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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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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4th July 2008

Study: Spiritual benefits of Magic Mushroom (psilocybin) are long lasting.

A new study has revealed that the spiritual effects of magic mushrooms can last for many months.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University in Maryland found that the majority of 36 volunteers who took psilocybin in controlled conditions continued to feel the beneficial effects for more than a year afterwards.

“Most of the volunteers looked back on their experience up to 14 months later and rated it as the most, or one of the five most, personally meaningful and spiritually significant of their lives,” said Roland Griffiths, a professor in the department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and Neuroscience.

The first results of the clinical trial, aimed at uncovering the secrets of the “magic” mushrooms that have been used for religious or healing purposes in some cultures for centuries, were published in 2006.

Fourteen months after the trial, the 36 volunteers (all in good physical and mental health) were given the same questionnaire as well as some follow-up questions.

Results show that about the same proportion ranked their experience in the trial as one of the most personally meangingful or spiritually significant events of their lives.

“This is a truly remarkable finding,” said Griffiths, lead author of the study which appeared in the Journal of Psychopharmacology.

“Rarely in psychological research do we see such persistently positive reports from a single event in the laboratory.”

He said the results gave credence to claims that the mystical-type experiences some people had during hallucinogen sessions may help patients suffering from cancer-related anxiety or depression.

Psilocybin could also be used as a possible treatment for drug dependance, the professor said.

He said his team was “eager” to continue their research, adding that although some of the volunteers had reported fear and anxiety immediately after receiving psilocybin, “none reported any lingering harmful effects.”

However, the team warned against giving hallucinogens to people at risk of psychosis or other serious mental disorders, and said it was important that it be administered under controlled conditions.

Psilocybin is a plant alkaloid that affects some of the same brain receptors as serotonin, a neurotransmitter.


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28th June 2007

Echinacea works: The Lancet

Echinacea ‘can prevent a cold’ scientists at last admit.News has been released by The Lancet Medical Journal showing that Echinacea “decreases the risks of catching a cold by more than 50%.”

At last, scientific research confirms what every one in complimentary medicine always knew, that Echinacea is very effective in preventing an infection and that it speeds up the recovery time,” researchers, led by Dr Craig Coleman from the University of Connecticut School of Pharmacy even found that Echinacea taken together with vitamin C reduced the chances of getting a cold by 86%.”

So, how does Echinacea work?

“Echinacea works by interacting with the immune system increasing the number of white blood cells and improving the power of the white blood cells in their ability to find and destroy invading bacteria and viruses by about 30 to 40%.

Echinacea has powerful anti-viral properties because it stimulates the body cells to produce more interferon. This substance is essential for detecting and fighting viral infections.

Taking Echinacea strengthens out immune systems – it really works.

Professor Ronald Eccles of the University of Cardiff stated the work was “a significant step in the battle against the common cold”.

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