For people seeking a natural treatment for the common cold, some preparations containing the plant Echinacea work better than nothing, yet “evidence is weak,” finds a new report from The Cochrane Library. The evidence review revealed no significant reductions in preventing illness, but didn’t rule out “small preventive effects.”The six authors conducted reviews on this subject in 1998, 2006 and 2008 and wanted to do an update to include several new trials conducted since then. “We’ve been doing this for so long and are very familiar with past research — which has been mixed from the very beginning,” said author Bruce Barrett, M.D., Ph.D. in the department of family medicine at the University of Wisconsin in Madison.The research team reviewed 24 randomized controlled trials to determine whether Echinacea was a safe and effective cold prevention and treatment. Trials included 4631 participants and 33 preparations, along with placebo. Echinacea products studied in these trials varied widely according to characteristics of three different plant species, the part of the plant used and method of manufacturing.People who get colds spend $8 billion annually on pharmaceutical products, including supplements such as Echinacea, Barrett noted. The authors’ meta-analyses suggest that at least some Echinacea preparations may reduce the relative risk of catching a cold by 10 to 20 percent, a small effect of unclear clinical significance. The most important recommendation from the review for consumers and clinicians is a caution that Echinacea products differ greatly and that the overwhelming majority of these products have not been tested in clinical trials.Barrett added that “it looks like taking Echinacea may reduce the incidence of colds. For those who take it as a treatment, some of the trials report real effects — but many do not. Bottom line: Echinacea may have small preventive or treatment effects, but the evidence is mixed.””The paper does support the safety and efficacy of Echinacea in treating colds and highlights the main issue of standardizing herbal medicines,” commented Ron Eccles, Ph.D., director of the Common Cold Centre & Healthcare Clinical Trials at Cardiff University’s School of Biosciences in Wales.Story Source:The above story is based on materials provided by Health Behavior News Service, part of the Center for Advancing Health. …Read more
In a letter to The BMJ this week, researchers explain that, for more than 30 years, bodybuilders have taken tamoxifen to prevent and treat gynaecomastia (breast swelling) caused by use of anabolic steroids.Usually, tamoxifen is sourced from the illicit market, they say. However, bodybuilding discussion forums have speculated that a dietary supplement called Esto Suppress contains tamoxifen because the label listed one of its chemical names.The researchers purchased four samples at different times between late 2011 and early 2012 and analysed their contents. Tamoxifen was found in three out of the four samples at different concentrations (3.8 mg, 0.9 mg and 3 mg).The product label suggested a dosage of two capsules a day, which in the case of sample 1 may have provided 7.6 mg of tamoxifen (10-20 mg is used clinically for treating gynaecomastia).It is not known whether the Esto Suppress currently being sold still contains tamoxifen, but since the 2000s a growing number of off-the-shelf “food,” “herbal,” or “dietary” “supplements” — aimed at gym goers and people wanting to lose weight or enhance their sex lives — have contained pharmacologically active substances, explain the authors.These include anabolic steroids, erectogenics (to stimulate erections), stimulants, appetite suppressants, and anxiolytics (to treat anxiety).Often the substances are not listed on the labelling, and products may be marketed as “natural,” exploiting the belief that they are safer and healthier options, they add. In other cases, such as with Esto Suppress, only an obscure reference is made to the substance, such as a chemical name.They warn that most users “will be unaware that they are taking these substances” and urge healthcare professionals to ask their patients about their use of “supplements” and report suspected adverse reactions.Story Source:The above story is based on materials provided by BMJ-British Medical Journal. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.Read more
Scientists at the University of Kansas Medical Center have determined that high doses of vitamin C, administered intravenously with traditional chemotherapy, helped kill cancer cells while reducing the toxic effects of chemotherapy for some cancer patients.By evaluating the therapy in cells, animals, and humans, the researchers found that a combination of infused vitamin C and the conventional chemotherapy drugs carboplatin and paclitaxel stopped ovarian cancer in the laboratory, and reduced chemotherapy-associated toxicity in patients with ovarian cancer. The results of their study have been published in the journal Science Translational Medicine.”In the 1970s, ascorbate, or vitamin C, was an unorthodox therapy for cancer. It was safe, and there were anecdotal reports of its clinical effectiveness when given intravenously. But after oral doses proved ineffective in two cancer clinical trials, conventional oncologists abandoned the idea. Physicians practicing complementary and alternative medicine continued to use it, so we felt further study was in order,” explains the study’s senior author, Qi Chen, Ph.D., Assistant Professor in KU Medical Center’s Department of Pharmacology, Toxicology and Therapeutics and the Department of Integrative Medicine. “What we’ve discovered is that, because of its pharmacokinetic differences, intravenous vitamin C, as opposed to oral vitamin C, kills some cancer cells without harming normal tissues.”The researchers’ clinical trial involved 27 patients with newly diagnosed Stage 3 or Stage 4 ovarian cancer. All of the participants received conventional therapy with paclitaxel or carboplatin, while some were also treated with high-dose intravenous vitamin C. Researchers monitored the participants for five years. Those patients who received vitamin