Natural Health News for Women

September 30, 2012 Written by JP       [Font too small?]

This past weekend I was combing through hundreds of current studies involving natural health. I came across five trials that I thought would be particularly useful for women of all ages. Sharing this information with family and friends could very well make a difference in the life of one woman or perhaps many. In addition, you’ll honor the hard work being done behind the scenes by countless scientists who genuinely hope to improve the quality of affordable, effective and safe health care for women throughout the world.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in women. Supplementing with aged garlic extract (AGE) may reduce this risk. A new study appearing in the journal Nutrition Research and Practice reports that adding AGE (80 ml, five days/week) to an exercise regimen raises HDL (“good”) cholesterol and lowers triglycerides. In the trial, a placebo + exercise group was used as a comparison model. Exercise, in and of itself, was found to be health promoting. However, the addition of aged garlic conferred greater cardiovascular benefits by improving the triglyceride/HDL ratio.

The latest edition of the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine reveals that twice-weekly yoga practice (30 minutes per session) reduces the severity of painful menstruation in younger women. In addition, yoga also lowered the concentration of homocysteine, an amino acid that has been implicated in a higher risk of heart disease and stroke due to hardening of the arteries.

Damage to facial skin caused by excessive sun exposure usually isn’t life threatening. However, judging by the number of cosmetic products used to cover up and/or reverse “photoaging”, it’s a major concern for many women. Flavangenol, a patented pine bark extract, was recently shown to significantly reduce the appearance of so-called “age spots”. The decline in pigmentation was evident within 12 weeks in the study volunteers that supplemented with either 40 or 100 mg daily of Flavangenol.

Mediterranean-style diets have long been associated with a wide range of health benefits including protection against cardiovascular disease, diabetes and select cancers. New data compiled at the University of Granada, Spain informs that this very same eating pattern may promote bone integrity in both pre- and postmenopausal women. Fruit, vegetable and tree nut consumption were singled out as being particularly beneficial with respect to the maintenance of bone mineral density.

Insomnia and milder forms of sleep disorders greatly contribute to many chronic diseases. Among the causes of poor sleep quality in older women are hormonal changes. The September 3rd issue of the journal Climacteric describes a trial in which postmenopausal women were administered acupuncture in an attempt to address insomnia. The 5 week, double-blind, placebo-controlled study employed the use of ten sessions of acupuncture or ‘sham’ acupuncture as a control. The authors of the experiment concluded that, “acupuncture was effective in improving reported sleep quality and quality of life in postmenopausal women with insomnia”.

All of the modalities described above are not only natural, but also feature an extremely positive safety record. This is exceedingly important when considering the long term use of any given treatment. Also of note is that acupuncture, aged garlic, Mediterranean diets, pine bark extract and yoga carry a long list of potential “side benefits”. You can learn more about the desirable side effects of each of these remedies by utilizing the search function on the homepage of this very site.

Note: Please check out the “Comments & Updates” section of this blog – at the bottom of the page. You can find the latest research about this topic there!

Click on the following links to learn more about the studies referenced in today’s column:

Study 1 - Independent Beneficial Effects of Aged Garlic Extract Intake with (link)

Study 2 - Effect of Yoga on Serum Homocysteine and Nitric Oxide Levels in(link)

Study 3 - Oral Administration of French Maritime Pine Bark Extract (Flavangenol®) (link)

Study 4 - Mediterranean Diet and Bone Mineral Density in Two Age Groups of (link)

Study 5 - Acupuncture Improves Sleep in Postmenopause in a Randomized(link)

Flavangenol May Improve Appearance of Photodamaged Skin

Source: Clin Interv Aging. 2012; 7: 275–286. (link)

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Posted in Alternative Therapies, Nutritional Supplements, Women's Health

8 Comments & Updates to “Natural Health News for Women”

  1. Alicia Says:

    What I really liked about this blog post is that all of this information came from clinical trials that were done. It is great to see that research is being done on natural, and possibly cheaper, treatments for many of the problems that women face in their lives. I love reading about natural skin products, and was especially interested in flavangenol for sun damage. Pine bark, which this comes from, has been given an evidence grade of C from Natural Standard for use in sunburn. Although evidence grade C is inconclusive evidence, it makes sense that flavangenol could potentially lighten sun spots. Is the flavangenol supplied in capsules? If so, it does make sense to reverse damage from the inside out. Great information!

  2. JP Says:

    Thank you, Alicia. :)

    The Flavangenol supplement used in the study was a small tablet.

    Be well!

    JP

  3. liverock Says:

    The health protection afforded by Aged Garlic Extract seems to increase year by year.

    The latest research shows it helps in cell protection against the rapidly increasing rado fequency(RF)radiation from mobile phones and Mast towers, as well as the new dangers from Smart electric and Water meters, which also emit RF radiation and will soon be in every home.

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22788526

    Aged Garlic Extract also appears to help in protecting against X-ray,CT scanner and Airport body scanner ionizing radiation.

    http://totalhealthmagazine.com/articles/vitamins-and-supplements/aged-garlic-extract-as-a-radiation-protector.html

  4. JP Says:

    Thanks for sharing those links, Liverock.

    Aged garlic may not be an outright panacea. But, I think it’s got quite a strong track record for a rather broad array of health promoting benefits. I often recommend it.

    Be well!

    JP

  5. JP Says:

    Updated 12/19/15:

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26679702

    PLoS One. 2015 Dec 17;10(12):e0144828.

    Omega-3 Fatty Acid Supplementation for 12 Weeks Increases Resting and Exercise Metabolic Rate in Healthy Community-Dwelling Older Females.

