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Taurine supplementation may decrease diabetes complications through improving glycemic control and decreasing glycation end products
Tabriz University of Medical Sciences (Iran), September 15, 2020
According to news reporting out of Tabriz, Iran, research stated, “Advanced glycation end products, along with methylglyoxal (MGO) as their precursor, play a major role in increased complications of type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM). Taurine (2-aminoethanesulphonic acid), a conditionally essential amino acid, is found in most mammalian tissues.”
Our news journalists obtained a quote from the research from the Tabriz University of Medical Sciences, “Taurine is known as an antiglycation compound. This study was designed to investigate the effects of taurine supplementation on metabolic profiles, pentosidine, MGO and soluble receptors for advanced glycation end products in patients with T2DM. In this double-blind randomized controlled trial, 46 patients with T2DM were randomly allocated into taurine and placebo groups. Participants received either 3,000 mg/day taurine or placebo for 8 weeks. Metabolic profiles, pentosidine, MGO and soluble receptors for advanced glycation end products levels were assessed after 12 h of fasting at baseline and completion of the clinical trial. Independent t test, paired t test, Pearson correlation and analysis of covariance were used for analysis. The mean serum levels of fasting blood sugar (p=0.01), glycated hemoglobin (p=0.04), insulin (p=0.03), homeostasis model assessment-insulin resistance (p=0.004), total cholesterol (p=0.01) and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (p=0.03) significantly were reduced in the taurine group at completion compared with the placebo group. In addition, after completion of the study, pentosidine (p=0.004) and MGO (p=0.006) were significantly reduced in the taurine group compared with the placebo group.”
According to the news editors, the research concluded: “The results of this trial show that taurine supplementation may decrease diabetes complications through improving glycemic control and advanced glycation end products.”
Heart attack survivors may benefit more from taking high-dose multivitamins than statins, suggests study
Mount Sinai Medical Center and Duke University, September 15, 2020
In a recent study published in the American Heart Journal, researchers suggest that taking high-dose multivitamins may be beneficial for heart attack survivors, provided that they’re not on statins, a type of drug used to lower cholesterol levels and prevent heart attack.
Multivitamin lowers risk of cardiac events
The researchers drew data from the Trial to Assess Chelation Therapy (TACT), a study that assessed the effect of ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA) chelation and oral multivitamin supplementation on participants who recently experienced a heart attack.
The present study included only the participants who were not on statins in order to examine the effect of the high-dosage multivitamin specifically formulated for TACT. Of the 460 participants, 224 were randomly assigned to take the multivitamin while 236 were assigned to take a placebo over the course of five years.
Results suggested that patient outcomes may improve upon taking the TACT multivitamin. According to the researchers, 36 percent of the placebo group died from an all-cause death or suffered a heart attack, stroke, coronary revascularization, or hospitalization for angina. Meanwhile, only 23 percent of the vitamin group suffered any of those events.
“High-dose oral multivitamin and multimineral supplementation seem to decrease combined cardiac events in a stable, post-MI population not taking statin therapy at baseline,” wrote the team.
The TACT supplement contains numerous vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C and niacin. Vitamin C helps lower blood pressure and reduce heart disease risk. Meanwhile, niacin, or vitamin B3, can lower triglycerides and bad cholesterol levels, as well as improve levels of high-density lipoprotein or “good” cholesterol. Niacin is considered the “granddaddy of cholesterol-lowering” medications – it is the first to reduce cholesterol levels (1955), the first to lower the risk of heart attack (1984) and the first to decrease long-term mortality rate (1986).
Exaggerated effect of statins
The findings of the study come as research recently cast doubt upon the effectiveness of statins.
One study found that about half of 160,000 patients in the UK do not respond well to statins. The researchers explained that the drugs failed to reduce levels of low-density lipoprotein or “bad” cholesterol by at least 40 percent. This is the treatment response considered adequate in national guidelines.
In another study, researchers argued that the ability of statins to prevent cardiovascular events has been exaggerated. They analyzed findings from statin trials and concluded that these studies created the illusion that statins are wonder drugs. In reality, the researchers noted, their modest benefits are outweighed by their adverse effects.
For example, one trial reported a 54 percent reduction in heart attacks when the actual effect in terms of absolute risk was less than one percent. That’s because the study only reported the relative risk reduction after participants took the drug.
They pointed out that media and pharmaceutical companies often elide the nuances in the data, fueling the public’s interest in drugs such as statins.
“The reality, however, is that statins actually produce only small beneficial effects on cardiovascular outcomes, and their adverse effects are far more substantial than is generally known,” wrote the researchers.
They posited that one such adverse effect may be an increased risk of cancer. For instance, one long-term study found that the incidence of breast cancer dramatically increased in women who used statins for more than 10 years. (Related: Statin scam worsens cardiovascular disease epidemic.)
Alternatives to statins such as multivitamin supplementation become even more important in light of these findings. More scientists who will pursue this track of research are needed.
Perfectionists may be more prone to helicopter parenting, study finds
University of Arizona, September 16, 2020
Perfectionists often have high standards, not only for themselves but for their children. Yet, in their quest for perfection, they might find themselves with a less-than-ideal label: helicopter parent.
So-called helicopter parents engage in what’s known as “over-parenting”—hovering over their young adult children and taking care of tasks that the children should be able to do themselves, such as cooking, cleaning or paying bills.
“Over-parenting is when you apply what we call developmentally inappropriate parenting or guidance structure for the child,” said University of Arizona researcher Chris Segrin, who studies the parenting style.
“By developmentally inappropriate, we mean we’re providing to the child that which the child could easily do him or herself. People who engage in over-parenting are not adjusting their parenting and letting the child have greater autonomy; they still want to control all the child’s outcomes.”
The negative effects of over-parenting are well documented. Researchers have found it can lead to psychological distress, narcissism, poor adjustment, alcohol and drug use, and a host of other behavioral problems in emerging adults ages 18 to 25.
Yet, far less is known about why certain people become helicopter parents in the first place.
In a new study, Segrin and co-authors Tricia Burke from Texas State University and Trevor Kauer from the University of Nebraska find that perfectionism might be one driver of over-parenting.
“Perfectionism is a psychological trait of wanting to be prefect, wanting success, wanting to have positive accolades that you can point to,” said Segrin, professor and head of the UArizona Department of Communication in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences.
Perfectionist parents may see their children’s success as a reflection on them, Segrin said, and they may engage in over-parenting in an effort to achieve “perfect” results.
“They want to live vicariously through their children’s achievements. They want to see their children achieve because it makes them look good,” he said. “I’m not saying they don’t care about their children; of course they do. But they measure their self-worth by the success of their children. That’s the yardstick that they use to measure their own success as a parent.”
Segrin and his collaborators conducted two studies looking at the link between perfectionism and over-parenting, the results of which are published together in the journal Couple and Family Psychology: Research and Practice.
In the first study, 302 parents of young adults were asked to rate a series of statements designed to measure their levels of engagement in over-parenting and their levels of perfectionism. In the second, the researchers surveyed 290 parent-young adult pairs. The young adults responded to statements designed to measure their perception of their parent’s parenting style.
The findings from both studies confirmed that perfectionism is indeed associated with helicopter parenting.
‘Anxious Parents’ May Also be Prone to Helicoptering
It’s important to understand what motivates over-parenting in order to determine how to intervene in the potentially harmful behavior, Segrin says.
“All the research thus far on helicopter parenting, or over-parenting, has focused on what are the outcomes for the children who are the recipients of over-parenting, and no one has been looking at who does this in the first place,” he said. “We think knowing more about the motivations of the parents has important implications for understanding what happens to the children.”
Although he doesn’t specifically address it in the study, Segrin suspects that middle-aged moms and dads who grew up in the “self-esteem era” of the 1970s and 1980s might be especially prone to perfectionism that can lead to over-parenting. In that era, children’s bad behavior was often blamed on low self-esteem, and the remedy for low self-esteem was lots of praise, Segrin said.
“We started giving kids trophies at the end of the season just for being on the team, not because they actually achieved anything,” he said. “Fast-forward 35, 40 years and these people are now adults who have children who are entering into adulthood. They were raised in a culture of ‘you’re special, you’re great, you’re perfect,’ and that fuels perfectionistic drives. ‘If I really am special, if I really am great, then my kids better be special and great, too, or it means I’m not a good parent.'”
Perfectionism isn’t the only characteristic that can lead to over-parenting. Previous research by Segrin showed there’s also a link between over-parenting and its close cousin: anxious parenting.
Anxious parents tend to worry a lot and ruminate on bad things that could happen to their child, so they parent with risk aversion in mind, Segrin said. His previous work showed that parents who have many regrets in their own lives may engage in this type of parenting as they try to prevent their children from repeating similar mistakes.
Just because someone engages in anxious parenting doesn’t mean they engage in over-parenting, but anxious parenting is “one of the ingredients in the over-parenting stew,” Segrin said, adding that anxious parenting can sometimes lead to over-parenting.
More Moms Than Dads Fall in the Over-parenting Trap
The parents in the study were mostly moms, and there’s an explanation for that, Segrin said.
“When we recruit young people into the study and ask them to get a parent to also fill out the survey for us, we let them pick the parent, with the understanding that they will naturally lead us to the helicopter parent among their parents,” Segrin said. “The one who’s super involved in the child’s life is, of course, going to want to participate in the research project with their child. So, like a moth to the flame, these young adults draw us right to the parent who delivers the most over-parenting, and we’re finding that it is the mothers, usually.”
That’s not to say that dads can’t be helicopter parents. They certainly can and in some cases are, Segrin said, but it seems to be less common.
“We know that in our culture, for better or worse, women end up getting strapped with child-rearing responsibilities to a much greater extent than men, so it stands to reason that as the child matures and gets older, the mother sort of stays on board with that job,” he said.
Segrin hopes his research illuminates the hazards of helicopter parenting, not only for the young adults on the receiving end, but the parents themselves.
For perfectionism-driven helicopter parents to change their ways, they first need to recognize their own value, independent of their children, Segrin said.
“I sometimes see, especially in mothers, that they define their whole universe as ‘mother’ – not spouse, not wife, not worker, not hobbyist but ‘mother.’ I think those blurred boundaries between parent and child can be harmful to the psychological landscape of the parent,” Segrin said. “We need the parents to realize they have some element of their own life—whether it’s their career, their personal relationships, their hobbies—that’s independent of their role as a parent, so they don’t get caught up in this trap of wanting to just keep parenting their children until they’re 40 years old.”
Avoiding that trap is also important for the well-being of emerging adults, as a growing body of research shows.
“Parents need to learn to accept their children’s own goals and give them the chance to explore,” Segrin said. “Young adults need the room to go out and explore and find their own life and their own ambitions.”
Cannabinoids May Be Useful To Prevent Colon Cancer, New Study Finds
University of South Carolina, September 15, 2020
Inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are caused by unrestrained inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract. Patients with IBD are at a higher risk of developing colorectal cancer. In a recent study published in iScience by authors from the University of South Carolina, it was shown that treatment with Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), a cannabinoid found in the cannabis plant, prevented the development of colon cancers in mice. It was shown that THC suppressed inflammation in the colon, preventing the onset of cancers caused by a carcinogen.
This new paper is based on research studies from the laboratories of Prakash Nagarkatti, Ph.D., and Dr. Mitzi Nagarkatti, Ph.D, at the University of South Carolina (UofSC) School of Medicine Columbia, Department of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology. The Nagarkattis published “Activation of cannabinoid receptor 2 prevents colitis-associated colon cancer through myeloid cell deactivation upstream of IL-22 production,” with co-authors William Becker, Haider Alrafas, Kiesha Wilson, Kathryn Miranda, Courtney Culpepper, Ioulia Chatzistamou and Guoshuai Cai, who also work at the University of South Carolina. Prakash and Mitzi Nagarkatti have been studying the effects of botanicals, including cannabis, on inflammation for many years.
The incidence of IBD is increasing globally. This suggests that the risk of cancers that are linked to IBD also are going to increase. In fact, the risk of colon and rectal cancers is increasing at an alarming rate among young and middle-aged adults in the United States and the cause remains unknown. Thus, understanding the mechanisms of IBD and developing effective drugs to prevent IBD and associated cancers are crucial.