C tended to experience fewer toxic effects from the chemotherapy drugs.In laboratory rodents, the scientists observed that vitamin C was able to kill cancer cells at the concentrations achievable only by intravenous infusion, with no observable toxicity or pathological changes in the liver, kidney or spleen.Collaborating on the study at KU Medical Center were postdoctoral fellow Yan Ma and graduate student Kishore Polireddy in the Department of Pharmacology, Toxicology and Therapeutics; Jeanne Drisko, M.D., director of the Integrative Medicine program; and Julia Chapman, M.D., associate professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Collaborating with the team was Mark Levine, M.D., at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases at the National Institutes of Health.High-dose vitamin C is currently administered intravenously to thousands of patients by practitioners of complementary and alternative medicine. …Read more
The quality of needles used in acupuncture worldwide is high but needs to be universally improved to increase safety and avoid potential problems such as pain and allergic reactions, RMIT University researchers have found.The researchers looked at surface conditions and other physical properties of the two most commonly used stainless steel acupuncture needle brands.The study, published in Acupuncture in Medicine, found that although manufacturing processes have improved, surface irregularities and bent needle tips have not been entirely eliminated.Lead investigator Professor Mike Xie, Director of the Centre for Innovative Structures and Materials at RMIT, said acupuncture was a safe treatment overall but the research showed it could be made even safer.”In China, Chinese medicine including acupuncture, accounts for 40 per cent of all medical treatment, while in Western countries, acupuncture is one of the most frequently used complementary therapies,” he said.”Our findings show that acupuncture needle manufacturers should review and improve their quality control procedures for the fabrication of needles.”In particular, needle tips should be properly formed, sharpened and cleansed.”Extensive research on acupuncture has demonstrated its safety and benefit for a range of conditions. But more needs to be done to enhance the comfort and safety of patients undergoing acupuncture treatment worldwide.”China, Japan and Korea are the main suppliers of acupuncture needles, with China providing up to 90 per cent of the world’s acupuncture needles.In the study, scanning electron microscope images were taken of 10 randomly chosen needles from each brand, with further images taken after each needle underwent a standard manipulation — the equivalent of using them on human tissue — with an acupuncture needling practice gel.The images revealed significant surface irregularities and inconsistencies at the needle tips, particularly in needles from one of the brands.Metallic lumps and small, loosely attached pieces of material were observed on the surfaces of some needles. Some of these fragments disappeared after the acupuncture manipulation.Co-author Professor Charlie Xue, Director of the Traditional and Complementary Medicine Research Program in the Health Innovations Research Institute and Head of the School of Health Sciences at RMIT, said the metallic residue could be deposited in human tissues, causing discomfort and potentially allergic reactions such as dermatitis.”While acupuncture needle induced dermatitis has been extremely rare, it is important to minimise the potential for such reaction through further improvement of the needles used in human practice,” Professor Xue said.”Malformed needle tips can cause problems including bleeding, bruising, or strong pain during needling, which are more commonly reported following acupuncture treatment.”An off-centre needle tip could result in the needle altering its direction during insertion and manipulation, consequently damaging adjacent tissues.”While none of these potential problems would result in serious or long-term injury, patient experience and safety are paramount and the quality of acupuncture needles must be more rigorously improved.”The researchers suggested the small metallic pieces found on the needle surfaces were most likely from the grinding and polishing processes during the manufacture of the needles. These processes would also generate electrostatic forces that would attract tiny metal filings to the needle surfaces. The metallic pieces should have been removed from the needles if adequate cleansing processes had been carried out, the study found.Story Source:The above story is based on materials provided by RMIT University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.Read more
Extracts of the geranium plant Pelargonium sidoides inactivate human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) and prevent the virus from invading human cells. In the current issue of “PLOS ONE,” scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Mnchen report that these extracts represent a potential new class of anti-HIV-1 agents for the treatment of AIDS.Scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Mnchen demonstrate that root extracts of the medicinal plant Pelargonium sidoides (PS) contain compounds that attack HIV-1 particles and prevent virus replication. A team spearheaded by Dr. Markus Helfer and Prof. Dr. Ruth Brack-Werner from the Institute of Virology and Prof. Dr. Philippe Schmitt-Kopplin from the Analytical BioGeoChemistry research unit (BGC) performed a detailed investigation of the effects of PS extracts on HIV-1 infection of cultured cells. They demonstrated that PS extracts protect blood and immune cells from infection by HIV-1, the most widespread type of HIV. PS extracts block attachment of virus particles to host cells and thus effectively prevent the virus from invading cells. …Read more
