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

  • Stretching may ease women’s depression and menopause symptoms Friday July 01st, 2016

    (Reuters Health) – Stretching just 10 minutes a day might help ease menopause and depression symptoms in middle-aged women, a small study suggests.

    “Light-intensity exercises such as stretching have not been previously evaluated for its impact on menopausal and depressive symptoms,” lead researcher Yuko Kai told Reuters Health by email.

    Forty Japanese women, ages 40 to 61 years, participated in the study at the Physical Fitness Research Institute, Meiji Yasuda Life Foundation of Health and Welfare in Tokyo.

    Twenty of the women were randomly assigned to stretch 10 minutes a day before bedtime for three weeks. The other 20 were instructed to remain sedentary before bed.

    The research team evaluated the women’s menopausal symptoms using 10 questions about vasomotor symptoms (such as hot flashes and chills), psychological symptoms (including mood and sleep disturbances) and body aches.

    They used a separate set of questions to evaluate symptoms of depression.

    At the start, the groups were generally similar. More than half the participants were postmenopausal and nearly two-thirds had depression. Most of the women were not physically active.

    On average, the stretching group stretched about five days per week.

    Overall, the women in the stretching group had improved scores on both sets of questions after the three-week study period, compared to the group that didn’t stretch before bed.

    The frequency of hot flashes wasn’t different in the two groups, however.

    While stretching before bed isn’t a bad idea, Dr. JoAnn Pinkerton, executive director of The North American Menopause Society, told Reuters Health by email, “it is impossible to tell if the positive effect found from stretching on menopausal and depressive symptoms was due to the stretching, the increased movement, or not doing whatever they normally do during the 10 minutes before bed such as eat, smoke or drink, etc.”

    Pinkerton said the results would have been more interesting if the comparison group had been assigned a task to do before bedtime, to see if it was the stretching itself that was helpful or just the fact of doing something before bed.

    In most studies of methods for reducing hot flashes, the placebo group sees some improvement, too, she pointed out. In this trial, the comparison group had no improvement at all, which means, she said, that it was not an adequate control group.

    For more conclusive results, Pinkerton said, “this study needs to be replicated with larger, more diverse postmenopausal women with an active control group.”

    In the meantime, she added, women should remember that “being sedentary has been shown to be bad for (their) physical and mental health and to increase hot flashes. Being active every day has been shown to lessen severity of hot flashes, improve mood, coping ability and may decrease (their) risk of cognitive loss.”

    Additionally, Pinkerton said, “if women were to exercise with light walking 30 minutes daily and then stretch for 10 minutes, they might improve health, menopausal symptoms, mood and cognition and, if stretching helps sleep, improve their sleep quality.”

    SOURCE: bit.ly/29dLbYQ Menopause, online June 13, 2016.

  • Smoking linked to inflammation, sperm damage in men Friday July 01st, 2016

    The sperm of men who smoke, compared to those who don’t, have more damaged DNA, fewer active energy-generating mitochondria and more proteins indicating a revved up immune response, according to a small study.

    Past research has found that smokers tend to have more abnormal sperm in terms of number, motility, shape and structures known as acrosomes that help sperm penetrate an egg.

    “We knew that smoking leads to decreased sperm DNA integrity, decreased mitochondrial activity and decreased acrosome integrity,” said senior author of the new study Dr. Ricardo Pimenta Bertolla of Sao Paulo Federal University in Brazil. “Sperm from these men are thus less capable of achieving fertilization, and, due to high rates of DNA fragmentation, are more likely to lead to early embryo loss and even to consequences in the offspring.”

    DNA damage in a father’s sperm has been tied to a child’s risk of childhood cancer, he told Reuters Health by email.

    “All these effects were known by previous studies from our group and from other groups as well,” but the new study confirms this with new patients, and helps to demonstrate how these alterations happen, Bertolla said.

