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.

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.

Formulations of dietary supplements and herbal extracts for relaxation and anxiolytic action: Relarian.

November 10, 2010 by  
Filed under All, Natural Healthcare, Science, Top Stories

Herbs can be very helpful with stress, sleep disturbances and anxiety.  The following article shows some of the herbs that may be considered for these symptoms.

Dietary supplements are widely used for desired effects on memory, insomnia, mood and anxiety. This review focuses on supplements which have anxiolytic or mild relaxation properties and enhance mood. For example, Kava (Piper methysticum) is reported to have anaxiolytic actions and to reduce tension through skeletal muscle relaxation. Dried passion flower (genus Passiflora) is reported to reduce insomnia and hysteria. Skullcap (genus Scutellaria), hops (Humulus lupulus), lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) and Valerian (Valeriana officinalis) root are all herbs reported as anaxiolytic calming agents. Further, extracts of Magnolia and Phellondendron bark are mild sedatives. Supplements such as gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), theanine, tryptophan and 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) are reported to promote relaxation. In general, these supplements appear to act as GABA receptor agonists or to boost GABA levels, although Kava inhibits both norephinephrine uptake and sodium and potassium channels and 5-HTP may act through elevation of serotonin. While questions remain in the literature regarding the medicinal value of these supplements in treating mood and anxiety disorders, based on cellular and animal studies as well as human clinical trials the literature supports a role for these preparations as useful alternatives in the management of the stress and anxiety of everyday life.

Elderberry flavonoids bind to and prevent H1N1 infection in vitro.

November 5, 2010 by  
Filed under All, Herbs, Natural Healthcare, Science, Top Stories

The following shows that Elderberry would be an excellent choice to use to strengthen the immune system in preparation for the coming cold and flu season.

A ionization technique in mass spectrometry called Direct Analysis in Real Time Mass Spectrometry (DART TOF-MS) coupled with a Direct Binding Assay was used to identify and characterize anti-viral components of an elderberry fruit (Sambucus nigra L.) extract without either derivatization or separation by standard chromatographic techniques. The elderberry extract inhibited Human Influenza A (H1N1) infection in vitro with an IC(50) value of 252+/-34 microg/mL. The Direct Binding Assay established that flavonoids from the elderberry extract bind to H1N1 virions and, when bound, block the ability of the viruses to infect host cells. Two compounds were identified, 5,7,3′,4′-tetra-O-methylquercetin (1) and 5,7-dihydroxy-4-oxo-2-(3,4,5-trihydroxyphenyl)chroman-3-yl-3,4,5-trihydroxycyclohexanecarboxylate (2), as H1N1-bound chemical species. Compound 1 and dihydromyricetin (3), the corresponding 3-hydroxyflavonone of 2, were synthesized and shown to inhibit H1N1 infection in vitro by binding to H1N1 virions, blocking host cell entry and/or recognition. Compound 1 gave an IC(50) of 0.13 microg/mL (0.36 microM) for H1N1 infection inhibition, while dihydromyricetin (3) achieved an IC(50) of 2.8 microg/mL (8.7 microM). The H1N1 inhibition activities of the elderberry flavonoids compare favorably to the known anti-influenza activities of Oseltamivir (Tamiflu; 0.32 microM) and Amantadine (27 microM).

Ginkgo biloba extract enhances glucose tolerance in hyperinsulinism-induced hepatic cells

September 28, 2010 by  
Filed under Herbs, Natural Healthcare, Science

Ginkgo biloba is a very useful and versitile herb.  The following shows its promise in helping the condition of diabetes.

Ginkgo biloba, an herbal medication, is capable of lowering glucose, fat, and lipid peroxide in diabetic patients. In the current study, we tested the hypothesis that Ginkgo biloba extract (GBE) prevented hyperinsulinism-induced glucose intolerance in hepatocytes. We investigated the effects of GBE on glucose consumption, glucokinase activity, and mRNA levels of key genes in glucose metabolism and the insulin signaling pathway. To better show its efficacy, we included a control group that was treated with rosiglitazone, a type of thiazolidinedione (TZD). The data indicated that GBE repressed glucose uptake under normal conditions, while it dramatically improved glucose tolerance under insulin-resistant conditions. Furthermore, after analyzing gene expression, we suggest that GBE chiefly exerts its effects by stimulating IRS-2 transcription. It should be noted that, unlike rosiglitazone, GBE did not stimulate excessive glucose uptake as it improved glucose tolerance. It is said that GBE treatment could avoid drug-induced obesity. Our data suggest that GBE has the potential to prevent insulin resistance and is a promising anti-diabetic drug.

Antioxidant and antifungal activity of Verbena officinalis L. leaves.

September 22, 2010 by  
Filed under All, Herbs, Natural Healthcare, Science

The following provides evidence that Verbena officinalis would be an excellent herb to use for skin conditions.

The scavenging activity against DPPH (1,1-diphenil-2-picrylhydrazyl) radical and the antifungal effect against chloroform, ethyl acetate and 50% methanolic extracts of Verbena officinalis leaves were investigated. The activity of different fractions of 50% methanolic extract and some isolated compounds were also investigated. The results suggest that 50% methanolic extract and caffeoyl derivatives could potentially be considered as excellent and readily available sources of natural antifungal and antioxidant compounds.

Cancer and metastasis: prevention and treatment by green tea.

September 14, 2010 by  
Filed under Herbs, Natural Healthcare, Science

The following study gives information of the positive effects of green tea in the prevention of cancer.

