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.

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).

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.

Silibinin – A Promising New Treatment for Cancer.

April 19, 2010 by  
Filed under All, Herbs, Science, Top Stories

Milk ThistleThe following article discusses the use of the premiere liver herb, Milk Thistle, in the treatment of some types of cancers.

Silymarin and its major constituent, Silibinin, are extracts from the medicinal plant Silybum marianum (milk thistle) and have traditionally been used for the treatment of liver diseases. Recently, these orally active, flavonoid agents have also been shown to exert significant anti-neoplastic effects in a variety of in vitro and in vivo cancer models, including skin, breast, lung, colon, bladder, prostate and kidney carcinomas. The aim of the present review is to examine the pharmacokinetics, mechanisms, effectiveness and adverse effects of silibinin’s anti-cancer actions reported to date in pre-clinical and clinical trials. The review will also discuss the results of current research efforts seeking to determine the extent to which the effectiveness of silibinin as an adjunct cancer treatment is influenced by such factors as histologic subtype, hormonal status, stromal interactions and drug metabolising gene polymorphisms. The results of these studies may help to more precisely target and dose silibinin therapy to optimise clinical outcomes for oncology patients.

Science in the Profit Interest

Another black eye for the so-called “ethical pharmaceutical” business. In what is being called “the biggest research fraud in medical history,” a member of Pfizer’s “speaker bureau” has pled guilty to fabricating dozens of drug studies. Dr. Scott Reuben, working on a $75,000 grant from Pfizer produced a research study on their drug Celebrex. Naturally, the drug was found to be remarkably effective against pain. Well, except there were no patients in the study. It was completely fabricated.

This isn’t a first for the good (for business) doctor. The peer-reviewed (and shame on the reviewers) journal Anesthesia and Analesia had to retract 10 papers authored by Reuben. Another 21 Reuben articles were apparently also fabricated according to London’s The Day. Reuben received nearly a half million from Pfizer, which I guess he has to give back, and possibly pay a $250,000 fine on top of that. Maybe even jail time.

But for Pfizer and the other companies that got rave reviews from “ethical research,” nothing. Bextra and Vioxx were also beneficiaries of Reuben’s fairy tale “research.” But these drug companies are not treated as conspirators. They’re “victims” of this fraud. Coverage in The Day fills in the details.

Reuben’s studies, five of which were funded by Pfizer, had bolstered claims about the post-surgery effectiveness of such painkillers as Pfizer’s Celebrex and Merck’s Vioxx.

Reuben’s attorneys said a bipolar disorder with “alternating periods of mania and depression fueled his misconduct.”

Oh poor guy. I’m sure we can all understand how depression could make someone want to fake dozens of scientific articles. No, we can’t. That’s a BS defense.

Meanwhile, these bogus “research studies” have been used to bolster claims of effectiveness for Celebrex and other drugs, as the public is fed the fiction that we have the best research in the world and the safest and most effective drugs. Yes, we have the best research results money can buy, and the best “approving for dollars” system too.

This corporate medical/scientific corruption hurts us all, and the media is only too happy to trot out the results of these “studies” while lapping up billions in pharma advertising.

And it’s not like this is new. Before this “biggest drug research fraud case in history,” there was the former biggest in 1989 when NJ physician Robert Fogari pled guilty to taking $2 million from drug companies for investigational new drug research that he never conducted. Fogari “investigated” new drugs for nine drug companies including Ciba-Geigy, Johnson & Johnson, Warner-Lambert, Pfizer, Upjohn, Syntex, and Merck, Sharp & Dohme. Fogari had his employees list persons who were not in the study and make up patients. He failed to do the urine, stool and blood tests and forged signatures of radiologists and others. The doctor also failed to report the deaths of two
patients in the “study” in order to “maintain a favorable impression” with the drug companies who hired him. At least the deaths were presumably not caused by the drugs they didn’t take as a part of the study they weren’t in that never took place.

Fogari admits he did not conduct any legitimate research during the whole eight year period.

