The role of enzyme supplementation in digestive disorders.

March 18, 2011 by  
Filed under All, Herbs, Natural Healthcare, Science

Bromelain has many wonderful uses.  The following information shows its usefulness as a safe and effective digestive aide.

This article reviews various forms of enzyme supplementation used clinically in digestive and absorption disorders. Enzyme supplementation plays an integral role in the management of various digestive disorders, particularly with regard to exocrine pancreatic insufficiency. However, application of enzymes may also be beneficial for other conditions associated with poor digestion including lactose intolerance. Historically, porcine and bovine pancreatic enzymes have been the preferred form of supplementation for exocrine pancreatic insufficiency. Use of microbe-derived lipase has shown promise with studies indicating benefit similar to pancreatic enzymes, but at a lower dosage concentration and with a broader pH range. Safety and efficacy of enzymes derived from microbial species in the treatment of conditions such as malabsorption and lactose intolerance is promising. Plant-based enzymes, such as bromelain from pineapple, serve as effective digestive aids in the breakdown of proteins. Synergistic effects have been observed using a combination of animal-based enzymes and microbe-derived enzymes or bromelain.

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Constituents of Ocimum sanctum with antistress activity.

March 8, 2011 by  
Filed under All, Herbs, Science

Holy Basil, Ocimum sanctum, has been used for thousands of years for its help with stress. 

Three new compounds, ocimumosides A (1) and B (2) and ocimarin (3), were isolated from an extract of the leaves of holy basil (Ocimum sanctum), together with eight known substances, apigenin, apigenin-7-O-beta-D-glucopyranoside, apigenin-7-O-beta-D-glucuronic acid ( 4), apigenin-7- O-beta- d-glucuronic acid 6”-methyl ester, luteolin-7-O-beta-D-glucuronic acid 6”-methyl ester, luteolin-7-O-beta-D-glucopyranoside, luteolin-5-O-beta-D-glucopyranoside, and 4-allyl-1-O-beta-D-glucopyronosyl-2-hydroxybenzene (5), and two known cerebrosides. The structures of the new compounds were determined on the basis of extensive 1D and 2D NMR spectroscopic analysis. The new compounds (1- 3) and the known compounds 4 and 5 were screened at a dose of 40 mg/kg body weight for acute stress-induced biochemical changes in male Sprague-Dawley rats. Compound 1 displayed promising antistress effects by normalizing hyperglycemia, plasma corticosterone, plasma creatine kinase, and adrenal hypertrophy. Compounds 2 and 5 were also effective in normalizing most of these stress parameters.

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The antiplaque efficacy of pomegranate mouthrinse.

February 24, 2011 by  
Filed under All, Herbs, Natural Healthcare, Science

We all know that pomegranate juice is a healthy drink.  The following shows another use for this wonderful plant.

OBJECTIVE: to evaluate the effect of a pomegranate-containing mouthrinse on plaque, determine whether it has any adverse effects, and evaluate its antibacterial properties against selected periodontopathogens in vitro.

METHOD AND MATERIALS: thirty periodontally healthy volunteers, randomly divided into three groups, refrained from all mechanical oral hygiene measures for 4 days and used one of the randomly assigned mouthrinses (A, pomegranate; B, chlorhexidine; or C, distilled water [placebo]) twice daily. The Plaque Index (PI) was assessed at days 0 and 5. Adverse effects were also evaluated. Pomegranate extract was tested against Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans (A.a.), Porphyromonas gingivalis (P.g.), and Prevotella intermedia (P.i.).

RESULTS: in all groups, the PI significantly increased from the baseline to day 5 (P < .1). The pomegranate mouthrinse created no adverse effects. There was a statistically significant difference (P < .05) between the chlorhexidine and placebo rinse and the pomegranate and placebo rinse, but no statistically significant difference was found between the chlorhexidine and pomegranate rinse with respect to the PI. Pomegranate extract showed inhibition of all three strains of periodontopathogens at various concentrations.

CONCLUSION: these results indicate that the pomegranate mouthrinse has an antiplaque effect. Pomegranate extract is efficacious against A.a., P.g., and P.i. strains in vitro. Pomegranate mouthrinse should be explored as a long-term antiplaque rinse with prophylactic benefits.

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St. John’s wort – an overview.

February 17, 2011 by  
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The following abstract gives clear information on the usefulness of St. John’s Wort with mild to moderate depression.

This article aims to summarize the current state of knowledge on St. John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum L.) which is one of the oldest and best investigated medicinal herbs. Dried alcoholic extracts are the most important preparations on the market although a variety of other preparations are available. Depressive disorders according to modern diagnostic standards are the best known and most widely investigated indication although the more traditional, broader indication of ‘psycho-vegetative disorders, depressive disorders, anxiety and/or nervous agitation’, including diagnoses such as somatoform disorders, might more adequately describe what Hypericum extracts are actually used for by many practitioners. The exact mechanisms of action are still unclear, but the available research clearly shows that various bioactive constituents contribute to the clinical effects reported, often in a synergistic manner. Hypericum extracts have consistently shown activity in pharmacological models related to antidepressant effects. Randomized clinical trials show that Hypericum extracts are more effective than placebo and similarly effective as standard antidepressants while having better tolerability in the acute treatment of major depressive episodes. The most important risk associated with Hypericum extracts are interactions with other drugs. Therefore, physicians need to be informed whether their patients take St. John’s wort products. If the risk of interactions is adequately taken into account, high quality Hypericum extracts are an effective and safe tool in the hand of qualified health profession-als in primary care

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Stevia (Stevia rebaudiana) a bio-sweetener: a review.

