Cranberries for preventing urinary tract infections.

January 21, 2010 by  
Filed under All, Herbs, Science, Top Stories

CranberriesThe following review article supports the usefulness of cranberries in the prevention of urinary tract infections.

BACKGROUND: Cranberries (particularly in the form of cranberry juice) have been used widely for several decades for the prevention and treatment of urinary tract infections (UTIs). The aim of this review is to assess the effectiveness of cranberries in preventing such infections. OBJECTIVES: To assess the effectiveness of cranberry juice and other cranberry products in preventing UTIs in susceptible populations. SEARCH STRATEGY: Electronic databases and the Internet were searched using English and non English language terms; companies involved with the promotion and distribution of cranberry preparations were contacted; reference lists of review articles and relevant trials were searched. Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL – the Cochrane Library, issue 1, 2003) was searched in February 2003. SELECTION CRITERIA: All randomised or quasi randomised controlled trials of cranberry juice/products for the prevention of urinary tract infections in susceptible populations. Trials of men, women or children were included. DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: Two reviewers independently assessed and extracted information. Information was collected on methods, participants, interventions and outcomes (urinary tract infections (symptomatic and asymptomatic), side effects and adherence to therapy). RR were calculated where appropriate, otherwise a narrative synthesis was undertaken. Quality was assessed using the Cochrane criteria. MAIN RESULTS: Seven trials met the inclusion criteria (four cross-over, three parallel group). The effectiveness of cranberry juice (or cranberry-lingonberry juice) versus placebo juice or water was evaluated in six trials, and the effectiveness of cranberries tablets versus placebo was evaluated in two trials (one study evaluated both juice and tablets). In two good quality RCTs, cranberry products significantly reduced the incidence of UTIs at twelve months (RR 0.61 95% CI:0.40 to 0.91) compared with placebo/control in women. One trial gave 7.5 g cranberry concentrate daily (in 50 ml), the other gave 1:30 concentrate given either in 250 ml juice or in tablet form. There was no significant difference in the incidence of UTIs between cranberry juice versus cranberry capsules (RR 1.11 95% CI:0.49 to 2.50). Five trials were not included in the meta-analyses due to methodological flaws or lack of available data. However, only one reported a significant result for the outcome of symptomatic UTIs. Side effects were common in all trials, and dropouts/withdrawals in several of the trials were high. REVIEWERS’ CONCLUSIONS: There is some evidence from two good quality RCTs that cranberry juice may decrease the number of symptomatic UTIs over a 12 month period in women. If it is effective for other groups such as children and elderly men and women is not clear. The large number of dropouts/withdrawals from some of the trials indicates that cranberry juice may not be acceptable over long periods of time. In addition it is not clear what is the optimum dosage or method of administration (e.g. juice or tablets). Further properly designed trials with relevant outcomes are needed.

PMID: 15106157 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

Crataegus tanacetifolia leaf extract prevents L-NAME-induced hypertension in rats: a morphological study.

hawthorn1Hawthorn or Crataegus has a long history of use for heart conditions.  After reviewing many studies the consistent conclusion was Hathorn has benefits when treating a variety of conditions of the heart.

Crataegus (hawthorn) has long been used as a folk medicine all around the world. Most of the studies with Crataegus species focus on effects on heart failure and cardiovascular disease. The pharmacological effects of Crataegus have been attributed mainly to the content of flavonoids, procyanidin, aromatic acid and cardiotonic amines. The present study investigated the blood pressure and the structure of the coronary arterial wall of L-NAME-induced hypertensive rats given an aqueous leaf extract of C. tanacetifolia (100 mg/kg), for 4 weeks via gavage. It was observed that C. tanacetifolia, especially the hyperoside fraction, prevented L-NAME-induced hypertension in rats and had beneficial effects on the cardiovascular system. Copyright 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Phytother Res. 2006 Jan;20(1):66-70.

Comparison of antioxidant potency of commonly consumed polyphenol-rich beverages in the United States.

January 6, 2010 by  
Filed under All, Herbs, Nutrients, Science, Top Stories

acaiberry-promThe latest in the  juice market is the acai berry.  This fruit has made its way to the mainstream population with  exposure on the news and shows such as Oprah.  It has been touted as the new wonder fruit with antioxidant potency greater than blueberry or pomegranate.  So is this fruit all it is cracked up to be?

When reviewing research on the potency of the acai berry there where many different studies showing different opinions on where the acai berry stands on the antioxidant spectrum.  But one thing is for sure, it is high in antioxidants.  The study listed below tested many different fruits/beverages for the antioxidant content and the winner was…..pomegranate.