Oct. 17, 2013 — In a typical yoga class, students watch an instructor to learn how to properly hold a position. But for people who are blind or can’t see well, it can be frustrating to participate in these types of exercises.Now, a team of University of Washington computer scientists has created a software program that watches a user’s movements and gives spoken feedback on what to change to accurately complete a yoga pose.”My hope for this technology is for people who are blind or low-vision to be able to try it out, and help give a basic understanding of yoga in a more comfortable setting,” said project lead Kyle Rector, a UW doctoral student in computer science and engineering.The program, called Eyes-Free Yoga, uses Microsoft Kinect software to track body movements and offer auditory feedback in real time for six yoga poses, including Warrior I and II, Tree and Chair poses. Rector and her collaborators published their methodology in the conference proceedings of the Association for Computing Machinery’s SIGACCESS International Conference on Computers and Accessibility in Bellevue, Wash., Oct. 21-23.Rector wrote programming code that instructs the Kinect to read a user’s body angles, then gives verbal feedback on how to adjust his or her arms, legs, neck or back to complete the pose. For example, the program might say: “Rotate your shoulders left,” or “Lean sideways toward your left.”The result is an accessible yoga “exergame” — a video game used for exercise — that allows people without sight to interact verbally with a simulated yoga instructor. Rector and collaborators Julie Kientz, a UW assistant professor in Computer Science & Engineering and in Human Centered Design & Engineering, and Cynthia Bennett, a research assistant in computer science and engineering, believe this can transform a typically visual activity into something that blind people can also enjoy.”I see this as a good way of helping people who may not know much about yoga to try something on their own and feel comfortable and confident doing it,” Kientz said. “We hope this acts as a gateway to encouraging people with visual impairments to try exercise on a broader scale.”Each of the six poses has about 30 different commands for improvement based on a dozen rules deemed essential for each yoga position. Rector worked with a number of yoga instructors to put together the criteria for reaching the correct alignment in each pose. The Kinect first checks a person’s core and suggests alignment changes, then moves to the head and neck area, and finally the arms and legs. …Read more
Oct. 15, 2013 — Blood pressure is effectively lowered by mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) for patients with borderline high blood pressure or “prehypertension,” according to new research.The finding is reported in the October issue of Psychosomatic Medicine: Journal of Biobehavioral Medicine, the official journal of the American Psychosomatic Society. The journal is published by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, a part of Wolters Kluwer Health.”Our results provide evidence that MBSR, when added to lifestyle modification advice, may be an appropriate complementary treatment for BP in the prehypertensive range,” writes Joel W. Hughes, PhD, of Kent State (Ohio) University and colleagues.Mindfulness Practice Leads to Drop in Blood PressureThe study included 56 women and men diagnosed with prehypertension — blood pressure that was higher than desirable, but not yet so high that antihypertensive drugs would be prescribed. Prehypertension receives increasing attention from doctors because it is associated with a wide range of heart disease and other cardiovascular problems. About 30% of Americans have prehypertension and may be prescribed medications for this condition.One group of patients was assigned to a program of MBSR: eight group sessions of 2½ hours per week. Led by an experienced instructor, the sessions included three main types of mindfulness skills: body scan exercises, sitting meditation, and yoga exercises. Patients were also encouraged to perform mindfulness exercises at home.The other “comparison” group received lifestyle advice plus a muscle-relaxation activity. This “active control” treatment group was not expected to have lasting effects on blood pressure. Blood pressure measurements were compared between groups to determine whether the mindfulness-based intervention reduced blood pressure in this group of people at risk of cardiovascular problems.Patients in the mindfulness-based intervention group had significant reductions in clinic-based blood pressure measurements. …Read more
Oct. 9, 2013 — Investigators at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) have identified that lack of time and a paucity of trained faculty are perceived as the most significant barriers to incorporating complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) and integrative medicine (IM) training into family medicine residency curricula and training programs.The study results, which are published online in Explore: The Journal of Science and Healing, were collected using data from an online survey completed by 212 national residency program directors. The study was led by Paula Gardiner, MD, MPH, assistant professor of family medicine at BUSM and assistant director of integrative medicine at Boston Medical Center, and colleagues from the department of Family Medicine.”This is a part of medicine that has significant impact on patient care,” said Gardiner. “We need to minimize barriers to implementing CAM/IM curricula in order to address these competencies and promote a larger focus on patient centered care.”According to the current study a majority of family medicine residency program directors felt that CAM and IM were an important part of resident training and, of those, a majority was aware of these recommended competencies. However, a majority of directors also did not have specific learning goals around CAM and IM in their residency programs. Of those directors aware of the competencies, a minority had an adequate evaluation of CAM or IM in their program.The survey respondents identified “strong” CAM/IM programs as those that incorporated at least one of the following modes of exposing residents to CAM or IM: didactics, clinical rotations or electives. “Weak” programs incorporated none of these modalities. Didactics were the most commonly employed techniques of the strong programs. There were significant differences between the strong and weak programs in perceived access to experts in CAM or IM and faculty training in these modalities.The study was conducted via an online survey and consisted of six questions on CAM and IM with a focus on awareness, competencies, attitudes toward curricula, barriers to implementation and management techniques.Given the use of CAM and IM modalities by patients and practicing physicians future directions should include raising awareness around the proposed competencies and identifying solutions to minimize the barriers to incorporating these competencies in residency training programs.Read more
