Eleuthero, the herb formerly known as Siberian Ginseng, is one of my favorites.
It always has been. This classic adaptogen has been researched historically for its effects in enhancing physical and mental performance, for reducing stress, for protecting the heart against ischemia, protecting against liver toxicity and stimulating the immune system. The latest research, however, is about its effects on diabetes, an effect that has apparently been linked to a natural constituents of the herb, syringin.
An article in Planta Medica explore the effect of syringin in diabetic rats. When syringin was ejected interventionists late, plasma glucose levels decreased in a dose dependent fashion. It also modulated the plasma glucose spike caused by glucose challenge testing. The authors conclude “The ability of syringin to enhance glucose utilization and lower plasma glucose level in rats suffering from insulin deficiency suggested that this chemical may be useful in the treatment of human diabetes.”
Planta Med. 2008 Feb;74(2):109-13. Epub 2008 Jan 17.
Hypoglycemic effect of syringin from Eleutherococcus senticosus in streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats. Niu HS, Liu IM, Cheng JT, Lin CL, Hsu FL. Graduate Institute of Pharmacognosy, College of Pharmacy, Taipei Medical University, Taipei, Taiwan
To further elucidate the action of this compound, and of this plant, the same authors published another article showing one mechanism of action, “enhancing the secretion of beta endorphins from adrenal medulla to stimulate peripheral micro-opioid receptors resulting in a decrease of plasma glucose in diabetic rats lacking insulin.”
Horm Metab Res. 2007 Dec;39(12):894-8. Increase of beta-endorphin secretion by syringin, an active principle of Eleutherococcus senticosus, to produce antihyperglycemic action in type 1-like diabetic rats. Niu HS, Hsu FL, Liu IM, Cheng JT.
This article gives important information on H5N1 and the value of herbal medicine in the treatment of this condition.
It is now accepted that an overwhelming inflammatory response is the cause of human deaths from avian H5N1 influenza infection. With this in mind we sought to examine the literature for examples of complementary and alternative medicines that reduce inflammation, and to place the results of this search in the context of our own work in a mouse model of influenza disease, using a pharmaceutical agent with anti-inflammatory properties. Two Chinese herbs, Angelica sinensis (Dang Gui) and Salvia miltiorrhiza (Danshen), have been recently shown to protect mice during lethal experimental sepsis via inhibition of the novel inflammatory cytokine High Mobility Group Box 1 protein (HMGB1). Biochanin A, a ligand of the peroxisome proliferator activated receptors (PPAR) alpha and gamma and the active isoflavone in Trifolium pratense (red clover), has anti-inflammatory properties, and thus could be used as an influenza treatment. This is of great interest since we have recently shown that gemfibrozil, a drug used to treat hyperlipidemia in humans and a synthetic ligand of PPAR alpha, significantly reduces the mortality associated with influenza infections in mice. The inflammation-modulating abilities of these natural agents should be considered in light of what is now known about the mechanisms of fatal influenza, and tested as potential candidates for influenza treatments in their own right, or as adjunct treatments to antivirals.
PMID: 19779008 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]
Effect of honey, dextromethorphan, and no treatment on nocturnal cough and sleep quality for coughing children and their parents.
Over the last few years there has been many warnings about the use of cough suppressants with children. Honey is a safe and effective way to help a child, over the age of one, with an upper respiratory infection especially during the night when a cough can worsen.
OBJECTIVES: To compare the effects of a single nocturnal dose of buckwheat honey or honey-flavored dextromethorphan (DM) with no treatment on nocturnal cough and sleep difficulty associated with childhood upper respiratory tract infections. DESIGN: A survey was administered to parents on 2 consecutive days, first on the day of presentation when no medication had been given the prior evening and then the next day when honey, honey-flavored DM, or no treatment had been given prior to bedtime according to a partially double-blinded randomization scheme. SETTING: A single, outpatient, general pediatric practice. PARTICIPANTS: One hundred five children aged 2 to 18 years with upper respiratory tract infections, nocturnal symptoms, and illness duration of 7 days or less. INTERVENTION: A single dose of buckwheat honey, honey-flavored DM, or no treatment administered 30 minutes prior to bedtime. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Cough frequency, cough severity, bothersome nature of cough, and child and parent sleep quality. RESULTS: Significant differences in symptom improvement were detected between treatment groups, with honey consistently scoring the best and no treatment scoring the worst. In paired comparisons, honey was significantly superior to no treatment for cough frequency and the combined score, but DM was not better than no treatment for any outcome. Comparison of honey with DM revealed no significant differences. CONCLUSIONS: In a comparison of honey, DM, and no treatment, parents rated honey most favorably for symptomatic relief of their child’s nocturnal cough and sleep difficulty due to upper respiratory tract infection. Honey may be a preferable treatment for the cough and sleep difficulty associated with childhood upper respiratory tract infection.
Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2007 Dec;161(12):1140-6.
The following review indicates the usefulness of the Ayurvedic herb Ashwagandha. It is a safe herb with many medicinal properties.
OBJECTIVE: The objective of this paper is to review the literature regarding Withania somnifera (ashwagandha, WS) a commonly used herb in Ayurvedic medicine. Specifically, the literature was reviewed for articles pertaining to chemical properties, therapeutic benefits, and toxicity. DESIGN: This review is in a narrative format and consists of all publications relevant to ashwagandha that were identified by the authors through a systematic search of major computerized medical databases; no statistical pooling of results or evaluation of the quality of the studies was performed due to the widely different methods employed by each study. RESULTS: Studies indicate ashwagandha possesses anti-inflammatory, antitumor, antistress, antioxidant, immunomodulatory, hemopoietic, and rejuvenating properties. It also appears to exert a positive influence on the endocrine, cardiopulmonary, and central nervous systems. The mechanisms of action for these properties are not fully understood. Toxicity studies reveal that ashwagandha appears to be a safe compound. CONCLUSION: Preliminary studies have found various constituents of ashwagandha exhibit a variety of therapeutic effects with little or no associated toxicity. These results are very encouraging and indicate this herb should be studied more extensively to confirm these results and reveal other potential therapeutic effects. Clinical trials using ashwagandha for a variety of conditions should also be conducted.