“The fact that we were able to show that treatment with THC prevents inflammation in the colon and at the same time inhibits the development of colon cancer supports the notion that inflammation and colon cancer are closely linked. Thus, in patients who are at a higher risk of developing colon cancer, THC or other anti-inflammatory agents may be benefical,” says Prakash Nagarkatti.
The Nagarkattis are world-renowned for their work studying the anti-inflammatory properties of cannabinoids. The cannabinoids act through two receptors known as CB1 and CB2. The CB1 receptor is expressed in the brain where THC activation causes psychoactive effects. The second receptor, CB2, is expressed mainly on the immune cells, meaning that activation of CB2 receptors does not trigger psychoactivity.
“Our results showed that THC was acting through CB2 receptors, which is exciting and suggests that compounds that activate CB2 and cause no psychoactive effects may be beneficial to prevent IBD and colon cancer,” said Mitzi Nagarkatti.
“Wet brain” linked to iron deposits, low B1
Medical University of Vienna (Austria), September 14 2020.
A hypothesis proposed on August 18, 2020 in Alzheimer’s and Dementia suggests that a deficiency of thiamin (vitamin B1) resulting from excessive alcohol consumption causes excess iron to be deposited in the brain, leading to alcohol-associated cognitive decline (sometimes referred to as wet brain syndrome).
While it is an essential nutrient, iron is associated with increased oxidative stress. Disordered iron metabolism in the brain has been associated with Alzheimer disease and other disorders. Previous research that compared the brains of individuals with alcohol use disorder (AUD) to those of age-matched healthy controls found increases in brain iron in deep gray matter regions in the AUD patients.
“We hypothesize that excess iron, that is, brain iron overload, is a highly relevant pathway leading to cognitive deterioration in individuals with alcohol use disorder,” wrote Stephan Listabarth and colleagues at the Medical University of Vienna. “We further hypothesize thiamin depletion, a common concomitant feature in AUD patients, to be a key stimulus for brain iron overload, as thiamine deficiency disrupts the integrity of the blood‐brain barrier (BBB), enabling iron from the circulation to enter the brain in an uncontrolled manner.”
Dr Listabarth and colleagues suggested that iron chelators which lower excess iron levels could be investigated in people at risk of alcohol-related dementia. Additionally, thiamin supplementation could be studied as a protective factor for people with alcohol dependence.
“If our hypothesis were true, this would implicate that iron metabolism should be considered as a relevant factor in the management of AUD patients,” they concluded. “Furthermore, this would implicate the emergence of possible new therapeutic approaches in the treatment of cognitive decline in AUD patients, raising hope for the quest of preventing, or at least limiting, the progression of alcohol‐related dementia.”
Omega-3 and Omega-6 supplement improves reading for children
University of Gothenburg, Sweden – September 14, 2020
Supplement of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids may improve reading skills of mainstream schoolchildren, according to a new study from Sahlgrenska Academy, at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden. Children with attention problems, in particular, may be helped in their reading with the addition of these fatty acids.
The study included 154 schoolchildren from western Sweden in grade 3, between nine and ten years old. The children took a computer-based test (known as the Logos test) that measured their reading skills in a variety of ways, including reading speed, ability to read nonsense words and vocabulary.
The children were randomly assigned to receive either capsules with omega-3 and omega-6, or identical capsules that contained a placebo (palm oil) for 3 months. The children, parents and researchers did not learn until the study was completed which children had received fatty acids and which had received the placebo. After three months, all children received real omega-3/6 capsules for the final three months of the study.
“Even after three months, we could see that the children’s reading skills improved with the addition of fatty acids, compared with those who received the placebo. This was particularly evident in the ability to read a nonsense word aloud and pronounce it correctly (phonologic decoding), and the ability to read a series of letters quickly (visual analysis time),” says Mats Johnson, who is chief physician and researcher at the Gillberg Neuropsychiatry Centre at Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg.
No children diagnosed with ADHD were included in the study, but with the help of the children’s parents, the researchers could identify children who had milder attention problems. These children attained even greater improvements in several tests, including faster reading already after three months of receiving fatty acid supplements. Polyunsaturated fats and their role in children’s learning and behavior is a growing research area.
“Our modern diet contains relatively little omega-3, which it is believed to have a negative effect on our children when it comes to learning, literacy and attention,” says Mats Johnson. “The cell membranes in the brain are largely made up of polyunsaturated fats, and there are studies that indicate that fatty acids are important for signal transmission between nerve cells and the regulation of signaling systems in the brain.”
Previous studies in which researchers examined the effect of omega-3 as a supplement for mainstream schoolchildren have not shown positive results, something Mats Johnson believes may depend on how these studies were organized and what combination and doses of fatty acids were used. This is the first double-blind, placebo-controlled study showing that omega-3/6 improves reading among mainstream schoolchildren.
“Our study suggests that children could benefit from a dietary supplement with a special formula. To be more certain about the results, they should also be replicated in other studies,” says Mats Johnson.
The article Omega 3/6 fatty acids for reading in children: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial in 9-year-old mainstream schoolchildren in Sweden was published by The Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry.
What are some of the top testosterone supplements and boosters?
Medical News Today, September 16, 2020
In this article, we explain more about testosterone, including its role in males and females and how a person can increase their levels of this hormone.
What is testosterone, and what does it do?
Testosterone is a key male sex hormone. During puberty, testosterone is responsible for the deepening of the voice, the growth of the male sexual organs, and the development of pubic hair. It also plays an important role in sperm production.
Although people often associate testosterone with males, this hormone has several functions in both males and females. These include:
- regulating sex drive
- increasing bone mass
- fat distribution and storage
- muscle growth
- red blood cell production
- sperm production
The key difference is that males tend to have higher testosterone levels than females, while females have higher levels of a different sex hormone: estrogen. Testosterone levels can fluctuate throughout the female and male life cycle.
If a person is transitioning, they may choose to increase their testosterone levels to make certain aspects of their body — those that society understands as masculine — more apparent.
In this situation, a person may consider testosterone therapy. A person should discuss the potential benefits and risks of hormone therapy with their doctor.
Benefits of testosterone supplements
Testosterone supplements may be useful for people who have a testosterone deficiency. In males, a testosterone deficiency may cause the following symptoms:
Females with a testosterone deficiency may present with:
- difficulty sleeping
- reduction in sex drive
- weight gain
- irregular menstrual cycles
- vaginal dryness
Taking testosterone supplements in these circumstances may help alleviate these symptoms. However, a person may need to discuss this with a doctor.
Risks and side effects
In another study, scientists gave testosterone supplements to rats and noted that this led to an increase in prostate tumors. More research is necessary to assess whether the same happens in humans.
List of supplements
This section examines supplements that may help increase testosterone levels.
A recent study featuring in the Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology notes an association between vitamin D levels and testosterone. Men with a vitamin D deficiency had lower testosterone levels than those without a deficiency.
This research implies that an increase in vitamin D may help raise testosterone levels. Vitamin D supplements come in the form of capsules or a spray.
Ashwagandha is an evergreen shrub. The roots and fruit of this plant have medicinal properties.
The researchers found that the testosterone levels of the participants taking ashwagandha increased by 14.7% more than they did among the placebo group.
This amino acid plays a role in testosterone production and release.
In an older study, researchers gave 23 men a daily dose of D-aspartate for 12 days, which led to an increase in their testosterone. More research is necessary to determine whether similar results will occur in females.
Fenugreek is a plant belonging to the Fabaceae family.
A meta-analysis of trials investigating the effect of a fenugreek extract supplement on testosterone levels in males suggests that it has a significant effect.
Research has produced similar results in females. In a 2015 study, researchers gave 80 females aged 20–49 years 600 milligrams of fenugreek seed extract or a placebo each day for 8 weeks. The extract led to a significant increase in testosterone levels and sexual desire compared with the placebo.
A study examining the effect of DHEA and whole-body vibrations on mice found that this combination decreased testosterone levels. However, DHEA alone led to an increase in testosterone levels.
More research is necessary to explore the effects of DHEA on testosterone in humans.
Can high dose vitamin D enhance athletic performance?
University of British Columbia & Simon Fraser University, September 14, 2020
Maintaining higher levels of vitamin D may boost athletic performance and reduce the time needed to recover from exercise, says a review of the scientific literature.
Evidence from animal studies suggest that high doses of vitamin D3 may increase aerobic capacity, muscle growth, and force and power production, thereby offering potential ergogenic effects, wrote scientists from the University of British Columbia (Canada), Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center and Children’s Hospital (USA), and Simon Fraser University (Canada).
The review, published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition , also highlighted the need to consider vitamin K whenever considering the potential performance benefits of vitamin D because K and D work synergistically.
“Based on the research presented on recovery, force and power production, 4,000-5,000 IU/day of vitamin D3 in conjunction with a mixture of 50 to 1,000 micrograms per day of vitamin K1 and K2 seems to be a safe dose and has the potential to aid athletic performance,” they wrote.
“However, both deficiency (12.5 to 50 nmol/L) and high levels of vitamin D (greater than 125 nmol/L) can have negative side effects, with the potential for an increased mortality. Thus, maintenance of optimal serum levels between 75 to 100 nmol/L and ensuring adequate amounts of other essential nutrients including vitamin K are consumed, is key to health and performance.”
Vitamin D refers to two biologically inactive precursors – D3, also known as cholecalciferol, and D2, also known as ergocalciferol. Both D3 and D2 precursors are transformed in the liver and kidneys into 25- hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D), the non-active ‘storage’ form, and 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D (1,25(OH)2D).Vitamin D deficiency in adults is reported to precipitate or exacerbate osteopenia, osteoporosis, muscle weakness, fractures, common cancers, autoimmune diseases, infectious diseases and cardiovascular diseases.
While our bodies do manufacture vitamin D on exposure to sunshine, the levels in some northern countries are so weak during the winter months that our body makes no vitamin D at all, meaning that dietary supplements and fortified foods are seen by many as the best way to boost intakes of vitamin D.
Despite the potential ergogenic benefits of the sunshine vitamin, the reviewers not that large portions of athletic populations are deficient in the vitamin.
“Based on the literature presented, it is plausible that vitamin D levels above the normal reference range (up to 100 nmol/L) might increase skeletal muscle function, decrease recovery time from training, increase both force and power production, and increase testosterone production, each of which could potentiate athletic performance,” they wrote.
However, “no study in the athletic population has increased serum 25(OH)D levels past 100 nmol/L, (the optimal range for skeletal muscle function) using doses of 1,000 to 5,000 IU/day,” they noted.
“Thus, future studies should test the physiological effects of higher dosages (5,000 IU to 10,000 IU/day or more) of vitamin D3 in combination with varying dosages of vitamin K1 and vitamin K2 in the athletic population to determine optimal dosages needed to maximize performance.”
Turmeric may help ease the pain of a dodgy knee
University of Tasmania, September 11, 2020
An extract of Curcuma longa (CL), commonly known as turmeric, was found to be more effective than placebo for reducing knee pain in patients with knee osteoarthritis. However, CL did not affect structural aspects of knee osteoarthritis, such as swelling or cartilage composition assessed using MRI. Findings from a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial are published in Annals of Internal Medicine.
Despite its large disease burden, no approved disease-modifying drugs currently are available to treat osteoarthritis. Common treatments, such as acetaminophen and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs have only mild to moderate effects and are associated with adverse events. As such, an urgent need exists for safer and more effective drugs to treat osteoarthritis.
Researchers from the University of Tasmania, Australia randomly assigned 70 participants with symptomatic knee osteoarthritis and ultrasound evidence of effusion (swelling inside the knee joint) to receive either two capsules per day of CL (n = 36) or matched placebo (n = 34) for 12 weeks to determine the efficacy CL for reducing knee symptoms and joint swelling. Changes in pain and knee effusion-synovitis volume were assessed by standardized questionnaire and MRI, respectively, over 12 weeks. The researchers also looked for changes in cartilage composition, pain medication usage, quality of life, physical performance measures, and adverse events.