    Critical among the changes that occur with aging are decreases in muscle mass and metabolic rate and an increase in fat mass. These changes may predispose older adults to chronic disease and functional impairment; ultimately resulting in a decrease in the quality of life. Research has suggested that long chain omega-3 fatty acids, found predominantly in fatty fish, may assist in reducing these changes. The objective of this study was to evaluate the effect of fish oil (FO) supplementation in a cohort of healthy, community-dwelling older females on 1) metabolic rate and substrate oxidation at rest and during exercise; 2) resting blood pressure and resting and exercise heart rates; 3) body composition; 4) strength and physical function, and; 5) blood measures of insulin, glucose, c-reactive protein, and triglycerides. Twenty-four females (66 ± 1 yr) were recruited and randomly assigned to receive either 3g/d of EPA and DHA or a placebo (PL, olive oil) for 12 wk. Exercise measurements were taken before and after 12 wk of supplementation and resting metabolic measures were made before and at 6 and 12 wk of supplementation. The results demonstrated that FO supplementation significantly increased resting metabolic rate by 14%, energy expenditure during exercise by 10%, and the rate of fat oxidation during rest by 19% and during exercise by 27%. In addition, FO consumption lowered triglyceride levels by 29% and increased lean mass by 4% and functional capacity by 7%, while no changes occurred in the PL group. In conclusion, FO may be a strategy to improve age-related physical and metabolic changes in healthy older females.

    Be well!

    JP

  6. JP Says:

    Updated 05/10/16:

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27157300

    Sci Rep. 2016 May 9;6:25662.

    Adherence to the Mediterranean diet is associated with a higher BMD in middle-aged and elderly Chinese.

    Previous studies showed that better adherence to the Mediterranean diet (MD) is associated with lower risk of chronic diseases, but limited data are available on bone health. We investigated the association of the MD with bone mineral density (BMD) in Chinese adults. We included 2371 participants aged 40-75 years in this community-based cross-sectional study. Dietary information was assessed at baseline and a 3-year follow-up. Alternate Mediterranean diet (aMed) scores were calculated. BMD was determined at the second survey. After adjusting for potential covariates, higher aMed scores were positively and dose-dependently associated with BMD (all P-trends < 0.05). The BMD values were 1.94% (whole body), 3.01% (lumbar spine), 2.80% (total hip), 2.81% (femur neck), 2.62% (trochanter), and 2.85% (intertrochanter) higher in the quintile 5 (highest, vs. quintile 1) aMed scores for all of the subjects (all P-values < 0.05). Similar associations were found after stratifying by gender (P-interaction = 0.338-0.968). After excluding the five non-significant components of vegetables, legumes, fish, monounsaturated to saturated fat ratio, and alcohol intake from the aMed scores, the percentage mean differences were substantially increased by 69.1-150% between the extreme quintiles. In conclusion, increased adherence to the MD shows protective associations with BMD in Chinese adults.

    Be well!

    JP

  7. JP Says:

    Updated 06/29/16:

    http://chp.sagepub.com/content/early/2016/06/01/2156587216650775.abstract

    J Evid Based Complementary Altern Med. 2016 Jun 2.

    Efficacy of the Hydroalcoholic Extract of Tribulus terrestris on the Serum Glucose and Lipid Profile of Women With Diabetes Mellitus: A Double-Blind Randomized Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial.

    AIM: Considering traditional use of Tribulus terrestris in diabetes and proven antihyperglycemic and antihyperlipidemic effects of T terrestris in animal studies, we aimed to evaluate the efficacy of the hydroalcoholic extract of T terrestris on the serum glucose and lipid profile of women with non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus.

    METHODS: Ninety-eight women with diabetes mellitus type 2 were randomly allocated to receive the T terrestris (1000 mg/d) or placebo for 3 months. The patients were evaluated in terms of the fasting blood glucose, 2-hour postprandial glucose, glycosylated hemoglobin, and lipid profile.

    RESULTS: Tribulus terrestris showed a significant blood glucose-lowering effect in diabetic women compared to placebo (P < .05). Also, the total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein of T terrestris group was significantly reduced compared with placebo, while no significant effect was observed in the triglyceride and high-density lipoprotein levels.

    CONCLUSIONS: The study showed preliminary promising hypoglycemic effect of T terrestris in women with diabetes mellitus type 2.

    Be well!

    JP

  8. JP Says:

    Updated 07/16/16:

    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ptr.5680/abstract

    Phytother Res. 2016 Jul 13.

    A Novel Extract of Fenugreek Husk (FenuSMART™) Alleviates Postmenopausal Symptoms and Helps to Establish the Hormonal Balance: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study.

    Despite the widespread use of hormone replacement therapy, various reports on its side effects have generated an increasing interest in the development of safe natural agents for the management of postmenopausal discomforts. The present randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled study investigated the effect of 90-day supplementation of a standardized extract of fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum) (FenuSMART™), at a dose of 1000 mg/day, on plasma estrogens and postmenopausal discomforts. Eighty-eight women having moderate to severe postmenopausal discomforts and poor quality of life (as evidenced from the scores of Greene Climacteric Scale, short form SF-36® and structured medical interview) were randomized either to extract-treated (n = 44) or placebo (n = 44) groups. There was a significant (p < 0.01) increase in plasma estradiol (120%) and improvements on various postmenopausal discomforts and quality of life of the participants in the extract-treated group, as compared with the baseline and placebo. While 32% of the subjects in the extract group reported no hot flashes after supplementation, the others had a reduction to one to two times per day from the baseline stages of three to five times a day. Further analysis of haematological and biochemical parameters revealed the safety of the extract and its plausible role in the management of lipid profile among menopausal women.

    Be well!

    JP

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