeds – a proven source of antioxidants protect DNA from damage.

Free Radicals, (Reactive Oxygen Species or ROS), are created during our normal metabolic processes necessary for life. Overproduction or under-removal of these free radicals causes Oxidative Stress which is itself involved in a number of disorders, including, inflammation, cancer, atherosclerosis, neural degenerative disease and ageing. Antioxidants mop up many of these free radicals, reducing oxidative stress, and preventing disease.

Researchers from Mysore, India, have used biochemical and biological techniques to show that seeds from bitter cumin (Centratherum anthelminticum), a member of the daisy family, are a rich source of phenolic antioxidants. “Bitter cumin extracts were strong antioxidants in the free radical scavenging systems tested. The extracts were also strong electron donors and hence reducing agents, another marker of antioxidation. In biological tests bitter cumin inhibited the oxidation of liposomes (used as a model for cell membrane oxidation) and offered protection against DNA damage.” Dr Naidu said, “The amount of plant phenols extracted and the antioxidant activity of bitter cumin depended on the method used. Nevertheless the antioxidant activity of bitter cumin correlated with total phenol content so it may well be that an array of phenolic compounds within bitter cumin seeds are responsible for the antioxidant activity seen.”

“Antioxidant potential of bitter cumin (Centratherum anthelminticum (L.) Kuntze) seeds in in vitro models”
V Ani and Kamatham A Naidu

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14th May 2011

Telomeres – Protect your DNA but also show your Real Age.

Telomeres are back in the news again, with a soon to be released publicly available test which will report your Telomere length as a ratio to your real age, crudely this could indicate your future life span.

Here’s how it works:
Telomeres are portions of DNA on the ends of your chromosomes that act as a cap for your genetic material. They are critical to the wellbeing of the cell because during cell division/reproduction (mitosis) they are protective buffers and prevent the chromosome ends becoming attached to each other or breaking up (chromosomal fraying).

Each time a cell replicates, it’s telomere shortens, eventually causing cell death when the telomere is reduced below a critical length. Human telomeres lose approximately 100 base pairs of their telomeric DNA during each cell division (mitosis), at this rate, after about 125 mitotic divisions the telomere protection would fail, causing cell death at the next division. which is why normal cells will eventually die after healthy division. Shorter telomeres imply a shorter future for a cell, effectively giving it a finite lifespan, dependant on the number of cell divisions remaining within it’s telomeres.

Cells can improve the length of their telomeres with the enzyme telomerase, which adds genetic material at the end of the telomeric DNA strand, thereby increasing the number of times it can replicate, which ultimately prolongs the life of the cell. Telomerase is not active in most cells, but is active in stem cells, germ cells, hair follicles and most cancer cells.

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23rd February 2010

Red Wine Fights Tooth Decay.

Red wine might stain your teeth but recent research shows it can protect them from decay. Italian scientists have shown that red wine makes it difficult for harmful bacteria to cling to teeth, and in a statement on the UK’s National Health Service site, concluded that the prevention of tooth decay “may be another beneficial effect of the moderate consumption of red wine.” The bacteria responsible for most dental decay is streptococcus mutans, it causes the damage by sticking to tooth enamel and living off sugar. Once the streptococcus mutans bacterium takes hold, it triggers demineralization of enamel allowing acid erosion to create pits.

Following the lead of scientists in USA who discovered last year that chemicals in the skins and seeds of wine grapes blocked the ability of bacteria to bind with tooth enamel, researchers at Italy’s Pavia University conducted experiments using red wine. To rule out any effect of alcohol on the research, they used an Italian wine with all its alcohol removed and found that it had the same effect of making it difficult for bacteria to attach themselves and also prevented them from forming a layer of biofilm on teeth.

The active protective ingredient is a group of compounds found mainly in grape skins called proanthocyanidins, which are high in antioxidants. Scientists are now investigating the possibility of extracting the compounds and using them as a form of treatment on their own.

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22nd January 2010

Blueberries shown to Improve Memory in pre-dementia patients.

Blueberry juice in the morning may give a boost to your memory. (preliminary research only)

New research shows that drinking a daily dose of Blueberry Juice improved the memory of older adults with age-related memory problems. It is the first study to show the possible benefit of Blueberries in improving memory in older adults at risk of dementia.

“The findings of this preliminary study suggest that moderate-term blueberry supplementation can confer neurocognitive benefit,” write researcher Robert Krikorian, of the University of Cincinnati Academic Health Center, and colleagues in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

Blueberries contain a wealth of phytochemicals that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, also, research in animals has shown that the anthocyanins (polyphenols) found in blueberries, have been shown to increase signaling in brain centers associated with memory and improve how the brain gets rid of glucose, all of which may help slow memory decline.

In the study, researchers looked at the effects of drinking blueberry juice on memory decline in nine adults in their 70s who were experiencing problems such as memory lapses and age-related memory decline. The subjects drank about two and a half cups of blueberry juice each day, made from commercially available frozen wild blueberries for 12 weeks. A comparison group of seven older adults drank a similar amount of placebo non-juice beverage for the same time period.
Memory tests were conducted by the researchers such as word association and list learning and recall tasks, at the beginning and end of the study.