Sep. 12, 2013 — A Kansas State University microbiologist has found a breakthrough herbal medicine treatment for a common human fungal pathogen that lives in almost 80 percent of people.Govindsamy Vediyappan, assistant professor of biology, noticed that diabetic people in developing countries use a medicinal herb called Gymnema slyvestre to help control sugar levels. He decided to study the microbiological use of Gymnema slyvestre — a tropical vine plant found in India, China and Australia — to see if it could treat a common human fungal pathogen called Candida albicans.The investigation was successful on two levels: Vediyappan’s research team found the medicinal compound is both nontoxic and blocks the virulence properties of the fungus so that it is more treatable. The results are important for human health, biomedical applications and potential drug development.”We have shown that this compound is safe to use because it doesn’t hurt our body cells, yet it blocks the virulence of this fungus under in vitro conditions,” Vediyappan said. “Taking the medicine could potentially help patients control the invasive growth of the fungus and also help bring their sugar levels down.”Candida albicans is one of the major fungal pathogens in humans because it lives in oral and intestinal areas as a normal flora, Vediyappan said. But the fungus can overgrow and can cause oral, intestinal and genital infections. The fungus kills almost 30 percent of people who have it and it is a concern among cancer patients — especially patients with neck or oral cancer — HIV patients, organ transplant patients and other people with compromised immune systems.The fungus can grow in two forms: a treatable yeast and a difficult-to-treat hyphal form. Once the fungus transforms from a yeast to a hyphal growth it becomes difficult to treat because the hyphal growth has long filament-like structures that can spread into various organs. Vediyappan’s study aimed to block the hyphal growth form.”Once it gets into the tissue, it spreads like roots and is difficult to contain by our immune system,” Vediyappan said.If the fungus remains in yeast form, it is easy to manage and does not invade tissues. Vediyappan’s research team purified gymnemic acid compounds that prevented the transition stage from occurring and stopped the fungus spread. …Read more
Aug. 26, 2013 — Even mild stress can thwart therapeutic measures to control emotions, a team of neuroscientists at New York University has found. Their findings, which appear in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, point to the limits of clinical techniques while also shedding new light on the barriers that must be overcome in addressing afflictions such as fear or anxiety.”We have long suspected that stress can impair our ability to control our emotions, but this is the first study to document how even mild stress can undercut therapies designed to keep our emotions in check,” said Elizabeth Phelps, a professor in NYU’s Department of Psychology and Center for Neural Science and the study’s senior author. “In other words, what you learn in the clinic may not be as relevant in the real world when you’re stressed.”In addressing patients’ emotional maladies, therapists sometimes use cognitive restructuring techniques — encouraging patients to alter their thoughts or approach to a situation to change their emotional response. These might include focusing on the positive or non-threatening aspects of an event or stimulus that might normally produce fear.But do these techniques hold up in the real world when accompanied by the stress of everyday life? This is the question the researchers sought to answer.To do so, they designed a two-day experiment in which the study’s participants employed techniques like those used in clinics as a way to combat their fears.On the first day, the researchers created a fear among the study’s participants using a commonly employed “fear conditioning” technique. Specifically, the participants viewed pictures of snakes or spiders. Some of the pictures were occasionally accompanied by a mild shock to the wrist, while others were not. Participants developed fear responses to the pictures paired with shock as measured by physiological arousal and self-report.After the fear conditioning procedure, the participants were taught cognitive strategies — akin to those prescribed by therapists and collectively titled cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) — in order to learn to diminish the fears brought on by the experiment.On the next day, the participants were put into two groups: “the stress group” and “the control group.” In the stress group, participants’ hands were submerged in icy water for three minutes — a standard method for creating a mild stress response in psychological studies. In the control group, subjects’ hands were submerged in mildly warm water. …Read more