After 12 weeks, they found that patients taking the turmeric supplements reported less pain than those in the placebo group with no adverse events. Besides, participants in the turmeric group consumed fewer pain medications compared to the participants in the placebo group. There was no difference in the structural aspects of knee osteoarthritis between the groups. Due to the modest effect of the turmeric extracts on knee pain, small sample size of the study, short-duration of follow-up and the single research center, the researchers suggest that multicenter trials with larger sample sizes and long duration of follow-up are needed to assess the clinical significance of their findings.
Pine bark supplements fight the harmful effects of oxidative stress after exercise: Research
University of Louisiana, September 15, 2020
Researchers from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette said that taking pine bark supplements led to lower levels of malonaldehyde (MDA), a toxic compound that serves as a biomarker for oxidative stress. This effect was seen 48 hours after exercise among individuals who took the supplements for at least two weeks.
The researchers noted that high physical activity often spurs higher levels of oxidative stress. But by taking pine bark supplements, individuals can benefit from an enhanced healing process.
“[Maritime] pine extract as compared to placebo was effective at affording protection from oxidative stress post-exercise,” wrote the researchers.
Pine bark extract protects against oxidative stress
Pine bark extract is an herbal extract that comes from the tree Pinus pinaster, or maritime pine. It grows abundantly in France, where its medicinal uses date back to the 14th century. French sailors used pine bark to combat scurvy, a condition caused by vitamin C deficiency, as they sailed from France to the New World.
Aside from being rich in vitamin C, pine bark extract is also packed with phytochemicals – natural plant compounds that contribute to the color, taste and smell of vegetables. The phytochemicals found in pine bark supplements include procyanidins and flavonoids, both of which lower inflammation and protect from oxidative stress. Previous research also linked pine bark extract to a host of health benefits such as boosting brain function, balancing blood sugar levels and improving blood flow.
In the study, the researchers looked at the effects of pine bark supplements on 20 healthy men. They were randomly assigned to either 200 mg of the extract or a placebo and took these for 14 days prior to the first exercise trial and for 2?days post-exercise. After a seven-day washout period, the men were asked to take the other medication.
Results showed that MDA levels significantly decreased among the pine bark group compared to the placebo group. The placebo group also displayed significant increases in MDA levels before and 48 hours after the exercise.
Given these findings, the researchers recommended further research to evaluate the effects of pine bark extract among individuals who practice intense training. Furthermore, they see great potential in pine bark extract for helping treat metabolic syndrome, a group of diseases that are influenced by oxidative stress.
Researchers use soy to improve bone cancer treatment
Washington State University, September 15, 2020
Researchers in recent years have demonstrated the health benefits of soy, linking its consumption to reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, obesity, cancer and improved bone health.
Now, WSU researchers are hoping to use the health benefits of the popular legume to improve post-operative treatment of bone cancer.
Reporting in the journal, Acta Biomaterialia, graduate student Naboneeta Sarkar and Professor Susmita Bose in WSU’s School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering showed that the slow release of soy-based chemical compounds from a 3D-printed bone-like scaffold resulted in a reduction in bone cancer cells while building up healthy cells and reducing harmful inflammation.
“There is not much research in this area of natural medicinal compounds in biomedical devices,” Bose said. “Using these natural medicines, one can make a difference to human health with very minimal or no side effects, although a critical issue remains composition control.”
Although rare, osteosarcoma occurs most often in children and young adults. Despite medical advances, patients with osteosarcoma and metastatic bone cancer experience a high rate of recurrence, and osteosarcoma is second leading cause of cancer death in children.
Treatment involves surgery to remove the tumor as well as pre- and post-operative chemotherapy. Large areas of bone need to be removed and repaired, and patients often experience a significant amount of inflammation during bone reconstruction, which slows healing. High doses of chemotherapy before and after surgery can also have harmful side effects.
Researchers would like to develop gentler treatment options, especially after surgery when patients are trying to recover from bone damage at the same time that they are taking harsh drugs to suppress tumor growth. Bose’s team has been studying bone tissue engineering as an alternative strategy to repair the bone, using materials science principles and advanced manufacturing techniques to develop effective biomedical devices.
As part of this study, the researchers used 3D printing to make patient-specific, bone-like scaffolds that included three soy compounds and then slowly released the compounds into samples containing bone cancer as well as healthy bone cells. Soybeans contain isoflavones, plant-derived estrogens that have been shown to impede cancer cell growth for many types of cancer without being toxic to normal cells. Isoflavones have also been shown to improve bone health and possibly prevent osteoporosis.
One of the soybean compounds caused a 90% reduction in bone cancer cell viability in their samples after 11 days. Two other soy compounds, meanwhile, significantly improved the growth of healthy bone cells. Furthermore, using the soy compounds in animal models also reduced inflammation, which could benefit bone health as well as overall recovery.
“These results advance our understanding in providing therapeutic approaches in using synthetic bone grafts as a drug delivery vehicle,” Bose said.
The researchers are continuing the unique area of research, studying the specific pathways of the genetic expression of natural compounds and the benefits of integrating them in biomedical technology. More detailed long-term studies are needed, using animal research as well as other malignant cells, she said.
Broccoli extract found to significantly improve autism symptoms; sulforaphane molecule is powerful natural medicine
Mass General Hospital for Children, September 14, 2020
A powerful anti-cancer nutrient found naturally in cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and cauliflower could help significantly improve health outcomes in autistic men and boys. Research published in the journal The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reveals that sulforaphane, an antioxidant compound, is capable of reversing many of the most common symptoms associated with autism spectrum disorders (ASD).
Although the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) claims that there are no medications currently on the market that can treat or cure ASD, a placebo-controlled, randomized, double-blind pilot study suggests otherwise. Present most richly in broccoli sprouts, sulforaphane has been shown to help drastically improve social interactions and verbal communication in ASD-diagnosed men and boys as well as reduce hyperactivity, irritability and other ASD symptoms.
Conducted on 44 males aged 13 to 27, the study found that after 18 weeks of consuming sulforaphane-rich broccoli sprout extract, more than half of the men saw significant health improvements. Behavioral abnormalities also decreased significantly as a result of the treatment, as did lipid peroxidation and neuroinflammation. These same men also saw improvements in antioxidant capacity, glutathione synthesis, mitrochondrial function and oxidative phosphorylation.
“Sulforaphane, which showed negligible toxicity, was selected because it upregulates genes that protect aerobic cells against oxidative stress, inflammation, and DNA-damage, all of which are prominent and possibly mechanistic characteristics of ASD,” the authors wrote.
Sulforaphane in broccoli sprouts regulates cellular health, energy production and detoxification
Depending on their individual weights, the men and boys were assigned to take either 232 mg (for those who weighed 100 pounds or less), 464 mg (101 to 199 pounds), or 696 mg (more than 200 pounds) of sulforaphane-rich broccoli extract daily. Such amounts are difficult to obtain from eating broccoli sprouts whole, but many supplement manufacturers offer capsules containing concentrated extract levels in this range or even higher.
This is good news for parents who are trying to help their autistic children achieve a better quality of life naturally. Sulphorane is an antioxidant nutrient with no negative side effects, meaning it can only help an ASD-afflicted child. Likewise, whole broccoli sprouts are a “superfood,” not a drug, so parents do not have to worry that it will harm their children in any way.
As an added benefit, sulforaphane might also help ameliorate a number of other genetic disorders by activating the body’s “stress proteome.” The stress proteome is responsible for regulating processes such as glutathione synthesis, mitochondrial function (cellular health), and neurological inflammation.
When ASD patients stopped taking sulforaphane, their symptoms returned
In order for sulforaphane to work, however, ASD patients need to continue taking it. At the 22-week reassessment, which took place one month after study participants ceased taking the broccoli sprout extract, most (but not all) of their improvements had waned or disappeared. The researchers involved say this change only reinforces their finding that sulforaphane was directly responsible for the positive improvements observed throughout the study.
“When we broke the code that revealed who was receiving sulforaphane and who got the placebo, the results weren’t surprising to us, since the improvements were so noticeable,” stated Dr. Andrew Zimmerman, M.D., one of the study’s authors and a physician at MassGeneral Hospital for Children (MGHfC).
“The improvements seen on the Social Responsiveness Scale were particularly remarkable, and I’ve been told this is the first time that any statistically significant improvement on the SRS has been seen for a drug study in autism spectrum disorder,” he added, noting that the consensus among the research team was that sulforaphane likely activates the Nrf2 pathway, reducing inflammation in the brain and promoting increased antioxidant protection.
Exercise’s Surprising Potential To Treat People With Multiple Chronic Conditions
University of Southern Denmark, September 11, 2020
Hundreds of millions of people of all ages worldwide live with two or more chronic conditions – commonly defined as multimorbidity. Those living with it are found to have poorer physical and mental health, higher risk of being admitted to hospital, and higher risk of dying prematurely compared to people with only one chronic condition.
Given that the number of people living with multimorbidity is only expected to rise in the future, finding better treatments is considered the next major health priority. But despite multimorbidity being a leading cause of disability, research on treatments are still in its infancy. Few studies have investigated treatment options – and unfortunately the results of these studies most often offer negligible improvements.
People with multimorbidity want treatments that will improve their physical, mental, emotional, and social health. Our research found that exercise may actually be a surprising treatment for those living with multimorbidity, and offer many of these improvements patients want.
Currently, multimorbidity is managed by treating each chronic conditions separately using available medicines. However, this might not reduce symptoms sufficiently, and can have many adverse health effects. Many people consult several health care providers and also end up taking multiple drugs (often at least one for each condition) which carries a risk of adverse events and can be inconvenient and unsatisfactory for patients.
Exercise as medicine
Research has shown exercise is an effective treatment for 26 chronic conditions, including osteoarthritis, depression and type 2 diabetes. Research also shows exercise could potentially prevent 35 chronic conditions from developing.
Thanks to its overall effects on health (such as lowering blood pressure, improving joint health and cognitive function, exercise therapy can benefit a range of chronic conditions. It also has a lower risk of negative side effects compared to pharmacological treatments. At the same time, exercise requires physical effort, and like pharmacological treatments, the effects will diminish if you stop exercising.
But could exercise therapy benefit people with multiple chronic conditions as well? This is what our recent review aimed to investigate.
We assessed the effect of exercise therapy on the physical and mental health of people with at least two of the following chronic conditions: osteoarthritis of the knee or hip, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, depression, heart failure, ischemic heart disease, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. We found 23 studies that looked at adults aged 50 to 80 years old.
The exercise therapy interventions used in the studies were at least partially supervised by a physiotherapist or an exercise physiologist. Most lasted 12 weeks on average and exercise was performed two to three times a week, starting from low intensity and progressing to moderate to high intensity. The exercise therapies included were aquatic exercise, strength training, aerobic training and tai chi.
Our review showed exercise therapy improved quality of life and reduced anxiety and depression symptoms. The benefits were higher in younger patients and patients who had higher depression symptoms before starting exercise therapy. This highlights that people with severe depression – often considered ineligible for exercise due to their depression severity – may benefit highly from exercise therapy.
Patients who participated in exercise therapy were also able to walk longer. Those taking part walked on average 43 metres more than those not taking part in the exercise interventions, over six minutes. This improvement appears to be important for the patient and it reduced their disability.
Exercise therapy also didn’t increase risk of non-serious side effects, such as knee, arm, or back pain, or falls and fatigue. What’s more, it reduced the risk of hospitalisation, pneumonia, and extreme fatigue.
As such, exercise could be a safe and effective therapy instead of increasing drug prescription in people with multiple chronic conditions. The benefits were similar across all the combinations of chronic conditions included in our study. However these findings need to be confirmed in future trials to have a more definitive answer.
Together with patients and healthcare professionals, we are developing and testing an exercise therapy and self-management programme in the MOBILIZE project. This trial will help us understand whether personalised exercise therapy and self-management is effective in managing and treating multimorbidity.
