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News: Health Herbal Medicine Research Latest News

Latest News – For our clients and customers to keep up to date with current health and herbal medicine research and their conditions

  • What are the benefits of helichrysum essential oil? Thursday April 18th, 2019

    What are the benefits of helichrysum essential oil?

    Helichrysum is the Latin name for a flowering plant meaning “immortal” or “everlasting.” It grows wild in the Mediterranean region of southern Europe.

    Famous for its exotic, spicy scent, many perfume makers use helichrysum in their products. The flowers and leaves of helichrysum plants have additional uses in traditional medicine in Europe, particularly Italy, Spain, Portugal, and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

    In this article, learn more about helichrysum essential oil, including the possible benefits and how to use it.

    What is helichrysum essential oil?

    Essential oils are liquids that people extract from plants for use in herbal medicine. By extracting the oils, practitioners ensure the key ingredients of the plant are very concentrated.

    For example, the National Cancer Institutereport that it takes 220 pounds of lavender flowers to make a single pound of lavender essential oil.

    Helichrysum essential oil comes from steam distillation, the most common way to process essential oils.

    Manufacturers place fresh helichrysum flowers in a chamber and then pump steam in, which prompts the release of essential oils.

    The steam and oils then move to a condenser, where cooling transforms the steam into water and separates the essential oil.

    Proponents of using essential oils believe that helichrysum essential oil may help treat a variety of medical conditions, from infections to insomnia.

    Benefits

    Researchers are beginning to use scientific testing to evaluate the claims made for helichrysum.

    In many cases, however, the research samples are small, and so scientists need to do more investigative work to establish conclusive evidence.

    The possible benefits of helichrysum include:

    1. Preventing infections

    Researchers who looked at existing evidenceabout helichrysum found that it has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. These mean it may help kill bacteria, viruses, and fungi that can cause infections.

    The anti-inflammatory properties of helichrysum could reduce symptoms related to an infection, such as swelling, pain, and redness.

    Studies identified by the researchers found helichrysum to be effective against the following specific microorganisms:

    • Staphylococcus aureus, or staph, a common bacteria that can cause skin infections, abscesses, and pneumonia.
    • Candida albicans, a common form of fungal infection known as a yeast infection when it develops in the vagina or thrush when it develops in the mouth or throat.
    • Streptococcus mutans, a bacteria in the mouth that can cause cavities and gum infections.

    2. Fighting malaria

    Research into the uses of Helichrysum gymnocephalum essential oil, which comes from one type of helichrysum plant, found antimalarial activity.

    This means that in a test tube, at least, it could help fight the parasite that causes malaria.

    More research is necessary to determine what protective effects it could have in people.

    3. Reducing burnout and exhaustion

    In 2013, researchers did a small study on whether a combination of essential oils could help reduce feelings of mental exhaustion and burnout.

    They used a mixture of basil, peppermint, and helichrysum essential oils.

    The study gave one group of participants the essential oil combination while the other had a placebo.

    Both groups experienced a reduction in perceived mental exhaustion and burnout, but the essential oils group had more significant results.

    4. Preventing weight gain

    In a small animal study, researchers looked at the impact of a helichrysum extract on overweight, insulin-resistant rats.

    The study showed that rats receiving the helichrysum gained less weight, had lower insulin levels, healthier levels of inflammationmarkers, and reduced insulin resistance.

    5. Healing wounds

    Some herbalists say helichrysum essential oil can be a key ingredient in a “holistic first aid kit,” because they believe the oil is a useful treatment for:

    • burns
    • ear infections
    • inflammation of the kidneys
    • wounds

    These claims come from traditional use, and scientific evidence may not be supportive.

    How to use

    Essential oils are part of aromatherapy, and people are meant to inhale them. They can inhale helichrysum essential oil or use it topically.

    To inhale helichrysum essential oil, place drops of the oil in a bowl of hot water and then lean over the bowl and breathe in.

    People can also put drops of the essential oil in a diffuser to disperse the scent.

    To use it topically, people must mix the essential oil with a carrier oil, such as coconut or almond oil, before applying it to the skin.

