Aromas of rosemary and lavender essential oils differentially affect cognition and mood in healthy adults.

May 26, 2010 by  
Filed under All, Herbs, Science

The following study indicates the use of Lavender and Rosemary essential oils to favorably effect cognitive performance as well as our moods.

This study was designed to assess the olfactory impact of the essential oils of lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) and rosemary (Rosmarlnus officinalis) on cognitive performance and mood in healthy volunteers. One hundred and forty-four participants were randomly assigned to one of three independent groups, and subsequently performed the Cognitive Drug Research (CDR) computerized cognitive assessment battery in a cubicle containing either one of the two odors or no odor (control). Visual analogue mood questionnaires were completed prior to exposure to the odor, and subsequently after completion of the test battery. The participants were deceived as to the genuine aim of the study until the completion of testing to prevent expectancy effects from possibly influencing the data. The outcome variables from the nine tasks that constitute the CDR core battery feed into six factors that represent different aspects of cognitive functioning. Analysis of performance revealed that lavender produced a significant decrement in performance of working memory, and impaired reaction times for both memory and attention based tasks compared to controls. In contrast, rosemary produced a significant enhancement of performance for overall quality of memory and secondary memory factors, but also produced an impairment of speed of memory compared to controls. With regard to mood, comparisons of the change in ratings from baseline to post-test revealed that following the completion of the cognitive assessment battery, both the control and lavender groups were significantly less alert than the rosemary condition; however, the control group was significantly less content than both rosemary and lavender conditions. These findings indicate that the olfactory properties of these essential oils can produce objective effects on cognitive performance, as well as subjective effects on mood.

review of antioxidants and Alzheimer’s disease.

May 21, 2010 by  
Filed under All, Herbs, Nutrients, Science, Top Stories

Included in the following article is interesting evidence that vitamins and herbs with antioxidant effects are not only helpful for our overall health but may be useful in the prevention of Alzheimer’s. 

BACKGROUND: In this article, we review a diverse body of research and draw conclusions about the usefulness, or lack there-of, of specific antioxidants in the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). METHODS: The National Library of Medicine’s database was searched for the years 1996-2004 using the search terms “Alzheimer’s, anti-oxidants, antioxidants.” RESULTS: Over 300 articles were identified and 187 articles were selected for inclusion based on relevance to the topic. Agents that show promise in helping prevent AD include: 1) aged garlic extract, 2) curcumin, 3) melatonin, 4) resveratrol, 5) Ginkgo biloba extract, 6) green tea, 7) vitamin C and 8) vitamin E. CONCLUSIONS: While the clinical value of antioxidants for the prevention of AD is often ambiguous, some can be recommended based upon: 1) epidemiological evidence, 2) known benefits for prevention of other maladies, and 3) benign nature of the substance. Long-term, prospective studies are recommended

Nettle extract (Urtica dioica) affects key receptors and enzymes associated with allergic rhinitis.

Spring is in the air and I am hearing many people complain of seasonal allergies.  Nettle extract can be a key component in your fight against seasonal allergies.   The article below explains how nettles works in the body against the  inflammatory response system.

A nettle (Urtica dioica) extract shows in vitro inhibition of several key inflammatory events that cause the symptoms of seasonal allergies. These include the antagonist and negative agonist activity against the Histamine-1 (H(1)) receptor and the inhibition of mast cell tryptase preventing degranulation and release of a host of pro-inflammatory mediators that cause the symptoms of hay fevers. The nettle extract also inhibits prostaglandin formation through inhibition of Cyclooxygenase-1 (COX-1), Cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2), and Hematopoietic Prostaglandin D(2) synthase (HPGDS), central enzymes in pro-inflammatory pathways. The IC(50) value for histamine receptor antagonist activity was 251 (+/-13) microg mL(-1) and for the histamine receptor negative agonist activity was 193 (+/-71) microg mL(-1). The IC(50) values for inhibition of mast cell tryptase was 172 (+/-28) microg mL(-1), for COX-1 was 160 (+/-47) microg mL(-1), for COX-2 was 275 (+/-9) microg mL(-1), and for HPGDS was 295 (+/-51) microg mL(-1). Through the use of DART TOF-MS, which yields exact masses and relative abundances of compounds present in complex mixtures, bioactives have been identified in nettle that contribute to the inhibition of pro-inflammatory pathways related to allergic rhinitis. These results provide for the first time, a mechanistic understanding of the role of nettle extracts in reducing allergic and other inflammatory responses in vitro. Copyright 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Phytother Res. 2009 Jul;23(7):920-6.

Taraxacum–a review on its phytochemical and pharmacological profile.

May 10, 2010 by  
Filed under Herbs, Nutrients, Science

Consider all of the medicinal qualities of the dandelion, outlined in this article, before trying to rid your yard of this wonderful plant.  Dandelion can be used in many ways and is particularly tasty as a food.  Dandelion fritters are a wonderful spring time addition to meals.

The genus Taraxacum is a member of the family Asteraceae, subfamily Cichorioideae, tribe Lactuceae and widely distributed in the warmer temperate zones of the Northern Hemisphere. The perennial weed has been known since ancient times for its curative properties and has been utilized for the treatment of various ailments such as dyspepsia, heartburn, spleen and liver complaints, hepatitis and anorexia. However, its use has mainly been based on empirical findings. This contribution provides a comprehensive review of the pharmacologically relevant compounds of Taraxacum characterized so far and of the studies supporting its use as a medicinal plant. Particular attention has been given to diuretic, choleretic, anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidative, anti-carcinogenic, analgesic, anti-hyperglycemic, anti-coagulatory and prebiotic effects. Finally, research needs such as quantification of individual Taraxacum constituents and assessment of their pharmacological activities in humans have briefly been outlined.