A number of different beverage products claim to have antioxidant potency due to their perceived high content of polyphenols. Basic and applied research indicates that pomegranate juice (PJ), produced from the Wonderful variety of Punica granatum fruits, has strong antioxidant activity and related health benefits. Although consumers are familiar with the concept of free radicals and antioxidants, they are often misled by claims of superior antioxidant activity of different beverages, which are usually based only on testing of a limited spectrum of antioxidant activities. There is no available direct comparison of PJ’s antioxidant activity to those of other widely available polyphenol-rich beverage products using a comprehensive variety of antioxidant tests. The present study applied (1) four tests of antioxidant potency [Trolox equivalent antioxidant capacity (TEAC), total oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC), free radical scavenging capacity by 2,2-diphenyl-1-picrylhydrazyl (DPPH), and ferric reducing antioxidant power (FRAP)]; (2) a test of antioxidant functionality, that is, inhibition of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) oxidation by peroxides and malondialdehyde methods; and (3) evaluation of the total polyphenol content [by gallic acid equivalents (GAEs)] of polyphenol-rich beverages in the marketplace. The beverages included several different brands as follows: apple juice (3), açaí juice (3), black cherry juice (3), blueberry juice (3), cranberry juice (3), Concord grape juice (3), orange juice (3), red wines (3), iced tea beverages (10) [black tea (3), green tea (4), white tea (3)], and a major PJ available in the U.S. market. An overall antioxidant potency composite index was calculated by assigning each test equal weight. PJ had the greatest antioxidant potency composite index among the beverages tested and was at least 20% greater than any of the other beverages tested. Antioxidant potency, ability to inhibit LDL oxidation, and total polyphenol content were consistent in classifying the antioxidant capacity of the polyphenol-rich beverages in the following order: PJ>red wine>Concord grape juice>blueberry juice>black cherry juice, açaí juice, cranberry juice>orange juice, iced tea beverages, apple juice. Although in vitro antioxidant potency does not prove in vivo biological activity, there is also consistent clinical evidence of antioxidant potency for the most potent beverages including both PJ and red wine.

J Agric Food Chem. 2008 Feb 27;56(4):1415-22. Epub 2008 Jan 26.

Eleuthero for Diabetes

December 29, 2009 by  
Filed under All, Herbs, Science, Top Stories

Eleuthero leaves

Eleuthero, the herb formerly known as Siberian Ginseng, is one of my favorites.

It always has been. This classic adaptogen has been researched historically for its effects in enhancing physical and mental performance, for reducing stress, for protecting the heart against ischemia, protecting against liver toxicity and stimulating the immune system. The latest research, however, is about its effects on diabetes, an effect that has apparently been linked to a natural constituents of the herb, syringin.

An article in Planta Medica explore the effect of syringin in diabetic rats. When syringin was ejected interventionists late, plasma glucose levels decreased in a dose dependent fashion. It also modulated the plasma glucose spike caused by glucose challenge testing. The authors conclude “The ability of syringin to enhance glucose utilization and lower plasma glucose level in rats suffering from insulin deficiency suggested that this chemical may be useful in the treatment of human diabetes.”

Planta Med. 2008 Feb;74(2):109-13. Epub 2008 Jan 17.
Hypoglycemic effect of syringin from Eleutherococcus senticosus in streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats. Niu HS, Liu IM, Cheng JT, Lin CL, Hsu FL. Graduate Institute of Pharmacognosy, College of Pharmacy, Taipei Medical University, Taipei, Taiwan

To further elucidate the action of this compound, and of this plant, the same authors published another article showing one mechanism of action, “enhancing the secretion of beta endorphins from adrenal medulla to stimulate peripheral micro-opioid receptors resulting in a decrease of plasma glucose in diabetic rats lacking insulin.”

Horm Metab Res. 2007 Dec;39(12):894-8. Increase of beta-endorphin secretion by syringin, an active principle of Eleutherococcus senticosus, to produce antihyperglycemic action in type 1-like diabetic rats. Niu HS, Hsu FL, Liu IM, Cheng JT.

Scientific basis for the therapeutic use of Withania somnifera (ashwagandha): a review.

December 7, 2009 by  
Filed under All, Herbs, Science, Top Stories

ashwandahaThe following review indicates the usefulness of the Ayurvedic herb Ashwagandha.  It is a safe herb with many medicinal properties.

OBJECTIVE: The objective of this paper is to review the literature regarding Withania somnifera (ashwagandha, WS) a commonly used herb in Ayurvedic medicine. Specifically, the literature was reviewed for articles pertaining to chemical properties, therapeutic benefits, and toxicity. DESIGN: This review is in a narrative format and consists of all publications relevant to ashwagandha that were identified by the authors through a systematic search of major computerized medical databases; no statistical pooling of results or evaluation of the quality of the studies was performed due to the widely different methods employed by each study. RESULTS: Studies indicate ashwagandha possesses anti-inflammatory, antitumor, antistress, antioxidant, immunomodulatory, hemopoietic, and rejuvenating properties. It also appears to exert a positive influence on the endocrine, cardiopulmonary, and central nervous systems. The mechanisms of action for these properties are not fully understood. Toxicity studies reveal that ashwagandha appears to be a safe compound. CONCLUSION: Preliminary studies have found various constituents of ashwagandha exhibit a variety of therapeutic effects with little or no associated toxicity. These results are very encouraging and indicate this herb should be studied more extensively to confirm these results and reveal other potential therapeutic effects. Clinical trials using ashwagandha for a variety of conditions should also be conducted.

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