July 31, 2013 — Not all placebos are equal, and patients who respond to one placebo don’t always respond to others, according to research published July 31 in the open access journal PLOS ONE by Jian Kong from Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School and colleagues from other institutions.Share This:The researchers tested the analgesic effects of genuine acupuncture, sham acupuncture and a placebo pill on healthy participants’ pain sensitivity. Participants were not told what treatment they were receiving, but were informed that the pill was Tylenol, a well-known painkiller and different schools of acupuncture: electroacupuncture and manual acupuncture (sham acupuncture). A control group received no treatment at all. Shortly before and after each treatment, a warm electrode was placed on participants’ forearms and the temperature gradually increased. They were asked to indicate when the heat first became painful and when it became too hot to tolerate to identify pain thresholds and tolerance.No significant associations were found between participants’ responses to the different treatments, suggesting that none of these individuals could be identified as placebo ‘responders’ or ‘non-responders’. However, participants’ expectations that the treatment would help relieve pain correlated with their pain thresholds and tolerance.According to the authors, these and other parameters in their study suggest that responses to a placebo depend on diverse factors including the route of administration (pills or acupuncture), environmental cues, and learning based on verbal suggestions or conditioning. Kong adds, “It implies that placebo responses may not be dependent on stable individual traits but rather are more a characteristic of the circumstances of individuals or a combination of both trait and state.”In addition, they also found subjects’ responses to sham acupuncture correlated significantly with their response to genuine acupuncture. This suggest that people who responded to genuine acupuncture were significantly more likely to experience pain relief from sham acupuncture, but the authors clarify that this does not indicate the two are the same. Instead, they suggest that acupuncture may have non-specific pain-relieving effects that may contribute to this observation.Share this story on Facebook, Twitter, and Google:Other social bookmarking and sharing tools:|Story Source: The above story is based on materials provided by Public Library of Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length. …Read more
July 30, 2013 — Research to be presented at the Annual Meeting of the Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior (SSIB), the foremost society for research into all aspects of eating and drinking behavior, suggests that exposure to stress in the first few days of life increases stress responses, anxiety and the consumption of palatable “comfort” foods in adulthood.Share This:”Comfort foods” have been defined as the foods eaten in response to emotional stress, and are suggested to contribute to the obesity epidemic. Hormonal responses to chronic stress in adulthood seem to play a role in the increased preference for this type of food, especially in women.In this study, we aimed at verifying if an exposure to stress very early during development could also lead to increased consumption of comfort food in adult life, and if increased anxiety and stress responses were persistently affected by early adversity. Litters of rats were subjected to a protocol of reduced nesting material (Early-Life Stress) or standard care (Controls), in the first days of life. In adulthood, behavioral anxiety and stress reaction were measured. Preference for comfort food was measured over four days in a computerized system, in which the mean intake over approximately every second is calculated by a peripheral computer (BioDaq, Research Diets).Early-Life Stress increased adulthood anxiety, increased the hormonal response to stress (corticosterone) and increased the preference for comfort foods, even after a period of chronic exposure to this type of food.”To our knowledge, this is the first study to demonstrate that comfort food preference could be enhanced by such an early stress exposure,” says lead researcher Tania Machado. The anxiety and altered food preferences seen in these rats exposed to neonatal adversity can be related to the described changes in the hormonal response to stress. Therefore, in neonatally stressed rats, a greater consumption of “comfort foods” is possibly used as a way to alleviate anxiety symptoms (self-medication). Future studies in this area may have implications for primary care on childhood nutrition in vulnerable populations (e.g. low birth weight or children with a history of neonatal adversities).Share this story on Facebook, Twitter, and Google:Other social bookmarking and sharing tools:|Story Source: The above story is based on materials provided by Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length. …Read more
July 16, 2013 — Vitamin and mineral supplements can enhance mental energy and well-being not only for healthy adults but for those prone to anxiety and depression, according to a July 15 panel discussion at the 2013 Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) Annual Meeting & Food Expo® held at McCormick Place.Bonnie Kaplan, Ph.D., professor in the faculty of medicine at the University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada, said Monday vitamins and mineral supplements can be the alternative to increasing psychiatric medicines for symptom relief of anxiety and depression. The supplements, she said, also can provide the mental energy necessary to manage stress, enhance mood and reduce fatigue.In a series of studies she recently conducted in Canada, Kaplan found of the 97 adults with diagnosed mood disorders who kept a three-day food record, a higher intake of vitamins and minerals were significantly correlated with overall enhanced mental functioning.Other vitamins that have been known to enhance mood, said C.J. Geiger, Ph.D., president of Geiger & Associates, LLC, and research associate professor in the division of nutrition at the University of Utah, include 5-Hydroxytryptophan (5 HTP), Vitamins B and D, as well as ginkgo biloba and Omega 3.In her research, Geiger has found most adults define energy throughout the day as peaking mid-morning, falling to a valley in the afternoon after lunch and recovering with a pickup in late afternoon, settling back down before bedtime. However, these peaks and valleys did vary with gender, age and climate. She said many adults are known to use coffee, soft drinks, chocolate and candy bars as well as energy drinks, bars and chews with high sugar boosts to maintain energy throughout the day. She found other adults ate more frequent, smaller meals to sustain energy while making time for lots of rest and exercise.Read more
