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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 Is Corn Silk, and Does It Have Benefits? Thursday June 13th, 2019

    Corn silk is the long, silky threads that grow on corncobs.

    Though it’s often discarded when corn is prepared for eating, it may have several medicinal applications.

    As an herbal remedy, corn silk has been used for centuries in traditional Chinese and Native American medicine. It’s still used today in many countries, including China, France, Turkey, and the United States (1Trusted Source).

    This article explains everything you need to know about corn silk, including its uses, benefits, and dosage.

    What is corn silk, and how is it used?

    Corn silk is the long, thread-like strands of plant material that grow underneath the husk of a fresh ear of corn.

    These shiny, thin fibers aid the pollination and growth of corn, but they’re also used in traditional herbal medicine practices.

    Corn silk contains a variety of plant compounds that may be responsible for various health effects.

    In traditional Chinese and Native American medicine, it’s used to treat a variety of ailments, including prostate problems, malaria, urinary tract infections (UTIs), and heart disease (1Trusted Source).

    More recent research indicates that it may also help reduce blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar, and inflammation (1Trusted Source).

    Corn silk may be used fresh but is often dried before being consumed as a tea or extract. It may also be taken as a pill.

    Summary Corn silk is a type of natural fiber that grows on corn plants. It’s used as an herbal remedy for a variety of illnesses in traditional or folk medicine.

    Potential benefits of corn silk

    Although corn silk is routinely used in herbal medicine, studies on it are limited.

    However, preliminary research suggests that it may have health benefits, especially for certain types of inflammatory conditions like heart disease and diabetes.

    Provides antioxidants

    Antioxidants are plant compounds that protect your body’s cells against free radical damage and oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is one of the major causes of a number of chronic conditions, including diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and inflammation (1Trusted Source, 2Trusted Source).

    Corn silk is a naturally rich source of flavonoid antioxidants.

    Multiple test-tube and animal studies demonstrate that its flavonoids reduce oxidative stress and protect against free radical damage (1Trusted Source).

    These compounds may be responsible for many of corn silk’s benefits.

    Has anti-inflammatory properties

    Inflammation is part of your body’s natural immune response. However, excessive inflammation is linked to a variety of illnesses, including heart disease and diabetes (3Trusted Source).

    Test-tube and animal studies have found that corn silk extract may reduce inflammation by suppressing the activity of two major inflammatory compounds (1Trusted Source).

    This stringy plant fiber also contains magnesium, which helps regulate your body’s inflammatory response (4, 5Trusted Source).

    That said, human research is needed.

    May manage blood sugar

    Some research indicates that corn silk may lower blood sugar and help manage diabetes symptoms.

    One animal study noted that diabetic mice given corn silk flavonoids had significantly reduced blood sugar compared to a control group (6Trusted Source).

    A recent test-tube study also revealed that antioxidants in this corn product may help prevent diabetic kidney disease (7Trusted Source).

    Although these results are promising, human studies are needed.

    May lower blood pressure

    Corn silk may be an effective treatment for high blood pressure.

    First, it encourages the elimination of excess fluid from your body. As such, it could be a natural alternative to prescribed diuretics, which are often used to reduce blood pressure (1Trusted Source, 8Trusted Source).

    What’s more, a recent study in rats discovered that corn silk extract significantly reduced blood pressure by inhibiting the activity of angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) (9Trusted Source).

    In one 8-week study, 40 people with high blood pressure were given increasing amounts of this supplement until they reached a dose of 118 mg per pound of body weight (260 mg per kg) (10Trusted Source).

    Their blood pressure dropped significantly compared to that of a control group, with those given the highest dose experiencing the greatest reduction (10Trusted Source).

    Still, more human research is needed.

    May reduce cholesterol

    Corn silk may also lower cholesterol(11Trusted Source).

    One animal study found that mice given corn silk extract experienced significant reductions in total and LDL (bad) cholesterol alongside increases in HDL (good) cholesterol (12Trusted Source).