    There are hundreds of different species of helichrysum. While people may associate the plant with several different health benefits, not all species will deliver the same desirable effects.

    Before selecting helichrysum essential oil, make sure the manufacturer has produced it using the correct plant for the specific health condition that is of concern.

    Risks

    According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), helichrysum essential oil is “generally recognized as safe.” However, people should still use caution when using it on the skin.

    Essential oils can irritate the skin, so it is best to mix each one with a carrier oil and do a test patch a day before applying it more generously.

    If the test patch shows any signs of irritation, such as itchiness or redness, people must not continue using the mixture.

    It is never safe to ingest essential oils. It is also a good idea to keep them out of reach of children and pets.

    Summary

    Helichrysum essential oil has a history of use in traditional medicine in some places in Southern Europe, where the plant grows abundantly.

    While some small studies and preliminary results seem promising, more research on humans is necessary to validate any health benefits.

    People should use caution when trying helichrysum essential oil and make sure to report and discuss all their healthcare practices with a doctor.

    Source: Medical News Today

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  • Top 3 Uses of Echinacea Wednesday April 17th, 2019

    Echinacea has been used for many years to treat a variety of ailments. Here, we discuss the top three uses of Echinacea and safety precautions to consider.

    Echinacea, also known as the purple coneflower, is an herbal medicine that has been used for hundreds of years. The mechanism of its action is based on the idea that echinacea may trigger the immune system to fight infection. Below, we discuss the top three uses of Echinacea.

    1. Treats wounds and skin problems

    Echinacea preparations can be used topically for wounds and skin problems. Most topical Echinacea preparations are watery “pressed juice” or ethanol mixtures and extracts made up of the dried echinacea plant or its roots. These preparations have traditionally been used for a variety of skin disorders, including the following: staph infections, cold sores, ulcers, wounds, burns, insect bites, eczema, allergies, and even rheumatoid arthritis.

    Studies with topical Echinacea preparations have demonstrated antiviral and antimicrobial activities and show that they can also potentially be helpful in treating more serious infections, such as genital herpes outbreaks.

    2. Helps prevent the common cold

    Taking Echinacea before catching a cold may slightly reduce the chances of getting sick. An analysis of 9 studies with 12 comparisons of an Echinacea product and placebo, totalling 1167 patients found that Echinacea products were associated with a lower rate of colds.

    However, taking Echinacea after catching a cold has not been proven to shorten the duration of illness. Six out of fifteen studies that focused on the role of Echinacea in treatment trials reported on the duration of cold symptoms, four of which were considered to have a low risk of bias and did not find any associations of Echinacea with decreasing the duration of cold symptoms. The other trials had either a high or unclear risk of bias.

    3. Treats upper respiratory infections

    A review of 66 published studies that evaluated the use of Echinacea for the management of respiratory tract infections found a considerable amount of evidence for consuming Echinacea products to prevent and treat respiratory tract infections.

    In addition, a veterinary study found that the powdered root of Echinacea was a well-tolerated alternative treatment of canine upper respiratory tract infections. This study evaluated 41 dogs with chronic and seasonal upper respiratory tract infections, including pharyngitis/tonsillitis, bronchitis and kennel cough in Switzerland.

    Echinacea powder was administered with food once daily for 8 weeks. Even though each dog was at a various stage of the disease, with different symptoms and severities during the beginning of the study, the researchers found that there was a significant improvement for 92% of the dogs after just 4 weeks. This improvement included reductions of severity and resolution of nasal secretions, enlargement of lymph nodes, dry cough, dyspnea and dry lung sounds.

    Safety precautions

    The safety of using Echinacea long-term use is not established, but the most common adverse effects of any Echinacea preparation have been reported to be headache, nausea, as well as a bad taste.

    In studies that focused on Echinacea’s role in treatment, the products were associated with a higher rate of adverse effects than placebo (323 of 946 patients receiving Echinaceaversus 281 of 863 patients receiving placebo).

    On the other hand, studies that focused on how Echinacea can be used for prevention found that there was no association of Echinacea with adverse effects (102 of 868 patients receiving Echinacea versus 65 of 757 patients receiving placebo).