In the meantime, people with multimorbidity can improve mental and physical health by exercising two to three times a week. Aerobic workouts, strength training or a combination of the two can promote similar health benefits, regardless of the conditions a person live with. However, it’s important that the exercise therapy sessions are supervised and that the intensity of the session progresses based on patient capabilities.
Plant-based diets found to relieve symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis
George Washington University, September 14, 2020
In a major breakthrough, a team of researchers from the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences and the non-profit health organization Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) looked at recent studies that assessed the impact of diet on the risk of rheumatoid arthritis.
The group found that certain foods, such as red meat, milk and milk products, could exacerbate the condition. In contrast, diets rich in plant-based foods like fruits, grains and legumes help reduce pain and inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis patients.
In all, these findings suggest that a simple menu change could help patients better manage their disease, said co-author and PCRM clinical research director Hana Kahleova. Sticking to a plant-based diet could also keep the disease in remission for long periods. Their findings appeared online in the journal Frontiers in Nutrition.
Plant-based diets can benefit rheumatoid arthritis patients
Numerous studies indicate that plant-based diets could help decrease the risk of chronic autoimmune conditions like rheumatoid arthritis. In patients, adopting a plant-based diet could help in better management of the disease for the long-term.
There are a number of possible mechanisms behind these beneficial effects. For instance, results of randomized clinical trials (RCT) indicate that a plant-based diet could reduce total cholesterol and induce weight loss better than conventional calorie-restricted diets.
Having high cholesterol and being obese could lead to the onset of rheumatoid arthritis or exacerbate joint pain and inflammation in patients. Therefore, these findings suggest that a plant-based diet decreases the risk and eases the effects of rheumatoid arthritis thanks to its influence on weight and total cholesterol.
Furthermore, several observational studies found strong and consistent evidence that a plant-based diet can reduce inflammation linked to rheumatoid arthritis. In contrast, semi-vegetarian or omnivorous diets that still contained meat and animal products triggered inflammation in patients.
In particular, one RCT found that a gluten-free vegan diet reduced the amount of a pro-inflammatory antibody, called immunoglobulin G (IgG), in rheumatoid arthritis patients. Patients typically have higher than appropriate amounts of IgG in their blood and lymph fluid.
Moreover, another RCT found that a three-month Mediterranean dietary intervention improved rheumatoid arthritis symptoms. A Mediterranean diet is rich in monounsaturated fats that protect against inflammation and oxidative stress. Copious amounts of these fats can be found in plant-based foods like nuts and avocados.
In addition, the researchers found that the state of one’s gut health, which depends on diet and nutrition, could also influence the onset and progression of rheumatoid arthritis. For instance, a permeable intestinal barrier, a marker of poor gut health, allows for bacteria and other microbes to enter the bloodstream.
These harmful agents could then trigger inflammation and joint pain in rheumatoid arthritis patients. Research shows that a plant-based diet modulates the gut microbiome for better gut health. In turn, this leads to less intestinal inflammation, which some studies suggest is connected to joint inflammation.
The researchers attribute these effects to the fibers in many plant-based foods. Fiber feeds the beneficial bacteria in the gut, thus making it less prone to infection and inflammation. Enzymes and amino acids in plant-based foods also increase bacterial diversity in the gut, which rheumatoid arthritis patients often lack.
Taken together, these studies provide empirical evidence that a plant-based diet comprised of fruits, vegetables, grains and legumes could be incredibly beneficial for people with rheumatoid arthritis.
Researchers Report Recent Findings that Garlic Improves Visual Memory and Attention
University of Dhaka (Bangladesh), September 14, 2020
Researchers from University of Dhaka Report Recent Findings in Complementary and Alternative Medicine that “Studies have shown that Allium sativum L. or garlic protects amyloid-beta peptide-induced apoptosis, prevents oxidative insults to neurons and synapses, and thus prevent Alzheimer’s disease progression in experimental animals. However, there is no experimental evidence in human regarding its putative role in memory and cognition.”
The news correspondents obtained a quote from the research from the University of Dhaka, “We have studied the effect of garlic consumption by healthy human volunteers on visual memory, verbal memory, attention, and executive function in comparison to control subjects taking placebo. The study was conducted over five weeks and twenty volunteers of both genders were recruited and divided randomly into two groups: A Garlic and B (placebo). Both groups participated in the 6 computerized neuropsychological tests of the Cambridge Neuropsychological Test Automated Battery (CANTAB) twice: at the beginning and after five weeks of the study. We found statistically significant difference (p < 0.05) in several parameters of visual memory and attention due to AS ingestion. We also found statistically nonsignificant (p > 0.05) beneficial effects on verbal memory and executive function within a short period of time among the volunteers.”
According to the news reporters, the research concluded: “Study for a longer period of time with patients suffering from neuro degenerative diseases might yield more relevant results regarding the potential therapeutic role of garlic.”
Why You Should Eat Two Apples a Day
Green Med Info, September 12th 2020
A 2020 study points to apples’ ability to mediate significant gut microbial metabolic activity. All it takes: two apples a day. In light of the increasing link between gut microbiota and human wellness, this new association is worth exploring and further vouches for this fruit’s superfood and super healer status
The old saying that eating an apple a day will keep the doctor away may have some scientific basis after all, as scientific literature is packed with findings that vouch for this fruit’s healthful benefits.
Showing that the saying above goes beyond folk medicine fantasy, a study found that eating one apple a day for four weeks translated to lower blood levels of oxidized low-density lipoprotein//beta2-glycoprotein I complex, which may contribute to atherosclerosis, by 40% among healthy, middle-aged individuals.[i]
Apple consumption has also been the subject of a few studies on reducing cancer risk, including liver cancer, breast cancer and esophageal cancer.[ii] A study published in February 2020 points to apples’ ability to mediate significant gut microbial metabolic activity. All it takes: two apples a day.
Apples are a frequently consumed fruit and a reliable source of polyphenols and fiber, an important mediator for their health-protective effects.[iii]
Validated biomarkers of food intake (BFIs) have recently been suggested as a good tool for assessing adherence to dietary guidelines. New biomarkers have[iv] surfaced in recent decades from metabolic profiling studies for different foods, yet the number of comprehensively validated BFIs remains limited.
BFIs offer an accurate measure of intake, independent of the memory and sincerity of the subjects as well as of their knowledge about the consumed foods.[v] They overcome food intake measurement with inherent limitations, such as self-reported dietary intake questionnaires, as they objectively assess food intake without biased self-reported assessment.
The researchers sought to identify biomarkers of long-term apple consumption, exploring how the fruit affects human plasma and urine metabolite profiles. In their randomized, controlled, crossover intervention study, they recruited 40 mildly hypercholesterolemiapatients and had them consume two whole apples or a sugar and energy-matched beverage daily for eight weeks.
At the end of the trial, they found 61 urine and nine plasma metabolites that were statistically significant after the whole apple intake compared to the control beverage. The metabolites included several polyphenols that could serve as BFIs.
Interestingly, the study allowed the group to explore correlations between metabolites significantly modulated by the dietary intervention and fecal microbiota species at genus level — specifically interactions shared by Granulicatella genus and phenyl-acetic acid metabolites.
“[T]he identification of polyphenol microbial metabolites suggests that apple consumption mediates significant gut microbial metabolic activity which should be further explored,” they wrote.[vi]
Gut Health Affects Your Whole Body
The link between the gut microbiota and human wellness is being increasingly recognized, where it is now well-established that healthy gut flora is a key part of your overall health.[vii]
Previous studies corroborate that the richness of the human gut microbiome correlates with metabolic markers. In a study on 123 non-obese and 169 obese Danish individuals, a group of scientists found two distinct groups displaying a difference in the number of gut microbial genes and thus the richness of gut bacteria in the two groups.[viii]
Individuals with a low bacterial richness had more marked overall adiposity and insulin resistance, for instance, compared with high bacterial richness subjects. The obese subjects among the lower bacterial richness group also tended to gain more weight over time.
A series of largely pre-clinical observations showed, too, that changes in brain-gut-microbiome communication may be involved in the pathogenesis and pathophysiology of irritable bowel syndrome, obesity and several psychiatric and neurologic disorders.[ix]
Additional Apple Benefits
More benefits of apple intake are coming out of the medical literature, confirming its superfood and super healer status that shouldn’t be missed out on.
These benefits include addressing common issues such as aging (reduced rate), allergies, alopecia or hair loss, diarrhea, insulin resistance, radiation-induced illness, and Staphylococcal infection. In the area of cancer treatment, apples have been found to both prevent and suppress mammary cancers in the animal model, while carotenoids extracted from the fruit have been found to inhibit drug-resistant cancer cell line proliferation.[x]
Healthy diet and exercise during pregnancy could lead to healthier children, study finds
Kings College London, September 13, 2020
New research shows improving the lifestyle of women with obesity during pregnancy could mean long-term cardiovascular benefits for their children.
The study, led by King’s College London and supported by the British Heart Foundation and Tommy’s charity, examined how an antenatal diet and physical activity intervention in pregnant women with obesity could positively influence the health of the women and their children three years after giving birth.
The UPBEAT trial is a randomised controlled trial which aims to improve the diet and physical activity of obese pregnant women across the UK. Women who were given a diet and exercise intervention were compared to women in a control group, who made no changes to their lifestyle during pregnancy.
Follow-up examinations three years after birth showed that the children born to the intervention arm of the trial had a lower resting heart rate of -5 bpm than children treated with standard care. A higher resting heart rate in adults is associated with hypertension and cardiovascular dysfunction.
The study also showed that mothers in the intervention arm maintained a healthier diet three years after birth.
While women reported lower glycaemic load, maternal energy and saturated fatty acids intake, and higher protein intake three years after delivery, there were no differences in self-reported physical activity or in measures of body composition.
Lead author Kathryn Dalrymple from King’s College London said: “This research shows that an lifestyle intervention in pregnant women, which focused on improving diet and increasing physical activity, is associated with improved cardiovascular function in the child at three-years of age and a sustained improvement in the mothers diet, three years after the intervention finished. These findings are very exciting as they add to the evidence that pregnancy is a window of opportunity to promote positive health and lifestyle changes which benefit the mother and her child.”
Senior author Professor Lucilla Poston, Tommy’s Chair for Maternal and Fetal Health, said: “Obesity in pregnancy is a major problem because it can increase the risk of complications in pregnancy as well as affecting the longer-term health of the child. This study strengthens my resolve to highlight just how important it is that we give children a healthy start in life.”
Tommy’s Research and Policy Director, Lizzie D’Angelo, said: “Pregnancy can be higher risk for women who are obese, but trying to lose lots of weight while pregnant is not advised, so our research focuses on finding new ways to make pregnancy safer for these families. It’s very reassuring to see that our researchers have been able to improve mothers’ diets and children’s heart health in the long term, helping to give these babies the best start in life.”
Tracy Parker, Senior Dietitian at the British Heart Foundation, said: “Keeping physically active and maintaining a balanced diet are both important ways of keeping our hearts healthy. This research shows that for pregnant women, the benefits don’t end there. A healthy diet before, during and after pregnancy can have positive long-term health benefits for both mother and child.”
The team of researchers will follow-up these children again at 8-10 years of age to see if this improvement in cardiovascular function is maintained through childhood.
Ashwagandha May Calm Generalized Anxiety Disorder
New findings from a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial
Mashhad University of Medical Sciences (Iran), September 1, 2020
Study Objective:To assess the effect of an extract of Withania somnifera on symptoms of generalized anxiety
Design: Randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial
Forty patients who were undergoing treatment with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) participated in this trial. They met the criteria for generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) diagnosis as stated in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, Text Revision (DSM-IV-TR). They were randomly selected for the treatment group (W somnifera root extract, 1 g/day; n=22) or the placebo group (n=18). Patients received either the extract or placebo daily for 6 weeks.
Study Parameters Assessed
To assess the severity of GAD symptoms at baseline as well as at week 2 and week 6 of the trial, researchers used the Hamilton Anxiety Rating Scale (HAM-A). The HAM-A scale contains 14 questions rating the severity of common GAD symptoms, from 0 to 4.