July 9, 2013 — In May, the Los Angeles school board voted to ban suspensions of students for “willful defiance” and directed school officials to use alternative disciplinary practices. The decision was controversial, and the question remains: How do you discipline rowdy students and keep them in the classroom while still being fair to other kids who want to learn?A team led by Dara Ghahremani, an assistant researcher in the department of psychiatry at UCLA’s Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior conducted a study on the Youth Empowerment Seminar, or YES!, a workshop for adolescents that teaches them to manage stress, regulate their emotions, resolve conflicts and control impulsive behavior. Impulsive behavior, in particular — including acting out in class, engaging in drug or alcohol abuse, and risky sexual behaviors — is something that gets adolescents in trouble.The YES! program, run by the nonprofit International Association for Human Values, includes yoga-based breathing practices, among other techniques, and the research findings show that a little bit of breathing can go a long way. The scientists report that students who went through the four-week YES! for Schools program felt less impulsive, while students in a control group that didn’t participate in the program showed no change.The study appears in the July issue of the Journal of Adolescent Health.”The program helps teens to gain greater control over their actions by giving them tools to respond to challenging situations in constructive and mindful ways, rather than impulsively,” said Ghahremani, who conducted the study at the UCLA Center for Addictive Behaviors and UCLA’s Laboratory for Molecular Neuroimaging. “The program uses a variety of techniques, ranging from a powerful yoga-based breathing program called Sudarshan Kriya to decision-making and leadership skills that are taught via interactive group games. We found it to be a simple yet powerful approach that could potentially reduce impulsive behavior.”Ghahremani noted that teens are often just as stressed as adults.”There are home and family issues, academic pressures and, of course, social pressures,” he said. “With the immediacy and wide reach of communication technology, like Facebook, peer pressure and bullying has risen to a whole new level. Without the tools to handle such pressures, teens can often resort to impulsive acts that include violence towards others or themselves.”Impulsive behavior, or a lack of self-control, in adolescence is a key predictor of risky behavior, Ghahremani said.”Substance abuse and various mental health problems that begin in adolescence are often very difficult to shake in adulthood — there is a need for interventions that bring impulsive behavior under control in this group,” he said. …Read more
July 11, 2013 — Yoga can improve mood and mental wellbeing among prisoners, an Oxford University study suggests, and may also have an effect on impulsive behaviour.The researchers found that prisoners after a ten-week yoga course reported improved mood, reduced stress and were better at a task related to behaviour control than those who continued in their normal prison routine.’We found that the group that did the yoga course showed an improvement in positive mood, a decrease in stress and greater accuracy in a computer test of impulsivity and attention,’ say Dr Amy Bilderbeck and Dr Miguel Farias, who led the study at the Departments of Experimental Psychology and Psychiatry at Oxford University. ‘The suggestion is that yoga is helpful for these prisoners.’Dr Bilderbeck adds: ‘This was only a preliminary study, but nothing has been done like this before. Offering yoga sessions in prisons is cheap, much cheaper than other mental health interventions. If yoga has any effect on addressing mental health problems in prisons, it could save significant amounts of public money.’The researchers were supported in the running of the trial by the Prison Phoenix Trust, an Oxford-based charity that offers yoga classes in prisons. They approached the Oxford University psychologists about conducting such a study to assess the benefits, though the study was designed, analysed and published independently of the Trust.The Oxford University researchers, along with colleagues from King’s College London, the University of Surrey and Radboud University Nijmegen in the Netherlands, report their findings in the Journal of Psychiatric Research.Prisons see rates of mental health problems that are many times higher than the general population, and high levels are often recorded of personal distress, aggression, antisocial behaviour and drug and alcohol abuse among prisoners.Yoga and meditation have been shown be beneficial in reducing anxiety, depression and improving mood in other areas and settings, so the Oxford researchers carried out an initial exploratory study to look at a range of possible benefits of yoga among prisoners.Inmates of a range of ages were recruited from five category B and C prisons, a women’s prison and a young offender institution, all in the West Midlands, and were randomly assigned to either a course of ten weekly yoga sessions of 90 minutes run by the Prison Phoenix Trust, or to a control group.In sessions with the researchers before and after the yoga course, all the prisoners completed standard psychology questionnaires measuring mood, stress, impulsivity and mental wellbeing. A computer test to measure attention and the participant’s ability to control his or her responses to an on-screen cue was also used after the yoga course.If yoga is associated with improving behaviour control, as suggested by the results of the computer test, there may be implications for managing aggression, antisocial or problem behaviour in prisons and on return to society, the researchers note — though this is not measured in this initial study.Dr Bilderbeck, who practices yoga herself, cautions: ‘We’re not saying that organising a