    In another study in mice fed a high-fat diet, those that received corn silk experienced significantly lower total cholesterol than those that did not get this supplement (13Trusted Source).

    Even so, human research is needed.

    Summary A handful of studies indicate that corn silk may reduce inflammation, blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol. However, more research is needed.

    Corn silk dosage

    Because human research on corn silk is limited, official dosage recommendations haven’t been established.

    A variety of factors could influence your body’s reaction to this supplement, including age, health status, and medical history.

    Most available research suggests that corn silk is nontoxic and that daily doses as high as 4.5 grams per pound of body weight (10 grams per kg) are likely safe for most people (1Trusted Source).

    That said, most labels for corn silk supplements recommend considerably lower doses of 400–450 mg taken 2–3 times per day.

    It’s recommended to start with a low dose to ensure that your body responds favorably, then increase it gradually if necessary.

    If you’re unsure about an appropriate dosage, consult your medical provider.

    Summary A recommended dosage has not been established for corn silk due to a lack of research. That said, it’s best to start with a lower dose to see how your body reacts.

    Corn silk side effects and precautions

    While very few adverse effects have been reported, corn silk may not be safe for everyone.

    If you’ve experienced an allergic reaction to corn or corn products, you should avoid corn silk.

    Furthermore, corn silk is not recommended if you take any of the following medications:

    • diuretics
    • blood pressure drugs
    • diabetes medicine
    • anti-inflammatory drugs
    • blood thinners

    What’s more, you should avoid this product if you’re taking potassium supplements or have been treated for low potassium levels, as corn silk may increase excretion of this mineral (1Trusted Source).

    Additionally, it’s important to consider the quality of the supplement you buy.

    In certain countries, including the United States, herbal supplements are not regulated. Therefore, it’s best to choose a brand that has been tested by a third party, such as NSF International, ConsumerLab, or U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP).

    Be sure to check the ingredient list on the label, as other herbs are sometimes added.

    If you’re uncertain whether corn silk is an appropriate supplement for your routine, consult your medical practitioner.

    Summary Corn silk is likely safe for most people. Still, you should avoid it if you’re allergic to corn or taking certain medications. Talk to your medical care provider if you’re unsure how this supplement will affect your health.

    The bottom line

    Corn silk is a natural corn fiber used in traditional Chinese and Native American medicine.

    Research is limited, but some studies suggest that it may reduce inflammation, blood sugar, and blood pressure.

    While corn silk is likely safe for most people, you should consult your medical practitioner before taking it.

    Source: Healthline.com

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  • Acupuncture Ups Drug Benefits For Heart Arrhythmias Thursday June 13th, 2019

    Acupuncture and herbs increase the efficacy of drug therapy for the relief of heart arrhythmias. Researchers from the Qinghai Provincial Hospital of Traditional Chinese Medicine combined acupuncture and herbs with standard drug therapy. Patients receiving both drugs and TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) therapy in a combined treatment protocol had superior patient outcomes compared with patients receiving only drugs. The researchers conclude that the addition of acupuncture and herbs to conventional drug therapy improves heart rate variability and downregulates serum inflammatory cytokines.

    Multiple objective instruments were used to measure patient outcomes before treatment and one month after completion of treatment. First, heart rate variability (HRV) was calculated. Second, the levels of plasma C-reactive proteins (CRP), interleukin 8 (IL-8), and tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) were recorded. Third, the adverse event rate (including occurrences of bradycardia, gastrointestinal reactions, blood pressure fluctuations, or rashes) was measured. HRV measures heartbeat variation. CRP, IL-8, and TNF-α are proinflammatory cytokines. This is important because high levels of proinflammatory factors are associated with severe cardiac conditions.

    The HRV in the acupuncture treatment group was less than that in the drugs-only control group (p<0.05). The levels of plasma CRP, IL-8, and TNF-α in the acupuncture treatment group decreased significantly compared with those in the control group (p<0.05). The adverse event rate in the treatment group was better than in the control group. The treatment group had 2 cases of bradycardia, 1 case of gastrointestinal reaction, 1 case of blood pressure fluctuation, and 0 cases of rashes. In comparison, the control group had 1 case of bradycardia, 2 cases of gastrointestinal reaction, 2 cases of blood pressure fluctuation, and 1 case of rashes.