Results showed the group that drank blueberry juice showed significant improvement on learning and memory tests compared to the placebo group.
The researchers said there were also trends suggesting reduced symptoms of depression and lower glucose levels among the blueberry juice drinkers, but further research will be needed to confirm these results.

Try this short (15 mins) cognitive function & memory test (free, confidential and results given at end of test)
Cognitive Function & Memory Test

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30th December 2009

Chinese ‘herbal’ mushroom Cordyceps fights Cancer

Scientists have discovered how a possible anti-cancer drug, earlier (1950) discovered in a wild asian mushroom, Cordyceps, works.
Researchers at the University of Nottingham believe their work could help make the drug more effective, and useful for treating a wider range of cancers.

Cordyceps parasitic mushroom on a catapillar pupa. cordyceps fights cancer.

Cordyceps parasitic mushroom on a catapillar pupa.

The extracted active ingredient named Cordycepin, commonly used in Chinese medicine, degrades rapidly in the human body, it has been given with another drug to combat this – but the second drug can produce side effects that limit its potential use.

As a result, the researchers turned their interest to other potential candidate drugs, and a study to understand how cordycepin works on the body’s cells.

It could lay the groundwork for the design of new cancer drugs that work on the same principle

“It will be possible to predict what types of cancers might be sensitive and what other cancer drugs it may effectively combine with.

“It could also lay the groundwork for the design of new cancer drugs that work on the same principle.”

The researchers have also developed a method to test how effective the drug is in new preparations, and combinations with other drugs, which might solve the problem of degradation more satisfactorily.

Dr De Moor said: “This is a great advantage as it will allow us to rule out any non-runners before anyone considers testing them in animals.”

The researchers have also developed a method to test how effective the drug is in new preparations, and combinations with other drugs, which might solve the problem of degradation more satisfactorily.

Dr De Moor said: “This is a great advantage as it will allow us to rule out any non-runners before anyone considers testing them in animals.”

The Nottingham team observed two effects on the cells – at a low dose cordycepin inhibits the uncontrolled growth and division of the cells, and at high doses it stops cells from sticking together, which also inhibits growth.

Both of these effects probably have the same underlying mechanism – that cordycepin interferes with how cells make proteins.

At low doses cordycepin interferes with the production of mRNA, the molecule that gives instructions on how to assemble a protein.

And at higher doses it has a direct impact on the making of proteins.

Professor Janet Allen is director of research at the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, which funded the study.

She said: “This project shows that we can always return to asking questions about the fundamental biology of something in order to refine the solution or resolve unanswered questions. The knowledge generated by this research demonstrates the mechanisms of drug action and could have an impact on one of the most important challenges to health

Professor Janet Allen
Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council

“The knowledge generated by this research demonstrates the mechanisms of drug action and could have an impact on one of the most important challenges to health.”

Yet again, the Healing Powers of the flora & fauna in the world around us comes to light for all to see. Chinese herbalists believed centuries ago that cordyceps fights cancer.

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14th November 2009

EU to sponsor Complementary & Alternative Medicine research

A project named CAMbrella will receive nearly 1.5 million euros of European Union funding over the next 3 years to establish a research network to study complementary & alternative medicine. CAMbrella is the name given to an umbrella of research projects in Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

The university hospital at the “Technische Universitaet Muenchen” will coordinate the project for the winning applicant group, which includes 16 scientific organizations from 12 European countries. The project will begin in January 2010.

“In complementary and alternative medicine there is a lack of sponsorship for research. Few governments in Europe have actively funded complementary & alternative medicine research, CAMbrella will play an important role to overcome this deficit,” say project leader Dr. Wolfgang Weidenhammer and Dr. Dieter Melchart.

The focus of CAMbrella is on building a network of European research institutes in complementary medicine and on fostering international cooperation. Several working groups will focus on patients’ needs, legal conditions for the implementation of naturopathic treatments, and the role of complementary and alternative medicine treatments in healthcare systems, as well as on questions of terminology and methodology. The objective is to develop a comprehensive view of the current status of complementary medicine in Europe that will serve as a starting point for future research activities. Eventually, the CAMbrella project will provide a list of recommendations.

The group consists of 16 scientific partners from 12 countries. An advisory board will facilitate collaboration among the various stakeholders in complementary and alternative medicine, including consumers, practitioners, clinical providers and manufacturers, and regulatory authorities.

The European Union announced sponsorship for work in the field of complementary medicine in 2008, in the context of its 7th framework program for research funding. Selection of research partners to receive the funding crowns the efforts of numerous European initiatives and organizations for complementary medicine supported by the Munich Center for Naturopathic Research.

Source: Eva Schuster

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22nd May 2009

Saffron could help poor eyesight

A new international study has found that the herb saffron may help protect vision and also reverse lost vision in conditions like Age related Macular Degeneration (AMD) and retinitis pigmentosa. The study led by Professor Silvia Bisti of the ARC Centre of Excellence in Vision at L’Aquila University in Italy, said saffron has major properties. These properties make vision cells tougher and more resilient by regulating the action of genes, which control the level of fatty acids in cell membranes. The researchers had earlier tested saffron in mice with successful results and have now tried the therapy on human subjects suffering from AMD. They report that saffron therapy successfully restored lost vision in these patients.

