Latest News – For our clients and customers to keep up to date with current health and herbal medicine research and their conditions
- Diet diary: The medicinal herb with a reputation of curing fever Monday August 22nd, 2016
With growing appreciation of traditional remedies and healing herbs, several plants are increasingly being used for therapeutic benefits. Among them is Giloe, also known as Guduchi (in Sanskrit, plant that protects from diseases), which is earning a reputation as a popular remedy for viral fever.
Giloe is one of the most famous medicinal plants used in treatment of large number of human ailments in Ayurveda. In the wake of the current epidemic of viral fevers and dengue, its use seems relevant and worth exploring. Giloe, interestingly, has been reported to help treat dengue in the early stages without any side-effects: It has been reported to increase the platelets in a significant manner and lower the body temperature.
Giloe, known as Rasayana plant in Ayurveda, has been reported to enhance general body resistance and promote longevity. The ancient Indian physician, Charaka, described rasayana as a plant that has anti-ageing properties, increases the life span, promotes intelligence, improving memory and freedom, indicating an immune-stimulating effect. It has also been reported to have anti-stress and adaptogenic properties.
Native to India, South East Asia and Africa, various parts of the plant (leaves, roots, stem, bark and fruit) are used, each with distinct benefits. Nutritionally, Giloe is high in fibre, potassium and chromium, a good source of proteins, carbohydrates, iron and calcium.
Several bio-active components like alkaloids, flavanoids, tannins and plant steroids have been isolated from different parts of the plant, which all contribute to its high antioxidant status and curative properties. These components have also been reported to play an important role in blood glucose regulation, anti-diabetic potential, cholesterol lowering, osteoporosis and arthritis.
A study published in the Indian Journal of Medical Sciences in 2007, reported significant improvement in healing of wounds and foot ulcers in 50 diabetic patients, who had been accessed for a period of 18 months. Giloe has also been reported to be useful in reducing the side-effects of chemotherapy. An animal study conducted in 2003 reported a protective effect of the plant, when exposed to gamma radiations.
As the long-term use of herbal medicines has not been well established and their use is not regulated by the US FDA (Food and Drug Administration), these must be administered under professional supervision and guidance. In addition, pregnant and nursing mothers should not take herbal medicines.
A word of caution for specially for those suffering from auto-immune diseases and taking immune-suppressants, as Giloe is an immune-stimulant, it may interfere with medications that suppress the actions of immune system. Giloe may increase the immune response in autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis, lupus or rheumatoid arthritis, which could be counter-productive.
While, in the last few decades, remarkable research has been done on the biological activity and possible application of Giloe to combat various diseases, large scale studies and research should be undertaken. This would help to identify more information and include standardisation of various parts and sub-parts for specific outcomes and even drug development. Meanwhile, consult with a qualified professional or doctor to utilise the benefits of this amazing plant safely.
Author is a clinical nutritionist and founder of www.theweightmonitor.com and Whole Foods India
Source: Indian Express
- Food advertisements may work on children’s brains Wednesday August 17th, 2016
(Reuters Health) – Children make quicker decisions to eat “tasty” food and reward centers in their brains light up after watching food commercials on television compared to nonfood commercials, a small study finds.
“Our past work has shown that reward centers of the brain ‘light up’ in response to familiar food and nonfood logos,” said lead author Amanda Bruce of the University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City. “What this study adds is that we now have evidence that children’s decisions are based more on taste (less on healthiness) after watching a food commercial.”
Kids make decisions faster, and perhaps more impulsively, after seeing a food commercial, Bruce told Reuters Health by email.
The researchers studied 23 children ages 8 to 14 years who gave taste and health ratings for 60 food items. Afterwards, kids chose whether to “eat” or “not eat” each food item – without actually eating them – while undergoing functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) brain scans.
The scans measure changes in blood flow within the brain, which is thought to reflect the activity of brain cells.
While the kids were making their decisions, they were periodically shown TV commercials, some for fast food outlets like Applebee’s or McDonald’s and some for nonfood businesses like Allstate Insurance and Comcast. Each set of commercials was followed by a set of 10 food choices.
In general, kids did not choose foods based on their health ratings, and chose based on taste. But after watching a food commercial, taste seemed even more important to them, and they made their choices faster. The area of the brain involved in reward valuation, the ventromedial prefrontal cortex, was more active during food decisions after watching food-related commercials than after nonfood commercials, researchers report in the Journal of Pediatrics.