Primary Outcome Measures
HAM-A scores during the course of the trial revealed a significant amelioration of GAD symptoms in the treatment group versus placebo (P<0.05). There was also a significant difference in the reduction of GAD score between the 2nd (P=0.04) and 6th week (P=0.02) in the treatment group. The extract was safe, and researchers observed no adverse effect during the trial.
Withania somnifera (ashwagandha) root extract is statistically efficacious at 1 gram per day after 2 weeks and even more so after 6 weeks of treatment. It has also been found to be safe to use while on SSRIs.
Pesco-Mediterranean diet, intermittent fasting may lower heart disease risk
Saint Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute, September 11, 2020
A Pesco-Mediterranean diet rich in plants, nuts, whole grains, extra-virgin olive oil, and fish and/or seafood is ideal for optimizing cardiovascular health, according to a cumulative review published today in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. Intermittent fasting is recommended as part of this diet.
The traditional Mediterranean diet has been endorsed by national guidelines as well as the 2019 ACC/AHA Guideline on the Primary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease. The Mediterranean diet consists of plant foods (fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, seeds, tree nuts and olives), fish/seafood, olive oil, and moderate amounts of dairy products (yogurt and cheese) and eggs. Multiple studies and randomized clinical trials have indicated that the diet is associated with lower risk for heart disease, diabetes, cognitive decline, depression and some cancers.
“Although humans are omnivores and can subsist on a myriad of foods, the ideal diet for health remains a dilemma for many people,” said James H. O’Keefe, MD, director of preventive cardiology at Saint Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute, and lead author of the study. “Plant-rich diets reduce cardiovascular disease risk; however, veganism are difficult to follow and can result in important nutrient deficiencies. On the other hand, many people in modern Western cultures over-consume meat, particularly highly processed meat from animals raised in inhuman conditions. We propose the Pesco-Mediterranean diet as a solution to this ‘omnivore’s dilemma’ about what to eat.”
Previous studies have supported including fish as a part of a heart-healthy diet. The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend adults consume fish at least twice a week in place of red meat, poultry or eggs. A pescatarian diet includes fish and/or seafood as the primary source of protein and minimizes the consumption of red meat or poultry. A meta-analysis of five prospective dietary studies found that compared to regular meat-eaters, coronary artery disease mortality was 34% lower in those following a pescatarian diet.
A Pesco-Mediterranean diet also emphasizes using extra-virgin olive oil in place of butter or other fats. Extra-virgin olive oil is a higher-quality, unrefined olive oil, and has been shown in previous studies to have cardiometabolic benefits, such as reducing low density lipoprotein (“bad”) cholesterol and increasing high density lipoprotein (“good”) cholesterol. The researchers recommend using generous amounts of extra-virgin olive oil (high in polyphenol antioxidants) along with vegetable dishes. To provide an additional source of healthy fats and fibers, the Pesco-Mediterranean diet includes tree nuts. The PREDIMED trial, a randomized clinical trial of primary heart disease prevention, showed a daily serving of mixed nuts resulted in a 28% lower risk of heart disease.
“There is no clear consensus among nutrition experts on the role of dairy products and eggs in heart disease risk, however we allowed for them in the Peso-Mediterranean diet,” O’Keefe said. “Low-fat yogurt and cheeses are preferred; butter and hard cheese are discouraged due to a high concentration of saturated fats and salt. Eggs contain beneficial nutrients and can be a healthy substitute for red meat; however, we recommend no more than five yolks be consumed per week.”
Intermittent fasting, the practice of limiting daily intake of calories in a specific time window (usually between eight to 12 hours) each day, has been shown to reduce inflammation and improve insulin sensitivity by forcing the body to switch from burning glucose to fatty acids (usually from belly fat) as the primary metabolic fuel. The most common form of intermittent fasting is timed-restricted eating, consisting of limiting to two, rather than three, meals per day and shortening the calorie-consumption window. Evidence regarding time-restricted eating is preliminary and requires more research.
“Our ancient ancestors did not have access to an unlimited supply of food throughout the year. Nor did they routinely eat three large meals, plus snacks, daily. Focusing on fresh whole foods, along with fish, bestows a range of health benefits, particularly when it comes to cardiovascular health. The Pesco-Mediterranean diet with daily time-restricted eating is an ideal cardioprotective diet,” O’Keefe said.
Resveratrol impacts Alzheimer’s disease biomarker
Georgetown University Medical Center, September 11, 2020
The largest nationwide clinical trial to study high-dose resveratrol long-term in people with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease found that a biomarker that declines when the disease progresses was stabilized in people who took the purified form of resveratrol.
Resveratrol is a naturally occurring compound found in foods such as red grapes, raspberries, dark chocolate and some red wines.
The results, published in Neurology, “are very interesting,” says the study’s principal investigator, R. Scott Turner, MD, PhD, director of the Memory Disorders Program at Georgetown University Medical Center. Turner, who treats patients at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, cautions that the findings cannot be used to recommend resveratrol. “This is a single, small study with findings that call for further research to interpret properly.”
The resveratrol clinical trial was a randomized, phase II, placebo-controlled, double blind study in patients with mild to moderate dementia due to Alzheimer’s disease. An “investigational new drug” application was required by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to test the pure synthetic (pharmaceutical-grade) resveratrol in the study. It is not available commercially in this form.
The study enrolled 119 participants. The highest dose of resveratrol tested was one gram by mouth twice daily — equivalent to the amount found in about 1,000 bottles of red wine.
John Bozza, 80, participated in the study. Five years ago, his wife, Diana, began noticing “something wasn’t quite right.” He was diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment, but only a year later, his condition progressed to mild Alzheimer’s.
Diana, whose twin sister died from the same disease, says there are multiple reasons she and John decided to participate in the resveratrol study, and they now know he was assigned to take the active drug.
“I definitely want the medical community to find a cure,” she says. “And of course I thought there’s always a chance that John could have been helped, and who knows, maybe he was.”
Patients, like John, who were treated with increasing doses of resveratrol over 12 months showed little or no change in amyloid-beta40 (Abeta40) levels in blood and cerebrospinal fluid. In contrast, those taking a placebo had a decrease in the levels of Abeta40 compared with their levels at the beginning of the study.
“A decrease in Abeta40 is seen as dementia worsens and Alzheimer’s disease progresses; still, we can’t conclude from this study that the effects of resveratrol treatment are beneficial,” Turner explains. “It does appear that resveratrol was able to penetrate the blood brain barrier, which is an important observation. Resveratrol was measured in both blood and cerebrospinal fluid.”
The researchers studied resveratrol because it activates proteins called sirtuins, the same proteins activated by caloric restriction. The biggest risk factor for developing Alzheimer’s is aging, and studies with animals found that most age-related diseases–including Alzheimer’s–can be prevented or delayed by long-term caloric restriction (consuming two-thirds the normal caloric intake).
Turner says the study also found that resveratrol was safe and well tolerated. The most common side effects experienced by participants were gastrointestinal-related, including nausea and diarrhea. Also, patients taking resveratrol experienced weight loss while those on placebo gained weight.
One outcome in particular was confounding, Turner notes. The researchers obtained brain MRI scans on participants before and after the study, and found that resveratrol-treated patients lost more brain volume than the placebo-treated group.
“We’re not sure how to interpret this finding. A similar decrease in brain volume was found with some anti-amyloid immunotherapy trials,” Turner adds. A working hypothesis is that the treatments may reduce inflammation (or brain swelling) found with Alzheimer’s.
“Given safety and positive trends toward effectiveness in this phase 2 study, a larger phase 3 study is warranted to test whether resveratrol is effective for individuals with Alzheimer’s — or at risk for Alzheimer’s,” Turner says.
Resveratrol and similar compounds are being tested in many age-related disorders including cancer, diabetes and neurodegenerative disorders. The study Turner led, however, is the largest, longest and highest dose trial of resveratrol in humans to date.
Vitamin D deficiency associated with greater risk of oral squamous cell carcinoma
King Khalid University (Saudi Arabia),September 14, 2020
According to news reporting out Saudi Arabia research stated, “Serum level of vitamin D has been used as a predictor for cancer development. We intend to measure the baseline vitamin D level in patients with oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) and to compare same with non-cancer controls to determine any association.”
The news correspondents obtained a quote from the research from Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Department: “Patients with OSCC presenting to our clinics were included in this study. Their baseline serum vitamin D levels were measured prior to cancer treatment after obtaining their consents. These patients were then matched with at least 2 cancer-free subjects to serve as controls and whose serum vitamin D levels were also measured. The serum vitamin D levels obtained for the two groups were then categorized into normal (>35 ng/ml), mild deficiency (25-35 ng/ml), moderate deficiency (12.5-25 ng/ml), and severe deficiency (<12.5 ng/ml). The data were analyzed statistically and the two groups compared. A total of 51 patients with OSCC (Male 22 [43%] and female 29 [57%]) and 113 cancer-free controls (Male 36 [31.86%] and female 77 [68.14%]) were included in the study. The commonest site for OSCC was the tongue, accounting for 45% of the cancer cases. Mean age for cancer patients was 59.33 years ±12.54 and 49.24 years ±15.79 for the control. Among the OSCC patients, 74.51% had moderate to severe vitamin D deficiencies, whereas only 20.35% had a moderate deficiency in the control group with no severe deficiency.”
According to the news reporters, the research concluded: “Logistic regression analysis shows a positive association between vitamin D deficiency and OSCC risk especially in levels below 25 ng/ml. This further corroborates the assertion that vitamin D deficiency may be a useful indicator of OSCC. It may, therefore, be necessary to routinely prescribe vitamin D supplements to subjects with moderate to severe deficiencies in order to decrease the chances of OSCC development.”
Immune system affects mind and body, study indicates
Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, September 14, 2020
New research at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis helps illuminate a surprising mind-body connection. In mice, the researchers found that immune cells surrounding the brain produce a molecule that is then absorbed by neurons in the brain, where it appears to be necessary for normal behavior.
The findings, published Sept. 14 in Nature Immunology, indicate that elements of the immune system affect both mind and body, and that the immune molecule IL-17 may be a key link between the two.
“The brain and the body are not as separate as people think,” said senior author Jonathan Kipnis, Ph.D., the Alan A. and Edith L. Wolff Distinguished Professor of Pathology and Immunology and a professor of neurosurgery, of neurology and of neuroscience. “What we’ve found here is that an immune molecule—IL-17—is produced by immune cells residing in areas around the brain, and it could affect brain function through interactions with neurons to influence anxiety-like behaviors in mice. We are now looking into whether too much or too little of IL-17 could be linked to anxiety in people.”
IL-17 is a cytokine, a signaling molecule that orchestrates the immune response to infection by activating and directing immune cells. IL-17 also has been linked to autism in animal studies and depression in people.
How an immune molecule like IL-17 might influence brain disorders, however, is something of a mystery since there isn’t much of an immune system in the brain and the few immune cells that do reside there don’t produce IL-17. But Kipnis, along with first author and postdoctoral researcher Kalil Alves de Lima, Ph.D., realized that the tissues that surround the brain are teeming with immune cells, among them, a small population known as gamma delta T cells that produce IL-17. They set out to determine whether gamma-delta T cells near the brain have an impact on behavior. Kipnis and Alves de Lima conducted the research while at the University of Virginia School of Medicine; both are now at Washington University.
Using mice, they discovered that the meninges are rich in gamma-delta T cells and that such cells, under normal conditions, continually produce IL-17, filling the tissues surrounding the brain with IL-17.
To determine whether gamma-delta T cells or IL-17 affect behavior, Alves de Lima put mice through established tests of memory, social behavior, foraging and anxiety. Mice that lacked gamma-delta T cells or IL-17 were indistinguishable from mice with normal immune systems on all measures but anxiety. In the wild, open fields leave mice exposed to predators such as owls and hawks, so they’ve evolved a fear of open spaces. The researchers conducted two separate tests that involved giving mice the option of entering exposed areas. While the mice with normal amounts of gamma-delta T cells and levels of IL-17 kept themselves mostly to the more protective edges and enclosed areas during the tests, mice without gamma-delta T cells or IL-17 ventured into the open areas, a lapse of vigilance that the researchers interpreted as decreased anxiety.