February 3, 2011 by  
Filed under All, Herbs, Natural Healthcare, Science

If you are thinking of lowering your sugar intake you may want to consider using Stevia as a healthier alternative.

Studies revealed that Stevia has been used throughout the world since ancient times for various purposes; for example, as a sweetener and a medicine. We conducted a systematic literature review to summarize and quantify the past and current evidence for Stevia. We searched relevant papers up to 2007 in various databases. As we know that the leaves of Stevia plants have functional and sensory properties superior to those of many other high-potency sweeteners, Stevia is likely to become a major source of high-potency sweetener for the growing natural food market in the future. Although Stevia can be helpful to anyone, there are certain groups who are more likely to benefit from its remarkable sweetening potential. These include diabetic patients, those interested in decreasing caloric intake, and children. Stevia is a small perennial shrub that has been used for centuries as a bio-sweetener and for other medicinal uses such as to lower blood sugar. Its white crystalline compound (stevioside) is the natural herbal sweetener with no calories and is over 100-300 times sweeter than table sugar.

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Prospective cohort trial of Euphrasia single-dose eye drops in conjunctivitis.

January 22, 2011 by  
Filed under All, Herbs, Natural Healthcare, Science

Eyebright Euphrasia, has long been used as an effective treatment of  conjunctivitis.  The following study shows how well the eye drops of this herb work for this condition.

INTRODUCTION: Eye drops made from Euphrasia rostkoviana Hayne have been used in anthroposophical medicine for more than 70 years for the structuring of the fluid organism in the eye, especially in inflammatory and catarrhal conjunctivitis. The aim of this prospective cohort trial was to describe the efficacy and tolerability of these eye drops in a community-based setting. To evaluate these questions, prospective cohort studies are the best method. This enables the investigator to attain real insights as to which treatment administered related to specific results in a specific group of patients.

DESIGN: Prospective, open label, one-armed, multicentered, multinational cohort trial.

SETTING: The trial was carried out in the clinics of 12 experienced anthroposophical general practitioners and ophthalmologists in Germany and Switzerland.

PATIENTS: Patients with inflammatory or catarrhal conjunctivitis, treated with Euphrasia single-dose eye drops were included in the trial.

INTERVENTION: One drop of Euphrasia single-dose eye drops 1-5 times a day was prescribed. The prescription was determined solely by medical therapeutic needs.

OUTCOME MEASURES: Efficacy variables were: redness, swelling, secretion, burning of the conjunctiva, and foreign body sensation. Tolerability variables were: conjunctival reddening, burning of the conjunctiva, foreign body sensation, and veiled vision. All symptoms were given for the right or left eye separately, with degree of severity in relation to baseline after approximately 7 days (+/-3 days; first follow-up examination) and after approximately 14 days (+/-3 days; second follow-up examination). If, after the first follow-up, all symptoms had disappeared, no second follow-up was done.

RESULTS: Sixty-five (65) patients fulfilled the inclusion criteria for the protocol evaluation. A complete recovery was seen in 53 patients (81.5%) and a clear improvement in 11 patients (17.0%). A slight worsening could only be determined in 1 patient in the second week of treatment (1.5%). No serious adverse events were observed during the entire trial. The efficacy and tolerability were evaluated by the patients and doctors as “good” to “very good” in more than 85%.

CONCLUSION: Euphrasia single-dose eye drops can effectively and safely be used for various conjunctival conditions by general practitioners and ophthalmologists. A dosage of one drop three times a day seems to be the general prescribed dosage.

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Immune modulation of macrophage pro-inflammatory response by goldenseal and Astragalus extracts.

January 6, 2011 by  
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Goldenseal and Astragalus are two very useful herbs for the immune system.  The following article show their effectiveness at the first sign of infection.

Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadenisis) is a native American medicinal plant used as an immune stimulant. Astragalus (Astragalus membranaceus) is a widely used herbal product in China, other Asian countries, and the United States as an immune stimulant to be taken on first clinical signs of infection. In this study, the innate effects of goldenseal and Astragalus on pro-inflammatory cytokines produced by cultured macrophages were examined using two different commercial preparations of goldenseal and Astragalus. Both goldenseal and Astragalus were found to exhibit little to no direct effect on stimulation of mouse macrophages (J774A.1 cells), with only Astragalus able to affect production of tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha when used in high concentrations. However, both goldenseal and Astragalus were able to modify responses from lipopolysaccharide-stimulated macrophages, with identified immunomodulatory effects to reduce production of TNF-alpha, interleukin (IL)-6, IL-10, and IL-12 in a dose-dependent manner. The results obtained indicate that both goldenseal and Astragalus exhibit abilities to modulate macrophage responses during stimulation. Therefore, it is hypothesized that their historical use as therapeutic agents may be due to reduction in the pro-inflammatory response that indirectly leads to limiting of clinical symptoms during infection. Both products differ in their immune stimulatory patterns, offering insight into differential use and therapeutic potential of these products to regulate macrophage immune responses and activation events.