    Design

    A total of 200 patients were randomly divided into a treatment group and a control group, each consisting of 100 patients. The control group consisted of 63 males and 37 females. The age range was between 42 and 74, with an average age of 63.24 years. The average course of disease was 35.82 months.

    The treatment group consisted of 67 males and 33 females. The age range was between 41 and 76, with an average age of 64.08 years. The average course of disease was 36.09 months. All patients were diagnosed with arrhythmias between January 2017 and February 2018. There were no significant statistical differences in terms of gender, age, and disease duration between the two groups prior to treatments.

    Acupuncture and Drugs

    Both groups received identical drug therapies. The treatment group also received acupuncture and herbs. Aspirin, metoprolol succinate, clopidogrel sulfate, and amiodarone hydrochloride were orally administered once per day. Aspirin and clopidogrel sulfate are antiplatelet drugs that prevent the formation of blood clots. Metoprolol succinate is a β1 receptor blocker used to treat heart failure. Amiodarone hydrochloride is an anti-arrhythmic drug used to help keep the heart beating normally. The acupuncture point selected for all patients in the treatment group was Neiguan (PC6), needled bilaterally.

    Treatment commenced with patients in a supine position. After disinfection of the acupoint sites, a disposable filiform needle was inserted into each acupoint area to a depth of 0.8 inches and was manipulated with mild reinforcing and attenuating (Ping Bu Ping Xie) techniques. Once a deqi sensation was obtained, the needles were retained for 30 minutes. The acupuncture treatment was conducted once per day, for a total of 30 days. For the treatment group patients, a modified formula of Zhi Gan Cao Tang was prescribed, which contained the following herbs:

    • Zhi Gan Cao 12 g
    • Ren Shen 6 g
    • Sheng Di Huang 50 g
    • Sheng Jiang 9 g
    • Gui Zhi 9 g
    • Mai Men Dong 10 g
    • Da Zao 10 pieces
    • Ma Zi Ren 10 g

    The prescribed dosage was for one day. The above ingredients were brewed with water to obtain a 250 ml decoction, which was then split into 2 servings, taken separately in the morning and at night. Patients consumed the TCM herbal medicine at this rate for 30 consecutive days.

    Results

    The results indicate that acupuncture and herbs combined with conventional drug therapy into an integrated treatment protocol is more effective and causes less adverse events than using drug monotherapy. Zhang et al. conclude that acupuncture and herbs are safe and effective for the relief of cardiac arrhythmias.

    Reference:
    1. Zhang X, Xing FL, Wu JG. Study on the Effect of Zhigancao Decoction Combined with Acupuncture at Neiguan Point on Arrhythmia [J]. Journal of Sichuan of Traditional Chinese Medicine, 2019,37(04):98-101.

    Source: HealthCMI

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  • Herbal medicine andrographis is being trialled by the NHS – could it help cut our use of antibiotics? Thursday June 13th, 2019

    With doctors warning of the huge danger posed by antimicrobial resistance, herbal medicines are being tested by the NHS

    Alma Tildesley hates having to take antibiotics for the frequent coughs, colds and sore throats to which she is vulnerable, but this is the downside of using steroid inhalers for the asthma that has affected her since childhood.

    Antibiotics are necessary sometimes to halt a serious infection,” explains the retired catering manager from Southsea, Hampshire. “But they cause horrible side effects including indigestion, nausea and diarrhoea. And there’s the extra worry now that my frequent use of antibiotics will add to the risk of antimicrobial resistance.”

    Fortunately, says Alma, she has an alternative that prevents at least half of her respiratory infections. Known as the “king of bitters” because of its taste, Andrographis paniculata – commonly known as andrographis – is a popular salad leaf in China as well as being a linchpin of both Ayurvedic and Chinese traditional medicine. It has been regarded as a powerful remedy for respiratory infections for centuries. It’s even claimed by some to have saved lives in India during the 1919 flu epidemic that killed millions globally.