    Smoking cigarettes may change protein manufacture in the sperm, increasing some and decreasing others, which indicates inflammation in the testicles and other glands, he and his coauthors write in BJU International.

    “Excessive seminal inflammation, thus, seems to be one of the mechanisms through which smoking alters sperm,” Bertolla said.

    The researchers tested the functional quality of sperm from 20 nonsmoking men with normal semen quality and from 20 men who said they smoked at least 10 cigarettes per day. They tested semen volume, pH, sperm concentration, motility and shape. They also observed DNA damage and activity in the mitochondria, the so-called powerhouses of the cell.

    More mitochondria in the sperm cells of smokers were inactive or only partially active and the cap-like acrosome over the head of the sperm was less often intact, they found.

    “Another important point is that fertilization is an orchestrated event, in that sperm undergo alterations at specific points in order to be able to fertilize the oocyte,” Bertolla said. “If they trigger these effects too soon, they may lose that capacity.”

    The acrosome is a membrane filled with enzymes that allow sperm to penetrate the oocyte, and which may be activated prematurely in smokers, he said.

    For women, smoking has been tied to earlier menopause, higher risk of miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy and less success with in-vitro fertilization, he said.

    “Based on our results, I would recommend men to stop smoking when they wish to achieve fatherhood,” Bertolla said. “The whole process of producing a mature sperm takes around three months, so if a man wishes to quit smoking before attempting fatherhood, I would recommend quitting three months ahead of time.”

    ( This article has corrected the journal name in paragraph six and source line.)

    SOURCE: bit.ly/28RgeKs BJU International, online June 20, 2016.

  • ABC Investigates Black Cohosh Adulteration in Latest Bulletin | Nutritional Outlook Friday July 01st, 2016

    Whether it’s intentional or accidental, black cohosh (Actaea racemose) adulteration remains a significant issue for the herb commonly used to alleviate menopausal symptoms. In hopes of increasing awareness of the problem, the Botanical Adulterants Program has released a new Botanical Adulterants Bulletin (BAB) that offers a comprehensive explanation of black cohosh adulteration and the best analytical approaches to detect it.

    This latest BAB is the fifth released by the Botanical Adulterants Program, a joint effort of the American Botanical Council (Austin, TX), the American Herbal Pharmacopoeia (AHP), and the National Center for Natural Products Research (NCNPR). The bulletins, which debuted earlier this year, are also now available for grape seed, bilberry fruit, skullcap, and goldenseal.

    As with the other bulletins in the series, the black cohosh bulletin details known adulterants, frequency of adulteration, safety issues relating to adulteration, and analytical techniques for detecting adulteration. And while it covers some similar information outlined in previous ABC publications on black cohosh, including a 2013 HerbalGram article by Stephen Foster and a 2015 Black Cohosh Laboratory Guidance Document, the new bulletin also includes new updates and scientific advances.

    “Adulteration of black cohosh continues to be a problem,” said Stefan Gafner, PhD, ABC’s chief science officer, technical director of the Botanical Adulterants Program, and author of the black cohosh bulletin. “Since the publication of Foster’s HerbalGram review on black cohosh adulteration and the Laboratory Guidance Document last year, new studies have confirmed the illegal substitution of botanical material labeled as ‘black cohosh’ with closely-related Asian plants; however, these Asian species are different from authentic North American black cohosh.”

    In keeping with the Botanical Adulterants Program’s commitment to peer-reviewed research, seven reviewers contributed to the black cohosh bulletin.

    “Our publication of this new bulletin will help responsible companies in the herb and dietary supplement industry to exercise appropriate extra diligence in quality control testing to ensure that they are selling authentic North American black cohosh,” said Mark Blumenthal, founder and executive director of ABC and director of the Botanical Adulterants Program.

    More BABs are scheduled for publication in the months ahead, ABC said, including the sixth bulletin, which will cover adulteration of arnica (Arnica montana) flower.

    Source: Nuritional Outlook

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