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Allicin induces apoptosis in gastric cancer cells through activation of both extrinsic and intrinsic pathways.

December 13, 2010 by  
Filed under All, Herbs, Natural Healthcare, Science

Garlic has many wonderful properties to help maintain our health.  The following article shows yet another possible health benefit of this useful herb.

Allicin is an active compound derived from garlic that has been shown to have antitumor properties in vitro. The current study was designed to explore the effects and the underlying mechanism of allicin on gastric cancer cells. The MTT assay was used to detect cell viability. Transmission electron microscopy, Rh123 and propidium iodide staining, annexin V/FITC assay and the mitochondrial membrane potential were used to assess for the presence of apoptosis. Immunocytochemistry, western blot analysis, and Q-RT-PCR were used to detect gene expression. We found that allicin reduced cell viability in a dose- and time-dependent manner, partly through induction of apoptosis in gastric cancer cells. At the molecular level, allicin induced cytochrome c release from the mitochondria and increased caspase-3, -8, and -9 activation, with concomitant upregulation of bax and fas expression in the tumor cells. Allicin treatment inhibited proliferation and induced apoptosis in SGC-7901 cancer cells. Both intrinsic mitochondrial and extrinsic Fas/FasL-mediated pathways of apoptosis occur simultaneously in SGC-7901 cells following allicin treatment. Data from the current study demonstrated that allicin should be further investigated as a novel cancer preventive or therapeutic agent in control of gastric cancer, with potential uses in other tumor types.

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An examination of antibacterial and antifungal properties of constituents of Shiitake (Lentinula edodes) and oyster (Pleurotus ostreatus) mushrooms.

December 3, 2010 by  
Filed under All, Herbs, Natural Healthcare, Science

Shitake mushrooms have long been known for their medicinal and health value.  The following is an excellent article on the antimicrobial effects of this useful mushroom. 

BACKGROUND: Antibiotic agents have been in widespread and largely effective therapeutic use since their discovery in the 20th century. However, the emergence of multi-drug resistant pathogens now presents an increasing global challenge to both human and veterinary medicine. It is now widely acknowledged that there is a need to develop novel antimicrobial agents to minimize the threat of further antimicrobial resistance. With this in mind, a study was undertaken to examine the antimicrobial properties of aqueous extracts of ‘exotic’ Shiitake and Oyster mushrooms on a range of environmental and clinically important microorganisms.

METHOD: Several batches of Shiitake and oyster mushrooms were purchased fresh from a local supermarket and underwent aqueous extraction of potential antimicrobial components. After reconstitution, aqueous extracts were tested qualitatively against a panel of 29 bacterial and 10 fungal pathogens, for the demonstration of microbial inhibition.

RESULTS: Our data quantitatively showed that Shiitake mushroom extract had extensive antimicrobial activity against 85% of the organisms it was tested on, including 50% of the yeast and mould species in the trial. This compared favourably with the results from both the Positive control (Ciprofloxacin) and Oyster mushroom, in terms of the number of species inhibited by the activity of the metabolite(s) inherent to the Shiitake mushroom.

CONCLUSIONS: This small scale study shows the potential antimicrobial effects of Shitake extracts, however further work to isolate and identify the active compound(s) now requires to be undertaken. Once these have been identified, suitable pharmaceutical delivery systems should be explored to allow concentrated extracts to be prepared and delivered optimally, rather than crude ingestion of raw material, which could promote further bacterial resistance.

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Benefits versus risks associated with consumption of fish and other seafood.

November 19, 2010 by  
Filed under All, Herbs, Natural Healthcare, Science

The following article explores the benefits and risks of consuming fish.

Fish provide nutrition for much of the world’s population, and when not contaminated with chemicals, fish is a very good food. A major benefit of fish is that they are high in polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), low in saturated fat, and they contain other critical nutrients. Much of the benefit of fish consumption derives from their high levels of long chain omega-3 PUFAs, which are produced by aquatic microorganisms and bioconcentrate in the aquatic food supply. The PUFAs are essential, in that humans and other vertebrates are not able to synthesize them and therefore must obtain them from the diet. The PUFAs particularly concentrate in the nervous system, alter immune system function reduce serum triglyceride levels and have been reported to reduce the risk of sudden death after a myocardial infarction. But the problem is that most fish have at least some degree of chemical contamination with methylmercury, (which binds to muscle) and/or with persistent organic pollutants such as dioxins, polychlorinated biphenyls, polybrominated diphenyl ethers, chlorinated pesticides (which concentrate in fish fat). These chemicals have adverse effects on nervous system function, modulate the immune system, and are associated with elevations in risk of cardiovascular disease. Thus the question of benefits and risk from fish consumption is complex but very important.

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