weekly yoga session in a prison is going to suddenly turn prisons into calm and serene places, stop all aggression and reduce reoffending rates. We’re not saying that yoga will replace standard treatment of mental health conditions in prison. But what we do see are indications that this relatively cheap, simple option might have multiple benefits for prisoners’ wellbeing and possibly aid in managing the burden of mental health problems in prisons.’Sam Settle, director of the Prison Phoenix Trust, says: ‘Almost half of adult prisoners return to prison within a year, having created more victims of crime, so finding ways to offset the damaging effects of prison life is essential for us as a society. This research confirms what prisoners have been consistently telling the Prison Phoenix Trust for 25 years: yoga and meditation help them feel better, make better decisions and develop the capacity to think before acting — all essential in leading positive, crime-free lives once back in the community.’Read more
July 1, 2013 — Acupuncture, when used as a complementary or adjuvant therapy for in vitro fertilization (IVF), may be beneficial depending on the baseline pregnancy rates of a fertility clinic, according to research from the University of Maryland School of Medicine. The analysis from the University of Maryland Center for Integrative Medicine is published in the June 27 online edition of the journal Human Reproduction Update.”Our systematic review of current acupuncture/IVF research found that for IVF clinics with baseline pregnancy rates higher than average (32 percent or greater) adding acupuncture had no benefit,” says Eric Manheimer, lead author and research associate at the University of Maryland Center for Integrative Medicine. “However, at IVF clinics with baseline pregnancy rates lower than average (less than 32 percent) adding acupuncture seemed to increase IVF pregnancy success rates. We saw a direct association between the baseline pregnancy success rate and the effects of adding acupuncture: the lower the baseline pregnancy rate at the clinic, the more adjuvant acupuncture seemed to increase the pregnancy rate.”IVF is a process that involves fertilizing a woman’s egg with sperm outside the womb and then implanting the embryo in the woman’s uterus. According to the researchers, acupuncture is the most commonly used adjuvant, complementary therapy among couples seeking treatment at fertility clinics in the United States.This new analysis examined 16 studies with more than 4,000 patients and builds on the Center for Integrative Medicine’s 2008 review of acupuncture and IVF, published in the British Medical Journal. That study found positive results for using acupuncture for women undergoing IVF when acupuncture was performed during embryo transfer.”The University of Maryland School of Medicine is an international leader in investigating the risks and benefits of complementary and alternative therapies. This new analysis is another example of our faculty’s commitment to using comprehensive scientific study to further understanding and inform clinicians and patients who are considering these integrative therapies,” says E. Albert Reece, M.D., Ph.D., M.B.A., vice president for medical affairs at the University of Maryland and the John Z. and Akiko K. Bowers Distinguished Professor and dean of the University of Maryland School of Medicine.According to the authors, international differences may be one factor in varying baseline pregnancy rates in the studies they analyzed. …Read more
June 17, 2013 — Adolescents can have chronic pain, just like adults. It can interfere with normal development, making it difficult for teens to attend school, socialize or be physically active, the cause may be hard to find, and medications are sometimes tried without success. As patients, their parents and physicians search for solutions, there is one increasingly available option they should avoid, Mayo Clinic researchers say: medical marijuana.Their commentary appears in the July issue of the medical journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings.There are few studies on the risks and benefits of marijuana use to treat chronic pain in adults, and even less data on the pros and cons of using it to ease chronic pain in adolescents, the researchers say. They recommend that physicians screen teen chronic pain patients for marijuana use. While medical marijuana may help some specific conditions, its adverse effects, even with short-term use, can include fatigue, impaired concentration and slower reaction times, they say.”The consequences may be very, very severe, particularly for adolescents who may get rid of their pain — or not — at the expense of the rest of their life,” says co-author J. Michael Bostwick, M.D., a Mayo Clinic psychiatrist.The researchers describe the cases of three high school-age patients at Mayo Clinic’s pediatric chronic pain clinic who said they used marijuana regularly. Pain worsened for all three despite their marijuana use. None attended school full time; they reported impaired functioning and difficulty becoming more socially active.Excessive doses of marijuana may induce symptoms that many chronic pain patients already experience, including dizziness, anxiety, sedation, fatigue, decreased reflexes, confusion, difficulty concentrating and a lack of motivation, the researchers note. Marijuana use before age 16 has been linked to earlier development of psychosis in susceptible patients; smoking marijuana more than once a week has been connected to persistent cognitive damage in adolescents, the authors say. An estimated 1 in 10 marijuana users becomes addicted, and people under 25 are more susceptible to that, Dr. …Read more
