Omega-3 supplementation lowers inflammation and anxiety in medical students: A randomized controlled trial.

This study shows the benefits of omega-3 supplementation.

Abstract

Observational studies have linked lower omega-3 (n-3) polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) and higher omega-6 (n-6) PUFAs with inflammation and depression, but randomized controlled trial (RCT) data have been mixed. To determine whether n-3 decreases proinflammatory cytokine production and depressive and anxiety symptoms in healthy young adults, this parallel group, placebo-controlled, double-blind 12-week RCT compared n-3 supplementation with placebo. The participants, 68 medical students, provided serial blood samples during lower-stress periods as well as on days before an exam. The students received either n-3 (2.5g/d, 2085mg eicosapentaenoic acid and 348mg docosahexanoic acid) or placebo capsules that mirrored the proportions of fatty acids in the typical American diet. Compared to controls, those students who received n-3 showed a 14% decrease in lipopolysaccharide (LPS) stimulated interleukin 6 (IL-6) production and a 20% reduction in anxiety symptoms, without significant change in depressive symptoms. Individuals differ in absorption and metabolism of n-3 PUFA supplements, as well as in adherence; accordingly, planned secondary analyses that used the plasma n-6:n-3 ratio in place of treatment group showed that decreasing n-6:n-3 ratios led to lower anxiety and reductions in stimulated IL-6 and tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) production, as well as marginal differences in serum TNF-α. These data suggest that n-3 supplementation can reduce inflammation and anxiety even among healthy young adults. The reduction in anxiety symptoms associated with n-3 supplementation provides the first evidence that n-3 may have potential anxiolytic benefits for individuals without an anxiety disorder diagnosis. ClinicalTrials.gov identifier: NCT00519779.

Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Brain Behav Immun. 2011 Jul 19.

Vegetable and fruit intake after diagnosis and risk of prostate cancer progression.

August 9, 2011 by  
Filed under All, Natural Healthcare, Nutrients, Science

The following article gives us yet another reason to eat our vegetables.

Cruciferous vegetables, tomato sauce, and legumes have been associated with reduced risk of incident advanced prostate cancer. In vitro and animal studies suggest these foods may inhibit progression of prostate cancer, but there are limited data in men. Therefore, we prospectively examined whether intake of total vegetables, and specifically cruciferous vegetables, tomato sauce, and legumes, after diagnosis reduce risk of prostate cancer progression among 1,560 men diagnosed with non-metastatic prostate cancer and participating in the Cancer of the Prostate Strategic Urologic Research Endeavor, a United States prostate cancer registry. As a secondary analysis, we also examined other vegetable sub-groups, total fruit, and sub-groups of fruits. The participants were diagnosed primarily at community-based clinics and followed from 2004-2009. We assessed vegetable and fruit intake via a semi-quantitative food frequency questionnaire, and ascertained prostate cancer outcomes via urologist report and medical records. We observed 134 events of progression (53 biochemical recurrences, 71 secondary treatments likely due to recurrence, six bone metastases, four prostate cancer deaths) during 3,171 person-yrs. Men in the fourth quartile of post-diagnostic cruciferous vegetable intake had a statistically significant 59% decreased risk of prostate cancer progression compared to men in the lowest quartile (hazard ratio (HR): 0.41; 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.22, 0.76; p-trend: 0.003). No other vegetable or fruit group was statistically significantly associated with risk of prostate cancer progression. In conclusion, cruciferous vegetable intake after diagnosis may reduce risk of prostate cancer progression.

Blood pressure lowering, cardiovascular inhibitory and bronchodilatory actions of Achillea millefolium.

June 21, 2011 by  
Filed under All, Herbs, Nutrients, Science

The study below supports the use of yarrow in asthma and hypertension.

Achillea millefolium Linn. (Asteraceae) is used in folk medicine for the treatment of overactive cardiovascular and respiratory ailments. This study describes its hypotensive, cardio-depressant, vasodilatory and bronchodilatory activities. The crude extract of Achillea millefolium (Am.Cr) caused a dose-dependent (1-100 mg/kg) fall in arterial blood pressure of rats under anaesthesia. In spontaneously beating guinea-pig atrial tissues, Am.Cr exhibited negative inotropic and chronotropic effects. In isolated rabbit aortic rings, Am.Cr at 0.3-10 mg/mL relaxed phenylephrine (PE, 1 µm) and high K(+) (80 mm)-induced contractions, as well as suppressed the PE (1 µm) control peaks obtained in Ca(++) -free medium, like that caused by verapamil. The vasodilator effect of Am.Cr was partially blocked by N(ω) -nitro-l-arginine methyl ester in endothelium intact preparations. In guinea-pig tracheal strips, Am.Cr inhibited carbachol (CCh, 1 µm) and K(+) -induced contractions. These results indicate that Achillea millefolium exhibits hypotensive, cardiovascular inhibitory and bronchodilatory effects, thus explaining its medicinal use in hyperactive cardiovascular and airway disorders, such as hypertension and asthma.

Phytother Res. 2011 Apr;25(4):577-83. doi: 10.1002/ptr.3303. Epub 2010 Sep 20.

Anti-inflammatory activity of edible oyster mushroom is mediated through the inhibition of NF-kB and AP-1 signaling.

Mushrooms have long been recognized for their use in immune support.  This study shows another wonderful benefit to oyster mushrooms.

ABSTRACT:

BACKGROUND:

Mushrooms are well recognized for their culinary properties as well as for their potency to enhance immune response. In the present study, we evaluated anti-inflammatory properties of an edible oyster mushroom (Pleurotus ostreatus) in vitro and in vivo.

