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Prescription 2014: Natural Remedies Check Up

September 10, 2014 Written by JP       [Font too small?]

In modern times, the concept of preventive medicine has been widely embraced by virtually all branches of the health care system. Perhaps the most common example is the recommendation to get an annual physical exam. The idea behind a yearly “check up” is to find developing health issues early on and to evaluate the efficacy and safety of longer term treatments which may require adjustments. Periodically, this very same practice can and should be applied to natural health routines as well.

About once-a-year, I suggest reviewing your list of natural remedies to determine whether they’re still the best options for your personal wellness goals. By doing so, you will likely discover some simple tweaks that can improve your health and possibly save you money. I consistently find this to be true when reviewing the diets, practices and supplements my clients use to maintain or regain their good health. Also, this is why I occasionally write “update” columns. Often, things change fast and unpredictably in the field of integrative medicine. And, if you don’t keep an eye out for the latest facts and figures, you’re likely to miss out.

Here are some breaking developments that you may want to consider in order to modernize your current wellness routine. If you’re trying to lower your blood sugar, new studies point to three promising candidates: maqui berry extract, nopal cactus and resveratrol. The latest data confirm the historical benefits of easting nopal cactus as a side dish, provide scientific support for the use of maqui berries and reveal that very high dosages of resveratrol (500 mg, thrice-daily) may be needed to improve insulin sensitivity and other factors associated with metabolic syndrome. Anyone concerned about cardiovascular health or prostate cancer should take heed of recent findings in the field of lycopene/tomato research. Emerging data demonstrate that consuming lycopene supplements or tomato juice improves vascular function and lowers inflammation in those with cardiovascular disease and heart failure. In addition, 10 mg daily of lycopene decreases a marker of prostate cancer progression (PSA velocity) and reduces the likelihood of “lethal prostate cancer”. Lastly, anyone living with depression and pain should take note of three trials which indicate that yoga (thrice-weekly for 12 weeks), bergamot and lavender oil aromatherapy, and a patented curcumin extract known as BCM-95 (500 mg, twice-daily) support healthier mood states whether linked to physical pain or not. Check up complete!

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!

To learn more about the studies referenced in today’s column, please click on the following links:

Study 1 - Delphinol® Standardized Maqui Berry Extract Reduces Postprandial (link)

Study 2 - The Effect of Nopal (Opuntia Ficus Indica) on Postprandial Blood (link)

Study 3 - Effect of Resveratrol Administration on Metabolic Syndrome, Insulin (link)

Study 4 - Effects of Oral Lycopene Supplementation on Vascular Function in (link)

Study 5 – Lycopene Dietary Intervention: A Pilot Study in Patients With Heart (link)

Study 6 - Lycopene Can Reduce Prostate-Specific Antigen Velocity in a Phase (link)

Study 7 - Dietary Lycopene, Angiogenesis, and Prostate Cancer: A Prospective (link)

Study 8 – Effect of Yoga on Pain, Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor, and (link)

Study 9 - Aromatherapy: Does It Help to Relieve Pain, Depression, Anxiety ... (link)

Study 10 - Curcumin for the Treatment of Major Depression: A Randomised (link)

BCM-95 (Curcumin) Reduces Depression and Inflammation

Source: Neurotox Res. 2013 Feb;23(2):131-44. (link)

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4 Comments & Updates to “Prescription 2014: Natural Remedies Check Up”

  1. JP Says:

    Update: Another newly discovered benefit of maqui berries …

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25208615

    Panminerva Med. 2014 Sep;56(3 Suppl 1):1-6.

    MaquiBright™ standardized maqui berry extract significantly increases tear fluid production and ameliorates dry eye-related symptoms in a clinical pilot trial.

    AIM: Dry eye symptoms, resulting from insufficient tear fluid generation, represent a considerable burden for a largely underestimated number of people. We concluded from earlier pre-clinical investigations that the etiology of dry eyes encompasses oxidative stress burden to lachrymal glands and that antioxidant MaquiBright™ Aristotelia chilensis berry extract helps restore glandular activity.