Metastasis is the most deadly aspect of cancer and results from several interconnected processes including cell proliferation, angiogenesis, cell adhesion, migration, and invasion into the surrounding tissue. The appearance of metastases in organs distant from the primary tumor is the most destructive feature of cancer. Metastasis remains the principal cause of the deaths of cancer patients despite decades of research aimed at restricting tumor growth. Therefore, inhibition of metastasis is one of the most important issues in cancer research. Several in vitro, in vivo, and epidemiological studies have reported that the consumption of green tea may decrease cancer risk. (-)-Epigallocatechin-3-gallate, major component of green tea, has been shown to inhibit tumor invasion and angiogenesis which are essential for tumor growth and metastasis. This article summarizes the effect of green tea and its major polyphenolic compounds on cancer and metastasis against most commonly diagnosed cancer sites.

Melissa officinalis oil affects infectivity of enveloped herpesviruses.

September 6, 2010 by  
Filed under All, Herbs, Natural Healthcare, Science

The following article shows the importance of lemon balm in the treatment of the herpes simplex virus, (HSV).

Extracts and essential oils of medicinal plants are increasingly of interest as novel drugs of antimicrobial and antiviral agents, since herpes simplex virus (HSV) might develop resistance to commonly used antiviral agents. Melissa officinalis essential oil was phytochemically examined by GC-MS analysis, its main constituents were identified as monoterpenaldehydes citral a, citral b and citronellal. The antiviral effect of lemon balm oil, the essential oil of Melissa officinalis, on herpes simplex virus was examined. The inhibitory activity against herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1)and herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2) was tested in vitro on monkey kidney cells using a plaque reduction assay. The 50% inhibitory concentration (IC50) of balm oil for herpes simplex virus plaque formation was determined at high dilutions of 0.0004% and 0.00008% for HSV-1 and HSV-2, respectively. At noncytotoxic concentrations of the oil,plaque formation was significantly reduced by 98.8% for HSV-1 and 97.2% for HSV-2, higher concentrations of lemon balm oil abolished viral infectivity nearly completely. In order to determine the mode of antiviral action of this essential oil, time-on-addition assays were performed. Both herpesviruses were significantly inhibited by pretreatment with balm oil prior to infection of cells. These results indicate that Melissa oil affected the virus before adsorption, but not after penetration into the host cell, thus lemon balm oil is capable of exerting a direct antiviral effect on herpesviruses. Considering the lipophilic nature of lemon balm essential oil, which enables it to penetrate the skin, and a high selectivity index, Melissa officinalis oil might be suitable for topical treatment of herpetic infections.

Medicinal properties of neem leaves: a review.

August 24, 2010 by  
Filed under All, Herbs, Natural Healthcare, Science

The following review gives information on the neem plant.  Neem has a wide variety of medicinal usages as the article points out.

Azadirachta indica, commonly known as neem, has attracted worldwide prominence in recent years, owing to its wide range of medicinal properties. Neem has been extensively used in Ayurveda, Unani and Homoeopathic medicine and has become a cynosure of modern medicine. Neem elaborates a vast array of biologically active compounds that are chemically diverse and structurally complex. More than 140 compounds have been isolated from different parts of neem. All parts of the neem tree- leaves, flowers, seeds, fruits, roots and bark have been used traditionally for the treatment of inflammation, infections, fever, skin diseases and dental disorders. The medicinal utilities have been described especially for neem leaf. Neem leaf and its constituents have been demonstrated to exhibit immunomodulatory, anti-inflammatory, antihyperglycaemic, antiulcer, antimalarial, antifungal, antibacterial, antiviral, antioxidant, antimutagenic and anticarcinogenic properties. This review summarises the wide range of pharmacological activities of neem leaf.

Flaxseed oil reduces the growth of human breast tumors (MCF-7) at high levels of circulating estrogen.

July 16, 2010 by  
Filed under All, Herbs, Natural Healthcare, Science

Flax seed should be considered as a healthy addition to ones diet.  The following article shows its possible benefits in the prevention of breast cancer.

Flaxseed (FS) has been shown to attenuate mammary tumorigenesis, possibly due to its high alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)-rich oil (FSO) content. This study determined the effect of FSO on the growth of estrogen receptor-positive human breast tumors (MCF-7) in ovariectomized athymic mice at high premenopausal-like estrogen (E2) levels. Mice with established MCF-7 tumors were fed basal diet (control) or basal diet supplemented with FSO (40 g/kg) for 8 wks. Compared with control, FSO reduced tumor size (33%, p<0.05) and tumor cell proliferation (38%, p<0.05) and increased apoptosis (110%, p<0.001). FSO also reduced human epidermal growth factor receptor-2 (79%, p<0.05) and epidermal growth factor receptor (57%, p=0.057) expression, which then may have led to a reduction in Akt (54%, p<0.05) and phosphorylation of mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) to phosphorylated MAPK (pMAPK, 28%, p<0.05). Insulin-like growth factor-1 receptor, vascular endothelial growth factor receptor, MAPK and phosphorylated Akt were not affected. FSO increased (p<0.001) serum ALA, eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid and, in vitro, ALA reduced MCF-7 cell proliferation (33%, p<0.001). Thus, FSO regressed estrogen receptor-positive human breast tumorigenesis at high E2 levels via downregulation of the growth factor mediated pathway, likely through its ALA content, and may explain the anti-tumorigenicity of FS.

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