METHODS:

RAW264.7 murine macrophage cell line and murine splenocytes were incubated with the oyster mushroom concentrate (OMC, 0-100 ug/ml) in the absence or presence of lipopolysacharide (LPS) or concanavalin A (ConA), respectively. Cell proliferation was determined by MTT assay. Expression of cytokines and proteins was measured by ELISA assay and Western blot analysis, respectively. DNA-binding activity was assayed by the gel-shift analysis. Inflammation in mice was induced by intraperitoneal injection of LPS.

RESULTS:

OMC suppressed LPS-induced secretion of tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-a), interleukin-6 (IL-6), and IL-12p40 from RAW264.7 macrophages. OMC inhibited LPS-induced production of prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) and nitric oxide (NO) through the down-regulation of expression of COX-2 and iNOS, respectively. OMC also inhibited LPS-dependent DNA-binding activity of AP-1 and NF-kB in RAW264.7 cells. Oral administration of OMC markedly suppressed secretion of TNF-a and IL-6 in mice challenged with LPS in vivo. Anti-inflammatory activity of OMC was confirmed by the inhibition of proliferation and secretion of interferon-gamma (IFN-g), IL-2, and IL-6 from concanavalin A (ConA)-stimulated mouse splenocytes.

CONCLUSIONS:

Our study suggests that oyster mushroom possesses anti-inflammatory activities and could be considered a dietary agent against inflammation. The health benefits of the oyster mushroom warrant further clinical studies.

Nutr J. 2011 May 16;10(1):52.

Evaluation of antioxidant activities and phenolic content of Berberis vulgaris L. and Berberis croatica Horvat

Barberry (Berberis vulgaris)is an herb which is not often discussed.  Like goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis) it also contains berberine which herbalists use for its antibacterial properities and to help support the immune system.  The study belows indicates barberry has antioxidant activity which suggest its use would be beneficial for the support of the immune system.

Antioxidant activities of the ethanolic extracts of roots, twigs and leaves of common barberry (Berberis vulgaris L.) and Croatian barberry (Berberis croatica Horvat) were studied. All the extracts were found to possess some radical-scavenging and antioxidant activities, as determined by scavenging effect on the DPPH free radical, reducing power and beta-carotene-linoleic acid model system. With the exception of the beta-carotene-linoleic acid test, antioxidant activity correlated well with the content of main plant antioxidants, phenols and flavonols, which suggests an important role of these compounds in overall antioxidant activity of investigated plant organs. The antioxidant activity varied mostly in relation to the organ, while no significant statistically differences were found between B. vulgaris and B. croatica.

Food Chem Toxicol. 2010 Aug-Sep;48(8-9):2176-80. Epub 2010 May 17.

Taraxacum–a review on its phytochemical and pharmacological profile.

May 6, 2011 by  
Filed under Herbs, Nutrients, Science

It is that time of year when dandelions are popping up in lawns everywhere.  It has long been known by herbalist what to do with these plants.  The leaves are a rich source of vitamins, minerals and has diuretic, choleretic and anti-inflammatory actions.  The root has choleretic, cholagogue, tonic, anti-rheumatic, bitter and alterative actions. 

Below is a study supporting many of dandelion’s wonderful actions.   

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.

J Ethnopharmacol. 2006 Oct 11;107(3):313-23. Epub 2006 Jul 22.

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

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.

Activation of CREB by St. John’s wort may diminish deletorious effects of aging on spatial memory.

memorylosssmSt. John’s wort is best known for its use in mild to moderate depression.  This article indicates St. John’s wort may be beneficial with memory loss due to aging.

St. John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum) is one of the leading psychotherapeutic phytomedicines. Beneficial effects of this herb in the treatment of mild to moderate depression are well known. In this study we tested a hypothesis that St. John’s wort alleviates age-related memory impairments by increasing the levels of cyclic adenosine 3′, 5′-monophosphate response element binding protein (CREB) and phosphorylated CREB (pCREB) in hippocampus. Middleaged rats (18 month-old) displayed a decline in the acquisition of spatial working memory (p < 0.001) in the Morris water maze (MWM). Chronic administration of Hypericum perforatum (HP) (350 mg/kg for 21 days), potently and significantly improved the processing of spatial information in the aged rats (p < 0.001). Also the herb increased the levels of pCREB in the aged rat’s hippocampus (p < 0.01) as measured by western immunoblotting. Aging caused significant locomotor impairments as tested in the open field (p < 0.001) but not in the MWM test. However, these were unaffected by treatment with HP. Thus, this study indicates that St. John’s wort effectively prevents aging-induced deterioration of spatial memory in 18 month-old rats, possibly by the activation of CREB regulated genes associated with memory formation. It appears that mechanism is probably inactive in young rats.

Arch Pharm Res. 2010 Mar;33(3):469-77. Epub 2010 Mar 30.

Sugar-sweetened beverages and chronic disease.

March 26, 2010 by  
Filed under All, Nutrients, Science

SodaThe following article states clearly the adverse effects of the over consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages.

Sugar-sweetened beverages, a major source of fructose, raise serum uric acid levels and are associated with an increased risk of gout, hypertension, and diabetes. However, it is unclear whether the associations with hypertension and diabetes are caused by fructose per se, or through some other mechanism. Nevertheless, given their demonstrated adverse health associations and the lack of any health benefit, the evidence favors minimization of sugar-sweetened beverage intake.

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