    METHODS: In this pilot trial we investigated 13 healthy volunteers with moderately dry eyes using Schirmer test, as well as a questionnaire which allows for estimating the impact of dry eyes on daily routines. Study participants were assigned to one of two groups, receiving MaquiBright™ at daily dosage of either 30 mg (N.=7) or 60 mg (N.=6) over a period of 60 days. Both groups presented with significantly (P<0.05) improved tear fluid volume already after 30 days treatment. Schirmer test showed an increase from baseline 16.3±2.6 mm to 24.4±4.8 mm (P<0.05) with 30 mg MaquiBright™ and from 18.7±1.9 mm to 27.6±3.4 mm with 60 mg (P<0.05), respectively. Following treatment with 30 mg MaquiBright™ for further 30 days, tear fluid volume dropped slightly to 20.5±2.8 mm, whereas the improvement persisted with 60 mg treatment at 27.1±2.7 mm after 60 days treatment (P<0.05 vs. baseline).

    RESULTS: The burden of eye dryness on daily routines was evaluated employing the “Dry Eye-related Quality of life Score” (DEQS), with values spanning from zero (impact) to a maximum score of 60. Participants had comparable baseline values of 41.0±7.7 (30 mg) and 40.2±6.3 (60 mg). With 30 mg treatment the score significantly decreased to 21.8±3.9 and 18.9±3.9, after 30 and 60 days, respectively. With 60 mg treatment the DEQS significantly decreased to 26.9±5.3 and 11.1±2.7, after 30 and 60 days, respectively. Blood was drawn for safety analyses (complete blood rheology and -chemistry) at all three investigative time points without negative findings.

    CONCLUSION: In conclusion, while daily supplementation with 30 mg MaquiBright™ is effective, the dosage of 60 significantly increased tear fluid volume at all investigative time points and decreased dry eye symptoms to almost a quarter from initial values after two months treatment.

    Be well!

    JP

  2. JP Says:

    Update 05/13/15:

    http://www.nutritionj.com/content/14/1/27

    Nutr J. 2015 Mar 19;14(1):27. doi: 10.1186/s12937-015-0008-1.

    The intake of maqui (Aristotelia chilensis) berry extract normalizes H2O2 and IL-6 concentrations in exhaled breath condensate from healthy smokers – an explorative study.

    BACKGROUND: Respiratory diseases are associated with pulmonary oxidative stress and inflammatory processes. Though studies in animal models suggest that dietary polyphenols improve lung injury, no intervention studies were carried out in humans. The aim of this study was to determine whether the intake of an anthocyanin-rich maqui extract improved H2O2 and IL-6 concentrations in exhaled breath condensates (EBCs) from asymptomatic smokers.

    FINDINGS: 15 asymptomatic smokers with mild cigarette smoking (3 pack-year [2.4 - 7.7]) (mean [CI95%]) were recruited in this exploratory longitudinal study. They ingested 2 g of maqui extract (polyphenol content = 5.18 ± 2.00 g GAE/100 g; FRAP value = 27.1 ± 2.0 mmol Fe(++)/100 g), twice daily for two weeks. EBCs were collected before and after treatment and the changes in H2O2 and IL-6 concentrations were determined by fluorimetry and Elisa, respectively. The EBC contents of H2O2 and IL-6 H2O2 before and after treatment in smokers were also compared with those determined in single EBC samples from 8 healthy non-smokers subjects. At baseline, the H2O2 concentrations were higher and those of IL-6 lower in the smokers than in the non-smokers. Maqui extract significantly decreased H2O2 (p < 0.0002) and increased IL-6 (p < 0.004) in the EBC from smokers. The EBC concentrations of H2O2 and IL-6 after maqui administration did not differ between smokers and non-smokers.

    CONCLUSIONS: Maqui extract normalizes IL-6 and H2O2 concentrations in EBC from humans with mild smoking habits. If confirmed, these results suggest that dietary polyphenols might be considered as an interesting alternative for the dietary management of respiratory disorders.