Prof Silvia Bisti said their next step is to identify the active ingredients in saffron, which possess these vision saving properties.

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20th May 2009

Turmeric may Help Keep Body Weight Under Control

Turmeric may help reduce weight and suppress the growth of fat tissue, according to a new study on mice.

Researchers at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University (USDA HNRCA) claim that curcumin, the major polyphenol found in turmeric, appears to cut weight gain in mice.
The research team studied mice fed a diet supplemented with curcumin and cell cultures incubated with curcumin.

“Weight gain is the result of the growth and expansion of fat tissue, which cannot happen unless new blood vessels form, a process known as angiogenesis.” said senior author Mohsen Meydani, DVM, PhD, director of the Vascular Biology Laboratory at the USDA HNRCA.

“Based on our data, curcumin appears to suppress angiogenic activity in the fat tissue of mice fed high fat diet the expert added.

Meydani continued, “It is important to note, we don’t know whether these results can be replicated in humans because, to our knowledge, no studies have been done.”

One of turmeric’s components is curcumin, a type of phytochemical known as a polyphenol. Research findings suggest that phytochemicals, which are the chemicals found in plants, appear to help prevent disease. As the bioactive component of turmeric, curcumin is readily absorbed for use by the body.

Meydani and colleagues studied mice fed high fat diets for 12 weeks. The high fat diet of one group was supplemented with 500 mg of curcumin/ kg diet; the other group consumed no curcumin. Both groups ate the same amount of food, indicating curcumin did not affect appetite, but mice fed the curcumin supplemented diet did not gain as much weight as mice that were not fed curcumin.

“Curcumin appeared to be responsible for total lower body fat in the group that received supplementation,” said Meydani, who is also a professor at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts.

“In those mice, we observed a suppression of microvessel density in fat tissue, a sign of less blood vessel growth and thus less expansion of fat. We also found lower blood cholesterol levels and fat in the liver of those mice. In general, angiogenesis and an accumulation of lipids in fat cells contribute to fat tissue growth,” the research added.

Writing in the May 2009 issue of the Journal of Nutrition, the authors note similar results in cell cultures. Additionally, curcumin appeared to interfere with expression of two genes, which contributed to angiogenesis progression in both cell and rodent models.


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16th May 2009

Study shows Ginseng is Anti-Inflammatory

Laboratory experiments have demonstrated the immunological effects of ginseng. Researchers writing in BioMed Central’s open access Journal of Translational Medicine have shown that the herb, much used in traditional Chinese and other Asian medicine, does have anti-inflammatory effects.

Allan Lau led a team of researchers from the University of Hong Kong who identified seven ginseng constituents, ginsenosides, which showed immune-suppressive effects. He said, “The anti-inflammatory role of ginseng may be due to the combined effects of these ginsenosides, targeting different levels of immunological activity, and so contributing to the diverse actions of ginseng in humans”.

The scientists treated human immune cells with different extracts of ginseng. They found that of the nine ginsenosides they identified, seven could selectively inhibit expression of the inflammatory gene CXCL-10.

Lau concludes, “Further studies will be needed to examine the potential beneficial effects of ginsenosides in the management of acute and chronic inflammatory diseases in humans”.

Uniquely, the researchers were able to holistically test the ginseng extract’s immune effects by using sophisticated purification technologies to identify individual constituents and define their bioactivity using genomics and bioactivity assays. After that, they reconstituted them back into a whole extract with definable individual ginsenosides for re-confirmation of effects. This potentially opens up a vigorous methodology to study medicinal herbs with state-of-the-art technologies.


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14th April 2008

Reishi Mushrooms fight prostate cancer tumours

Researchers at the University of Haifa; Israel, are using extract from the Reishi mushroom (Ganoderma lucidum; Lingzhi) to slow the progression of prostate cancer.

Reishi mushrooms have been used in traditional medicine in China and other Asian countries for thousands of years for the general promotion of health and long life and for the treatment of specific diseases.
   Reishi Mushrooms 

Now this research and other recent scientific studies have confirmed that Reishi mushroom (especially when combined with Green Tea) enhances the body’s immune functions and hold the potential for treatment and prevention of many types of cancer.

Chinese scientists have found that combining the active ingredients in the Reishi mushroom and Green Tea creates synergetic effects that inhibited the growth of tumors and delayed the time of death in mice with sarcomas.

Yan Zhang, a pharmacology researcher of Beijing, reported the results of two studies at the “Experimental Biology 2008” gathering (over 12000 biological and biomedical scientists attending) in San Diego on April 8. The presentation was part of the scientific program of the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics (ASPET).

Reishi mushrooms have always been rare & difficult to find, but today Reishi, like Green Tea polyphenols, are manufactured as an extract. Yan Zhang and her colleagues examined commercial products sold as ReishiMax and Tegreen.

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