Immune modulation of macrophage pro-inflammatory response by goldenseal and Astragalus extracts.

January 6, 2011 by  
Filed under All, Herbs, Natural Healthcare, Science

Goldenseal and Astragalus are two very useful herbs for the immune system.  The following article show their effectiveness at the first sign of infection.

Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadenisis) is a native American medicinal plant used as an immune stimulant. Astragalus (Astragalus membranaceus) is a widely used herbal product in China, other Asian countries, and the United States as an immune stimulant to be taken on first clinical signs of infection. In this study, the innate effects of goldenseal and Astragalus on pro-inflammatory cytokines produced by cultured macrophages were examined using two different commercial preparations of goldenseal and Astragalus. Both goldenseal and Astragalus were found to exhibit little to no direct effect on stimulation of mouse macrophages (J774A.1 cells), with only Astragalus able to affect production of tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha when used in high concentrations. However, both goldenseal and Astragalus were able to modify responses from lipopolysaccharide-stimulated macrophages, with identified immunomodulatory effects to reduce production of TNF-alpha, interleukin (IL)-6, IL-10, and IL-12 in a dose-dependent manner. The results obtained indicate that both goldenseal and Astragalus exhibit abilities to modulate macrophage responses during stimulation. Therefore, it is hypothesized that their historical use as therapeutic agents may be due to reduction in the pro-inflammatory response that indirectly leads to limiting of clinical symptoms during infection. Both products differ in their immune stimulatory patterns, offering insight into differential use and therapeutic potential of these products to regulate macrophage immune responses and activation events.

Natural approaches to prevention and treatment of infections of the lower urinary tract.

December 27, 2010 by  
Filed under Herbs, Natural Healthcare, Science

Uva Ursi is a wonderful herb to use as an alternative to problem causing antibiotics, for urinary tract infections.

Infections of the lower urinary tract are common occurrences in young women, during pregnancy, and in peri- and postmenopausal women. Because of the chronic nature of urinary tract infections (UTIs) and the potential for antibiotic resistance, a natural approach to prevention and treatment is desirable. Clinical research suggests the best natural options for long-term prevention include cranberry, mannose, and probiotics. Botanicals that can be effective at the first sign of an infection and for short-term prophylaxis include berberine and uva ursi. Estriol cream and vitamins A and C have also been shown to prevent UTIs, while potassium salts can alkalinize the urine and reduce dysuria.

Allicin induces apoptosis in gastric cancer cells through activation of both extrinsic and intrinsic pathways.

December 13, 2010 by  
Filed under All, Herbs, Natural Healthcare, Science

Garlic has many wonderful properties to help maintain our health.  The following article shows yet another possible health benefit of this useful herb.

Allicin is an active compound derived from garlic that has been shown to have antitumor properties in vitro. The current study was designed to explore the effects and the underlying mechanism of allicin on gastric cancer cells. The MTT assay was used to detect cell viability. Transmission electron microscopy, Rh123 and propidium iodide staining, annexin V/FITC assay and the mitochondrial membrane potential were used to assess for the presence of apoptosis. Immunocytochemistry, western blot analysis, and Q-RT-PCR were used to detect gene expression. We found that allicin reduced cell viability in a dose- and time-dependent manner, partly through induction of apoptosis in gastric cancer cells. At the molecular level, allicin induced cytochrome c release from the mitochondria and increased caspase-3, -8, and -9 activation, with concomitant upregulation of bax and fas expression in the tumor cells. Allicin treatment inhibited proliferation and induced apoptosis in SGC-7901 cancer cells. Both intrinsic mitochondrial and extrinsic Fas/FasL-mediated pathways of apoptosis occur simultaneously in SGC-7901 cells following allicin treatment. Data from the current study demonstrated that allicin should be further investigated as a novel cancer preventive or therapeutic agent in control of gastric cancer, with potential uses in other tumor types.

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).

Anti-acne activities of pulsaquinone, hydropulsaquinone, and structurally related 1, 4-quinone derivatives.

October 26, 2010 by  
Filed under All, Herbs, Science

The following shows the possible use of Pulsatilla in the treatment of acne vulgaris.

Quinone type compound, pulsaquinone 1, isolated from the aqueous ethanol extract of the roots of Pulsatilla koreana exhibited antimicrobial activities against an anaerobic non-spore-forming gram-positive bacillus, Propionibacterium acnes, which is related with the pathogenesis of the inflamed lesions in a common skin disease, acne vulgaris. Compound 1 was unstable on standing and thus converted to more stable compound 2, namely hydropulsaquinone by hydrogenation, whose activity was comparable to mother compound 1 (MIC for 1 and 2 against P. acnes: 2.0 and 4.0 microg/mL, respectively). Other structurally-related quinone derivatives (3-13) were also tested for structure-activity relationship against anaerobic and aerobic bacteria, and fungi. The antimicrobial activity was fairly good when the quinone moiety was fused with a nonpolar 6- or 7-membered ring on the right side whether or not conjugated (1,4-naphtoquinone derivatives 3-5), while simple quinone compounds 6-9 showed poor activity. It seems that the methoxy groups at the left side of the quinone function deliver no considerable antimicrobial effect.

Borage oil in the treatment of atopic dermatitis.

October 13, 2010 by  
Filed under All, Herbs, Science

Borage oil has shown promise in the treatment of some topical skin conditions.

Nutritional supplementation with omega-6 essential fatty acids (omega-6 EFAs) is of potential interest in the treatment of atopic dermatitis. EFAs play a vital role in skin structure and physiology. EFA deficiency replicates the symptoms of atopic dermatitis, and patients with atopic dermatitis have been reported to have imbalances in EFA levels. Although direct proof is lacking, it has been hypothesized that patients with atopic dermatitis have impaired activity of the delta-6 desaturase enzyme, affecting metabolism of linoleic acid to gamma-linolenic acid (GLA). However, to date, studies of EFA supplementation in atopic dermatitis, most commonly using evening primrose oil, have produced conflicting results. Borage oil is of interest because it contains two to three times more GLA than evening primrose oil. This review identified 12 clinical trials of oral or topical borage oil for treatment of atopic dermatitis and one preventive trial. All studies were controlled and most were randomized and double-blind, but many were small and had other methodological limitations. The results of studies of borage oil for the treatment of atopic dermatitis were highly variable, with the effect reported to be significant in five studies, insignificant in five studies, and mixed in two studies. Borage oil given to at-risk neonates did not prevent development of atopic dermatitis. However, the majority of studies showed at least a small degree of efficacy or were not able to exclude the possibility that the oil produces a small benefit. Overall, the data suggest that nutritional supplementation with borage oil is unlikely to have a major clinical effect but may be useful in some individual patients with less severe atopic dermatitis who are seeking an alternative treatment. Which patients are likely to respond cannot yet be identified. Borage oil is well tolerated in the short term but no long-term tolerability data are available.

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.

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