    Alma takes it as a tincture, prescribed by an Ayurvedic practitioner, whenever she feels she’s about to get a cough or a sore throat. “It is certainly bitter. I’d never put it in whisky, it would ruin a good malt. But I can swallow it in a warm honey drink or in fruit juice.”

    With the British public spending millions of pounds every year on herbal remedies, Alma’s experience might seem less than newsworthy. What’s different about andrographis is that it could be about to become an alternative to antibiotics in UK medical general practices.

    Andrographis paniculata (Photo: Wikipedia Creative Commons)
    Andrographis paniculata (Photo: Wikipedia Creative Commons)

    Research and trials

    An ongoing trial among NHS family doctors, due to report later this year, is testing andrographis to see if both patients and doctors regard it as an acceptable alternative to antibiotics. If the findings are positive, the next step will be “a well-designed trial in the UK to evaluate the effectiveness, efficacy and safety to confirm these findings”, explains Michael Moore, professor of primary care and population science at the University of Southampton where the research is being carried out.

    Other herbal remedies are also being tested – with a handful already showing promise as an alternative.

    The researchers have shown that pelargonium, an extract of geranium, is effective in treating long-lasting coughs. And a number of Ayurvedic and Chinese herbal remedies appear to combat the symptoms of urinary tract infection, another common disorder for which antibiotics are widely prescribed.

    Southampton is one of 15 British universities to sign up to a newly established multimillion UK-China collaboration to tackle antimicrobial resistance in both human health and agriculture, headed here by Innovate UK and the Department of Health. Herbal remedies are one of the priority areas for investigation.

    Changing attitudes to medicine use

    Known locally as kalmegh, meaning “dark cloud”, the Ayurveda herb andrographis is widely cultivated in southern and south-eastern Asia, with its roots and leaves used for medicine.

    The World Health Assembly, the governing body of the World Health Organisation, included a chapter on traditional medicine last month in its influential global compendium for the first time.

    The threat of antimicrobial resistance is “a silent tsunami”, Haileyesus Getahun, the director of the UN’s Interagency Coordination Group on Antimicrobial Resistance, said in April. “We don’t see the effects of it yet, but what is coming will be a catastrophe,” he added. Arguing that the problem could be averted through public education, he added: “We are calling for people to come together.”

    So what’s behind this interest in traditional remedies that have been dismissed by mainstream medicine until now?

    It is a case of needs must – as antibiotic resistance “poses a threat as big as climate change”, according to Dame Sally Davies, chief medical officer of the NHS.

    How can we reduce use of antibiotics?

    In January, NHS England announced a five-year plan to cut antibiotic prescribing by 20 per cent by 2024 in an effort to reduce the risk of antimicrobial resistance. “We are heading rapidly towards a world in which our antibiotics no longer work,” warned the Environment Secretary, Michael Gove, and the Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, in a joint foreword to the plan.

    In April, Dame Sally even called for an Extinction Rebellion-style campaign to save people from antibiotics becoming ineffective in the face of overuse and a lack of regulation.

    “It would be nice if activists recognised the importance of this,” she said. “This is happening slowly and people adjust to where we are but this is the equivalent danger to extreme weather.”

    It’s a complex issue. On the one hand, overuse of antibiotics is allowing bacteria to evolve to repel them – with antimicrobial resistance creating what many regard as a global emergency. Experts predict that this could cost 10 million lives globally by 2050, at a point where common infections could kill and surgery would become impossible.

    Doctors have been asked to avoid prescribing antibiotics for self-limiting illness such as respiratory infections and ensure that they are only prescribed for serious infections such as pneumonia and kidney infection.

    But one in three people still takes a course of antibiotics each year – with three in four of these prescriptions for antibiotics handed out by GPs and at least one in four of these prescriptions being “inappropriately prescribed”, according to the latest statistics.