    Be well!

    JP

  3. JP Says:

    Update 06/02/15:

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26029093

    Front Hum Neurosci. 2015 May 12;9:281.

    Neuroprotective effects of yoga practice: age-, experience-, and frequency-dependent plasticity.

    Yoga combines postures, breathing, and meditation. Despite reported health benefits, yoga’s effects on the brain have received little study. We used magnetic resonance imaging to compare age-related gray matter (GM) decline in yogis and controls. We also examined the effect of increasing yoga experience and weekly practice on GM volume and assessed which aspects of weekly practice contributed most to brain size. Controls displayed the well documented age-related global brain GM decline while yogis did not, suggesting that yoga contributes to protect the brain against age-related decline. Years of yoga experience correlated mostly with GM volume differences in the left hemisphere (insula, frontal operculum, and orbitofrontal cortex) suggesting that yoga tunes the brain toward a parasympatically driven mode and positive states. The number of hours of weekly practice correlated with GM volume in the primary somatosensory cortex/superior parietal lobule (S1/SPL), precuneus/posterior cingulate cortex (PCC), hippocampus, and primary visual cortex (V1). Commonality analyses indicated that the combination of postures and meditation contributed the most to the size of the hippocampus, precuneus/PCC, and S1/SPL while the combination of meditation and breathing exercises contributed the most to V1 volume. Yoga’s potential neuroprotective effects may provide a neural basis for some of its beneficial effects.

    Be well!

    JP

  4. JP Says:

    Updated 07/28/15:

    http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract?fromPage=online&aid=9878852&fileId=S0007114515002202

    Br J Nutr. 2015 Jul 23:1-12.

    A comparison of plasma and prostate lycopene in response to typical servings of tomato soup, sauce or juice in men before prostatectomy.

    Tomato product consumption and estimated lycopene intake are hypothesised to reduce the risk of prostate cancer. To define the impact of typical servings of commercially available tomato products on resultant plasma and prostate lycopene concentrations, men scheduled to undergo prostatectomy (n 33) were randomised either to a lycopene-restricted control group ( < 5 mg lycopene/d) or to a tomato soup (2-2¾ cups prepared/d), tomato sauce (142-198 g/d or 5-7 ounces/d) or vegetable juice (325-488 ml/d or 11-16·5 fluid ounces/d) intervention providing 25-35 mg lycopene/d. Plasma and prostate carotenoid concentrations were measured by HPLC. Tomato soup, sauce and juice consumption significantly increased plasma lycopene concentration from 0·68 (sem 0·1) to 1·13 (sem 0·09) μmol/l (66 %), 0·48 (sem 0·09) to 0·82 (sem 0·12) μmol/l (71 %) and 0·49 (sem 0·12) to 0·78 (sem 0·1) μmol/l (59 %), respectively, while the controls consuming the lycopene-restricted diet showed a decline in plasma lycopene concentration from 0·55 (sem 0·60) to 0·42 (sem 0·07) μmol/l ( – 24 %). The end-of-study prostate lycopene concentration was 0·16 (sem 0·02) nmol/g in the controls, but was 3·5-, 3·6- and 2·2-fold higher in tomato soup (P= 0·001), sauce (P= 0·001) and juice (P= 0·165) consumers, respectively. Prostate lycopene concentration was moderately correlated with post-intervention plasma lycopene concentrations (r 0·60, P =0·001), indicating that additional factors have an impact on tissue concentrations. While the primary geometric lycopene isomer in tomato products was all-trans (80-90 %), plasma and prostate isomers were 47 and 80 % cis, respectively, demonstrating a shift towards cis accumulation. Consumption of typical servings of processed tomato products results in differing plasma and prostate lycopene concentrations. Factors including meal composition and genetics deserve further evaluation to determine their impacts on lycopene absorption and biodistribution.

    Be well!

    JP

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