    Some people have allergic reactions to Echinacea that may be severe. Children who participated in an Echinacea clinical trial developed rashes, finding an absolute 5% increase in rashes in children. People with a genetic tendency toward allergic reactions may be more likely to have an allergic reaction when taking Echinacea.

    In conclusion, there is substantial evidence-based research that supports the consumption of Echinacea for a variety of inflammatory-based conditions. For instance, taking Echinacea may help prevent illnesses and treat conditions such as upper respiratory tract infections, even in dogs.

    However, there are various inconclusions regarding the safety profile of Echinacea during long term use and a handful of reports on adverse effects such as rashes in children that recommend caution with its use.

    As with most herbal products, there is an unmet need to do more research and compare using Echinacea with alternative preventative measures and treatments. In the meantime, it can be recommended to use Echinacea instead of or in addition to various other therapies to promote anti-inflammatory states.

    *As an Amazon Associate, Medical News Bulletin earns from qualifying purchases. The sales made through these links help to cover the costs of maintaining this online publication.


    Written by Tatsiana Verstak, M.S., B.S.

    References:

    1. Daneshmehr MA, Tafazoli A. Providing evidence for use of Echinacea supplements in Hajj pilgrims for management of respiratory tract infections. Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2016 May;23:40-5.
    2. Hudson JB. Applications of the phytomedicine Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower) in infectious diseases. J Biomed Biotechnol. 2011;2012:769896. doi:10.1155/2012/769896
    3. Karsch-Völk M, Barrett B, Linde K. Echinacea for preventing and treating the common cold. JAMA. 2015;313(6):618-619.
    4. Reichling J, et al. Echinacea powder: treatment for canine chronic and seasonal upper respiratory tract infections. Schweiz Arch Tierheilkd. 2003 May;145(5):223-31.

    Source: Medical News Bulletin

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  • Chronic arsenic poisoning from traditional Chinese medicine Wednesday April 17th, 2019

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    A 73-year-old man of Cantonese descent was referred to our department for assessment of a several-month history of worsening fatigue, weakness and numbness in his hands and feet. He reported daily consumption of homemade traditional medicinal “herbal balls” (containing up to 80 ingredients) for 5 years.

    Physical examination showed hyperkeratosis on the patient’s soles (Figure 1A) and palms, scattered actinic keratosis–appearing lesions over the dorsi of the hands and plantar surfaces (Figure 1B), and freckling of the trunk (Figure 1C). Neurological examination showed impaired 2-point discrimination and reduced sensory perception to monofilaments in a glove-and-stocking pattern. The patient’s reported use of herbal medications prompted testing for heavy metals, including arsenic. The patient’s urine level of inorganic arsenic was 1235 (normal less than 10) μg/L.

    The cornerstone of treatment of chronic arsenic poisoning is cessation of exposure; 6 months after stopping use of the herbal medicine, the patient’s arsenic level decreased to the normal range and his symptoms improved. We referred him to a dermatologist for skin cancer surveillance.

    Chronic inorganic arsenic toxidrome is characterized by arsenical dermatitis (palmoplantar hyperkeratosis and hyperpigmentation), peripheral neuropathy and peripheral vascular claudication (“black foot disease”).1 Cardiovascular abnormalities, diabetes mellitus, neurotoxicity, anemia, hepatoxicity, adverse reproductive effects and nephrotoxicity have also been reported.1 Chronic exposure is a risk factor for lung, bladder and skin cancer.2 Common environmental sources of arsenic in North America include well water and traditional or herbal remedies. Speciation of urinary arsenic is required to differentiate inorganic arsenic from the comparatively benign organoarsenicals associated with seafood consumption.

    Traditional Chinese medicines are recognized as potential sources of arsenic exposure and have been implicated in inadvertent arsenic toxicity.3 Analysis of samples of traditional Chinese medicines found high concentrations of arsenic at levels exceeding toxicity thresholds.4,5 Physicians should be aware that herbal and traditional remedies are commonly used and may cause arsenic toxicity.

    Footnotes

    • Competing interests: None declared.

    • This article has been peer reviewed.

    • The authors have obtained patient consent.

    References

    Source: CMAJ

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