June 12, 2013 — Researchers from The University of Manchester studying a rare and potentially lethal childhood disease – which is the clinical opposite of diabetes – have made an important discovery.The team has found newborn babies with transient (also known as short-term) congenital hyperinsulinism (CHI) are at risk of developing, long-term disability or brain damage due to low blood sugars.Previously it was thought only babies with the most severe form, known as persistent CHI, were at risk of brain damage. The study, published in the journal Frontiers in Endocrinology, will now inform pediatric practice.CHI is a disease which affects newborn babies where their bodies produce far too much insulin and as a result their blood sugars are very low. It was already known babies born with the persistent form of CHI were at risk of brain damage and developmental delay but it was always believed that the transient form of CHI was less severe and did not carry the same risks.Dr Karen Cosgrove, from the University’s Faculty of Life Sciences who helped to carry out the study, said: “Our new research proves it is important for all babies with CHI to be treated promptly to prevent low blood sugars occurring.”Researchers from the University’s Faculty of Life Sciences and Faculty of Medical and Human Sciences along with consultants from the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital part of Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust teamed up for the research. Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital is the base for the Northern Congenital Hyperinsulinism (NORCHI) service which is a highly specialized service for the treatment of this condition.The study found that a third of children have evidence of brain damage from low blood sugars occurring at an early age.Professor Peter Clayton, Professor of Child Health and Paediatric Endocrinology, said: “Based on these findings, the team recommends that any baby with CHI, whether they turn out to have transient or persistent CHI, should have immediate and sustained treatment of low blood sugar to prevent long-term disability.”Doctor Indi Banerjee, Consultant in Paediatric Endocrinology at Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital and clinical lead for NORCHI, said: “It has long been recognized that low blood sugars in these babies can cause brain damage. This research shows the damage happens even in children with the milder version of the disease, where low sugars improve after a few days. The damage to the developing brain in these children can be prevented by promptly recognizing and correcting the low blood sugars.”Read more
Oct. 3, 2012 — New research proves the validity of one of the most promising approaches for combating Alzheimer’s disease (AD) with medicines that treat not just some of the symptoms, but actually stop or prevent the disease itself, scientists are reporting.Share This:The study, in the journal ACS Medicinal Chemistry Letters, also identifies a potential new oral drug that the scientists say could lead the way.Wenhui Hu and colleagues point out that existing drugs for AD provide only “minimal” relief of memory loss and other symptoms, creating an urgent need for new medicines that actually combat the underlying destruction of brain cells. Research suggests that inflammation of nerve cells in the brain is a key part of that process. One medicine, Minozac, is in clinical trials. But Hu says Minozac still has more space to improve its efficacy. So the scientists sifted through compounds with a molecular architecture similar to Minozac in an effort to find more active substances.The report describes success in doing so. They discovered one compound that appeared especially effective in relieving nerve inflammation and in improving learning and memory in lab mice widely used in AD research. “In general, this study not only proves that countering neuroinflammation is indeed a potential therapeutic strategy for Alzheimer’s disease, but also provides a good lead compound with efficacy comparable to donepezil [an existing AD medicine] for further oral anti-AD drug discovery and development,” the report states.Share this story on Facebook, Twitter, and Google:Other social bookmarking and sharing tools:|Story Source: The above story is reprinted from materials provided by American Chemical Society. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length. For further information, please contact the source cited above. …Read more
Oct. 3, 2012 — If applied to the $5-billion-per-year dietary supplement industry, “quality by design” (QbD) — a mindset that helped revolutionize the manufacture of cars and hundreds of other products — could ease concerns about the safety and integrity of the herbal products used by 80 percent of the world’s population.
That’s the conclusion of an article in ACS’ Journal of Natural Products.
Ikhlas Khan and Troy Smillie explain that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates dietary supplements as a category of foods, rather than drugs. Manufacturers are responsible for the safety of their products. However, they need not obtain FDA approval to market supplements that contain ingredients generally regarded as safe. While manufacturers, packagers and distributors are required to follow good manufacturing practices, variations in growing, processing and even naming the plants used to make supplements opens the door to problems and introduces challenges with reproducibility. As a result, “the consumer must take it on faith that the supplement they are ingesting is an accurate representation of what is listed on the label, and that it contains the purportedly ‘active’ constituents they seek,” Khan and Smillie note. The authors looked for solutions in a review of more than 100 studies on the topic.
They concluded that a QbD approach — ensuring the quality of a product from its very inception — is the best strategy. One key step in applying QbD to dietary supplements, for instance, would involve verifying the identities of the raw materials — the plants — used to make supplements. “It is clear that only a systematic designed approach can provide the required solution for complete botanical characterization, authentication and safety evaluation,” they say.
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- Ikhlas A. Khan, Troy Smillie. Implementing a “Quality by Design” Approach to Assure the Safety and Integrity of Botanical Dietary Supplements. Journal of Natural Products, 2012; 75 (9): 1665 DOI: 10.1021/np300434j
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