Moreover, the scientists discovered that neurons in the brain have receptors on their surfaces that respond to IL-17. When the scientists removed those receptors so that the neurons could not detect the presence of IL-17, the mice showed less vigilance. The researchers say the findings suggest that behavioral changes are not a byproduct but an integral part of neuro-immune communication.
Although the researchers did not expose mice to bacteria or viruses to study the effects of infection directly, they injected the animals with lipopolysaccharide, a bacterial product that elicits a strong immune response. Gamma-delta T cells in the tissues around the mice’s brains produced more IL-17 in response to the injection. When the animals were treated with antibiotics, however, the amount of IL-17 was reduced, suggesting gamma-delta T cells could sense the presence of normal bacteria such as those that make up the gut microbiome, as well as invading bacterial species, and respond appropriately to regulate behavior.
The researchers speculate that the link between the immune system and the brain could have evolved as part of a multipronged survival strategy. Increased alertness and vigilance could help rodents survive an infection by discouraging behaviors that increase the risk of further infection or predation while in a weakened state, Alves de Lima said.
“The immune system and the brain have most likely co-evolved,” Alves de Lima said. “Selecting special molecules to protect us immunologically and behaviorally at the same time is a smart way to protect against infection. This is a good example of how cytokines, which basically evolved to fight against pathogens, also are acting on the brain and modulating behavior.”
The researchers now are studying how gamma-delta T cells in the meninges detect bacterial signals from other parts of the body. They also are investigating how IL-17 signaling in neurons translates into behavioral changes.
NASA gives thumbs up to use of colloidal silver as antibiotic in space; FDA has no jurisdiction in high orbit
NASA, September 14, 2020
In the day-to-day happenings of world politics, the United States and Russia are presented on the global stage as arch-enemies. Up in space, however, it’s a completely different story. Enter the International Space Station (ISS), which for years has housed astronauts from both countries along with life-support systems unique to each country’s needs. The two sides have long remained separate from one another until recently.
For years, the U.S. side of the ISS utilized iodine as its water cleansing agent of choice, while the Russian side took advantage of antibacterial silver for water purification purposes. Both sides coexisted peacefully in their respective methods, with the U.S. picking up whatever extra water the Russian side had leftover. Russia’s water purification process has always been much more efficient than that of the U.S.
It seemed that the two opposing nations would never find a common bond in adopting a single, standardized water purification method that served the interests of everyone. However, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) recently made the decision to adopt Russia’s method of purifying its water after coming to the realization that adding ionized silver to water is easier, more effective, and much more efficient than adding iodine.
“Unlike iodine, silver doesn’t have to be filtered out of the water,” explains a report by Bloomberg, noting that iodine has to be filtered out of the U.S. water after use. “Epsom salts (magnesium) are added to improve its taste.”
“Due to widespread growth in the use of colloidal silver as a biocidal agent, development of a simple and cost efficient method of silver testing is valuable,” admits NASA on its website. “On station, silver is used as a biocidal agent based on its antimicrobial properties in the potable water system.”
Too much silver may be toxic to humans, so NASA is supporting research into a simple technique that it says will allow ISS crew members to test silver levels in water in less than two minutes.
Red Clover Beats Inflammation and Oxidative Stress
Green Med Info, September 12th 2020
Red clover has been touted as one of the top herbal medicines in the world and now scientists are discovering how red clover actually works in your body
Infections, allergies, and autoimmune diseases upset the balance of your cells, which leads to inflammation, and major diseases associated with aging, such as heart attacks, stroke, cancer and Type 2 diabetes. Neurodegenerative conditions like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s show increased oxidative stress and inflammation as well.[i] It is not surprising that current interest in red clover and its healing elements is rising.
Three Components of Red Clover
One of the key elements of red clover is formononetin, a dietary isoflavone, which is helpful in controlling diseases that are thought to be caused by inflammation and oxidative stress, such as diabetes, obesity and metabolic syndrome.[ii]
A treatment with formononetin controlled hypoglycemia and significantly reduced insulin resistance and oxidative stress in sciatic nerve tissue in diabetic animal research, making it an effective candidate for treatment of Type 2 diabetic neuropathy.[iii]
In other research, red clover treatment in diabetic rats successfully reduced hyperglycemia, improved insulin sensitivity and contributed to higher longevity (SIRT1 expression in rat pancreatic tissue).[iv]
Red clover sprouts (high in formononetin) reduced metabolic syndrome by decreasing obesity, lowering blood glucose levels and improving the lipid metabolism in obese mice that were given a high-carbohydrate and high-fat diet.[v]
Red clover isoflavones, such as formononetin, decreased total cholesterol by 29% in a meta-analysis covering 12 studies of 910 peri- and postmenopausal women.[vi]
Similarly, in a meta-analysis of 12 randomized control trials of 1,284 peri- and postmenopausal women, those who took red clover isoflavones for four weeks to 18 months improved their lipid profiles (significant decreases in total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and triglycerides and a significant increase in high-density lipoprotein cholesterol).[vii]
Red clover isoflavone supplementation for 90 days also improved the lipid profile (significant decreases in total and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol) of 88% of the 60 postmenopausal women studied who had an increased body mass index.[viii]
In both human umbilical cord cells and zebrafish cell studies, formononetin also produced proangiogenesis effects (increased blood vessel creation in embryos) through binding cell signaling pathways (estrogen receptor alpha-enhanced ROCK-II).[ix]
In addition, formononetin ameliorated myocardia ischemia/reperfusion injury (loss of oxygen to the heart, which prevents pumping, and when oxygen returns but injures tissues, respectively) in rats (as measured by cardiac dysfunction, infarct size and cardiac markers) and inhibited the inflammatory response by impacting the “reactive oxygen species-thioredoxin interacting protein-nucleotide-binding domain and leucine-rich repeat-containing protein 3” (ROS-TXNIP-NLRP3) pathway.[x]
In a mouse model, formononetin also exhibited significant anticancer effects in multiple myeloma cancers (found in plasma cells) and decreased inflammation (through the ROS-regulated inhibition of the signaling cascade of aberrant cells impairing the immune system, called STAT3 and STAT5).[xi]
In a human study, 20 men treated with 160 milligrams (mg) per day of red clover-derived dietary isoflavones, (genistein, daidzein, formononetin and biochanin A) also showed significantly higher apoptosis (prostate cancer cell death) than in control subjects specifically for low to moderate-grade cancer.[xii]
Research affirms that formononetin isoflavones in red clover have cancer fighting benefits for breast, colorectal, ovarian,[xiii] bladder[xiv] and prostate cancers, decrease tumors and metastasis and interfere with inflammation-causing signals that allow cancer cells to grow and survive chemotherapy.[xv] In addition, formononetin has also shown neuroprotective properties by suppressing inflammation in the brain neurons of rats.[xvi]
Inflammation is involved in a host of diseases from obesity, atherosclerosis, and rheumatoid arthritis to cancer, neurological and cardiac diseases, and isoflavones, such as formononetin, show strong antioxidant, anticancer, antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties.[xvii]
Anthocyanins are pigment-related compounds found in red clover giving the plant its purplish color. These compounds fight both inflammation and oxidative stress.[xviii]Interest in anthocyanin pigments has intensified recently because of potential health benefits — as dietary antioxidants to prevent neuronal diseases, cardiovascular illnesses, cancer, diabetes, inflammation and atherosclerosis — and scientific progress in stabilizing the compounds by encapsulating them.[xix],[xx]
In a recent in vitro study, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects of red clover extract and red clover anthocyanins showed prevention of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and suppression of genes such as tumor necrosis factor, interleukin, inducible nitric oxide synthase, monocyte chemoattractant protein and cyclooxygenase.
In addition, the anthocyanins in red clover regulated two signaling pathways in cells, called nuclear factor kappa B (NF-κB) and nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2 (NRF2), which are important to reduce inflammation and oxidative stress, respectively.[xxi]
You produce less NRF2 (a regulator of oxidants) as you age and that interferes with NRF2’s cross-talk with NF-κB, which then increases cytokine production (inflammatory proteins), which slowly tips the balance toward the oxidative side — a condition known as oxidative stress.[xxii]
For example, it has been found that two cytokines, interleukin-1 and tumor necrosis factor-alpha, are produced in excess in rheumatoid arthritis where they create inflammation and tissue destruction.[xxiii]
It is no wonder that anthocyanins found in red clover are recommended as powerful natural antioxidants that help reduce inflammation, contribute to the health of connective tissue and are effective in defusing dangerous free radicals that can irritate body tissues and cause the inflammation and joint pain prevalent in arthritis.[xxiv],[xxv]
In a study of 88 healthy, overweight and obese children ages 6 to 10, urinary biomarkers of inflammation and oxidative stress were elevated in obese children and signaled endothelial dysfunction.[xxvi] This imbalance between dilation and constriction of the blood vessels determines blood pressure and how well the heart is pumping blood out to the body and can contribute to increased inflammation and various heart diseases.[xxvii]
In a randomized, double blind trial of 150 subjects with hypercholesterolemia, those who consumed a purified anthocyanin mixture (320 mg per day) showed improved lipid profiles and reduced inflammatory responses compared to those who took a placebo twice a day for 24 weeks.[xxviii] Dietary anthocyanin consumption was associated with a 15% reduction of Type 2 diabetes risk in a meta-analysis of 200,894 participants and 12,611 Type 2 diabetes cases.[xxix]
In a meta-analysis of 14 cohort studies of flavonoids, subjects taking anthocyanins showed significantly lower risk for cardiovascular disease as well.[xxx] Intake of foods/extracts rich in anthocyanin improved vascular health, as shown in a meta-analysis of 24 randomized-controlled trials; two measures (vascular reactivity and stiffness) were significantly improved.[xxxi]
Polysaccharide compounds in red clover (including glucose, galacturonic acid, arabinose and galactose) can be used as natural hypoglycemic agents and antioxidants. DPPH (2,2-Diphenyl-1-picrylhydrazyl) and ABTS (2,2′-azinobis-(3-ethylbenzothiazoline-6-sulfonic acid)) are stable free radicals that are used to measure the radical scavenging activity of antioxidants.
Red clover polysaccharides were found to be 87% as effective as acarbose (a current glucosidase inhibition drug used for Type 2 diabetes)[xxxii] and nearly as effective as an antioxidant (92% scavenging rate of DPPH radicals and 99% of ABTS radicals) as ascorbic acid or pure vitamin C.[xxxiii]
In a breakdown study of polysaccharide types in red clover, rhamnogalactouronans exhibited the highest nitric oxide activity as an antioxidant.[xxxiv] Botanical polysaccharides found in plants, such as red clover, enhance macrophage immune responses, leading to immunomodulation, anti-tumor activity, wound healing and other therapeutic effects.[xxxv]
Red Clover Attacks the Root Causes of Diseases
Recent scientific research has uncovered how red clover successfully attacks two important root causes and markers of diseases, namely inflammation and oxidative stress, to help your body gain balance at the molecular cell level. Read more at GreenMedInfo.com about the amazing health benefits of red clover and its three components: formononetin, anthocyanin and polysaccharides.
Probiotic skin therapy improves eczema in children, study suggests
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, September 10, 2020
An experimental treatment for eczema that aims to modify the skin microbiome safely reduced disease severity and increased quality of life for children as young as 3 years of age, a National Institutes of Health study has found. These improvements persisted for up to eight months after treatment stopped, researchers report Sept. 9 in Science Translational Medicine.
Atopic dermatitis, commonly called eczema, is a chronic inflammatory skin disease characterized by dry, itchy skin and rashes. The disease is most common in children and is linked to an increased risk of developing asthma, hay fever and food allergy. While available treatments can help manage eczema symptoms, current options can be costly, and many require multiple daily applications.
The experimental therapy contains strains of live Roseomonas mucosa—a bacterium naturally present on the skin—originally isolated from healthy volunteers and grown under carefully controlled laboratory conditions. For four months, clinical trial participants or their caregivers periodically applied this probiotic therapy to areas of skin affected by eczema.
