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.

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Effect of honey, dextromethorphan, and no treatment on nocturnal cough and sleep quality for coughing children and their parents.

December 16, 2009 by  
Filed under All, Herbs, Nutrients, People, Science

honeyOver 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.

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A review of treatment of premenstrual syndrome and premenstrual dysphoric disorder.

October 14, 2009 by  
Filed under Nutrients, People, Science

PMSsmA newer trend in the medical field to help women with  severe PMS or PMDD (premenstrual dysphoric disorder) is the use of pharmaceuticals.  The class of drugs used are antidepressants and SSRI’s.  This study indicates there are other options such as nutrients and balanced diet to help these symptoms.

Severe premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and, more recently, premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) have been studied extensively over the last 20 years. The defining criteria for diagnosis of the disorders according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) include at least one moderate to severe mood symptom and one physical symptom for the diagnosis of PMS and by DSM IV criteria a total of 5 symptoms with 1 severe mood symptom for the diagnosis of PMDD. There must be functional impairment attributed to the symptoms. The symptoms must be present for one to two weeks premenstrually with relief by day 4 of menses and should be documented prospectively for at least two cycles using a daily rating form. Nonpharmacologic management with some evidence for efficacy include cognitive behavioral relaxation therapy, aerobic exercise, as well as calcium, magnesium, vitamin B(6) L-tryptophan supplementation or a complex carbohydrate drink.

Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2003 Aug;28 Suppl 3:39-53.

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Tiger Woods and Theanine to the Next level

May 26, 2009 by  
Filed under People, Tea

Tiger Woods says his experience with the “calming” alkaloid l-theanine in the form of Gatorade Tiger Focus, “is taking me someplace I never imagined.” An article in The Gazette, May 24, 2009 details some of the research on theanine and the “tea paradox” of how a caffeinated beverage can be described as “calming.”

A relaxed, awake state is associated with Alpha waves, and an awake and excited brain will emit high frequency Beta waves. Caffeine can be shown to suppress theta and alpha waves, while promoting the beta waves that are linked with stress and anxiety. So, what does theanine do?

A number of studies have confirmed that within 30 minutes of ingesting theanine, there is a measurable enhancement of alpha wave activity, implying an alert but relaxed state.

And while clinical studies to date don’t show an improvement in memory or mental function in humans, rodent studies show some promise. The dose of theanine in the Gatorade product, 25 mg per serving, is below the levels used in studies, but tea itself does fall within the range of use that affects alpha brain waves.

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