A year earlier, Constantine Kostas admitted that of the 85 subjects in his clinical trial of Cipro, only 15 had actually been given Cipro. I suppose it hardly matters, since Kostas also faked the results of lab tests and examinations that never took place.

All of this is especially irksome to those of us who have endured Big Pharma’s war on herbs and supplements. How many of the so-called “research studies” on herbs funded by big pharma are also bogus? It’s easy to find such “studies” in which the patients chosen were inappropriate, or the protocol designed in ways that appear destined to fail. Indeed, “failure” of an alternative medicine is exactly what the drug companies want to see.

Passion Flower (Passiflora incarnata L.)–a reliable herbal sedative

passionflsmFrom time to time, many people experience difficulty falling asleep.  The best way to manage your sleep cycle is to have a bedtime routine and stick to the routine every night.  But when your routine does not work nor does the warm glass of milk there are herbal allies which can help.  Passion Flower is one of these herbs.  Next time try a nice cup of tea with Passion Flower in the ingredients.

Extracts and fluid extracts from the aerial parts from Passiflora incarnata L. are widely used as components of herbal sedatives. Many pharmacological investigations confirm the sedative effects of Passiflorae herba. From some of the studies also anxiolytic effects can be deduced. As Passionflower is mainly used in combinations, clinical studies of the single drug are not available. Based on pharmacological data, the experiences of traditional use and the use in combinations Passiflora extracts are an important factor in the phytotherapy of tenseness, restlessness and irritability with difficulty in falling asleep.

Wien Med Wochenschr. 2002;152(15-16):404-6.

Ginger: an ancient remedy and modern miracle drug.

March 9, 2010 by  
Filed under All, Herbs, Science, Top Stories

Ginger, plantThe following article examines the use of the herb, Ginger as as safe and effective remedy for many conditions.

Ginger has been used safely for thousands of years in cooking, and medicinally in folk and home remedies. Advanced technology enables the validation of these traditional experiences. The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) has evaluated the results of the available studies, rating the reports from “suggestive” (for short-term use of Ginger for safe relief from pregnancy related nausea and vomiting), to “mixed” (when used for nausea caused by motion sickness, chemotherapy, or surgery), and to “unclear” for treating rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, or joint and muscle pain). NCCAM has funded investigators to study interactions of ginger with drugs (immunosuppressants), its effect of reducing nausea in patients receiving chemotherapy, and the safety and effectiveness of its use for health purposes, as well as its impact on inflammation. Upon completion of these studies, the scope of ginger’s use will be clearly identified and incorporated into mainstream therapeutic options, thereby integrating east and west, old with new, to render ginger as a true “Universal Remedy”.

Chamomile, a novel and selective COX-2 inhibitor with anti-inflammatory activity.

February 9, 2010 by  
Filed under All, Herbs, Science, Top Stories

ChamomileThe following article gives information on the usefulness of Chamomile in the possible treatment of inflammatory conditions and cancer.

Inducible cyclooxygenase (COX-2) has been implicated in the process of inflammation and carcinogenesis. Chamomile has long been used in traditional medicine for the treatment of inflammatory diseases. In this study we aimed to investigate whether chamomile interferes with the COX-2 pathway. MAIN METHODS: We used lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-activated RAW 264.7 macrophages as an in vitro model for our studies. KEY FINDINGS: Chamomile treatment inhibited the release of LPS-induced prostaglandin E(2) in RAW 264.7 macrophages. This effect was found to be due to inhibition of COX-2 enzyme activity by chamomile. In addition, chamomile caused reduction in LPS-induced COX-2 mRNA and protein expression, without affecting COX-1 expression. The non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, sulindac and a specific COX-2 inhibitor, NS398, were shown to act similarly in LPS-activated RAW 264.7 cells. Our data suggest that chamomile works by a mechanism of action similar to that attributed to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. SIGNIFICANCE: These findings add a novel aspect to the biological profile of chamomile which might be important for understanding the usefulness of aqueous chamomile extract in the form of tea in preventing inflammation and cancer.

PMID: 19788894 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

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