Food advertisements are designed to affect consumer decisions, Bruce said. “What we need to consider, though, is whether it is ethical to use these strategies on consumers who are children, as they may be at a disadvantage when it comes to healthy decision-making,” she said.
“What we know from studies like this one is that food marketing has effects that go beyond simply increasing our liking or wanting of the product being advertised, and actually affect our preferences for all foods in that category (e.g. snack foods or fast food),” said Emma Boyland of the University of Liverpool in the U.K., who was not part of the research, “and, as we see from this study, even the neural processes that we go through in making a food decision are affected.”
It’s important to understand how much the effects of food marketing are within or beyond our conscious control, Boyland told Reuters Health by email.
“Parents and pediatricians should be aware of these results so that they can put limits on screen time that involves food advertising,” Bruce said. “They should also discuss with children the importance of critical thinking about commercials.”
But it is very hard to keep kids from being exposed to food advertising, she noted.
“Commercials are almost everywhere – television, online, radio, clothing, billboards, blimps,” she said.
“We should all be concerned about how food marketing is influencing children – so few healthy options are marketed, and if they are, the marketers are never operating with the same budget as those selling high fat, high sugar products,” Boyland said. “But we, as adults, know the consequences of excess consumption and have to work to teach children that treats are treats, and that a real healthy diet to support a full and active life contains very little of the stuff they see advertised.”
SOURCE: bit.ly/2biWtaN The Journal of Pediatrics, online August 12, 2016.
- Can season and place of birth influence celiac disease risk? Wednesday August 17th, 2016
(Reuters Health) – Winter babies and people born in places with shorter days and less sunlight might have a lower risk of developing celiac disease than peers born in warmer regions or seasons, a Swedish study suggests.
About one in 100 people have celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder that damages the small intestine and interferes with the absorption of nutrients from food. People with celiac disease can’t tolerate gluten, a protein in wheat, rye and barley. Left untreated, the condition can lead to complications such as malnutrition, low bone density, lactose intolerance and infertility.
While the exact causes of celiac disease are unknown, some previous research has pointed to the potential for the season of one’s birth to be among many environmental factors that might influence the risk, said lead study author Fredinah Namatovu, a public health researcher at the Umea University in Sweden.
“Season of birth and area of birth appears to play a role,” Namatovu said by email. “Season and region of birth could be a proxy for other factors such as vitamin D and viral infections.”
To test out this idea, researchers examined data on almost 2 million children up to age 15 born in Sweden from 1991 to 2009, including about 6,600 diagnosed with celiac disease.
Overall, the risk of diagnosis was around 10 percent greater among children born in spring (March-May), summer (June-August) and autumn (September-November) than it was among those born in winter (December-February). But seasonal patterns differed by region, the researchers report in Archives of Disease in Childhood.
The risk of celiac disease was higher among those born in the south of the country, where sunlight in spring and summer is intense, than among children born in the north of the country, where springs are colder and summers shorter.
In another twist, kids diagnosed before age of 2 years appeared to have a greater risk if they were born in the spring, while older children seemed to have an increased risk if they were born in summer or fall.
Because the study is observational, it can’t prove that certain birth seasons or regions directly cause celiac disease, the authors note.
Potential explanations for the variations in risk might be seasonal differences in exposure to viral infections, or to vitamin D, which the body makes in response to sunlight, both of which could affect the immune system at a vulnerable time in its development. But that wouldn’t explain the regional variations and these ideas would need to be explored with more research, the authors conclude.
Among other things, global warming, variation in the type of spring weather and the timing of changing seasons could potentially explain some of the differences in risk found in the study, said Dr. Joseph Murray, director of the celiac disease program at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.
Trends in how much and what type of gluten infants eat over time might also have contributed to the study results, as could an influx of migrants in the southern part of the country who might have different eating habits, Murray, who wasn’t involved in the study, added by email.
“Many factors are associated with the risk of contracting celiac disease and thus far, research has not led to an understanding of the potential cause or origin of the disease,” said Dr. Alex Krist, a researcher at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond who wasn’t involved in the study.
“Our current understanding of who is at risk is limited to people who have a family history or other autoimmune conditions, as well as those belonging to certain racial and ethnic groups,” Krist added by email. “Learning more about other potential associations, like birth season, may prove useful in better understanding both the cause of and who is at risk for celiac disease.”
SOURCE: bit.ly/2b9IPcq Archives of Disease in Childhood, online August 15, 2016.
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