“A child suffering from eczema, which can be itchy, painful and distracting for the child, also is very difficult for the entire family,” said Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., director of NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), which led the study. “These early-stage findings suggest that R. mucosatherapy may help relieve some children of both the burden of eczema symptoms and the need for daily treatment.”
Numerous genetic and environmental factors contribute to eczema, and scientists are learning more about the role that the skin’s microbiome plays in this condition. In 2016, NIAID researchers reported that R. mucosa strains isolated from healthy human skin improved outcomes in cell culture and mouse models of eczema.
To build on these preclinical findings, NIAID launched a Phase 1/2 clinical trial at the NIH Clinical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, to assess the safety and potential benefit of R. mucosa therapy in people with eczema. Interim results reported in 2018 for 10 adults and five children aged 9 to 14 years indicated that the treatment was safe and associated with reduced eczema severity. Since then, the trial has enrolled an additional 15 children, for a total of 20 children with mild to severe eczema ranging in age from 3 to 16 years.
Twice weekly for three months and every other day for an additional month, children or their caregivers sprayed a solution of sugar water containing live R. mucosa onto areas of skin with eczema. For the first 15 children enrolled in the study, the dose of live R. mucosa was gradually increased each month. The last five children to enroll received the same dose throughout the four-month treatment period. Regardless of dosing strategy, no serious adverse events were attributed to the therapy.
“Most children in the study experienced substantial improvements in their skin and overall wellbeing following R. mucosa therapy. Encouragingly, the therapeutic bacteria stayed on the skin and continued to provide benefit after therapy stopped,” said NIAID’s Ian Myles, M.D., principal investigator of the trial. “These results support a larger study to further assess the safety and effectiveness of this experimental treatment by comparing it with a placebo.”
Seventeen of the 20 children experienced a greater than 50% improvement in eczema severity following treatment. Improvement occurred on all treated skin sites, including the inner elbows, inner knees, hands, trunk and neck. The scientists also observed increases in the skin’s barrier function—its ability to seal in moisture and keep out allergens. Additionally, most children needed fewer corticosteroids to manage their eczema, experienced less itching, and reported a better quality of life following the therapy. These benefits persisted after treatment ended, and the therapeutic R. mucosa strains remained on the skin for up to eight months.
The NIAID researchers next set out to better understand how R. mucosa therapy improves eczema symptoms. They found that treated skin had increased microbial diversity and reduced levels of Staphylococcus aureus—a bacterium known to exacerbate eczema.
In addition to imbalances in the microbiome, the skin of people with eczema is deficient in certain lipids, or oils. By conducting experiments in cell and animal models of eczema, the NIAID scientists found that a specific set of lipids produced by R. mucosa strains isolated from healthy skin can induce skin repair processes and promote turnover of skin tissue. Study participants had increased levels of these lipids on their skinafter treatment with R. mucosa.
The researchers emphasize that additional studies are needed to further elucidate the mechanism of R. mucosa therapy and to explore whether genetic or other factors may explain why some participants did not benefit from the experimental treatment.
Gestational diabetes may accelerate child’s biological age
Long-term health risks include cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure and higher weight, Rutgers study says
Rutgers University, September 10, 2020
Children born to mothers who had diabetes during pregnancy may age faster biologically and be at an increased risk for obesity and high blood pressure, according to Rutgers researchers.
The study, published in the journal Epigenetics, explored how more than 1,000 children born to mothers in China aged on a cellular level. Researchers examined their exposure to gestational diabetes in utero and their DNA methylation, or epigenetic age, which indicates how experiences and exposures reflect true biological age even in early childhood.
Accelerated aging, which can be determined by evaluating if a person’s estimated DNA methylation age is greater than their chronological age, has been shown to be associated with cardiovascular risks and poor health outcomes later in life.
The researchers measured the epigenetic age of 1,156 children who were ages 3 to 10 in Tianjin, China, to see how it differed from their chronological age. They found that children born to mothers who had diabetes while pregnant had a higher epigenetic age — or were “older” than their actual age — and that this epigenetic age is associated with higher weight, body mass index, body fat percentage, upper-arm circumference and blood pressure.
“These findings suggest that gestational diabetes may have long-term effects on epigenetic aging in offspring and lead to poorer cardiometabolic health outcomes,” said lead author Stephanie Shiau, an instructor at the Rutgers School of Public Health.
The findings support the need for further studies using longitudinal samples to evaluate the association between epigenetic age and later onset of adult metabolic diseases.
In the United States, between 2 percent to 10 percent of pregnancies are affected by the condition annually, according to the National Institutes of Health.
Ten minutes of massage or rest will help your body fight stress: study
University of Konstanz (Germany) September 13, 2020
Allowing yourself a few minutes of downtime significantly boosts mental and physical relaxation. Research by psychologists at the University of Konstanz observed higher levels of psychological and physiological relaxation in people after only ten minutes of receiving a massage. Even ten minutes of simple rest increased relaxation, albeit to a lesser degree than massage. The findings, reported on 8 September 2020 in the journal Scientific Reports, provide the first indication that short-term treatments can robustly reduce stress on a psychological and physiological level by boosting the body’s principal engine for relaxation—the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS).
Stress is known to have negative consequences for health and disease. However, our bodies have an inbuilt regenerative system, the PNS, to ward off stress during times of threat. Launching a relaxation response is thus key to protecting our health and restoring balance in our body. Massage has been used to improve relaxation, yet no systematic approach exists to robustly confirm its effect on the PNS and whether or not this could be used as rehabilitation for patients suffering from stress-related disease.
Boosting the body’s engine for relaxation
This study indicates that massage is an easy-to-apply intervention that can boost the body’s principal engine for relaxation—the PNS—and also lead to a reduction in perceived mental stress. The discovery that massage is effective on the level of both psychology and physiology via the PNS will pave the way for future studies on understanding the role of relaxation on stress.
“To get a better handle on the negative effects of stress, we need to understand its opposite—relaxation,” says Jens Pruessner, head of the Neuropsychology lab and Professor at the Cluster of Excellence “Center for the Advanced Study of Collective Behavior” at the University of Konstanz. “Relaxation therapies show great promise as a holistic way to treat stress, but more systematic scientific appraisal of these methods is needed.”
Standardized testing approach
Researchers from the Department of Psychology in Konstanz developed a standardized approach for testing if tactile stimulation could improve mental and physical relaxation. They applied two different ten-minute massages on human subjectsin the laboratory to test: A head-and-neck massage was designed to actively stimulate the PNS by applying moderate pressure on the vagal nerve, which is the largest nerve running to the PNS. Then a neck-and-shoulder massage with soft stroking movements was designed to examine whether just touch can also be relaxing. Finally, a control group of participants sitting quietly at a table was tested for the effect of rest without tactile stimulation. Physiological relaxation was gaged by monitoring the heart rate of participants and measuring heart rate variability (HRV), which indicates how flexibly the PNS can respond to changes in the environment. The higher the HRV, the more relaxed is the body. Psychological relaxation was gaged by asking participants to describe how relaxed or stressed they feel.
Ten minutes of resting or receiving either massage resulted in psychological and physiological reduction in stress. All participants reported that they felt more relaxed, and less stressed, compared with before the treatments. Further, all participants showed significant increases in heart rate variability, which demonstrates that the PNS was activated and the body physiologically relaxed just by resting alone. The physiological effect was more pronounced when participants received a massage. It was, however, not important whether the massage was soft or moderate—tactile contact in general seemed to improve the relaxation of the body.
Small moments with big impact
“We are very encouraged by the findings that short periods of dis-engagement are enough to relax not just the mind but also the body,” says Maria Meier, a doctoral student in the lab of Neuropsychology and first author on the study. “You don’t need a professional treatment in order to relax. Having somebody gently stroke your shoulders, or even just resting your head on the table for ten minutes, is an effective way to boost your body’s physiological engine of relaxation.”
By developing a standardized method for robustly testing and validating relaxation therapies, the study allows further experiments to test the effects of additional relaxation interventions that could be used in prevention or rehabilitation programs for people suffering from stress-related diseases such as depression.
“Massage, being such a commonly used relaxation therapy, was our first study,” says Meier. “Our next step is to test if other short interventions, like breathing exercises and meditation, show similar psychological and physiological relaxation
Processed food linked to age-marker in chromosomes
University of Navarra (Spain), September 10, 2020
People who eat a lot of industrially processed junk food are more likely to exhibit a change in their chromosomes linked to aging, according to research presented at an online medical conference.
Three or more servings of so-called “ultra-processed food” per day doubled the odds that strands of DNA and proteins called telomeres, found on the end of chromosomes, would be shorter compared to people who rarely consumed such foods, scientists reported at the European and International Conference on Obesity.
Short telomeres are a marker of biological aging at the cellular level, and the study suggests that diet is a factor in driving the cells to age faster.
While the correlation is strong, however, the causal relationship between eating highly processed foods and diminished telomeres remains speculative, the authors cautioned.
Each human cell has 23 pairs of chromosomes that contain our genetic code.
Telomeres do not carry genetic information, but are vital for preserving the stability and integrity of chromosomes and, by extension, the DNA that all the cells in our body relies on to function.
As we get older, our telomeres shorten naturally because each time a cell divides, part of the telomere is lost.
That reduction in length has long been recognized as a marker of biological age.
Scientists led by professors Maria Bes-Rastrollo and Amelia Marti, both of the University of Navarra in Spain, wanted to explore a suspected connection between the regular consumption of highly processed junk food and shrinking telomeres.
Earlier studies had pointed to a possible link with sugar-sweetened drinks, processed meats and other foods loaded with saturated fats and sugar, but the findings were inconclusive.
Ultra-processed foods are industrially manufactured substances composed of some mix of oils, fats, sugars, starch and proteins that contain little if any whole or natural foods.
They often include artificial flavorings, colorings, emulsifiers, preservatives and other additives that increase shelf-life and profit margins.
These same properties, however, also mean that such foods are nutritionally poor compared to less processed alternatives, the researchers said.
Earlier studies have shown strong correlations between ultra-processed foods and hypertension, obesity, depression, type 2 diabetes and some forms of cancer.
These conditions are often age-related in so far as they are linked to oxidative stress and inflammation known to influence telomere length.
Marti and colleagues looked at health data for nearly 900 people aged 55 or older who provided DNA samples in 2008 and provided detailed data about their eating habits every two years thereafter.
The 645 men and 241 women were equally divided into four groups, depending on their consumption of ultra-processed foods.
Those in the high-intake group were more likely to have a family history of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and abnormal blood fats.
That also consumed less foods associated with the Mediterranean diet — fibre, olive oil, fruits, vegetable and nuts.
Compared to the group who ate the fewest ultra-processed foods, the other three showed an increased likelihood — 29, 40 and 82 percent, respectively — of having shortened telomeres.
The findings were published earlier this year in the peer-reviewed American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Mother’s iodine status related to child’s IQ
Bothwell OB/GYN Associates, September 9, 2020
For a woman planning to have a baby, there are many health factors to take into consideration. One that may be overlooked is the mother’s iodine level.
Iodine is a trace mineral in our bodies that is essential for the production and integration of thyroid hormones that regulate metabolism, development and important body functions. Low levels of iodine result in decreased levels of the thyroid hormone t4 or thyroxine.
According to Dr. Lori Nolla, obstetrician with Bothwell OB/GYN Associates, low levels of this hormone in pregnant women can result in permanent intellectual disability in the baby and is associated with higher newborn and infant death rates.
“Iodine is crucial for the production of thyroid hormones, which play a key role in the brain development of fetuses,” Nolla said. “Pregnant women or women planning to be pregnant must have adequate amounts of iodine, particularly in the first trimester, to ensure their baby’s central nervous system develops properly.”
Nolla said our bodies don’t naturally make iodine, so the only way to get this nutrient is through diet.
“Iodine intake in the United States has decreased due to reduced iodine content in dairy products and increased use of noniodized salt in the food industry,” she said. “However, women who are pregnant or planning to be can make simple changes to increase their iodine intake including watching what they eat, taking prenatal vitamins and using iodized salt in place of regular salt.”