    It is partly our fault. Pressure from patients, anxious to leave the surgery with a prescription to beat what can feel like a never-ending sniffle or sore throat, is a big part of the problem, even though there’s little or no evidence that antibiotics have any impact on the length or severity of respiratory infections. The busier a GP’s practice is, research shows, the more likely they are to prescribe antibiotics inappropriately.

    Big pharma problems

    There is a crisis over which the public have no control, however: the fact that the pharmaceutical industry has produced no new classes of antibiotics, to replace medicines that no longer work, since the 1980s.

    And with “big pharma” having a monopoly on the development of new drugs, there’s little hope that this will change.

    “The pharma industry is spewing out nonsense about their commitment to producing antibiotics instead of helping to develop them,” Jim O’Neill, chair of the Chatham House think tank and a former Goldman Sachs chief economist, told a conference on antimicrobial resistance organised by the Wellcome Trust in January.

    There are unfortunate but understandable commercial reasons for this. “The problem is that the current business model for the pharmaceutical industry makes it very difficult to finance new antibiotics which are designed to be used as rarely as possible for as short a time as possible,” says David Partridge, research lead for the Directorate of Laboratory Medicine at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

    “Yes, the need for new antibiotics is huge, but it makes more financial sense for the pharmaceutical industry to develop new drugs that will be widely used for decades such as heart or diabetes drugs,” he says.

    What’s the evidence?

    “With its goals of healing, it emphasises an individualised holistic approach”

    Dr Xiao-Yang Hu

    So can herbal remedies such as andrographis fill the gap? One Ayurvedic practitioner, Rebecca Kriese, says that her 15 years in practice, following three years of training in India, have convinced her that the remedies work well.

    “I’ve taken an Ayurvedic herb for a UTI. It took perhaps five days longer than an antibiotic before the infection fully resolved but the infection has never come back,” she says. “That’s because it treats the whole body, which antibiotics don’t do.”

    There is an evidence base to show this is also true for andrographis. In 2004, a review of the evidence on the herb by Edzard Ernst, former professor of complementary medicine at Exeter University, published in the journal Planta Medica, was positive. “It looks like a safe and efficacious treatment,” it said, “superior to placebo in alleviating the symptoms of uncomplicated upper respiratory tract infection” with “preliminary evidence of a preventative effect” and “few spontaneous reports of adverse events”.

    Today, Professor Ernst remains cautious. “It is often the case that initial trials are encouraging and later, more rigorous studies fail to confirm the early findings. I think it is too early to say whether that is also true for andrographis.”

    Reasons for optimism

    Others are more positive. A 2017 systematic review of andrographis by researchers at the universities of Southampton and Beijing included data for 7,175 patients across 33 trials in six countries – and reported that the key component, known as andrographolides, had “clear anti-inflammatory, antiviral, anti-allergic and immune-stimulatory activities”.

    As a result, the remedy reduced the severity of sore throats and coughs and shortened the duration of cough, sore throat and time taken off sick compared to normal care. In the lab, it has also been shown to block human and avian flu.

    “The review was limited to some extent in that the quality of some of the trials was poor, but the findings are sufficiently promising to justify the current trial in general practice,” says Dr Xiao-Yang Hu, co-author of the 2017 paper and a post-doctoral research fellow at Southampton University.

    Dr Hu is optimistic about the contribution of herbal medicine to healthcare. “Integrative medicine, bringing together conventional, complementary and alternative interventions, is the optimum treatment as well as being evidence-based, effective, safe and low cost,” she says.

    “With its goals of healing, it emphasises an individualised holistic approach, self-management and the practitioner-patient relationship with multi-disciplinary collaborative teams.”

    Ms Kriese says the trial might be even more effective if GPs were given a basic training in traditional herbal remedies. Whether that happens remains to be seen.

    “Involving family doctors from the outset is welcome as GPs are on the frontline in reducing reliance on antibiotics,” says Dr Michael Dixon, NHS England’s national clinical lead for prescribing. “The prospect of offering patients a natural remedy would be a big step forward.”

    Source: Inews.co.uk

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