The World Health Organization recommends pregnant women should take 250 micrograms of iodine a day during pregnancy and lactation.
“The months leading up to pregnancy are the most important in terms of optimizing iodine levels, so supplementation should be considered before conception,” Nolla said. “When iodine supplements are begun before conception, children show better neurological and developmental outcomes.”
For that reason, Nolla recommends women start taking prenatal vitamins three months before attempting to conceive. In addition to iodine levels, iron, selenium and vitamin A levels should also be monitored because deficiencies can worsen the problems of low iodine.
Goiter, or a swelling of the thyroid glands in the neck, is the most obvious symptom of iodine deficiency. However, even if there are no obvious signs of deficiency, iodine levels should be monitored to ensure the health of the mother and child, Nolla said.
“A mother’s iodine level has a significant impact on a baby’s health,” she said. “Women who are pregnant or planning to be should talk to their doctors about checking and monitoring their iodine to ensure a healthy pregnancy and healthy baby.”
Cannabidiol (CBD) found to alleviate seizures in those with neurodevelopmental conditions: Study
University of North Carolina, September 13, 2020
Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of the 113 organic compounds in the Cannabis sativa plant, commonly known as hemp. Previous studies on CBD have focused on its medicinal uses for pain relief, epileptic seizures, insomnia and Parkinson’s disease.
But a recent study from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) found that CBD could also benefit children and adults suffering from Angelman syndrome (AS).
First author Bin Gu and his colleagues tested the effects of CBD on seizures, motor deficits and brain abnormalities in a mouse model of the said neurogenetic disorder.
Their experiments demonstrated that CBD treatment can reduce the severity of seizures in mice with AS. In addition, CBD also caused mild sedation and restored the mice’s normal brain rhythms.
Gu is hopeful that their findings, published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, could inspire further research into the use of CBD as a treatment for seizures caused by AS and other neurological disorders.
CBD reduces seizures and causes mild sedation
AS is a rare neurogenetic disorder that occurs in one in 15,000 live births, or about 500,000 people around the globe. It tends to cause developmental problems that become noticeable when an infant reaches six to 12 months of age.
AS can also cause other abnormalities, such as seizures, balance disorders and speech problems. Because of the rare nature of AS, there is scant research on possible treatments and therapies.
Benjamin Philpot, the associate director of the UNC Neuroscience Center and the study’s senior author, said that there is an unmet need for better treatments for children suffering from the disorder. In response to this need, he and his colleagues created genetically modified mouse models of AS that they could use to find a possible treatment.
The researchers chose to test CBD because of its anti-epileptic properties. In 2018, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the use of CBD as a treatment for seizures caused by two rare forms of epilepsy. (Related: Treating neurological disorders in children with oriental herbal medicine.)
To assess the effects of CBD on AS symptoms, the researchers injected the genetically-modified mice they created with various doses of CBD an hour prior to behavioral testing. Regardless of dose, CBD did not have a major impact on motor coordination or balance.
However, injection of a standard anti-convulsant dose of CBD caused mild sedation in the mice and reduced the severity of their experimentally triggered seizures. CBD also helped stabilize brain pulses linked to neural deficits and abnormalities.
These results expand the therapeutic spectrum of the anti-epileptic effects of CBD. The researchers also believe that their study could help address the need for better treatments for children with AS.
CBD reduces seizures and autism-like behaviors in a mouse model of another childhood brain disorder
This isn’t the first time that scientists attempted to assess the therapeutic effects of CBD on rare and less-studied neurological disorders.
In 2017, researchers from the University of Washington (UW) used CBD to treat mice with Dravet syndrome (DS), a severe type of epilepsy characterized by prolonged seizures that begin in the first year of life.
But unlike AS patients whose symptoms tend to improve with age, DS patients tend to suffer from worse intellectual impairments, autism-like behaviors and other debilitating neurological problems over time.
DS is also a rare and life-long condition that affects one in 20,000 to 40,000 people worldwide. Its drug-resistant nature has further complicated the development of treatments and therapies for it.
The UW researchers assessed the effects of CBD treatment on a mouse model of DS. Their experiments showed that high doses of CBD could reduce the severity, frequency and duration of DS-induced seizures.
In addition, mice treated with low doses of CBD spent more time interacting with other mice compared with the untreated mice, indicating an improvement of autism-like behaviors. However, this effect was lost at the higher doses needed to reduce seizures.
Nephi Stella, the founder of the UW Center for Cannabis Research and a member of the research team, said that their findings highlight the need for a treatment that could confer both benefits at once.
Nevertheless, the researchers noted that their findings contribute to the emerging data supporting the use of CBD in the treatment of drug-resistant and debilitating neurological conditions.
A Novel Approach to Treating COVID-19 Using Nutritional and Oxidative Therapies
David Brownstein, M.D. (journal, Science, Public Health Policy and the Law
Objective: This report is a case series of consecutive patients diagnosed with COVID-19 treated with a nutritional and oxidative medical approach. We describe the treatment program and report the response of the 107 COVID-19 patients.
Study Design: Observational case series consecutive.
Setting: A family practice office in a suburb of Detroit, Michigan.
Patients: All patients seen in the office from February through May 2020 diagnosed with COVID-19 were included in the study. COVID-19 was either diagnosed via PCR or antibody
testing as well as those not tested diagnosed via symptomology.
Interventions: Oral Vitamins A, C, D, and iodine were given to 107 subjects (99%). Intravenous solutions of hydrogen peroxide and Vitamin C were given to 32 (30%) and 37 (35%) subjects. Thirty-seven (35%) of the cohort was treated with intramuscular ozone. A dilute, nebulized hydrogen peroxide/ saline mixture, with Lugol’s iodine, was used by 91 (85%).
Main Outcome Measures: History and physical exam were reviewed for COVID-19 symptoms including cough, fever, shortness of breath, and gastrointestinal complaints. Laboratory reports were examined for SARS-CoV-2 results. Symptomatic improvement after treatment was reported for each patient consisting of first improvement, mostly better, and completely better.
Results: There were a total of 107 patients diagnosed with COVID-19. Thirty-four were tested for SARS-CoV-2(32%) and twenty-seven (25%) tested positive. Three were hospitalized (3%) with two of the three hospitalized before instituting treatment and only one requiring hospitalization after beginning treatment. There were no deaths. The most common symptoms in the cohort were fever (81%), shortness of breath (68%), URI which included cough (69%), and gastrointestinal distress symptoms (27%). For the entire cohort, first improvement was noted in 2.4 days. The cohort reported symptoms mostly better after 4.4 days and completely better 6.9 days after starting the program. For the SARS-CoV-2 test positive patients, fever was present in 25 (93%), shortness of breath in 20 (74%) and upper respiratory symptoms including cough in 21 (78%) while gastrointestinal symptoms were present in 9 (33%). The time to improvement in the SARS-CoV-2 test positive group was slightly longer than the entire cohort.
Conclusion: At present, there is no published cure, treatment, or preventive for COVID-19 except for a recent report on dexamethasone for seriously ill patients. A novel treatment program combining nutritional and oxidative therapies was shown to successfully treat the signs and symptoms of 100% of 107 patients diagnosed with COVID-19.
Each patient was treated with an individualized plan consisting of a combination of oral, IV, IM, and nebulized nutritional and oxidative therapies which resulted in zero deaths and recovery from COVID-19.
Milk thistle protects against COPD caused by secondhand smoke
Sichuan University, (China), September 11, 2020
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 15.7 million people suffer from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) – a serious respiratory condition which can cause scarring of the lungs, narrowing of the airway and extreme difficulty breathing. Taking enough milk thistle – on a regular basis – can help protect you from harm. (But, don’t expect to hear about this from the big pharma-owned media.)
Exposure to tobacco smoke – whether through actively smoking or simply inhaling the smoke from another’s cigarette – is the primary cause of COPD. Although Western medicine currently offers no cure for COPD, recent studies generate a ray of hope. Groundbreaking newresearch suggests that milk thistle extracts may not only prevent COPD but, help to treat it.
WARNING: Carcinogenic secondhand smoke is a major contributor to COPD
“Passive” smoking – the act of inhaling secondhand smoke – exposes the victim’s lungs to a truly noxious cocktail of poisons. In fact, secondhand smoke has been classified as a carcinogen by both the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Toxicology Program.
Among the toxins found in secondhand smoke are butane, ammonia, hydrogen cyanide – which is used in chemical warfare – carbon monoxide (think: “car exhaust”) and toluene, found in paint thinners, lacquers and glues. Other constituents include the toxic heavy metals arsenic, lead and cadmium.
Although lung cancer is probably the disease most often associated with secondhand smoke, this lethal form of air pollution is also a primary factor in COPD – which is currently the third leading cause of death in the United States.
Having COPD raises the risk of developing lung cancer and heart disease. To make matters worse, this condition is associated with osteoporosis, anxiety, depression, frailty and malnutrition.
While Western medicine attempts to manage COPD symptoms with oxygen therapy and drugs such as bronchodilators and corticosteroids, these treatments don’t reduce mortality at all – and some feature serious (unwanted) side effects.
In light of these discouraging facts, the promising results of recent milk thistle studies stand out as a particularly welcome development. (to say the least!)
Silymarin, a flavonoid in milk thistle, alleviates inflammatory response
In a study published in the journal Inflammation, researchers exposed mice to the equivalent of 1.5 packs of cigarettes a day for four weeks, creating drastic increases in peribronchial inflammation, thickening of airway walls and airway obstruction.
The team found that pretreating the mice with silymarin – the active component of milk thistle – an hour before exposure dramatically decreased inflammatory changes, and cut production of pro-inflammatory chemicals such as TNF-alpha and interleukin.
Encouragingly, silymarin also helped safeguard levels of superoxide dismutase, an important disease-fighting antioxidant produced in the body.
A year later, the same team of researchers took another, closer look at the workings of milk thistle. And what they found was encouraging.
In a study of human bronchial cells published in Scientific Report, the team explored the molecular and cellular mechanisms of silymarin – and found once again that the flavonoid attenuated cigarette smoke-induced upregulation of pro-inflammatory chemicals.
And, researchers discovered for the first time that silymarin modulated a certain pathway – known as MAPK – that governs inflammation.
The takeaway? The team concluded that silymarin might be “an ideal agent for treating inflammatory pulmonary diseases.”
Primary constituent in silymarin suppresses inflammation and scarring
In a third study, recently published in Food and Chemical Toxicology, researchers treated mice with silibinin (a constituent of silymarin) one hour before exposure to cigarette smoke.
The team found that the silibinin caused the mice to not only experience the sharp reductions in inflammatory changes seen in earlier studies – but discovered that it also suppressed the scarring and fibrosis that are typical of COPD in humans.
This means that silibinin may not only help prevent COPD – but, reverse it!
Intriguingly, the silibinin directly affected the expression of a certain pro-inflammatory protein – transforming growth factor beta-1 – that is activated and spurred on by exposure to smoke, making it appear that this compound is custom-designed to protect against secondhand smoke.
How do I take milk thistle extracts to protect against COPD?
Milk thistle extracts are available in the form of pills, powders, extracts, liposomes and teas. Look for a high-quality preparation that is standardized to contain 70 to 80 percent silymarin.
Naturopathic doctors may recommend milk thistle extracts in dosages ranging from 20 to 300 mg a day. As always, you should consult a trusted healthcare provider before supplementing with milk thistle – especially if you have a serious medical condition.
For maximum benefit, some natural health experts advise taking a silymarin-phosphatidylcholine complex, a formulation which helps beneficial silymarin attach to cell membranes more easily.
Note: Milk thistle is a member of the aster family. Don’t take milk thistle if you are allergic to any of its “cousins,” such as ragweed, chrysanthemum, chamomile, marigolds, yarrow or daisies.
Notwithstanding its unglamorous resume as a common weed that thrives in fields and pastures, the humble milk thistle is actually a potent herbal hero that can help defend against a debilitating and deadly disease. If you have been – or are currently – exposed to firsthand or secondhand cigarette smoke, supplementing with milk thistle to protect against COPD could be a wise move.